Your worst law firm nightmare has come true. Clients are furious about missed deadlines, mistakes in documents and a rogue email that was sent to an adversary by mistake. Your bookkeeper is warning you about making payroll and paying taxes. A key staff member is out on a long-planned vacation, and your most reliable paralegal is coping with a family emergency. You’re going to need more than a deep breath to keep your estate planning law firm alive. What next?
One mistake on one client’s file is one too many. First, do what you can to fix the problem, then call the client and discuss how you have solved it. Don’t burden them with details unless they ask. Then deal with the source of the problem.
Cut your losses. Do you have a paralegal, associate or worse, a partner, who is making mistakes that are costing you clients? Here’s the problem: where there’s one mistake, there’s likely to be more. You just haven’t found them yet. It’s time for the hard call before further damage can be done.
Cash flow not keeping up with payroll and other expenses? This is not a problem that comes up all at once, but builds over time. Once you’ve cut unnecessary expenses, take a hard look at your team. Associates and paralegal’s billable hours should more than cover their salaries. Is there anyone on the team who is not pulling their fair weight? If so, you may need to make a tough call.
Not enough new clients. First question: how long has this been going on? If you have an engaging website and are active on social media, there should be a steady flow of prospects coming to your firm. Has your website been updated in the last few years? Do you have any lawyer videos on the site? If not, that could impact the number of people who contact you. Is your team responding fast to website leads? If you are using the E2 CRM, you will know where prospects are being turned off and not becoming clients. Then you can deal with the problem.
We talk a lot about having data to make informed, effective decisions and this is never truer than when your practice is facing a crisis. You may be able to get by without the information when everything is fine, but when things turn bad, not having the data could mean the difference between turning your practice around and closing your doors.