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End of the Year Reflection: Why I Love Being a Lawyer

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, December 21, 2017

 

End of the Year Reflection:  Why I Love Being a Lawyer

As we close out this year and welcome in a new one, I wanted to offer something that might remind us all of why we love being a lawyer. This work is stressful, frustrating at times, and often depletes our energy. But, there is also great benefit and value in being a lawyer. At this time when we reflect on what we've accomplished this year and look toward the next twelve months, let's reflect on why we love what we do.

I've included "5 reasons why I love being a lawyer" from Daliah Saper to help us in our reflection:

"Amid the stress of practicing law, we often forget how much of an impact we have on the individuals and businesses who hire us to provide legal counsel. Being a lawyer is rewarding! For my last article in 2017, I figured I’d reflect on why I love being a lawyer. Here are my top five reasons, in no particular order. What are yours?

  1. Exposure to different industries. Even though I focus my practice on three or four areas of law, my clients come from a wide range of industries. This week, I helped an e-commerce store, an apparel company, a surrogacy company, a musician, a distributor of colored contact lenses, and an author. Few other professions give you the opportunity to learn about so many different kinds of businesses and allow you to actually advise those businesses.

  2. Events. When you represent a wide range of clients, you often get to attend interesting events or take interesting trips. Clients have invited me to movie premieres, fashion shows, art exhibits and galas. One year I was invited to attend the Arabian Horses Breeders Cup in Las Vegas, where the guest list included foreign dignitaries and Arab sheikhs!

  3. Teaching and Mentoring. I credit two important mentors for helping me start Saper Law. Now, I welcome the opportunity to mentor newer attorneys whenever I have the chance. It feels great to be a resource.

  4. Closing deals and creating new law. Most legal services have a natural start and end. I love being a part of the process of facilitating a negotiation, obtaining a settlement, or winning a case. Helping to create new law along the way is an added bonus.

  5. Great war stories. Even though the average lawyer’s life is not like anything we see in the movies, most of us have unusual stories to share over drinks or dinner. Stories can range from unusual case fact patterns to interactions with opposing counsel. See also, Nos. 1-4."

Don't forget the impact you have on others' lives. Your work is important, valuable, and worthwhile. I hope you have time for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation during this holiday season. 

The next Tech Tip/Practice Pointer blog will be posted in the New Year.

Happy holidays!

Sara

Tags:  Law Practice Management  Wellness 

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Does Your Online Reputation Need Tending?

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Does Your Online Reputation Need Tending?

By  | Dec.19.17 | Business DevelopmentDaily DispatchImagePublic RelationsSocial Media

Sometimes lawyers and law firms need to clean up online reputations sullied by lawsuits, bad press, negative reviews or poor social media choices. While there’s no magic bullet, reputation management is possible. There are two approaches you can take: Either hire a company to help you, or do it yourself. Here are the pros, cons and considerations.

Hired Hands

Reputation.com, which has been around since 2006, is the oldest of a growing number of services that advertise help with managing or cleaning up online reputations. These services purport to employ strategies to make positive information about you rise to the top of search results, but a few words of warning:

  • They can be expensive, adding up to thousands of dollars annually.
  • A few are scams — companies that will take your money and run — so be careful.
  • Critics argue that they don’t provide anything above and beyond what you can easily do yourself to protect your online identity.

However, such services can be a good choice if you have plenty of money, are strapped for time or have a complicated problem that can’t be buried by other means.

Do It Yourself

With time and a bit of work, it’s possible to safeguard your online reputation on your own. Here are six tips to help if you choose to go this direction.

1. Begin monitoring. Set up a Google alert on your name, or if you have a complicated issue such as a lawsuit, consider a service such as Zignal, Klout or Brandwatch that will provide social media as well as general web monitoring.

2. Google yourself. When you get a handle on online content about yourself, you can start to change it. A typical order of appearance for top search engine results is:

  • LinkedIn profile
  • Company or law firm web bio
  • Facebook profile
  • Twitter profile
  • Images of you from around the web
  • Articles about you or by you

Start with the first four items on this list. The good news is that they are completely within your power to edit.

It’s especially important to keep your firm web bio/profile up to date. Google rewards pages that are recently refreshed over stagnant ones. Every time you write an article or complete a major project, make sure your bio is updated and you’ll help your page to stay high in rankings. This pushes pages with unflattering information lower in your search results.

3. Protect what you can. Pay attention to social media privacy settings, and lock down as much as you can. Then go through your personal networks and eliminate language or photos you don’t like; this ensures that inappropriate content falling outside the privacy shield won’t be visible.

4. Address negative reviews. While there are competing opinions as to whether you should claim your Avvo listing, for example, unless you do, you do not have control over content published there. However, one thing you should never do on Avvo (or any other site) is respond in anger to a negative review. Not only will this look bad to potential clients, it may get you reprimanded by your state bar. A measured response is a more appropriate choice and will often actually make you look better and more professional in your online profile.

