Practice Management

The Three Tools Law Firms Need to Survive and Thrive

Chelsey Lambert
Chelsey Lambert
January 15, 2016

Small law firms don’t exactly have it easy.

Staying on top of cases, growing the business, and getting paid can become overwhelming. With a new year upon us, many small firms want to ensure they are setup for success. Here are three of the most important tools you need to run an efficient law practice, and continue to grow in a competitive market for the upcoming year.

Automated Marketing

When casework piles up, marketing your business is probably one of the last things you think about. Without consistent marketing though, it is next to impossible to continue to grow your business.

Every person you meet, greet or correspond with should be in your email list. If you are not collecting email addresses, phone numbers, and how people found your firm you are throwing your hard earned money away. The time when law firms could rely on repeat or referral business is over. Now you have to earn it, with your reputation and savvy marketing.

The average return on email marketing is $7.50 for every dollar spent. Or a 4 to 1 return, depending on your area of law, fee schedule and contact list size. The larger the list, the more potential you have for success. However, it is important to know that for lawyers, the point of email marketing is not to sell services through email, but instead keep your law firm at top of mind.

Sending a once per month email newsletter, blog digest or frequently asked question can be the difference between the client choosing you… or the law firm across the street. Want to go the extra mile? Creating informative free guides, eBooks, motivational messages, or answers to frequently asked questions are the most common topics found in Attorney Email Marketing. Riding the coattails of celebrity news such as Estate Planning commentary following incidents like the death of Michael Jackson, or Kim Kardashian’s Divorce proceedings. (All couched with the proper disclaimers of course.)

Consumers thrive on pop culture content. Sharing your opinion, focusing on the value of working with an experienced attorney keeps the conversation going about your services, and why you are the right person to deliver them. When a legal need arises, creative communication and timing that work in your favor. Be the attorney that people remember, recommend, and refer… instead of forget.

Email and automated marketing services for attorneys: Constant Contact, Avvo Ignite, Lawcountability by Ari Kaplan, Mail Chimp, Infusionsoft

Credit Card & ACH Payment Processing

When is the last time you saw someone pull out their checkbook at the grocery store? If it was recently, you should have also noticed the entire line cringe and sigh as it happened. The fact of the matter is that we’ve been trained to click, swipe, or tap to pay. The thought of paper payment is intimidating, frightening and seems like a bother. When a client retains you, what is the expected process for payments? Do you have one, or is it, I’ll send you an invoice?

If we’ve learned anything from the technology revolution that’s happened in the last 10 years, is that as a business owner the smartest thing you can do it remove every obstacle to paying you for your services.

If you haven’t investigated digital online payments, credit card processing, or electronic check / ACH payments, you need to, like yesterday. LawPay is a great option for all credit card processing. For more information on LawPay features, click here.

Document Automation Tools

Time is money and the more of it you spend on the tasks that technology can mange for you….the less that ends up in your bank account. To add fuel to the fire, many small law firms feel pressured to match or beat the fees of their competitors. Clients are self-educating on Google, or comparing the costs of legal kits on sites like Rocket Lawyer or Legal Zoom. So how do you compete, without losing money?

Become more efficient, period.

With an already competitive market, you can’t raise your fees, so where does that leave you? You have to find ways to eliminate errors, reduce preparation time, and ensure that each of your staff is following the same procedure for each task or document type. Most law firms use the same documents, or template starting points for a majority of their transactional work. So instead of using ‘Search & Replace’ as your pseudo-paralegal, invest in a document automation solution that can execute the first bit of work for you.

Trim hours out of your day by turning your most commonly used documents, agreements, letters, work product, and emails into templates, then auto-fill them with every detail of client information you possibly can.

Document Automation for Small Law Firms

Ever write over a document? Can’t find a version from two months back? It’s time to stop printing, searching, resaving and naming everything that comes across your desk. It’s time to start using Smokeball.

Smokeball empowers your small law firm to manage emails and documents easily, create documents faster through clever automation, and gives you a digital filing system in the cloud so your staff can work together from anywhere.

Smokeball’s deep integration with Microsoft Word and Outlook make document versioning and email filing headaches a thing of the past. Auto-save incoming and outgoing emails from Microsoft Outlook in the digital file, so you can see all emails relating to a matter, regardless of who sent them. Automatically version Word Documents, Court Forms, PDF’s and letters inside the same digital file.

Want more detail on what Smokeball can offer your Small Law Firm? You can learn more about here!

Whether you adopt one or more of the solutions listed above, please keep this in mind. The longer you wait, the more firms move ahead around you. Implementing a solution today, means better returns and security for the new year ahead. So no matter what you do, just start. Even if it’s one small step at a time.