When you go to law school, the entire curriculum focuses on teaching you how to be a lawyer. Unfortunately, this leaves out a very important skill set for many lawyers: how to run a law firm. Managing a business can feel overwhelming if you don’t know the best practices.

Below, we’ll dive into the steps you need to take if you want to build a strong business. From creating a business plan to providing strong leadership, we’ll give you the tips you need to help your firm succeed.

What’s Included in Law Firm Management?

At its core, law firm management is how you run the business side of your practice. Being a lawyer means working with clients, managing cases, negotiating with the other party, and so on. But law firm management deals with the practicalities of owning a business – handling payroll, hiring and firing employees, marketing, setting policies and procedures, and more.

Create a Business Plan

One of the first things you need to do when arranging law firm management is to create a business plan. This should lay out your goals, what sets you apart from the competition, how you plan to make and manage profits, and how you’ll market to your target audience. It’s important to write this down so that you can look back at it as your firm grows.

You’ll need to start by setting goals for your law firm – what do you want to achieve, and what does success look like for you? Figure out the financial details, including what sort of revenue you’ll need and how you’ll manage your fee structure. Then you’ll need to turn an eye to creating target customer profiles and figuring out a marketing strategy.

Figure Out Your Accounting

Of course, money management is one of the most critical parts of your firm. When you’re getting your business set up, you need to set a budget for your firm, including setting revenue benchmarks and establishing expectations for your expenses and cash flow. Look for opportunities for financial growth in your firm, as well as for opportunities to cut back on your expenses.

Hiring an accountant can help you keep your firm’s finances in good order. You’ll need to decide if you want to hire an internal employee or work with a contractor to manage your accounting. No matter which option you choose, you need to make sure your new accountant is versed in the regulations for lawyers in your jurisdiction.

Develop a Procedures Manual

Having a procedures manual is crucial for successful firm management. Writing down defined procedures can help to keep you and your staff on track and set clear expectations. It can also make sure your firm is operating efficiently and everyone is using the same process.

Your procedures manual should include how you’ll handle:

  • Billing
  • Client intake
  • Filing and matter numbering
  • Time tracking
  • Document review
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Trial preparation
  • And so on

You also need to make sure this document is accessible to all your staff so they can review it when questions arise.

Invest in Branding and Marketing

It’s important to invest some money in the branding and marketing for your firm. Your branding will become the face of your business and will help to draw in new customers who recognize you from your marketing. You need to make sure you have a strong logo and that you’re using your branding throughout your marketing materials.

Your marketing plan should include website design, social media marketing, and SEO. Your website will be the hub that all your other marketing drives back to. Social media marketing is a great affordable way to get your name out there, and SEO ensures that when clients are searching for your services, your name shows up at the top of the list.

Curate a Strong Team

You can have all the amazing plans and strategies you like, but if you don’t have the team in place to implement those ideas, they won’t do you any good. Your team is at the heart of everything you do, so you need to make sure you have the right people in your bullpen. 

Once you have a good team on board, you need to make sure they have what they need to grow and succeed. Invest in their professional development and make sure to do what you can to support their personal health and well-being. Employees who are healthy, happy, and supported in their professional growth will be more loyal and more productive in their work.

Track Your Performance

It’s hard to know if your firm management is working right if you’re not tracking your performance. As you get data back, you can use that to adjust your policies and procedures as needed. In areas that are meeting all their KPIs, stay the course; in areas that fall short, try a new strategy.

KPIs You Should Use

There are several KPIs you should take a look at to determine how your strategies are performing.

  • Client KPIs – On the client side of things, you should take a look at how many clients you have, how many clients you have coming in within a certain time period, how satisfied your clients are (based on surveys and reviews), how long you retain clients, how much value you get from long-standing client relationships, and how much it’s costing your firm to acquire each new client.
  • Productivity KPIs – On the productivity side, you should take a look at how many billable hours your attorneys are logging, how many tasks are being completed within a certain timeframe, how many new cases you’re opening in the given timeframe, how much you’re spending per month, your total operation rate (number of billable hours divided by the total number of hours in a workday), your collection rate (hours collected vs. hours invoiced), and realization cost (billable hours invoiced divided by billable hours worked).

