While we may all be excited to be leaving 2020 behind and are hopeful for the new year, the truth is that 2021 is full of uncertainty. While law firms can expect an electric year ahead, your management and leadership will be critical in ensuring success.
Ideally, your law firm should already have had your 2021 initiatives such as business development plans and marketing plans drawn up and approved. These strategic business plans will enable you to steer your law firm and react in time to stay in the green. If not, you need to get moving.
A few years ago, it may have been acceptable to leave your firm on autopilot, but this is not the year. There will be chaos, pitfalls, and opportunity in equal measure, and only strategic planning and leadership will help you get through it.
Set Your Goals and KPIs for The Year
There’s a good chance that your firm didn’t get to achieve the goals you set a year ago. While many firms managed to thrive during the pandemic, a study revealed that the majority of legal professionals experienced a significant reduction in business since the pandemic.
For many firms, there is a tendency to dust these old goals and recycle them, but that would be a mistake. The legal and economic landscape has changed significantly, and even the customer trends have shifted. This year needs new goals founded on solid data rather than intuition.
For example, you will need to set goals on how many clients each lawyer and the firm at large will onboard through the year. Today’s clients are primarily seeking legal services online since the pandemic, so you might want to shift your attention to your web presence.
This year, many firms are also (rightly) going to concentrate on client relationships and satisfaction. In this case, the goal is to increase referral business and maximize loyalty.
Whatever your new goals are, define specific and measurable KPIs to help you measure performance as the year progresses. Once again, accurate and real-time data will help you track your goals.
You need an intelligent system to collect, analyze, and create smart projections for you. Applications like LawBillity offer robust reporting designed to provide the insights that matter to you and your clients. Whether through running financial reports or analyzing productivity data, this intelligent tool is your best bet to achieve a solid data foundation to base your goals and projections for the new year.
Take Advantage of New Opportunities to Grow Your Law Firm; Innovate
The legal industry outlook for 2021 isn’t at all bleak and hopeless. In fact, a little extrapolation from 2020 suggests that some law business segments will see significant growth. Your approach to these new opportunities will determine how successful you will be at bringing in exciting new business.
- Microniches – as the legal market gets increasingly competitive, many firms are specializing in offering expertise in very particular areas. That’s because clients now want lawyers who are industry experts in specific niches.
- Mergers and acquisitions – 2021 is being predicted to be “a roller coaster year for mergers and acquisitions.” This will create a ripe environment for contract and negotiation legal services.
- Legal Process Outsourcing – LPO has been growing fast due to its promise of cost savings, flexibility, and reduced turnaround times for clients. Small firms can latch on to “Big Law” to take advantage of this fast-growing trend.
- Blending of legal and non-legal expertise – the fast-changing legal landscape is leading clients to desire more comprehensive, “one-stop shop” services incorporating legal and non-legal services. We have seen this trend come to life in the financial industry, where top players are now also offering legal expertise. Other areas of interest include digital and data privacy, cybersecurity, regulatory and compliance, as well as industry-specific knowledge and advisory services.
Redefine Your Market and Clients to Remain Competitive
Planning for 2021 is going to be especially important for law firms to help them reposition themselves adequately for the shifting legal markets.
For some time now, the industry has been increasing its focus on providing superior client experiences. However, these client expectations have now changed and require subtle changes in service offerings to satisfy customer needs.
A case in point is how clients are now using online resources to conduct research on their legal issues before reaching out, which means they expect highly refined services. Remote legal services are also likely to retain popularity past 2020 due to their added convenience.
Your plans should include a review of your client personas to see whether they need changing to help you tailor your value proposition models. This will help you to maintain your competitive edge this coming year and beat competition despite changing times.
Streamline Your Leadership Structure for Improved Efficiency
Some law firms have used the pandemic period to cut away non-performing employees, resources, and whole departments to stay leaner and stronger. This year, streamlining is going to get more important.
Your 2021 business planning should account for how you will increase efficiency and productivity while reducing operational costs. Using important law firm reports, you will be able to tighten your management and seal any holes.
Law businesses have come to realize the importance of legal billing and invoicing software to help them improve invoicing and encourage prompt payment, which will be especially important to improve your cash flow situation this year. Using advanced billing software like LawBillity, you will be able to better track time, create invoices, manage trust accounts, and monitor legal expenses.
Leverage Legal Technology for Maximum Efficiency
For some time now, legal business organizations have been shifting towards modern technology to help revolutionize law practice. The year 2020 has shown that even the most traditional law firms can no longer afford to avoid legal technology, thanks to the remote working policies.
As such, it is essential that your 2021 business plan for your firm set out concrete steps to help you bring in useful legal technology into your firm. This technology can cover many functions of your business including customer interaction, document processing, artificial intelligence for contract drafting and review, due diligence, and other functions.
An intentional and goal-based approach to technology is your best bet to ensure that your development investments will bring in the best returns. You can start by planning to:
- Update and modernize document management in your firm
- Modernize remote legal services by purchasing high quality hardware and software tools
- Digitize your time tracking and billing process to reduce under or over-billing
- Automate time-consuming processes such as invoicing and payment tracking
LawBillity is an advanced legal software tool designed to help you digitize critical law firm functions such as time and expense tracking, billing, invoicing, and reporting. With LawBillity, you can instantly gain the benefits of increased performance, improved efficiency, and reduced costs in your daily administration. We welcome you to try LawBillity for 14 days free of charge and experience its power for yourself.