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Setting Growth Goals for Your Law Firm

October 5, 2022
18 min

As you create your legal marketing plan, you should take the time to set professional goals for 2023. When you set law firm goals, it is easier to establish clear pathways for growing your business in the coming year.

Conversely, overlooking law firm goal setting makes it all too easy to lose sight of your primary objectives as you become immersed in the day-to-day challenges of running your business.

In this guide, we explore the important role that the marketing plan of a law firm plays in driving new business. Additionally, we outline some common work goals for 2023 that you may want to incorporate into your law firm marketing plans. By leveraging the information below, you can choose strategic lawyer goals and achieve stable growth.

Major Law Firm Growth Options to Consider

While there are many different goals law firms can pursue, the majority of them can be grouped into one of two broad categories. These categories include goals for lawyers and law firm marketing goals.

As the name suggests, goals for law firms (or individual attorneys) focus on professional accomplishments.

A few examples of 2023 professional goals that you could set include acquiring a record number of new clients, opening a bigger office, adopting better practice management software, or expanding your staff.

On the other hand, law firm marketing goals are more directed toward brand-building efforts.

A few common law firm marketing goals include building a new website, generating more traffic, attracting more clients, or reworking your digital strategy. We explore potential law firm marketing goals and professional aspirations in greater detail below.

Your Marketing Law Firm Growth Goals

While your law firm marketing goals should be tailored to the needs of your law firm, there are a few common lawyer digital marketing practices from which virtually any business will benefit.

When leveraged properly, these strategies can improve client satisfaction, help you build a profitable law firm, and move you closer toward your professional objectives like making partner.

With that in mind, we suggest that you zero in on a few of your top law firm marketing goals and pursue them fiercely. Once you set goals, develop a plan for achieving them. If you really want to set yourself up for success, consider partnering with a company that provides digital marketing services for law firms.

Regardless of whether you decide to pursue your law firm marketing goals alone or elect to use digital strategy partners, some of the objectives you should work toward include:

Investing in a High-Performing Website

growth goals for law firm_ investing in a high-performing website

No matter which law firm marketing goals you establish for your legal practice, the primary objectives of these goals include driving traffic to your website and acquiring new clients. The question is, what happens if you invest time and money driving clients to your site only to greet them with underwhelming web content?

As you might expect, having an underperforming website can be detrimental to your client acquisition efforts. Clients may question your professionalism and skill when your website is not aesthetically pleasing.

However, good aesthetics are not the only concern when it comes to your website. You must also ensure that your website offers an enjoyable user experience (UX). If it does not, you will struggle to attract new clients.

The impact of website usability on client acquisition is not conjecture. This claim is backed up by plenty of research.

For instance, one study discovered that 88% of consumers were unlikely to revisit a website that provides a poor UX. Researchers also discovered that nearly half of all users expected website content to display properly, regardless of what type of device they used to access it.

A great website will make it easier for you to attract prospective clients and improve your ability to serve existing ones as well.

Additionally, website quality is one of the many factors that Google considers when ranking your listings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Therefore, if you want to make it to page one of Google, you had better invest in a high-performance website.

Objectives That Help to result in a good Attorney website

Before you add "Build a great website" to your list of law firm marketing goals, we suggest setting a few subgoals or objectives. These objectives can be part of your overall law firm marketing goals, but they should also be tied directly into your website improvement strategy.

During this process, keep in mind that not all goals will correlate with a good attorney website. However, pursuing certain objectives will inherently spur you to rework your existing website or create a new one entirely. Some smart goals that you can move closer to by creating a new website include:

  • Building your brand
  • Advertising your legal services
  • Increasing billable hours
  • Acquiring new clients

These objectives are just meant to help you establish a baseline. You can accomplish a whole host of law firm marketing goals just by upgrading your website. If you have no clue where to begin, you may want to consider using professional website-building services for law firms.

Leveraging the Power of SEO for Lawyers

Modern SEO is all about making your website easier to find during organic searches. SEO-optimized sites will appear higher in the rankings on SERPs.

Search engine optimization (SEO) should be the foundation of any digital strategy.

While the basic premise of SEO for lawyers is relatively straightforward, actually achieving a first-page Google ranking can be quite complicated. Google and other search engines analyze many factors when ranking your website.

