Another new year has arrived, and if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start setting goals and thinking about how you’ll better your firm in 2020. Not sure where to begin? Well in this law practice management post, we’ll lay out 20 things all attorney should be looking to get done over the next 12 months. Let’s begin with a simple one.
1- Ditch Your Voicemail:
While a large portion of your lead generation efforts take place online these days, some of your most important lead capturing work still takes place over the phone. You’ll devote a lot of time in 2020 to online marketing, and in order to ensure that those efforts aren’t wasted, you’ll need to make sure all of your new leads are greeted by a live person the very first time they call into your firm. Sending prospective clients to voicemail will leave them with a poor initial impression of your firm, and you likely won’t get the chance to make a second.
The best way to ensure that your new leads are always being properly take care of is by signing up with a 24/7 phone answering service like Answering Legal. Our receptionist team has been extensively trained on speaking with legal callers, is well versed in performing new client intakes and will always be available to help your firm win over a new lead. To learn more about the power of a live answer, check out this post.
2- Build A Great New Website:
In 2020, it will be impossible for your firm to be successful without a high quality website. When new leads are exploring what your firm has to offer, they will almost always look up your website online, as a method of learning what your practice is able to provide. Needless to say, if your law office has an out-of-date website or no website at all, new prospects will be hesitant to move forward with your firm.
If you’re a lawyer with limited time or resources, you’ll want to check out the website building tool LawLytics. Not long ago, we spoke with the company’s CEO Dan Jaffe about what makes LawLytics such an attorney-friendly software.
“LawLytics saves attorneys time and money by helping them market smarter,” Jaffe said. “Unlike general do-it-yourself (DIY) website software like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and WordPress, attorneys don’t need any tech experience to use LawLytics, so they don’t struggle or miss opportunities. And, unlike working with agencies, LawLytics is priced so that attorneys can grow their firms without breaking the bank or buying services that they don’t need. Instead, we focus on what works, and we give attorneys the tools to do it well so that they can remain in control of their marketing and get sustainable results.”
3- Attend Legal Conferences:
The legal industry is constantly evolving, and there’s always more for attorneys to learn. Attending legal conferences and events is one of the best ways to expand your knowledge base, as you’ll not only get the chance to hear from top speakers, but network and share ideas with a number of other attorneys. Not to mention, attending legal conferences can also give you an excuse to visit some of America’s best cities. We recently put together a list of 11 of the best legal conferences to attend, so be sure to check it out.
4- Improve Your Online Reputation:
Much like your website, prospective clients will typically be taking a close look at your online reviews before contacting you for the first time. If there aren’t many positive recommendations from former clients to be found, you may have a hard time getting people to call into your firm. Fortunately for lawyers, there are methods for accumulating more five star reviews. Review management software such as Grade.us can assist lawyers in the process of requesting reviews from former clients.
“Grade.us provides lawyers with the most control over their review management strategy,” the company’s Sr. Content Marketing Manager Garrett Sussman told us back in October. “With state and local bar compliance requirements around advertising and sensitivity to attorney-client relationships, Grade.us allows lawyers to guide their clients to sanctioned review sites using crafted language in their email and text campaigns that represent with their own firm honestly and authentically.”
Better handling the negative reviews your firm gets or has gotten in the past is also an important part of the online reputation management process, something that this blog post can help a lot with. Becoming more aware of your online reputation, and what sorts of actions may lead to a positive or negative review for your firm, will certainly serve you well in the new year.
5- Simplify The Way You Get Paid:
For lawyers that find their current methods of getting paid by clients to be far too complicated and exhausting, investing in LawPay’s online payment technology software is a must! The LawPay software has been vetted and approved by all 50 state bars, and for years has served as one of the most trusted softwares in the industry. The software’s Quick Bill feature allows lawyers to send clients a payment request that they can respond to with just a click. LawPay also gives attorneys the ability to accept, manage and integrate payments. Need more reason to use LawPay? Any law firm that uses Answering Legal alongside LawPay receives a 5% lifetime discount on our service. To learn more, click here.
6- Invest In New Technology:
Legal softwares can assist lawyers in a variety of ways, and this year you should take the time to find the perfect software platforms for your firm. Later this winter, Answering Legal will be releasing its annual best softwares for attorneys list, and in the meantime, you should definitely check out our 2019 list. On it you’ll find the very best case management software, client intake software, appointment scheduling software and much more!
