As an attorney at a small law firm, you have a lot on your plate. Maybe you heard about Virtual Receptionist services from a colleague or saw an ad online. You’re already imagining the relief that would come from no longer being responsible for your calls. The silence you could work in without the constant ringing of the phone. The time and peace you would have to spend on casework. And you are SOLD on the idea!
But there’s one thing standing in your way: Who do you choose?
If transparent pricing is important to you, understanding the difference between virtual receptionist providers who charge by the minute and those who charge by the receptionist minute, is crucial.
What is a Receptionist Minute?
You may have noticed that many virtual receptionist providers list their plans as covering X amount of receptionist minutes. Maybe you assumed that receptionist minute is just a cute way of saying “each minute your receptionist spends on the phone”. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. Instead, receptionist minute is a somewhat sneaky term that is used in place of “minute” because, well, actual minutes aren’t what you’re being charged for.
Receptionist Minute = actual time your receptionist spent on the phone + the amount of time rounded up to the nearest 30 or 60 seconds.
That’s right! Some virtual receptionist providers round their call time up to the nearest 30 seconds and some round up to the nearest minute.
Here’s what you would be charged for if a phone call lasts for 2 minutes and 15 seconds:
30-second increment receptionist minutes: 2 minutes and 30 seconds
Why do virtual receptionist providers use receptionist minutes?
The answer is pretty simple: Rounding up call minutes allows virtual receptionist providers to boast a lower price, while still bringing in the same amount of money that they would make if they charged more and calculated your call time by real minutes.
You have a 300-minute monthly virtual receptionist plan and your average call lasts for 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
Here’s how quickly that 300-minute plan would run out under receptionist minute pricing:
30-second increment receptionist minutes: 120 calls at 270 total real minutes
60-second increment receptionist minutes: 100 calls at 225 total real minutes
Back Office Betties Charges by Real Minutes and Never Rounds Up
At Back Office Betties, we believe in transparent pricing. We calculate your call time by real minutes and never round up.
That means if your Betties receptionist spends 2 minutes and 15 seconds on a call, we charge you for 2.25 minutes. No more, no less, and no sneaky technicalities.
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Receptionist-Minute-Blog-Heros.png5281000Rachel Bauerhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgRachel Bauer2023-05-15 11:20:212023-12-04 15:04:18Virtual Receptionist Pricing: What Is a Receptionist Minute?
Finances and bookkeeping may not be the most exciting part of managing your small law firm… But it’s crucial for the success of your practice. We’ve put together a list of practical tips to help you manage this important aspect of your business. So, let’s dive in and master the art of small law firm money management!
1. Keep Business and Personal Finances Separate
Avoid financial confusion by keeping your personal and business finances separate. Maintain separate bank accounts and credit cards for your law firm. This will simplify tracking your firm’s financials and make tax time much easier.
This isn’t to say that you can’t use your personal cash to finance your business. Many solo attorneys and small law firm owners do. If you’ve chosen to put personal money into your law firm, that’s fine, but keep your accounts separate.
2. Create a Budget and Stick to It
Budgeting may not be glamorous, but it’s the foundation of financial success! Create a budget that covers all your law firm’s expenses, from rent to salaries to office supplies.
When creating your budget, it’s important to:
Be thorough and realistic with your estimates
Regularly review and adjust your budget as needed
That’s right – budgeting isn’t a one-and-done ordeal. It requires continuous review and adjusting to stay on track.
3. Invest in Legal Accounting Software
Make your life easier by investing in legal accounting software. Meaning accounting software that was specifically designed for law firms. Look for features such as trust accounting, expense tracking, and time tracking.
The right legal accounting software will help you to:
Good bookkeeping is essential for your law firm’s financial success. It’s important to keep meticulous records of all financial transactions. Precise organization is key.
You should be reconciling your accounts regularly (read: at least once a month). Don’t have time? (Who does??) Consider outsourcing your bookkeeping tasks to a virtual assistant. Outsourcing is a great way to free up your time and ensure accurate record-keeping.
5. Stay on Top of Cash Flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, including law firms.
Here’s how to stay on top of it and ensure your law firm’s financial health:
Create cash flow projections
Monitor your income and expenses, making adjustments as necessary
Be proactive in addressing any cash flow challenges
6. Plan Ahead for Taxes
Don’t let tax season catch you by surprise. Stay ahead of the game by:
Keeping accurate records of your income and expenses
Setting aside funds for estimated tax payments
Familiarizing yourself with tax regulations for small law firms
Taxes can be, well, taxing. Consider consulting with a tax professional to optimize your tax strategy.
