4 Steps to Help Your Firm Gain a Competitive Edge

4 Steps to Help Your Firm Gain a Competitive Edge

It is never too late to identify and work on inadequacies affecting your firm. In the legal industry, stagnation is not an option. Ensure your firm is progressing and retaining a competitive edge by recognizing, diagnosing, and treating pain points.


In 2019, Thomson Reuters conducted a State of Small Law Canada Survey that analyzed more than 200 small law firms in many practice areas at varying levels of success to learn about their top challenges and track industry trends. After examining the results, we learned many firms shared common concerns. Here are four steps you can take to address these pain points and enhance your firm and its reputation.


1. Get back to client service basics 


It is no secret that great client service is one of the most important ways to become a successful firm. In fact, the same Thomson Reuters survey found that 88% of firms consider client satisfaction a measure of success. However, many of those same firms claiming to prioritize client service are losing business for that very reason. The survey also indicated that 74% of firms want to improve quality of service, but only 21% reported implementing changes to retain client business. 


If those statistics speak to your firm, you may be wondering how to improve client service. We recommend speaking in less complex terms and being more transparent. Also, it’s important to streamline your client service process from start to finish to make them feel more at ease with each step along the way. Making these small changes will help create a more positive experience for those working at and with your firm, promote better communication, and demonstrate value to your customers – all, ultimately, reinforcing your client’s hiring decision.


2. Focus on online reputation


Once you are providing effective client service, your consumer perception is favourable. When survey respondents were asked to note the single most important factor in determining a firm’s performance, 41% listed “an enhanced reputation” as a priority. 


There are many small things you can do to guarantee that prospective clients have a great experience with your firm before they hire you. 


First, establish an online presence and make sure your website content not only contains your lawyers’ contact information and background, but is tailored to issues and details prospective clients are looking for, such as valuable articles and documentation demonstrating your knowledge of the legal issues consumers face. This might sound obvious, but it’s an important step. Every addition to your website that is relevant, relatable, or revelatory will affect your prospect’s opinion of your firm. Look to highlight content designed to ease your audience’s fears and explain your unique approach to working with them.   


In addition, connect with potential clients by establishing a social media presence. You don’t need to have profiles on every social network but ensure you’re on the channels most relevant to your firm, which will help you appear personable and accessible. And, don’t forget to gladly accept reviews – which can increase referrals – by claiming and verifying your search engine listings, and even engaging with your prospective or current clients. 


Doing all these tasks will increase the number of visitors to your site and improve the experience of what is likely a prospective client’s first touchpoint with your firm.


3. Be open-minded about tech adoption 


Under the larger umbrella of issues that can be solved with the installation of the right technology, firms frequently have points of concern that are ignored completely. Improving internal efficiency, including using online document-signing tools, will help your firm grow. In fact, up to 50% of survey respondents stated that the use of technology to improve firm operations was one of their top priorities. Among those that have adopted new technology in the past two years, very successful firms have done so at a significantly higher rate. 


When you do adopt new technology to increase efficiency or track performance, for example, it is important to ensure everyone at the firm is trained well and on the same page. Informing other colleagues why the firm has decided to invest in technology and what it can do for them will make everyone more likely to embrace the change. 


4. Establish a good work/life approach 


Not surprisingly, the survey also found 85% of firms surveyed use work/life balance as a measure of overall success. While one would like to think firm leaders (and solo lawyers) are taking action, the majority of those surveyed said their work/life balance either stayed the same or worsened within the last year. 


Improving work/life balance will make your employees happier and healthier in their positions, increasing efficiency and reducing turnover — some of the leading challenges firms deal with today. The challenge is carving out time for that balance and practising restraint while practising law. Many businesses find that allowing employees to leave early on Friday during the summer months can lead to a more positive outlook firmwide. Other solutions include embracing technology to allow employees flexibility to meet the demands of life inside and outside of the office.


Overall, relationships, perception, perspective, and policies will all raise your competitive advantage. By no means are these steps the complete solution to all your firms’ troubles, but whatever your goals may be, don’t give up. While so many law firms report taking no action, simply beginning to face your firm’s challenges could be the ticket to push you past your opponents. Every journey starts with a single step. Choosing even just one area to improve is a good start toward clear advancement in your firm.


For more insight on how small law firms are succeeding in today’s market, download our white paper The Winning Approach: How small law firms can overcome common business challenges.

© Copyright Westlaw Canada, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.