4 Things Law Firms Should Outsource
As Stephen Covey’s famous maxim goes, “The key is not in spending time, but in investing it.”
No one identifies with this quote more than lawyers, as 77% of them want to hire more staff yet 58% want to reduce spending. There’s friction between increased productivity and cutting costs; some attorneys believe that the only way to increase revenue is to hire more staff. That’s simply untrue.
How can attorneys save time and money without working more than their packed schedules allow?
The answer: outsource non-billable work to a third party. Outsourcing allows your firm to shed the mundane, time-consuming tasks that inhibit your business from growing. If you really want to help your clients, the first step is to help yourself.
There are several tangible benefits to outsourcing legal work. Deloitte’s Global Outsourcing Survey discovered several primary drivers for outsourcing:
- 59% used outsourcing to cut costs
- 57% did so for employees to focus on deep work
- 31% outsourced to enhance the quality of service
Of course, before you decide to enlist the help of a third party, sit down and assess your law firm’s unique goals and needs. Outsourcing can help you and your employees deepen your expertise, save time and money, and monitor expenses closely, but only if you decide what you need.
1. Daily Administrative Tasks
If only lawyers could concentrate on billable hours and not spend their already-overburdened time on necessary but monotonous tasks. We’re looking at you, invoices and trust ledgers.
You want your firm to grow and increase revenue, but your attorneys are tired from working 80+ hours a week. They’re expected to perform legal work but also administrative tasks, and their stamina is wearing thin.
If that sounds like your firm, consider outsourcing.
According to Clio, the majority of lawyers (77%) who work outside business hours reported that they do so to catch up on work that they didn’t or couldn’t get done during the workday.
The need to outsource day-to-day operations typically increases the more a law firm grows. Many attorneys are already playing catch-up. If you want your firm sustainable and your lawyers happy, hire an outside business to assist with legal administrative duties.
Administrative tasks to outsource may include:
- Recording and summarizing time entries
- Transferring information between software.
Over the course of a year, lawyers work an average of 140 unplanned hours. That works out to 3.5 weeks of work that could have been outsourced.
If you’re hesitant to hire a legal administrative company, think about it this way: lawyers with a sustainable work-life balance (preferably no more than 45-50 hours per week) are more productive, happy, and eager to achieve goals.
EverSpark researched and compiled a list of legal administrative service companies in locations across the country. Look through them and do research of your own; then seriously consider hiring one of them to help you keep your employees happy and productive.
- Kensium BPO, Chicago
Provides billing verification, database maintenance, case filing, and calendar management services.
- Legal Administrative Services, Sacramento and Monterey, California
Provides office management, human resources, billing, and bookkeeping services.
- Legal Back Office, LLC, St. Louis, Missouri
Provides accounting, human resources, marketing, and consulting services for small- to mid-sized firms.
- The MCS Group, Inc., Philadelphia, PA
Provides document management, deposition, mail and print center operation, and e-Discovery and ESI processing services.
- 4L Law Firm Services, LLC, Tampa, Florida
Provides accounting, financial procedures, human resources, and strategy and administrative support.
Law firm marketing used to be simple: make a billboard, film a commercial, purchase some ad space in the local newspaper or magazine, and await your new clients.
If you haven’t noticed, the landscape has changed. People hardly notice billboards and seldom decide to call. Print media continues to descend into the furthest reaches of consumer authority, and people find lawyer’s TV commercials annoying.
The American Tort Reform Association reports that TV ads affect jurors’ perceptions of certain issues or products, leaving them with preconceived notions that they would not have otherwise held.
Case in point: medical malpractice lawyers. Many of these attorneys’ TV advertisements claim that a certain medicine or device will cause or has already caused harm. There are many instances of these unfounded claims scaring people and influencing their decision to stop using their medication or device. In some cases, this can be deadly.
The last thing a law firm needs is to appear uncredible. More than ever, clients want transparency, and it’s apparent that the old ways of marketing a law firm – billboards, TV commercials, and print ads – just aren’t cutting it.
Your law firm needs to predict what clients need before they reach you. That means investing in a forward-focused online marketing strategy. Here’s how you can follow through:
Be available 24/7.
This doesn’t mean that you and your employees need to be physically present 24/7. It’s just that your services need to be available for potential clients to peruse and learn more about on their time. Ensure that your firm’s website loads quickly, is mobile-friendly, and visually appealing. If a client can’t access your website within three seconds or is turned off by its convoluted or unattractive design, they will leave and find another firm to work with.
You should also encourage and respond to reviews quickly. That’s part of being available — potential clients will see how you responded or failed to respond to other clients’ comments. Respond quickly and kindly, and always remember to be honest.
Invest in SEO.
Maybe we’re a little biased – after all, EverSpark Interactive is a full-service SEO agency with years of experience working specifically with law firms. We include this point simply because it works.