5. Combat negative or fake news. The rise of fake news complicates communications today, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when addressing it. While you might be able to approach a professional journalist to ask for a retraction (though only if it’s categorically wrong, and if other options, like pitching an update, are off the table), approaching a blogger intent on digging for dirt will make your situation worse. Nefarious bloggers have been known to publish and sometimes alter correspondence with their targets, so your only option in such a scenario is to try to bury them in a flood of other press.

6. Get proactive. While you can’t control everything that is written about you, you can control what you write, create or produce. Content in credentialed publications appears high in search engine results. Ensuring you have a stream of this content (bylined articles, features on pro bono work, podcast appearances, etc.) will be one of the most powerful gifts you can give your online self.

Whether you have something as serious as a malpractice suit or as simple as photos from a party you’d rather forget, know that clients are searching for you on the web. Even attorneys without reputation issues need to regularly attend to their digital identity. Monitoring your online reputation and keeping it clean are integral parts of building and sustaining your practice, and should be ongoing priorities.

Helen Bertelli is a marketer and entrepreneur, having helped to build two PR startups as well as founding the marketing department for a national law firm and her own digital publishing company. She is now Vice President with Infinite Global, an international communications and public relations firm serving the legal industry. Follow her on Twitter @HelenBertelli3.
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Tags:  law practice management  social media 

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A Pre-Year-End Checklist for Solos and Small Firms

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Original article written by Megan Zavieh | Dec.05.17 

On Balance Legal Ethics

As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time to run through your practice’s systems to see which ones may be ethics risks in their current state. This will help you prepare for an end-of-year audit of your biggest risks — and plan how to fix them in the new year.

The purpose of evaluating risks before the end-of-year crunch and New Year’s resolution time is to narrow your focus, so you can set priorities and zero in on bigger projects ahead. It seems we spend a lot of time in self-reflection at the tail end of the year. How great would it be to head into the new year with a clearer idea of where to focus?

Think of this “pre” year-end checklist as like a syllabus for your year-end coursework.

List Key Areas of Your Business

To begin this process, list the key components of your practice.  For most of us, this will include at least the following:

  • Advertising
  • Client intake
  • Maintenance of client files
  • Calendaring of key dates
  • Closing/destroying client files
  • Trust accounting
  • Operating account bookkeeping
  • CLE
  • Insurance
  • Billing
  • Time tracking
  • Client communication

You may also have:

  • Employees
  • Office space/sharing
  • Contractors
  • Virtual assistance (receptionists, assistants, paralegals)

Each practice will differ, but these are some common components of a solo and small firm practice.

What Keeps You Up at Night? Write It Down

With your list in hand, separate the components of your practice into those that keep you up at night and those that do not. Use a yellow pad or simple spreadsheet with three columns labeled “Concern,” “Worry” and “Not Worry,” respectively. Or download the worksheet here.

Do you ever awaken in the middle of the night worrying about a CLE deadline? Put that in the “Worry” column. Know that you have a kick-ass paralegal who keeps excellent track of all client deadlines? Put calendaring in the “Not Worry” column.

The items that keep you up at night will be the first-tier items to tackle when you begin your year-end audit. These may not actually be your biggest areas of risk, but if they raise your stress level, they need to be fixed straight away.

Evaluate Your Systems and Processes Honestly

Beyond the late-night heartburn, are there systems and processes where you really do not have it all together? Be honest with yourself — you know how to spot them.

  • Perhaps you operate with spotty client files, yet always manage to find what you need. If you look closely at your systems, you might realize there is not one single complete client file in either electronic or paper form. Put maintenance of client files on your tier-two list for your year-end audit.
  • Or maybe you know your malpractice insurance is not adequately protecting you. Are you overpaying because you never shopped around? Are you under- or over-insured? If you updated your practice areas, did you tell your carrier that you expanded into a new area of law? Or, do you just copy last year’s renewal application and send in a check each year?

Any part of your practice where you know you need to do better — even if it doesn’t bother you on an emotional level — needs to be identified as something to improve this year-end.

Remind Yourself Why

It is easy to get swept up in holiday festivities and enjoy a slower time of year for law practice. But remind yourself why it is worth investing time and energy in improving your systems.

Being investigated by the state bar over an ethics complaint is a major stress and serious time drain. Plus, consequences of a bar complaint can range from private admonishment all the way to disbarment.

You might think that ensuring your calendar is syncing to your phone or practice management software is helpful, but not critical, for ethics compliance. In truth, simple systems that help you keep on top of deadlines and return client calls might save you from a major headache with the state bar.

