What is a Solo Attorney to do When Business is Slow?

by Melanie Fischer on September 23, 2015

snailAs a solo attorney, you probably strive for having the specific number of clients that allow you to bill exactly the right number of hours per month. In a perfect world, all solo attorneys would be able to retain the optimal number of clients in need of legal services on a consistent basis. In fact, in a perfect world, there would be no such thing as busy months and slow months. Everything would be steady and predictable. But most solo attorneys know that maintaining a steady client base every month, year in and year out, is difficult to achieve – especially for new solo attorneys.

If you’ve been in business as a solo attorney for any length of time, you’ve probably already realized that in terms of billable hours, some weeks and months are busier than others. During a busy month, you might find yourself working 18 or even 20 hours a day. Those months are difficult, but they can be great in terms of your firm’s income. During a slow month, you might spend your days worrying about when and where you will find new clients that will bring your firm back to life.

When you anticipate that a slow month is around the corner, or when you are in the midst of a slow period, it’s important to remain upbeat and positive. Coming to terms with the cyclical nature of a solo law firm is essential. During your busy times, you must push through and get all of your work done efficiently and on time. During your slow times, you must market your law firm to the public as you prepare for the busy times that you hope will be ahead of you.

When business is slow, consider the following:

  • Work on fulfilling your CLE requirements
  • Dedicate time to improving your website
  • Research new marketing techniques
  • Attend networking events
  • Reach out to others in your legal community
  • Offer your legal expertise to a community service organization
  • Volunteer your time at a local non-profit

When things are slow at your law firm, it’s important that you keep from getting discouraged. Almost every type of business goes through ups and downs during the year. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to predict in advance when your solo law firm will be busy and when it will be slow. If you sense that a slow month is approaching, that’s a good time to make plans that will fill your time and also help advance your legal knowledge. Use this time to plan the direction you want to take with your firm.

Staying busy during your firm’s slow times requires determination and motivation. It’s essential that you do not let a slow week or month discourage you to the point of wanting to permanently close your firm’s doors. Remember that all solo attorneys experience cycles in their business. It’s up to you to make the best of your slow periods by using your less busy time to your advantage. There is quite a bit to accomplish if you want to move your solo law practice to the next level. Always focus on the future and the many possibilities that lie ahead.

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