For solo lawyers, scaling a law practice can give you greater autonomy over the work you do, greater sense of purpose and satisfaction from your work, and, when done right, greater profitability.
But being a solo also means that all the work that comes with growth rests squarely on your shoulders. Thankfully, thorough planning, strategic automations, and well-implemented technology can help solo practitioners more easily expand the number of clients they can serve—and serve well.
Create opportunities for automation
One of the most straightforward paths to successfully take on more clients without proportionately growing your workload is through automating administrative processes. Two of the most time-saving automations are batch invoicing and client intake processes.
For example, solos can save time by implementing bulk invoicing and billing. Instead of drafting invoices individually, solos can leverage modern technology to generate multiple invoices at once.
These invoice batches can then be sent out electronically, offering clients the opportunity to pay the same day. The convenience of electronic payments and credit card processing ups client satisfaction and reduces the need for collections activities.
Likewise, a streamlined invoicing process makes it easier to bill clients regularly so that invoices aren’t catching them by surprise, months after the work has been completed.
Client intake processes
Automating your client intake process is a smart step for any solo law firm to take. Client intake is critical to building a strong foundation for client relationships, but there’s also lots of room for missteps. Lengthy intake processes, unnecessary questions, and pen-and-paper signatures can frustrate clients and make it less likely for them to convert.
Automations allow you to customize forms to focus on gathering necessary information (without collecting information your don’t need) and request e-signatures. These, in turn, save your client time. What’s more, automating these processes can reduce the errors that can occur with manual data entry—saving your solo firm time, too.
Run billing and accounting on a legal-specific platform
Generic accounting software doesn’t offer legal-specific considerations such as trust accounting safeguards, and that can put solo firms at greater risk of accidental ethics violations.
Instead of patching together different billing and accounting software, solos can use a single, legal-specific platform to improve ethics protections.
A single platform will also update seamlessly across billing and accounting, meaning that you can spend less time on data entry. Instead of spending four to five minutes manually processing and reconciling each client invoice, solo lawyers can accomplish this task in a few clicks.
Outsource tasks when you need to
Removing yourself from every process can be the hardest part of scaling a solo law firm.
But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. There may be certain tasks that take up enough of your time that it would effectively be cheaper to pay someone else to do them. Likewise, there may be tasks that you simply don’t like and therefore find yourself putting off. Either way, outsourcing saves you time, money, and stress.
Consider outsourcing tasks like:
- Marketing and lead generation
- IT services
- Human resources tasks
- Daily administrative tasks
- Tax preparation and filing
Today, it’s easy to collaborate remotely with contractors. And even more importantly, the ability to hand tasks off to others is a skill you will have to learn if you’re going to remove yourself from certain basic processes in order to more effectively scale your firm.
Keep client satisfaction a priority
Happy clients are important for the success of most solos. Not only are satisfied clients usually easier to work with, but they are also more likely to become repeat clients, serve as a source of positive testimonials, and refer their friends and family.
In scaling your solo law firm, you should never lose sight of your clients’ experience.
Fortunately, some of the key steps you can take to keep clients satisfied also help streamline processes at your firm. For instance, getting behind on communications doesn’t serve you long-term—and it certainly isn’t something your clients appreciate.
Secure client portals are a great tool to help you and your clients collaborate remotely. For your clients, it helps eliminate the need to come to your office as often or receive important documents by mail. And for you, it offers a secure way to share sensitive information and leverage the convenience of e-signatures.
Use metrics to inform decisions
If your law firm is going to grow, you also need to have a sense of which practice areas to focus on. With a modern practice management system, you have valuable data at your fingertips.
Use this information to analyze your strengths and identify areas for improvement. It can help inform your business planning, too.
With metrics, you know where to implement better efficiencies—and where to grow.
Building your solo firm didn’t happen overnight, and neither does scaling. But by focusing on working smarter, not harder, you’ll find that your scaling goals are closer than you thought.