Law firm partners play a crucial role in driving the firm’s financial success, so increasing revenue is particularly important to the firm. As a partner, your income is also your profitability—your value to the firm as a revenue generator—and a host of factors, from practice areas and compensation models to business development and support staff, can all directly influence how much money you make.

For an associate with nothing to sell but their time, there’s only one way to increase revenue: increase billable hours. 

For rainmakers, however, the economics change, and business-building activity is the key to making more money. 

What’s more, for partners whose value is based more on their book of business than on billable hours, simply working through the weekend is not the best way to boost income. 

Rainmaking partners will still make money through billable hours, but most of your income will come from origination credit and profit sharing. So you’ll find the best opportunity to increase your income in areas other than burning the midnight oil. 

Still, increasing billable hours is an option

Billable hours are the lifeblood of every law firm. 

So, how can you increase yours?  

Well, the first option is to give up on having a life. 

You can dedicate every waking moment to billable hours, missing out on family or social events, working every weekend, and never taking a break. 

That’s a perfectly acceptable way to make more money…and it’s effective! Many efficiency experts will tout solutions for squeezing more working time out of your calendar.  

But is it what you want?  

There are some legitimate ways to work more efficiently. 

You can use technology to remove non-legal thinking work from your day by streamlining processes and automating tasks to improve overall productivity.  

By taking those things for which you can’t bill your client off your plate, you can spend more time focusing on billable work. 

Technology can also make other dead time more efficient: you can work on the commute to the office or wait at the doctor’s office.  

Additionally, while rainmakers play a crucial role in client acquisition and relationship management, they generally rely on a team of professionals to handle the day-to-day legal tasks and bill for their time spent on the work. So make sure you have the support staff you need to leverage your time.  

But, before considering the efficiency route, ask yourself if that’s what you want. 

There are much better ways to increase your income.

For example, expanding your client base

A far better way to increase your revenue is to increase your client base and build your book of business. It is the network of people you support and who value your advice that gives you opportunity. 

New clients contribute to a short-term increase in billable hours. 

But more importantly, they contribute to the long-term growth of your practice—the relationships you build with clients you’ve served well lead to recurring business. A more extensive client base enhances your reputation and visibility in the legal market, both of which help you grow your practice over time. 

Satisfied clients will refer you to their networks, bringing in additional clients. 

All of this leads to increased income through origination credit and profit sharing. As you grow your practice, these should become the most significant components of your income.

How do you grow your client base? 

Key strategies include investing in networking, building a robust online presence, and fostering existing relationships by reaching out to people, answering questions, writing, speaking, sponsoring industry conferences, taking time to communicate, etc?]

All of it helps your growth potential. 

It’s also critical that you stay up-to-date. 

Staying abreast of legal trends, case precedents, and regulatory changes is a powerful way to demonstrate your commitment to growth and expertise, enhancing your reputation and credibility among peers, clients, and, of course, potential clients. 

The legal landscape is constantly changing. Being ahead of the curve differentiates you from competitors, not to mention justifying higher fees. 

Specialized expertise also helps you tailor your practice to demand

Strategically targeting industries that require specialized service positions you as a go-to practitioner in that field. And if it’s a high-demand area of law…well, you can easily see how that leads to more revenue. 

But that’s not all. Demand-tailored specialization gives your practice momentum, leading to higher-profile cases, more lucrative clients, and higher billing rates. 

You may also need to adapt to market conditions: if you are in M & A, you may need to shift to restructuring and back to M & A as the market demands.  

You need to be at the right firm. 

These strategies are great, but they only work if you are at the right firm. 

The right firm will help ensure you have 

  • the resources to support your business development.
  • practice areas and office locations to fully support your clients. 
  • the origination credit and profit opportunities you deserve. 

The right culture for you, cross-selling incentives, and colleagues you like can also make a huge difference. 

As your practice grows, you’re likely to need more resources, more space, and more staff. That should be a win-win—your growing practice also means more value for your firm. But they may not automatically see it that way. So you’ll need to make a strong business case to convince them.

But if you can’t get the resources or don’t fit comfortably into the culture, it may be time to move. There is a better firm for you; we can help you find it. 

But if you can’t get the resources or don’t fit comfortably into the culture, it may be time to move. There is a better firm for you; we can help you find it. 

You need a firm that rewards the way you want to work

If you want to devote your entire life to working longer and more hours, you’ll probably thrive at a firm that prioritizes billable hours. If you’re a good business originator, however, you may want to find a firm that pays more attention to the amount of business you’re bringing in. 

The idea is to find a firm that rewards your strengths. 

That’s why you must look for a compensation model that aligns with your professional goals and work style. 

At the same time, remember that there are only so many hours in the year. You can’t personally work all of them, no matter how hard you might try! 

Therefore, when it comes to making more money, it’s generally better to focus on growing your practice and originating your business. This way, you can leverage your time to bring in and delegate work to the firm instead of relying purely on billable hours. 

In closing…

If you struggle to grow your book of business, obtain necessary support, or your firm’s compensation system doesn’t meet your needs, it may be time for a change. 

I can help. Let’s schedule a call to explore how we can work together to achieve your goals.