Building a Practice from Scratch

by Professor Byron L. Warnken on December 7, 2012

Going from having no cases in a particular practice area to having a flourishing practice is a tough thing to do.  In the good old days, it was something that took years, if not decades.  For various reasons, it can now happen quicker.  But that increased speed, itself, brings its own pitfalls.

Just one year ago, Warnken, LLC averaged about five workers’ comp cases open at any given time.  The cases came to us because we are counsel to the Maryland Troopers’ Association and its 2600 members.  More importantly, we could handle the cases with a high level of competence because the main trooper attorney practiced workers’ comp in a previous life.  He was, in fact, the “comp guy” for a well-known Baltimore personal injury lawyer.

Now Warnken, LLC has more than 50 workers’ comp cases and rapidly climbing.  The reason we’ve had such success in staking our claim as Maryland workers’ compensation lawyers – Internet marketing.  My son was the president of an Inc. 5000 company with a focus on Internet marketing.  The lawyer now handling workers’ comp for Warnken, LLC, Rebecca Smith, Esq., learned under the comp attorney.  In addition, she is passionate about the practice, always trying to learn as much as she can.  She constantly strives to excel for her clients.

But at some point soon, we will be faced with the question – how can we continue to excel for our clients with the increasing workload.  We established ourselves as appellate litigators and criminal post verdict lawyers over a long period of time.  The law firm grew up around me.  The kind of explosive growth we have seen in our comp practice is not something we’ve experienced before.  We will do what’s necessary to give top quality representation to our clients.

Building a practice from scratch – or moving from five cases to fifty – is great.  However, it requires a unique blend of internal controls to make sure you are still doing top quality work for all clients.  We’re looking to hire an experienced workers’ compensation paralegal.

It’s an unprecedented era in the ability for a company to grow.  Internet companies everywhere have gone from zero to millions or even billions in revenue at a lightening pace.  Apparently, the same can happen in a law firm.  The difference, however, is the stakes are higher in a law firm.  Screw ups are far more costly for the business and the client.  That’s why systems need to be put into place to make sure the screw-ups don’t happen.  And growth itself can sometimes be the enemy.  It’s excellent to get more cases, but only if the current clients are receiving top quality representation and top quality service.

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