Money Saving Tips for Your Solo Law Firm
Ask anyone who has ever had to wear the hats of CEO, CFO and Lead Counsel at the same time. Managing expenses is absolutely vital to the long-term health of a solo law firm. Watching your income fluctuate with your caseload can be humbling enough. Watching your marketing budget flow out the door can be downright anxiety-inducing.
Thankfully, not everything you do to promote your law firm has to be expensive. Traditional marketing still works for a lot of traditional solo attorneys, and a lot of traditional marketing happens offline. This post is going to cover a lot of ways to get ahead on a limited budget, but to get started, I’m going to ask you to tear your gaze away from the information superhighway and try to focus on Main Street.
Make referrals a cornerstone of your legal marketing strategy.
Word of mouth referrals are a perfect example of offline marketing that doesn’t have to cost you a thing. Nothing is cheaper than free, and most happy customers are perfectly willing to help spread your good name if asked. The best part about classic word of mouth recommendations is just how effective they can be. Solo attorneys can benefit from this type of low-cost marketing tactic simply by doing their jobs well. Deliver your clients your best work and they’ll deliver you your next case.
Put your legal chops on display and make professional connections.
Looking for something with more sweat equity? Look for opportunities to speak to the public in a manner that is consistent with your brand. Be sure that your content is interesting and valuable to your audience. Working with your state’s real estate brokers’ association is one example. A partnership like this might allow you to speak about the legal pitfalls of brokering the sale of real property. Your content would deliver an important message to their members while also showcasing your personal expertise and approachability.
Slightly more complex, a solo attorney specializing in estate planning could partner with a trusted financial advisor to deliver a retirement planning seminar covering both the fiscal and legal aspects of future planning. The two of you could split the cost of the event while simultaneously laying the groundwork for a fruitful referral source for years to come.
Last but certainly not least of my offline recommendations, don’t overlook basic networking. Participating in networking events comes more naturally to some attorneys than to others. But even if you’re a natural-born wallflower, the value of getting to know your peers and expanding your professional circle should be enough to overpower your reluctance. Aren’t a few hours of face time every few weeks worth it for the health of your solo law firm’s business?
Do what you can to connect with online legal consumers.
It doesn’t get much simpler than this: Your law firm won’t gain clients if they can’t find you. To that end, some of the most crucial steps solo practitioners can take online are tied to visibility. Skipping out on these next few items are the digital equivalent of opening a restaurant and forgetting to turn the sign on.
Make certain that your law firm’s local business listings are complete and accurate across the entire web. Now here’s the good news, as a solo attorney, nobody knows your law firm’s contact information better than you. As you move from Google My Business to Facebook to Yelp to FindLaw, be purposeful and precise in how you list your name, address and phone number. Any listings that don’t match the rest will effectively stop contributing to your visibility.
Put the pieces together on this. More and more often, legal consumers are starting their web searches on mobile devices. More and more often, those little black rectangles are showing us maps and business listings by default. Your solo firm might not have an “office” in the traditional sense, but Google and Bing don’t understand that. Their goal (one of them) is to present your firm’s location to a mobile searcher. Inconsistent business listings don’t support that goal, leaving your business out in the cold.
Use legal directories to gain quick visibility for your solo law firm.
For solo attorneys, lawyer directories offer a low-cost means of getting into the game quickly. There are several to choose from including FindLaw’s network of legal directories and others you probably already know by name. Only you will know which directory is right for your law firm and your pocketbook, but don’t underestimate the power of these websites. They receive traffic volumes most solo attorneys can only dream of and their users are highly-motivated consumers looking to hire, not window shop.
A collection of low-cost online marketing tips just wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Facebook. Earlier I said you should have a consistent name and address for your firm on Facebook, but only taking things that far won’t actually net you any results. Getting something out of social media requires an active presence and a commitment to engaging with an audience that might not always engage you back. Nevertheless, if you’re a solo attorney looking to market your law firm “on the cheap,” social media, and Facebook in particular need to be part of your plan.
Keep overhead low with a virtual assistant.
This last section might sound a little out there compared to the previous two, but stay with me. From a certain perspective, when you spend money on your solo law practice, you’re spending your own money. Any savings are a step in the right direction for your practice, right? Well we’re living in a time of smart devices that keep getting smarter. Perhaps there’s a home for this technology within your solo firm.
Consider digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa. She’s the virtual helper that lives inside their Echo line of speakers and devices. Adding Alexa to your office’s workspace might sound frivolous until you dig deeper and see that this device and its ilk are rapidly being integrated into the workflows of families and professionals alike. If you’re wishing you could afford a receptionist to help with scheduling and basic tasks, a $49 Echo Dot might make a nice addition to your office.
What’s more, the future of digital assistants is just getting started. Thomson Reuters (of which FindLaw is a part) has already begun creating ways for lawyers to benefit from this emerging technology. For the gadget-hound solo attorney, fifty dollars today could turn into some tidy gains in efficiency down the road.
I’ll leave it to the consumer electronics bloggers to dig into all the other ways smart technology and automation can help save your firm money, but the lesson here – and with this entire post, really – is that solo attorneys should keep their eyes and minds open when it comes to running their own law firms. When it’s your money and your future on the line, it pays to consider every angle and watch for opportunities to get more bang for your buck.