When it comes to legal teams, big is not necessarily better.
If you’ve set up your own firm, you’ll have seen for yourself how differently a small team engages with clients. You’ll have seen how much more personal and hands-on the experience becomes.
You may even have found, for the first time in your career, that your high-functioning legal skills can actually hurt your relationships with clients.
Lawyers are great at talking through a situation rationally, attributing blame, finding loopholes and generally demonstrating why they are in the right. That’s certainly what clients hire you to do in the courtroom or during contract negotiations. But it’s not what they want when they call you up, annoyed or upset because they feel they’ve been wronged.
People are essentially emotional creatures and handling clients is a delicate art – one that a brilliant lawyer, trained to work through a problem logically, can sometimes overlook. But, whereas a larger firm might have the luxury of secretaries, client service managers and other intermediaries to work their magic on your behalf, in a small firm you need to be able to do this yourself.
If you get it right, the rewards are huge
People buy from people, not from corporations – and it’s absolutely the case for services that hinge on trusted advice and guidance, where clients often rely on their instincts when choosing a partner.
As the legal industry business consultant Joi Scardo says: “It’s generally accepted [among clients and potential clients] that lawyers will provide high quality legal services, and what sets a firm apart in today’s competitive market are the intangibles, such as true client care and service.”
This is precisely where smaller firms can shine. They are impeccably placed to offer high-level, tailored care, building strong professional relationships and getting to know their clients’ needs inside out.
The “boutique” treatment is a huge draw for clients – but it’s very time intensive.
Hours spent at your clients’ offices shows dedication, but if it makes you less productive, you’ve got a problem. And, as you grow, it’s hard to keep up the level of individualised attention that your clients have come to expect – especially in an age when clients demand ever-faster turnaround and speedier service.
Luckily, new technologies provide enticing solutions to these problems. For smaller firms, the benefits of cloud computing can add value to your services, helping you to win bigger and more lucrative clients.
Cloud technologies are designed to make companies more nimble and responsive. Mobile workspaces and cloud-hosted Office 365 Packages free up lawyers to work from anywhere, helping you to keep on top of projects and pitches on the go.
Accessing documents on the fly means you can get the most out of the time you spend with clients and cut down time spent following up, making it easier to keep track of billable hours – and demonstrating your transparency in the process.
Meanwhile, sharing access to draft contracts with your clients and other legal teams streamlines the negotiation process and means that you can make edits in real time, avoiding duplicated effort and conflicting amends, while keeping your clients in the loop on your progress.
Some of the biggest benefits of cloud computing are reserved for your cashflow. By shifting everything you do online, you avoid costly capital expenses and complex, space-hungry, in-house infrastructure that pushes up your rental costs for office space.
Instead, the bulk of your technology outgoings are consolidated into single, manageable monthly subscriptions that can easily be scaled up and down according to market demand and the size of your team.
In turn, this makes it far simpler to calculate how much your time actually costs, developing appropriate, reasonable pricing structures that impress clients, boost loyalty and retention, and generate the next wave of referrals.
The benefits of cloud computing are valuable to businesses of any size, but for a small, ambitious firm, they can seriously accelerate growth, helping you to leapfrog over the competition.