Solo attorneys work harder to gain the clientele, respect and reputation as that of an established law firm or an associate of that established firm. Balancing clients and family while keeping their business running smoothly can be overwhelming and stressful. Common mistakes that most solo attorneys have that are often overlooked but ultimately cost them money are properly tracking time, maintaining their reputation and networking using social media. Here are some tips that will help you deal with some common mistakes made as a solo attorney.
Properly Tracking Time. When working for a firm it is required that you track your time on a weekly basis and it becomes habit that you track your time after you deal with each client as a general practice. As a solo, you are so overwhelmed with wearing the many hats needed to operate a law practice like tasks associated with that of being a paralegal, secretary, runner, receptionist and attorney that you tend to wait until you have time to write down what work you did on each case. Without tracking time properly you are likely losing money. Your time is how you bill clients and how you get paid. Your bread and butter. There are programs that allow you to develop a timekeeping system that are ultimately free tools like Google Calendar and iTimeKeep. There are also programs like Freshbooks that will allow you to track time, bill and invoice clients as well as keep up with business expenses.
Reputation. As a solo attorney trying to make your mark in this big world, your reputation is very important. How you are viewed in the legal community can either make you or break you. Reputation although very important seems like something minor for a solo attorney since it is the last thing on their mind; being overwhelmed and stressed by wearing many hats trying to be successful with their practice. It is important that solo attorneys be mindful of how they present themselves and how they treat others. Word of mouth is a good marketing tool and could determine if you get a referral or if you get smashed by competition. This same word of mouth can reach potential client who in turn chooses another attorney. Don’t forget the importance of reputation. If you could get on top of all the tasks associated with running the business you can focus more time and energy on being an attorney and handling your clients needs as well as being the best you that you can be.
Social Media/Online Presence. Social media has become a vital part of networking and building a business. Use it to market your practice, make connections and gain potential clients. People are relying on social media to make decisions. Same is true when deciding which attorney or law firm to use. The first step most people do is to go to the internet and search for that attorney. They want to find out about that attorney like what are their interests, what articles have they posted, what types of groups do they belong to, how much information they know (blogs), how professional are they (online presence) and what are people saying about them (reviews). Having an online presence also gives clients a platform to brag and give feedback about you which helps build reputation. It is time-consuming to juggle social media sites, post blogs and interact with potential clients and colleagues. Your online presence is a reflection of you and your business. It is as much a part of your professional image as the clothes you wear. There are programs like Hootsuite and Every Post that manage social media sites in that it allows you to post to all your social media sites from one place, as well as write blogs and schedule when you want them to post.
Running a business takes a lot of hard work and dedication; add trying to practice law and be the best attorney in your field which requires just as much hard work and dedication, and that’s where the problem arises. Two major careers and only one YOU! The solution is simple, outsource! Outsourcing for attorneys has become as common as hiring an in-house secretary. The fact is that every solo attorney needs someone to handle the everyday things like screening calls, scheduling meetings with new clients, tracking time, billing clients, typing letters, scheduling court reporters, drafting pleadings and making sure that those pleadings are free of errors and filed with the courts upon your approval and social media management. All the tasks that are overwhelming to a solo attorney or a law firm for that matter that require a big chunk of time and as a end result contributes to being overwhelmed and ultimately losing money!