What should law firms do when work slows down?
A slowdown can be unsettling for any law firm. During this time, there is an opportunity to plan, persevere and come out without losing a significant amount of work or profits.
If there is an economic downturn, a consistent decrease in clients or an alternate scenario which causes the influx of work to slow, law firms can take the following steps.
Assess your practice and financial standing
If there is a slowdown, you should first evaluate if there is anything internal to your firm that is causing the issue. If not, then you should be assessing how prepared your firm is to weather a downturn and what cracks may wind up being the cause of even larger issues.
Being prepared to sustain a flux in cash flow should always be part of every law firm’s plan, but as soon as the decrease in work starts to become a trend or is a constant for the foreseeable future firm’s need to lockdown their spending. Review your expenses and see if there are areas where you can cut back if possible. Take a look at what you’re spending and may find unused subscriptions, tools that serve the same purpose or unnecessary overspending. You can also try to negotiate existing contracts, including your lease.
Changes in economic conditions can also present the opportunity to evaluate your practice areas. If it appears the downturn is specific to an industry or practice area that you’re primarily focused on, it may make sense to introduce alternatives in order to diversify and sustain your practice.
Fine-tune your processes
When it’s busy, it can be difficult to find time to work on the practice management processes that are so critical to the success of a firm. During the slowdown, go through each of your processes, looking for where improvements can be made and making changes.
Focus on client outreach and referral sources
If the number of new cases is going down, then it’s important to make sure your existing clients are happy. Take the time to personally reach out to provide case updates and check in to see if there’s anything you can help with.
These types of check-ins should also be extended to your referral sources and contacts. These types of calls can often lead to new business, or at the very least continue to build and support your relationships.
1. Dealing With the Downturn: How Law Firms Can Meet Challenges and Exploit Opportunities