How to Grow Your Law Firm Sustainably
Thousands of law firms across the country are facing enormous growth challenges. They’re having trouble competing with other firms, struggling to acquire new clients, and are much too busy to focus on the business side of things.
In other words, they’re exhausting themselves and their resources just spinning their wheels. If this sounds like your firm, it’s time to make a change.
That change is sustainability.
Sustainability has been a buzzword for a while now. It’s a concept often associated with environmental concerns but can also be applied to business strategies.
In the legal realm, sustainability helps firms continue growing, garnering more cases, and supporting their communities.
Similar to how environmentalists treat sustainability – concerning themselves with the future of natural resources without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs – law firms can adopt a sustainable mindset to help them grow.
Keep reading to learn how you can generate long-term gains with a sustainable approach to growth.
Hopefully, these strategies will even free up your schedule and get you a little more free time, which we know is a hot commodity for lawyers.
Create a Long-Term Strategy for Growth and Get Easy Wins
We know, we know – this one almost sounds too good to be true. But believe us – a tried-and-true, efficient, flexible growth plan is your best friend.
You shouldn’t focus only on the fast cash or those cases that come in and out quickly and don’t always do much for your reputation or your bank account.
Those are short-term successes that won’t help you drive revenue growth, meet growing demand in a competitive field, or afford to hire new staff members.
Instead, your sights should be set on the future.
You may offer the best legal services in the country, but your client base will be slim if you rely on word-of-mouth alone. Your firm needs a clear identity and goals that set you apart from the thousands of other firms pummeling potential clients with information and persuasive claims.
Here’s what you can do now to set your firm up for a future of long-term success:
Create a strong brand.
Branding is crucial for any business, but especially for law firms who are vying for attention in a saturated market. Make your firm stand out by:
- Identifying and communicating your unique attributes.
- Being consistent in your brand messaging across all platforms – that also includes consistency in the amount of messages. There’s a fine line between communicating your presence and being obnoxious.
- Choosing your target audience – Try to narrow your target audience as much as possible. This will help you create powerful, relevant messaging, and it’ll save you money by sparing the expense of marketing to every single person who could potentially be looking for any type of legal service.
Define goals clearly.
Now is not the time for generalizations.
Be specific as possible in your goals for growth. Specify which part of your law firm that you want to grow.
If you’re focusing on general growth, you’ll need to define those metrics.
For example, revenue, number of clients, number of leads, or settlements are all good ways to track your firm’s growth.
Establish a lead-generation process.
The most common way for clients to find a lawyer is through online search (almost always through Google). You’ll put your firm at the forefront of the local market and make your website the center of attention by setting up a reliable lead generation pipeline.
Lead generation isn’t just something for salespeople. If you want your firm to be successful, you’re going to need to get serious about how your firm brings in new leads. Here’s how you can create a foolproof lead generation pipeline:
- Create a strong, visually attractive website with quality content and several calls-to-action, which, when clicked, should take the potential client to a landing page.
- Use landing pages (pages on a website built specifically for advertising) to capture leads. A good example of a high-conversion landing page is a “free case evaluation” sign-up form.
- Send a follow-up message to each person who fills out the form. Make the message personal and educational; let them know how your firm is different from the rest and how you’ll advocate for them throughout the legal process. Give them options for the next steps. Potential clients (especially those who have never hired a lawyer before) appreciate it when a law firm can give them direction about what to do next.
Have a client-focused website.
Don’t be the firm that publishes pages of convoluted, hard-to-read statutes and civil codes throughout your site to “educate” your clients. What you’re really doing is scaring them away. Your clients need answers, and they’re not going to want to sort through eight pages of impenetrable material to find them.
If your website looks confusing or is hard to navigate, chances are high that that potential client will just visit someone else’s website. Keep your site clean, simple, and visually appealing. Make sure you present your firm’s services clearly, and provide educational resources (blogs, newsletters, legal guides, etc.) that any client can easily understand.
Waste is the greatest hindrance to growth. If you’re wasting time and resources, you’ll spend even more time trying to correct those mistakes, putting you further and further away from your goals – and bleeding you of a lot of money.
Here’s how you can avoid that fate and generate efficiency for your firm.
Create a list of your firm’s most important processes.
Make a list of the processes that have the biggest impact on your law firm. Whether that’s client intake, matter management, or document preparation, sort the list in the same order that you follow in documenting.
In detail, write down every step of a given process. After checking with the owner of the firm to ensure that the steps align with their preferences, go to the next step.
Evaluate and compare completed processes.
