Updated: Aug 19
Small law firm economics during coronavirus
Small law firms are susceptible to financial strain during economic uncertainty, like the current coronavirus pandemic. As you know, small law firms have limited options.
Increasing hourly rates alarms already price-conscious clients, and risks eroding hard-won, loyal referrals. Cutting minor expenses won’t do enough, and cutting staff positions damages morale and future hiring. Plus, no business remains successful by tweaking the balance sheet.
When the economy strikes, tech innovation saves the unique value small law firms offer, and small law firms save time and money investing in tech innovation.
When small law firms have effective tools, they can give clients and staff the value they expect. Clients choose small law firms because they are local, responsive, and personal. Staff choose small law firms to work on smaller teams closer to home with flexible hours. Tech saves this unique value by keeping clients and staff connected.
Online tools mean clients and attorneys can collaborate when they are available
Remote video conferencing makes connecting easier so cases can move forward
Working from anywhere is responsive to clients’ needs, and respects staff work-life-balance
Putting information in a cloud-based database reduces errors and drives reporting analytics
These tools have been available and affordable for years. The right time for effective tech tools that add value is now. Strengthening value limits disruption, which is even more costly during economic strain.
Saving time and money
Small law firms also save time and money with tech innovation. Just a few decades ago, starting a law firm was expensive. It meant big offices packed with filing cabinets and lots of staff workspace. Everything took much longer with in-person meetings and hearings, slow communication, and traditional document formalities.
Today, even before shutdowns in March, small law firms save with tech innovation.
Firms use their space more efficiently with cloud solutions and video conferencing tech.
Firms do not need filing cabinets when all of their data is stored in one, online, cloud database
Staff and attorneys need less dedicated workspace when they work from anywhere
Firms do not need as many conference rooms with meetings via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
Use time efficiently
People are the most important and most expensive budget line-item. Changes that save time are the most effective way to preserve value and save unnecessary costs with tech innovation.
Online intake and scheduling avoid confusing email chains and phone tag
Document automation means entering client information once for every document
Electronic payments mean clients pay bills within days, without postage and bank visit costs
Firms experience “tech bloat” when they buy a new app for every feature they need. This confuses staff and clients, and is burdensome to manage. Tech innovation means a firm has one, full-feature solution.
Stop managing third-party application integrations
Firms have one login to manage client, matter, document, time-keeping, billing, and accounting
Clients have one login for intake, scheduling, secure document sharing, billing, and payments
Attorneys with reports measure progress towards productivity and earnings goals
Tech innovation saves small law firms and small law firms save with tech innovation. Knowing where to start is crucial, so we made a short list.
An inventory may take time, but improvement requires information. Take a walk around your office, chat with colleagues, and make a list.
What kind of computers do you have, desktops or laptops?
Where is information shared?
What programs are crucial to your work?
How do clients contact you?
Planning is important when your firm has more than one person in it, or whenever you are serving more than one client at a time. Otherwise, assumptions will fill the gaps and this is inefficient.
Be intentional, draw from your rich experience, and solicit staff and client feedback
Be comprehensive, thinking about it now saves assumptions later
Be efficient, reconsider preferences and choose what works
3. Save with tech innovation
Do not get stuck planning. Plan, but then implement and start saving.
Choose effective tools that add value
Implement consistently, across your entire firm
Run reports, measure progress, make changes, and repeat
Do you have questions about saving with tech innovation, or need a personalized consultation tailored to your firm’s particular needs? Talk to a legal practice management advisor for free today.