When I started my business almost 5 years ago, it happened quite by accident. I had to take some time off from work to recover from a TBI I had sustained in April 2015 in Montana when a woman hit me head-on. Due to my injuries, I had returned to Florida a few weeks later and gave up what I thought at the time was a once-in-a-lifetime job. Oh, how wrong I would be!!
Unbeknownst to me, and among other injuries, I had sustained a serious head trauma. It took a few weeks for it to manifest itself and by June, 2015 I knew there was something seriously wrong. The forgetfulness and the not being able to remember what I was doing or how I got somewhere was very scary for me. By September, 2015 the doctors diagnosed a TBI and recommended I take a few months off from work. My job, unfortunately, was not so understanding, but I had to make the decision to get better or I was going to get worse. This again turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.
I took a few months off and by December, 2015 I was out interviewing. Law firm administrator jobs are few and far between, but by a miracle I found one. I was so excited I did not even read the ad through to the end. I got through the entire interview process and as we are discussing compensation, I discovered that the position was part-time. I thanked the attorney and told him I was sorry I had wasted his time. The attorney was unwilling to let me go, and he suggested that maybe I should start a business doing consulting work for him and other firms as well. He even offered to help me get clients and, with his help by the end of that month, I had a few other clients and this business was born.
In 2015 that attorney earned $300k gross. I went to work doing billing, collections, getting HR under control, putting benefits in place, re-negotiating with vendors, budgeting and cash flow projections, etc. And what a mess everything was!! We even paid off 2 loans that the money had long ago been spent and all we were doing was paying interest on these loans that seemed would never end. That was 2016, and that year the firm grossed $516k. Fast forward to 2018, and that attorney grossed $975k. The bills were paid and there was always money for payroll. And we did not change the make-up of the firm. We just became efficient, cost-effective and profitable.
A big part of this was that it was no longer acceptable for the staff to be billing 60 or 70 hours a month. 120 was the benchmark and that wasn’t so hard to do when you consider that the staff worked 160 hours a month. The bigger firms downtown required 150 hours per month. We also paid for performance and billable hours that exceeded the 120 hours were rewarded. We billed religiously every single month and we collected from clients. We used the trust account to collect retainers and when the trust balances fell close to $1,000.00, we were asking for additional monies. We reconciled the trust account every single month. Clients didn't pay, we withdrew - not when they owed thousands of dollars either. We stepped up marketing and advertising, and whatever didn’t work we changed it up without waiting a year to see how it went. If it was 90 days and we didn’t see results we moved on.
During this time, I started writing for Law Office Manager magazine, presenting webinars, speaking engagements, doing podcasts, and speaking at Cooley Law School. In May of 2017, my best seller, “From Lawyer to Law Firm – How to Manage a Successful Law Business” was published and 13 days later it was #4 on the best seller list. Really, I could hardly believe all the things that were happening to me. Looking back over the past few years that accident was the best thing that ever happened to me.
This is but one of my many success stories, there are so many others. The purpose of writing about this is to tell you that RESULTS MATTER!
Whether you are a solo practitioner with an associate and a paralegal wanting to go from $300k to $750k or a $1 million dollars, or whether you are a larger law firm that wants to go to $10 million dollars or more. The premise is the same. Work efficiently, effectively, stream line your processes, BILL - whether you are hourly or flat fee - and do all the things that will make your law firm successful.
BUT – don’t do it alone!
Running a successful law business is not the same as running a successful law practice. Experience and results matter!!
Call me at 813-340-9569. I will help!
Whatever the goals are that you want to achieve, if you can dream it, we can do it. We start with a well-thought out business plan.
Check out my website at fromlawyertolawfirm.com.
Check out my profile on Facebook and my page on Facebook, From Lawyer to Law Firm, including my recommendations. Look at my articles on Law Office Manager magazine.
One more thing . . . I cannot disclose who that first attorney was, however, I am eternally grateful to him for seeing the benefits of my work and getting me on the path to having my own business.