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May
10
Fans of Kenny Rogers, and even those who have never heard of him, may recognize this phrase from his best-selling song, The Gambler. Knowing when to hold them and when to fold them is more than just a snappy catchphrase. It’s knowing when to move on. In poker, do you keep betting, hoping to win the pot, or do you get out of the hand and hope the next one is better? For those approaching the end of their legal career, the phrase means, do you keep plugging away working, or is it time to fold them and start playing an entirely new game called retirement? So how do you know? Here are some questions to ask yourself on when you should retire. Can you afford to retire? Or, as some others say, “Have you reached your number?” Talk about a mov… Read More
Apr
17
Nonlawyer ownership of law firms provides a “new, fertile hunting ground” for private equity firms, but is it improving access to justice? Over two years ago, I wrote a post, “What’s New in Law Firm Ownership.” What was new was that two states (Arizona and Utah) and the District of Columbia were allowing nonlawyers to own law firms. Since then, other states have not rushed to do the same, and that state of affairs is unlikely to change soon. Read More
Mar
5
For personal injury law firm owners thinking about leaving practice, there’s good news and bad news regarding selling a personal injury law firm. Personal Injury Firms First, the good news. Unlike most practices, personal injury practices have a real monetary value and a relatively easy manner to determine that value, even if the owner decides to shut the firm down. At times, this value can be significant and easy to monetize. Read More
Feb
2
Lawyers, by their very nature, are competitive. So, it should come as no surprise that for many lawyers, “winning” means making more money than other lawyers. If you’re in Big Law, it’s not very difficult to get a good idea whether you are “winning.” Associate salaries are widely publicized, and to a lesser extent, so is partner compensation. Indeed, a lot of the jumping around one sees in Big Law, is driven by the knowledge that, at least when it comes to compensation, you know whether the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Read More
Jan
3

What are the mechanics of buying and selling a law firm? First, let’s go back to law school for a moment. For those of you who have never done transactional work during your career, law firm buyers purchase the firm’s equity or assets. In the former situation, the entity remains in place. In asset deals, buyers acquire assets that are then placed in the buyer’s existing entity.

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Dec
6
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
Nov
3
A small law firm owner client who wants to retire in 3-4 years recently asked me, “Is it a good idea to try to grow my revenues during my last years to enhance my firm’s value when it’s time to sell a few years down the road?” Sorry, but there is no simple answer, and I will fall back on the two words lawyers love to tell their own clients: “It depends.” Read More
Oct
6
When planning for retirement, most lawyers think long and hard about how best to invest their financial assets. They want to maximize their financial health. Few, however, think about how they should invest their time to maximize their physical and emotional health during retirement. The answer is to invest in their relationships with family and friends. A long-running study out of Harvard University concludes that the best predictor of longevity, health, and happiness as we age is the quality of our relationships. Read More
Sep
13
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
Aug
7
Here are five principles (in no particular order of importance) of which all lawyers should remind themselves if they are in a position to decide how much to pay other lawyers at their firm, or are on the receiving end of such decisions. Read More
Jul
5
Boomer lawyers are retiring in record numbers. Many are the same ones with the biggest book of business. Does your firm have a strategy to transition those clients to your firm’s younger generation? And remember: hope is not a strategy. Read More
Jun
6
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was writing about how Big Law was essentially hiring any warm body who could bill hours. Well, times have changed. Now the headlines are about law firm layoffs. If you’re one of those casualties, here are a few dos and don’ts that will maintain your sanity while moving you closer to finding your next job. Read More
May
8
Retirement, for most Americans, lasts about 15-20 years. Many plan for it in a very one-dimensional manner. That is, they only think about whether they will have enough money to live the life they want. Few, however, think about what they are actually going to do during those years, and how to best plan for that. Read More
Apr
3

The number of attorneys practicing after reaching the age of 65 has grown by more than 50% in the past decade. Roughly 15% of all practicing lawyers are 65 or older. As a group, we also seem to work longer than others. Only 7% of the general workforce stays employed beyond 65.

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Mar
1
During the pandemic, there’s hardly a soul working for a living who hasn’t re-examined what’s essential for their job satisfaction. Work-life balance and flexibility have probably received the most attention. However, many have lost sight of what, for a majority of people, is the most important factor: one’s boss. Read More
Feb
1
Many small firm owners wrongly assume that finding a third-party buyer hoping for a more lucrative deal is preferable to making an internal deal with an associate. At times, that is true, but more often than not, it is not. Owners should be more receptive to the exit strategy of selling to associates. Let’s first debunk some assumptions owners make when comparing the two options. Read More
Jan
4
I’ve written before about how buying a law firm can be a very effective, low-risk, and low-cost means to grow a practice. That said, what is it about the legal profession that, on occasion, makes it more challenging to sell a practice than hoped? As a consultant and coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of lawyers of all shapes and sizes in virtually every state and practice area. From that experience, I’ve become somewhat of an expert in understanding the DNA of those in our profession. Here are three fundamental truths in the DNA that impact buyer behavior. I call them the “do-nots.” Read More
Dec
7
With so many lawyers contemplating retirement, your law firm succession plan has never been more important. Take a careful look at your law firm’s most influential leaders and biggest rainmakers. Chances are good that these individuals will be retiring over the next decade. Is your law firm prepared for this seismic generational transition? The impact will be felt well beyond the law firm itself. Read More
Nov
1
I recently worked with two elder solo attorneys in excellent health. They wanted to work 2-3 more years at almost a full-time pace. However, they were old enough and wise enough to know that a sudden health issue could derail all of that if they didn’t make a plan soon. I’ve written before about the risks of dying at your desk. Suffice it to say that if that occurs, you leave a mess for clients, staff, and especially grieving spouses and children. Further, selling a practice is way more difficult without the owner around. And even if it can be done, it is usually at fire sale terms. Read More
Oct
3
For years, selling a law practice was prohibited because ethics regulators believed clients, files, and a firm’s goodwill were not something that could be sold. Regulators feared that clients would be treated like merchandise. Other ethics worries included the possibility of sharing fees with a non-lawyer (spouse of a deceased lawyer) and the ban on payments to anyone for recommending the lawyer’s services. Read More
