9 Things Lawyers Can Learn From Jeff Bezos

Published on January 10, 2022
11 minute read
<a href='https://www.lawmatics.com/blog/author/sarah/'>Sarah Bottorff</a>
Written by Sarah Bottorff

One of the biggest shortcomings that many lawyers have is failing to run their practice like a business. After all, law school teaches you many things, but business strategy isn’t one of them. Yet with 1.3 million lawyers in the United States, the competition is fierce. To stand out in a sea of other options you have to start adopting a business mindset.

And if there’s one person who knows how to successfully start and run a business, it’s Jeff Bezos. As of today, he is recognized as the second richest man in the world, worth more than 200 billion dollars. What once started as an online bookstore is now the leading e-commerce website in the world — consistently outpacing its competitors and even thriving during a worldwide pandemic. So, what can lawyers take from Jeff Bezos and apply to running their firm? Let’s dive in.

1: Be “obsessed” with your clients

Jeff Bezos places the customer first because he knows that a positive customer experience takes precedence over anything else that will lead to repeat business.

“I can tell you that we have been doing this from the very beginning, and it’s the only reason that Amazon.com exists today in any form. We’ve always put customers first. When given the choice between obsessing over competitors and obsessing over customers, we always obsess over customers.”

When a client comes to your law firm, they’re looking for legal services — yes. But they can get legal advice in many other places. The key to generating repeat business, five-star reviews, and referrals is reshaping the way you deliver your services by being “obsessed” with your clients.

Unfortunately, many law firms are struggling so much to keep up with their workload that they wind up delivering bare-bones legal services. In an effort to get everything done, the customer experience is pushed down on the list of priorities.

Yet, law firms still running on a manual system don’t realize that delivering an extraordinary client experience isn’t as hard as they might think it is. The first step is knowing what your clients want and finding creative ways to deliver it to them, without even having to go above and beyond. It’s all about making use of the right tools.

For example, if you’re an immigration lawyer, chances are your clients are eagerly waiting to hear updates about the status of their case. In many cases, they may be separated from their families, or risk deportation. What they would appreciate most is being updated consistently. Yet, as a busy lawyer with multiple cases, it’s hardly practical to find time to call every client every day for a 10-minute follow-up. You'd lose too much time. Smart businesses know that putting their clients first doesn’t mean putting yourself last. Keep everything organized and ease some of the pressure for your clients with Lawmatics’ immigration client management software.

So, how do you deliver what your clients need in a way that also works for you? Start with a client portal. Offering your clients access to a client portal means an all-access round-the-clock ticket to the status of their case. That means you don't have to stop what you’re doing to pick up the phone and give them an update, eliminating the need to play phone tag or lose time from what matters most in your law firm.

The more that you start to analyze what your clients need, the more you can empower your clients with a memorable client experience. Since they don’t have to make multiple phone calls or wait around for a reply to their email, you’re enhancing the customer experience in ways that will outshine your competitors.

This is only the tip of the iceberg for finding ways to delight your legal clients. Pay attention to your reviews, and ask former clients for feedback. Look for patterns about their experience, and see opportunities where you could remove friction and deliver a more effortless experience. This won’t just benefit your clients, but also you!

2: Keep an eye on trends

Jeff Bezos, despite having a cushy job in finance, and undoubtedly paying his bills without issues, saw an opportunity in the e-commerce world, and jumped in. He spotted an opportunity around the corner and took a risk.

No one is asking you to abandon your practice and start selling books online. The takeaway from what Jeff Bezos did, is never getting too comfortable even if things are “working” fine. Sure, he had security, but he saw the opportunity for something much greater.

Just because your law firm may be used to running things one way doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better way.

By keeping your eye on what the most successful firms are doing, you can stay ahead of the curve. The pandemic swept the rug out from under law firms' proverbial feet and forced them to completely change the way they operated. Those that didn’t adapt to the demands of social distancing and operating their practice on a virtual level, went under.

However, those that kept their eye on what the most adaptable law firms were doing, didn’t only survive the challenges of the pandemic but flourished. By relying on technology like video communication software that allowed them to virtually conduct consultations, accepting online payments, and electronic signatures, they were able to keep their business running while still following healthy distancing measures. No risk of a deadly virus required.

According to a recent trends report, 79% of legal clients claim that being able to remotely work with a lawyer significantly influences their decision on their final hiring choice. People want to be able to sign documents electronically with a client e-signature tool without having to get in their car and drive to the post office. They want to pay online instead of having to drive to your practice to give you a check in hand.

