Why haven’t you started a blog?

June 21, 2007

If you’re in a small firm then a weblog (blog) could be the tool that jump starts your marketing campaign.

Blogs are quick and easy to publish and can demonstrate your areas of expertise or community interests.

Even if you use your blog to  collect links of interest to you, you will find it handy and may find that others appreciate it.

Where to start? The Corporate Blogging Book page has some great resources. And WordPress software and templates are  free.

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Take control: being productive

June 10, 2007

If you’re the sort of professional whose idea of organisation is to do whatever the next phone call or email says (at the same time as avoiding must do’s), then you need to change!

You’ll get burnt out, depressed and risk making mistakes.

Chuck Newton calls it the Lazy Lawyer Syndrome but it needs more than a nap or a break.

Have a look at Marc Andreessen’s Guide to Personal Productivity for some ideas about how to take contrl of your schedule and make you feel like you’re achieving something each day.  I always like to list at the end of each day what I MUST DO the next day. That way you’re off to a flying start each day.

Technology that enables small firms to match big firms

May 31, 2007

Fred Faulkner has identified a common scenario:
You have worked for a large firm for many years and you have made the decision to either go solo or start a small firm. You were used to having access to all your information via an Intranet, file server, and your desktop. You could practice law and let the IT department worry about when the printer jammed or if you got a virus. Now that you are solo, you are the one that has to deal with all those problems as well as practice law.

In his article Are you ready for the web-based office? he suggests alternatives that enable solos to  have all the applications big firms offer.

From my point of view, the latest offerings mean I can work effectively anywhere  without big firm IT department restrictions.

Are big law firms facing extinction?

May 30, 2007

According to the GC for Sun, the days of the one-stop shop are over:

“This structure previously made sense. If you were an individual or business with a legal problem, it wasn’t efficient nor effective to try to identify an individual attorney with the technical skills that you required. So, you would turn to a law firm and rely on them to direct you to the appropriate attorney within their firm to solve your issue. The problem is that this model relies on growth (the need to add additional attorneys) to maintain profitability rather than focusing on efficiency gains. ..

“the epoch of the current law firm model – which derives its profitability from growing scale and raising hourly rates – will soon be over. The firms that will survive and thrive are those that recognize this change and focus on how to maintain margins by focusing on efficiency. .. we recently selected a small number of law firms to support us as “preferred partners” during the next fiscal year. We believe that these firms “get it” and are receptive to looking at new ways to drive down their (and our) cost structure. “

Is “free “, good marketing?

May 23, 2007

Most professionals understand that you need to gain credibility with potential clients before they sign up and you typically do that by “educating” them ie giving away information that shows your expertise.

How far do you go with giving away information for free?

David Brown, an insolvency lawyer in Sydney, provides a free online debt collection service for matters that are not cost-effective for a lawyer to do.

Family Court Forms offers free online divorce applications.

Is there a service you can reasonably provide for free which  will attract potential clients?

Winding up a practice

April 15, 2007

It has to be said: sooner or later (preferably at regular periods when you are in control) you will think about your future. Do you shut down your practice or merge it, expand or keep going as you are?

Sunsetting a law practice has some stories about solos making the transition to a different firm or different area of practice.

Keeping inspired and focussed

April 6, 2007

It’s very easy to get swept up in client matters and lose focus in what you’re trying to do as a solo and small firm owner.

How do you get back on track?

If you’ve written a brochure or website or blog description of your firm (or even a strategic or business plan), it’s worth going back to  that document from time to time to see what you said and test whether you’re on track.

If you said you were  specialising in a particular area have you accepted some commodity work “for the cash flow”?

If you said you were going to be selective about clients have you taken on a high risk client because “the matter was interesting”?

To stay on track you need to align your day to dap practices with your goals.

The Inspired Solo gives some good examples of checking your email “one more time” at night and agreeing to bill by the hour when you had decided to fixed fee bill.

How do you attract new clients?

March 17, 2007

The short answer is: show you are interested in them. How?

Escape from Cubicle Nation says The key to small business success: be the sharpest knife in the drawer

The article gives the example of an insurance agent who “does some exceptional things that make me fiercely committed to him and his company”.

The article says:

  • He provides valuable information to help us make decisions, not to try to sell us high-priced products.
  • He follows up promptly.

Read the article for more specific strategies.

David Maister refers to a report on lead generation which says the “most effective mix of tactics reported were ‘warm’ phone calls to existing contacts, speaking at conferences, running the firm’s own in-person events, becoming members of an industry association…”.

Working virtually

March 9, 2007

One of the best things about being small is your ability to be fast and flexible.

And that includes being able to work virtually without being stuck in an expensive city office with ageing IT systems.

If you need to have a face to face meeting, then have it but otherwise work where it best suits you, including on the move.

Ron at Strategic Technology has a selection of recent articles on working virtually including a story from a big company general counsel who gave up his corner office!

What does it take to succeed?

February 19, 2007

According to Andy Monfried the following are required to succeed in business:

Stay commited.
Focus on Changing the Game.
Be Sincere.
Be Different.
Risk being laughed at.
Risk FAILURE every day.
Write handwritten notes.
And, most of all positive karma — or leave what you are doing.
Entreprenurial Improvisation.

Read his post…it’s a great story.