As I drove along I-64 West each morning to my job at the AG’s office, very pregnant with my first child, I imagined a different life. Just like when you wake up from a dream and can’t remember all the details, I was daydreaming of a different work-life reality once my baby arrived but I had no idea how or even if the dream would come together.
Fast forward two years later and I was chatting with a good friend who has known me for years. She pointed out something that was easy to take for granted. My friend reminded me, “You did it! We sat in this coffee shop all the way back when you were in law school and you said you wanted to mostly be a stay at home mom one day but also work on something legal-related part-time that you could do from Starbucks and you did it. You’re doing it.”
She was right, but as if often the case, God’s plans were also much better than mine. Not only was I practicing part-time while being the primary caretaker of my babies, but I loved what I was doing, I was my own boss, I was mostly location independent, and I was making more money than when I was at my 9-5. In fact, when I resigned after my maternity leave, I never would have imagined that I would pay off my law school loans in full a year and a half later.
I often hear other lawyers brainstorming job options that will provide better balance for their other priorities in life. “Get a government job” is a frequently offered solution. But I had a government job and, sure, it was more flexible than a laundry list of other legal jobs I could have been doing, but I wasn’t my own boss, I couldn’t go to storytime with my daughter on a random Tuesday morning, I couldn’t spend two weeks visiting my parents on the East Coast, I couldn’t accompany my husband on work trips overseas, and I was being paid a government salary.
I had tried searching the internet for “work from home lawyer” opportunities or “part time attorney” jobs, but it never led me to what I was looking for. Finally, I realized that if I wanted to find my dream life, I needed to create it. It’s a cliche, but it’s true.
So, let’s get down to business. How do you run a law practice part-time and earn a full-time salary? It comes down to 3 main pillars: flat-rate fees, low overhead, and systems of automation.
Being a slave to the billable hour is going to make it very difficult to achieve the goal of working part-time while making a full-time salary, unless your hourly rate and salary goals make the math work in your favor.
For most lawyers, the billable hour model leads to a longer workday and, ultimately, burn out. Setting a flat-rate fee for your services that you can maximize by keeping overhead lower than in a traditional law firm model and leveraging technology to create systems of automation will free up your time for all the other important priorities in your life.
Taking away a costly monthly rental payment for office space and antiquated marketing tactics like a giant billboard and a virtual law firm model will allow you to save a lot of money and keep more of your flat-rate fee in your bank account. Here are a few ideas of how to keep overhead low in your firm:
Using your time wisely is a pivotal part of running a law firm that fits around your lifestyle and priorities, especially if your goal is to work part-time hours and still earn a full-time salary. You can implement systems of automation through your own workflows, software, and delegating tasks to an assistant.
Your goal should be to reduce the tasks you work on in a day to the things that only you can do and then automate and/or delegate the rest. For example, when a client comes to your website, rather than having them fill out a contact page with their name and contact information, which you then need to respond to in order to set up a consultation, utilize a client management software and appointment booking system that allows them to book a time on your calendar automatically. Then, set up a confirmation email to go out automatically, followed up with reminders of your appointment.
If you carve out some time to take a closer look at how you spend your day, you’ll be sure to find tasks that you can delegate and procedures that could be automated with the help of technology. Grab our free worksheet to help you identify the tasks in your business that you could automate or delegate to maximize your flat-rate fees.
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