7. Review Financial Reports Regularly
Financial reports provide valuable insights into your firm’s financial performance.
To assess the health of your law firm’s finances, regularly review:
Profit and loss statements
Cash flow statements
Use these reports to inform your financial decisions and adjust your financial strategy as needed.
8. Outsource to a Virtual Assistant
Consider outsourcing some (or – who are we kidding – all) of your financial and bookkeeping tasks to a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants can assist with tasks such as:
Outsourcing financial tasks frees up your time to focus on what you do best – practicing the law! Be sure to carefully vet your virtual assistant before hiring to ensure confidentiality.
Alternatively, you can work with a virtual legal assistant provider. Back Office Betties supports a range of highly-qualified virtual legal assistants allowing you to hire a new employee… without the hassle of recruiting!
Following these essential tips, you’re ready to manage your small law firm’s finances like a pro. Remember, sound financial management is key to the success of your law practice. Stay organized, be proactive, and keep a close eye on your firm’s financials. Here’s to your firm’s financial success!
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Finances-Bookkeeping.png5281000Rachel Bauerhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgRachel Bauer2023-04-25 08:00:042023-12-04 15:09:038 Essential Tips to Manage Small Law Firm Finances & Bookkeeping
The pandemic, and the resulting move into the home for many people, has resulted in a sea of change in the way lawyers and their clients think about remote work. According to a recent Clio survey, fewer than 30% of attorneys worked exclusively in an office in 2022, with about half of those surveyed preferring to work from home.
What’s more, a related survey shows that 25% more clients prefer meeting remotely with a lawyer over meeting with one in person.
It’s clear that things have changed, and there’s no going back. Now is the time for law firms to embrace remote work.
Benefits of Working Remotely
Some of the benefits of working remotely apply to nearly any white-collar job, and some are specific to attorneys.
Less time spent commuting.
The ability to structure the workspace to the specific needs of each person.
More job satisfaction.
Benefits for Attorneys
Removing some of the barriers that exist due to location. Although many clients prefer a local lawyer, this could extend what clients consider ‘local’ to within the same state, or at least a larger geographical area.
Increased organization that leads to greater productivity for the firm as a whole. As more documents are created in a digital-first environment, less time will need to be spent locating and re-creating those documents. Multiple members of a legal team will have access to a single source of truth, potentially leading to saved time and a reduction in misunderstandings.
Improved ability to meet with clients outside the standard workday.
How to Make Remote Work Easier
Even with all this said, there are still some challenges for attorneys who want to work from home. For example, some clients still prefer to meet in person. Some ways that remote work can be facilitated include:
Providing a stipend for staff to create a home office or rent a coworking space. This can have the added bonus of creating some degree of standardization (such as a color scheme or a displayed logo) that can help clients associate the attorney with the firm.
Moving quickly to adopt new tools to simplify remote work. Have you been saying for years that you need to move to an e-discovery solution, a matters management system, or other software? Now is the time to embrace that. Investments in technology will result in greater satisfaction for both attorneys and clients.
Advantages of Remote Work for Law Firms
There are multiple reasons why remote work is advantageous for law firms (in addition to the increased satisfaction mentioned above).
Decreased costs, particularly real estate costs.
An increased applicant pool for support staff. Do you struggle to find competent staff who understand the needs of working for a law firm? Remote work allows you to find staff specifically trained and interested in working for law firms.
How Virtual Legal Assistants and Receptionists Can Help Your Firm
In many cases, law firms hire staff not because of their extensive experience in the legal field, but because of geographical convenience. And while this approach sometimes works, it often doesn’t.
If your office is remote, however, you can search out applicants who are qualified for your legal staff positions. You can hire a virtual legal assistant with experience in your field of law or a virtual receptionist who knows legal client intake protocols. It allows you to hire high-caliber staff with legal experience.
It’s also quite cost-effective to hire a remote legal assistant or receptionist. You can pay only for the time you need, without worrying about payroll taxes or benefits.
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Attorneys-and-Their-Clients-Want-to-Work-Remotely.png5281000Rachel Bauerhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgRachel Bauer2023-01-25 09:00:122023-12-04 15:18:53Attorneys—and Their Clients!—Want to Work Remotely
Running a law firm is a little like juggling while riding a unicycle. Oh, and the pins you’re juggling are on fire.
You’re probably going to wind up exhausted, a little bruised up, and possibly burned.
