Written by Robin Neill
Law firms, like any other business, need to have a firm grip on their finances to thrive and grow. Yet many law firms struggle with budgeting and other tasks that help their firm run like a well-oiled machine.
In this article, the first in our new series on budgeting for law firms, we’ll explore the challenges that law firms face when it comes to their finances and the benefits of a law firm budget.
Why do law firms struggle with budgeting?
Budgeting has never been a favorite task of legal professionals. After all, attorneys don’t typically go to law school to earn a business degree. They’re trained to understand the intricacies of the law, not the detailed aspects of business planning.
However, the business side of law is just as important as legal practice. The problem is, law schools don’t offer courses that teach business skills, such as how to manage law firm finances. This knowledge gap can hinder attorneys’ ability to feel confident about business financial decisions.
Moreover, most attorneys don’t want to focus on the numbers. They want to practice law and provide legal counsel to their clients. There’s no extra time in the billable day to crunch the data and generate budgets. This can overshadow the importance of understanding a law firm’s financial health and lead to neglecting the practical business aspects of running a firm.
Finally, many attorneys think they can set their firm’s budget once and forget it. Attorneys may struggle to balance client demands with long-term strategic planning for the firm. Law firms must recognize that budgeting is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring and adjustment.
Fortunately, there’s a growing understanding within the legal industry that law firms are, at their core, businesses. While the law is the foundation of the work, the business side is equally critical for long-term firm sustainability and growth.
Why budgeting matters for law firm success
Why is budgeting so important for law firms? The answer lies in its direct impact on the firm’s financial sustainability. Here are three key reasons why law firms should prioritize budgeting.
Where can law firms get help to improve their budgeting?
Law firms don’t have to go it alone, muddling through the budgeting process. a variety of resources that can help.
First, consider whether you need to bring in an outside expert, such as an accountant or financial manager. You need access to an expert who understands the intricacies and challenges specific to law firm budgeting.
Podcasts and online resources can provide insights into financial management best practices. Attorneys may also seek advice from local or state bar associations, which may offer salary surveys and other useful financial data.
Additionally, attorneys should embrace collaboration. The legal profession is filled with experts who love to share their experiences and provide feedback. Asking for referrals and engaging in dialogues with peers can lead to fresh perspectives and better financial management.
And, of course, legal technology is a game-changer for financial management in law firms. Implementing a robust system that tracks expenditures and provides meaningful financial reports is essential. These tools should offer insights into cash flow, expenses, profitability and more.
Budgeting leads to a stronger law firm bottom line
Budgeting isn’t just about numbers; it’s about building a strong foundation for the future of a law firm. When attorneys recognize the importance of budgeting and seek the right expertise and tools, they can positively transform their firm’s financial practices.
Sign up for a free demo to learn more about how Centerbase can help you take the pain out of the budgeting process.