Your Reasons to Not Go Solo Are Wrong: The Top 10 Fears of Going Solo

As a consultant, I’ve worked with many lawyers frustrated by their law firm’s dysfunction. For some, an obvious solution to escape the toxic environment is to go solo and hang out the proverbial shingle. But counterintuitively, these same lawyers who can confidently tell their clients what to do when faced with legal problems don’t have the faith in themselves to strike out on their own. Read full article on Attorney At Work ... Read More

The Problem of Too Few Rural Lawyers

About 10 years ago, in “Be a Small Town Lawyer,” I wrote about the shortage of lawyers in rural America and the abundant career opportunities for attorneys willing to venture outside of metropolitan areas. What has changed since then? Not much. The shortage is very real. Here are some recent statistics. ... Read More

Adding Partners When You’re a Small Firm Owner

You’ve successfully owned your law firm for a decade and have employed two lawyers for most of that time. Both are all pretty decent but are not superstars. One day, they come to you and ask about the possibility of becoming partial equity owners. Your initial thinking is “I knew this day would probably come. Now, what do I do?” Well, here’s what you do.

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What’s New in Law Firm Ownership?

Most lawyers are familiar with Rule 5.4 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. In a nutshell, it says that lawyers must own law firms. Virtually every state adopted the rule. The purpose is supposedly to prevent nonlawyers from interfering with a lawyer’s independent and professional judgment. ... Read More

Top 6 Reasons to Hire a Paralegal Over a Lawyer

Your solo or small law firm is busier than ever and you desperately need another warm body to complete the work. Resist the knee-jerk reaction to hire another lawyer. Instead, assess whether hiring a paralegal can fill the need. You’ll find that in most practice areas it can. ... Read More

Pro Bono: Doing Good Feels Good

In these pandemic days, many Americans have taken economic hits that have only led to further legal problems. But those less fortunate are often left to face their legal problems alone because they can’t afford legal counsel. I strongly suspect that, for most readers of this post, the economic hit you’ve felt has been minimal in comparison. If you think you know where I’m going with this—you’re right. The time is ripe to pursue pro bono work if you’re not already doing it. Pro Bono Work Is Our Social Responsibility Lawyers have a special responsibility to give back. Why? Our society provides us with an exclusive license to do what we do. What we do provides countless opportunities to make a respectable and, for many, a lucrative… ... Read More

Don’t Be Afraid to Raise Your Legal Fees

It’s getting to be that time of year when lawyers decide whether to raise their hourly rates or fixed fees when the new year begins. I suspect that many will fear doing so in the middle of a pandemic. Others always seem fearful of increasing legal fees, pandemic or no pandemic. My advice — with very limited exceptions — is to go for it. Clients are never as price-sensitive as you think. ... Read More

Your Competition Is Lazy: Three Things Small Law Firms Can Do to Find New Business Now

Thomson Reuters recently completed its fourth State of U.S. Small Law Firms survey. The findings were summarized here on Attorney at Work. That post’s title, “Small Law Firms Still Struggling With Finding New Business and Managing Administrative Tasks,” accurately reflects the overall state of the world of small law firms. ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Does Passion Equal Happiness on the Job?

During these pandemic days, everyone seems to be reevaluating many aspects of life, including career options. Have you recently wished you were more “passionate” about your work? And if you were, would it make a difference about how you felt about your career? ... Read More

Is Strategic Planning Relevant in the Covid-19 Age?

Strategic planning provides a framework to make choices about how your law firm allocates its resources to maintain and improve upon its success. Yes, I know many of you are probably thinking, “We’re still fine-tuning how to get work done from home and the best ways to interact with clients. I can’t plan beyond a few days ahead, let alone a few years.” ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

COVID-19 Impacts for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers: Beyond Remote Work

If you’re like me, you’re probably tired of getting email blasts about how to best work remotely. There is much more to this COVID-19 situation, from your law practice perspective, than remote work. If you practice in the solo and small firm world, here’s my take on a few other important things to consider in the pandemic age. ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Underbilling? Not Recording Time? There’s No Excuse!

Over the years, I’ve heard my share of stories about attorneys who have failed to properly record their time. You know what I mean. Finishing a task and then intentionally recording less time than what you actually spent on the task. Or, alternatively, simply forgetting to enter your time (e.g., phone conversations in the car). ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Strategic Planning in Times of Crises: You’re Doing It Wrong, but Does It Matter?

Most definitions of strategic planning focus on the idea that an organization needs to step back to look forward so it can determine its future goals for success. According to one definition, strategic planning involves “envisioning a desired future and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them.” Another definition is “the development of an organization's purpose and goals, beyond the immediate future, and actions to achieve those goals.” ... Read More

Superb Client Experience: The Simplest Details Count the Most

How many times have you been at a restaurant and forgot to bring your pair of reading glasses? If you’re like me, more times than you can remember. And when you ask if there are any extra pairs around, few restaurants have any. But for those that do, what a difference that pair can make at the end of a meal, capping off the whole experience on a high note. ... Read More

Never Forget the Value of Your Firm’s Staff

A sole owner of a small law firm recently hired me to create a strategic plan and a succession plan. During our initial conversations, I asked questions to discern more about the firm and its culture. The owner went out of his way to tell me that he values and respects everyone, including staff—not just the lawyers. I responded, “That’s great!” ... Read More

Debunking the Biggest Rainmaking Myth

“I can never be successful at rainmaking because I’m an introvert.” Does this sound like you? I have one word in response to this common refrain from lawyers: Bulls***. Quite frankly, this is a myth that provides an easy excuse to avoid doing what all attorneys know they need to do: get out of the office to create and develop relationships with potential client and referral sources. So, simply put, you can be successful at rainmaking even if you’re an introvert. Here’s how. ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Be a Joiner: Networking for Success as a Lawyer

Like most attorney business development coaches, I’m a big fan of one-on-one networking. It’s in this setting that you’ll have the best opportunity to develop a genuine relationship—one that will hopefully lead to new business. ... Read More

Ethical Billing Practices to Keep Your Clients Happy

You’ve heard it from me and others; the key to satisfied clients is managing client expectations. And fees are perhaps the single client service area where lawyers fall short the most when managing expectations. Failure to manage fee expectations will not only lead to an unhappy client, it could also subject you to possible discipline. Remember, Rule 1.5 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Fees and Division of Fees), states in relevant part: ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Compensating Retiring Lawyers for Client Transition Efforts

A key aspect of any law firm succession plan is keeping the firm’s best clients when the rainmakers are gone. As more Boomers retire or start their winding down efforts, concerns about client retention and proper compensation are at the forefront of succession plan conversations. ... Read More

Should a Solo Join a Bigger Law Firm? Is Bigger Better?

It’s common for the successful solo practitioner to have bigger law firms approach them for recruiting the practitioner and joining forces. It’s also common for those practitioners to seriously consider the offer, often thinking the grass may be greener. But what makes these offers so tempting? There are many reasons, some of which are sensible, but most of which are not. ... Read More