A May 2012 billable hours survey by LexisNexis reported that 39% of the time worked by a solo or two-attorney firm is not billed, compared to 8% for larger law firms. Among the various reasons hypothesized for the gap are not using staff for non-billable hours and spending time on networking and business development. While client acquisition can be time-consuming, sole practitioners and small law firms still need a robust client acquisition strategy to generate a good flow of new client business. Virtual office solutions are one answer to some of these challenges. See earlier posts for background on the growing number of solo attorneys and micro-boutiques (SAMBs) and the various strategies an SAMB can deploy to enhance its professional image.
Unlike in a hierarchical large law firm where partners generate new business and work is allocated to various teams and tiers of associates and support staff, an SAMB has to acquire new clients while simultaneously servicing existing ones. This is not an easy task given the uncertainties and spikes in client inquiries and existing client workloads, and the attorney has to constantly balance the competing needs of new and existing clients.
Without large marketing budgets, specialized roles, and full-time support staff, SAMBs need smart and efficient solutions for finding and acquiring new clients. If the solo practitioner is busy all day in the courthouse or meetings, he or she will likely miss potential new clients if phone calls go unanswered. A virtual office can provide remote receptionists to implement lead-capturing strategies, such as providing callers with information about the attorney’s practice areas, services, fees, and consultation process. They can also populate intake forms for the attorney and schedule appointments.
Stay tuned for how a virtual receptionist or assistant can help solo and small law practices.