Making small firm staffing decisions to grow your practice
Law firm entrepreneur, are you trying to do it all? If you have been in independent practice for awhile, adding more people to your team could help you grow. How to make smart small law firm staffing decisions.
When to hire
When you first launched your small law practice, going it alone likely made sense. You had only a few clients, and you wanted to focus on delivering great service. You also might not have had a clear vision of how you wanted your practice to grow.
Fast forward to today: Do you feel overwhelmed by your practice rather than inspired? Have you grown weary of handling everything from billing to marketing, in addition to delivering great legal services?
If yes, that could mean it’s time to hire staff. Consider:
- Bringing on a full-time paralegal who can help with research, filings and more
- Hiring an administrative assistant who can manage billing and day-to-day client communication
- Adding a partner attorney who can help you branch into a new practice area and/or reach higher-level clients
- Recruiting associate attorneys who can take on some of your caseload
Before you hire, consider your short-term and long-term goals for your small law firm. In the short-term, you might simply want administrative help so you can clock out at a decent hour every day.
But what about long-term? Do you want to grow and reach higher-caliber clients? If so, adding attorneys to your practice might open up new opportunities.
You can begin these staff relationships on a contract or trial basis to make sure that the arrangement works well for you both. If it does, then consider making a more formal partner or employee agreement.
When to outsource
Another alternative to hiring full-time or contract staff? Outsourcing.
Think about which tasks tend to suck up most of your non-billable time. You can outsource:
- Web design and management
- Content marketing (blogging, social media)
- IT support
For that last item, you have a couple of options: a virtual receptionist or a co-working space with an on-site receptionist. The latter comes with the benefit of a professional space to work and to hold client meetings when necessary. Many coworking spaces also include IT support and other time-saving services.
As for billable time, you can still outsource some legal functions. Those include:
- Brief and appeal writing
Many specialized legal services firms offer these services on a contract basis to law firms of all sizes.
When to collaborate
In some cases, you want to expand your reach without adding permanent staff. Whether you want to go after bigger cases or work with global companies, collaboration could open those doors for you.
Creating strategic relationships and temporary partnerships can help all parties learn and grow. Together, you can tackle more complex cases. You can also focus on niche practice areas that might have increasing demand with few experienced lawyers in the field.
Above the Law discussed the importance of law firm and lawyer collaboration with an expert in the field. The article’s author observed:
“Collaboration is not a new concept in many other industries. In the tech industry…collaboration among developers on products is essential to create the best, most innovative results. Similarly, with law, the best work can often result from collaboration. However, without an environment and tools that support collaboration, lawyers can’t reach their full potential.”
The expert cited is helping develop virtual environments where lawyers can collaborate and exchange knowledge. You can also develop that kind of environment in person by working with other independent lawyers in a coworking space or by cultivating your networking skills.
To learn more about growing your small law firm, contact us. We offer three collaborative coworking spaces for lawyers in Denver.