How to Grow a Personal Injury Law Firm Without Working

Well, there’s 99% less work. We no longer work on personal injury cases, so we have time to do whatever we want and earn much more money. My partner, Rob, works at Muscle Beach in South Beach, Miami.

Treat Your Law Practice Like a Business, Not a Law Practice

Warren Buffett said, “When I met Charlie Munger, he was practicing law, and I told him that was Okay as a hobby but was a lousy business.” Charlie Munger said, “Fortunately, I listened. It took a while, however.”

I knew I should give up my hobby, but I liked it too much. I liked the power of making insurance companies pay. After several years, my partner pushed me to give it up. Fortunately, I listened, and we did!

We’re not making Warren Buffet money, but we now make more money, and we’re not working on personal injury cases anymore. Our business almost runs by itself, and we have the time to do what we want.

Between 2:17 and 2:55 in this video, Bill Hauser says, “…the number one problem, the number one realty in the legal industry, 85% of law firms are not yet law businesses.” One of his mentors told him, “A business is a commercial, profitable enterprise that works without you.”

I’m bombarded with emails like this one below selling an expensive event to teach me how to have more personal time while running a law practice. But my partner and I did better than that. We easily eliminated all the work on personal injury cases, and we now have only personal time!

Email from

Time is the one resource we can’t buy more of. That’s why is dedicated to giving you back your time. We’ll show you how to streamline your operations and teach you effective time management strategies. Say goodbye to long nights at the office, and hello to more personal time! And, don’t forget, we offer a 100% money back guarantee if you don’t believe you’ve received a tenfold return on your fee.

The Short Answer of How We Make More Money Without Working on Personal Injury Cases

How did we eliminate all the work from running a personal injury law practice? The short answer is that we transitioned from a personal injury law firm to a personal injury marketing company owned by lawyers.

We created a partnership with a large law firm that does all the work and incurs the cost of case expenses and overhead. We now work with four law firms. We spend the money on advertising and receive 50% of the legal fee.

We can get an unlimited number of cases without growing pains and earn more money than we did before, all without doing any work.

Find out more below about how to grow a personal injury law firm and how we do it.

Starting and managing a personal injury law firm is different and much more difficult than any other type of business or law firm because it has the worst cash flow of any business. But I’ll show you how to grow a personal injury law firm without working.

A Personal Injury Practice Is Like a Bank

Banks loan money to customers for years but get paid back monthly with interest.

Learning how to grow a personal injury law firm is like learning how to run a bank that loans money interest-free to clients to advance case expenses for 1-5 years, and you only get paid back if the case is successful.

You also have to invest or loan money to your practice for overhead, salaries, and advertising and wait 1-5 years to be paid. With an average cash flow of 2.5 years, you have to deal with the worst cash flow of any business.

On the positive side, personal injury law firms make so much money that they’re enormously profitable, even by law firms that are inefficiently managed by lawyers who don’t know how to run a business.

Personal injury lawyers are allowed to earn a very substantial legal fee because of the horrendous cash flow and the risk of losing a case.

5 Unique Attributes of a Personal Injury Law Firm vs. Other Businesses

No business exists on the planet with these four distinctive attributes of a personal injury law firm.

Personal Injury Law Firms Are Not Run Like a Business

Most personal injury law firms aren’t run like a business. Personal injury lawyers are good lawyers, but they have no business experience.

Like doctors, personal injury lawyers have typically spent all their time in school. They go to high school, college, and law school and then start working for a law firm without gaining business experience.

One of our partner law firms actually paid good money to employ a lawyer at the partner level, whose job it was to decide which cases to take or turn down. We put a stop to that after that lawyer turned down a 7-figure case we referred.

If your law firm is turning away cases because someone doesn’t like the liability, consider getting a job as a law school professor. If you want to make money, the criteria to take a personal injury case should be either a valuable injury or good liability.

Personal injury lawyers are in the dark ages with computers.

Many personal injury law firms have started entering client data in case management software, but I haven’t seen any law firm use their case management software as it was meant to be used.