Sep
1

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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Aug
1
Lawyers are typically not a reflective lot. We rarely spend time taking a step back to ask, “What am I trying to accomplish here?” Instead, most lawyers just “shoot and then ask questions.” This dynamic is present at the time of retirement when determining an exit strategy. And even when the timing of the exit is carefully thought out, the goals are often not. Read More
Jul
12
Some of my clients are estate planning lawyers. When I recently followed up with one of them, I came across an excellent blog post by this particular lawyer titled “A Baker’s Dozen of Why People Procrastinate About Their Estate Plan.” I had always suspected that the people who delayed putting their estate plans in order were similar to the small firm owner-lawyers I know who avoid succession planning. Read More
Jun
1
Whether a lawyer works in a firm or as a solo, he or she does not close up shop one day and ride off into the retirement sunset the next. Many lawyers gradually wind down their practices—over months or years—and transition to part-time before retiring completely. Historically, law firms use the “of counsel” designation for lawyers nearing retirement. Read More
May
3
Even casual observers of the goings-on in Big Law know the Great Resignation, as with the rest of America, has not spared the legal profession. That fact, combined with the surprising and continuing high demand for Big Law services, means that you couldn’t ask for a better job market if you are an associate seeking greener pastures. Here are a few tips when considering a Big Law job offer that seems too good to be true. Read More
Apr
1
If you’re a solo or small firm owner thinking of selling your law firm, for certain practice areas, transitioning repeat clients to the buyer is key. Indeed, the primary reason your firm has value and has a willing buyer are those client relationships that took years to build. Transitioning clients successfully requires managing and finessing human relationships, a task that—even with the best of intentions—is never easy. Everyone has the same goals, including quality, predictability, and trust. Will your successor meet your existing clients’ goals? Read More
Mar
1
I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First, the good news. Men in the United States aged 65 can expect to live 18.2 more years on average. Women aged 65 years can expect to live around 20.8 more years on average. The bad news is that some lawyers read that and somehow think that they can practice that long. Read More
Feb
8
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
Dec
1
It should come as no surprise that the question most prospective clients ask me is, “What is my law firm worth?” My response is always as follows: Imagine it’s Friday afternoon and you ride off into the retirement sunset never to return to the practice of law. Then, on Monday morning, the phone rings at your old desk, and your successor answers. Read More
Nov
2
Lawyers have a reputation for being prepared. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how poorly lawyers prepare for job interviews. Although I have no hard proof of this, my experience working with lawyers has shown they’re typically woefully unprepared. Instead of preparing, they wing it, thinking they’re smart enough to impress whoever is on the other side of the table or, nowadays, whoever is on your Zoom screen. Read More
Oct
5
When purchasing a law practice, buyers seek revenue they ordinarily could not obtain on their own. For example, buyers hope that, with the proper introductions, the relationships that a seller has with repeat clients can be successfully transitioned to the buyer. The same can be said for a seller’s referral network, be they former clients or other professionals. Read More
Sep
1
A basic premise of strategic planning is to gather information to know who you are as a law firm. After all, if you don’t know who you are, how do you know where you want to go and whether you can realistically get there? What’s most important during the strategic planning process is gaining an understanding of the firm from the inside and the outside. Firm culture addresses the former; reputation addresses the latter. Read More
Aug
2
I always tell clients that my appraisal provides an excellent starting point for negotiating the price of a law firm with an insider, but that it is unlikely that it will be the final word. While it may sound like a cliché, for most small firm insider deals, parties ultimately agree on a price that seems “fair.” Read More
Jul
9
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
Jun
2

Law practices are often valued in divorce proceedings. As such, lawyers frequently assume that it should be relatively easy to apply similar valuation principles when trying to sell a practice. Nothing can be further from the truth.

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May
3
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
Apr
2
Purchasing another lawyer’s practice is fast becoming a popular and more common way to grow or diversify one’s law firm. There are three main reasons for this: Read More
Mar
11
For reasons that escape me, many people in the legal profession believe the practice of law is not amenable to working part-time. While this issue usually arises for new parents, part-time work is also a great option for senior solo and small law firm attorneys to consider before they completely exit the profession. Read More Read More
Feb
1
Appraising a law firm requires assessing numerous factors. During the appraisal process, some attorneys will say to me something along the lines of, “In my law firm, I’ve got this great system that can…. That alone should be worth…” The marketplace for law firms doesn’t work like that, however. Here’s why. Read More
Jan
4
Law firm succession planning is certainly getting its share of attention these days. It makes sense, too, considering one-third of the attorney population will be made up of boomer lawyers (those 65 years of age or older) within the next 10 years. Read More
Dec
8
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
Nov
2
One of my truisms for valuing a law practice is that “all revenue is not created equally.” For example, revenue that stems from past clients or one’s referral network is far more valuable than the revenue generated from seminars or webinars. Read More
Oct
8
With Baby Boomers retiring left and right, law firm leaders everywhere are talking about succession planning. Yet, much like the weather, no one seems to be doing much about it. Legal consultants Altman Weil report that only 31% of its surveyed law firms had formal policies in place. ALM Legal Intelligence puts the number at 33%. Read More
Sep
21
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
Sep
8
Deciding when to retire, now more than ever, has become a moving target. In the best of times, it’s never a simple decision. Lots of variables to consider and assumptions to make. But with Covid-19, past careful thinking for many has been thrown to the wayside. Pundits galore have been making predictions about Covid-19’s impact on retirement. Here’s one more. Read More
Aug
3
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
Jul
13
Rule 1.17 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct states that after a sale, sellers must “cease to engage in the private practice of law.” Does that mean you must hand over the keys, walk out the door, and immediately ride off into retirement sunset? And if the answer is yes, how is that realistically possible? Read More
Jun
8