At EverSpark, we’ve seen how SEO can benefit legal businesses in every practice area. Here are some reasons why you should invest in SEO and hire EverSpark as your cutting edge, consistent, and client-focused marketing agency.
Ninety-five percent of people use a search engine (almost exclusively Google) to search for legal services. Seventy-five percent of those people will not scroll past the first set of visible results on the screen, and they definitely won’t go to the next page of results. If your law firm isn’t ranking on the first page of Google, you’re missing out on some serious business.
Participate in social media, email marketing, and online reviews.
If your firm already has social media accounts and/or sends out emails, take a minute to review what is and what isn’t working on those platforms. Are you seeing any engagement with potential clients? Do you have multiple unanswered messages from clients? Do you have a bad review that you don’t know how to respond to?
All of these questions contribute to how clients recognize and interact with your business.
More than ever, people are seeking meaningful interaction online, including with their lawyer. If you fail to respond to online reviews promptly or appropriately, or if you have a very unpredictable or absent social media presence, clients assume that you don’t care about their business. They may feel unvalued and decide to take their business elsewhere.
3. IT Services
We’ve all been there – the server or WiFi goes down in the office. No matter how many times you turn the router off and back on, it doesn’t return. You call the IT guy in your building, but they have four other offices to attend to before yours. So now you have to wait two to three hours before being able to work.
That’s a whole lot of inefficiency. To cut down on waste, consider outsourcing an IT service provider, also known as an ALSP (alternative legal services provider). An outsourcing agreement will establish professional and comprehensive support of the IT-related issues and tasks in your law firm, cutting down on your time away from clients and growing your firm.
Following the American Bar Association’s 2017 Planning and Budgeting survey, 58% of solo attorneys said that they did not budget for technology; 40% of small law firms (two to nine attorneys) didn’t either, and 13% didn’t know.
Depending on the size of the IT company, you may even have technological wizardry available 24/7. That’s better than waiting around for three hours for someone to come to your office. An outsourced ALSP can provide security solutions and antivirus protection, website and email hosting, domain management, and desktop support for the glitches and errors that inevitably appear.
Outsourcing IT services also makes economic sense. You’ll avoid the cost of having an in-house IT department but maintain the ease of having technology professionals nearby. Well, maybe not nearby, but within calling, texting, or emailing distance.
Below are some legal IT service companies making their mark across the country:
- Ntiva, McLean, VA
Provides disaster recovery, network monitoring and management, hardware and software procurement, and server and workstation management services.
- The Scarlett Group, LLC, Jacksonville, FL and Raleigh, NC
Provides compliance consulting, cybersecurity and IT assessments, mobile device management, cloud strategy consulting and migration, and workflow and process mapping services.
- Dataprise, Rockville, MD headquarters
Provides IT management and consulting, cloud solutions, cybersecurity, and web and mobile services.
4. Legal Research and Writing
As an attorney, you are governed by the law, but you are also governed by deadlines. Whether they are set by statute, court rule, or judicial fiat, you have a limited amount of time to conduct extensive research and write briefs.
Associates spend nearly a third of their time – about 15 hours per week – conducting legal research. For newer associates, that number is even higher – 35% of their work per week is spent on legal research.
You shouldn’t sacrifice your or your employee’s mental wellbeing for a task that’s easily outsourced. Hiring a third party to conduct your legal research and brief writing will help you and your employees avoid burnout, unnecessary stress, and general unhappiness related to overwork.
If you’re a hiring partner, outsourcing legal research and writing will also demonstrate that you value your employee’s time and care about their wellbeing.
You may be reluctant to pay for a third party’s work, but doing so can actually cut costs — you won’t need to hire new staff to take on the burden of research and writing, and you’ll be able to focus on billable hours instead of time-consuming, non-billable tasks.
If you’ve relied solely on yourself or your employees to conduct legal research and brief writing, you may have trouble knowing when to seek help and outsource the work. Editor Jennifer J. Rose offers valuable tips in the American Bar Association’s Effectively Staffing Your Law Firm:
“If you find that you are doing more paralegal or clerical work on your files and you do not have time to draft the motions or documents your clients have requested, you need help. If you find you are answering too many unsolicited phone calls from people who want free legal advice and it is distracting you from your work, you need help.” (MyCase Blog, 2019)
Of course, no two law firms are the same. Before you make any hasty decisions, sit down and conduct an in-depth assessment of the firm’s needs and goals. Although outsourcing is largely beneficial for businesses of any size, you may find that your firm simply doesn’t have the capital to move forward with that decision yet.
Let us help you on your legal outsourcing journey.
If you’re unsure whether outsourcing is right for your firm, contact EverSpark. We’ll help you assess your short and long-term business needs and create a plan that aligns with your resources and goals.
EverSpark has helped dozens of law firms achieve what they’d been wanting for years; we can help you achieve your firm’s goals, too.