By: LEAP Legal Software | AAML NJ Silver Sponsor
As a legal professional working in family law, you’re an expert in navigating legal matters, but your legal education might not have prepared you to successfully navigate another critical but often overlooked aspect of the profession: namely, how to manage the business of law. While business obviously isn’t the focus of family law, it’s important to remember that family law is also a business. In order to achieve the highest levels of success for you and your clients, you need to be able to negotiate the financials of lawyering in addition to the practice of family law itself.
In this article, we’ll look at 3 common habits of successful law firms to arm you with practical business tips that you probably didn’t learn in law school.
1. Dedicate time to building the firm as a business
For many lawyers practicing in family law in New Jersey, the word “sales” is an anathema. However, to maintain and enhance the financial security of their firms, attorneys have to get over their aversion to drumming up business.
If you want more clients and matters, you need to “sell” your firm, plain and simple— but it’s crucial to do this in a way that leaves your clients feeling satisfied and respected at the end of the interaction. Successful firms do this by ensuring that there is constant alignment between the legal services that they offer, what their marketing material says, and what they and their staff say when they are actually selling the firm’s services. It’s this alignment and consistency of messaging that builds a powerful reputation, which will eventually repeat more business and greater cashflow.
Tips for action:
Have a vision for the future of your firm and share it with your staff Be attentive to the concerns of disgruntled clients
Have a coherent and consistent marketing plan
2. Employ smart people and treat them well
In most family law firms, people are both your biggest expense and your greatest asset. When morale is low and the workplace is less productive as a result, your people can feel like a cost. On the other hand, when your team is satisfied, respected, and properly equipped to do their jobs, your firm will produce more value for its clients; in fact, research from the London School of Economics shows that satisfied employees do more for their companies. This rule applies to law firms both big and small.
To make sure that your firm’s employees remain satisfied and productive, it’s important to provide proper and regular training, equipment, and support, and in many cases, smaller law firms are turning to legal technology to help their employees succeed. 84% of law firm employees in a recent Statista report said that legal technology had improved their firm’s productivity. Proper technology, a welcoming environment, and regular training can help your firm do more with less.
Tips for action:
Organize regular training for your staff
Provide an enjoyable workplace environment
Provide the best tools for your employees to do their jobs
3. Become an expert in customer service
Attorneys don’t learn customer service in law school, but strong customer service
skills are one of the most important keys to success for smaller law firms.
Smart customer service begins with thoughtful communication; from the moment the clients walk through the door until the matter (no matter how big or small) is completed, successful attorneys keep the client fully and repeatedly informed about the progress of the matter. In doing so, they consistently demonstrate how the firm values the client, which helps build the firm’s reputation and bring in new business. Referrals from satisfied existing clients are a primary referral source for many firms, but lawyers sometimes forget this and, as a result, can often overlook the value of good customer service.
Successful law firms know that the success of the customer is integral to the success of their firm. These firms and their employees are always coming up with
new ways to better serve their clients, including self-service portals where clients can book appointments, pay bills and make deposits, view their matters, and more. Great customer service requires a smiling face—but it also requires proper tools and equipment to meet the client’s needs and expectations.
Tips for action:
Create a workplace culture that values good customer service Reward employees who go above and beyond for the client Keep in constant contact regarding matter updates
Smarter Business Practices Benefit Everyone
When you implement smart business practices at your firm, you’re doing your due diligence to secure its financial success, and, in turn, the livelihoods of everyone you employ. But even beyond that, New Jersey attorneys should understand that financially healthy firms provide a higher standard of service, which benefits their clients and the community at large.
For more practical tips on how to succeed in today’s legal world, download the free whitepaper, “11 Habits of Successful Law Firms.”