Between handling the day-to-day logistics, client acquisition, and billing headaches, there’s not a whole lot of time left to actually, you know, practice law.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. More and more law firms are offering self-service options that enable clients to do a lot on their own. These options can help you save time, money, and sanity.
What tasks can a self-service option handle?
Automation and self-service portals can handle a lot of tasks that may currently be overwhelming you and your staff. For example, think of the time involved for your staff to take a client’s name: it needs to be spelled and then verified. Why not just have the client enter their name themselves? It’ll be quicker for everyone involved, with less risk of error.
Some of the tasks that could benefit from a self-service option include:
Scheduling. Although many people will still prefer to call your office to schedule, there are also many who will prefer to choose an open time from your online schedule.
Intake. This can be offered during the scheduling process or later on. Allow your clients to fill in their own information to increase accuracy and decrease the amount of time your staff spends on this task.
Client Portal. Setting up a client portal allows your clients to access documents and bills directly from their computers or devices.
Client Education. The use of a client portal also gives you the option to provide educational materials to your clients, thereby potentially decreasing the amount of introductory education you need to provide during in-person consultations.
Online Bill Pay. Reduce the amount of physical mail that needs to be sent, received, and processed by offering online bill pay.
Benefits for attorneys
The benefits of self-service options for law firms are immediately apparent. You’ll potentially be able to:
Reach more clients.
Collect information with more accuracy.
Reduce the amount of time your staff has to spend on data-entry tasks, making them available for more important work.
Be able to collect testimonials and reviews more easily and consistently.
Benefits for clients
Many self-service tasks will benefit both you and your client. Potential benefits for clients include:
The ability to access their client portal from wherever they are.
The convenience of online billing and bill pay.
Providing education, making clients more confident in the legal process.
Increased satisfaction with their experience from start to end.
Improve the Experience for Everyone
Self-service tasks will increase productivity on your end and satisfaction on your client’s end. Some lawyers worry, though, that they don’t have the knowledge or ability to implement these solutions. But your firm is probably already using software likeLawPay,Clio, orAcuityScheduling — so you may already offer your clients some self-service options.
Remember, you don’t have to build everything all at once. You can make changes and add services as the need arises.
Curious about how to structure and implement self-service offerings? Download our free e-book to see how automation can improve your service and give you time for more important tasks (and billable hours).
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Self-Service-Law-Firm.png5281000Rachel Bauerhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgRachel Bauer2022-12-22 10:00:212023-12-04 15:20:53Save Time & Sanity by Turning Your Practice into a Self-Service Law Firm
Being the chief executive of Back Office Betties, a legal receptionist service for law firms, means that I wear a lot of hats. It’s not always easy to stay on top of everything myself! I have the best team around, but when it came to finances, I didn’t have a solid grasp on my numbers and wasn’t even sure that our books and processes were fully in compliance.
I realized that I needed someone more experienced to step in and help with the financial side of things. That’s when I first connected with Cathedral Capital, a fractional CFO service for law firms. Our fractional CFO has become an instrumental part of my team and I can’t fathom how we ever functioned without her!
These are the three shocking lessons I learned after hiring a fractional CFO.
You will be challenged to become a better manager
I wasn’t sold on the value of a CFO at first. I already had a bookkeeper, why did I need a CFO?
The truth is, I quickly learned that our CFO plays a more strategic role in the company, whereas the bookkeeper acts more as an executor of predefined tasks. Our fractional CFO challenged me to ensure profits from our client base and pushed me to evaluate my staffing choices.
I’ve created KPIs, reviewed payroll expenses to earnings, and learned how to better hold my team accountable. My bookkeeper doesn’t do those things!
Our fractional CFO always knows the right questions to ask, where to push me as a leader, and when to raise a red flag. I no longer feel stressed that I’m making mistakes because I know she is overseeing this role for my company and developing strategies to ensure success for years to come.
You will have to check your assumptions
My fractional CFO opened my eyes to quite a few financial practices I thought I was doing right. She pushed me to think more strategically about profitability and challenged me to reframe some of my assumptions about growth.
For instance, our CFO challenged me in these ways:
How to think through a long-term pricing structure rather than flying by the seat of my pants.
You shouldn’t prepare an annual budget without looking back and historical data.
Cookie-cutter solutions don’t work, and you need a customized approach for your business.
Without the help of a fractional CFO, I would have kept doing “business as usual” instead of “business that’s most effective.”
You will not have to break the bank
I’ll be honest…I was worried about the cost of a fractional CFO.