You should “practice retirement.” According to the 2018 Global Retirement Reality Report, only about half of Americans are happy in retirement even with financial security. If more retirees would have practiced retirement before retiring, the number of happy retirees would increase substantially. Read More
May
14
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
Apr
15
If there was ever a wake-up call for solo and small law firm owners to create their succession plans, it is now. COVID-19 is a serious health risk that, as I write, is showing no signs of when it will go away. Read More
Apr
6
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
Mar
17
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
Feb
6
One retirement exit strategy often considered by solo practitioners and small law firm owners is the "recruit your successor" one. The idea behind this strategy is to find a young, inexperienced lawyer who is then groomed to take over the practice. Read More
Jan
7
I was recently reading the business section of my local newspaper and came across an article on the importance of having a will. The focus of the article was on how to prevent people from delaying getting the task accomplished. The writer asked several financial planners for the best strategies they use to help their clients complete this task. Read More
Dec
3
Lawyers are quick to blame the competition when challenged about why their firm’s revenues are not better. Before you keep on with the finger-pointing, you might want to stop and assess how your firm performs in light of some of the findings from the latest Clio Legal Trends Report. Read More
Nov
11
There are a variety of ways to find buyers. Some attorneys try to do it on their own. From a DIY perspective, usually the best ways to get the word out that you’re looking for a buyer are through networking and advertising. Others who don’t want to take the time and effort to find buyers on their own rely on consultants and brokers. Besides saving time, using outside experts provides other advantages from the DIY method. They include: Read More
Oct
1
Lawyers are notorious for thinking of ways things can go wrong for their clients and then determining the best ways to protect their clients from them. One calamity few lawyers ever consider, however, is their own unexpected disability that puts their career on hold—or worse, their death. Read More
Sep
4
Although the market for legal jobs has vastly improved since the Great Recession ten years ago, it is hardly a robust one for recent law school graduates. One popular job-of-last-resort is document review—a job that many of my coaching clients assert is “mind-numbing.” And, of course, it does not pay particularly well; usually around $20-30 per hour. Read More
Aug
6
Small-firm owners and solo practitioners looking to sell their law firms frequently believe that their particular office space—whether owned or leased—significantly enhances the value of their practice. They usually base this belief on the office’s superior location or their upscale furnishings and design. Read More
Jul
8
When talking to law firm leaders, it’s not often that you hear complaints about the strategic planning process itself. Planning for the future is always a good idea. Implementing that plan is where the rubber hits the road, though. This is also where things often become problematic. Read More
Jun
18
Back in the day, conferences were perhaps the most popular networking activity for lawyers. Today? Not so much. Many lawyers, especially younger ones, turn to social media as a substitute for in-person networking. Even with lower attendance numbers, however, conferences still provide excellent networking opportunities. More specifically, they are a great place to meet new people, thereby expanding your network and broadening your opportunities. Read More
May
6
When it comes to planning your law firm’s succession, a primary area of concern for your successor is whether your clients will choose to work with that successor after you leave. One way to assess that is to evaluate the type of goodwill that exists with your clients and whether that goodwill carries any transferrable value. Read More
Apr
9
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
Mar
11
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
Jan
4
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
Dec
1
Last month, I went out to dinner with some friends. One friend announced to the group that, after working for a large telecommunications company for more than 25 years, he was being offered an opportunity to retire early with some very nice incentives. He further informed us that he had intended to retire within the next year. So, the offer was not going to change his planned retirement date in any significant manner. Read More
Nov
5
“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
Oct
8
If your firm is like many solo and small law firms, a significant portion of your firm’s value derives from the amount of business your website generates. When selling a law firm—be it an actual sale or a transition to another firm as “of counsel”—it is therefore critical that the buying firm retains the benefit of the seller’s previous website traffic. Read More
Sep
6
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
Aug
8
More lawyers are working well into their 70s. Indeed, I am no longer surprised when I meet lawyers still practicing in their 80s. What’s behind this growing trend of aging attorneys? Read More
Jul
16
As a small law firm owner thinking about retirement, you are likely looking to your own associate to be your successor. This decision is not one to enter lightly, however. Before you make anything official, you need to consider whether your associate has the talent and the skills to pull it off. Just because the associate handles files well has no bearing on whether they can successfully operate a law firm. Read More
Jun
11
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
May
10
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
Apr
4
Are you a solo lawyer or small-firm owner facing retirement? Then, like most Boomer lawyers out there, you’re contemplating the option of selling your law practice. Read More
Mar
30
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
Mar
2
Whenever someone I know becomes a firm’s managing partner, I always express my congratulations and condolences. Yes, it certainly is a feather in one’s cap to be the Big Cheese at a law firm. But, let’s be frank; it’s a tough job. Ask any managing partner and they’ll often tell you that practicing law is far easier than managing a law firm. Read More
Feb
8
Talking about a firm’s future is hard enough. Build onto that the need to plan for a future that doesn’t include a senior attorney… Talk about awkward! There is also fear on the part of younger lawyers. It can often feel confrontational to approach senior lawyers and ask about their future plans. Read More
Dec
28
Succession is perhaps the most significant long-term challenge facing soon-to-be-retired, baby-boomer solo practitioners and small law firm owners. This is understandable, as a variety of psychological and emotional factors stack the odds against you laying the foundation for a smooth transition. Read More
Nov
29
After several years (or perhaps decades!) of practicing in a specific area, it’s no wonder you are considering change. What is prompting your desire for change, though? Boredom? Market changes? A desire to get out completely? Or an internal drive to simply spice things up a bit? Read More
Oct
30
Last month, Apple unveiled its new iPhone X to much fanfare. Perhaps what created the most fanfare was its price. It starts at $999; hundreds more than the older iPhone 7 and the brand-new iPhone 8. Read More
Sep
13
For solo practitioners and small law firm owners seeking retirement, here is a quick, down-and-dirty summary of the succession plan strategies available to you. Put another way, here are three structural ways that soon-to-be retired lawyers can “sell” their practices. Read More
