When you are starting your law firm practice, you typically don’t have a large budget to hire a full staff like the bigger law firms do. Expenses and startup costs are typically your responsibility. You may not have a large enough budget to hire a team of employees that includes legal assistants, a receptionist or even a paralegal. So how does a solo attorney managing their client caseload without being able to hire a team of full time employees? Simple. Use technology and outsourcing services. In order to operate a “lean” law firm with low expenses, you can utilize some online services that were built just for the legal industry.

We’ve compiled a quick list of ways to save money on hiring a staff while you are growing your practice.

Hire Part-Time or Outsource

You don’t have to hire a full-time staff to run your practice. You can hire part-time help or even hire interns. By hiring interns, they gain valuable experience while you get to save money on having to pay a full-time employee. You can check with local colleges, universities or law schools in your area. Another thing you can do is to outsource legal research to companies who will handle this entire process for you. There are services who have a staff of freelance lawyers and paralegals where you can place an order, and they do your legal research at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time paralegal.

Hire Freelance Attorneys

There are lots of attorneys who work part-time and from home. Often times, they have decided that they need more flexibility than working in a traditional law firm in order to spend more time with family or take care of personal obligations. Many of these attorneys are quite talented and are available to utilize for an affordable rate. You can hire freelance attorneys to create contracts or help with legal research.

Create a Client Portal

You can set up a client portal where they can view the status of their case and communicate with you online. This should be over a secure and encrypted server. There are many law practice management tools that allow for online client communication and collaboration to save you time. This is more efficient than using email to communicate back and forth with clients. Client portal tools allow you to interact with your clients, plan, share documents and manage tasks in a private online location. It’s a great way to provide a more convenient system to communicate with clients throughout the duration of a case.

Rent from a Coworking or Virtual Office

You don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to rent out office space. Instead, you can use a coworking space at an affordable monthly price. Coworking spaces are different from traditional leasing programs because they usually don’t require you to sign a 12-month lease. Coworking spaces are shared areas that come with amenities such as printing, snacks and refreshments and affordable working options. The other option is to use a Virtual office. These are also shared office areas but they usually come with a receptionist and answering services that are built into your monthly fee. This will help you maintain a professional image by having a shared receptionist answer all of your calls. These services will also collect your mail and even forward it. You can even meet clients there and the receptionist will greet them for you. They usually include access to a conference room and printing services. The main difference between a coworking space and a virtual office is that the latter may require you to sign a lease to rent out your own office area. However, the monthly rent is much lower than leasing your own office.

Outsource Marketing

You can also hire freelancers to handle your online marketing efforts. Small boutique consulting firms are often lower priced than hiring an in house marketer. You don’t have to hire a big agency. Instead there are lots of smaller consultancies and even solo freelance marketers who can help you promote your law firm. The types of tasks that they can handle include blogging, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), website updates and maintenance, promoting your firm on social media and managing your client email newsletter. When outsourcing to vendors or consultants, you want to also make sure that it’s a good fit. Look at their portfolio and past client testimonials. Sometimes it’s best to get referrals from other attorneys. Also find out if they charge by the hour or a flat fee. You’ll want to set a budget for each task you need to outsource. Another way to save costs on hiring a staff is to use a good practice management tool that can help you automate a lot of repetitive or time-consuming tasks. You can save a lot of money by using these tools because they usually handle your calendar management, scheduling, client intake forms, document sharing and client communication.

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