top of page

Cut Your Family Law Operating Costs & Boost Efficiency

Many law firms, particularly solo practitioners, struggle to manage the rising overhead costs that gnaw away at profits. 

As the firm grows, its operating expenses will too, which is why cutting down your firm’s operating costs can not only maximize your profit margins, but also help you to stay on top of current expenses and keep succeeding even in an uncertain economy.

Knowledge Is Power

The first step is understanding your overhead costs and operating expenses. With a clear financial picture, you can identify ways to reduce costs that will increase your firm’s profitability and position your firm for future opportunities.


What are Overhead Costs?

Overhead costs are the expenses related to running your firm. These are expenses you would still have to pay even if you didn’t produce anything within a period of time, such as rent for office space, accounting, software, insurance, and employee salaries.

In a family law practice, overhead costs typically include various expenses necessary for running the firm and providing legal services to clients. These costs can vary depending on the size of the practice, its location, and the specific services offered.

Some common overhead costs in a family law practice include:


-          Office Rent or Lease: The cost of renting or leasing office space is a significant overhead expense for most law firms. This includes rent payments, utilities, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.


-          Salaries and Benefits: This includes salaries for attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, administrative staff, and other employees. Benefits such as health insurance, retirement contributions, paid time off, and bonuses may also be included in this category. Staffing comprises over 50% of expenditures for many firms.


-          Technology and Software: Family law practices rely heavily on technology for case management, document preparation, research, communication, and billing. Overhead costs in this category may include expenses for computers, printers, software licenses, internet services, cybersecurity measures, and IT support.


-          Office Supplies: This includes expenses for supplies such as paper, pens, folders, envelopes, postage, printer ink, and other office materials necessary for day-to-day operations.


Other categories of overhead costs include Marketing and Advertising, Professional Fees and Memberships, Insurance, and Travel and Transportation.

Managing overhead costs effectively is crucial for the financial health and sustainability of a family law practice, and by carefully monitoring and controlling these expenses, family law firms can maximize profitability and maintain competitiveness in the legal market.

What are Operating Expenses?

Operating expenses are the result of a business's normal operations, such as materials, labor, and machinery involved in production.

These costs can include:

-          Legal Research Tools: Subscription fees for legal research platforms such as Westlaw, or LexisNexis which provide access to case law, statutes, regulations, and legal analysis relevant to family law cases.


-          Case Management Software: Subscription or licensing fees for case management software tailored to family law practices, such as MyCase, or Clio. These platforms help organize case information, track time, manage documents, and communicate with clients.


-          Client Communication: Costs associated with client communication, including phone bills, email services, and video conferencing tools used for consultations, case updates, and client meetings.


-          Document Preparation: Expenses related to document preparation, such as software licenses for document automation tools, templates, and forms specific to family law matters (e.g., divorce petitions, child custody agreements, marital settlement agreements).


-          Court Filing Fees: Fees associated with filing legal documents with the court, including initial pleadings, motions, responses, and other filings required in family law cases.


Other Operating Costs can include Fees paid to Expert Witnesses and Consultants: Fees, Continuing Legal Education (CLE), Office Security, Professional Development, Office Equipment Maintenance, and Staff Training and Development.

It is estimated that a typical law office spends 45 to 50% of a client fee on office expenses, such as office rent, non-lawyer salaries, telephone, supplies and other facilities.


How to Cut Overhead Costs + Increase Efficiency

Most lawyers charge a lot of money for their services but do not end up actually making a lot of profit because their firms are expensive to run. Or, they get caught in a cycle of trying to grow and then trying to support that growth while profits leak away.


I’ve found that there are 2 ways to solve this problem -


1.      Reduce your firm’s overhead, and

2.      Gain new business without adding costs to the firm.


And here’s the good news, it’s easy to do both! — reduce your costs and implement technology solutions that will make it easier for you to spend more time on legal work and less time on non-billable work like tracking hours or scheduling client meetings.


By evaluating your office space needs, recurring subscription costs, and other expenditures, you can tighten up your law firm’s budget in smart ways while maintaining your high level of service and professionalism.


