If you’re planning on running a successful law firm then you will need to avoid these pitfalls.
Running your own law firm is not something for the faint of heart. Its far from the easiest path of employment, but it can be some of the most rewarding. The reason for this is that if you are truly an entrepreneurial lawyer then you have no choice but to create and grow your own practice, even if that means you might fail. Having said that, there are several pitfalls you have to navigate around if you want to build and run a successful law firm.
Making decisions without doing research
If you’re going to run your own law firm then you’re going to be excited and energetic when it comes to new ideas and strategies. Your determination towards success and the potential that a new idea might bring can cause you to act quickly. This can be a dangerous habit.
Instead, you need to take a deep breath, slow down, and do the research necessary before jumping in headfirst. We all know the risks of hopping on the bandwagon of a shiny new idea or strategy. So fight that instinct to run with the idea and instead do your research, talk to a mentor, come to your community of peers, and see what they have to say. Someone might have already tried something similar in the past and that experience and insight can go a long way towards saying you time, money, and headaches down the road.
Ignoring your competition
One of the first things you need to do after establishing your law firm is to determine who your competitors are. It is easy to avoid these thoughts and just assume that there are no other lawyers as good as you, or smart or successful. But just because this thought process is easy doesn’t mean that it is the best thing to do.
Instead, you need to find every possible competitor for your niche market and study them. You’re not going to do yourself any favors trying to convince yourself there is no real competition. Instead, use this research to discover how you can better improve your firm’s chances of getting new business instead of them going somewhere else. If others have tried it, then you can either do it better than they, or alternatively, you can go back to the drawing board or try something different altogether. And you wouldn’t have learned any of this if you didn’t embrace and study your law firm’s competitors.
Learn from your mistakes
As you do your research and become more of an expert on your practice area be prepared to accept that you’re going to make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Successful lawyers and law firm owners know that everything that happens in their business is connected to an action they have made or should have made. It could be a bad partner, hiring the wrong client, hiring the wrong contract help, investing in marketing channels without doing the proper research/being prepared, or a problem you didn’t foresee. Either way, learning from the experience is essential.
Failing to grow from them is a passive, pathetic response and something a successful lawyer will never do. Everything is in your hands, which means success, and owning up to your mistakes, correcting them and learning is in your hands, too.
Succumbing to Stress and Self-Doubt
Being a young owner and operator of a solo law firm can bring you many satisfying moments, but it can also cause you to experience anxiety, stress, and self-doubt in the process. As a young solo, you might not have a steady income at first, so you might even have days when you have trouble paying the bills. These feelings can cause any lawyer to fall short of their goals and not reach the level of success they planned to
But there is a simple thing you can do to help alleviate this overwhelming feeling. Begin with reviewing and revising your goals and task lists. When you do, you can make sure you direct your thoughts and activities in ways that support your goals. Then prioritize your time to accomplish those goals first. This is one of the best things you can do to ensure you’re practice continues to move in the right direction and you avoid wasting time and money spinning your wheels or working on tasks that are not going to move the needle.
Undervaluing Time vs Money
Lawyers a proud and smart people, and as a result, many feel that they can learn the necessary skills needed to run a successful business, like marketing, sales, design, etc. But that’s not always the smartest solution. Time is your most precious commodity. It’s a mistake to spend more time learning (and failing) to do a certain task, than paying someone else a few dollars.
If you can hire someone to complete a task for less than whatever your hourly rate is then it’s a smart investment. Your time is better spent making $300 an hour on your legal work versus trying to learn a skill that you could pay someone $100 to do for you.