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How to Grow a Law Firm: Best Strategies and Practices to Implement

Discover proven strategies and best practices to grow your law firm. Learn how to increase profitability, attract more clients, and build a successful legal practice.

18 min
read

Updated

Jan 17, 2024

If you've been searching for answers on how to grow your law firm or small legal practice, you've likely encountered a multitude of opinions and ideas scattered across the internet. While these resources may offer valuable insights, they often lack a comprehensive guide to effectively building and expanding a legal practice.

In this guide, we'll cover everything from the essential foundations of setting growth plans to the ways you can set goals to grow your firm. We'll explore the analysis of growth opportunities, investing in digital marketing, the advanced techniques of optimizing your law firm's business structure, and more.

But that's not all. The latest episode of the Grow Law Firm podcast features an insightful conversation between host Sasha Berson and Moshe Amsel, the founder of Profit with Law. In this episode, they delve into the topic of maximizing profitability in your law firm, providing valuable insights and practical tips for success.


How to Create a Law Firm Growth Plan?

Growth plans are much like business plans. They should address many of the same topics and leverage relevant market data to guide your growth strategy. If you don't already have a law firm business plan, it is well past time to create one. According to recent data, companies with business plans have a 30% greater chance of achieving their growth goals.

Even if you already have a business plan, now would be a great time to revisit it, especially if it is several years old. As you experience business development, your goals, needs, and market position will change.

If your plan is not updated to reflect those changes, you could lose your competitive advantage. Conversely, updating your business plan at least once a year will help you maintain or even increase your competitive advantage.

A great business/growth plan should:

  • identify your target market,
  • provide insights into current client satisfaction levels,
  • lay out a strategy for acquiring new clients, and
  • outline your short and long-term business development goals.

In case you were wondering— yes, small law firms need growth/business development plans too.


How to Set Goals for Law Firm Growth?

Before you start working out the fine details of your business development plan, you need to first set clear goals for your law practice.

Small law firm owners tend to favor a more informal approach, whereas larger law firms prefer to write a comprehensive executive summary. Do not limit yourself based on the size of your law firm. Instead, choose the route that best aligns with your personal preferences and needs.

Regardless of your chosen method, you must select a good mix of short and long-term goals.

Short-term goals are objectives you can accomplish in the next quarter or six-month period. On the other hand, long-term goals may take you one, three, or even five years to accomplish. When setting long-term goals, break them down into smaller milestones so that you can monitor your progress toward achieving them.

Most goals should involve soft deadlines. When you are approaching a deadline, conduct a self-assessment and analyze your law firm's growth. Determine whether you have achieved your goals or if you have at least made meaningful progress towards them.

If you have not achieved them, but are progressing, reevaluate your strategy and make necessary adjustments. You may consider bringing in an outside partner, but more on that in an upcoming segment.

Additionally, you must be willing to alter or modify your goals over time, especially the multi-year objectives. As you navigate your business development journey, new opportunities may shift your focus towards new goals. This shift is perfectly fine so long as you are satisfied with the direction of your law firm and are making money to fuel future growth objectives.


Analyzing Your Law Firm Growth Opportunities

If you want to effectively grow your law firm, you need to reassess the potential for profit growth and explore strategies to boost your overall profitability. This involves carefully evaluating the current capacity of your legal business and identifying areas where improvements can be made.

Many law firm owners are in a unique position to create generational wealth, but it requires a focus on profitability and making the right decisions with your finances. A healthy business should have a profit margin of 40 to 50%, and with the right strategies, you can unlock this potential and take home a significant income after taxes.

To achieve this level of profitability, you need to have your eye on the prize and set specific goals for your business. This means making different decisions today, such as investing in real estate, stocks, or alternative investment vehicles, rather than splurging on luxury items.

Most law firm owners are operating businesses with a gross revenue of less than $1 million, and making the leap to a more profitable business can seem inconceivable. But, with the right strategies and mindset, it's possible to grow your business to 3, 4, or even $5 million in revenue.

To make this jump, you need to be purposeful in your growth and stop drifting. This means putting in the effort to excel in all areas of your business, including marketing, team management, and financial planning.

"The typical law firm owner just assumes that if I grew by 3% or 4% year over year, I've done well. The reality is that you should be thinking of growing by 100 or 200%. And that can be done."
— Moshe Amsel

Invest in Your Law Firm's Digital Marketing

online marketing efforts

Now that you have created a plan and conducted a thorough market analysis, you are ready to invest in law firm marketing. When engaging in law firm marketing, we suggest that you:

1. Leverage the Power of SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your law firm's website more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs) on platforms such as Google. If you are not sure where to begin when it comes to SEO, you should partner with a firm that offers SEO services for lawyers. Such a firm will know exactly how to get you noticed online.