Run reports on a regular basis, evaluate them with your team, and pivot your strategy to meet your firm’s needs.

Set Up Automation Tools

With so much to do for your firm, there’s no sense in wasting time on repetitive tasks. There are lots of tasks in your business that you may be able to turn over to computer programs. Not only will this save you and your staff time, but it can actually cut down on mistakes and inconsistencies. 

Billing, document management, and firm communication all present lots of opportunities for automation. You may also be able to set up your calendar to automatically assign deadlines for time-sensitive tasks and remind you and your staff as they approach. Look for ways that technology can take some of the workload and you’ll have more time to dedicate to the tasks that really matter.

Focus on Client Experience

Providing a quality client experience is the best way to keep people coming back and grow your reputation as a trustworthy law firm. You can have all your internal processes perfected, but if you aren’t providing a good experience for your clients, none of it will matter. Your process should be as effortless for them as you can make it.

The best way to find out how to make your process easier for your clients is to talk to them about it. Ask previous clients to take a survey asking what you could do to make their experience better. Take that feedback seriously, and when you start to notice trends showing up in the answers, make changes as appropriate.

Stay Agile

Of course, the problem with the perfect business plan is that it’s only going to be perfect for about five minutes. The world is always changing, and your firm needs to change right along with it. Your firm needs to stay agile and adjust to meet new challenges as they arise.

On a routine basis, take a look at your processes and make sure they’re working for your firm. If not, figure out why and find a solution that answers those concerns. Always make sure that the changes you make are purposeful – change for the sake of change can be just as bad as stagnation.

Provide Clear Leadership

Once you have all these practices in place, the last thing your firm needs is clear leadership. Your staff needs to know what’s expected of them, how to meet those expectations, and who to turn to when they have questions. All of this needs to be modeled up to the top levels of your firm.

Don’t be afraid to develop this piece of your professional skills. You may be the best lawyer in the world, but the skills required to be a good lawyer are very different from those required to be a good manager. Look for seminars on leadership or read some books providing advice about how to be a good manager.

Top Tools for Law Firm Management

There are several tools that can help you manage the day-to-day operations of your law firm. Programs like an email manager, a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and other such tools are critical for operating any office. Law practice management software can also help you keep all of your firm’s information organized and at your fingertips when you need it.

You may also want to look into implementing legal intake software to help you streamline your client intake process. Accounting software can also be revolutionary in keeping your finances in order.


When it comes to handling your team’s to-do list, Monday.com is a fantastic option. You can set up boards for different projects and assign tasks to various team members. You can set due dates for these tasks, add relevant files, keep everyone updated on your progress, and even break tasks down into smaller subtasks if needed.


Basecamp is another fantastic way to keep up with different projects in your firm. If you need better file management than Monday offers, Basecamp has a fantastic platform for this. You can also assign tasks to different team members, and chat about progress on the task.

Do You Need an Office Manager?

As your firm grows, you may start to realize you don’t have time to manage all the daily tasks it takes to run your firm. An office manager can free up your time and allow you to return to the work you love. So how do you know when it’s time to hire an office manager?

If your law firm has a total of five lawyers or less, your daily administrative responsibilities likely won’t be enough to justify a dedicated office manager. But once you grow to six or more employees, an office manager can help keep your firm organized.

Hiring a Marketing Manager

In addition to an office manager, you may find it helpful to hire a marketing manager. They can help you manage your press releases, social media marketing, blog posts, website content, and more. They understand the role marketing plays in growing your business, and they can help you handle all the daily demands that go into a strong marketing strategy.

You may also choose to work with a marketing agency to help grow your firm. An agency like LawRank can help you improve your SEO, implement a PPC strategy, and build a solid body of content that will establish you as an expert in your field.

Managing a law firm is a challenge and takes skills you don’t learn in law school. Start by creating a solid business plan and developing a procedures manual for your firm. It’s also critical to invest in your branding and marketing, curate a strong team, keep track of how your firm is performing, and create a client-focused experience.

If you’re looking for smarter ways to invest in your marketing, LawRank is here to help. We provide legal marketing that works, including SEO, PPC, web design, and more. Contact us today to start getting honesty, transparency, and results from your marketing firm.