The legal market, struggling with slow growth, is more competitive than ever. Yet many firms have been slow to respond to the changing market, forging ahead with outdated practices.
If you want to stay competitive, now's the time for innovation. Here are three ways to go about it.
1. Reimagine Your Firm's Fundamentals
Want to really get a leg up on the competition? Go back to the fundamentals -- and question how necessary they are. Do you need a strict hourly billing policy or are alternative fee arrangements a way to set your firm apart? Does a rigid partner structure work for you or might a two-tiered approach fit better?
Reimagining your fundamentals means rethinking some of the firm's basic organizational, pricing, and delivery models. Ask yourself who your core clients are, what strengths your firm offers them, and what weaknesses you might have. Don't be afraid to reevaluate outdated firm practices if that will help you shore up your weak spots or increase your strengths.
2. Take Up Technology
If you're going to be David to your competition's Goliath, you want technology on your side. Embracing technological advances can allow smaller firms to succeed on fewer resources. That doesn't mean giving up your practice and going into the online legal forms world -- or, God forbid, learning to code. But it does mean being open to innovation. Consider, for example, using virtual assistants, cloud computing, and collaborative software to increase your agility and productivity.
3. Speed Up Response Times
Get a lead? Respond to it! A.S.A.P. It's shocking the amount of firms that will wait hours or even days before contacting a client. According to a recent FindLaw whitepaper, a third of law firms took more than 24 hours to respond to voice mails. For current clients, quick responses to calls or emails are a necessary part of client coddling. It can be annoying sure, but it's necessary. (Consider maximizing your own time by putting your paralegal in charge of low-level communications.)
When it comes to prospective clients, waiting to respond can be fatal. Often clients aren't leisurely browsing for attorneys, and for many, the first lawyer to respond to a client inquiry will be the one they choose. Respond quickly to steal them away from potential competition.