Define Your Goals
Before you make any changes or invest any money in growth, clearly define what you want to achieve in a thorough business plan that includes short-and long-term goals for your practice. Goals should be time-specific, achievable and measurable, and each should be tied to concrete actions. For example, one possible short-term goal would be increasing your number of personal injury clients by 5% in Q1 by using a legal content firm to create blogs for your site. A long-term goal: Adding one partner and two associates and expanding your practice to include SSD and worker’s comp within five years.
Balance Your Personal Skillset
Consider your personal strengths and where you prefer to focus your time. If you are a skilled rainmaker, bring on an associate attorney who can handle billable hourly work while you find clients. If you are happiest focusing one or two areas of law, partnering with an attorney who has a complementary focus sets a broad base for your firm’s future success. If you truly enjoy law firm management, structure your firm so other attorneys handle most direct client work.
Clearly Delineate Roles
Part of the challenge of moving from working for yourself to working with others is delegation, whether you are working with another attorney and/or with a paralegal or legal assistant. As a solo practitioner, you’re likely accustomed to doing everything yourself, and learning to delegate effectively can be challenging. Use what you’ve learned about your new colleagues’ work styles and task preferences to establish strong processes and systems from the beginning. Because Smokeball legal tasks and workflows offer a universal view into the next steps on each case, your firm will remain on track and meet its priorities.
Understand Your Competition and Market
Evaluating your local competition and market for clients affords you the insight to structure a growth plan that taps into the most profitable and broadest client bases. Reaching underserved areas of law and untapped client allows your firm to fill a much-needed niche; make sure to also offer competitive fee structures to entice new clients.
Build Strong Relationships
A successful small firm is one that acts as a community partner, maintaining relationships with other attorneys, court personnel, professionals in related industries, clients and the community at large. As you scale your firm, include community and professional outreach as part of your marketing strategy. Join community organizations and sponsor local events to make your firm a well-known player in your area. Build and improve relationships with clients by seeking regular feedback on your firm’s performance, learning what you’re doing well and where you can improve.
Growing from a solo practice requires a paradigm shift and some adjustments. But with an eye to slow, controlled growth and the right staff and tools, your practice can expand successfully.