Here are some proven strategies that will cut overhead costs and increase efficiency in your family law practice.



1.     Legal Case Management Software

Technology is one of the best ways to enhance efficiency and reduce costs in your law firm. It allows you to automate tasks such as accounting, client intake, or customer service, which helps streamline operations and save time and money in the long run. Automation is a time saver, and, in this industry, time is money.


Effective legal case management software can save hours of time every week for firm attorneys and staff.


When shopping for the right software, I recommend looking for software that combines both productivity and time management features as well as financial features, like billing.


Some software may even help with daily operations like research and case management. The more time you can reduce on these tasks, the more money you will save by freeing up your staff’s time to work on more important things.


Which Case Management Software is Right for Me?


There are many options for case management software (CMS). Each law firm is unique, and lawyers may have different preferences, so you need to choose software that meets your specific needs.


Things you may want to consider include:


o   Will it be easy to transfer, store, and retrieve information?


o   Does this software have the ability to work with other programs (i.e. email, phone, calendar apps) to gather information and data?


o   Does the provider offer ongoing, quality support?


o   Are you able to configure the system to adapt it to your needs and current systems?


o   Are you able to track time, expenses, and generate invoices and billing documents?


o   Does this software accept online and credit card payments?


o   Does this software prepare documents for trial and monitor litigation deadlines?


Many software companies offer free demos or free trial periods. You might need to try several case management software systems before finding the best system for you.


GLSS’ Legal Case Management Software Recommendations:

1.      MyCase

MyCase is a cloud-based legal management solution that helps attorneys in small to medium size law firms manage communications with their clients and carry out daily business operations. The solution also provides functionalities for billing and calendaring.


MyCase offers functionalities like time tracking, accounting, case management, contact management, and docketing. The solution can be accessed via computers and various mobile devices. It has mobile applications for iOS and Android devices.


Users can manage and sync their calendars to collaborate with clients and coworkers. MyCase facilitates electronic bill pay and notifications directly through mobile or desktop interfaces. It also offers integration with QuickBooks.


Some of its key features are:


- Simple user-friendly interface

- Simple pricing structure includes all features instead of having to add options

- Unlimited e-signatures included


MyCase offers a free 10-day trial, so you can test the software and see if it’s a good fit for your practice.


2.      Clio

Clio is the leading law practice management software used by over 150,000 lawyers and with the most 5-star reviews. It is the only legal software with 1,500+ reviews on Capterra. 


Lawyers can access and manage their work in one central system - with matters, contacts, documents, billing, payments, and everything you need in one place.


A few highlights of Clio include:

- Secure client portal for document sharing

- Matter timelines display who made changes and when updates were made

- Separate module available for client intake/client relationship management


Summary: Legal case management software is a game-changer for family law practices and can help law firms automate their daily workflows, such as viewing tasks, tracking billable time and calendaring. This, in turn, helps firms increase efficiency and maximize revenue, thus growing their business.


2.     Migrate to a Virtual Law Firm


For many law firms, rent is one of the highest overhead costs. And it is critical — unless you want to run a digital law firm, you must have a place to do business.

But are you getting the biggest bang for your rent buck?


It is estimated that a typical law office spends 45 to 50% of a client fee on office expenses, such as office rent, non-lawyer salaries, telephone, supplies and other facilities.

By working remotely and embracing a virtual office, law firms can significantly reduce this expense.


The COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, impacted law firms across the US. Cases were stalled, courts shut down, and businesses were forced to close, forcing us all into this innovative world of technology and offering a glimpse of how much of a cost-savings the virtual office could truly be.


Thus, the concept of the Virtual Law Firm came to light.


A Virtual Law Firm is a law practice that doesn’t utilize a traditional brick-and-mortar office. Instead, staff members work remotely and communicate with each other, and with clients, through technology and online collaboration tools.


The virtual law office allows law firms — particularly small and solo law practices — to minimize costs with the help of cloud computing and IT infrastructure.


When going virtual there are some things to consider such as, a physical location to meet with clients and train or mentor new staff, or an office address to build or maintain a presence in a specific market, and to manage mail.


