How does your estate planning law firm make money? We hope you know the answer in detail, unless you went into practice with social services in mind. The nice thing about estate planning law and Elder Law is that you get to do good work and practice in a helping profession and, if you are doing it right, enjoying the benefits. Once upon a time, lawyers didn’t dirty their hands with things like cash flow or accounting. Those days are gone.
Define what you need to earn to turn a profit and set goals. This is where we find most small firms come up short. They know what they would like to earn annually, what fixed costs and salaries are, but they don’t connect the dots. Work backwards. How many new clients do you need to see every week to make the numbers work? How many new clients do you have this week? And what changes are you willing to make to get to your goals?
Share the data. Your partners, associates and even paralegals need to understand that the business requires a steady stream of new clients. They need to know that if cash flow suffers, the practice is at risk. Every single one of your employees needs to be vested in the success of the practice.
What business are you in? First and foremost, your practice provides a service. Depending on your practice model, you either charge by time or you set a fixed fee based on the amount of time you expect will be needed to provide your services. And unless you’ve moved into a practice model that centers on regular updates, yours is a one-time transaction. That’s very limiting when it comes to cash flow, but that’s how most estate planning attorneys work.
Are you charging enough for your services? This is more and more of a challenge for estate planning attorneys and why many practices don’t make it. Striking a balance between what the market will bear, what you need to cover your costs and generating a profit is not as easy as it was. Competition is coming at you from all sides. Sit down with your accountant, your time management data and figure out the numbers based on hard data.
Do you have enough clients coming in the door? You do if you are using all the tools that IMS offers. Your marketing should be as automated as possible, your blogs should be updated at least twice a week and your email newsletters should go out on a regular basis. If something is not working, submit a support ticket and let’s find out where the problem is. By the way, please don’t wait until you are staring at an empty appointment book to contact us. Even if all you do is have a chat and explore some ideas, it will be time well spent.
Are you spending money unnecessarily? If your rent is out of control or your expensive car lease is taking too big a chunk out of your income, make some changes to bring costs in line with economic reality.
With the number of boomers turning 65 every day and realizing that they need an estate plan, or at the very least, a will, there is no lack of opportunity in the estate planning and Elder Law practice areas. But to succeed in the face of massive competition and market forces takes more than hanging a sign and launching a website.