If you are interested in boosting your online visibility, creating a high-performance website is a good place to start. From there, you will need to start packing your site with exceptional legal website content. You should create an attorney blog post library, as well as service pages for each practice area.

Once your SEO efforts are underway, you can track the efficacy of your law firm marketing strategy by monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs).

The exact KPIs that you should track will vary depending on your specific law firm marketing goals. However, a few good baseline KPIs include web traffic, conversion rates, and bounce rate. "Bounce rate" measures the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page of content.

If you really want to make the most out of your SEO efforts, partnering with professionals who specialize in SEO services for the legal industry is the way to go.

Getting Down to Reputation Management

Have you been proactively working to manage the digital reputation of your law office? If not, then it is high time to start.

Ensuring you develop and maintain a positive online reputation is critical to law practice management. To develop a strong online reputation, you will need to proactively encourage past clients to leave you reviews on Google, Yelp, Avvo, or other platforms.

As you accumulate more reviews, you will experience increased online visibility. More importantly, prospective clients will see these reviews and be encouraged to use your services. Once you have cultivated a great reputation, you must work to protect it. This work means addressing any grievances and routinely monitoring review platforms.

Producing Useful Content for Your Clients

law firm growth goals_ producing useful content

No list of smart goals would be complete without this entry. Producing useful content for your clients and potential customers is an excellent tactic that yields many benefits.

First and foremost, generating blogs will increase your online visibility. It will help you rank above other law firms and garner more site traffic. Ultimately, this will lead to more conversions and higher revenue. Intrigued yet?

The good news is that the benefits of producing useful content do not stop there. We consider this a smart goal for any law firm because it produces measurable results. Using KPIs, you can actually track whether your blogs are resonating with your target audience.

Additionally, creating content will help you establish yourself as an authority in your chosen practice area. Becoming a recognized authority will boost your rankings and draw in new clients.

With that being said, it is critical that your content is both timely and relevant. If your blogs have little connection with your practice area or legal services, they will not drive the right kind of traffic to your website.

Taking Part in Guest Posting

law firm growth goals_ guest posting

Guest posting is precisely what it sounds like. This tactic involves crafting quality content and publishing it on websites other than your own.

Active guest posting serves several purposes. This approach allows you to leverage the reach of the content host and access their audience. In addition, guest posting gives you the opportunity to start acquiring backlinks — links on other sites that route users to your website.

Backlinks provide additional pathways for generating website traffic. They also assist with improving your SEO ranking because Google's algorithms view backlinks as a sign that your website content is authoritative and reputable.

Your Business Law Firm Growth Goals

As you probably noticed, we have used the term "smart goals" several times in the material above. While we are certainly referring to objectives that are wise and strategic, the phrase "smart goals" also alludes to a popular acronym that is used to guide goal-setting practices.

Although the concept of smart goals (or SMART goals) is used for general goal-setting purposes, it also applies to law firms.

The acronym SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Let's explore each of those in a bit more detail.

The first letter, "S," is pretty straightforward. Your SMART goals must be specific, not broad and general. Secondly, a SMART goal needs to be measurable using established firm performance metrics. Perhaps most importantly, your SMART goals need to be achievable. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for failure and potentially wasting resources.

The fourth component of a SMART goal, relevance, is also quite obvious. However, it is often overlooked, especially when law firms are setting multiple goals simultaneously. In order to be a SMART goal, your objective must be relevant to both your long-term strategy and the other goals that you are creating.

Lastly, all SMART goals have to be time-bound. As the term implies, a time-bound goal has a deadline or desired "accomplish by" date. While it is perfectly acceptable to adjust this timetable, giving yourself a deadline will help you focus on achieving your goal.

We have outlined some popular SMART goals below in order to help you jumpstart your own goal-setting process. Our list of potential SMART goals includes the following:

Increase the Number of New Cases

What attorney doesn't want to increase the number of cases that they take on? We can't think of many.

Increasing the total number of cases you take on is a common, practical, SMART goal. If you plan on adding this to your list of goals for the coming year, make sure to hit all five components of the SMART methodology.

For instance, define how many clients you want to acquire per month. Make sure that you establish a way of measuring your progress, choose an achievable number, and give yourself a time-based limitation for reaching your goal.

Hitting your target by the end of the first quarter of 2023 could be a good starting point, depending on how bold you set your goal, of course.

