Five Legal Business Tips for 2012 - Apr 2012

Five Legal Business Tips for 2012

			Tips for Lawyers Don't think your solo practice or law firm is a business that needs to be improved?  Think again.  To succeed in law, you need to periodically reevaluate the business aspects of what you do.  Below are some key points:

  1. Create a list of what did and did not work in the past two years. It’s always a good idea to weigh your pros and cons. Make sure you’re not throwing money away.
  2. Create a thoughtful marketing plan. You can’t thrive if you’re not actively seeking out new clients. Research who your ideal clients are and what their habits include. Market accordingly.
  3. Assisting, not selling. Some of us may have gotten a bit jaded. Make sure you’re putting the emphasis on what you can do for your clients instead of talking bottom line costs all the time.
  4. Partner up! Hugely successful businesses like WalMart, ConAgra, and even Harley Davidson contract marketing and sales solutions. Follow suit. Having an industry-specific marketing company means your dollars will be hard at work. Marketing expertise is hard to find on Craigslist. Find a company that has real numbers to back up claims of success.
  5. Get a Website face-lift! Obviously the prevalence of iPhones, Blackberrys, tablets, and Wi-Fi means that people use the internet for any/all of their needs.  Putting your best foot forward now extends to your website. For many prospective clients, a bad website can make you seem unsuccessful and out of touch.

Best Accounting Software for Your Law Firm

Any business’ success can be measured by the bottom line. So why not have the best and most user friendly accounting software?  Even if it’s not your own hand that does the books, updating your financial software every couple of years is crucial.  Financial programs are responsible for keeping all of your overwhelming accounts, bills, and retainers straight.

Below are the best 3 options for your Accounting Software needs in 2012.

QuickBooks Pro is still one of the most popular Accounting Software options on the market. If you’re using an off-brand version then you’re missing out. More and more, QuickBooks is a full business financial management solution. The new marketing center even allows you to better prepare and monitor your marketing efforts whether it’s an email or letter campaign.

Peachtree has grown exponentially in the past 5 years and now goes toe-to-toe with QuickBooks. Their 4 versions (Pro, Complete, Premium, and Quantum) offer prices that range from $229.99 to $2,549 to suit any business’ needs. Peachtree has you covered from a customizable dashboard to Unified Chart Accounts to track all of your projects, accounts, and investments.

Abacus Law has been getting a fair amount of chatter in the legal community. They tout themselves as the “all-in-one, easy to use solution designed specifically for law firms.”  They tailor their software configuration to your specific area of legal practice.  Abacus Law offers Practice Management software too that will manage documents, legal calendaring, check conflict of interest and helps auto-fill court forms. Still a little new for some, Abacus Law seems to be the next generation of Legal Business Software.

Top iPad Apps for 2012

Most of us have an iPad or some form of tablet by now.  They’re great for work and productivity.  However, lots of these apps aim for a wider target audience to maximize their number of downloads.  Check out these use-specific apps that will help you be the best lawyer possible: 

Dragon Dictation enables you to send and reply to Facebook, Twitter, and email messages. Sync it up with your Bluetooth and you’ll be able to (legally) multi-task.

Dropbox for iPad is the easiest method of keeping your files at hand. It’s free and you can manage your files any way you'd like. Dropbox even updates them to your phone and desktop.

Line2 ($9.99/month) turns your iPad into a mobile call center.  Forward calls to a maximum of 6 different phones, screen with caller ID, visual voicemail, call waiting, and 20-person conferences will have you handling business as usual even when you are on the road.

Quickoffice Pro HD is better than iWork. Quickoffice has better file sharing and easier usability. A bargain for $19.99.

Become a More Effective Client Screener

Lawyers have plenty going on. That’s why we drink so much coffee and rush around all the time.  Sometimes amid the cases and meetings we forget that our client relations count for a lot. Your 30 minute consultations probably seem like a blur but those clients are your most valuable marketing tool.

Remember that each consultation is only partially to decide if you will take the case. The client still has to invest their legal outcome and money into you and your practice.

Below are some of the most common interview skills that we forget over time:

Nonverbal communication: Clients want a lawyer who knows what they are doing. One way your prospective clients will assess you is by your posture, eye contact, and handshake. Make sure you exude the confidence and know-how for the case with your mouth and body language.

Don’t be too familiar: When screening new clients, realize their personal lives are intersecting with the business world. Strike a balance between being a friendly listener and a business minded lawyer. You want to make sure they know they are being heard but not overstep your bounds with legal judgments.

Answer thoughtfully: After your 1 billionth personal injury or divorce case you know the routine. However, it’s likely your prospective clients are going through the process for the first time. Make sure to ask about details and explain why you’d take the proposed approach to their case.