March 01, 2015

A New Law Practice Resource for Solos and Small Firms

Thomas C. Grella

I made my private practice start in the profession at a small law firm in the tiny town of Morganton, North Carolina. It’s the place where I got my bar association start, first in leadership of the NC Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, and then as an active member in the leadership of the ABA Young Lawyers Division. In those early days of practice, I remember how alone I felt as my boss (there were only two of us) had many different business interests around the state and often left me alone to figure out what I did not know about the practice of law. Looking back on the decisions I was left to make for our small law office, I think it would have helped me immensely to have had a tool to help me make those decisions, leaving me more time to do my substantive work. Of course, we didn’t have the Internet in those days, and such a tool did not exist. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

Most of you will say that you want to focus on the “lawyering”—not the business stuff.

If you are in a small law office and need to seek out solutions to help you with the business—such as technology, finance, marketing and management—you need to check out ABA Blueprint.

In the solo and small firm world, the business aspect of running a firm goes hand-in-hand with the actual practicing of law. It has to. And, it is becoming more and more of a challenge to make sure that you are using the most efficient processes to compete with other lawyers. On the one hand, it is great that there are so many new tech tools out there to help lawyers run firms. On the other, it can be daunting and almost paralyzing to figure out what you should use.

Enter ABA Blueprint.

Blueprint is a cutting edge initiative from the ABA that will help new lawyers in solo and small firms get the tools they need to run their practice quickly and efficiently. Blueprint is an application that helps lawyers cut through the noise and make decisions to get core firm infrastructure in place, including technology, marketing tools, insurance and retirement, and virtual solutions to help grow your team. The ABA launched Blueprint in early November 2016, and it is already helping lawyers transform their practice.

Here are a few ways that Blueprint can help you organize your firm:

  1. You have been contemplating adopting new tools to invoice clients and to keep track of your casework. However, you know that there are a ton of options in the market and you do not have time to test drive all of them. Blueprint helps solve this issue by helping you select the right software application for your specific practice setting.
  2. Keeping track of potential clients is time consuming and needs to be automated because you keep forgetting to enter them into your existing system and sending out engagement letters in a timely fashion. You also have challenges following up on potential clients who have not yet converted into real clients. Blueprint directs you to marketing tools that will help you track and process those opportunities.
  3. You need to save money because you are just starting a new firm, or adopting new software and services just seems expensive. You need the best discounts on the market. Blueprint includes Clio at a 25 percent discount on its Boutique and Elite plans. Ruby Receptionists has created a new offering for solos using Blueprint. LawPay is providing a $100 rebate on processing fees (seriously, they are). And there are many more discounts on other solutions—all only available through ABA Blueprint.
  4. You feel reasonably comfortable making decisions on adopting new tools for your practice, but having a human consultant for free would be super helpful. Blueprint offers live chat and free consultations with practice management experts to help answer burning questions, such as: Are the products and services on Blueprint right for me? How do I incorporate a virtual assistant/receptionist into my practice? Which Office 365 plan is best for me?

You get the idea. The ABA has taken a giant step forward to provide a technology platform that automates a lot of the pain points the new solo and small firm lawyer suffers from. As it regards the modern delivery of legal services, the ABA is focused on helping its members grow stronger practices—practices that are cutting edge. Doing so will help Blueprint users be able to better compete in the market.

Check out ABAblueprint—it will be updated consistently with new features and vendor offerings. Make sure you visit the application on a regular basis to see what's new.

Thomas C. Grella

Thomas C. Grella is a writer and speaker on practice management topics and a past chair of the ABA Law Practice Division. He practices law with McGuire, Wood & Bissette, PA in Asheville, North Carolina, where he serves on its management committee.