When I was an up and comer personal injury attorney, I was told by an old timer that: “I make my money off the cases I don’t take.” I never really understood what he meant until I signed up a few difficult cases with equally difficult clients. You may not have become an attorney for the money, but you do expect it to pay your bills. As your family and responsibilities grow pressure will increase for every hour of your time. Making sure that your time at the office is maximized is a key part of establishing your firm and career.
This can be the same for any sized firm and any place you occupy on the totem pole. If you’re on top and run the show, it will land at your feet to make sure that you and your staff are properly compensated for their time. There are some effective ways to maximize profits without hurting your clients.
The Hunt for Black Ink
Some of the changes that you make may seem obvious in retrospect and some will prove to be unorthodox. A proper blending of techniques may maximize your bottom line while also allowing your clients flexibility.
- A Strong Staff: Often the first line of defense if your crew. Many times the profit and loss statements come from the efficiency of your staff. Having companions you can rely on without breaking the bank can assist. Having associate attorneys or paralegals to handle much of the paperwork and research is often key. Furthermore, you may wish taking on interns and mentees to further assist up and coming attorneys while reducing costs. Furthermore, many firms have gotten into the practice of hiring contract attorneys or contracting with other experts to assist in the workload.
- The New Model: Your brick and mortar office may be obsolete. Look at potential cost savings, including digitizing records, reducing the costs of obsolete technology, and not renting or owning more space than necessary. Furthermore, many firms now use virtual phone assistants or share secretaries to minimize cost.
- Prioritize Clients: Some attorneys take on every case that comes to them. Often there should be a mental checklist regarding each potential client: what are the odds they will take up additional time? What is the length of their need? What are the odds their case will go to trial? What is the maximum profit from taking on the case? Choosing the cases that can not burn you out and prioritizing work can be a major factor in your bottom line.
Ultimately, profit and loss comes down to management. Your learning and experiences can help in many ways– often ways that you had not thought of previously. Consider how your office runs and if your management style affects its function and how.
Michael Ehline is an auto accident and product liability expert. His firm, Ehline Law Firm PC, is a leading legal resource in Southern California. He seeks to build up attorneys and create a better office experience for them, their staffs, and potential clients.