Many firms make acquiring more cases one of their top goals every year. This goal is easy to define, attainable, and will provide a nice boost to revenue.

Hiring More Legal Professionals

law firm growth goals_ hiring more legal professionals

If you plan on making this one of your goals for the new year, be careful not to overstretch yourself. Sure, expanding your team will allow you to take on more billable hours and build your firm.

However, it is critical that you do not take on more employees than your revenue can support. If you do, you may hinder future growth or even find that you have to shed some of your newly acquired talent.

When pursuing this goal, take the time to carefully evaluate your business as it compares to other law firms. See how your staff size and revenue stack up against competitors. If you are generating more revenue and have far fewer staff, you could probably safely take on a few more legal professionals.

Expanding Your Law Firm: New Practice Areas and Resources

The prospect of expanding your law firm can be incredibly exciting. You can break into new practice areas, bring on additional staff, open a secondary law office, and reach more clients.

However, it is critical that you follow the SMART methodology when pursuing such a lofty goal. It is particularly important that you set a clear and achievable goal so that you do not become overzealous in service to your passion for your profession.

When you're planning an expansion, carefully plotting out every move is essential. You must be willing to capitalize on emerging growth opportunities.

Conversely, you should also ensure that your cash flow is stable and that you are not tying up too much of your revenue in long-term investments. Striking the perfect balance between risk and reward will give you the ability to pivot when unexpected challenges arise.

Uniting with Another Law Firm or Selling Your Law Company

law firm growth goals

If you are looking for ways to achieve rapid results, you have two key options at your disposal:

Joining Another Law Firm

Joining forces with another law firm can give you the opportunity to explore additional practice areas and expand into new geographical regions.

However, some attorneys may not find merging with another firm the most appealing option. This reaction is understandable, as undergoing a merger often means reducing one's ownership stake in the practice and giving up some or all decision-making control.

Despite these potential drawbacks, merging with another organization can offer some tremendous benefits. For instance, merging law firms can expand their teams and better serve their clients. They can also rapidly scale their workforce's talent and cumulative experience, which is a win for clients and the legal professionals themselves.

Merging law firms is particularly appealing to a managing partner or senior attorney ready to reduce the number of responsibilities on their plate. A merger can yield some short-term cash returns and allow senior lawyers to start the transition toward retirement.

Selling Your Practice

The concept of selling your practice to achieve growth may seem counterintuitive, and at times, it certainly can be. However, this is not always the case. There are plenty of scenarios in which selling a practice actually paves the way for growth.

For example, selling off an established practice can provide you with the capital you need to change practice areas, relocate to a new state, or invest in other endeavors. On the flip side of the coin, you could buy a smaller practice in order to scale up your own team.

Passing on Ownership of Your Law Firm

law firm growth goals_ passing ownership

If you do not want to sell your life's work but are ready to move on from your role as a managing partner, passing on ownership is a viable alternative to selling or merging with another law firm. If you're considering this approach, you should be mindful of factors such as:

The Importance of Choosing the Right Successor

When engaging in succession planning, your first instinct will likely be to select an internal partner as your successor.

While there are plenty of instances when this would be the best option at your disposal, there are also scenarios where you need to venture outside your law firm to choose a successor. The process is further complicated by your personal connection to your in-house staff.

Regardless of whether you choose the "promote from within" approach or decide to bring in a fresh face, make sure to carefully vet your candidate. Ensure that the prospect understands the scope of the responsibilities they are going to be taking on.

Potential Drawbacks

The biggest downside to succession planning is that not all candidates are willing to put pen to paper when it is time for you to step down. Some attorneys may be fiercely loyal to you but not willing to take on the risks associated with becoming a managing partner.

This hesitancy is completely understandable, but it is vital that you discern this information before handing over the keys to the kingdom.

Risks of Maintaining "Status Quo"

While succession planning has inherent challenges, maintaining the status quo can be far more detrimental to your law firm. Failing to plan ahead for your eventual retirement can be catastrophic. It can even cause the dissolution of your firm, given a perfect storm of bad circumstances.

Setting Goals and High-Level Planning

High-level business planning and marketing strategy should go hand in hand with your personal career growth goals. The specific goals that you set for yourself will vary depending on what stage of your career you are in.

