» Practice Management

Is Ohio Gagging Lawyers Speaking at Seminars?

Every few years, state ethics officials issue a questionable decision in the legal marketing ethics area. The ones that make you scratch your head and think, “Really? What planet do they live on?” . . . . . . Today, the spotlight is on Ohio. What? I Can’t Hand Out a Brochure When I’m Speaking? Every good legal marketer knows that speaking at seminars is a tried-and-true method of reaching potential clients and enhancing one’s reputation. A recent opinion issued in Ohio would limit the marketing benefits of speaking engagements . . . Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com ... Read More

Networking for Job Security

Job security is on the radar screens of most lawyers. Many lawyers, however, perceive that their jobs are very secure, when in reality they are not. Due to a false sense of security, these lawyers often neglect the networking they should be doing. Three scenarios demonstrate this concept of a false sense of job security. The Lawyer In Denial The lawyer with no clients of his or her own is very vulnerable. It does not matter if you work for a behemoth on Wall Street or a three-person firm in the boonies. If you do not have your own clients, you will never have genuine job security. I have met many minders and grinders who delude themselves regarding job security since a paycheck keeps coming. Of course, the paycheck keeps coming only because… ... Read More

Don’t Answer Your Phone!

All time management experts will tell you that it is a huge time waster to let phone calls (and emails) interrupt a work task. But there’s an even better reason: A potential client will instantly think that you are a responsive lawyer. Although this may sound counterintuitive, you will impress potential clients by ignoring their initial phone call and then calling them back promptly (usually within a few hours). This is true whether you answer your own phone or have a receptionist do it for you ... Read More

Strategic Planning Myths for Law Firms

Last year, the Harvard Business Review published a blog post entitled, "3 Myths That Kill Strategic Planning." Like most content that comes out of Harvard and other business schools, the focus is on the application of planning principles to more routine corporations--not professional service firms such as law firms ... Read More

Size Matters

The most common exit strategies for retiring solo practitioners and small law firm owners typically include recruiting a successor, merging with another law firm, or selling the practice. All of these options have advantages and disadvantages. However, there’s one strategy that is rarely considered, though it may make the most sense in terms of the retiring lawyer’s financial and personal well-being. That strategy is downsizing. Continue reading this post at www.myshingle.com ... Read More

Going Solo: Debunking The Top Ten Fears

Lawyers who cannot not find the courage to leave a law firm for solo practice usually have one fear that stops them dead in their tracks. They know the consequences of going solo, and they know in their heads and hearts that they should leave, but they can’t quite do it. Most of those fears are well-founded, though, and none of the lawyers I have helped confront their fears have decided to stay at their firms. All of them left, and are happy they did. In no particular order, here are the fears they overcame. 1. There Is More Job Security at My Firm Have you read the newspapers recently? There is no such thing as job security in law. The lawyers who have the most job security are those with the most clients, because they can go anywhere an… ... Read More

Planning for the Unexpected

A frequent complaint of solo practitioners is that since they are alone and in charge, it is difficult to get away for a vacation. But somehow, most seem to manage by finding another lawyer to cover for them should there be an emergency type of situation. That’s easy to do because the vacation is planned. But what if you are taken away from your practice for something that is not planned? What if you are incapacitated or even die from an accident? Do you have another lawyer to cover for you under these circumstances? Continue reading at www.myshingle.com ... Read More

Too Busy? When to Hire Help

Most solos are all-to-familiar with the “feast or famine” roller coaster. Either you have too much work to comfortably handle on your own, or you are wondering how you are going to pay the bills. Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about a number of ways to successfully deal with the “feast” option. First of all, don’t panic. Too much work is a good problem to have. Put your situation into perspective. “Feast” is a much better problem for a solo to have than “famine.” You just need a plan. One way to handle the problem of too much work is to turn some of it down. You now have the luxury of becoming more selective about the work that you do or the clients that you work with. There’s a reason why successful lawyers tend… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Are Your Clients Satisfied? Ask Them.

Most lawyers are quite sure that their clients are satisfied. If you ask them why they are so sure, the most likely response is, “I just know they are.” Well, how do they know? Continue reading this post at www.lawyernomics.avvo.com ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Show that You Care with Reception Area Reading

Leo’s post last month on Lawyerist complaining about opposing counsel’s failure to provide coffee and snacks reminded me of my biggest pet peeve when visiting a law office – a lack of decent reading material. Most law firms forget that their reception area is a component of its client service. What kinds of materials does your law firm provide for clients cooling their heels in your reception or waiting area? Most firms underestimate the importance of reading material, and therefore fall short. Diversion can be important Most lawyers are very busy during normal office hours and, as a result, sometimes run late for client appointments. When the inevitable wait occurs, what do you have for clients to do to occupy their time? When I’m… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Client Service: Happy Clients Can Set Lawyers Apart