Aug
4
A critical component of a law firm’s succession plan is to figure out how to retain the firm’s best clients when senior lawyers retire. Most law firms quickly jump to determine who in the firm is either ready to step up or ready to undertake proper mentoring and training to step up in the future. Before making this determination, however, it is important to ask several questions. Read More
Jul
17
If you’ve searched the web for marketing plans, you’ve likely noticed that most so-called legal marketing experts recommend putting together a formal marketing plan. I suppose I fall into that camp — having a marketing plan is a necessity. But I am a contrarian in one key respect. Read More
Jun
5
Soon-to-be retired solo practitioners and small law firm owners who are thinking of selling their law firms frequently ask, “Is there anything special or unique that I should do now to maximize my practice’s value?” Whenever I hear that question, I can’t help but think of President Obama’s remark about how to best manage world affairs: “Don’t do stupid s**t.” That advice holds true for lawyers contemplating selling their practice. Read More
May
12
When putting together your law firm’s marketing plan as part of your business development and strategic planning efforts, don’t fall into the trap of simply doing what you did last year. Sure, that may be enough to keep the lights on for another year. But, don’t you want to achieve more for your firm? Read More
Apr
7
Unhappy clients often choose to file ethics complaints against their poor-performing lawyers. What leads to their unhappiness? It may come as a surprise, but most ethics complaints are not about incompetence. Instead, most complaints revolve around basic customer service expectations. They involve issues that, even without specific ethics rules in place, would make any reasonable person agree the lawyer should be disciplined. Read More
Mar
29
I recently attended a CLE with approximately 25 other people. Two individuals introduced themselves as managing partners of their small law firms. Both were in their 60s and both indicated their firms had not yet identified logical successor candidates to lead when they retire. The situation these partners find themselves in is not unusual. Read More
Feb
23
You own a small law firm. For the first time, you want to make one of your associates a partial owner. But how do you determine the price of admission for the “buy-in?” Read More
Jan
23
This lawyer fell into the trap that all-sized firms frequently do. They mistakenly believe the holy grail finance metric to be revenue. But if you ask anyone working in corporate America what the key finance metric is, you will hear one thing only: profitability. Read More
Jan
13
Have you set your New Year’s resolutions for business yet? If yes, I hope that improved networking is on your list. And if no, make 2017 the year that you finally “up” your networking game. Read More
Dec
7
Solo practitioners and small law firm owners wanting to know what their practices are worth frequently rely on the “rule of thumb” valuation method. Read More
Oct
18
Clients often ask me, “Roy, what’s the biggest mistake solo practitioners and small firm owners make when considering their retirement/succession strategies?” My answer? Attorneys permit their office situation, specifically a lease obligation, to muck things up. Continue reading this post at www.attorneyatlaw.com. Read More
Aug
22
Retirement often goes hand in hand with downsizing your living quarters, whether that means relocating to a warmer climate retirement community or buying the downtown condo in your present area. In either case, most senior attorneys are faced with the issue of finding a place for all of their “stuff.” It can be difficult to throw away items that represent so many sentiments from the past even when you know there is no room for it where you’re going. Welcome to the quandary of downsizing. To begin, we’ll go over some of the conventional wisdom. Then I’ll throw in my own two cents based on recent personal experience. (While I’m not quite ready to retire, I did recently downsize since my children are now all launched.) What the exp… Read More
Aug
12
In my last post, I talked about meeting new contacts at large networking events. Just as a quick reminder, if you think that by simply meeting people at these events, it will lead to business, think again. It will not. You need to follow up with the ones who seem to be worth following up with. You have merely started a relationship at the event. Following up develops the type of relationship necessary to bring in new business. Now that you have these new business cards, here are the next steps: Put the names and contact information in some type of system so you know who they are, what they do and how you met them. Doesn’t have to be a fancy software solution. It just has be one where it can be relatively easy to access information about y… Read More
May
6
When most attorneys hear the word “networking,” palms start to sweat and inner thoughts turn to “You mean I have to do THAT in order to get new clients?” What is THAT anyway, and how often do you have to do THAT? THAT is attending some type of event (e.g. fundraiser, conference, reception) where there will be a large crowd, anywhere from 50 to 1000. Read More
Feb
11
For most lawyers, the decision when to retire is rarely black and white. Instead, the choice comes with lots of gray (that goes along with your gray hair!). To help you find the right time, think about these questions: Do you still have the fire in your belly? Are you still excited about going into the office, or do you dread the thought? Have you been on the receiving end of subtle or not-so-subtle suggestions from family, friends or colleagues that perhaps it’s time to slow down? How do you feel physically? Is your mental edge still there? How often do you have “senior moments?” How healthy are your parents? Will you need to help them through their own sunset years? How is your spouse’s or significant other’s health? What are hi… Read More
Jan
14
New Year’s resolutions and strategic planning goals for law firms have a lot in common. They both generate a considerable amount of excitement once placed on paper. But fast forward a few months and most resolutions or goals typically end up entirely abandoned. Here are a few suggestions to improve the chances that you achieve both your personal New Year’s resolutions and your law firm’s strategic planning goals. Read More
Oct
16
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
Aug
10
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
Jul
29
The most common reason why practices close is retirement. Although many lawyers would probably prefer to simply ride off into the sunset when they’ve decided to call it a career, the rules of professional conduct dictate otherwise. The duty of competent representation requires an obligation to protect client interests, which in turn, requires planning and time. Failure to properly plan one’s exit from the profession could harm the interests of clients, as well as cause financial and emotional stress to former partners and family members left to clean up the mess Read More
Jun
29
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
May
11
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
Apr
10
I sit on a nonprofit board. As part of my duties, I recently participated in group interviews for a high-level executive position. We interviewed three candidates. I’ve always had my own ideas about how to effectively interview for a job. I rarely find myself in a position to assess what will actually impress me in a real live job interview setting, however. Now that I have had the opportunity, though, I want to share what I learned Read More
Mar
12