As it turns out, these were misplaced worries! Our fractional CFO’s expertise has empowered Back Office Betties with strategies to save money and give me clarity about our financials. I realized that there are varying levels of services available for getting CFO help and that it didn’t have to be a wallet-busting commitment.
Is it the right time to hire a CFO?
Working with a fractional CFO has taught me that you’re never too small or too early in your growth to get a grasp on your numbers. Once I did, I finally felt the weight of “getting it right” for my finances lifted off my shoulders.
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/WHY-HIRE-A-CFO-3.png5281000Rachel Bauerhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgRachel Bauer2022-03-02 10:00:042023-12-04 15:29:593 Most Shocking Things I Learned After Hiring a Fractional CFO
Our CEO, Emily LaRusch, sat down with Brooke Lively, Founder of Cathedral Capital, to discuss the pieces that many attorneys are missing when it comes to the A/R puzzle, and exactly what you need to do to ensure your law firm stays profitable.
Brooke compares building and running a solo or small law firm to climbing a mountain: It’s fun, exciting, beautiful, but it can also be dangerous, scary, and lonely. That’s where she comes in, to be the “Financial Sherpa” for attorneys who need a guide to get them to the revenue goals they’ve set.
Financials come easy to Brooke, just as practicing law comes easy to you. What isn’t easy is running the parts of your firm that aren’t in your zone of genius, and also placing value on the things that do come easy to you. When you bring in a CFO, whether fractional or full-time, they can really take a look at where your money is going, how much is coming in, whether you’ve placed enough value on the services you offer, and also ask questions like “How can this make us more money?”
Brooke’s 5 Pieces of the A/R Puzzle: What Many Attorneys Are Missing
Don’t Start Work Without a Retainer
The first piece of the A/R puzzle is to put a stop to the collections chase and implement a retainer equal to the first 3 months of work at the start of your client relationship. There’s no profitability when you’re afraid to collect payment, so avoid any future conflicts by getting that payment upfront.
Implement an Evergreen Retainer
What happens when that initial retainer runs out? An evergreen retainer ensures that you’re always a step ahead and collecting payment before spending any of your time on client work. Your evergreen retainer should average about 3 months of work (this may be less than your initial retainer).
Create a Stop-Work Policy
So what happens when someone doesn’t pay? You’re trying to avoid the fight of collecting on the back end, so you need a policy in place to protect you. If the retainer isn’t paid on time, you immediately stop all work on that case. Brooke mentions a “red rubber band policy” at one firm where cases with late payments are immediately wrapped in a red rubber band that tells you (and everyone else in the firm) that this case should not be opened. In a modern law firm, you can even set up document locks to prevent oversight and protect your time.
Take Payment Out of the Clients’ Hands
When you take out the middle man (in this case, your client) it’s much easier to avoid forgotten payments, human error, missed emails and notices, etc. Have your clients sign a Credit Card Authorization to ensure that your invoices don’t spend time sitting on a desk or wind up forgotten in the trash. You’ll receive prompt payment and your clients won’t wonder why you’ve stopped working on their case – a win-win!
Have a Clear Fee Agreement
Fee agreements protect all parties, but what it really comes down to is protecting your firm. Have a clear fee agreement that lays out your fees, when they’re due, and what happens if they aren’t paid. Your clients will appreciate clear communication and no surprise charges and you will appreciate being paid for your time and expertise!
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/1198261_5PiecesARPuzzleBlog_v1_093021.jpg5281000Emilyhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgEmily2021-10-06 17:48:432023-12-04 15:34:32Is Your Law Firm Missing These 5 Pieces of the A/R Puzzle?
The most common pricing model among attorneys is charging by the hour.
This traditional method works well for many. However, people are starting to look for something different. And some law firms are there to give it to them.
As the ever-evolving market moves away from tradition, more and more attorneys are reconsidering their pricing model.
One of the most popular of those pricing models? Flat fees.
A flat fee is a predetermined, total fee that is paid upfront before work is started.
But is it right for your firm?
Pricing Model Considerations
Consider the following when looking at pricing models for your firm:
The experience for your clients
How your time will be spent
The effect on your sales and marketing
Your law firm is a business. Bringing in the most profit possible is a top priority.
But there are plenty of factors that play into that goal. No two law firms are the same. You need to know your clients, how you work best, the lifestyle you want, and the competition your firm faces.
Start by taking a look at the complications hitting your law firm the hardest. Then determine if a flat fee pricing model can solve them.
