How one can maintain your solo apply sustainable and slim


One of the biggest problems for solicitors, especially new ones, is figuring out how to balance books and keep overheads low. Here are six ways to cut costs and keep your business profitable.

Be a minimalist

"When you start practicing, you should take care of two things besides looking after your customers: keep the lights on and pay for yourself consistently."

I have been running my own company for almost four years and have seen countless other companies open and closed during this period.

connected "The myth of more time for billing"

The biggest mistake these companies make is adding unnecessary overhead. Sometimes a new solo gets a really nice (and expensive) office in a prime location without doing anything. Or a new solo hires an administrative assistant before he can afford one.

When you start practicing, you should take care of two things in addition to looking after your customers: holding the light and paying yourself consistently.

At the start of your exercise, you will likely spend a lot of time in your office waiting and hoping the phone will ring. There is no need to pay someone else to sit there with you. And don't assume that a good month or two means you've hit the jackpot and are ready for the big time. Wait a few good months before deciding to update your office or hire a part-time assistant.

Stop killing trees

When you run a paperless office, you save money.

connected "Going Paperless: Everything You Need to Get Started"

You can rent a smaller office because you don't need additional storage space for files. In general, less space means lower rent. And instead of having a larger office in the suburbs, you can pay the same for a smaller office in a prime location.

You also save money on paper and postage. Mailing briefs, customer information and invoices are getting more expensive every year. The fax service is usually perfectly acceptable, which means that you can use an e-fax service. When I deliver documents to a state court, I fax them by email and send a copy by email. This saves postage and paper. Also, I don't have to go to the mailbox.

Another advantage of a paperless company is that you can work remotely. I don't have to come to my office to pick up the Smith file – everything is scanned and saved to my hard drive. I also don't have to come to my office because I have to print and send something.

The only limitation is that you have to spend about $ 425 in advance to buy a ScanSnap. However, these costs pay off within a few months with the money you save elsewhere.

Find alternative sources of research

I admit I miss the ease and usefulness of Westlaw. At the same time, I don't feel like paying the fees charged by Westlaw.

I have access to Fastcase through my state bar association. Google Scholar, a free option, seems to be getting better every day. If you practice in a niche area, your bar association may offer a free service to email current opinions. In this way you always stay up to date with the jurisprudence in your area of ​​activity.

Check what other options are available to you, especially if your exercise is not exercise-intensive. Chances are you can survive without paying a ton for research. And if you are in an emergency, you can use the publicly accessible terminal in the legal library at any time.

Cope with your own administrative tasks

When I do my own administrative work, I know exactly what my company's finances are like from month to month.

I don't particularly like doing my own bookkeeping, opening and closing files, running to the bank, etc. If I were to hire someone to do these tedious tasks at the same time, I would have to pay them a massive increase in overhead. Honestly, my company could afford these costs for a few months and a problem for other months. Until I get to the point where the company is overflowing with money (wishful thinking), I don't hire anyone. (I hire outside help to prepare my taxes. But I do my own bookkeeping and bookkeeping. It can get annoying. A few times a year, I have to come over for a few hours on a Saturday morning to do the accounting and settlement of books .)

On the plus side, doing my own administrative work means knowing exactly what my company's finances are like from month to month. If I know about my company, I can adjust my workflow and listen in as needed.

For example, if the trust account goes low, it is time to revisit the clients on the retainer and make sure that they update their retainers. If the cases need to be closed, I have to spend time closing those files and knocking on the sidewalk for some new customers.

Answer your own phone

connected "Maybe you shouldn't answer your own phone. Here's why."

I've always been a big supporter of answering your own phone. After using Ruby Receptionists for most of this year, I will probably answer my own calls again for the following reasons:

  1. It is not cheap to pay someone else for the answering machine.
  2. If you use a virtual answering machine, it can only accept a message or provide your voicemail. If the caller is a potential customer, you still need to speak to them.
  3. In my area of ​​activity, clients want to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. You may leave a message on an answering machine or in your voicemail. However, if you call them back, they may have found someone else. There is no point in paying someone to take messages for potential customers who always remain potential customers.
  4. If your marketing is targeted, you should speak to every potential customer who calls you because you are the best person to help them. They are also in the best position to judge if they are a good customer with a good case. Having someone else do this will save you time in the short run, but will save you time and money in the long run.

Write your own website content

A great way to seed your services before meeting your next customer is to write great website content.

If you outsource someone else to write your copy, it's not the same thing. First, you pay for it. And if you don't pay a lot, the content is probably not very good. Second, check out some law firm websites and I bet you can find out who is writing their own copy. From what I've heard from potential customers, they can say it too. Outsourced material (especially material written by marketing / social media experts) reads like a sales pitch. If you write it yourself, it will look like you know what you are doing.

Running your own solo company brings numerous advantages and many new tasks. Make sure you can run your solo workout until it is successful by keeping costs down and overhead low.

Randall Ryder is Director of Appellate Advocacy & Lecturer in Law at the University of Minnesota Law School.

last update March 20, 2020.



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