Let’s be obvious: growing a business is hard, and the legal space offers a number of unique challenges.
At Marion, we know better than most that growing your law firm is challenging. Through our work and conversations with attorneys helping them achieve their growth goals, we hear it all. And while we focus primarily on delivering new business to our clients and helping them build authority, our deep relationships with clients have led us to help with hiring and operations as well.
In this especially challenging time, we asked attorneys across the country what challenges they’re currently facing, and how they’ve worked to overcome them.
FINDING NEW CLIENTS
“As in any business, there are always a lot of challenges, sometimes from the economy, the political environment, or legal changes. However, as a law firm, probably the biggest challenge we personally struggle with is consistency of quality potential client appointments. The variations may be low to high volume of potential clients calling. Maybe the potential fees associated with the calls are consistently low for a period of time. And, sometimes there is an influx of difficult people to work with while at other times the potential clients are very good to work with. If we were to increase the consistency of the potential client pipeline it would be a great help.”
- – Attorney, Russell A. Fracassa from Paths Law Firm
“The biggest challenge that law firms face when it comes to growth is attracting new business. There’s an overabundance of law firms in the country. All of these offer a wide variety of specialized services at various price points. With such industry conditions, it is pretty difficult for law firms to attract new clients.
A firm could have the best lawyers in the world and still not be able to attract quality clients.. Law firms have taken to the internet to create a substantial digital presence for themselves in order to attract clients. But the problem remains that everyone else is doing so as well. With this saturation in both offline and online marketing channels, how is a firm supposed to convince people? Many young lawyers and attorneys have taken to TikTok to create high-quality short-form video content in order to attract customers.”
- – Clayton Hasbrook, Attorney, Hasbrook & Hasbrook
The Marion Solution
Finding new clients is a challenge in any business, but especially one as crowded as the legal industry. More than other industries, customer choose individual attorneys who can display authority and have expert content directly addressing their situation.
Beyond having a strong web presence, this is the single best way to drive new business without a large advertising budget. Authoritative content is how we’ve helped Thompson Law in Austin generate 50-60 leads every single month.
BUILDING TRUST WITH CLIENTS
“A challenge that is tough to overcome is having untrusting clients. Whatever good work you do for them, they will always find bad things to discredit and destroy your work. They are always not satisfied and will always find worse reasons not to like your work. These untrusting clients will also try to engage other lawyers, if not just for their opinion, but their arguments, and use them against you or your work.
There are various ways to approach distrusting clients, but first, you have to determine if your client trusts you or not:
- By actively engaging your client in various topics, you can gauge on how they think about things. You can try asking about certain situations and see how they will respond or how will they react to it. Once you have determined that your client may be a distrusting one, you can make assurances that their problem is no longer their problem, but is now that of the firm.
- You can also assure these clients about having a similar case which was resolved favorably to your previous clients. You can also anticipate the things that worry your clients and explain the consequences, give them your legal strategy and assure them about the merits of the case.
- Also, keep your client updated on every progress of the case, especially the documentaries, the filings and servings of legal correspondences, pleadings, motions, or court issuances.
- Keep your lines open for your clients. As a lawyer, generally, your office determines your working hours. However, as a practitioner, the real boss is the clients, not you. They pay you for your legal services, unless they engaged you on a limited retainership. Nonetheless, you can always refuse to take calls if made not during reasonable hours, except only if there is an emergency for your client.”
- – Juan Dominguez, CEO of The Dominguez Firm
The Marion Solution
Building trust with clients starts before they become clients. Beyond great content, an authoritative website with testimonials, case studies, and industry affiliations can break down the initial barriers to a quality client-attorney relationship. Building a great reputation through an automated review system is also key to this initial step.
Once they become clients, first impressions are everything, and your clients need to be reassured frequently you’re there for them and working on their case. Building out regular touchpoints in your internal processes that help set expectations every step of the way is critical to keeping clients feeling like their being cared for.
An email sequence that not only touches clients with new information but also internally helps staff know how to engage with clients and when is a great way to guarantee a trust-building client service relationship.
“My law firm’s biggest challenge would be scaling operations. In today’s digital world, technology is seeing an increased implementation across the board. New players in the market are using the technology to expand their operations, which makes it difficult for us to disrupt the market. Our law firm operates on a brick-and-mortar model, and paperwork dominates our firm. This is due to the perception that we regard written documents as being more credible than other sources such as technology. Technological solutions are challenging to implement and require additional training, which seems like a hassle and, quite frankly, a waste of resources.”
