Yes, You CAN Run a Solo Law Practice (And Make Money While You Do It)
There are several benefits to running your law firm as a solo practitioner. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of finding and training the right employee (hiring can be such a frustrating process) and all of the profits made from the law firm go directly into your pockets.
It’s a tempting scenario – but setting yourself up to receive all of the rewards also sets yourself up to assume the risk. But running a solo practice does entail unique challenges. It may involve doing unrelated tasks that are beneath a lawyer’s pay grade, feeling overwhelmed with clients or ideas but not having time to implement them, missing leads by not responding in a timely manner, and more.
In this article, I’m going to cover a few ways to circumvent some of the struggles that solo law firm lawyers face in their practice.
How to Survive Your First Round of Freelancers
Fortunately, we practice law in the time of the Internet and more employees now than ever prefer to work from the comfort of their home. That means that freelancers are abundant. You can pay someone from the other side of the country (or world) to complete something for you without having to pay a salary, health insurance, a 401(k), et cetera.
Outsourcing assignments to freelancers isn’t a foolproof strategy, though. Without the buy-in and motivation that an employee has, you might see sloppy results. While you may find a superstar freelancer on your first try, it’s smart to test out several different freelancers for one assignment until you find one that consistently provides high-quality work, delivered on-time, for a reasonable price.
Use Vendors (Without Vendors Using You)
There are hundreds of companies, that provide services for small businesses, and many focus exclusively on providing services for law firms. I’m sure you receive phone calls and emails all the time trying to sell you some $2,000/mo service. At my law firm, BenGlassLaw, we regularly use vendors for our book publishing, website, newsletter, some call answering, live chat on our website, and dozens of offshoot ideas that we have and need vendors for.
Navigating a vendor contract can be tricky. It’s likely a large sum of money — at least hundreds, if not thousands a month, depending on the service and the vendor. And, again, you are the one assuming all of the financial risks of your law firm. Members of Great Legal Marketing have the option to send us their vendor contracts before they sign for us to unbiased review it and give advice about if it is worth the cost or not.
Manage Your Time Militantly
Solo law firm lawyers are at a high risk of falling into the 80-hour workweek. Remember, creating effective systems while balancing current legal responsibilities will take time, but it’s not a race. If you are focusing on getting everything done at once you’re going to quickly find yourself burnt out and feeling a loss of motivation and your relationships with family and friends may falter.
Plan out your weekly schedule and, most importantly, stick to your plan. Focus on getting one or two systems created at a time, and you will find yourself enjoying work more than you could ever imagine, having a steadily increasing profit, and be home every night for dinner with your family.
WARNING: The Next Two Pieces of Advice Aren’t for Everyone.
If you are running a solo law firm that is profitable, but your growth and profitability have become stagnant, these ideas are how you can your law firm to the next level.
Become a Specialist to Charge Premium Prices
The more niche and selective you are in your chosen practice area, the more money you can charge for your services. While you might be able to legally say that you’re the best lawyer, your reviews and testimonials will do it for you. Long-time MasterMind member of Great Legal Marketing, Robert Battle (www.bobbattlelaw.com), has established himself as the Virginia DUI and Reckless driving expert. It’s his only practice area and he excels at it. After some time of successful verdicts, collecting testimonials, and writing free consumer publications, Robert now charges for a consultation with him.
If you focus all of your marketing and legal efforts into a focused practice area and show results, you will then be able to charge premium prices for your time and services. Another benefit of increased prices is that you won’t deal with flaky or unpleasant clients.
Host or Attend a Mastermind
The most sure-fire way to be rejuvenated and motivated to improve your law firm is to share ideas and strategies with other business owners. The mastermind group can consist of more than just law firm owners. Any struggle you are facing has been felt by a business owner, whether it be a medical office, restaurant, or plumbing company. However, if the opportunity presents itself to host or attend a mastermind with “competing” attorneys, take the opportunity. You are never the smartest in the room and you could always learn new ideas from others.
To host a mastermind, start by inviting several different types of business owners within 10-miles of your law firm. Provide lunch and let the ideas flow. This is a great place to start if you’ve never been to a mastermind before. If you’re willing to spend money, you can find high-ticket mastermind groups of experienced attendees and fly to different locations to attend the meeting. Whatever direction you choose to go, make sure that you’re always learning.
Most attorneys start their firms assuming that being a really, really good attorney should, in and of itself, be a marketing advantage. Those attorneys believe that joining a whole bunch of committees and putting their name in lawyer directories is “marketing,” and they never bother to ask if there is a better way.
Attorneys are catching on, however, and those who succeed learn to leverage their current resources to create effective (and ethical) marketing. What they discover isn’t a magic pill or silver bullet but a different approach to marketing that your competitors haven’t considered.
by Ben Glass
Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.