2. Create an Optimized Law Firm Website

Next, you will need to optimize the website for your law firm. Professional web design services for attorneys will be your best ally here; these technical creatives will be able to provide you with a captivating, high-performance website that potential clients will love.

3. Build a Recognizable Brand

Combining a great website and quality share-worthy attorneys website content will help you build a recognizable brand that resonates with prospective clients. However, keep in mind that building a powerful brand takes time, commitment, and consistency.

4. Develop a Consistent Lead Generation Process

Speaking of consistency, you must develop a consistent attorneys lead generation process if you want to have a steady stream of new clients every month. While not all leads will be converted into paying clients, each of these prospects provides you with an opportunity to make money and achieve growth goals.

"At the end of the day, when it comes to growing your business, the investment will always precede the outcome."
— Moshe Amsel

Boosting Your Law Firm: Expert Strategies by Moshe Amsel in the Podcast Series

In this episode, Moshe Amsel, a legal industry expert, delves into strategies for boosting law firm profitability and achieving generational wealth. He emphasizes the importance of setting ambitious financial goals and making strategic investments to unlock a firm's full potential. Amsel challenges the notion of "just getting by" and encourages law firm owners to aim for substantial growth. He highlights the benefits of hiring attorneys to enhance revenue and free up the owner's time for business development. Amsel also stresses the crucial role of marketing in attracting new clients and generating revenue. Throughout the discussion, he emphasizes the need for law firm owners to be forward-thinking and willing to take calculated risks.

"When you make the investment, that is when the outcome will come. The reason so many people stay stuck is because they're unwilling to invest because they're unable to see the future."
— Moshe Amsel
Join Sasha Berson as he speaks with Moshe Amsel, Founder of Profit with Law

Build a Proper Law Firm Management Structure

As your law practice grows, scaling will put your management structure to the test. A poorly designed, disorganized, or top-heavy management structure will crumble under pressure.

Law Firm Management Structure

Top-heavy management structures are one of the most common factors undermining law firms' rapid growth trajectories. If you want your law firm to realize its true growth potential, start preparing your management structure to handle the stresses of this evolution now. Specifically, every law firm CEO should divide their law firm management structure into the following categories:

— Legal Staff

Most of your staff will fall into this category when operating a small law firm. This category includes attorneys and paralegals only. You can use a unified legal department when your business is in its infancy. However, as you grow, you will need to subdivide your staff into smaller teams based on areas of expertise.

Everyone should know who they are to report to, their responsibilities, and the resources available to them. Your management structure lacks clarity and should be refined if they do not.

— Non-Legal Staff

Non-legal staff are employees who handle auxiliary aspects of managing a law firm. Unless you are experiencing explosive growth from the moment your law firm opens its doors, you may not need full-time support staff for quite some time.

You can also manage some of these responsibilities yourself. However, once your firm grows, you must strategically hire non-legal staff. Don't rush this process — taking on too many support staff too fast can hinder your long-term growth.

— Office Managers

When you have decided that it is time to bring in non-legal staff, one of your first hires should be an office manager. An experienced office manager should be a jack of all trades when you initially bring them on. However, as you grow your law firm, you can relegate them to a supervisory role that focuses on managing non-legal and support staff.

Office managers should also play a key role in hiring and training non-legal personnel in the future. After all, your manager will be tasked with managing these individuals, so anyone in this position should have some say in which candidates you choose to bring on board.

Additionally, an office manager can take on human resources responsibilities until you have the financial leeway to hire an HR specialist. The manager can also oversee patrolling, records management, and compliance-related tasks.

— HR Managers

Small law firms can get by without hiring a dedicated human resources manager. However, larger law firms will need to bring in an HR expert who understands things such as fair hiring and labor practices, managing conflicts, insurance claim management, compliance, and employee discipline.

If you inadvertently engage in unfair hiring practices, you could expose your law firm to some serious civil liability. In light of that possibility, make hiring an HR manager part of your growth strategy. If your law firm makes compliance a priority from the outset, you will never lose sight of the importance of bringing in an HR manager.

— Outside Freelance Workers

As a business owner, there will come points in your growth journey where you need to access certain expertise but do not have the resources to hire a full-time employee.

When these situations arise, you should consider hiring freelance lawyers. As their title implies, freelance lawyers take on short-term work to bolster their primary source of income. Some freelance lawyers do not have their own firms but rely entirely on short-term contracts.

If you plan to use freelance lawyers, make sure that your management structure clearly outlines who is responsible for managing these individuals. Otherwise, your law firm will encounter patrolling mishaps and classification issues.

— Legal Accounting Staff

Law firms must precisely track a much broader array of financial data than other types of businesses. In addition to keeping records of basic patrolling information, your law firm will need to track settlement amounts, retainer fees, billable hours, and many other data points.