Your Personal Career Growth Goals

There are no one-size-fits-all career goals for attorneys. The goals you pursue should be tailored to your specific interests, experience level, area of practice, and many other factors.

Your career goals can vary based on the size of practice you work for as well. For example, an attorney at a large practice may want to become a partner, whereas independent lawyers might be interested in launching their own firms.

With that being said, the biggest factors that influence your goals are your maturity and experience level as an attorney. We have provided a few examples of common goals for attorneys in specific stages of their careers below.

Law University Graduates

This section is for you if you are fresh out of law school or preparing to don your cap and gown this year. As a recent or upcoming law university graduate, you need to have clear goals, as these objectives will set the stage for the rest of your career. While it is always possible to adjust course, wouldn't you rather start your career off on the right foot?

As you prepare to join the ranks of legal professionals, priority one should involve finding a law firm that aligns with your goals, values, and beliefs.

For example, if you are passionate about giving back to your community, you would probably be happier at a law firm that is involved in various outreach projects. Conversely, if your core focus involves climbing the corporate ladder and becoming a managing partner, you will probably be a better fit at a large legal department or firm.

After you have set your sights on a few prospective employers, the next step is to identify your desired pay threshold. This determination will help you narrow your search and figure out which opportunities meet your fiscal needs.

Another critical goal for new attorneys is finding a good balance between their personal and professional lives.

Recent grads are tempted to throw themselves into the depths of their new profession, sometimes at the expense of other endeavors. While being passionate about your career will help you achieve your goals, you mustn't completely lose sight of your personal needs in the process.

Aspiring Lawyers

If you are already working as an attorney but are still relatively new to the profession, your goals will be slightly different than those outlined above. Sure, you may still be prioritizing things like optimizing your income, but you need to establish some other objectives as well.

For example, you should strive to expand your worldview by networking with seasoned attorneys. Networking can open the door for countless opportunities and help you accelerate your personal development.

You may also want to set some performance-related goals that will allow you to leave your mark on the city in which you operate. These goals may include acquiring new clients, boosting your revenue, or exploring additional markets.

Life-Long Growth Goals for Lawyers

Even if you are well-established in the legal industry, you should still set goals for yourself each year. Establishing new challenges to tackle each year can help you maintain your passion for the profession. These goals will also serve as a guide as you strive to grow your practice or develop as an attorney.

Before you start setting new career goals, we suggest taking an objective look at your current standing within the industry. You should consider factors like client satisfaction, the reputation of your law firm, and revenue. This analysis will help you identify areas in which you excel and those that should be the focus of your professional goals in the coming year.

Identify Your KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are more than just a tool for measuring your progress toward marketing and career objectives. They can also serve as a guide for goal-setting. You can use KPIs in this manner by first determining which KPIs most strongly correlate with the success of your law firm. From there, establish a KPI-specific goal for your business.

For example, let's say you have a respectable conversion rate, but your total site traffic volume is on the low side. You can set a goal to boost site traffic volume. In this example, site traffic is both the metric that you are tracking and the performance indicator that your goal is focused on improving.

You will also need to identify KPIs for general performance measuring purposes. Strategically choose which KPIs to track so that you do not become overloaded with data. You should select specific KPIs for each goal, as this approach will help you make the most of your performance monitoring efforts.

Uncomfortable Yet?

Has all this talk about goal setting and performance monitoring made you uncomfortable? Good, because it should.

If you hope to accomplish your professional goals for law firm growth, you must be willing to step outside your comfort zone. This adventure may come in the form of taking on more public speaking engagements or partnering with a digital strategy agency.

Remember, if you want to achieve things that you have never achieved before, you must break away from the status quo and push toward your objectives with conviction.

The good news is that you do not have to take on these new challenges alone. Instead, you can leverage the services of a law firm digital marketing agency like Grow Law Firm. We specialize in helping law firms and individual attorneys achieve their growth objectives by using well-established digital marketing best practices. To learn more, contact Grow Law Firm today.

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Top techniques for busy lawyers to bring in more clients in 2023
  • Easy steps you can take to bring in more clients and up this year’s revenue
  • The top website and marketing mistakes holding your law firm back
February, 2nd
1.30 pm CST60 minutes
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    Sasha serves as Managing Partner for Grow Law Firm, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency focused solely on specialized growth strategies for attorneys and their practices.

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