Charging by the Hour Can Be Suffocating
Constantly managing your life by the hour, to the fraction of the hour, is all-consuming. You’re always thinking about your work. How long did you spend on that case? And the other? Did you record it accurately?
If you didn’t, you could face the risk of legal malpractice for not keeping those records to the T.
Of course, you still need to keep track of your work with flat-rate pricing, but it doesn’t carry that same level of risk.
You’re In Control With Flat Fee Pricing
Flat fee pricing allows you to take control of your time. Work on cases the way you think is best.
Everyone has different work methods that suit them. This billing model gives you the opportunity to take advantage of that.
How flat fees give you control:
You won’t be constrained by time tracking
Your clients will pay upfront (No need to chase them down)
You can work your way – improve your own morale and efficiency
Work-life balance will be easier to achieve
Clients Have Trouble Managing Their Budget
And they don’t like it. No one does.
If you quote a potential client a $5,000 retainer fee and your hourly rate of $250, they hear numbers, but no price. They know they’ll lose $5,000 now, but they don’t know how much they’ll get back. If any. Or worse – whether they’ll owe more.
This leads to:
Stress and anxiety throughout the entire legal process
Wondering if you really need the amount of time you’re spending
Valuable trust being lost
Now, it’s not because they don’t trust you as an attorney or trust your ability to handle their case.
It’s because every hour you work on their case is another $250 gone. Your clients want you to spend time on their cases because they want the best possible outcome. But they can’t help but cringe every time their bill increases.
Additionally, your clients may feel pressured to rush through their interactions with you, which can leave them with unasked questions and uncertainties.
Flat Fee Pricing Gives Your Clients Financial Peace of Mind & Builds Trust
Being able to quote potential clients one flat fee upfront gives them the peace of mind that they want. There’s a lot of value in knowing they won’t be hit with surprises, and in being able to accurately work you into their budget.
Flat fee pricing helps build trust between you and your clients as well. They know that you aren’t trying to squeeze the most money out of them that you can.
Flat fees prove to clients upfront that you care about them, not just their wallets.
Some Case Types Benefit More Than Others from Flat Fee Pricing
Not every firm will be able to take advantage of flat fee pricing. Many case types are too complicated to assign one flat fee.
Litigation, for example, is difficult. Simply because you don’t know what could be coming around the corner. The other side could settle after the answer is filed, or they could file more motions. It’s hard to pick an average price that would work.
What works great with a flat fee pricing model?
Cases that are more transactional.
Contract reviews and drafting
There isn’t as much variation with these types of cases, so it’s a lot easier to assign a price.
The Predictability of Flat Fee Pricing Can Help Scale Your Firm
It’s hard to guess your future income when charging by the hour. Both the number of cases you’ll have and the time you’ll spend on them are unknown variables.
Flat fee pricing helps by taking away that second variable. You can have a much steadier idea of your potential income on a case-by-case basis.
Furthermore, it allows you to analyze and plan your budget more effectively. If you have your paralegal reviewing or drafting agreements before they land on your desk, you want to quantify that cost in relation to the case. It’s much easier to do that with real numbers vs a guess.
Flat Fee Pricing = Easier Sales
Your clients aren’t really paying you for your time. They’re paying you for the value of the work you do for them on their case. The only reason they care how long it takes you is because how much they pay is dependent on it.
Most people don’t have experience searching for an attorney. And most people don’t have unlimited funds or the ability to not concern themselves with their final cost. For that reason, cost is usually a deciding factor in their selection.
With flat fee pricing, your firm has the advantage of being able to tell potential clients, “Here’s what you’ll pay. No surprises.”
. . .
There are plenty of attorneys who swear by flat fees. Megan Porth, Founder & Managing Attorney of Your Contract Shop, is one example.
It’s safe to say that people are interested in affordable, predictable, transparent, and accessible legal services. Nothing about that concept is novel. The market for this type of service is there.
Consider what you’re looking for in your firm and personal life. You do have options beyond typical hourly billing, and you can break out of that cycle!
Even if it was back in law school, you’ve probably googled this before.
And if you’re running a solo or small law firm, you know the frustration of trying to fulfill your dream of having your own thriving, profitable firm. And you know how difficult it is to watch it not happening.
If you want to make lots of money as an attorney, you need to stop seeing yourself as an attorney. Well, as just an attorney. You’re practicing the law, but you’re also shouldering all the responsibilities of a business.
