Growing a law firm isn’t easy. You have to manage the business side. You have to manage cases and bring in new clients. So, just how can you become more efficient? How can you manage your time better and make more money? Essentially, the answer lies in outsourcing the business side of your business to a virtual provider.
The Pareto Principle – Focusing on the 20%
According to the Pareto Principle, better known as the 80/20 rule, 20% of what you do will generate 80% of your results. This means that you want to focus your attention on the 20% of your actions that make money for your law firm. You should spend more time bringing in clients and working on cases and less time on the administrative functions.
Using Virtual Solutions to Better Manage Your Time
There’s a big misunderstanding about scaling a law firm. Yes, you need people to help you with the business-side of law. However, it’s not a necessity to hire full or part time employees that come to your office every day. For many small law firms, there simply isn’t capital in place to support the increased overhead, pay, and benefits associated with hiring.
Thanks to technology, law firms just like yours now have access to affordable virtual solutions to get help with practically any aspect of running your firm. You can focus on your current clients, acquire new clients, and continue to grow your bottom line.
Selecting the Right Virtual Solution for Your Law Firm
Before you think about how you just couldn’t possibly turn over any portion of your law firm to someone you’ve never met, you probably do it now without realizing it. Do you have a CPA who handles your taxes? How often do you actually spend time with this person? Probably not very often, and yet you trust this person to handle a very critical aspect of your law firm. You’re going to use the same principles to choose your virtual solutions.
Principle #1 – Thou Shalt Do Thy Research
You probably didn’t just shut your eyes and randomly choose a CPA out of a phone book. You asked other lawyers. You made sure that they were in good standing. You probably even looked online for reviews. When you’re considering any of the virtual solutions below, you need to do your research. Look for a proven track record. Look for signs that the person or agency is a good communicator. Ask for references and check them.
Principle #2 – Thou Shalt Conduct Interviews Via Skype of Phone
It is imperative that your potential help can communicate with you. The only way to really know whether you may be getting the bait and switch (people use Google Translator more than you’d think) is to talk to them. Skype is free. If they’re in your country, you could just set a time for a phone interview. Many virtual solutions provide services that put them into direct contact with your clients. Clear communication to you and to your clients is essential.
Principle #3 – Thou Shalt Not Ignore Thy Gut
Probably the most important thing that you should know is to follow your gut. If you get a gut feeling or see a red flag that says this person or agency won’t be able to meet the needs of your firm, choose someone else.
There are a number of different virtual solutions that you can choose from to get customized help for your firm. Remember, this is about freeing up your time from tasks that keep you from making more money. You can start with a small test project. If it goes well, you can assign more work. Here are some options to get you started:
There are individuals who work remotely to provide various administrative services. Many provide specialized services. Others provide more general help. So, it is important that you understand exactly what you’re getting. Look for someone who either has law firm administration experience or that has previous experience working in a law firm environment as either a paralegal, legal assistant, or otherwise demonstrated legal experience.
Freelance contractors can be found for just about anything that you need done for your law firm. It’s a good choice for lawyers who just need occasional help. There are platforms, such as Upwork, that enable you to get into contract with freelancers and provides you with a secure way to pay your contractors. Make sure that you thoroughly review profiles and set up phone or Skype interviews.
Virtual agencies exist for just about anything that you need done for your law firm. You can get help with your accounts receivable, customer service, client intake, collections, billing, IOLTA account management, and just about anything else. Look for an agency with an excellent track record and years of experience. If you’re looking for help with collections, you’ll also want to go a cursory check to make sure that the agency isn’t in trouble for breaking collections laws.
Law Firm Case Study: McKean Smith
McKean Smith, a small law firm located in Portland, Oregon, provides legal advice and representation for family law and estate planning. To enable their staff to spend more time directly with their clients, the firm utilizes several services offered by Clients ARM. Clients ARM, a reputable virtual solutions provider, has services specifically geared toward law offices of any size. One such service McKean Smith relies on is Clients ARM’s ability to provide them with first party soft collections. McKean Smith received more payments on past due accounts in a single day than they did during the entire previous month thanks to their decision to outsource their collections and billing. Clients ARM also saved time for the McKean Smith team by organizing and implementing needed processes that they needed.
Regardless of your industry, there is a virtual solution available that can take on some of your tasks. There is a solution for every budget. Check out your options, do your research, and begin to scale your business!
[RB1]My thought is to sort of condense the entire virtual solutions section and then talk about how the mentioned law firm uses Susan’s services to help manage their administrative needs. Then, change up the final thoughts (maybe even call it something else altogether).