I created nearly 2,000 complex template documents that merge client data into the template documents, so there is no need for a secretary or paralegal. Other law firms only use case management software to store client data and use secretaries and paralegals to modify a previously created Word document.

Some large personal injury law firms have hired a CEO to run the business. But many don’t want to spend the money on a CEO, and many aren’t large enough to afford a CEO’s salary.

The few personal injury lawyers who are good at running a business have grown their law firms into personal injury powerhouses by reinvesting profits in advertising, and they are taking over the field of personal injury.

I know personal injury lawyers who complain of a shrinking clientele, some who have gone into a different field of practice, and personal injury lawyers who even got out of the business of law for something else or retired.

Other personal injury lawyers blame advertising for losing clients, but their problem can’t be entirely blamed on advertising. And it’s not because they can’t afford to advertise. Advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s their lack of business experience.

Law Firm Profits

Personal injury law firms are extremely profitable, yet they invest little to nothing in advertising for new clients. Referrals are nice but are no longer enough.

Most personal injury law firms are badly mismanaged. They spend too much on overhead with too many employees, not enough automation, and poor customer service.

However, personal injury law firms are so profitable that even badly mismanaged law firms make a lot of money.

Capital Investment

Personal injury law firms need substantial capital investment not only for overhead and salaries but also to advance substantial case expenses on behalf of clients.

Although any business has an overhead cost, personal injury law firms have too many employees because of inefficiencies.

Money needed for case expenses can cost thousands of dollars per case. We have had cases where we spent as much as $25,000 to $50,000 on a case. If a case is lost, so is the investment. I once lost $28,000 in case expenses on a case that went to trial and resulted in a defense verdict.

Most personal injury law firms are too stingy with case expenses because it can take 2-5 years to recover the money. However, spending more money on cases like 3-D video animations, 3-D color videos of CT scans, life care plans, etc., will substantially boost the likelihood of settling a case and increase its settlement value. The old adage applies: it takes money to make money.

Personal injury law firms can now borrow money for case expenses at high interest rates and pass the cost to their clients as long as it’s disclosed in the retainer. However, many personal injury lawyers, including myself, don’t like to charge clients for the cost.

With so many expenses and poor cash flow, most personal injury law firms don’t want to spend money on advertising.

Cash Flow

Personal injury law firms have a cash flow of 1-5 years unless the personal injury law firm doesn’t do trials and settles cases for pennies on the dollar for a quick settlement.

When I started my personal injury practice, I never settled cases cheaply. I used a $500,000 large equity line to finance my cases.

But I didn’t have the time to do trials. If a case couldn’t be settled, I gave the case to another personal injury lawyer to do the trial. While that reduced my legal fee, it was the right thing to do for my clients.

Borrowing Money

Banks don’t provide financing to personal injury law firms because they don’t understand the business and view it as speculative. Because personal injury law firms don’t have receivables or traditional inventory, banks have no way to value cases.

Personal injury financing is available from some lawsuit funding companies at high rates but is still worthwhile because personal injury law firms are so profitable. In fact, the biggest personal injury law firms got that big by borrowing money from lawsuit funding companies at high-interest rates to finance advertising campaigns.

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Attorney Rob Plevy

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Dreaming of Growing a Personal Injury Law Firm

You may dream of getting 10, 30, 50, or even 100 new personal injury clients every month. I did. But how can you grow a personal injury law firm and manage that kind of growth without being independently wealthy and working yourself to death?

The Traditional Way Most Personal Injury Law Firms Grow

If you’re starting a new personal injury practice or looking to grow, you’ll examine how to grow a personal injury law firm by looking at how other law firms grew.

How personal injury law firms usually begin growing:

  • Rent office space.
  • Hire a paralegal and/or secretary.
  • Get referrals for personal injury clients and maybe clients for non-personal injury matters. To pay the bills while building my personal injury practice, I did traffic tickets, truck tickets, and criminal defense. I also cleaned up credit ratings for doctors and stock brokers.
  • Hire lawyers and more paralegals, secretaries, and other employees.
  • Eventually, start spending money on advertising for personal injury clients.
  • Reinvest more money on advertising for personal injury clients.