7- Provide Better Customer Service:
According to recent data from Salesforce, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides them is as important as its products and services. What this tells us is that lawyers can’t afford to be rude or hard to get in touch with anymore. Consumers are more empowered than ever before, and failing to provide a positive customer experience will cost you clients. Not only will you lose out on the clients right in front of you, but once word spreads around that your firm is difficult to work with, you could end up losing out on future business as well. If customer service has been an issue for your firm in the past, make sure you and your staff make a concerted effort to change things in 2020.
8- Be Happier:
There’s a lot that can keep lawyers from being satisfied with their professional lives, and the more aware attorneys are of the things that can make them unhappy, the more equipped they will be to handle everyday life. A great book on this subject for legal professionals to check out is “The Happy Lawyer” by Nancy Levitt & Douglas O. Linder. The book goes in-depth on the causes of dissatisfaction among lawyers, and then charts possible paths to happier and more fulfilling careers in law. You can get it on Amazon here.
9- Generate More Online Leads:
In order to get more people to contact your firm in 2020, you’ll need to work hard to grow your firm’s online presence. If you’re not sure how to do so on your own, this may be the year to invest in professional marketing help, either by bringing on a marketing professional to your staff, or teaming up with a top notch marketing firm. While there is plenty lawyers can and should be doing on their own to make their firm more visible online, the right marketing professional may be able to help take your website building, search engine marketing and content marketing strategies to the next level. For recommendations on how to go about generating more online leads, be sure to join our “Let’s Talk Legal Marketing” discussion groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
10- Improve Your Legal Intake Process:
Accomplishing this goal is a necessity if you want to reap any rewards from accomplishing goal number nine. Getting people to reach out to your firm is hard (and often expensive) work, so when new lead opportunities do present themselves to your practice, you’ll want to make sure your staff is ready to make a positive first impression. If your firm doesn’t already have a high quality new client intake process in place, you’ll want to start addressing the way you handle new leads right away. Otherwise, you’ll end up allowing a lot of financial opportunity to slip away in 2020.
So how should you address your firm’s legal intake in the new year? Making sure your office’s phones are always being answered by a live trained professional is a great place to start. Make sure that anyone in your office that is speaking to new leads over the phone is not only trained in proper phone etiquette, but is clear on what information they need to be retrieving from prospective clients. You’ll likely want to have new client intake forms available for all of your employees to use as a guide when they take a caller through the intake process. This will ensure that important details aren’t neglected, and will help your employees come across as more impressive when talking on the phone to those still on the fence about using your services.
Investing in Answering Legal can provide a significant boost to your lead capturing efforts, as our receptionist team has been extensively trained on performing new client intakes, and is available to speak with your new leads 24/7. For more information on the legal intake process, check out this blog post.
11- Make Time For Offline Marketing:
For the old-school and perhaps not so computer-savvy attorneys out there, we have some good and bad news. The bad news is that learning how to market your firm online is a must in 2020, so you’ll either need to take the time to learn yourself about digital marketing or invest in expert help. The good news is that not all of your marketing has to take place online. Lawyers will still find tremendous benefit from doing things like networking at legal events, public speaking at conferences, sending notes and cards and sponsoring or appearing at local events. Building relationships offline still offers plenty of new opportunity for attorneys in the digital age, so make sure you’re getting out from behind your desk every once in awhile.
12- Get To Know Your Local Press:
Last fall we spoke with Michelle Calcote King of Reputation Ink, and asked her why appearing in traditional media outlets (such as local newspapers) remains such a valuable practice for law firms. King said, “You can say you’re an expert in an area all day long, but when the media turns to you for your insight and opinion, that can be almost as effective as a personal referral for business development purposes.”
People will certainly begin to take notice if you begin appearing as a go-to source of information and expertise in local news publications. Not only will potential clients be given more opportunity to find out about your firm, but you’ll also be given impressive news clips to show off online. Building relationships with reporters usually doesn’t happen overnight, but introducing yourself to a few of your town’s local editors or journalists certainly can’t hurt.
13- Read More:
This is of course a classic New Year’s resolution, that far too many of us fail to follow through on. But if you can find the time (or discipline) to get some reading done this year, there are a lot of terrific books out there for attorneys to explore. This list of 11 books every lawyer should read is a great place to begin.
