The challenges of being a solo practitioner or small firm are well known: finding new clients, work-life balance, too much time spent on administrative tasks instead of practicing law.  But a new survey suggests that most small firms are not making much headway in addressing these challenges, opening the door for firms that are willing to take action to gain competitive advantage.

The 2019 State of U.S. Small Law Firms survey says the top challenges are acquiring new clients, not enough time practicing law, and increasing complexity of new technologies.  But the survey found that for any given challenge, fewer than half of firms are taking any action to address the challenge.  This presents opportunities for firms to take pro-active steps such as adopting new workflow technologies, developing new marketing strategies, engaging with alternative legal service providers, or adopting new billing strategies such as fixed fee arrangements.

Small firms said that only 60 percent of their day is spent practicing law, the remainder is spent managing their practice.  Solo practitioners and firms under six or fewer attorneys have the most difficulties, while firms with between 7 and 10 attorneys are able to generate slightly more billable hours, possibly because of greater support staff resources.