In a down economy, more law firms are likely to fail for a number of reasons that might not cause their downfall in boom years. And the reasons can run from how the firm is managed to how it isn’t marketed.

Judd Kessler has an article in the October issue of the Texas Bar Journal in which he shares his “Six Simple Reasons Practices Fail.” Although the article is aimed at solo and small firm practices, the failures he addresses can easily be applicable to any size firm, just not as quickly. So, what are these “simple” reasons:

  1. Poor planning and management of the firm’s finances,
  2. Inadequate technology,
  3. Ineffective leadership,
  4. Poor management of staff and lawyers,
  5. Lack of marketing planning and implementation, and
  6. Inattention to client satisfaction.

Effective data systems can help resolve many of these issues according to Kessler, who is CEO of Abacus Data Systems, Inc.;  but, that doesn’t diminish one iota the value of his short article, and I commend it to your reading.

Of course, marketing and client service issues always seem to come last. Why is that I wonder? (but I digress). The value in effective marketing planning, according to Kessler lies in (a) “establishing a brand that builds awareness, loyalty, and trust;” and (b) differentiating your firm from the competition.

As to client service, I particularly like this comment:

“Clients don’t generally express their discontent. They often feel intimidated and avoid complaining directly. Yet dissatisfied clients are often the undoing of a healthy practice as repeat business declines, receivables go down, negative word of mouth swells, referrals fall, and most dangerously, ethics complaints are issued.”

The solution is so simple really. Successful firms communicate frequently, often, constantly, all the time… get the idea. And they do so by returning calls promptly and also keeping their clients abreast of what’s happening with their matter(s).

Avoiding these simple mistakes can go a long way in protecting a firm in these economic times.