Many new solo practitioners wrestle with the issue of whether to focus their practice in one area of the law to the exclusion of other areas. Some are afraid to walk away from any business and, therefore, think it best to go to market as a generalist. Unless you practice in a very small town, this strategy is usually a mistake. If you practice in a suburban or metro area, limiting yourself to certain practice areas is the best strategy. Here’s why… Continue reading this post on http://solopracticeuniversity.com. Read More
Feb
26
Contrary to what some social media pundits would say, conferences where people show up and interact in person have not gone away. Not only are they around to stay, but most legal marketing pundits (including yours truly) agree that attending conferences can offer valuable business development opportunities. Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com Read More
Nov
26
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to take a step back and reflect on what we have to be thankful for. For busy lawyers, taking the time to do this doesn’t come naturally. So I’m going to make it easy for you. I’m here to remind you of some things you should be grateful for. Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com Read More
Sep
24
Like most successful legal professionals, I engage in a fair amount of networking. Much of my networking time is devoted to developing my own business, but sometimes I am on the “receiving end” of a networking exchange — someone is trying to develop their business through me. I am almost always happy to do this, even when there doesn’t seem to be much in it for me. I do this because I take a long-term view towards networking. Networking is not just about making yourself more successful; is should be about making both parties more successful. If I can help someone become more successful today, maybe he or she will be able to return the favor in the future. I also approach these seemingly one-sided networking events as a learning oppo… Read More
Sep
2
In most practice areas, a lawyer’s marketing efforts should focus on generating a strong referral pipeline—from both non-lawyers and lawyers alike. If those efforts are successful, you’ll probably need some guidance on referral fees. Here it is. There are Clear Guidelines—Mostly Continue reading this post on attorneyatwork.com Read More
Aug
14
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
May
19
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
Apr
15
When a lawyer runs afoul of the rules of professional conduct, there are consequences. Depending on the severity of the rule violation, discipline might consist of disbarment, suspension, reprimand (public censure) or admonition (private reprimand). What about being sent back to school for an ethics violation? Continue reading at www.attorneyatwork.com. Read More
Feb
6
No one needs to remind law students and recent law school graduates about the dismal job market. Only 85 percent of the class of 2012 found a job of any kind post-graduation — and only 64 percent of those jobs required bar passage, which is an all-time low. This is the fifth consecutive year of decline and the lowest rate in 18 years, according to the National Association for Law Placement. Continue reading this post at www.attorneyatwork.com Read More
Dec
31
At one time or another, many lawyers consider ditching their legal career and doing something else. It’s no surprise why. A recent Forbes article reported that the number-one unhappiest job in America is associate attorney. Pursuing an alternative career can be worth the (considerable) effort, but before you quit, take a deep breath and make sure you aren’t miserable for more-easily-fixed reasons. If the environment in your law firm is toxic, or if you are practicing in an area you don’t enjoy, do not give up on the profession just yet. Lawyers can practice the same type of law in many different settings, or practice many different types of law in the same setting. If a change of firm or practice area — or going to a non-profit or g… Read More
Nov
25
Lawyers typically dread attending events like annual bar association fundraisers, CLE conferences — or any gathering where there will be a large number of attendees. In short, they dread the type of event where their “working the room” skills are put to the test. To make connections that bring in new clients, though, you have to spend plenty of time outside of your office — and, sometimes, your comfort zone. Continue reading this post at www.attorneyatwork.com Read More
Nov
5
Last month, Jared Correia wrote two excellent posts on why older lawyers are finding it harder to stay employed and the challenges encountered because of certain employer assumptions. Now it’s time to focus on what out-of-work senior lawyers should be doing to rejoin the workforce. Here are my five to-dos. Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com Read More
Oct
31
The most successful salespeople strongly believe that sales is a numbers game. In other words, you don’t have to be an ace or a homerun king to be successful at business development. You just have to keep pitching and swinging in the general direction of the clients. The more at-bats, the more runs (clients) you are likely to earn (win). Continue reading this post on attorneyatwork.com Read More
Oct
1
“Working the room” is the one business development tactic that strikes the most fear in lawyers. Most lawyers hate finding themselves at a reception at some conference or benefit, where they hope to meet a few new people in a crowd of hundreds. Even when the drinks are free, most lawyers would prefer going to the dentist. Many lawyers feel awkward and uncomfortable chatting with strangers, in large part because they view small talk as a complete waste of time. Being lawyers, they want some evidence to support the value of chitchat. Well, last month The Wall Street Journal (paywall) ran an article entitled, “The Hidden Benefits of Chitchat.” The article confirmed everything I’ve always thought to be true about small talk. Plus, it… Read More
Sep
4
It can be hard for legal marketing ethics experts to keep up with rapidly expanding modes of electronic communication, but the State of Ohio recently gave it a try. The issue was text messaging. Is a text message like an email, or is it more like an internet chat-room conversation, where the communication takes place in “real time?” If your answer to this question is, “Who cares?” my response is that lawyers should care. How you answer this question determines the legal and ethical guidelines that control when you solicit a client by texting. Continue reading this post at www.lawyernomics.avvo.com Read More
Aug
16
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
Aug
2
This week, the news broke that law firm Seikaly & Stewart is suing legal marketing outfit the Rainmaker Institute over implementation of a search engine optimization program that allegedly broke Google rules and damaged, rather than enhanced, the law firm’s online results. None of us opining about this development in the blogosphere has a clue surrounding all of the relevant facts regarding the litigation. And I don’t much care who wins or loses. I’d just like to use this case as a jumping off point to comment on the venom that seems to accompany the term “legal marketer” whenever it appears in the blogosphere. Let’s get it out in the open. Yes, at times, I earn money by providing legal marketing advice to clients who are la… Read More
Jun
5
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
Jun
4
Rarely do I meet lawyers in private practice who are not concerned about how much money they make. That seems pretty obvious. Here’s what’s not so obvious. How much money does it take to keep a lawyer satisfied? Although this is not another lawyer joke, there is a punch line. The answer is, “As much money as my colleague down the hall or my competitor across town earns.” Continue reading this post at www.lawyernomics.avvo.com Read More
