Lawyers are busy people but just like every other business owner out there, they too need to find the time to run a business and not just take care of legal issues. We reached out to Kimberlee Gee to learn more about how lawyers can better manage their practice.
Is it possible for a solo practitioner or a small law firm to build a better practice in just five minutes a day?
Absolutely! Small changes can have significant impacts. It depends on what changes you make and how you make them. Each attorney can start with looking at their practice management goals and what tools, systems and methods they are using to accomplish those goals. I work with solos and boutique law firms and I stress a great deal about the importance of delegating in order to increase in-house efficiency. I know that attorneys are afraid to delegate because they do not want to lose control, and many small firms are often budget conscious, so they do not have the human resources to hire additional staff. However, legal outsourcing to a third-party can help with both concerns in a big way. I encourage attorneys to identify how they are spending their time, and what tasks they are performing in that time. If you are spending 40% of your day researching legal issues, when you’d rather be interfacing with clients or handling trial work, you should be considering what options are available to you to free you up to work on more valuable projects that you are most passionate about.
From your experience, where should a lawyer put most of his/her efforts in building a better law practice?
That really depends on the goals of the individual lawyer. As a solo practitioner or a small firm, you have the hurdle of practicing law in addition to managing your own business. Marketing your firm and your services is important, and so I can’t stress enough the importance of building collaborative relationships and a referral network so that you are not on a never-ending wheel of trying to practice law and engage in business development at the same time. If you are new to starting your own practice, I would really encourage you to focus your time on learning the business side of running a law firm, not just on being adept and knowledgeable in your field of law.
How do you get more client referrals?
I think word-of-mouth is still a tried and true practice. Relationships drive business, and people typically want to work with someone that they can trust. Tap into your soft market (those you already know or have relationships with) by getting the recommendation from a friend or colleague.
What about collaboration with other lawyers?
Most of us do not know how to do it all, but lawyers often have a hard time admitting they cannot do everything. I would encourage attorneys to learn to build relationships with attorneys who work in fields different than their own and who are open to exchanging ideas and information. When there is a knowledge gap, or you have a client who is seeking services that you do not necessarily provide you’ll have a pool of professionals who can bring you up to speed or to whom you can refer business.
How did you start providing legal outsourcing services to other attorneys?
My background is in employment litigation, but I have always enjoyed “pushing paper” – drafting motions and researching arcane legal issues. I decided to hang my on shingle and start my own law firm in 2017, not only as a way to allow me to engage my passion, but because I found there was a gap in the market for trial lawyers and litigators. I encountered so many trial attorneys, most of them solo practitioners or those that work for small firms, who were overworked and overwhelmed and simply did not have the energy or desire to do the legal research and drafting that was attendant to litigating. I decided to create a niche legal outsourcing business aimed at providing services I was most passionate about and that could really help other attorneys and firms do the things they were most passionate about as well.
Why do attorneys choose to outsource some work to other lawyers?
Lawyers outsource work to other lawyers for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that it adds a lot of value to their practice in a variety of qualitative ways. For trial attorneys and litigators, outsourcing really can enhance a law firm’s in-house capabilities by allowing the attorney to engage in an aggressive motion practice on behalf of their client, while still engaging in other trial work as well. The trial attorney can focus on those tasks that provide the most benefit to their client and allow the freelance attorney to handle other peripheral matters. It gives the attorney more firepower with a smaller price tag that would come with hiring a full-time in-house staff. Legal outsourcing also provides flexibility and work-life balance. The solo practitioner can modulate their own workflow and decide what projects he or she wants to outsource; when he or she wants to outsource.
How do you use technology to expand and improve your practice?
I am a virtual law office. Technology is really transforming the way legal services are being delivered. Everyone is online and has a digital footprint in some way. When I developed my firm, I tapped into this and developed a business model that would leverage technology to benefit me and my clients. I am a virtual law office, which means I do not have a traditional brick and mortar law firm. Having a virtual law office helps me improve my practice in many ways. First, because I have lower overhead expenses than a traditional law practice, I can roll over cost-savings to my clients that they otherwise would not receive. Second, I use systems and portals online to customize the client experience so that they always have access to me and any documentation they need regarding the work I perform for them. Those clients that are even moderately web-savvy tend to appreciate this sort of centralized convenience. Finally, having a virtual law office really helps me extend the reach of my practice to tap into other markets to which I might not otherwise have access.
Kimberlee Gee is an attorney, published writer and the Founding Member of Kimberlee Gee Legal. Kimberlee started Kimberlee Gee Legal in 2017 as a micro-niche legal consulting and outsourcing firm that helps solo practitioners, small firms, and start up businesses.