It’s not always easy to convince lawyers that they should care more about client service. Too many genuinely believe their legal expertise is paramount—the only thing that truly matters when establishing their law practice’s reputation. But lawyers should not underestimate the impact of how they treat their clients: It’s the only part of the lawyer-client experience that we can control, and the only thing that can be accurately evaluated and appreciated by any client. Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Billing by the Hour: We Didn't Always Do It That Way

Billing by the hour is just one of many established customs within the legal profession. Why do we do it that way? I’ve always been amused by the answer to that question. Inevitably, the answer is, “because we’ve always done it that way.” End of discussion. In the early 1980’s, when I first entered the legal profession, billing by the hour was well ingrained as the standard for all but a handful of practice areas. As a young associate in a large law firm, the thought never even occurred to me that attorneys could bill clients in any other form. Now, of course, I know better. I am very familiar with the flaws of the hourly rate system. I suspect you are, too, since the legal blogosphere is full of posts on this topic. Instead, I’… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Signage for Solos

I recently received a call from a former lawyer-coaching client of mine seeking marketing ethics advice. He’s a solo practitioner and plans to relocate to a new office building. In the new location, he will office share with two other solos. His question: What kind a signage is appropriate when three solos are sharing one office at the same address? The two-word answer attorneys always provide to clients applies here. “It depends.” It depends on what the sign says. The signage must not confuse the public into thinking that there is actually a three-person law firm at the location, rather than three solos in one location. One really doesn’t need a lawyer to make this determination. Just ask anyone who drives by the office. Moreover,… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Client Service: Are Your Clients Really Satisfied?

If you are like many lawyers, you assume your clients are satisfied. Oftentimes, three reasons support their assumption. Their clients don’t complain, they pay, and they come back. Each of these answers seems reasonable as an indication of client satisfaction. In reality, however, they provide little support. My Clients Don’t Complain Many of you eat at restaurants frequently, I suspect. I do. Unfortunately, I often receive lousy food, lousy service or both. Do I complain to my server or to the host/hostess? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. It usually depends on just how bad the food or service was, and upon my mood. Although I am not shy about voicing my opinion, many times I simply walk out of the restaurant without expressing a word of… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

A Personalized Cover Letter Should Accompany Legal Bills

Do you include a cover letter when you send out your monthly legal bills? Most of you do, I suspect. In my previous life as an in-house lawyer for more than a dozen years, I reviewed more outside legal bills than I care to remember. Certain things stick out. The more important portion of legal bills, of course, are the page with the “almighty” time entries and descriptions. However, I also clearly remember the attached cover letter. They all said the same thing: “Enclosed, please find.” What a waste of a valuable opportunity. Personalize Your Cover Letter Consider sending out your legal bills with a personalized cover letter. Now, before you start whining about yet another “soft skill” client service suggestion that seems on its… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

LegalZoon: Good or Bad News for the Legal Profession?

In the past ten years, LegalZoom has had more than two million customers. Its revenue in 2011 was $156 million. What does the apparent success of LegalZoom and other online document companies mean for the legal profession as a whole? ... Read More

When is a Lawyer Like a Barber?

When it gets right down to it, what lawyers do is all about clients. Those wonderful, awful, charming, annoying, challenging and gratifying people who actually pay you to do your work. So we are declaring it “This Business of Clients” week here at Attorney at Work. You will receive some new and some of our best encore posts this week, designed to give you and your desk-side manner a quick refocus. Good for you. Good for them. First up? Roy Ginsburg and the guy who cuts his hair. Continue reading this post on attorneyatwork.com ... Read More

Lawyers: Beware Low Billing Rates

Lawyers bill too little for two reasons. First, they believe that a lower fee will yield more clients. Alternatively, especially when they represent individuals and small business owners, lawyers feel sorry for their clients and end up billing what they think the client can pay — not what the lawyer is worth. Do not fall victim to either of these faulty arguments. Never, ever compete on cost Other lawyers may bill less for their services than you do, and you may fear losing business to these low-cost competitors. Don’t. Chances are good that these lawyers are not making a profit and will soon go out of business. You don’t want to join them. If I had excess capacity in my practice, I wouldn’t waste it by taking on legal work that los… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Thinking About a New Solo Practice Area?

When selecting the practice area that will determine how you spend the rest of your career, you can “go deep” or “go shallow.” It is almost always better to “go deep.” “Going deep” means that you select a practice focus that you enjoy, in a healthy market for legal services, and in which you can reasonably obtain the needed skills and experience. How do you proceed? Continue reading this post on myshingle.com ... Read More

ABA rules: No major ethics overhaul needed To address web marketing

In a draft proposal issued last month, the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 recommended no new restrictions relating to online marketing. The Commission did offer some useful guidance on how to interpret some web-based marketing tools within the context of existing ethics rules – guidance that I intend to pass along to the solo and small-firm lawyers that I coach. Continue reading this post on myshingle.com ... Read More
If it wasn't for Roy, I don't think I would have gotten my new job. I appreciated the fact that he was flexible with my scheduling needs. I also liked that Roy pushed me to get out of my comfort zone by contacting people and networking . . ." Read the rest
– Associate, small Long Island, NY law firm

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