Creating the Best Team and Billing Model for Your Law Firm with Margaret Burke

As your business grows, there are more and more moving parts. As a business owner, you may feel you need to ensure everything runs smoothly while also looking for more clients. However, this can also lead you to a path where you want to do anything and everything. But remember: the question you should ask is who, not how. You need to build a business team.

We’re here to help you cut through the noise. In our episode today, our guest emphasizes that all law firms need to just focus on two things — networking and people. 

Margaret Burke joins us to talk about the value of marketing through networking and how your team can help you grow your law firm. She shares ways to build your team culture but also capacity. Here's something impactful: focus on skills instead of job titles.

If you are struggling with growing your law firm and wondering what’s next, then this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode

  1. Learn what every law firm needs to prioritize. 
  2. Realize the role and importance of your business team. 
  3. Understand how to create a good team culture and find the right people for the right job. 


Episode Highlights

Introducing Margaret

  • Margaret helps law firm founders and managing partners solve challenges and meet their goals. 
  • Before working with law firms, Margaret was an advisor and consultant. She has also worked in law firms, the latest being a CEO for around 15 years. 
  • She has also worked in the financial industry, specifically in group estate and trust services. 

The Value of Networking and Marketing

  • Law firms need to prioritize networking and build a strong marketing strategy.

Margaret: “There are many doors that start to open once you open yourself to the experience, have really taken some time, and focus in on marketing and business development. 

  • Most attorneys hesitate to start because they want it to be perfect. 
  • Margaret emphasizes focusing on even just one aspect of networking. It can be as simple as keeping in touch with your top 10 clients and referral sources. 
  • Remember, relationships should be formed and maintained.

Margaret: “Perfect, I think to a lot of attorneys, perfect is a very high bar.”

How the Whole Firm Works Together

  • You don't need to do networking by yourself; you can always hire a business team to help you. 

Moshe: “You can't operate your business out of fear that people that are building something crucial or important within your business are going to leave and take it somewhere else.” 

  • Focus on creating a firm culture where people feel part of something bigger. 
  • Remember, the firm does not need to be built by you alone; everyone in your team can contribute. 

How to Grow Your Law Firm Business Team

  • Build good communication and transparency in your team. 
  • When looking at compensation structures, be aware of what you’re rewarding and what you don’t.

Margaret: “Over time, compensation structures can actually hold a firm back and can prevent people from joining the firm, or it can cause them to leave the firm because they're not being rewarded for activities that aren't necessarily origination.”

  • Over time, this can lead to some staff feeling unappreciated just because they're not bringing in clients. There's more to a firm than client acquisition.
  • Focus on your team first, then your client acquisition. 
  • Remember, the strength and capacity of your team will dictate your client acquisition. 

How to Put People in the Right Job

  • Focus on filling skill gaps in your business team, not filling roles. 
  • Make sure you don't place a lot of burden on one person, especially in terms of responsibilities.

Margaret: “Instead of thinking about an org chart, think about a responsibility chart. Take the time to list out what is needed at your firm to be successful.”

  • Assess a responsibility chart instead of an organizational chart. 
  • Do not be blinded by the halo and horn effect. The halo effect is when a person excels at one thing, so you think they’ll excel in everything else. Vice versa is the horn effect. 
  • Remember that your team is human. 

Margaret: “So during the hiring process, think about responsibilities. Allow that individual to be really good at what they do. And don't put too many responsibilities on one person.”

The Law Firm Business Model 

  • The hourly billing model puts you in conflict with your clients by encouraging you to be inefficient.
  • Technologies for law firms are now more widely available. These help firms be more efficient in their processes and systems. 
  • Because of this, law firms should consider value billing, where the pricing is based on value and results. 

How Firms Change Their Business Model 

  • Transitioning to a new business model can be an emotional process. 
  • Remember, it's not enough to mimic other firms. You need to know your value proposition and associated costs, then look into your profits. 
  • Margaret recommends tracking your time.
  • She also recommends testing the new model with either new or trusted clients. 

Margaret’s Advice

  • Look for opportunities in challenges.
  • Start changes, no matter how small. 

Margaret: “Just start somewhere and look at the biggest bang for your buck.”

About Margaret

Margaret Burke is the President and Founder of MB Law, and she works with small to medium-sized law firms to optimize and implement best practices. Margaret specializes in finance, HR, IT, operations, and business development and uses her expertise to help law firms scale revenue and improve their processes. 

Before founding MB Law, Margaret served as a CEO and member of the Executive Committee at a Boston-based law firm and helped launch a consulting startup that served law firms. 

Margaret earned her MBA at the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University. She is also a CLM Certified Legal Manager, Yellow Belt Legal Lean Sigma, and Certified Professional Coach.

Want to learn more about Margaret’s work? Check out MB Law Consulting

You can also connect with her on LinkedIn and by phone (617-702-0529). 

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Have any questions? You can contact me through Facebook and LinkedIn. To request a show topic, recommend a guest, or ask a question about the show, please email [email protected].


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