Go through the documents as you would on a normal day at the firm. If there are discrepancies or obvious time-wasters, you’ll see exactly where they occur. You can then adjust the process to make it more efficient.
Track all of your time, not just billable hours.
According to Clio’s 2018 Legal Trends Report, only one-third of the average attorney’s workday is spent on billable hours. That’s a pretty low percentage, but you can improve that number by tracking your time. It won’t be the most entertaining thing you’ve ever done, but it’s an extremely helpful way to identify where your firm is squandering valuable time and resources.
Chances are that your firm could be more productive and profitable if you track all hours, billable and non-billable.
Only 81% of billable hours worked are invoiced, and the collection rate averages a mere 85%. That means American lawyers derive revenue from not quite 21% of their working time.
And we do mean everything.
If you haven’t already, make a note of the following:
- Conversion rates
- Fee per matter (and fee per new matter)
- Percentage profits
- Realization rate
- Revenue per employee
- Gross revenue
That’s not a complete list – far from it. If you need more ideas on where to look to measure your firm’s KPIs, take a look at the list Clio put together. The guide includes more than 60 factors you should be measuring, and they even break them down into categories like Client Acquisition and Productivity.
Once you’ve got those numbers sorted out, play around with them. How would it affect your business if your employees make X more each month? How would it affect your business to have an X higher conversion rate?
Now that you’ve measured the tangible aspects, it’s time to move on to the intangible internet. As a law firm SEO agency, EverSpark understands exactly how important measurability is to your business. Measurements can inform everything – mistakes made in the past, vision for the future, and expectations for the present.
Here are just a few examples of the metrics you should be frequently analyzing:
Defined by Google, a session is a “group of user interactions that take place within a given time frame.” Basically, a session is the “container” for the different actions that a client takes on your site.
For example, one session could include a page view, a click, another page view, and a review of a post. You can find out the number of sessions on your site by visiting Google Analytics > Audience > Overview.
This one’s pretty simple. It’s the total number of views on a given page. If a client views the same page twice or more, Google will count that too. If a page reloads, that’s also counted. You can find pageviews on Google Analytics > Audience > Overview.
Number of users
Quite simply, this metric shows you exactly how many individuals have visited your website. Unlike page views, where one user could look at dozens of pages, a unique user will only be counted once. In Google Analytics, go to Audience > Overview to see your User metric.
A user “bounces” from a website when they do nothing there and then leave. If you’ve ever clicked on a website because you thought it would give you the answer you needed, but then discovered it was the completely wrong source and left immediately, you bounced.
Google calculates bounce rate by dividing the number of single-page sessions by the total number of sessions. A bounce rate of 26 to 40% is good (and pretty rare); 41 to 55% is average; 56 to 70% is higher than average but you probably won’t need to raise the alarm bells just yet, and anything over 70% is not desirable.
To see your website’s bounce rate, go to Google Analytics > Audience > Overview.
Traffic source channels
Okay, so you know how much traffic you’re getting, but where is it coming from? Traffic source channels can inform how and where you publish content in the future and whether or not your website is up to snuff on mobile devices. Most websites will have traffic from the following:
- Organic – Organic traffic is generated when a user finds and visits your site on a search engine results page (SERP). As a law firm SEO agency, organic traffic is our bread and butter. This type of traffic excludes paid search advertisements.
- Direct – Direct traffic is generated when a user types your URL into the search engine or visiting your website by clicking a bookmark.
- Referral – Referral traffic is generated when a user visits your website by clicking on a link from another site. For example, our Law Firm SEO page will receive referral traffic if you click on it from this page.
- Social – Social traffic is generated when a user visits your site via social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
Imagine that your law firm has gone on a full-fledged content campaign. You’re writing blogs, white papers, FAQs, and more. You think that you’ll be at the top of Google search results for sure – after all, doesn’t Google love content?
Well, they do, but you won’t get to the top of results if that content doesn’t feature relevant, realistic keywords. You can write all the blogs you want, but if you’re trying to rank for a keyword like ‘lawyer in los angeles,’ you’re probably just spinning your wheels. Those kinds of general keywords are so competitive that ranking for them is going to be challenging to say the least.
We’re not being pessimistic, we’re just realistic.
Invest in Sustainable Growth With EverSpark
SEO is more important than ever. As the country gradually climbs out of the financial and social havoc caused by COVID-19, people are looking for answers online. More people than ever before are searching for legal services on the internet, and if you want your firm to be lucrative now and for years to come, you should invest in SEO and other tools critical for growth.
Set your firm apart from the rest and get started on a law firm SEO strategy. Call EverSpark or contact us online today.