It is well worth the time and effort to shore up weaknesses in your systems.

Begin Looking for Resources

Once you identify your practice’s main pain points, take the next couple of weeks before the year’s end to gather resources for making improvements. Read legal blogs, take a crack at Googling your issues, and begin talking to colleagues. Get a handle on where you can turn when you actually sit down at the start of the new year to make some serious improvements.

Laying this groundwork will make that precious year-end time more productive and valuable. Make 2018 the year your practice runs more smoothly and is more ethically compliant than ever before.


Megan Zavieh is the creator and author of "The Playbook: The California Bar Discipline System Practice Guide." In her law firm, Zavieh Law, she focuses her practice exclusively on attorney ethics, providing full and limited scope representation to attorneys facing disciplinary action, and providing guidance to practicing attorneys on questions of legal ethics. Megan is admitted to practice in California, Georgia, New York and New Jersey, as well as in multiple federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. In "On Balance," Megan writes about the issues confronting lawyers in the new world of practicing law. She blogs on ethics at California State Bar Defense and tweets @ZaviehLaw.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

Tags:  Checklists  Ethics  Law Practice Management 

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Law Firm's Guide to a Low-Risk Holiday Party

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, November 29, 2017

THE REALITY OF 2017

Law Firm’s Guide to a Low-Risk Holiday Party

By  | Nov.28.17 | Daily DispatchLaw Firm CultureLaw Firm ManagementProfessionalism

I know, I know — another cautionary tale about law firm holiday parties. We all know the drill: Have fun, but not too much. Keep in mind the party — whether it includes staff, spouses or clients — is a professional work event. What happens reflects on not only the individual but the firm itself.

You have no doubt heard the same old warnings as each holiday season approaches. And as you should; everyone attending a firm’s party should keep those in mind. But what about those hosting the party? Is there is a separate set of guidelines for partners and firm management to make the night a professional — and social — success?

If you’ve attended more than a couple of years’ worth of parties, you know it as a source of lucid folklore. Everyone remembers the year Jim did this, or Jenna did that, or what Jim and Jenna did together. Blowing off steam after a rugged journey to reach economic and business goals at year’s end is implicitly expected to generate juicy gossip or myths of scandal and embarrassment. Anything less is seen as boring, an unwelcome post-party verdict.

But this year is a little different.

Welcome to the most dangerous party in your firm’s history.

The Reality of 2017

As you are well aware, not much is the same in the practice of law today, and those changes are manifestly affecting the outdated template of the holiday party. For example, it has been found that 21 to 36 percent of practicing lawyers are active problem drinkers. Another growing segment medicates their stress or exhaustion with opiates, sedatives and stimulants, often problematically mixed with alcohol. Welcome to an open bar party at the end of the year!

Further, the issue of sexual harassment has dominated daily news feeds in recent months, across all industries. Past deeds are uncovered while current misbehavior is subject to new and severe in-house scrutiny. DUIs are no longer acceptable to the firm or the licensing and disciplinary boards. The firm’s legal liability for its holiday party can extend to physical harm, harassment, discrimination, workers’ compensation and a host of other legal theories to come.

According to studies, more than 10 percent of attendees at holiday parties act out in some manner that compromises their professional standing. They do so under the watchful eye of countless phones and cameras, waiting to be tomorrow’s Instagram post. And mind-altering substances are not always the culprit — many lawyers have strong personalities that become enhanced in the environment of the annual bash.

As defenses fall with each drink, lawyers might act out on their yearlong peer or subordinate crush. They may drink too much just to relax, even if they are not typically problematic drinkers (often a more destructive scenario than with the seasoned drinker). Others may decide to vent their frustration or anger about the firm, often when impaired and exhausted, or even attempt to drive home while legally incapacitated.

But on a Positive Note …

Although it might seem as if holiday parties are littered with landmines, the reality is they serve a positive and necessary purpose. In fact, because firm culture often is more impersonal and businesslike these days, hosting such events is critical to boosting spirits.

The end of the year is a milestone and a reckoning, good or bad. Lawyers, professionals and staff have been in the trenches together for a year attempting to reach personal and professional goals. The holiday party is essentially “shore leave,” an opportunity to bond, celebrate, find inspiration, build camaraderie, blow off steam, laugh, enjoy one another outside of the office, and give a nod to the holiday season. It is both a recognition of the sacrifices and achievements of the past year as well as a pep talk for the upcoming year.

In other words, a holiday party can and should be a wonderful experience filled with relatively sober and relaxed conversations, a toast or speech from firm leadership, and perhaps a fun activity. (I was at a firm where each year the associates made a video for the partners, which premiered at the party.) Attendees may even experience some gratitude for their bond with the firm.

Every firm is different, and some decidedly have more of a “family” culture, but this party should serve as a positive experience for all, no matter what the nature of your firm.

