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Small Practice Business Updates top 10

16 Sep 2021 / Business Print

Top of the pops

Now 18 months after the onset of COVID-19, Justin Purcell gives us his ‘Top Ten’ of Small Practice Business Updates and information sessions – delivered by the creatives in the Law Society’s Support Services team.

The challenges of COVID-19 have meant that the Law Society’s Small Practice Business Hub has become highly creative in how it delivers important information to members. Proving that every social-distancing cloud has a silver lining, the hub has been busy generating up-to-the-minute ‘business updates’ and video webinars.

The online updates provide insights to owners and partners in smaller practices on selected business-related topics, such as finance, technology, sales, and marketing.

The web-based information sessions are produced by the Society’s Support Services team, and run for an average of 30 minutes weekly. They offer information on a range of useful topics for businesses and sole practitioners.

The business updates and online business information sessions are all available for review on the Small Practice Business Hub at www.
lawsociety.ie
(see ‘Running a practice’ in the solicitors’ section of the website).

Here are ten of the most popular business updates and information sessions from the past 12 months.

1. ‘Paperless office’

In this update, we look at how a small practice might implement a ‘paperless office’, as well as other technology solutions that can bring efficiency and additional security to your practice. The article focuses on:

  • Why you should go paperless,
  • How to get started,
  • Day-to-day file management, and
  • The benefits.

To read further, see the update ‘Going paperless: first steps’ (April 2021). You can also watch the Small Practice Information Session webinar ‘Developing a paperless office’ (10 February 2021).

2. Financial planning

Maintaining good financial discipline will give you more flexibility in planning and managing the future. In this update, we look at how practitioners should be planning for the future, including:

  • Recovery phase planning,
  • Merging a practice,
  • Ceasing or retiring from practice, and
  • Tax issues.

Read the update ‘Post-pandemic planning: mergers and retirement’ (February 2021) and watch the Small Practice Information Session webinars ‘Saving for retirement – the options’ (28 April 2021) and ‘Merging or retiring from practice’ (27 January 2021).

3. Digital innovation

COVID-19 forced change upon us: we experienced a shift in behaviour that forced us to adopt technologies at an accelerated rate. In this update, we look at the effect of COVID on how firms do their business:

  • How digital technologies transform the way practices operate,
  • How small practitioners can adapt to digital technology,
  • Opportunities and potential benefits, and
  • Practical tips to reduce costs using technology.

Read the update ‘Digital innovation and transformation’ (January 2021) and watch the webinar with Larry Fenelon (Lehman Solicitors) about his insights in the popular information session, ‘The future of law and technology’ (9 December 2020).

4. Growth strategy

It is important to assess how your practice is currently performing and to set goals. ‘Growth strategy planning’ is the process of documenting and establishing a future direction for your practice. In this business update, we look at the stages involved:

  • Understanding practice performance,
  • Client profiling,
  • Market and competitor analysis,
  • ‘SWOT’ analysis, and
  • Identifying future objectives.

Read ‘Growth strategy planning’ (November 2020) and see the webinar ‘Marketing plans and growth strategies’ (11 November 2020).

5. Marketing your firm

It can be hard for practitioners to take time away from focusing on clients and billable work. In this update, Mary Cloonan (Marketing Clever) writes about how important it is for practitioners to take the time to review their firm’s image in the eyes of their clients – see ‘How to start marketing your firm’ (December 2020). You can also watch these webinars:

  • ‘Digital marketing post-COVID’, and
  • ‘Marketing your practice post-COVID’.

6. Digital marketing

As a result of the pandemic, many of the usual ways of generating business have moved from face-to-face meetings. Practices will need to look at new ways of fostering relationships to generate new business. Now is the time to review and implement a new digital-marketing plan. If you are still hesitant to invest in digital marketing, consider the pointers in this update and decide what actions you need to take. Read ‘Ten steps to improve your digital-marketing performance’ (August 2020) and watch the webinar ‘Digital marketing post-COVID’ (June 2020).

7. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity continues to be a major challenge for small practices. The continued emergence of new and disturbingly effective methods of cyberattack demonstrates the alarming ingenuity of the criminal gangs responsible, and why the controls your firm may have in place may no longer be secure. We joined up with the Technology Committee to host three webinar information sessions:

  • ‘How secure is your office front door?’ (31 March 2021),
  • ‘Cybersecurity and the risk to client funds’ (25 March 2021), and
  • ‘Cybersecurity and risk-management tips’ (10 March 2021).

(All of the above are available in the Small Business Practice Hub Information Session section.)

8. Buying and selling a practice

David Rowe (Outsource) gives a detailed, practical and concise outline of what’s involved in buying or selling a small practice, including:

  • How to value a legal practice,
  • Trends in buying and selling,
  • Due diligence – what to look for,
  • Implications for professional indemnity insurance, and
  • Funding options.

Watch the webinar ‘Buying or selling a small legal practice’ (2 December 2020).

9. Firm finances and taxes

The thought of the year-end tax bill is always unsettling, but the challenges of COVID-19 add an extra layer. In this update, Michael O’Scathaill (tax director at Crowe) outlines key things to consider, including:

  • Funding your tax bill and reducing your liability,
  • Accounting topics,
  • Commencement and cessation,
  • Recent Revenue initiatives, and
  • The Revenue TWSS compliance programme.

Read the business update ‘Small practice tax returns: tips for solicitors’ (October 2020), and watch the webinars ‘Legal firm finances’ (13 January 2021) and ‘Tips for solicitors on making a tax return’ (14 October 2020).

10. Personal productivity

In our recent update, Maurice Cullen (Leadership Management Ireland) explains that each of us can develop the necessary characteristics to achieve and live a lifetime of success. This requires a focus on the principles of personal growth and development, including personal productivity and leadership styles, setting priorities to increase productivity, and investing in yourself.

Read ‘Personal productivity and self-development’ (May 2021) and watch the webinar of the recent information session, ‘Effective personal management’ (23 April 2021).  

Justin Purcell can be contacted at j.purcell@lawsociety.ie. 

Other links

You can find a range of guides, toolkits, precedents, and work-books – along with other re-sources to assist you with the business of running your practice more efficiently – on the Law Society’s Small Practice Business Hub.

If you have any further suggestions on how the Law Society should be supporting small practices, or would like to provide feedback on existing supports, please email the Small Practice Support team at smallpractices@lawsociety.ie.

You can also subscribe to receive the business updates directly by email or view upcoming information sessions by visiting the schedule on the business hub.

Hopefully this will encourage you to take the time to review the monthly business updates and weekly information sessions on topics of interest to you, and to join us for future events.

The Small Practice Updates are available for review on the Business Hub at:

These information sessions can be viewed on the Business Hub, located under ‘Online Business Information Sessions’. See www.lawsociety.ie/Solicitors/Running-a-Practice/smallpracticehub/webinars. 

Read and print a PDF of this article here.

Justin Purcell
Justin Purcell is the Law Society’s small practice business executive