And those responsibilities aren’t just taxes, payroll, and administrative work. A thriving, profitable business requires strategizing, evaluating, and of course, knowing:
The way your clients think and how to use that information to land more leads
How and where to spend your money to bring in the most profit
The most effective ways to make time for billable work and additional clients to grow your firm
So, here’s how you really can make lots of money as an attorney:
1. Capture All Potential Income by Capturing Every Potential Client
Sounds like a no-brainer.
But so many law firms are still missing out on potential new clients – and they don’t need to be. Here are some of the ways you could be too:
You’re missing their calls (80% of callers won’t leave a voicemail)
You aren’t collecting their information in full
Your firm doesn’t have sales scripting in place to sell your services
You can’t take every potential client because you don’t have the time
Make Sure Your Firm Answers Every Call – The Right Way
That call you missed on your lunch break? Could have been your biggest client this year.
The caller whose phone number your receptionist forgot to take down? They’re probably not going to call back on their own.
That caller who declined to schedule due to your consultation fee? Maybe you could have sold it to them with the right scripting.
Every call has the potential to grow your law firm and make you more money. Bringing in more clients is the way your law firm will grow. So never undermine the importance of a single potential new client on the line.
“It’s fine, it was just one call.” – Small law firm attorney struggling to grow.
Impress Your Potential Clients on Their First Call to Establish Your Firm as the Best Choice
Leave your callers with a positive, professional, and capable impression of your law firm – immediately on that initial call.
Your potential clients have a list of attorneys that they’re calling through. Realistically, that first call will be their only call if your firm doesn’t stand out amongst the rest (or pick up the phone). That means your customer service doesn’t need to be adequate. Or without mistakes. It means your customer service needs to be above and beyond that of the competition.
Hook the People You Can Help, And Don’t Waste Time on the People You Can’t
How? By completing intakes on that first call. Every time.
Completing intakes on the first call:
Filters out callers you can’t help
Hooks the callers you can help
Collects the information you need to track the types of callers you get
Time is money. And as an attorney, your time is big money. If you’re looking to scale your law firm, you can’t waste your valuable time on (likely free) consultations for potential clients you won’t be able to help.
When your potential clients get to your firm in their list of attorneys to call, you want to do everything in your power to make sure that the rest of that list gets scrapped. Scheduling a consultation alone won’t do that. If you aren’t the first consultation they have scheduled, you’re in a tight spot.
Make your potential clients feel like they are already your clients by completing their intakes on the first call. This makes them feel like they’ve begun their legal process, with you.
But What If…
You don’t have time to complete intakes on the spot for every potential client that calls in?
Or convince callers that your fees are well worth it?
Or catch every call?
We’ll get to that later.
For now, you need to bring in more leads:
2. Get More Reliable Leads by Starting a Client Referral Program
Referrals are highly likely clients. And they’re easy sells.
Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report found that only 16% of clients seek a referral and search on their own for an attorney. That means 73% of clients who seek referrals, are choosing them.
Source: Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report
That’s a crazy big percentage. But why?
Many of your potential clients have never needed an attorney before. (It’s even more likely that they’ve never experienced their particular case type.) For most people, finding an attorney is:
Don’t forget, while this will be a business deal for you, your potential clients could have their entire family, business, or reputation on the line. They can’t afford to make a mistake by selecting the wrong attorney. Choosing an attorney who was referred to them by their trusted friends or family is often the most comfortable choice that a nervous new client can make.
Set Up a Referral Program for Your Firm That Brings in Low Effort Leads
Take a look through the reviews for some of your competition. You’ll notice communication (or lack thereof) coming up time and time again. And don’t overlook the power of reviews for attorneys.
View Situations From Your Client’s Perspective to Know What They Want
You’re working around the clock on cases. And sure, you might get emotionally involved in some of those cases. But you’re not sitting around by the phone waiting to hear what’s happening with one specific case that could change the course of your life.
Your clients are.
It’s easy to lose perspective, or just lose track of how long it’s been since you’ve spoken with a client. You know you’re working on their case doing everything you can for them. You know the law and you’re practicing it.
But remember, if you want to make lots of money as an attorney, you can’t forget that your law firm is a business. And you need to treat it that way.
Understand That Your Clients Need to Hear From You, No Matter What
Do your clients constantly call you or your office just asking for updates on their cases? That’s a bad sign.
That client is anxious and on edge wondering when they’ll hear from you and wondering what’s happening with their case. Quite frankly, if you haven’t reached out to them, there probably isn’t anything going on with their case. And no news to share with them. But for your clients, “no news” is news:
I’m still working on paperwork
We haven’t heard back from the opposing party
Even a simple, “No news yet” works for an update.
