Today’s legal landscape is saturated with competition and pressures that have forced law firms to reevaluate their business models. Given this dynamic, how can you build a successful law firm? Creating an enduring practice requires more than a business plan and a great resume; it takes foresight, dedication, and strategic thinking.
Think long term
Whether you are just starting a law firm or already have years under your belt, when making decisions for the practice, it is best to think long-term about its future. In our experience, the most successful law firms are those that have a strategic vision for their growth. That vision often extends beyond just hiring a few new attorneys; it includes expanding the types of services offered, finding new marketing strategies, enhancing operational practices, and hiring new staff. A long-term vision for your law firm will help you make decisions with a long-term view. You’ll be less likely to make short-term decisions that might harm your business.
Hire the best attorneys you can find
An attorney’s ability to do great work is critical to a law firm’s success. Thus, hiring attorneys of exceptional skill and talent is the best way to ensure your law firm grows. Every attorney you hire will be responsible for a significant portion of billable hours, so it’s important that you make sound hiring decisions.
There are a few things you can do to hire the best attorneys for your firm: Start by hiring attorneys who are as talented as you are. Don’t try to hire attorneys who are better than you; instead, hire attorneys who are as good as you are. Once you have hired attorneys who are on par with your skill level, you can start looking at other factors that will help you select the best attorneys for your firm. In the long run, these factors will help your law firm be more successful.
Be selective about your clients
The types of clients you take on will affect every aspect of your law firm — from the types of attorneys you hire to the marketing strategies you employ. For example, if you choose only to take on personal injury cases, your law firm will be very different from one that practices in a variety of areas, such as real estate law, estate planning, and immigration. Therefore, it is important that you be selective about the types of clients you take on. This is why:
- The type of clients you choose to represent will help define your law firm and give it a unique identity.
- Your clients will help you better understand the challenges of each type of work.
- The type of clients you choose to work with will help you hire attorneys that fit their needs.
So, again, be very selective as to who your firm chooses to represent!
Define your unique value proposition
Every law firm has a unique value proposition (a marketing statement that describes the benefits a product or service possesses for a customer). Your value proposition is critical as it is used to differentiate your firm, determine the type of marketing needed, help you make hiring decisions, and ultimately attract a specific type of client.
Pro tip: It can be helpful to think of your law firm’s value proposition in terms of a sandwich. The “bread” is the type of law you practice. The “filling” is your firm culture and environment. Finally, the “condiments” are the marketing strategies you employ. To create a successful law firm, you must understand the ingredients of a great law firm.
Develop a strong marketing game plan
When it comes to marketing your law firm, the general rule of thumb is this: don’t do anything half-heartedly. To do so, you must identify your target audience and determine the best ways to reach them.
Here are a few examples:
- focus on and attend multiple networking events and trade shows
- publish articles on legal topics in industry-specific media outlets
- Invest in digital marketing campaigns (yes… the often ridiculously bad but incredibly effective commercials)
No matter which marketing strategy you employ, it must be targeted, consistent, and given your all! It’s important to understand that it will take time to reach your desired client base and build a strong law firm.
Don’t forget the importance of culture and HR
When you crunch the numbers, you’ll see that the cost of employing an attorney is high. This is why it’s important to invest in culture and HR practices that help you mitigate costs and increase productivity such as:
- having rigorous hiring practices
- transparent communication
- creative problem-solving methods
- investing in the employee experience and career path.
Investing in company retreats, team-building activities, and professional development programs is a great way to ensure your attorneys feel supported, motivated, and happy. If your employees are happy, they are more likely to perform at a high level and stay with your firm longer.
Remember, when you’re starting and/or growing a law firm, it’s important to think long-term about your law firm’s future. Hiring the best attorneys, being selective about your clients, and defining your unique value proposition will help you build a successful law firm. It’s also important to remember that it takes time to reach your desired client base and build a strong law firm.
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