Sunday, July 22, 2007

Growing the law practice: doing vs. saying

What has the Virtual Lawyer been doing? I have been so busy "doing", there has been no time for "saying" what I have been doing.

I know that I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging. Far from my initial goal of writing once a day, I have struggled to write once a month. Not for lack of interest, nor for a lack of things to write about. I was just too busy. As a solo practitioner or partner in a small firm, there is a constant need to juggle all the various responsibilities of providing legal services, marketing, billing, managing a business, and yes even taking out the trash, not to mention trying to grow the practice.

For the past year, I have been busy, very busy. In August of last year, I finally moved out of my home office into a shared office space. At the same time, I changed the name of the firm to the unconventional name of “Indigo Venture Law Offices”. All of a sudden, I needed to worry about ordering signage, submitting address changes, and sending announcements to clients and friends. I also needed to buy new furniture (bookcase, file cabinet, desk chair) and new office equipment (network storage server, printer, scanner). None of this stuff is hard, but it all takes time away from providing legal services to clients.

For the first 4.5 years, my practice grew slowly and steadily. Funny thing, after I moved into the new office, the practice started growing faster. The phone was ringing more often and the clients were asking me to handle bigger transactions. The work kept piling up and the usual slow down over the holidays in November and December never happened. By January, I was seriously looking to get some help and started talking seriously with other lawyers about partnerships, associates, paralegals, outsourcing or whatever.

In February, I created The Virtual Lawyer to help me think through the challenges of growing the law firm of the future and took on the additional task of blogging every day (what was I thinking!). I also realized that if I wanted to grow the law firm, I needed more space for other people to work; I started searching for a bigger office and signed a lease by the end of that month.

In March, I built a new website called “” for the network of 150+ lawyers that I organized. In April, I moved into the new office. In May, I hired a brilliant summer intern, Dave Marble, who not only helped to facilitate client matters, but also helped me to develop an innovative social networking platform for lawyers (to be released soon).

Also, in May, I reached an agreement with my new partner, John Koenig, a genuinely nice fellow and a seasoned corporate attorney who has unparalleled experience working with small to mid-sized businesses. By June, I was in overdrive. The phone kept ringing and the projects were getting bigger. I was working nights and weekends, outsourcing some client matters, and losing a lot of sleep. I was meeting with John on a weekly basis to plan the merger of our two practices. We created a new website, designed new business cards (which I never got around to after changing the firm name), ordered new phone service and planned infrastructure for the new firm.

Finally, on July 1st , two things happened: some clients went on vacation giving me a breather and my new partner John arrived. In fact, without John, I never would have been able to go on vacation. So, what do I do while on vacation? Of course, I start blogging again. I am very excited about all of the new activities Already, having a partner has made a huge difference. It’s great to have someone to share the process of growing a law firm. I am also excited about continuing to build the law firm of the future. We have a number of innovative systems, marketing plans and practice changes that we plan to implement going forward. As things progress, I’ll tell you more about it. I can’t promise to get back to writing on a daily basis, but I will try to post at least once a week.

What are your priorities for growing your law practice? How do you propose to build the law firm of the future?