Once again, small law firms might be able to handle these responsibilities in-house. However, if your law firm employs multiple attorneys and juggles a large caseload, you should hire a legal accountant. You can hire a full-time legal accountant if your budget allows or outsource these responsibilities to a third-party provider that serves the legal industry.

However, you should carefully vet any potential outsourcing partner before hiring them. Remember, outsourcing is not a risk-free proposition, as your law firm is ultimately responsible for ensuring that your financial records are properly maintained.

— Marketing and Web Department Staff

Investing in marketing and people is key to growing your law firm. However, many attorneys struggle with the idea of hiring a marketing professional or investing in marketing efforts that may not produce immediate results. The reality is that it's not going to take 12 months for these investments to start producing revenue for your business. In fact, an attorney who doesn't cover their salary within six weeks of being hired may not be a good fit for your firm.

Instead of worrying about the cost of marketing, focus on how it can help your business grow. With the right strategy, law firms website design can attract potential clients and help you establish your brand. Outsourcing provides a cost-effective solution and allows legal professionals to focus on growing their firms without the need to hire full-time marketing professionals. This approach not only saves money but also maximizes the effectiveness of your law firm's marketing strategy. However, it's important to decide who will oversee this aspect of your growth plan.

"The two biggest things that business owners need to invest in is people and marketing."
— Moshe Amsel

4 Must-Know Law Firm Organization Tips

As you reshuffle your law firm hierarchy, the tips below will help you implement effective changes and deploy your growth strategy.

1. Delegate If Necessary

It is unrealistic to believe that you can handle everything yourself. While you certainly want to be involved in making important decisions for your law firm, you must also be willing to delegate tasks whenever necessary.

When delegating tasks, the goal is to distribute the workload as evenly as possible. Otherwise, you will overburden some staff members, whereas others have an abundance of downtime.

While you will probably be unable to delegate any of your core legal work to others, you can ask your support staff to take on administrative tasks. This assistance will give you and your fellow attorneys more time to complete essential legal work like reviewing case files, prepping for trial, and meeting new clients.

When delegating administrative tasks, be clear about your expectations and provide your staff with definitive deadlines. Communication is key to effectively delegating responsibilities to your support staff.

Delegate If Necessary
This matrix is a useful tool for identifying which tasks should take priority, as well as determining whether certain tasks can be delegated or eliminated altogether.

2. Efficiency Is the Key to Productivity

If you want your law firm to achieve meaningful growth, you must find ways to optimize efficiency. One approach involves adopting leading-edge legal technology to help your staff fulfill their job responsibilities faster. However, putting the right technology in place is only part of the equation — but more on that in the next section.

Additionally, you should constantly be exploring ways to streamline business processes. Track relevant performance metrics and meet with your team to analyze this data monthly.

Look for concerning trends, celebrate efficiency improvements, and proactively seek input from your team. You never know which staff member might have a great idea for increasing your business efficiency.

3. Recruit More Staff

You need to recognize the need to recruit more staff and avoid delays in hiring until the situation becomes dire. While it may seem daunting to take on the expense of hiring another attorney, the benefits far outweigh the costs. In fact, according to the 2019 Cleo trends report, a solo attorney working full time in their business can only bill 2.2 hours a day and collect 1.8 hours a day. By hiring an attorney on staff, you can immediately triple the potential for your firm's earnings.

It's important to stop doing everything yourself and invest in your business beyond what you think it can withstand. Hiring an attorney when you're not ready for it, preferably when you first start your law firm, is the right time to do so. This will allow you to focus on growing your business and bringing in more clients, rather than getting bogged down in the day-to-day legal work.

Additionally, hiring freelancers can be a short-term solution if you're not ready to hire more full-time staff. They can tackle projects, augment your in-house resources, and help you navigate temporary upticks in new clients without making a long-term financial commitment.

However, you need to note that hiring the wrong candidate can ruin your law firm's growth momentum. To avoid this, consider investing in skills testing to ensure that you're hiring the right person for the job. This testing takes the guesswork out of hiring and can provide quantifiable data regarding a candidate's skills and abilities. It's also a strong defense against discriminatory hiring practice complaints.

"You get to that point where like, oh, I'm overworked, but I'm not earning enough to bring on another person. And you get stuck in this mode that you're never going to get out of until you're ready to invest in your business beyond what you think the business can, can withstand."
— Moshe Amsel

4. Feel Free to Outsource

You should also be mindful that outsourcing can be valuable to your growth strategy. A third-party provider can assist with things like marketing, managing your digital assets, and overseeing payroll. Leverage outsourcing opportunities to transform areas of weakness into organizational strengths.

When deciding whether to outsource, you should consider two questions. First, ask yourself if the outsourced partner can do a better job than your in-house staff. Secondly, can you save money by outsourcing? If you can save money and access higher-quality support, outsourcing that particular set of responsibilities is a no-brainer.


