By Judith Simms, Esq.
As a solo immigration practitioner I am always looking for ways to be more efficient in my practice. One of the many perks of being a member of AILA is having access to the vast resources of InfoNet that provide me with ideas for better practice management. As a newer practitioner I welcome any article or podcast that helps me to do things quickly, correctly and without having to reinvent the wheel each time I do a routine task.
The following is my list of 10 helpful practice management resources divided by topic from AILA’s InfoNet. This list is just a small portion of the vast resources on InfoNet. You can find many additional resources by logging into AILA.org and clicking “Practice & Professionalism” on the left hand side and then clicking “Practice Management” on the sub-menu.
Building Your Practice
1) AILA’s Marketplace Study: AILA’s marketplace study was conducted a few years ago and contains quite a few gems that can help you to build your practice with data from the AILA membership. Check out average hourly rates, staff salaries average of hourly rates, billing data and more that can help you make crucial decisions for your practice. AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11083172 (posted Apr. 10, 2012) http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=36823
2) Article – Best Practices for Immigration Law Office Management: Managing the law office well can lead to a less stressful practice, and this article goes into some best practices for running your office as a profitable business. AILA Doc. No. 08091761 http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=26531
3) Newsletter – Immigration Practice News: AILA’s Immigration Practice News Newsletter is a great way to keep up with practice tips from immigration practitioner’s around the nation. A recent issue discussed Successful hiring tips and managing staff remotely. They also regularly review immigration software and provide tips on filing new types of cases. http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=30120
4) Podcast – Building Referral Networks: Building your practice is a marathon not a sprint. This helpful podcast discusses building your practice through referral networks and how to go about building them with your clients and other lawyers. http://agora.aila.org/Product/Detail/1783
5) Article – Attracting, Retaining, and Promoting Legal Support Staff and Associates: Building a great practice involves recruiting a great staff and InfoNet has many resources regarding best hiring practices. This article can help you to think through how best to add to your ranks. AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 10110465. (Posted 11/04/10) http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=33545
6) Practice Success Tip – Dual Representation Matters: Immigration practitioners face ethical issues often. Dual representation is one issue that comes up time and time again in an immigration practice. This practice success tip focuses on our obligations when these issues arise and recommends having a waiver prepared for clients to sign when two clients you are jointly representing may have opposing interests in the future. AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13022849 (posted Feb. 28, 2013) http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=43487
7) Article – When You Go to Heaven, Will Your Practice Go to Hell?: After you go through all the trials and tribulations of building a great practice you may want to ensure that the clients you serve are protected if something happens to you. This article helps you to identify ways to start protecting your practice against the possibility of your early departure and has a list of helpful resources for further reading. AILA Doc. No. 10072260. http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=32678
Dealing with Clients
8) Practice Success Tip – Turn Price-Conscious Consults into Clients: Many of us have experienced the potential client who comes in for a consultation and then never comes back. A recent practice success tip discusses how to have better outcomes with our price-conscious clientele. AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13103140 http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?bc=46308
9) Article – Twenty-Five Tips to Develop Rewarding Client Relationships: The title is self-explanatory and developing rewarding client relationships can lead to less stress in dealing with clients and an increase in referrals after representation. AILA Doc. No. 07012210. http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=21456
10) Article: The Best You Can Be: Practical Tips to Enhance Your Performance: There are a few articles on InfoNet regarding dealing with the stress of running an immigration practice. This comprehensive article tackles finding the right balance of professional and personal fulfillment by enhancing your performance and reducing stress. AILA Doc. No. 10081265. http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=32863
Bonus article: There is a whole page dedicated to Fees, Fee Agreements and Engagement Letters, you can check it out here. http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=20499
Hopefully this collection of resources on AILA’s InfoNet is helpful to running your practice. Check back next month for our next post.