Almost all personal injury law firms used to grow the same way. The biggest difference is how much money they invest in advertising.

How much money do law firms invest in advertising? I once read that large law firms reinvest an average of 17% of gross fees in advertising.

The largest personal injury law firms borrowed money for advertising from lawsuit funding companies at rates much higher than commercial banks.

You’ll need a lot of money because settling cases takes, on average, two to five years!

But there is another way!

How I Grew My Personal Injury Law Practice

I Wanted My Own Large Personal Injury Law Firm

I always wanted to have my own large personal injury law firm. I trained at a large personal injury law firm and left to start on my own.

I knew I had to differentiate myself from other personal injury lawyers advertising on TV, so I made business cards advertising personal service and gave them to everyone everywhere.

Two years after starting my personal injury practice, I got 1-800-HURT-911® and put that on my business card.

My First Problem

I started getting a lot of cases, but I immediately ran into a problem. I wasn’t a small law firm. I was a solo lawyer without a secretary or paralegal. My doorman was my receptionist.

I needed to hire employees to work on the cases, but I was working out of my apartment. I couldn’t afford to rent an office or hire employees.

My Second Problem

I had another problem. I started my personal injury practice working out of my NYC apartment, and I loved working out of my apartment. I didn’t want to work in an office!

I had a large apartment with a 12 ft. ceiling and an 80 sq. ft. terrace with a BBQ. My doorman was my receptionist. Life was good. I often settled cases while relaxing on my terrace.

A Partial Solution

I became highly organized and was an early adopter of personal injury case management software.

In fact, in 1990, I probably bought the first personal injury case management software called the Pleading Processor, but it was only a document compiler. I needed more sophisticated case management software. I quickly switched to SAGA when it came out months later, and I created 1,800 template documents. Today, we use SmartAdvocate®, the absolute best case management software.

Several years later, I built a large custom house. I wanted to build a house that I wouldn’t mind staying in all the time while working, and I’m glad I did because I worked 7 days and nights per week. I had everything I needed: a BBQ in a large commercial kitchen, a BBQ in my backyard, a gym, and a 3-car garage. I just needed to stop working on personal injury cases.

See how to grow a personal injury law firm without being wealthy and working yourself to death as I did in my house and personal injury office

At some point, I hired a personal injury defense lawyer but fired her after a few months because she wasn’t experienced enough and had no clue how to use computers. I found it too difficult to delegate work, knowing I could always do it better.

I had 135 cases without any employees, and I burned out. I gave up my law practice for several years. During that time, someone offered $3M to buy 1-800-HURT-911®. I declined because I thought I might need to get my law practice going again, and I would need my vanity phone to start over.

Sure enough, I needed to make money again, and I started my law practice back up. Again, thanks to 1-800-HURT-911®, I quickly grew my practice back to where it was.

Why a Personal Injury Practice Is Like Being a Plumber

If you have a master plumber’s license without employees, there is a limited number of jobs you can do during any one day. You’ll never get rich unless you start hiring workers and making money from their work.

If you’re a solo personal injury lawyer without lawyers working for you, you’re limited to how many cases you can work on.

How We Built a Large Personal Injury Practice Without a Lot of Money and Burning Out

To avoid burning out again, I convinced Rob Plevy to be my partner.

Taking on a partner was definitely worthwhile. I could work a little less, and I made more money. But my partner and I continued taking on new cases and getting bigger, and we were still doing all the work. We both started to burn out.

We Needed Money to Rent an Office and Start Hiring or Find Another Solution

We chose a better and more affordable solution that required no money for rent, salaries for lawyers and paralegals, or case expenses. We only needed money for a small advertising budget.

Even better, we don’t have any management headaches, don’t have to do any legal work on personal injury cases, and there is no limit to the number of cases we can retain.