Predictable Problems: Mitigating the Risks

Taking a few discrete actions, including the below, can minimize predictable problems.

1. Send invitations and emails outlining the firm’s expectations:

  • What to wear
  • The importance of respectful physical and verbal behavior
  • The notion that the party is an extension of the workplace
  • A heads-up on the enhanced scrutiny of workplace behavior and a gentle warning to behave accordingly

2. Limit opportunities to become intoxicated:

  • Provide a certain number of tickets for alcohol for attendees.
  • Make the length of the party shorter rather than longer.
  • Don’t permit shots.
  • Offer good food and non-alcoholic alternatives (and include low-alcohol punch).
  • Give a relatively early “last call.”
  • Designate a member or two of management (not HR) to be sober observers to monitor potential problems.

3. Provide Uber or another ride-share service for every attendee to and from the party. It is impossible to identify every person who may be impaired, so the money will be worth it. My recommendation is that Uber be paid for even when the attendees go to an after-party or meet at a bar. These post-party gatherings are common and it’s often when the attendee has that one drink too many. This policy also protects attendees who choose to have a “pre-party,” a not uncommon tradition for nervous associates who may be socializing with senior partners for the first time.

Final Words

At the end of the day, a party is still a party, with all the fun and risks attendant to a gathering with alcohol, music, food, and scores of different personalities and skills. As host, your firm can certainly put some boundaries and practical tools in place to avoid potential damage to guests and to the firm itself. Neglecting to do so in December 2017 would be a serious error.

Make this year’s party memorable for all the right reasons, even if there are fewer war stories to add to the firm’s history.

 
 

Link Christin is Executive Director of the Legal Professionals Program at Caron Treatment Centers, and works extensively with impaired lawyers through the treatment and recovery process. A former lawyer and firm partner, he also educates and provides training to law firms about these issues. He is a licensed and board-certified alcohol and drug addiction counselor.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

Tags:  Holiday  Law Practice Management 

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How to Wish Clients Happy Holidays

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ask Daliah: 5 ways to wish clients happy holidays (without the clutter of cards)

  •  
      

 
Daliah

Daliah Saper

Dear Daliah: What is your opinion on mailing out greeting cards to clients for the holidays?

Dear readers: Every year, toward the end of November and beginning of December, my desk starts to pile up with greeting cards. The majority of them are part of a mass mailing with either a stamped signature or sometimes no signature at all. I look at them for 5 seconds, set them aside, only to look at them again for 5 more seconds right before I throw them out.

Every year I wonder why firms think it is a good idea to invest hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on these cards. Firms, especially smaller firms, should allocate their holiday marketing dollars more effectively.

This year, instead of sending out greeting cards to clients, consider one of these five alternatives:

  1. E-cards. Instead of spending your firm’s hard-earned money on physical cards, send electronic greeting cards. Most e-blast programs allow you to quickly and efficiently personalize each email and track which clients actually open your greeting card. Additionally, an electronic greeting gives you more room to discuss your firm and highlight important and interesting news about your year.

  2. Gifts to charity. Since e-cards cost a fraction of what regular cards do, use the funds allocated for physical cards to donate to a charity that resonates with your law firm. In your holiday news blast, let the recipient know you are donating the dollars you would otherwise have spent on greeting cards.

  3. Physical gifts with social impact. Sometimes you have to give an actual gift along with a card. In those cases, rather than a fruit basket or a flower arrangement, give a gift with impact. For example, Packed with Purpose partners with socially conscious companies to create unique gifts that help give back to the community and people in need. You can choose from a variety of curated gift sets or create custom gift boxes to send your clients.

  4. Gifts your clients sell. Or if your practice is like mine and you represent a variety of businesses, use this holiday season as an opportunity to promote your clients. Give gifts sold by your clients or work with them to create holiday promotions that you can share. In my latest news blast, I promoted my client Birchbox, and included a discount code they gave me specifically for my network. Your clients will appreciate the gift of increased exposure and your network will appreciate the gift of a good discount.

  5. Holiday parties. In addition to sending a holiday greeting or meaningful gift, consider throwing a holiday party. Holiday parties allow you to communicate with your clients in a more relaxed setting. Plus, everyone benefits from the opportunity to make new friends and just have a good time. I usually photograph and video my holiday parties and include links to view the holiday party album in a follow-up email. You can view some of those videos here.


Daliah Saper, founder of Saper Law Offices, is answering reader questions about building a 21st-century law firm. She can be reached at AskDaliah@ABAJournal.com.

Daliah Saper opened Saper Law Offices, an intellectual property, digital media, entertainment and business law firm based in Chicago, in 2005. Saper is regularly interviewed on national TV, radio and in several publications, including Fox News, CNN, CNBC, ABC News, 20/20, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. She is an adjunct professor of entertainment law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Tags:  Holiday  Law Practice Management 

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Disaster Planning: Are You Ready?