May
15
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
May
13
Recently, I was talking to a lawyer about the ideal mix of business with pleasure, in the context of successful business development. This attorney observed that a lawyer in his firm with lots of clients seemed to devote most of his life to his practice. All of this successful lawyer’s social and community activities revolved around clients or potential clients. His personal life was hardly separate from his work life. This lawyer I was speaking with wondered if he should take the same approach. Should he be marketing 24/7? I hate to sound like a lawyer, but the answer is both yes and no. First, I’ll provide the “yes” answer. Then, I’ll provide the “no” answer. Mixing business with pleasure is necessary Think of the most succe… Read More
Apr
9
Many myths surround successful rainmaking in the legal profession. Perhaps the biggest myth is that only attorneys with an outgoing and gregarious personality stand a chance of attracting clients. I know that you’re skeptical, but give me a chance to make my case. Continue reading this post at www.lawyernomics.avvo.com Read More
Mar
15
How important to career success is “face time” in the office when compared with the same amount and quality of work done at home? Yahoo! and Best Buy recently received a considerable amount of press (traditional and online) regarding this issue. In both cases, the companies made changes to increase face time in an effort to improve communication and collaboration, as well as profits. Yahoo! starts the trend First to take the stage was Yahoo!. In late February, new CEO Marissa Mayer announced that Yahoo! employees may no longer work from home. This is the same Marissa Mayer who was hired last year while pregnant, came back to work after a two-week maternity leave and has a nursery next to her office (paid for with her own funds). The rat… Read More
Mar
4
Recently, I attended the mid-year meeting of the Association for Continuing Legal Education. ACLEA is the primary organization for CLE professionals from bar associations, law schools, law firms and for-profit entities, as well as other CLE professionals like me. I’ve been attending ACLEA meetings for about a decade. I always leave with some interesting new thoughts about the future of CLE. CLE 1.0 For a long time, the CLE model involved actual speakers before a physical audience. When I first joined the group, everyone was talking about how the introduction of online CLE programming would completely destroy the traditional model. This was CLE 1.0. We all know that there are still plenty of live CLE lectures. There’s no doubt, however,… Read More
Feb
20
Referral sources are the lifeblood of many successful attorneys. Old standby places to meet new people and establish relationships with referral sources include bar and trade associations, as well as business community organizations (such as Chamber of Commerce or Rotary). Although the missions of these groups vary significantly, referrals are the inevitable reward for active participation. Continuing reading this post at www.lawyernomics.avvo.com Read More
Feb
13
I’m frequently asked how much time and money should attorneys spend on marketing. Like a true lawyer, I reply that “it depends.” There is no magic percentage of revenue or billable hours to be allocated to business development activities. The answer to this question will vary by practice area, geographic location and budget. But when asked about the two most important marketing tools for attorneys, my answer is rarely “it depends.” The answer is your networking efforts and your website. No matter how much time and money a lawyer decides to spend, spend it in these two areas. Networking Works Like it or not, law is a relationship-based profession/business. Always has been and always will be. People hire lawyers whom they like and t… Read More
Feb
6
The most important ABA Model Rule governing professional conduct in the area of legal marketing is Rule 7.1, which covers communications concerning a lawyer’s services. All states have adopted this rule, worded exactly the same or very close to it. The rule provides: Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com Read More
Jan
21
It is the rare lawyer who is familiar with all the intricacies of legal marketing ethics rules. Most of them, however, seem to know that they must take care when using the word “specialize.” At the same time, most of these attorneys have no idea why. Continue reading this post to discover the answer. Source of the Specialist Rule In the 1970s and 1980s, some states and national organizations began to offer a process by which lawyers could become certified specialists in select practice areas. Typically, this involves a CLE requirement, a level of practice experience, peer review and testing. Rule 7.1, which prohibits “false and misleading” statements, didn’t prevent the misuse of term specialist in the eyes of the regulators. A se… Read More
Jan
3
I enjoy the holiday season for many reasons. One is because Hollywood usually releases a few decent and entertaining movies. One movie that earned a respectable amount of praise this season is Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. If you read the reviews, or talked to friends and colleagues who have seen the movie, you’ve probably heard a common refrain: “I didn’t know that Abraham Lincoln did that.” Lincoln the Trial Lawyer Most of you should remember from your history classes that Lincoln (like many presidents) was a lawyer. You may even recall that he was a famed Illinois trial lawyer. But you probably don’t know that Lincoln the lawyer was just as skilled at marketing his own services as he was in the courtroom. By today’s standards… Read More
Dec
20
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
Dec
19
I graduated from law school 30 years ago. When speaking to law students about how to find a job today, I mostly cover the basics. But I draw on my own experiences, too, and offer one bit of advice rarely provided by most career counselors. I arrived at this advice when, to prepare my presentation, I asked myself: “Knowing what I now know about legal careers after all these years, would I have done anything differently when I attended law school?” Continue reading post on attorneyatwork.com Read More
Nov
23
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
Nov
5
Not surprisingly, there are thousands of unhappy lawyers who are new to the profession. After all, there’s plenty to be unhappy about if you’re unemployed and trying to pay back six-figure loans. But what about more-experienced attorneys who have stable jobs and little-to-no debt? Are they a satisfied lot? A 2007 American Bar Association survey found that only 55 percent of lawyers were satisfied with their careers. In my opinion, this is because many of them become lawyers with vague or unrealistic expectations about what a career in the legal profession would be like. Why Did You Go To Law School? First, I’ve learned from my experience as a coach, that many seem to decide to become lawyers by default. I’ve coached well over 100 la… Read More
Oct
22
Whenever attorneys consider any type of career change, whether minor or major, the issue of money inevitably comes up. That’s hardly surprising. Often, the changes being contemplated require some sort of financial sacrifice, at least in the short term. Some require short-term and ong-term sacrifice. For purposes of this post, I consider a career change to mean, among other things, a modification of a practice area, switching work environments, going solo,or even getting out of law. Don’t Let Money Interfere Too Much Far too many lawyers let the money aspect of any career change get in the way of making the best choice. Risk-avoiding lawyers are often unwilling to assume any risk, no matter how reasonable it appears on paper. This is unf… Read More
