New law firms are opened every year, in cities across the country. There are many different ways to go about opening a new firm, or branching out from an existing one to form a new entity, but a survey of law firms across the country has revealed some important commonalities and distinctions between the firms with some of the highest success rates and those who struggle or even end up folding after a few years. Here are some of traits of the most successful firms; traits that they almost all have in common with virtually no exceptions.
- They invested early in online marketing for their new firm, and utilized firms with search engine optimization and web site development skills to make sure that when people sought out a lawyer in their area, their web site was at the top of the list of search results. Additionally, they maintained active social media profiles that allowed them to continue to spread the word across friends and family.
- The most successful law firms in the country consulted early and often with the top PR firms in their area or in the country. Keeping professionals on retainer proved to be very helpful, as lawyers can find themselves working some very delicate and tricky civil and criminal cases, and no one does crisis management quite like a high performing PR firm. Law firms can range from hiring the best PR agency in the area to paying big bucks for the hot shots in New York City or Los Angeles to come out and consult with their law firm. It depends on the budget and the need, but there is almost no substitute for a good public relations team when defending – or prosecuting – criminals.
- Accountants who understand the intricacies of billing for attorneys, up to and including billable meals, evenings, and weekends. Lawyers work a lot, and typically make their money off of billable hours for services rendered to clients. Additionally, the more hours they bill, the closer they can get to becoming a partner in any given firm. Many work their first several years as lawyers with intense eighty or one hundred hour weeks, which can lead to burnout if not careful.
- Location and market matter for lawyers like they matter for any other kind of business. Their clients need to be able to access the firm as needed, they need to be sure they have privacy, and the firm and its lawyers need to have done their research and understand what unique service or product they are providing to people who might not be able to get it elsewhere. Perhaps the team of lawyers has more combined years trying criminal cases than any other firm in the state, or has on staff the lawyer who has successfully defended the most trial cases in front of a jury. Whatever it is that is being offered, the law firm needs to find a way to stand out from the competition. Doing its market research will help figure out what sets them apart.