By Peter Frankl

Another year spins around. You’re getting the work; you’re doing the work and you’re getting paid. Well done but is that all there is in the life of a law firm? Of course not!

2019 could be the year to take a risk; do something differently; experiment, learn and maybe score big financially.

But before we get too carried away, let’s pay our respects to the basics of legal practice.

In a professional services business, nothing beats getting the basics right, such as:

  • Anticipating and responding to client needs
  • Getting your pricing right – whether fixed fee or time based – and then getting paid, and
  • Executing a marketing program

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get excited again with a new breakthrough project for 2019.

Here are five ideas that non-boring law firms are already trying:

1. Create a digital product

Identify one area of knowledge or expertise that you could ‘package’ into a digital product that clients and prospects can buy. Make it a mobile app or an online subscription service. Don’t fear disrupting your own practice. Use the product to attract new clients and give existing clients a type of loyalty bonus for sticking with you. If you are really paranoid about giving away your hard earned knowledge too cheaply then pick an area in which you want to grow a practice.

2. Add an adjacent service

As you know, there is more to a client’s problem than only the legal issues. Leverage your relationships and reputation by adding adjacent services. Instead of referring your clients to other service providers, bring one or more of these services in-house. The great thing is that you can form an adjacent service with flexible/on-call staffing. Move on from thinking that everyone on your team has to be a full time or part time employee.

3. Make your website useful

Add killer functionality to your website. Do one thing and do it well. I could suggest starting a blog but if your firm is currently successful, even though your last post was in 2014, then lucky you. For this category, the list of possibilities is even more endless than with the other categories. It can be anything from adding a payment facility, implementing a document collaboration portal to creating a video series. Make it sustainable by making it fun. If it doesn’t generate one extra dollar in revenue then you can at least say it was great fun … and perhaps team-building.

4. Eliminate unnecessary admin

I’m not sure if it just me but one of the most satisfying things in my working life is when I eliminate manual admin. Everyone is doing some admin in their firm which is only being done because no one has spoken truth to power to get rid of it. Give each person in your firm the challenge of advocating for the elimination of one manual admin task. There will almost certainly be admin tasks that can be automated, if not eliminated altogether.

5. Do something unlawyerly

If you are looking for ideas, then a good way to get the creative process started is to look at other industries. Have you ever heard about the Uber of law firms? Become a startup again, at least in part. Start small, select a narrow field and go crazy – of course while staying on the right side of professional standards.