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4 Creative Business Insights from Small Law Super Lawyers

4 Creative Business Strategies from Small Law Super Lawyers

Every business is unique and often that uniqueness is tied to climate or culture.  In our view, law firms – the business of law – aren’t exempt.

No place does that come through than in dozens of case studies (i.e. Time Matters, PCLaw, Juris) we compile every year.

Certainly the focus of a case study is to draw forth exactly how a law firm or legal department is using a given technology and quantify the benefits, but the use-case itself usually not the only story.

Subtly in the layers, attorneys offer some incredibly insightful anecdotes on, for example, how a law firm approaches problem solving or client service.  We try to bring these anecdotes to life on these pages, and recently there are four that stand out in our minds.

1. Client Service:  The Sundown Rule

Relationships are everything to the attorneys at The Law Office of Stebelton, Aranda & Snider, in Lancaster, Ohio. They are so committed to putting their clients’ needs first, the firm enforces a strict “sundown rule.” The rule is simple – all client calls need to be returned by the end of the day, no exceptions. This no holds barred approach to client service extends well past day light hours, making all attorneys in the firm available to clients 24/7.  Additional reading:

2. Modeling other Industries: Rollover Hours

Hans Gillinger, an attorney and founder of the Law Offices of Hans. A. Gillinger, PLC, uses an unorthodox approach to law firm billing.  He models client retainers after mobile phone plans. Mr. Gillinger offers a variation of the “roll over minutes” billing structure that has proven an effective way for his firm to provide clients with more predictability about monthly legal bills. He and his clients agree to a monthly retainer at the beginning of the relationship – and any unused time during slower months is “rolled over” to cover the busier months.  Additional reading:

3. Thinking outside the Industry

Did you hear the one about attorney that recommended an engineer use law firm billing software?  There’s no punchline here – it really happened and with great success.  Christine Ruther, owner of C&R Engineering, a solo biomedical engineering consulting firm, took the counsel of her brother-in-law, who is an attorney, and never looked back. She found the integrated billing and accounting features in legal software fit her engineering needs perfectly. Engineers seem to think about problems differently like building an airport on an artificial island – and there’s creative thinking in that thinking!  Additional reading:

4. Super Lawyers are Brutally Efficient

A small law firm with roughly 10 clients can mean partners reading upwards of 5,000 or more client emails over the lifecycle of a case.  Often these are easy emails either but complex threads with a myriad of client privileged documents, spreadsheets and contracts.  It’s too information for anyone one person to manage – even a super lawyer with a bona fide cape.   The remedy?  “Brutal efficiency,” according to Cheryl Clayton of the Law Practice of Cheryl Clayton.  Instead of trying to manage that enormous amount of information by herself, she decided it was time to delegate that work to a new member of her team – technology.  Additional reading:

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Does your firm have a unique philosophy, strategy or technique you’d like to share?  Please feel free in the comments, send us an email or hit us up on Twitter:  @Business_of_Law

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
10 Timeless Tips for the Law Firm Startup

Photo credit:  Flickr, JD Hancock, 1993 Superman Watch (CC BY 2.0)

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.
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