Lawyers Tell All – Matthew Hanson

This week we have Matthew Hanson from Combies-Hanson, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims and their families obtain compensation when they need it most.

What is your primary area of practice? Do you handle a variety of types of matters?

Our firm focus is helping seriously injured persons.   Combies Hanson is a personal injury practice, but we do handle some areas other injury firms don’t.  We take on negligent security cases involving shootings at apartment buildings and commercial property.  The cases are much different from a traditional personal injury case, and the law is not well settled with respect to some of the issues.  As challenging as the cases are, it’s rewarding when you are able to help a victim of violent crime.

We also handle traditional personal injury cases such as motor vehicle accidents, nursing home abuse, products liability cases and other injury matters.

What do you think is the toughest challenge for a solo practitioner or a small law firm?

You can’t help every client.  A small firm has to stay laser focused on the cases it has and devote all of its resources without over-extending itself.  It can be done, but it does pose a challenge at times.

How do you adapt to new legal technology?

Not every piece of new legal technology is helpful, just as not every law firm operates the same way.  Really try to identify what you need technology wise and then implement it.  But don’t get caught up in flashy gimmicks.  Some programs have a hefty price tag but are little more than glorified spreadsheets.

If you need technology to help with having too much work, you should probably cut down on the amount of new cases you’re taking on.  Technology is great, but you will still need to pick up the case file and know the facts.  Technology can’t take the place of a good legal mind. 

Where technology is helpful is innovation.  Efax versus traditional fax machines. Call forwarding to your cell phone.  Even simple programs like Adobe offer more extensive packages that make sending and reviewing documents easier with electronic signature options and advanced character recognition technology. 

How do you deal with changes in client volume?

Staff.  Make certain your staff can help you.  Train them to do nearly everything you can do and you will never get behind on case volume. 

How do you know it’s time to expand?

Expanding is always a risk.  There is never a safe time to expand because it usually involves hoping a new employee will translate into additional revenue to offset their salary.  My advice: think ahead.  Save a little bit of money every month for a new employee, so when it’s time to expand, you have a new employee’s salary for month or two ready to go.  This will give the new employee time to learn the practice and hopefully translate their work into revenue.

How do you collaborate with other lawyers? Is there a process for that?

We get referrals from other lawyers but rarely work collaboratively with them.  If you do work collaboratively, make certain you have the same goals in mind and work towards them.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, and always offer to do the lion’s share of the work, even if you think it’s unfair.

Would you or your firm look to hire new associates, or bring on contract attorneys if you could more flexibly manage their workloads?

We would do that if the opportunity presented itself.  Especially on big cases where we need an extra set of eyes but don’t want to commit to hiring another full-time employee.

Matthew Hanson is a co-founder of Combies Hanson, P.C. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar since 2008, Mr. Hanson is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School, Boston, MA and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA.

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