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Tuesday, November 21, 2017

 

Disaster Planning:  Are You Ready?

We are all vulnerable to disasters whether they be floods, tornadoes, ice storms, or other emergencies. The question is:  how prepared are you?

Would your practice survive an ice storm that shuts things down for two weeks? What would happen if all the computers in your office were stolen? Or, what would occur if you had a heart attack tonight? Having your practice prepared for a sudden emergency or disaster is a must do for all solo, small, and large firms. A Disaster Recovery Plan can assist your firm in reducing or eliminating some of the dangers associated with a disaster, creating a better response to the emergency, recovering faster from the event, and it minimizes financial losses and service interruption.

To be successful, a plan will need to be strategically developed with foresight and planning offering the appropriate level of detail for your firm structure. Additionally, a plan will only be successful if it is supported by senior management and offers appropriate budget and resource allocations. Disaster plans should always be in writing and discussed and shared with all staff members of the firm. And, because this is a Disaster Plan, one copy should be kept off-site in case your electronic and hard copy files are inaccessible during the emergency event.

A Disaster Plan must, at a minimum, cover proper back-ups and recovery of files, create and keep updated an emergency contact list, and maintain adequate and proper insurance coverage through all emergencies and disasters.

If you’d like to learn more about Disaster Planning attend my session at the Plaza Lights CLE held December 7 & 8 at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Plaza (Presentation on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery on December 7 at 2:50 pm:  register at ksbar.org/cle) or at the Slam Dunk CLE Conference held January 29 & 30 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan (Presentation on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery on January 30 at 8:30 am:  register at ksbar.org/cle).

Tags:  Disaster Planning  Law Practice Management 

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FREE WEBINAR: Distraction Management for Busy Lawyers

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, October 27, 2017

Distraction Management for Busy Lawyers [Webinar]

Posted: 26 Oct 2017 01:21 PM PDT

Our next edition of Webinars for Busy Lawyers will show you how to reclaim your time and money from distractions and optimize your ability to focus – in 30 minutes or less.

How many times are you distracted from your work on a typical day? You’ll lose almost 25 minutes on average returning to your original task each time. If you’re still billing by the hour, it’s a quick calculation to turn that loss into dollars.

On November 15th at 12pm (eastern)
Reid Trautz will present
Distraction Management for Busy Lawyers

Recent studies have shown that if you don’t regularly use your ability to focus and concentrate, your abilities will be greatly reduced. In today’s digital world, email and other device distractions often prevent us from concentrating time and mental energy on larger projects such as trial preparation or brief writing.

Loss of focus means time lost trying to get the job done. That means more time in the office but less money to show for it! The key is to reverse this trend by practicing your focus and concentration.

Join us for a fast-paced webinar filled with tips, tools, and strategies to reduce your distractions and increase your productivity.

Our Webinars for Busy Lawyers are always FREE but spots are limited so register now!

About the Expert

Reid Trautz is the Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Practice and Professionalism Center, where he provides ethics guidance and management advisory services to lawyers to help improve their businesses and the delivery of legal services to their clients. He is a nationally recognized advisor, author and presenter on practice issues, including business process improvement, law practice technology, and legal ethics. He is co-author of The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice, published by the ABA, and is a frequent contributor to legal publications nationwide. Reid is an elected Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, and was named to the Fastcase 50 list of global legal innovators in 2012.

Tags:  Law Practice Management 

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Free Webinar: 2017 Year-End Accounting Checklists & Tips

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Thursday, October 12, 2017

 

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2017 Year-End
Accounting Checklist & Tips

 

 


The end of the year can be a hectic time for many business owners. Sorting through the entire year's financials, preparing the documents you'll need to file your tax returns, there are a lot of accounting tasks that need to be completed before you can take some time off to enjoy the holidays with your family.

While it's important to review and understand your law firm's financials throughout the year, building in additional time now to get a grasp on your accounting will save you (and your accountant) major headaches down the road.

In Year-End Accounting Checklist & Tips, we’ll show you the step-by-step actions you need to take to close out your 2017 books. This includes reconciliations, reviewing trust balances, tasks for your accountant, and much more.

Learning Objectives:

• Understand law firm accounting
• Identify common accounting challenges law firms face
• Know your Year-End Legal Accounting Checklist
• See how legal-specific technology can help

Join Us:

Wednesday, October 18th
2:00pm - 2:30pm ET
Free Registration

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tags:  Accounting  Law Practice Management 

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Ways to Record, Bill and Save Those Minutes at Work

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, September 18, 2017

Ways to record, bill and save those minutes at work

Attorney Daliah Saper has been answering readers’ questions online about building a 21st-century law firm. This augmented version of her column looks at time—timekeeping and time-saving.