By keeping your eye on the latest trends you can spot an opportunity when it presents itself. If anything, the pandemic has shown us that people want convenient and remote legal services that only legal software can provide. The old-fashioned way of running things will no longer work. If Jeff were a lawyer, you better believe he’d recognize that too.

3: Identify and rectify

Bezos has said since day one that you must embrace your bad decisions and correct them. The idea isn’t to avoid making mistakes at all — mistakes are a part of any business journey. The real secret lies in being willing to recognize them and correct them instead of letting them fester.

For lawyers, one of the most common mistakes is wasting time. For lawyers, time is money. The more that you can take control of your time, the more money you can generate.

The first step is identifying where you’re losing the most time, and taking action right away. Legal reporting software allows you to pinpoint where you’re losing the most hours a week so that you can make whatever changes necessary to refocus that time on more revenue-driving activities. A financial dashboard, like Lawmatics offers, lets you see a 360-degree view of your law firm performance, from who your most productive staff members are to which marketing sources are producing the most business. Information is power — the more you can harness the power of data, the more you can boost your productivity and correct what isn’t working!

4: Think long-term

Bezos told Wired Magazine in 2011,

“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that.”

A long-term strategy is critical to stand a chance against the competition. Amazon didn’t become who it is today in a matter of months or even a year or two. It took just under ten years, and even then, the company made a profit of about 5 million out of the millions more invested. Bezos knew that with a little patience, and by keeping prices low, he would eventually have delayed gratification on his investments.

Your law firm should be no exception to this way of thinking.

At the core of your law firm should be a solid strategy with defined targets. Think far into the future, and identify what you can deliver that’s unique from any other law firm. What are your strong points and why? When you can think long-term then you create a competitive advantage that will stand the test of time.

By measuring your law firm’s performance with law firm data analytics you can keep a close eye on your total profitability, and how well your current efforts are paying off. If your numbers aren’t where they should be, then pinpoint what changes need to be made.

Rather than blindly wandering through the dark, the right software can help you understand where your problem areas are. Keep a close eye on KPI’s like:

  • New clients
  • New cases
  • Number of consultations
  • Client Satisfaction
  • Completed Tasks

By consistently running reports you can determine what changes need to be made and whether you need to rethink your strategy.

5: Get inventive

If there’s one thing that lawyers are, it’s resistant to change. Many of them have an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to running their practice. They assume that just because they’ve been doing things one way for so long, it’s too risky to switch things up.

Yet, although change can be uncomfortable initially, taking innovative dives into uncharted territory can seriously pay off. Take it from Jeff.

When Amazon first started out, he tried many different methods and experiments to see what worked and what didn’t. From varying shipping costs, to subscribe and save programs, to advertising, Jeff was never scared to get inventive for the sake of his long-term strategy.

So, before you assume that your old comfortable manual system is enough, consider that it may be holding you back. Statistics show that law firms who have adapted legal software like a CRM for lawyers, attorney intake software, online payments, automated appointment scheduling software, and client communication portals, collected 40% more revenue per lawyer compared to law firms that don't embrace tech.

6: Put the customer first without putting yourself last

Being “obsessed” with your customers doesn't necessarily mean putting them first. Putting your customers first all the time would ultimately hurt your business. The magic spot that Jeff Bezos understands is putting your clients at the center while also keeping your business’s best interests in mind.

That means delivering memorable client experiences that compel people to keep coming back and telling others to do the same. In other words, if you can manage to make your clients feel like they’re your most important client, showing them you value their business every step of the way, then it’s a win-win. You win more referrals, five-star reviews, and repeat business.

One of the biggest complaints about legal services is the failure to communicate. Scrolling a few minutes through lawyer reviews shows that interestingly people are less concerned with getting the best results for their case, and more concerned with a memorable client experience that keeps them up to date with their case details.

Offering your clients solutions like a log-in to a client portal that gives them direct access to case details means no more making them wait for news about the status of their case. They can log in from anywhere with an internet connection to get immediate details on the progress of their case, and even send and receive important documents without having to scan or print.

Automation makes them feel connected to you without you having to do a thing. Electronic signature for legal documents allows them to sign and send important documents from the palm of their hand without the hassle of printing anything. As convenient as these solutions are for your client, they also make your life easier. It’s not realistic to give each client up to date details on their case when you’ve got so much on your plate. Offering clients a way to get what they need while also liberating yourself from the need to pick up the phone and have a ten-minute conversation with each client about their case status is a great example of putting your clients at the center without putting your sanity last.

