“legal Entrepreneurship: How Lawyers Benefit From Innovative Ventures” – When you own and operate your own law firm, it’s not enough to be a great lawyer – you also need skills in finance, marketing, management, human resources and even sales in order to manage a small business thrives like a business. If you want to intimately understand how to grow a law firm, it’s essential that you have the right relationships, the right legal technology, and the right practices in place. Unless you managed to earn a business degree on your way to your JD, you will need to brush up on a lot of things to successfully scale your law firm.

There’s a lot of merit in figuring things out as you go, but when your growing law firm is on the line, it’s critical that you do everything in your power to avoid costly mistakes and minimize the responsibility of your practice. From conducting market and financial research to protecting against potential lawsuits and compliance violations, we’ve covered the basics you’ll need to start planning your law firm expansion.

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Before taking decisive steps towards expansion, you will need to gather information to ensure that your growth strategy can support your business.

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Your law firm’s growth plan should look a lot like a business plan. This means it should include similar sections covering your mission and goals, market analysis, financial projections, organizational overview, and business development or marketing plan.

Even if you’ve completed the initial launch of your business without a business plan, it’s worth stopping to create one before trying to scale. According to a 2010 study by Palo Alto Software and the University of Oregon (the most recent on the subject), 64% of entrepreneurs with a business plan had succeeded in growing their business, compared to only 43% of those who had none.

Additionally, a McKinsey & Company survey of nearly 800 executives found that of respondents who were satisfied with their company’s strategy development, 79% attributed their satisfaction to the company’s use of a planning process. formal. More than half of those whose company did not have a formal plan said they were dissatisfied with the resulting strategy.

In addition to enhancing success, a formal business growth plan will also help you avoid common growth pitfalls. A well-planned strategy can avoid mistakes such as:

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Finally, a business plan greatly improves a business’s ability to secure outside financing, which is often a necessity to pay for the initial costs of a major expansion effort. The same Palo Alto and University of Oregon study found that startups with a business plan were 2.5 times more successful in raising investment capital than those without a plan.

Whether you’re updating your existing business plan or writing a new growth plan from scratch, here are the key elements your business growth plan should include:

In a business plan, the executive summary outlines the history of the business, its key founders, the organization’s main mission and goals, and its unique service offerings compared to the market for similar services in your area. .

In your growth plan, your executive summary should serve as a “snapshot” of your business in its current state, as well as a brief summary of how you got here and where you plan to take the organization in its next growth stage.

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You want to make sure there is enough demand for your services within your target market to support the growth of your law firm. A market analysis, whether part of a business plan or a growth plan, helps the business owner study the landscape of their industry, identify business opportunities and devise a strategy to gain market share.

In an initial launch plan, financial projections are used to demonstrate how the business will earn profits, how much it will cost to maintain the business, and how profits will be reinvested for future growth.

When writing the financial projections for your growth plan, the financial justifications for growth will be similar to those used to justify starting a business.

Many law firms are fortunate to have steady client flow without much practice action. That said, it’s not a good idea to embark on an expansion without a proactive strategy to find and convert new customers.

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“Business development” is an umbrella term encompassing a variety of customer acquisition and retention efforts, including marketing, advertising, and sales. We have detailed the key elements of a successful business development strategy for a law firm below.

Whether you choose to write an executive summary or opt for a more casual format, setting key goals for your business growth should be the first step in planning for your expansion.

In addition to a brief summary of your company’s history and key partners, your summary should address your company’s mission and values ​​and a general description of your plans for future growth. Everything you mention in this section will be detailed in the body of the plan, so the summary should work like an elevator pitch for your growing business.

Do you have questions about malpractice insurance or any other policies your law firm might need? Do not hesitate to contact an expert broker from our dedicated legal practice.

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When determining the mission and goals you have for your business, be sure to take the time to assess what you expect to accomplish on a personal level through the expansion of your business.

Many of these goals won’t be achievable until later in the growth of your business – for example, most owners handle at least some of the administrative work until their business is large enough to warrant hiring a an office manager. Having a clear concept of your personal ideals will help you craft a plan that not only serves your business, but also meets your goals as an owner.

In order to confidently invest in your expansion, you need a clear picture of your advantages, disadvantages, obstacles and opportunities. A market analysis is the place to bring all of this research together and make sense of it in a way that can be converted into strategy.

Businesses that don’t plan grow like a village; you want to grow as a well-planned and well-designed city with a clear grid system and plenty of room for future expansions. Minor adjustments to your initial growth can help you keep your business’s future open and ensure that your processes and systems are able to grow with your business.

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Growth-focused owners approach hiring differently than those whose only goal is to fill a vacant position. For example, hiring an assistant with administrative skills but no management potential can prove to be a challenge when it comes time to expand your non-legal departments.

Hiring people with the potential to grow and evolve is essential. Times of rapid growth often come with obstacles and unpredictability that require employees to be good problem solvers and competent leaders, even if they are not in traditional leadership roles. In order to scale effectively, you need employees who can take on new roles as they and the business grow.

Thinking about what your business structure will look like with five, ten, twenty, and fifty employees will help you lay the foundation for smooth transitions as you grow. By providing a management structure that remains balanced at all sizes, you will avoid having to reorganize and reassign managers and responsibilities each time your business grows.

See our section on defining and organizing roles for more tips on how to develop a management plan for your growing business.

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Not all systems are suitable for businesses of all sizes. For example, manually calculating all employee and company expenses each month might work when you only have a few employees, but an expense management platform that performs audits and automatically generates reports will remain a viable system throughout. as your business grows.

Again, thinking ahead about the systems your business will need at different sizes will help you develop processes that can be easily adjusted to accommodate your growing business. In addition to improved efficiency and reduced friction, using systems can also improve your bottom line: Clio’s 2020 Legal Trends Report found that in 2019, law firms that used client portals collected $16,556 more per lawyer than firms without an online client management system. .

Management structures differ from company to company, but most company organizational charts follow the same basic format separating the business into legal, non-legal, and part-time or contract departments.

When hiring, pay attention to the balance of your organization chart and be aware of the imbalances that can arise when you hire too many people in one area without hiring the necessary cross-support in other areas of the business. Whenever a particular contract or part-time department grows too large, analyze the numbers to determine if it might make more sense to bring the department in-house and pay someone to run it full-time.

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Your legal department will consist of lawyers and paralegals. As your firm grows, you will want to further divide this department into different practice areas to avoid confusion about case coverage between lawyers.

The key is to ensure that anyone can look at the org chart to determine each employee’s manager, direct reports, and area of ​​work.

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