Tips for Solo and Small Firms: How to Treat Your Vendors

By Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Vendors, like trial consultants, private investigators and court reporters, are critical to your law practice. As the owner of a solo and small law firm, you’re likely the person interacting directly with vendors. Having the right vendors will help with your success as an attorney and a business owner.
Here are my top tips for your solo and small business:

1. Have reliable vendors

Vendors you can rely on can ease your worries. You need vendors who will do what they say they’ll do and do it on deadline.

One vendor I use has a busy practice, but when she promises to deliver a document on a weekend, I can rely on her getting the work done. Conversely, a vendor did not show up as promised when I really needed her, which left me stranded in front of my client. I had to find someone else I could trust.

2. Treat them professionally

Vendors are experts in their own fields. Since I treat my vendors professionally, they help me when there’s a short deadline.

3. Get and give recommendations

The best way to get reliable vendors is to get recommendations from other solo and small firm attorneys. Consider these recommendations a “pre-screening.”

Vendors appreciate you recommending them to other attorneys. Like you, they are running a small business. Even if they do not get the job with another law firm, they will remember you tried to help them.

4. Pay them on time

Since vendors usually are small business owners, they rely on your payment. Develop a reputation for paying promptly. I encountered one vendor who is not consistent in billing me, but I call after working with her, ask for the amount of the statement and then send her a check. My reputation as a prompt payer helps me get great service in the future.

Maybe you already follow some of these suggestions. If you don’t, consider whether some of my tips might help you be more successful in running your solo or small firm.

Mary Catherine Wiederhold represents residential tenants at the Law Offices of Mary Catherine Wiederhold. She is a member of the BASF’s Solo and Small Firm Section’s Communication Subcommittee. She regularly writes regularly about tenant issues and running a solo and small firm.