Set Communication Expectations to Reduce Your Clients’ Stress.
Set a regular check-in schedule. An example would be: You’ll reach out to your client every Friday to update them regardless of any activity with their case.
Set individual schedules for clients based on the unique dynamics of their cases.
Regular check-ins are easy to delegate to your receptionist. Instead of emailing or calling clients every week yourself, have your receptionist send and make emails and calls for your clients when you don’t have updates.
For many cases, you’ll want to reach out to your client when you have an update even it’s before your scheduled time. Whatever you choose to do, make sure your clients know when they will hear from you. And always follow through.
4. Save & Make Money by Outsourcing or Delegating Your Administrative Work
This is one of those “Spend money to make money” situations.
Providing directions to your office?
Adding leads to your CRM?
Making outbound calls?
All of these are:
Not billable work
Not worth your time
The reality is, you should have pretty much anyone else doing this type of administrative work. Any professional, that is. (Not your well-meaning spouse.)
Any time you spend on administrative work is time you can’t spend on billable work.
And if you want to make lots of money as an attorney… you need to be doing more billable work.
The only question you need to ask is:
“Who do I outsource my administrative work to?”
And you have options. No one solution can claim to be the best solution for every firm.
You could hire an in-house receptionist
Delegate work to your paralegal
Or outsource to a virtual receptionist company
Your best bet is likely a legal specialized virtual receptionist service like Back Office Betties. This is because legal virtual receptionists can handle your administrative work for you at a fraction of the cost of your other options. Without slashing the quality of service or missing the legal expertise that you need.
Back Office Betties hires receptionists with experience in the legal industry and provides ongoing legal, sales, and customer service training for all staff.
All of Betties’ receptionists complete custom training courses for each and every firm we work with, to ensure the same level of familiarity as someone sitting at your front desk.
An experienced in-house legal receptionist will be able to provide a great level of customer service and handle your administrative work flawlessly as well. The biggest difference is: value.
The average cost of an in-house receptionist is $4,123.60/month. (For reference, Back Office Betties’ plans range from $309 – $1,699/month.)
Unfortunately, in-house receptionists take lunch and bathroom breaks, step away from the phone, and call in sick. And that’s more than reasonable behavior. But remember, every missed call is a potential client lost.
If you want to make a lot of money as an attorney… Start seeing dollar signs every time the phone rings.
Already have an in-house receptionist that you can’t live without?
Consider a virtual receptionist service to back up your phones when they aren’t available.
The major downside of delegating administrative work to your paralegal is that they have the ability to take significantly more substantial work off of your plate. Leaving you with even more time to spend on billable work. Not to mention, your paralegal is a pretty expensive receptionist.
But again, anything is better than doing it yourself.
. . .
The biggest roadblocks small and solo attorneys face while struggling to grow their firm are landing clients and not having enough time to do billable work.
If you want to make lots of money as an attorney, you need more clients. And you can’t take on more clients if you don’t have the time to work on their cases.
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/1065667_MakeMoreMoneyBlogRB_1000x528_v2_051221.jpg5281000Rachel Bauerhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgRachel Bauer2021-05-18 10:00:462023-12-04 18:29:423+ Things To Start Doing Now That Will Make Your Law Firm More Money
Mistakes are inevitable. Especially for small law firms that are just starting out. The good news is that overcoming these mistakes is possible and doing so will get your firm back on track for growth.
Below are the top mistakes attorneys make in running their practice and ways to avoid them.
Mistake #1. Failing to Communicate With Their Clients
“Today, if you ask anyone under 35 for payment via check, you might get a perplexed look and a response like this:
‘Uh… I don’t use checks. Can I Venmo you instead?’”
While Venmo might be a little difficult for law firms to navigate, credit card payment is an option for almost all firms. You may have to pay fees or pay for a software subscription but it is well worth it.
Both receiving and making payments will be more reliable and painless. Resulting in a win-win for you and your clients.
The easier it is for your clients to work with you, the more likely they are to leave good reviews and refer you to friends and family.
Mistake #6. Spending Too Much Time on Administrative Work & Not Charging Enough Billable Hours
That number is painful, but surely not surprising. Every small law firm struggles with finding enough time for billable work, making this one of the most common mistakes that attorneys make.
Administrative work is TIME-CONSUMING and tedious. And frankly, there is no reason that you should be doing it.
The money spent paying someone else to do your administrative work is substantially less than your hourly rate. The misconception that answering phones and completing administrative work yourself saves money is one of the most common when law firms are first starting out.