We formed a partnership with a large personal injury law firm. We get the cases. They do all the work and incur the case expenses. We get 50% of the legal fees.

What We Do Now

Now, we’re semi-retired. My partner, Rob, moved to South Beach and actually does his work while working out on Muscle Beach.

Rob gets notifications on his phone whenever a new lead for a potential personal injury client is received. Using our personal injury lead management software on his smartphone, he clicks a button to send the lead to one of our partner personal injury law firms without ever leaving the beach.

Just before writing this article, I was relaxing on my terrace with ice coffee while listening to two giant waterfalls pouring 10,000 gallons per hour into a pond. Now, instead of working on cases, I wait for the mail to come with checks for personal injury referral fees.

We also maintain control of the cases so we can make decisions if we want to. I have substantial expertise in negotiating, so I get involved in settlement negotiations for high 6-figure and 7-figure cases.

We began making more money than we ever had without doing any work, but our partner law firm didn’t want some of the small cases, and they weren’t good with soft tissue car accident cases.

We didn’t want to force them to take all the cases they didn’t want, and we were throwing away some leads.

To prevent losing those cases, we started referring leads to another personal injury law firm and now three personal injury law firms. This enables us to retain more leads from our advertising. The cases from the leads we previously lost now pay for our advertising budget and more.

How Do We Advertise for Personal Injury Cases?

We get our personal injury cases by advertising with Google Ads. We advertise our brand 1-800-HURT-911® in the title of Google Ads, which substantially increases conversions. See the results of our Google Ads for personal injury advertising.

But there are other ways. See how to get personal injury clients with smarter and inexpensive advertising for lawyers.

How Much Money Can You Make for Every Dollar Spent on Advertising for Personal Injury Cases?

How much money can you expect to earn in personal injury legal fees for every dollar spent on advertising?

If you work on the cases, you should earn approximately $20 for every $1 spent on advertising.

How Much Money Can You Make Referring Personal Injury Cases?

How much money can you earn from referring personal injury cases from advertising? Since we get 50% of the gross legal fee, we make $10 for every $1 spent.

Whether you’re looking for how to grow a personal injury law firm or how to start a personal injury law firm, you should consider referral agreements with other personal injury lawyers.

We’re not alone. Other law firms only refer personal injury cases to personal injury law firms. Some do that locally as we do, and some well-known law firms do it nationally.

How to Eliminate Anxiety When Running a Personal Injury Practice

Bill Hauser, CEO of SMB Team, wrote in an email with his #1 tip to ease anxiety, “Research shows being a lawyer is one of the fastest ways to develop anxiety (and other mental health issues). It is no surprise that alcoholism and divorce are also more common in the legal industry.”

Our #1 tip to ease anxiety is to refer your cases to another law firm.

Our #1 tip to have all your time to yourself and be on a permanent vacation is to refer your cases to another law firm.

Philip L. Franckel, Esq., is the author of this article.

Phil Franckel is the owner of 1-800-HURT-911® and over 1,100 domain names. He is a personal injury lawyer and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the NYS Trial Lawyers Association. He is an expert in branding, advertising, marketing, and SEO. He has been doing SEO since 1994.

Phil Franckel has written and produced TV commercials for lawyers and other industries and has been a consultant to businesses, including several using vanity phone numbers. Phil writes a blog about lawyer advertising at

Phil Franckel began a mail order business in 8th grade, bought and sold coin-operated amusement games in 10th grade, and a used car business in 12th grade through college. After law school, he worked in the wholesale diamond business and part-time for a TV production company. Later, while a lawyer at a large personal injury law firm, he worked part-time for ABC Wide World of Sports and ABC Monday Night Baseball.

Phil Franckel then started a personal injury law practice and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the NYS Trial Lawyers Association.

In his spare time, Phil Franckel became an Aux. Police Cadet in 12th grade and is the Commanding Officer of the Communications Bureau, NCPD Aux. Police Section.

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