Oct
15
Recently, New York became the first state to require that law students perform 50 hours of pro bono work before they can be admitted to the bar. Plenty of bloggers have already chimed in on whether this is a good or bad idea. There’s little that I can add to that debate. But I like to remind lawyers that the benefits of performing pro bono work go well beyond feeling good about “doing the right thing.” Too few of us recognize that it can also yield substantial, practical economic benefits for ourselves, our organizations and our profession as a whole. When it comes to pro bono service, “it pays to be good.” Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com Read More
Oct
1
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
Sep
19
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
Sep
12
Unfortunately, most lawyers aren’t particularly excited about the idea of networking. Even lawyers who’ve taken steps to get help with business development will object, inevitably, when it’s time to test their networking ability. Two primary fears seem to be the basis for their lack of enthusiasm and their objections. So let’s take a look at why those fears are unfounded. Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com Read More
Jul
26
At long last, the ABA has published a book about coaching for lawyers. As an attorney coach for almost a decade, I understand that many lawyers don’t even know that the option of coaching for their profession exists, let alone understand how coaches can help their careers. The publishing of this book by the ABA should enhance the credibility and popularity of lawyer coaching. With those thoughts in mind, I eagerly sat down to read The Lawyer’s Guide to Professional Coaching, by Andrew Elowitt. The Basics of Coaching Elowitt does an excellent job providing an overview of the basics, including why a lawyer would need a coach, how coaching works, why coaching is more than a fad, and how to select a coach. That said, much of the material co… Read More
Jul
3
“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Usually I agree with Woody Allen, who is famous for (among other things) making this remark. But when it comes to networking for purposes of business development, I’ll have to differ from the well-known filmmaker. Confidence and Enthusiasm Are Paramount Networking is a complete waste of time and money — unless one can sound confident and enthusiastic when doing so. Just showing up is not enough. Simply put, no one wants to hire an attorney who sounds tentative and is not passionate about what he or she does. Think about it. Would you hire a lawyer who tells you, “I’m not so sure how to do that, but I think I can figure it out”? Would you hire a lawyers who says, “Been there; done th… Read More
Jun
15
When U.S. News & World Report decided to rank law schools, this ranking – for better or worse — fundamentally changed the law school admissions process. Continue reading this post on myshingle.com Read More
Jun
14
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
Jun
11
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
May
17
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
Apr
5
You’re a lawyer who’s accepted an invitation to speak and the speech is ready to go. It’s now show time. Are you are ready to reap the benefits? The primary benefit of any speaking engagement is not the speech itself. Rather, it is the opportunity to interact in person with members of a select audience of clients, potential clients and referral sources. A lawyer/speaker who arrives at the venue at the last minute, reads through a speech without pausing for audience involvement, and then rushes from the room to the next appointment is making a huge mistake. Speaking engagements offer valuable opportunities for personal interaction before, during and after the actual speech. A few days before your speech, try to obtain a list of attende… Read More
Feb
23
Telephone calls to prospective clients or employers can be “cold,” where the person is not expecting your call. They can also be “warm,” where the prospective client knows something about you and is expecting your call. When coaching lawyers, I am often asked about the effectiveness of cold calling. Lawyers who want to develop more business wonder if this highly popularized sales technique might work for them. Lawyers who are looking for jobs wonder if cold calls ever generate warm informational interviews. Almost always, I counsel my clients to turn a cold shoulder on cold calling. The telephone is a “cold” medium The goal of cold calling is to plant a tiny seed that can grow into a relationship —… Read More
Jan
13
In a previous post dealing with the ethical traps in networking, I discussed how “asking for business” can run afoul of the ABA Rules of Professional Conduct. In this post, I want to discuss how “asking for business” can be ineffective as well as a business development tactic. Continue reading post on www.solopracticeuniversity.com Read More
Nov
30
As an attorney coach, I often counsel lawyers who are considering a move to a new practice area – helping them balance the pros and cons of such career choices. One overlooked area I often recommend is family law. Continue reading post on myshingle.com Read More
Nov
30
The secret is out. From their first day of legal practice, most lawyers realize that their theoretical legal education is of marginal value when it comes to helping clients solve real-world legal problems. Our clients now know this secret as well — thanks to a comprehensive front page article earlier this month in New York Times. The article is What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering” and subtitled “Schools Leave Practical Training to Firms by David Segal. There were a few points made in the article that surprised me as an experienced lawyer, and might surprise you as well. Things You May Not Have Known I am well-aware that many law professors have little practice experience, but I didn’t realize that nearly half of the nati… Read More
Nov
10
Done right, networking is essential for growth; Done wrong, networking can be unethical For solo lawyers in almost all practice areas, success depends on the relationships you develop through personal networking. Many of you already know that and are actively networking. What you may not know is that a lawyer’s networking activities are governed by ethics rules. While my goal is clearly not to inhibit your networking efforts or put a damper on your enthusiasm for interaction with potential clients or referrers of clients, I do want to point out some of the ethics rules so you will be more aware of these tripwires that land unsuspecting lawyers in hot water. Continue reading this post on solopracticeuniversity.com Read More
Nov
3
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
Oct
17
I always emphasize the importance of remaining optimistic when coaching lawyers on the topic of job hunting. And, lawyers being lawyers, I always need to provide some reason why they should remain upbeat. I have a simple answer: The job market is actually much less competitive than you think when you consider that so many other job-seekers make fundamental mistakes. Continue reading this post on attorneyatwork.com Read More
Aug
12
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
Jun
6
If you are a partner considering a move to another firm, you probably have two main reasons. The first almost always involves money. The second usually concerns personality factors or firm culture. That’s shorthand for “I’m working with a bunch of jerks.” Continue reading this post on attorneyatwork.com Read More
Mar
1
In the famous 1977 Bates decision, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that lawyers have First Amendment rights, too; legal advertising is constitutionally protected commercial speech. Prior to that, state’s ethics rules prohibited all advertising — and we never saw any of those amusing (and not so amusing) lawyer commercials on television. Continue reading this post on myshingle.com Read More