Dear Daliah: Any tips for tracking time better?

Dear Readers: We have all faced the black-hole time warp. You worked 10 hours, but your billable hours only record 4½. Where did all the time go? You were so busy that you had a granola bar for lunch at 4 p.m. just to soak up all the coffee from the morning client marathon.

Keeping track of all your time often fails because you’re distracted by the hundred different things coming at you or because you can’t re-create your day at the end when you finally have time to breathe.

Here are three ways to capture your time effectively.

THE AUTOMATIC WAY

Stay ahead of the game, and use practice management software that integrates your billing and has customizable workflows all in one. Not being able to consistently reconstruct time can bankrupt a practice.

I asked my friend Alvaro Arauz at 3a Law Management, a legal practice consulting firm in Atlanta, for some technology recommendations. He says cloud-based software you can access from anywhere with an internet connection, such as Clio, MyCase or Rocket Matter, is used by many firms. These platforms can automate standard billable tasks, such as basic discovery, emails, text messages to clients, court hearing confirmations or cover letters.

The 0.2 and 0.1 hours can add up in a day but can be easily lost. With the proper services, predefined tasks convert into time slips with a click of a mouse without having to remember if everything was billed in the scope of the assignment. Keep in mind, the time slips can always be adjusted in the prebill phase.

The two things any firm of any size can streamline, Arauz says, are phones and accounting. Not managing either effectively also can make or break your practice.

Part of the accounting headache is the chore of reminding and following up with clients about payments. Then there’s the actual collection of payments; in some firms, it’s a bookkeeper’s part-time job.

New options are available to the modern lawyer, and PaySimple is exactly what it says—a simple software program that lets you schedule payments and accept e-checks and credit cards while it automates your billing process. Even the established merchant services LawPay and QuickBooks allow you to send a link to clients via email for them to pay their invoices or retainers.

Arauz says to take it all a step further by using practice management software that syncs with LawPay and QuickBooks. If the structure of your website allows it, which most do these days, there also are payment portals that can be added for either potential clients scheduling a consult online or existing clients who received an automatic emailed invoice.

The second thing to delegate are the phones. There are a variety of live answering services that range from $99 to $800 per month—services such as Ruby Receptionists, My Receptionist and PATLive. They give your clients the impression that your practice has a front desk ambassador. Just remember the old adage that you get what you pay for, and try to stay in the $200 to $500 range.

Ruby Receptionists is a quality and tested company. Script how you want your phones answered—when they get transferred immediately, i.e., when a judge calls; when to email your staff—and monitor it all with monthly reporting logs.

If you have a high-volume practice or a large number of weekly potential intakes (personal injury, bankruptcy, med-mal), Legal Intake Professionals will handle your entire intake process. Equally customizable on how to prioritize calls, it adds the extra level of capturing details that most answering services do not provide.

Once the intakes come in, a paralegal or an attorney contacts the potential client to engage them formally. However, the monthly price is slightly higher than most services but still less than the salary and payroll liabilities of an intake specialist plus a receptionist.

For the ultra-high-volume intake firms, there are plug-ins for your website or case management software that will email intake forms to potential clients and then enter them into your internal system automatically. Capturing the case information and data entry is the bottleneck of the intake process. Delegate it to the potential client and technology, Arauz says, all from an iPad on a couch in your waiting room.

THE REACTIVE WAY

If work and life keep you busy, use mobile apps to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Before technology, lawyers had their hands tied behind their backs. Dialing into a server or a desktop on the weekends to enter time made it an insurmountable task. In a week slammed with juggling phone calls from clients, court appearances, interruptive status requests from partners, researching case law, drafting discovery and filing motions, even the most efficient billing workflow was at best a four-step process:

  1. At the end of the day or, worse, at the end of the week, try to recall what happened.
  2. Write the time down on a Post-it/notepad/back of your hand.
  3. Manually enter data into a billing system.
  4. Approve the slips for accuracy and consistency.

Today, Arauz recommends using apps such as Zapier, Dragon NaturallySpeaking or Siri to help convert your reactive life into a proactive billing system.

Zapier integrates with things that keep your thoughts and work in order—Dropbox, Wunderlist, QuickBooks, RingCentral, Excel, Clio, Basecamp. Zapier can automate your lawyer life, track the work you perform, and keep it all together in one app that communicates with all the others to make sure nothing gets lost.

Similarly, you can use Dragon NaturallySpeaking or Siri to dictate your time entries when you don’t have time to write it all down. The technology and accuracy of capturing what you are saying has improved dramatically over the years, as has the convenience of being able to email or send your dictation via text. I often dictate on long road trips or when I’m walking to the courthouse.

