Challenges Faced By Small & Mid-Sized Law Firms
There are many challenges faced by law firms, but those firms that are smaller and mid-sized face difficulties that are different from larger firms. Among the problems these smaller firms often struggle with are law office management, class actions that require a large number of personnel, and professional paralegal services due to their smaller budgets. These issues can keep a small or mid-sized law firm right where they are, instead of allowing them to grow and develop into a larger firm with more attorneys, a larger number of other personnel, and more to offer to anyone who needs their services.
What Is Holding Smaller Law Firms Back?
The main area in which smaller law firms struggle is financial. They do not have the level of capital that is seen by larger firms, making it more difficult for them to hire additional attorneys, paralegals, and other staff members. Because they cannot more easily expand their practice, they may have to turn away cases that they would prefer to take, simply because they do not have the personnel to handle the load. The amount they have to spend for what they can do for a client may exceed a fair percentage of what they will receive in return, making the opportunity a poor one for the firm's long-term financial health.
According to Inc.com, there are some benchmarks that should be considered when it comes to how much an attorney should make and what kind of revenue needs to come in for a law firm. For example:
- Revenue per person on the payroll should average out to be above $130,000, and ideally above $150,000.
- With revenue between $150,000 and $175,000 per person, a law firm is considered to be successful and stable.
- A small firm can take time to reach that revenue level, but outsourcing can help.
- A firm owner should be getting 40% of gross revenue, with 25-30% to non-equity attorneys and staff.
Small and mid-sized firms can really struggle with these kinds of numbers, making it hard for them to succeed in competition with much larger firms. The concept of "spend under management" then comes into play, and has often been broadly interpreted. What this means ranges anywhere from knowing what is paid and to whom through to ensuring that the lowest price is always a consideration. For small and mid-sized law firms there may not be enough "clout" to really control these issues as effectively as they would hope. That can lead them toward financial problems and force them to remain where they are, instead of giving them the opportunity to see expansion. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Virtual Paralegal Services and US Attorneys:
For law firms that do not and cannot employ large numbers of people, litigation case management, cite-checking, indexing of legal documents, and litigation document management can all become difficult. Moving towards paperless law office document management can help, but it is often not a complete solution. Instead, a law firm must look further towards organizations such as Draft n Craft which provides virtual paralegals and US attorneys that get the job done and are only used (and paid for) when needed.
According to an NYSBA article, legal outsourcing is the way of the future for smaller law firms, and may also be their saving grace when it comes to profitable litigation and in-house counsel litigation management. Claims litigation management, product liability, and securities litigation are all areas that can be handled by an outsourced firm, so the smaller law firm has the opportunity to grow and thrive when they are asked to handle larger cases that may be otherwise outside of the scope of available personnel that they currently employ. Hiring more people full-time is not realistic, but Draft n Craft support services are.
Discovery documents and legal support services can be collected, and cost-effective paralegal services can be utilized in a way that allows the law firm to take on larger and more complex cases while still focusing on spending under management and working to make their firm as profitable as possible. Keeping costs as low as possible matters, but only if there is quality in return. With legal outsourcing, high quality can be received for a lower cost than hiring more personnel on a full-time basis, giving an important advantage to smaller and mid-sized law firms.