This is because it costs you in the long run and prevents your firm from taking on more business and growing.
The misconception that answering phones yourself saves money is a common roadblock for small firms looking to grow.
Furthermore, if you have your paralegal or office staff taking your calls, consider hiring a legal-specialized virtual receptionist service. (Back Office Betties is a great choice, wink wink).
Your time is valuable, but so is your paralegal’s – let them take some of the more complicated administrative work off your plate and stop wasting their paycheck on calls. The only person that should be answering your everyday phone calls is a dedicated receptionist or receptionist service.
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/1033375_5MistakesBlog_1000x528_v1_040921.jpg5281000Rachel Bauerhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgRachel Bauer2021-04-13 10:00:032023-04-05 09:12:14The Top 5+ Mistakes Attorneys Make In Running Their Practice
Are you feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Do you have way too much work on your plate and too many tasks on your to-do list? And most of that work and too many of those tasks aren’t even billable?
It’s not presumptuous to assume so, considering attorneys report that only 31% of the work they do is billable. No wonder you feel so stretched. You’re busy all day but only able to squeeze in a couple of hours of billable work!
Assuming an 8-hour workday, that’s 5.5 hours or $1,650 lost every day!
Your time is too valuable to give away for free! So how did you end up here, doing just that?
Of course, you know you’re spending too much time doing administrative work, but it still feels like there’s time disappearing into thin air.
The task-switching required to balance this variety of work is a likely culprit.
Task-Switching vs. Multitasking
You multitask every day – you may be multitasking right now. You’ve talked on the phone while driving or listened to an audiobook while making dinner – that’s multitasking. Because multitasking involves doing more than one thing at once, as long as only one (or none) is something that takes specific effort or focus.
When you hear people talk about the benefits of multitasking, keep that in mind.
Task-switching, however, is a wolf in multitasking’s clothing.
Physical things like opening an app, wrapping up work to put on hold, or getting distracted with other things tacks on time between each task.
But you think you have the willpower to stay on track?
Switching tasks takes 16 seconds on average, and people switch tasks 12 times on average every half hour! That right there is 10% of your time… and you can find it out the window.
There are mental aspects to task-switching as well. Your brain takes time switching gears moving from one set of rules to another. You aren’t immediately engrossed and focused when you sit down to go over a document or fill out paperwork. Getting into a productive state takes time. And repeating this process over and over is so time-consuming, that even short mental blocks can cost as much as 40% of someone’s productive time!
Taking phone calls is a common task-switch that’s worse than many, as you don’t know when the calls are coming.
Your brain is in an anxious state knowing that you could hear a ring at any moment, and won’t let you give your full attention to other work.
Just a couple of unscheduled 5-minute phone calls could take upwards of 2 hours from your day… Considering attorneys’ average hourly rate of $300, you could be spending $600 on something a receptionist could do in 20 minutes!
What Can You Do?
The options to overcome the time-sucking task-switching cycle are few:
Stop working on cases.
Stop doing administrative work.
Of course, you can’t stop working on cases. So, you need some help!
If you could afford the help, you’d already have it, right? Intuitively your brain is telling you that money spent is money lost.
But that’s not the case here.
When you spend $20 an hour paying for someone else to do your administrative work, you will see that $20 gone… But when you spend that hour on billable work yourself, you’ll bring in 10-15x that amount.
And neither you nor your receptionist will watch time disappear due to task-switching.
Of course, hiring in-house isn’t the most cost-effective option. Hiring a full-time legal receptionist, for example, would cost you approximately $4,123.60 per month when you factor in employer taxes and benefits. (We did the math.)
Using a virtual legal receptionist service is a great alternative:
You will never have to worry if that call that got missed over lunch was your biggest opportunity this year.
You’ll rest easy knowing every call you get will be answered, and every potential new client will complete the intake process.
You’ll save anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 a month compared to hiring in-house.
You’ll make more money by doing billable work instead of wasting your time on administrative tasks.
You will eliminate the task-switching cycle and take back your time.
You’ll take in more clients and scale your firm thanks to the time you got back.
The take-home is: You can’t afford to spend your valuable time losing money when you could be making it; so you can’t afford not to save money by outsourcing your administrative work!
https://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/961822_FindTimeMoney_V3_031221.jpg5281000Emilyhttps://backofficebetties.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Back-Office-Betties-Primary-1.svgEmily2021-02-02 20:35:462023-12-04 18:18:33How To Find The Time To Make More Money