Growing Law Firm: Let Clients Fuel Your Digital Growth

Growing Law Firm: Let Clients Fuel Your Digital Growth

If you want to grow your digital presence and your law firm, use client relationships as your fuel. To do this, we suggest that you:

— Try to "Be There"

When you want to connect with prospective clients, you must be available in their time of need. This availability means putting yourself out there by marketing your services and promptly responding when a client reaches out to your law firm.

Remember, many prospective clients may not even know that your law firm exists or understand what sort of services you provide. Therefore, you must proactively work to make them aware of your brand while educating them in a friendly, approachable manner. Only then will you be able to set yourself apart from your competitors and achieve growth goals.

— Ask People for Reviews

Accumulating reviews will help you strengthen your law firm's reputation management within your city or region. Positive reviews will also encourage potential clients to reach out to your law firm rather than one of your competitors.

With that being said, most past clients will not leave reviews unless you ask them to. When asking for reviews, be tactful, not pushy. Also, make sure to gauge a client's overall level of satisfaction before you ask them to post a review for all the world to see. If a client seems happy with their experience with your law firm, ask for a review.

— Be Willing to Help

Volunteering a few minutes of your time to help potential or past clients is a great way of nurturing relationships and opening the door for future interactions.

You can accomplish this by calling leads or previous clients. Be cordial and talk to them about the challenges they are currently facing. If appropriate, offer suggestions or advice to help them navigate those challenges.

The next time that they need some guidance, your firm will be top of mind. Who knows — they may even be so grateful for your assistance that they will refer other clients to your firm in the future.

Over time, proactively reaching out to lend a helping hand will alter how your clients view you. Instead of perceiving you as just another law firm, they will begin to view you as their reliable resource for addressing legal issues. This mental evolution will lead them to develop feelings of loyalty towards you and your firm.

— Be Available

Want to let a great lead fall by the wayside? If so, ignore their calls, emails, texts, or other outreach attempts for days.

However, if you are serious about acquiring new clients and obtaining more legal work, then be responsive and available. While no one expects you to return calls instantaneously, providing a same-day response is an attainable goal.

If you hire a few legal assistants, you can decrease your response times even further and capitalize on every opportunity to obtain a new client.

— Empathize

Showing empathy is one of the most often overlooked aspects of the legal profession. While potential clients contact you for your legal expertise, they also want to feel you care about their concerns. If you fail to show empathy, you will struggle to develop meaningful relationships with your clients.

When speaking with clients, make sure to demonstrate some level of empathy. Take the time to listen to their concerns, fears, and needs. This focus will not only lead to a better client experience, but it will also help you more effectively serve them.


Do Attorneys Need Business Training?

When you are hiring additional staff, these new employees must have a good business sense. However, finding such candidates can be quite hard. According to some experts, the legal industry is entering a talent shortage that has the potential to last for years.

Naturally, you cannot just institute a hiring freeze until better candidates are available. However, you can circumvent some of the challenges this shortage creates by investing in business training for your attorneys and support staff. You can go about this in several ways.

One approach involves attending a training course or seminar yourself. You can then share what you learned with your team members to increase their skill sets.

Alternatively, you can invest in in-house training. There are plenty of great resources out there for upskilling your staff. You can implement your training program gradually so as to not overload your staff. When using this approach, prioritize the skills that are most critical to the ongoing growth of your business and branch out from there.

Grow Law Firm learns from the best professionals in a field whenever we have the chance to do so. Interested in learning something new? Listen to our podcast where Sasha Berson and Steve Fretzin discuss how to attract clients and make more money as a lawyer.


Managing Growth with a Large-Scale Strategy

Running a successful law firm involves much more than simply practicing law. To achieve sustained success in your practice area, you must develop a cohesive growth strategy, create meaningful content, increase your visibility in the online marketplace, and forge meaningful relationships with clients.

Cumulatively, these efforts will facilitate your firm's expansion and continued growth.

While implementing a large-scale strategy might seem like a monumental undertaking, the good news is that you do not have to go it alone. Instead, you can partner with an experienced law firm SEO agency like Grow Law Firm. Our team of experts specializes in helping law firms like yours achieve their growth goals.

If you would like to learn more about our suite of services and how we can be a valuable asset to your business, contact Grow Law Firm today.

Moshe Amsel

Moshe Amsel

Founder of Profit with Law

Moshe Amsel, the founder and CEO of Profit with Law, is a seasoned business executive with over 20 years of experience in the IT industry. With an MBA degree and a proven track record in Sales and Marketing, having closed over $30 million in sales in a single year, Moshe brings a wealth of expertise to the legal industry. He is passionate about helping law firm owners achieve substantial growth and profitability, with a focus on creating generational wealth. Moshe also owns DreamBuilder Financial, an accounting practice where he provides business advisory and tax strategy services to his clients.

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