When a single lawyer runs their own business, they operate a solo law firm. As if being a lawyer wasn’t demanding enough, when all of the duties fall on just one person, the amount of work that has to be done can be daunting. And these solo law firm statistics back that up. The pressure is undoubtedly on, and that’s why being in the know when it comes to your industry is all the more important.
We’re here to help bring you up to speed by shedding some light on trending solo law firm statistics. A temperature check of sorts is always useful. And this can be especially true when the growth of your business is up to you and you alone. Take a look at how things are trending for solo firms.
Solo Law Firm Statistics
- According to the ABA, less than 1% of all law school graduates start a solo practice. In comparison, nearly half of all law school graduates take jobs at law firms after graduation, and 12% go to work for the government.
- A survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group revealed that Solos spend 55 percent of a workday practicing law compared to small-firm attorneys who spend 61 percent of their time practicing law, and larger firms up to 69 percent of a day.
- That same survey found that among solos, about two-thirds have annual revenues less than $200,000, with 28 percent less than $100,000. Three percent of solos have revenues of $600,000 to $1 million.
- According to the ABA’s 2020 tech report, less than half of law firms of all sizes have a marketing budget, and only 14% of solo respondents say their firms have marketing budgets, as compared with 63% from firms of 10-49 lawyers.
- Overall, 32% of solos respondents from that report said that“no one” is responsible for marketing in their firms.
- Further, most solos (66%) do their own marketing.
- While, only 1% of solo respondents report having an internal marketing team.
- Just 5% of solos utilize outside consultants for things like site design, search engine optimization, and social media.
- Solos surveyed in the ABA’s 2020 tech report shared that they use email (28%), LinkedIn (28%), event sponsorship (23%) and Facebook (20%) as major channels for marketing.
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- Only 6% of solos reported that their firms use video for marketing purposes at that time of the survey.
- The ABA found that Instagram sees little use by law firms–no solos report using the platform for their firms, and only 12% of lawyers in firms of 2-9 lawyers and 13% of lawyers in firms of other sizes report use.
- Eighty-seven percent of respondents to the 2020 Survey report that their firm has a website. But solos still lag far behind firms of other sizes; only 59% of solos have a firm website, while over 95% of respondents in all other firm sizes report having a firm website.
- The Clio Legal Trends Study of 2021, which collected data between April 3 and August 22, 2020, found that overall, solo law firms were affected similarly to firms of other sizes with regards to new casework during the time of the pandemic. When compared to the previous year, solo law firms saw casework fall 32% in April, slightly below the average for all law firms. While caseloads began to recover in May and through summer, revenue continued to decline for solo law firms, falling by 19% compared to the previous year. From April to June, solo law firms saw a drop of between 5% and 7% more than firms with more lawyers.
- Clio’s baseline analysis shows that casework among law firms has largely recovered since the initial months of the pandemic compared to the first months of 2020. While March, April, and May saw a significant slowdown, seeing as much as a 33% drop in new cases, on average, firms saw caseloads return close to baseline by June.
- Looked at on a monthly basis, compared to revenue from the previous year, monthly billings never fully recovered in the summer months and beyond, as law firms continued to see billing shortfalls of 6% or more, according to the Clio report.
- Criminal law casework, which is a common practice area among solo law firms, saw a drop of 59% in the spring. Other practice areas such as personal injury, immigration, and bankruptcy have seen lasting negative impact on casework relative to national averages throughout the fall and winter.
- Technologies like electronic payments, client portals, and client intake and CRM solutions have accelerated recovery, resulting in solo lawyers earning over $50,000 more revenue than others–says that same Clio report.
- And in 2019, solo law firms using electronic payments, client portals, and client intake and CRM solutions collected $27,904 more revenue than firms that weren’t using these technologies.
- This was also $8,363 more on a per-lawyer basis than firms with more lawyers who were also using these technologies.
- Solo law firms using these technologies saw up to 58% more revenue and 50% more casework than other solo law firms not using these technologies.
- When comparing these advantages to firms of other sizes, solo law firms generated up to 18% more revenue and 19% more casework, with the most substantial differences emerging throughout 2020.
- According to consumer survey data conducted by Clio, of solo law firms, 50% of Clio’s consumers said they were more comfortable with technology now compared to pre-pandemic times.
- And 52% of solo firm Clio consumers said they were using technology more.
- 58% said technology was more important to them than before the pandemic.
- And 53% said cloud technology was a necessity.
- It turns out that 37% of consumers prefer to meet virtually with a lawyer for a consultation or first meeting, and 50% would rather conduct follow-up meetings through video conference. 56% of consumers would prefer videoconferencing over a phone call.
- 27. 65% of consumers prefer to pay using electronic forms of payment, such as credit cards, debit cards, or online payment systems such as Clio Payments, PayPal, or Apple Pay over cash or check.
- The majority of consumers (69%) prefer working with a lawyer who can share documents electronically through a web page, app, or online portal.
- Clio also reported that 83% of solo firms use software rather than paper-based systems to organize their practice.
- And that 82% of solo firms meet clients virtually. 59% of them started doing virtual meetings during the pandemic.
- It turns out that 80% of solo firms save information, documents, client files, and other firm information to the cloud (rather than a local hard drive).
- 74% of solo firms allow clients to pay invoices electronically by credit or debit card.
- And 55% of solo firms offer clients the option to securely share and sign documents online, which 27% started doing during the pandemic.
- Only 58% of solo law firms indicated that they have commercial office space. This makes sense, given many solo firms are going virtual.
- 9% of solo law firms also stopped operating out of commercial office space since the start of the pandemic, and 9% are unsure whether they will maintain their office space once the impact of COVID-19 subsides.
- Clio also found that 88% of solo practices believe that lawyers could serve their clients much better if more parts of their practice were automated with technology.
- And 68% of solo practices said that technology has significantly helped them deliver better client experiences.
- 52% of solo practices said that technology had improved their work-life balance.
- 43% of solo law firms are more focused on streamlining operations than they were before the coronavirus outbreak.
- 76% of solo law firms think that the majority of legal services can be streamlined when conducted virtually.
- 35% believe that lawyers should consider operating their firms fully virtually in the future.
- 19% of solo firms believe when reaching out for the first time, most clients prefer to meet virtually instead of in person.
- 33% of solo firms believe that clients prefer to meet virtually for follow-ups.
- 32% of solo practices said their law practice or firm is doing more to get new clients than before the coronavirus outbreak (for example, through marketing, networking, or business development).
- 72% of consumers from the Clio report say they would prefer to pay legal fees on a payment plan, yet only 53% of firms offer them.
- 52% of solo firms surveyed offer payment plans.
- While 38% of solo firms offer lower prices or discounts.
- And 70% of solo firms offer services at fixed fees.
- 30% of solo firms allow clients to choose which aspects of the case they want to handle themselves (rather than automatically handling the entire case for them).
- And 8% of solo firms offer clients subscription plans for legal services.
Running a solo firm is a challenge–but a rewarding one at that. Solo law firm statistics can help you understand your industry and what others like you face in running a firm. Take a look at the best legal software platforms that can help streamline the business side of running your firm–so you can spend more time on your client work.