7 Ways Lawyers Leave Money on the Table (and How to Stop)

by | May 16, 2024 | CRM Software | 0 comments

The practice of law centers on helping individuals navigate the complexities of the legal justice system. But to be truly effective, law firms must also operate as businesses with a constant eye towards growth and sustainability. When attorneys fall short in the financial areas, they jeopardize the entire practice and frustrate the firm’s ability to provide high levels of legal service.  

The following are seven common ways that attorneys leave money on the table, along with some simple tips to change course.  

#1 Inadequate Lawyer Rates 

Legal representation comes at a cost due to the level of skill and education that goes into providing stellar legal representation. Unfortunately, a lot of attorneys – particularly newer ones – have a difficult time dealing with the discomfort of charging adequate fees. But the resulting discomfort of not doing so can be devastating for the law firm.  

  • Inadequate fees can create a perception in the mind of existing and potential clients that the firm’s services are not as valuable as other firms.  
  • Lawyers who undercharge create a financial struggle for themselves, leading to more stress and a decreased quality of life.  
  • Feelings of overwork and underpay can negatively impact the quality of service provided to clients. 

Attorneys must avoid the trap of setting their rates too low. Being an effective legal advocate requires recognizing the true worth of services provided and charging accordingly. For attorneys who are not sure how to raise rates, they should take note of their competition’s rates, as well as the industry standard, and ensure that their lawyer rates align.  

#2 Wasted Billable Hours  

Successful lawyers understand the value of the billable hour, so they are thoughtful about the tasks that they choose to spend their valuable time performing. Those that struggle to prioritize and delegate responsibilities appropriately find themselves spending excessive time on non-billable activities, thereby reducing the amount of client work they can complete and invoice. 

There are numerous legal services on the market to assist law firms with their administrative workflows so that every billable hour can be maximized. Law firms need software that assists with tasks like legal case management, time tracking, billing, and client relationship management. With these platforms in place, firm lawyers can focus on the more profitable tasks and mitigate risk to the firm’s revenue potential.  

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#3 Inefficient Time and Billing Processes 

Law firm time and billing process consists of three major components, time tracking, billing, and collections. When these systems are interrupted by unreasonably lengthy billing cycles, inaccuracies in invoices, or inadequate follow-up on unpaid invoices, revenue is delayed or even completely lost.  

Fixing a broken legal billing process requires a few strategies:  

  • Legal time and billing software systems for accurately and easily tracking time.  
  • Billing systems that automate the process of turning tracked time into timely invoices that can be sent electronically. 
  • Payment software that allows clients to pay their bills online in the most convenient and easiest ways possible.  
  • Collections systems that adequately track unpaid invoices and automate collections communications. 

#4 Ignoring Alternative Fee Structures 

While the billable hour remains a pillar of legal practice, by solely relying on this traditional fee structure, lawyers miss out on alternative ways to increase revenue. The cost of hourly billing does not align with all clients’ budgets. It can also potentially minimize the perceived value of legal services offered, leading clients to look elsewhere. 

Alternative fee structures have grown in usage among law firms of all sizes. Flat fees, contingency fees, or subscription-based models appeal to a broader range of clients and better accommodate their financial circumstances.  

With flat fees, clients appreciate the predictability and transparency of knowing the total cost upfront. Contingency fees offer a structure where the lawyer’s fee depends on the outcome of the case. This type of legal fee structure incentivizes potential clients to pursue legal action without the financial burden of upfront costs.  

By embracing alternative fee arrangements, law firms can not only enhance client satisfaction, but they can also discover new revenue streams and improve cash flow predictability. 

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#5 Ineffective Legal Marketing Strategies 

Law firm marketing is the doorway for attorneys to maximize business development and growth, which is imperative in today’s competitive legal landscape. Without effective marketing strategies and tools in place, law firms leave money on the table by not aggressively reaching out to potential clients. A passive approach to legal marketing results in missed opportunities and stagnant law firm growth, but there are several ways that law firms can improve their legal marketing efforts:  

  • Automated legal client intake systems that streamline the entire law firm sales funnel 
  • AI technologies that make it easier to marketing content and client communications 
  • Client relationship management (CRM) software that brings all law firm marketing operations into one efficient and organized platform.  

#6 Poor Client Retention 

Too many law firms leave money on the table by failing to nurture the client relationship.  Inadequacies in addressing client needs leads to dissatisfaction and lost revenue. Clients who feel neglected or undervalued are more likely to seek representation elsewhere and they may also speak about their negative experience, adversely affecting the law firm’s reputation.  

Investing in client relationships and consistently delivering exceptional service is essential for maximizing law firm revenue potential. This requires consistent communications and updates, organized case management practices, accurate calendaring, and top-notch legal representation.  

#7 Not Leveraging Technology 

One of the most common ways that law firms impede revenue potential is by not adequately leveraging legal technology. Attorneys simply cannot afford to ignore new technologies or continue to rely on systems that no longer deliver. The legal tech field offers platforms that streamline time and billing processes, cut operational costs, boost productivity, and automate even the most mundane law firm tasks. Embracing these modern technologies is the best way for law firms to stop leaving money on the table.  

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