Don’t forget the apps that complement your desktop or cloud practice management software. Most of them can dial phone numbers or email directly from the app, which in turn captures the time as billable behind the scenes.

THE PROACTIVE WAY

Interruptions distract from efficiency and, ultimately, from capturing all your time. Build blocks of time into your schedule, so that you aren’t pulled in five directions at once and only accounting for 2½ of them.

If “shiny objects,” such as flashing voicemails, text pings or unread email counts are disruptive, create a calendar for concentration. Try a schedule as follows and adjust as necessary:

  • Priority emails, 8 to 8:30 a.m.
  • Priority phone calls, 8:30 to 9 a.m.
  • Client work, 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Emails and calls, 11 a.m. to noon.
  • Priority items, 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Client work, 2 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Email responses, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Calls on the way home, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

While it won’t eliminate all the distractions, keeping close to this regimen can help you maximize your productivity and the chances of capturing all the time as you go.

PRODUCTIVITY TALK

Speaking of productivity, Arauz has advice on tackling other nonlawyering tasks.

He says, “There is a finite amount of time and energy in a day that cannot be re-created. If you overcompensate in one area, then another area suffers. So how do you juggle it all while maintaining sanity? The key to growth is delegation, either to a person or to technology.

“When you start your practice, delegate to technology. As you grow and can swallow the payroll pill, integrate staff and attorneys until law firm nirvana happens when your employees utilize technology to get even more done faster.”

Infamous culprits of wasted time include scheduling and confirming appointments, Arauz says. When things really get busy, every moment counts. Waiting on a consultation to not show up or a lunch meeting that you forgot to mark on the calendar takes up valuable time that could be better spent.

Setmore is free, online appointment-scheduling software on steroids, especially if you upgrade to the $25-per-month premium package. Aside from potential clients or clients booking meeting times intuitively by web, Setmore can be configured to send text and/or email reminders the day before the appointment, which minimizes the no-call no-shows that can inevitably happen in any practice. And it’s very customizable.

(You can retain that possessive control of your calendar, so that your work and life don’t double-book.)

Mixmax is another quick trick that takes all the effort and emails out of trying to find a time to collaborate with others, be it by phone, video or in person. If you average 300 emails per day that require your attention, you certainly don’t have to add another 30 emailed dialogues of “Can you meet at 2 p.m.?” “No, I can’t. What about tomorrow at 10 a.m.?” And on. And on.

Send time slots that the emailed recipient can select once they have confirmed with their own calendar, and then it gets added to your calendar.

Add meeting agendas or previews to the scheduling team, use templates for scheduling automatic emails and branding, so that it looks like it’s coming right from your firm’s inbox.

It’s good to use the technology at the beginning. But keep it integrated in your processes as you grow with staff, so that they have the tools to help the firm succeed.

Remember, as I like to keep in mind: Time is money. So, start accounting for it all.

 

Tags:  ABA  Ask Daliah  Billing  Law Practice Management  law practice management software 

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Credentials or outcomes: What’s the fairest way to assess lawyer performance?

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, August 14, 2017

 

Credentials or outcomes: What’s the fairest way to assess lawyer performance?

Posted Jul 13, 2017 8:00 AM CDT
By Paul Lippe, Gregory Richter and Paul Williams

 

When we meet with law firm managing partners and senior partners, we often ask them how well they understand their metrics.

Do you understand your firm’s profits per partner?
Yes.

Do you understand how many hours you and other partners have billed and what billing rates are? 
Yes.

Do you happen to remember your LSAT score and law school GPA? 
Why yes, as a matter of fact.

Do you know what the bonus calculation is for the general counsels of your five largest clients?
No.

Every communication or interaction between a modern enterprise and its law firms reflects how the client measures performance, which is expressed in financial statements, and the goals and bonus plans for the CEO and the general counsel. In most companies, the board and human resources play a large role in assessing performance, and GCs are looking for ways to be more in sync with them. To not understand the general counsel’s metrics and bonus calculation is to operate with blinders. 

In our first and second articles about performance, we discussed how metrics could help lawyers improve their performance and professional satisfaction. In today’s world, where most lawyerly conversations touch on areas for improvement like diversity, design thinking, innovation, artificial intelligence or project management, the amazing thing is that we have no agreed-upon way of assessing how these initiatives actually impact performance. 

The heart of the problem is that the law school Langdellian method doesn’t distinguish much between what judges do and what lawyers do, treating both as practicing legal reasoning, and it understands lawyers to be at the center of things, not needing to seek feedback. So while there are lots of good reasons to resist outcomes-oriented metrics for judges, few of those make sense for lawyers. Yet most lawyers want to be assessed on “lawyer-out” criteria:

 

    • Credentials.

    • Legal reasoning.

    • Thoroughness and effort.

    • Ethical intent.