Here are some questions to ponder to determine whether a virtual office might be the best move for your family law practice:

o   Have you analyzed your current office setup to see if it is being utilized at max efficiency? For example, are ghost meetings taking up valuable conference room space?

o   Do you need a large conference room to meet with new clients in person or can you meet them virtually?

o   Does your current location meet the needs of your firm, your clients, and your prospects?

o   If you are considering moving to better quarters, can you 'afford' it?


Summary: The virtual office is all about cost-cutting and operational efficiency. Those that adapt to a virtual office model are able to enjoy better cost-efficiency, a more flexible way of working, without sacrificing a professional business environment — putting your organization in a strong position to achieve long-term, sustainable growth.


3.     Delegate to a Virtual Paralegal


When you are drowning in work hiring new employees is not always the best solution for your law firm, especially with skyrocketing associate salaries and overhead considerations.


Legal outsourcing could reduce costs, because hiring a contractor should be less expensive than the wages and benefits provided to an employee. It could also save your staff time and effort, as using outside contractors can allow your staff and lawyers to focus on the highest value tasks.


If your firm’s work ebbs and flows, so can your workforce.  To mitigate this, you could keep a small staff, then ramp up and contract work out to outside paralegals or attorneys as needed. With more of the physical and mental “busy work” passed on to others, it will free you up to do other things.


Not only does this strategy help you scale your team without long-term commitments, but it also has significant tax savings by eliminating payroll tax on your end.


Grace Legal Support Services specializes in providing high-quality, dedicated family law paralegal support to attorneys throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the state of North Carolina at affordable rates. Our virtual paralegals can efficiently handle legal processes like intake, documentation, research, drafting, and more. This allows you to reduce reliance on expensive associates/paralegals for routine legal tasks.

Law firms can reduce operational costs by 30-60% while accessing specialized talent and enjoy lower overheads from outsourcing routine legal work.



Leveraging Virtual Paralegal Support

Outsourcing legal tasks to experienced virtual paralegals offers significant cost reduction opportunities while maintaining quality.


A virtual paralegal delivers increased efficiency, lower overheads, round-the-clock productivity, and expertise in specialized legal services.

Some benefits include:


Cost Savings: Law firms can reduce operational costs by 30-60% while accessing specialized talent and enjoy lower overheads from outsourcing routine legal work.


- Improved Efficiency: A virtual paralegal brings and/or adds streamlined workflows and legal processes to your firm. The right virtual paralegal should have deep expertise in their work, producing faster turnarounds. And being virtual you gain round-the-clock productivity.


- Advanced Legal Capabilities: By outsourcing, you gain access to skills, talents and capabilities which may not be available in-house. Your virtual paralegal should have expertise in specified practice areas like family law, litigation support, immigration, contract management, compliance and more.


- Flexibility & Scalability: Family law practices can scale up or down as business needs change. Your virtual paralegal is adaptable, delivering on-demand flexibility to meet shifting priorities and seasonal demands.


What Should I Delegate?

What you outsource is up to you.


Here are some key factors to consider when choosing the appropriate tasks to delegate:


- Repetitive Tasks: Outsource high-volume, routine legal work that takes time away from critical tasks. Examples - document review, drafting motions/pleadings, discovery, legal research.

- Specialized Tasks: Consider outsourcing niche practice areas requiring significant expertise like patent applications, compliance management.

- Time-Consuming Tasks: Offload tedious legal projects involving manual processes to improve law firm bandwidth.



Summary: Outsourcing legal tasks can deliver immense competitive advantages to family law firms looking to increase productivity and operational efficiencies at reduced costs. Assessing internal tasks and workflows is key to identifying the right outsourcing opportunities. Delegating to a virtual paralegal allows for improved outcomes and immense cost savings.




There are many ways to cut your firm’s overhead costs that are worth trying - You could go paperless and increase automation. Your office may entirely or partially operate from home. You could shrink your office, so it’s a place to work part-time while working at home part-time. Another option is to meet clients outside of the office.

2 views0 comments


bottom of page