No one starts out in business to fail, but fail you will if you don’t recognise that while you may practice law, you run a business. To avoid running it into the ground, you need to avoid these six law firm management fails:
Failing to plan. To start and run any business, you need to focus on the big picture, but you can’t let that blind you to the importance of detailing the steps you need to take to make your firm a success. Having a plan helps you keep on track to achieving your goals and make important adjustments along the way.
Failing to create a team. You know the law, but they didn’t teach you how to run a business in law school. You need to create a team that will make your business successful, bringing the best people onboard in the different disciplines you need for financial management, marketing, sales, etc., and ensuring they succeed by investing in the latest technologies to support their efforts.
Failing to take care of business first. Too many times lawyers focus solely on their clients without focusing on the bottom line. The result is devastating: not sending out invoices on time, not raising your rates for years, not actively cross-promoting other services your firm offers, and not staying connected with former clients. Be sure to put processes in place for each of these important disciplines so nothing falls through the cracks.
Failing to hire the right people. Superstars are the currency of the new economy. You have a limited number of positions to fill in your firm and you can only afford to retain superstars in every position. If you find a position filled with someone who is “good enough,” either eliminate the person or eliminate the position. You set the standard. You raise the bar. Excellence is the only attitude you should allow.
Failing to invest in technology. Can you imagine practising law without a computer or the Internet? In 15 years, you will be saying the same about financial management and marketing technology. For the 21st century law firm, you must take advantage of advanced technologies that make you more efficient and effective.
Failing to track the ROI of your marketing programs. With the increased competition and level of sophistication in the legal marketing industry, to get ahead you must be faster, smarter, and more effective than your competitors. Your ability to leverage digital and social media marketing and automate your marketing system will allow you to dominate larger firms with bigger budgets; however, every dollar must be accounted for and every effort must be measured for ROI.