What Does a Law Firm Consultant Do and How Do They Help Law Firms?
A law firm consultant advises law firms, lawyers, and other legal staff on the business of law.
Generally, a law firm consultant’s aim is to help the law practice increase productivity, achieve revenue goals, and improve their marketing. Law firm consultants also may give personal and professional advice to attorneys and practice owners.
Though their titles are similar, a law firm consultant has different responsibilities from a “legal consultant.” While a law firm consultant is focused on helping the law firm or attorney streamline the business side of their practice, a legal consultant may provide legal services like drafting documents, reviewing contracts, and conducting legal research.
There is some cross-over between the duties of a law firm consultant and a legal consultant, but the former is more focused on the professional and personal development of the attorneys at the firm.
When Should an Attorney Hire a Law Firm Consultant?
Often, law firm consultants are hired when there is a critical issue in the law firm. This could be a marketing/client attraction issue, hiring, and staffing issue, or a processes and systems issue. Attorneys seek out consultants when these issues arise because the attorney has tried to solve the problem themselves without success, and they need outside help.
A law firm consultant can help by giving the lawyer an outside perspective on their problems. People within the business are sometimes “too close” to the issue (or are responsible for causing the issue themselves), and a law firm consultant provides that necessary outside perspective to help the attorney solve whatever is wrong.
While law firm consultants help with existing issues, some attorneys hire a consultant to prevent future problems. A great law firm consultant can help the attorney:
- Set hard goals for the law firm
- Foster discussion between key team members
- Identify needed changes in the operations of the firm
- Help the attorneys prioritize issues and opportunities
- Vet programs and software (like case management programs and CRMs)
- Identify marketing opportunities
- Make critical hiring/staffing choices
The list above isn’t exhaustive because a law firm consultant can help attorneys with many issues beyond the day-to-day operations. At Great Legal Marketing, our law firm consultants also talk with attorneys about their personal goals and advise these attorneys on the clearest path to meet those goals.
Some law firm consultants are two-parts business advisors and one-part business therapists. Personal coaches/consultants for business owners often consider the business owner’s happiness, so a law firm consultant may ask questions about the lead attorney’s individual goals and desired outcomes. Some attorneys may hire a law firm consultant for personal coaching, and business coaching becomes secondary.
What Should an Attorney Look for in a Law Firm Consultant?
In most cases, a law firm consultant isn’t a full-time employee of the attorney. They work as an outside resource, usually meeting with the attorney monthly to discuss problems and opportunities within the attorney’s practice.
Most law firm consultants have expertise in business and marketing. The resume of a law firm consultant will usually show they have prior experience working as a:
- President or Chief Executive Officer
- Chief Marketing Officer
- Other C-Suite Level Role
Because a law firm consultant advises attorneys, they also should be familiar with the practice of law. The most successful law firm consultants have worked in law firms in some capacity and understand the real-world challenges faced by modern practice.
Law firm consultants may also have experience in other industries. Consultants from outside the legal profession can provide a fresh perspective and bring new insights that attorneys may overlook.
However, attorneys should always look for a law firm consultant who has a track record of success working with attorneys and law firms, no matter where the law firm consultant started their career.
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.