- – Mark Sadaka, Founder, Sadaka Law
The Marion Solution
Scaling your business is tough but essential to achieving not just profit goals but freedom with your time goals as well. Technology and SaaS tools have provided a multitude of ways to streamline operations and save on time and people costs. But they do come with their share of training and security risks.
Scaling can come in many forms, however:
- Detailed documentation of processes via video tools like Loom can reduce friction in staffing turnover.
- Templating hiring documents and tasks can save time and effort while improving accuracy.
- Building checklists into standard operating procedures in the medical field has saved hundreds of millions of dollars and countless lives. A similar financial impact could be felt in the legal field by reducing error rates.
None of this requires technology, just time spent upfront that saves time and money long term.
“From what I’ve seen while running a virtual legal services firm, lawyers are often trained to take care of everything themselves. But when they begin to bring on help (hiring timekeepers, bookkeepers, paralegals, etc.) and delegate tasks, they suddenly have more time to focus on developing their practice and building their book of business. Lawyers will also have more time to take on more clients, which, in turn, generates more revenue. Moreover, if lawyers are able to raise their rates during this time, that will cover any additional overhead costs.”
- – Lindsey Corbin, Founder, delegate.legal
The Marion Solution
There may be nothing more critical for an attorney to grow their firm than learning how (and what) to delegate. In legal, your time is quite literally money, and realizing how much money you’re losing by “saving” money doing your own bookkeeping, administrative work, and marketing is a big shift for many attorneys early in their law firm ownership journey.
Speaking from the marketing angle, there’s a dizzying number of agencies out there to choose from, all largely offering the same set of services. Beyond asking the right questions to gauge competency, you need a team that can also deliver a holistic and consultatory relationship to cover all the little changes and questions that come up in your business and the marketing space. Hint: that’s us.
“In the outset, our overwhelming challenge was lack of funding. Because we were unable to secure start-up capital, we risked our personal savings to invest in this joint partnership.
Now, in our ninth year, as we’ve enjoyed significant growth and expansion, our biggest challenge is finding, hiring and keeping competent staff members. We pride ourselves on consistent client communication and quick turnaround times. We do that by cultivating a team of bright, dedicated and diligent personnel who genuinely care about our reputation and the quality of the client’s experience.”
- – Zakiya J. Norton, Esq. and Somita Basu, Esq., founding partners of Norton Basu, LLP
“Right now the biggest challenge is hiring quality people. In order to properly serve our clients, you need adequate staffing. We are constantly interviewing legal assistants, paralegals, and attorneys and it is very difficult to find an experienced and reliable person. We recently hired a legal assistant with a start date of May 2, 2022. We checked with her just a few days before the start date to make sure she was still good with the start date. However, on her start date, she did not even show up. She didn’t call or email; just didn’t show up. We didn’t know if she was even still alive. Another legal assistant we hired worked with us for 5 days, then did not show up. She finally sent us an email that just said “I won’t be returning”. It is difficult to increase or scale the business when you cannot find people that want to work.”
- – Joseph Maus, Founder of Maus Law Firm
The Marion Solution
This seems to be THE challenge across all industries, so much so we’ve pitched in with clients to help them write compelling job postings and find candidates. Some clients have even run Facebook and Google Ads to fill vacancies.
We’re not a hiring agency by any means, but some tips that have helped us and our clients:
- Tell Applicants Why They Should Want The Job – It needs to be more than “doing important/interesting work”. What benefits packages and perks do you offer? How do you value employees? What sets you apart from competitors? Is there a growth path? Like it or not, to attract great talent you have to sell applicants beyond just the paycheck.
- Research Competitors and Similar Job Postings – What are they offering? Are you way undershooting the salary range? Just like in marketing, you can think you’re doing everything right, until you see your competitor simply has a better offer.
- Build in Incentives – People want growth and ownership over their work. Motivating people to work as hard as you do requires thinking beyond just a paycheck and offering financial incentives for hitting certain benchmarks, personally and as an organization. When your team wins when the company wins, they’re likely to stick around and tell others how great it is to work for you.