Why Attorneys Need To Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow Their Practice
It is increasingly acknowledged that attorneys can no longer only rely on their legal skills and expertise for success and survival in the industry. In fact, many argue that attorneys need to take inspiration from entrepreneurs if they hope to grow their practice.
The Legal profession is perceived as being impervious to change or novelty, therefore, the notion proposed above may seem incongruous. Yet, the emergence of deviants such as Avvo and Justia, which offer online legal services for lower fees than you can get at a traditional law firm, proves that the law profession can and does adapt to its environment.
Due to the global financial crisis that occurred several years ago, as well as the general gloom in most economies of the world today, the legal profession suffers the same kind of ill affecting other industries, namely; that the number of qualified job seekers exceeds the number of jobs available. Consequently, text-book or even courtroom knowledge of the law alone is not sufficient anymore to keep a law firm afloat.
10x Increase in Competition
The evolution of digital technologies and specifically, the ease with which consumers can find and choose from a pool of attorneys means that the competition, which often numbers in the tens of thousands, is much stronger than it ever has been. These days, people don’t need to have an office or live in the same country as you to give legal counsel, and consequently, be your competition.
So, what can you do if you want to become the best business attorney in your state for example? The truth is, to run your law practice successfully, an attorney will have to think less like one or else risk having to close shop.
If there is one thing entrepreneurs are good at, it is innovation. Access to limited capital often coupled with the high cost of customer acquisition, and a hostile business environment are some of the things that force them to innovate and do more with less. The same attitude can and should be adopted by any lawyer who wants to get ahead in business.
Differentiating Your Legal Practice
From being aggressive and strategic with their social media, digital and content marketing, to offering exceptional customer service, to offering lots of value added services, are just some of the things that lawyers can and should do to grow their practice.
For any business, regardless of the industry, taking risk requires a huge leap of faith. However, as lawyer turned entrepreneur Jonathan Fields succinctly explains, for law practitioners who are accustomed to certainty, this is akin to asking them to jump over a bridge in water swirling with sharks.
Outside of their legal expertise, attorneys often tend to know very little about anything else and are usually happy to wallow in their state of ‘not knowing’. Financial literacy for instance, is a skill that is often shunned by law practitioners which could actually help them enhance their profile. Clients want a trusted representative who understands their business’ needs and provides legal advice on this basis. By having sound knowledge of financial terms, you wouldn’t just be just another attorney, you would be the legal advisor your clients recommend to their friends’ friends. This is a valuable strength, especially when working with small businesses to address legal issues they may have that revolves around their finances.
Alongside developing financial literacy, attorneys would greatly benefit from strengthening their customer relationship management. Attorneys need to maintain and cultivate relationships with their clients in more ways than one. This may be done by emailing or phoning them every now and then to find out how they and their businesses are doing. Also, you should constantly seek out ways to discover what new services you could add to your arsenal by seeking clients’ feedback or carrying out a market research.
What about the marketing function? How adept are lawyers at understanding exactly what is being explained to them by their marketing personnel? A perusal of some of the famous marketing forums and the discussions that happen therein suggest that lawyers usually know little to nothing, nor are they interested in learning about basic marketing functions and terms. They therefore usually understand very little of how marketing works or how to properly market their services.
With the growing number of qualified attorneys out there, being able to stand out from the crowd is a necessity. In order to advertise and grow your law practice, you are going to have to draw up a proper communications and marketing plan or hire the services of a marketing agency. Or at the very least, be able to understand and grasp what it being presented to you by the party responsible for that function.
The above mentioned aspects of running a business are just some of the things that the average entrepreneur is good at, and as a law practice is in itself a business, and the lawyer a business owner, he or she should likewise follow suit, at the very least, in learning the basics of some of these functions that have the potential to help take their law practice to greener pastures.
Tony Crighton is a practicing litigation lawyer who specializes in all legal matters related to business & commercial law, contract law and more. He has been a practicing attorney for over 15 years and has a diverse and broad range of interests and experience.