7: Know the value of online reviews

One of the most popular features that Amazon provides is online reviews. Whereas once upon a time people had no other choice but to blindly order without anything other than a biased product description from the seller, Amazon allows users to give their own product experience and share with others, providing valuable insight before making a purchase.

72% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Jeff Bezos caught onto the incredible psychological impact that the social proof of online reviews provides.

Chances are you’ve purchased on Amazon before. Likely, after inputting a product search, you make your final purchase decision off of the number of positive reviews over the price. In more cases than not, people are willing to pay a little bit extra if it means they’re getting a superior product that comes sealed with social proof.

As a lawyer, there’s no better way to give your law firm credibility. When people are looking for a lawyer in their area, they most often base their choice on the number of stars next to a lawyer’s name.

In other words, more stars equal more clients — just like Amazon.

Yet many clients are hesitant to ask their clients to review them out of fear of getting negative reviews. Unfortunately, the world of online reviews works just like a credit score. No reviews equal the same thing as bad reviews, and potential clients may find it suspicious that your law firm has no reviews. The best way to give yourself credibility and instill trust is to stand out with positive reviews on your practice. Bad reviews creep up from time to time. As long as the majority of your reviews are positive, the bad ones will fade into the background. However, if you start to notice that the same issues keep coming up in bad reviews, then it’s an indication that you need to start taking that feedback seriously and make changes where necessary.

Long story short — don’t be afraid to ask your clients to leave reviews, because people want to know what they’re buying comes recommended.

8: Aim for low prices

Instead of following the traditional “raise costs to maximize profits” approach, Jeff knew that he was onto something by charging less than his competitors. As a lawyer, lowering your prices may seem unrealistic. After all, your experience and knowledge of the law aren’t free.

Yet, while charging less for the same amount of work may not be an option, you can use technology to your advantage to get things done in a fraction of the time, and as such offer lower flat fees. More affordable flat-fee pricing is much more attractive to legal clients, and when you harness the power of legal technology, you’re not selling yourself short.

By using solutions like workflow automation for law firms you can put your law firm on autopilot, take on more clients, and effortlessly guide clients from each stage of the client intake process to the next.

No need to manually enter a client's information from a legal client intake form. Client intake software automatically inputs it into your CRM for you, and lets you know what actions need to be taken next. Engage clients, streamline your processes, and in turn, offer more attractive prices that give you an edge over your competitors — because low prices paired with quality service is the key to Amazon’s success.

9: Base your law firm strategy on things that will never change

So many business strategies are based on what might change in the market. Yet, fewer businesses focus on an even more important question which is, “what won’t ever change?”

Jeff said once,

“I very frequently get the question: ‘what’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘what’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two – because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time…in our retail business, we know that customers want low prices and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery, they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon, I just wish the prices were a little higher [or] I love Amazon, I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible [to imagine that future].”

When it comes to applying that logic to a law firm, it’s safe to say that legal clients will always want the following things from their lawyer:

  • Fast responses
  • Error-free work
  • Clear Communication
  • Empathy
  • Affordability

If you can manage to build your business model off of the client needs that will never ever change, then, you can survive any circumstances, pandemics, or economic climate. Because people will always have legal issues and need lawyers no matter what. The question is can you stand out as the number one option when they need a lawyer, the same as Amazon does for so many people when they need to order something fast for a reasonable price.

Deliver client-focused legal services with Lawmatics

If there’s one thing that you can take away from Jeff Bezos, it’s his unwavering commitment to delivering a positive customer experience, or as he calls it “customer obsession.”

The answer lies in meeting your clients' needs consistently, without having to work harder. By harnessing the power of legal technology, you can deliver faster and better results. By automating your client intake process and tracking each lead meticulously, you can stay totally focused on their overall experience.

Instead of making your clients wait to hear back from you, technology makes them feel connected to you every step of the way. The more you can deliver a memorable experience that makes each client feel like they're your only client and delivering exactly what they need, the closer you’ll be to building an Amazon empire of your very own.

Are you ready to see how Lawmatics can help you fly to space in your own personal rocket, like Bezos himself? Sign up for a free product demo today!

Sarah Bottorff

Sarah is the Head of Growth at Lawmatics, the #1 attorney-client relationship management platform that provides law firms with client intake, CRM, and marketing automation. She has over 18 years of marketing and sales experience and has a proven track record of building brands and driving growth at companies like MyCase, Smokeball, CJ Affiliate, Johnson & Johnson, and FastSpring.
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