14- Go All In On Social Networking:
Social media has been a big part of our lives for the past few decades, yet as we begin the 2020s, most lawyers still have no idea how to effectively use it. So is it time for attorneys struggling to social network to finally wave the white flag? Edge Legal Marketing’s CEO Amy Juers certainly doesn’t seem to think so.
“When done consistently, correctly and across various platforms, our clients have seen a boost in website visits and hence leads which then all trickles down to the bottom line,” Juers told us last July. “Lawyers should engage in social media!”
So how can you change your social media luck in the new year?
“Some strategies that help are to always try and link back to your website and then review the analytics and visitor reports,” Juers said. “Add variety by posting links to your YouTube videos and podcasts. Also, consider using software like Hootsuite or dlvr.it to make this task easier!”
15- Stay In Touch With Your Former Clients:
Looking to increase referral traffic? Maintaining relationships with your former clients is a major key. People who have previously used your firm aren’t guaranteed to have legal needs in 2020, but if they do or know someone who does, you’ll want to be the first name that pops in their head. Staying top of mind with old clients can be as easy as sending out holiday cards throughout the year, sending firm email newsletters, or even just making the occasional phone call to check in. You may be shocked to see how much these small efforts pay off throughout the year.
16- Write Better Blog Posts:
If the blog posts you’re writing for your law firm website aren’t providing any kind of additional value for the potential clients reading them, you shouldn’t expect to see much benefit from them.
“Potential clients can find news stories almost anywhere,” Victoria Blute of LawLytics recently explained to us. “What they’ll want to see in an attorney’s blog post is in-depth, unique analysis on a particular topic. Blog posts are meant to add to the online conversation. Law firm blog posts should be used by the attorney to develop their online voice and their reputation as a thought leader.”
Before hitting that publish button on a post, always think about what your readers will be taking away from your blog. What are you providing in your post, that the reader can’t get somewhere else? If you struggle to answer that question, it may be time to head back to the drawing board.
17- Start Shooting Video:
Make 2020 the year you stop making excuses as to why your firm isn’t creating videos. Just about every lawyer has a camera on their phone and the ability to share videos online, and the potential upside of video marketing is just too great to ignore.
Our blog recently interviewed Robert Gruler, a lawyer who has seen his firm experience significant growth from creating videos in-house.
“Video production is a major part of our firm’s marketing and other operations,” Gruler said. “YouTube is one of our biggest referral sources, and we have received feedback that more than just potential clients are watching: judges, prosecutors, police officers, competing attorneys and politicians all watch our videos. Video has helped to grow our firm’s credibility and has fueled our growth.”
For more inspiration, check out Gruler’s full story here.
18- Explore The World Of Podcasting:
As we covered this past November, podcasting is on the rise, and has quickly become one of the best ways to reach today’s consumer. Lawyers looking to become thought leaders may want to cut their teeth on other content creation platforms first, before tackling the longer-form art of podcasting. However, attorneys with a unique voice or interesting stories to tell should consider taking advantage of all the podcasting universe has to offer.
19- Take Actual Time Off:
We know as a lawyer you have a lot of pressure on your shoulders, and putting in long hours at the office or courthouse can often be unavoidable. But, we can’t stress enough how important it is to take a few vacations throughout the year. In 2018, licensed alcohol and drug counselor Patrick R. Krill told Bloomberg Law that skipping vacations can “be a set-up for anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and burnout.”
Finding time for vacations throughout the year is easier said than done, but is a must for lawyers to stay at their mental, physical and emotional best. The good news is our phone answering service can help make taking time off easier. Answering Legal’s 24/7 receptionist team is always available to answer your office’s incoming calls, even on holidays! When you’re ready to take time away from the office, this will prove to be an incredibly invaluable service, as instead of a large majority of your vacation calls going to voicemail, your prospective and existing clients will actually get the assistance of a live trained phone answering professional. Learn more here about the benefits of vacationing as an Answering Legal customer.
20- Commit To Learning:
As we enter a new decade, there will be a lot of lawyers will need to know in order to keep their firms running successfully. This is why subscribing to the Answering Legal blog is a must for all attorneys, as we publish two new posts every week, covering a wide range of law practice management related topics. Also be sure to bookmark our Let’s Talk Legal Marketing page for posts related specifically to attorney marketing matters.