The Delicate Balance of Profits versus Victory in a PI Firm

Scales of Justice Statue as female lawyer advocates against Tort Reform
A successful lawyer in the office of justice figures in the foreground.

There’s a lot more about running a personal injury law firm than what you learned in law school. Managing an office, whether it is a PI mill or a complex litigation firm is not easy. But its personnel, finances, and all things associated may seem deceptively simple. Instead, it is often fraught with additional responsibility. By using the experience of others before you, a new firm can benefit from the incredible organization. As Napoleon said, “Amateurs talk strategy, experts talk logistics.”

Making a profit is often impossible if you select the wrong client or the losing case. This is one reason why I always say: “I make my money from the cases I don’t take.” In other words, some cases will drain you of all your money, time and resources, putting you and your client in the “poorhouse.”

The best of these are the ones who started from the bottom in another PI firm, and worked their way up doing filing and basic discovery/law and motion work.

The Law Office as an Organism

As the head of a personal injury firm, in particular, the lead attorney usually acts as a general manager. The need for preparing and organizing data is second to none. Inability to collect and utilize initial data, such as photos of the accident scene and interviews of percipient witnesses can lead to structural weaknesses down the line. The first need is a secretary or assistant. This person will be able to accurately screen calls, emails. Also, other information to be handed forward is gone through.

Furthermore, this person can also assist in nearly every aspect of the office and can be worth well beyond their salary. The best of these are the ones who started from the bottom in another PI firm and worked their way up doing filing and basic discovery/law and motion work.

An attorney may often feel that such a duty can get handled personally. However, the value of the time spent in such a task is often better for a secretary. Secondly, having another hand in the office has many utilization benefits. Between research and the ability to take time for meetings and court appearances, there is also a building block. So that can be used to add on further partners or associates.

Success in a PI Firm Means More Than Just Picking up the Phone

The front office is about more than answering phone calls. A well-oiled staff will be able to put in place the logistics needed. This keeps your firm on top and profitable. Also, this can include the use of electronic billing. So you get faster and more efficient fiscal management. Furthermore, your assistant can also help you set up a consistent set of billing hours and accounting.

  • Going Paperless

Such an effort with the help of a trained clerk can also allow your office to be nearly paperless. Riding the wave of technology and innovation can make your office’s turnaround blistering fast. In the world of incredible competition and more established firms, being able to get information to potential clients in hours or days instead of weeks can make all of the difference. It can make your office more well-organized and accessible.

Michael Ehline is a Los Angeles-based personal injury attorney and head of the Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. Ehline is a recipient of the 2015 Litigator Award for excellence in the field. He writes to aid attorneys entering into the field or just setting up their practice.