One more year, and another Strategic Solutions for Solo and Small Firms (affectionately SoloSmall) under our belts. Bob and I were in attendance this year and enjoyed catching up everyone there and taking in the weather and sights of Duluth. The big themes of the conference this year were automation (e.g. document assembly) and and productivity and efficiency, more so than in recent years where the main focus was on marketing (although that’s a constant theme, as it should be for solo/smalls).
Every year we like to make a list of our top tips and takeaways from the conference. Here’s our list for 2012.
Automation of Legal Services
- Do what a machine can never do. In other words, don’t build your practice on something a machine can do, like filling out form, and know that your value is in your counsel, prevention, or strategy.
- Don’t fight automation, embrace it. “Fight with the machine.” If non-lawyers can do it, we can do it better. So far we aren’t taking advantage of this and are leaving the market open for non-lawyers to do it for us.
Productivity & Technology
- Use a voicemail transcription service. Speakers at various sessions suggested Google Voice and Ring Central.
- Does technology make out-of-office messages antiquated? Hotly debated at one session was the suggestion that email auto-replies are like saying “I’m sorry, I don’t have a smart phone.”
- Give new clients a “Client Expectations” sheet. This should have expectations for BOTH you and the client. (e.g., “Our firm treat emails like voicemails and return them within 24 hours.”)
- Cloud computing, simplified. Your stuff is not on your own computer. Just make sure you own your stuff (check the terms of service).
- Inbox Zero. Even if you don’t think you’ll do it, at least watch the video:
Marketing & the Legal Market
- Blogs, simplified: It’s a newsletter that’s always on the same web page, and the newest newsletter is always at the top of the page.
- Do people buy legal services the same way they buy wine? (Price + brand recognition) If so, Blogs and/or other content marketing help the solo amplify when they don’t otherwise have the brand recognition. Also, don’t compete on price unless you can sell it as “smart priced” I.e. relentlessly showing that you are cheaper because you are efficient and use technology to save people money. Otherwise cheap says you’re not as good.
- A good formula for Twitter and Facebook content is 70-75% articles or other material of interest to your followers, and 20-25% about you. Don’t make it all a commercial for you or people will stop wanting to hear what you have to say.
- Build a community instead of a network. Community is a two-way street where we care about each other, not just our own interests. Lawyers are good at putting up walls, but you might be surprised at how things change when you get to know people, and to the benefit of our profession.
What are your takeaways from the conference?