Feb
1
Whenever asked by attendees at one of my marketing CLEs or by my lawyer coaching clients whether they should market their services differently because of what they perceive as “unique circumstances,” I am always somewhat amused. Continue reading this post on minncle.org Read More
Dec
8
This summer, I had the privilege of meeting lawyer coach Roy Ginsburg at the Minnesota Solo & Small Firm Conference, then seeing him a few days later at the Nebraska Solo & Small Firm Conference. Roy is well known on the CLE speaking circuit; he is a lawyer himself and in as a former in-house counsel, he also has great insights on what corporate clients look for in hiring lawyers. But Roy also coaches lawyers and that is the subject of his guest post below. Continue reading this post on myshingle.com Read More
Sep
16
I always wondered what the phrase, “The King is dead. Long live the King” means. If the King is dead, why are the next words, “long live?” According to Wikipedia, the phrase is a traditional proclamation made following the accession of a new monarch. I am reminded of this phrase every time I read about the death of the hourly rate and presumably the “accession” of the alternative fee arrangement (AFA). Well, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “the reports of the death of the hourly rate have been greatly exaggerated.” Continue reading this post on Ezinearticles.com Read More
Sep
1
In my CLE on client service, I reveal a very simple formula for satisfying clients. Know what they expect and then manage those expectations. The formula is certainly a simple one, but we all know that it is lot easier said than done. Continue reading this post on Ezinearticles.com Read More
Jul
23
It’s been a few years since lawyer rankings and ratings have been prominently featured in legal media circles. Four years ago, regulatory officials in New Jersey determined that it was “false and misleading” for lawyers in that state to advertise their selection by Best Lawyers or Super Lawyers. After a long legal battle over what was referred to as Opinion 39, (I helped defend Super Lawyers), the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that the selection processes for both publications were bona fide and that lawyers have a First Amendment right to promote the accolade. Since then, things have been pretty quiet other than the usual debate among legal marketers about the degree to which any of the rating services matter from a marketer’… Read More
May
13
I recently had an experience with a professional service provider that reminded me that there are certain things that lawyers should never forget when receiving referral business. We all love to receive referrals; after all, you have a brand new client that took no time and effort to obtain. What can be better? In most instances, nothing. However, here are some basic guidelines for lawyers about referrals that at times they forget. How to Treat Your Referral Sources Very nicely. You would think that would be obvious, but for some, it is not. You should always promptly thank your referral sources. As a coach, there are times when I refer my clients to other service providers for expertise that I do not have. It never ceases to amaze me how m… Read More
Dec
28
The new year is just around the corner. Are you going to make any resolutions for your practice? The good; they can keep you focused. The bad; they may discourage you if you cannot keep them. When I coach attorneys, I take a middle-of-the-road approach. I ask clients to think about two to four goals for the year. Keep them broad and forego a very detailed action plan. Also, be realistic. Keep them simple Goal setting in and of itself is always a good idea. It forces you to take a “time out” from the your daily routines. Think about some things you would like to change next year. I am not a big fan of spending lots of time writing down the nitty gritty for two reasons. First, it can be time consuming. Should you spend days to determine t… Read More
Dec
4
It is now that time of the year when lawyers put together their list of who to send holiday greetings to. From a marketing standpoint, I have always thought that they were a waste of time and money. When I was an in-house attorney, I usually received about fifty. I simply tossed most and rarely read them. Occasionally, they were even insulting. Some sent cards with their names already pre-printed on the card. Couldn’t they spend a minute or two and write a few personal words or at least sign their name? Get Noticed If you insist on sending cards, do it at a time of the year when it will not be received with ten other cards on the same day. More importantly, make it memorable. Every year I receive a card from a lawyer I know who practices… Read More
Sep
16
When coaching or speaking to lawyers about the importance of networking, the knee-jerk reaction of many is “you gotta be kidding me; I would rather take the bar exam again than network!” I was recently reminded of this mentality when one of my clients commented to me after two months of aggressively networking for a job, “it really doesn’t suck like I thought it would.” Why the change? Simply a misperception of what networking is and is not. Many attorneys assume that networking is outside of their comfort zone. They equate it with handing out business cards at receptions or cold calling complete strangers. I would not feel comfortable doing that and do not expect my clients to either. But when I think of networking as developing… Read More
Aug
7
Perhaps the most effective networking is a one-on-one setting over coffee or lunch. That is usually within most people’s comfort zone. But how comfortable are you when attending a conference with a room full of strangers. Can you “work the room” without breaking into a cold sweat? Here are a few simple tips to keep your palms dry. You do not have to meet everyone While hundreds of people may be in the room, if you meet 10-20 new people, you are doing great. Even if you only meet 5, that is 5 more people than you knew before. Look to meet someone new who is talking to someone you already know An easy way to meet a new person is when you see someone who you do not know, talking with someone who you do know. That should be in your comfor… Read More
Jun
26
In this tough economy, perhaps the most frequently asked question I get from my business development coaching clients, as well as attendees at my marketing CLE’s is “Should I be doing anything differently now?” The answer is basically no. Now is the time you simply cannot afford not to market. You need to reconnect with former clients and jump start your networking efforts with acquaintances, both professional and personal, who could become potential clients or referral sources. With that said, there are two things that make this environment unique and are worth mentioning. You have the time; make the most of it First, for those of you in the past who complained that you simply did not have the time to network, unfortunate… Read More
Jun
1
Lawyers must market because the competition for business can be brutal in virtually all practice areas and localities. That is the bad news. The good news is that the vast majority of the competition stinks. Here are two stories to illustrate my point; both of them told to me by attendees at one of my recent CLEs. Both are general counsel at mid sized corporations. Continue reading this post at www.lawyerist.com Read More
May
19
I participate in a variety of listservs and recently posted an answer about when lawyers “can ask for business” and not violate the solicitation rules. More importantly, I advised what a lawyer should say in an effort to get business. Continue reading this post at www.lawyerist.com Read More