With time, every lawyer arrives at the conclusion that knowing the law alone is not enough to manage a successful law practice. Inherently, law is a business just like any other – there are employees, supply chains, reputational decisions, and much more. Accordingly, here are a few important features and tips for lawyers to internalize in becoming successful business people.
Learn your Competition
Knowledge is power. Knowing the ins-and-outs of your trade helps place you in a more competitive position in comparison to fellow lawyers or law firms. This competition is not only in reference to hourly rates and set-fees in services for clients, but also knowing how firms and lawyers pay their support staff, students, and associates. This knowledge is particularly important because it also assists in gauging whether you’re being reasonable in your own pricing and paying practices.
Establish Supply Chains
Especially for newer calls, establishing referral systems as well as a network of collaborating lawyers, senior mentors, and industry-specific players will assist with integrating and legitimizing your practice. For solo practitioners, supply chains are also relevant in the more tedious and administrative tasks: who will be your process server? Your courier? Who will you turn to when you need to put together ten copies of a last-minute Motion record?
Personally, I find that creating a physical “supply chain” chart and labeling each of the players not only helps organize your network but also assists in identifying the gaps in that network.
Know Your Accounting
While hiring someone to maintain and update your books might save time and/or annoyance, being familiar with your spending, earning, and financial health is crucial to any lawyer. What are your monthly overhead fees? How much have you spent on lunches this past week? This information helps set goals and expectations, as well as keep track of progress and survival requirements. From a mental health perspective, it also provides you with a form of certainty and control over your own practice.
Personally, I use the QuickBooks app on my phone to promptly record any and all transactions I make while I’m on the go. That way, if I ever do have any looming concerns over the financial health of my practice, I have access to everything at my fingertips.