It is the dream of many lawyers to start their own practice. If you are one such lawyer, it could be that you have bigger goals than to be part of a big law firm and you want to start your solo practice law firm.
If you are fresh from a law firm and looking to go out on your own, starting a solo lawyer practice can be challenging. There’s no way around it; the reality is that running an attorney business takes hard work. Taking on this challenge can be a nightmare if you aren’t prepared.
If you are looking to start your own practice, we have some of the best tips for how to manage it. In this post, we are going to provide you with information on how to manage your own practice. Let’s look at some tips!
Law Firm Management Best Practices
- Automate your activities
Let’s face it: it’s difficult to automate management tasks that will always require some expert decision making or creativity. Surprisingly, the responsibilities that demand expert decision making and creativity are the most critical and also the most rewarding.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), though, is suited to complete the most tedious tasks. For example, Natural Language Processing (NLP) will help a machine to automatically compare different data sets, making the daunting task of reviewing leases or even contracts quick and straightforward.
Email filing, as well as document filing, are also other pain points. Thanks to AI, you can do this without thoroughly reading the entire email – something that could have taken days or even weeks to do.
Categorizing, dragging and dropping files from one point to the next are other tasks that are subject to a ton of errors if not done correctly. Luckily, technologies like NLP or machine learning can help perform such tasks more accurately than you could have done them, and they will take less time to complete these tasks.
- Appreciate the advantage of self-management
If you are an entrepreneur that manages your own law firm, then the good news is it gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility. The downside to this type of position is constantly struggling with time management because there’s so much independence in what work gets done when.
Even if they’re not the most glamorous tasks, you will have to do them on your own during the early months. This includes dealing with administrative work such as travel arrangements and conference calls. It may feel like a lot of pressure at first but it also ensures that once all systems are up and running smoothly, you can focus more energy towards other important things!
To make this easier on your side, you need to know how to prioritize things. Use software and draft the most important tasks that need to be completed every day. Doing this will help you realize your full potential and get things done within a limited time frame.
Above all, keep track of time carefully. Doing Skype calls and leveraging law firm software strategically can help you with time management and even cost management. And like we said, your first days will be tiresome – you will have to put in long hours of work to ensure you are on the right track.
- Keep your taxes up to date
Having your own practice means you will pay self-employment taxes. Self-employment taxes are always due at the same time as income tax. And it is not easy to come by this information – most legal firms don’t mention the issue of tax payment, so you must understand your tax obligations ahead of time to avoid late filings.
Failing to pay taxes can have significant consequences on your business. If you do not file correctly, they could be penalized by the IRS and even audited. Because of this, it is vital that one pays their quarterly taxes at all times in order to avoid any issues with the federal agency
Another thing is to learn and master your accounting books to help you gauge how much tax you’ll pay. In other words, find ways of minimizing the risk of defaulting in tax payment as this can lead to a serious offense punishable by law.
- Minimize your distractions
Today, the human average attention span is interrupted every eight seconds. This means that there are at least 80 distractions per hour and most of them aren’t important! But one way to ensure you get more work done is by minimizing your distractions or blocking off time when you won’t be distracted on your calendar.
Settings on your phone can play a significant role in this. Turn on the “Do Not Disturb” feature to avoid any phone call and notification distractions.
Even more, you can set your phone only to allow calls from important or designated favorites, so you can avoid distractions without missing any emergencies or urgent matters. This will help you stay more productive and avoid any distractions that may come your way while at work.
- Go mobile
Reports by the American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey reveal that 96 percent of legal professionals leverage the power of smartphones to carry out legal tasks.
But you should know that there’s a difference between mobility and mobile lawyering. Mobility is when a legal professional uses his or her smartphone while in the courtroom to respond to a client’s email.
True mobility is when a lawyer’s productivity outside of the office is at least as great as it is when they are working from a desktop in the office. Law firms are transitioning 100% of their IT applications onto mobile devices for lawyers to use outside the office.
The difference between mobility and having true mobility lies with using your smartphone while you’re inside or out on court premises versus being able to access all necessary documents anywhere else (i.e., via email). However, we should also note that “mobility” doesn’t mean anything without allowing them freedom and autonomy over where/when they work – after-all: no one wants clients complaining about how late into the night their attorney has been responding!
According to the Deloitte study, firms will appreciate 100 percent mobile employees in the next ten years. Mobile strategy saves a lot of time, and that’s why implementing the mobile-first strategy could boost your solo practice firm.
- Keep track of your bookkeeping
Financial figures can definitely be overwhelming. For that reason, you need to either hire a bookkeeper or learn to do this on your own.
The easiest way to learn about professional bookkeeping is by reaching out and inquiring about certain aspects you’re having trouble with. Alternatively, you can make it a habit of reading accounting books and doing research online.
Bookkeeping requires attention to detail because one mistake can lead to several other errors down the line. Therefore, it is crucial that you take time when reconciling your accounts to make sure that you don’t mess anything up in the process.
- Get a checklist
After reading the above six tips, you’ll have plenty of best practices to implement, but you shouldn’t forget that you need a checklist to reference and guide you when things get complicated. To better manage your solo practice firm, you’ll want to reference a checklist of critical things that will guide and help you. Use the following tips:
- For marketing your solo practice firm, you will need social media and a website, if necessary.
- You’ll also need some office equipment such as management software, computers, printers, etc.
- It would help if you had the determination to keep pushing through and be successful.
As a solo practitioner, the first year may be challenging. You’re alone and responsible for everything from marketing to billing and handling other tasks of running your business. However with hard work, patience, determination and hope you can break through those barriers that stand in front of you!
Successful lawyers are those that learn new ideas and implement them. They repeat the processes that work, while dropping things that aren’t working. In short, they take action to adapt their practice in order to reach a higher level of success.