Law firms need strong income streams from various clients and revenue sources. As with any business, multiple income streams can increase profitability. In addition to legal services like representation or specializations from environmental law to family law or criminal law, consider offering business formation services or bookkeeping services.
Did you know that doola allows you to whitelabel its best-in-class business formation services, compliance, and bookkeeping services to create new income streams for key services effortlessly? Read on to learn how to improve a law firm’s profitability with best practices and new opportunities.
10 Best Practices to Improve a Law Firm’s Profitability
While the economic pressures facing the law sector are growing, there are steps you can take to drive revenue. Law firm profitability involves building new income streams, improving operations efficiency, maximizing client retention, and more.
No single factor will improve a law firm’s profitability overnight, but with a multi-pronged approach and a culture of consistent improvement, you can see an increase in profitability over time. Here are options to consider to organize your business to improve profitability over time.
Streamline Operational Processes
Optimizing and automating administrative tasks, such as document management or document automation, case management software, practice management software, and client billing software can reduce time and resource wastage.
The popular business practices of Lean Six Sigma ask businesses to look for opportunities for continuous improvement and just-in-time delivery. Implementing some basic principles, like reducing redundant work and engaging your team to identify and problem-solve inefficiencies, can effectively reduce operational costs. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can help to maximize profitability and hone in on the most effective business offerings.
Consider cloud-based or private network document management to improve document organization and accessibility. Likewise, consider doola’s bookkeeping services for financial management and support in client building and reducing accounting delays.
Implement Effective Time Management
Efficient time tracking and allocation can help law firms identify areas where billable hours are being lost or wasted. One team member can be assigned to identify areas for improvement, or better yet, the whole team can be motivated to locate areas for improvement and suggest best practices to improve billable hours and reduce wasted time.
Strategic Pricing and Fee Structures
Consider factors such as resource utilization, cost of overhead, and market demand to ensure competitive yet profitable rates. Competitor analysis is especially important in strategic pricing and fee structures. Do you have higher overheads due to a premium location or a larger team? How can pricing and fee structures cover those overheads or premium services?
Likewise, are you offering comprehensive services for clients, such as business formation and legal support? These premium, personalized services could increase fees and improve client retention.
Target Profitable Practice Areas
Focus on practice areas that generate higher profits. While non-profit law and environmental law are essential areas, family law, business law, real estate law, and criminal law are typically some areas of law with the highest returns. However, that varies by location.
In-depth market research, competitor analysis, and an analysis of your company’s new expansion opportunities can improve the profitability of practice areas. Of course, with a larger team, you could specialize in multiple areas and offer personalized services for a broader portion of the population.
Maximize Client Retention and Referral Rates
Satisfied clients will likely refer their friends and colleagues to a law firm, resulting in increased business and profitability. Implement the following business best practices to improve client retention.
- Respond promptly to all client inquiries
- Address any concerns or new issues immediately
- If a client is dissatisfied with a legal outcome, discuss new courses of action or opportunities
- Follow up with clients to ensure they received the expected outcome and the case is resolved to their satisfaction
Develop and Leverage Strategic Partnerships
Collaborate with complementary service providers or form alliances with other law firms to create opportunities for cross-referrals and cost-sharing. For example, doola allows law firms to white label their business formation, compliance, and bookkeeping services as their own. This collaboration is a win-win, as law firms get exceptional new service offerings for clients with minimal cost or setup.
Selling new services to existing clients can significantly improve profitability. Cross-selling through strategic partnerships can improve profitability for both partners, regardless of the size of your firm. By combining services, you can position yourself as an expert advisor and formation service, whether the client wants to start a transportation business, food business, or private label business.
Enhance Billing and Collection
Billing and collections are essential to ensure prompt payment. Some law firms set up online payment portals with automatic monthly billing, while others require clients to pay in the office by cash, check, or credit card.
Consider various payment options you can offer clients to get paid faster, including digital wallets and online transfers, as well as standard payment options like checks, cash, and credit or debit cards.
Optimize Marketing and Branding Efforts
A solid marketing strategy, which includes online and offline initiatives, can attract more clients and elevate a law firm’s visibility and reputation. Consider building your brand presence across social media platforms and strategic advertising to attract additional customers. Specialized law firm marketing firms can also offer cost-effective returns to reach a larger client base.
Some law firms will offer a free trial consultation, a discount on the first five hours, or other discounts and incentives that can expand a company’s reach and bring in new clients.
Continually Assess and Optimize Overhead Expenses
Business profitability is a process of continuous improvement to maximize profitability. Regularly evaluate and manage overhead expenses, such as rent, utilities, and staffing. Consider each expense category’s return on investment or loss and look at ways to cut costs or improve efficiency and returns.
Invest in Professional Development and Training
Continual learning and professional growth can enhance a law firm’s expertise and value proposition. New certifications, continuing education, and even company development programs can build trust and provide essential insights to offer greater value to clients.
Improvement is easier when you foster an environment of continuous learning and teamwork to create a company culture of offering the best available services and the latest practices.
Law Firm Profitability Analysis
When increasing a law firm’s profitability, there are three key factors: reducing expenses, improving productivity, and expanding reach. With focused, continuous improvement, you can reward top fee earners while motivating teams to work together to reduce inefficiency.
doola can help reduce expenses through bookkeeping software designed for busy founders to manage client accounts. Likewise, with doola’s white-label service, you can improve company productivity and expand offerings to new clients to expand company reach. Check out doola’s bookkeeping services to get started today!
Are there any ethical considerations to keep in mind when trying to improve profitability?
Yes, there are always ethical considerations within a company, even when working to improve profitability. To ensure ethical expansion or growth, don’t offer any products or services to clients that could cause damage, harm, or mislead clients.
Is it advisable for law firms to specialize in specific practice areas to boost profitability?
Whether a law firm should specialize in one practice area to boost profitability depends on the nature of the practice and the area. In rural areas, specialization may limit your client base, while in larger populations, a reputation for excellence in one area of practice can build brand reputation and increase referrals.
Can outsourcing certain tasks or hiring freelance attorneys improve law firm profitability?
Yes, outsourcing certain tasks, hiring freelance attorneys for certain jobs, or white-labeling certain well-known services can expand your business offerings.
How long does it usually take for law firms to see an increase in profitability after implementing changes?
While law firms may see an uptick in profitability within a month of implementing changes, it usually takes three to six months to gauge consistent results.
What are some common mistakes law firms make that hinder their profitability?
Common mistakes that law firms make that hinder their profitability include charging fees that are either too low or too high for the services offered and not optimizing company efficiency. In some cases, a business scope that is too narrow can also limit a law firm’s profitability. Likewise, a broad scope in a large area can mean the company doesn’t stand out in any specific service.