Maximising Fee Earners Profits – Small Legal Practice

A common topic of conversation amongst principals of smaller legal practices, is how to get employed solicitors to perform better and to take more ownership of their practices.

It is a real issue because in most smaller legal practices, the practice is highly dependent on the performance of the principals. If you are able to get more out of employed fee earners, this will reduce the pressure on the principals, help the practice to earn more, which in turn will enable the team to get paid more and generally make working in the practice more fun. I’m sure you will agree that we could all do with having more fun at work.

So what do you do?

I will give you an outline of the areas that I recommend that you concentrate on.

1)      Develop and communicate a performance management framework for your practice.

Basically decide how you are going to do it and then let your team know so that they know what to expect.

So within this area:

          Think what the practice goals are

          Decide on how and when you are going to review performance

          What sort of rewards you are going to give

          How you are going to monitor performance


2)      Conduct your team member planning sessions

Now that you have an idea of the big picture, you need to start discussing the process with your team, so that they know how they fit into it.

3)      Track Performance and Provide Ongoing Support

If you are a principal of a practice, then your role is to help and support your team members to perform. It is not good enough to tell them at the start of the year what you expect and then go back into your office, close the door and just expect that it is all just going to happen.

In a small legal practice, the principals role very much includes being a people manager.

4)      Conduct regular reviews

In talking with many small legal practices, many are not undertaking regular formal reviews of their team at all. Or if they are, they might review the employed solicitors and ignore everyone else.

Just as you have goals and ambition, so do your team members. Getting good staff is hard, so if you make sure that you are helping your team members to perform and achieve their goals, you have a much better chance of retaining them.

5)      Salary Reviews

While salary is only part of the equation with a job, people want to be paid fairly and know what they need to do to be able to increase their salary. If you have done your job well with the previous steps, then you will have given them every opportunity to be paid what they are worth so that it is a Win for them and a Win for you as a business owner.