As one friend recently joked: “If you judged lawyers the way they judge themselves, then every action by every lawyer who went to an elite law school would be exactly the same level of quality, since they define the quality of their action on the quality of their credentials.”

To understand the implications of getting to a place where you can better measure performance, look at what’s happened in the world of advertising. Ninety percent of all growth in ad spending in the last decade has gone to Google and Facebook, because they can demonstrate the performance of ad spending in a way traditional media never could.

Clients measure the impact of any action on:

    • Revenues, now or in the future.

    • Expenses, now or in the future.

    • Balance sheet, i.e., assets minus liabilities (including risk, correctly priced).

    • The multiple—the value investors ascribe to earnings, which is usually an amalgam of growth rate and intangible factors such as reputation, predictability, etc.

So the opportunity is for lawyers to embrace modern methods of measuring performance to show how what we do translates into value for the client. 

We think this is so important we’ll call it the Lippe-MLA Legal Performance Model.

Once we shift the lens from lawyer out to client in, it becomes pretty easy to better understand and improve performance.

What do lawyers do to contribute to revenue, now or in the future?

    • Put contracts in place that define and manage revenue.

    • Help create intellectual property rights that protect market position and improve margins.

    • Help acquire assets that are the source of future revenues.

    • Manage regulations or enforcement that impact market access.

    • Support business relationships that are viewed positively by customers, thereby improving the client's Net Promoter Score.
 
What do lawyers do to reduce expenses, now or in the future:
    • Help prevent problems or rule violations that ultimately get expressed as expenses. 

    • Reduce direct legal expenses.

    • Help other parts of business, such as procurement, be more commercially effective.

    • Avoid creating friction or unnecessary problems that impede efforts at transformation or other strategic changes.

    • Avoid litigation, correctly predict the outcome of litigation, or manage litigation to a better outcome.

What do lawyers do to improve the balance sheet?

    • The balance sheet is the reflection of historical financial performance. By definition, matters of risk—such as the potential risk that a customer won’t pay, or that a derivative will go into default—should be priced into the balance sheet. If risks are priced properly, then everyone in the organization will be on the same page in terms of understanding and taking appropriate risks. 

    • The balance sheet should be the place for truth-telling, so legal should help create a culture where problems are recognized and addressed, not suppressed to metastasize into bigger problems.

What do lawyers do to improve the multiple?

The value investors ascribe to future earnings is an amalgam of their assessment of corporate competence and market opportunity. While there’s not a ton that lawyers can do about market opportunity, all the higher order things lawyers hope to do—improve reputation, be seen as ethical, avoid one-time losses or enforcement problems, improve governance and compliance, anticipate and manage cyber risk—should be reflected in the multiple. 

When we see companies like Volkswagen, Wells Fargo or Uber struggle with huge performance, ethical and reputational issues, those problems get expressed as a reduction in their multiple, and it usually takes several years of consistent performance to get past those problems. Often, lawyers’ response to reputational problems is to add tons of proceduralism, but there is scant evidence that such proceduralism actually reduces investor uncertainty. 

Once we start to measure performance more rigorously, we see what we can do better, and we see how some of the things we’re already doing matter more or less than we think. 

    Diversity can help improve the multiple because it enhances corporate reputation and avoids reputational problems, and it should improve revenue by enhancing market access.

    Innovation helps reduce friction and find new market opportunities.

    Ethical reputation and consistency of earnings will improve the multiple.

    Design Thinking can get rid of superfluous friction that makes clients think we’re still living in a Dickens novel.

Given the need to realign lawyers to the way clients measure performance, we can probably suggest five laws for legal metrics:

    1. LegaI metrics must be outcomes-based, aligned with institutional metrics.

    2. LegaI metrics must be process-specific, i.e., sales-related metrics should be completely different from litigation-related metrics.

    3. It’s better to imperfectly measure important things than perfectly measure unimportant things.

    4. Metrics work much better when considered in conjunction with possible innovations like design thinking

    5. Lawyers who say they’re not good at metrics are just being lazy—they are more than capable of measuring those things they care about.

Like most professions, law makes aggressive claims for its distinctness from the world in which it operates. But perhaps the path forward is more about embracing the metrics culture of the broader world.
Paul Lippe, the former CEO of Legal OnRamp, is a member of Elevate Services’ Advisory Board. Gregory Richter is vice president and global head of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s In-House Practice Group and Solutions Practice Group. Paul Williams is a Major, Lindsey & Africa partner and a member of the CEO & Board Practice of Allegis Partners, MLA’s sister organization focused on executive search.
 

Tags:  Business Law  Law Practice Management 

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How to Use Stress Before It Uses You

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, July 17, 2017

mindfulness

How to Use Stress Before It Uses You

BY EVA SELHUB ON 

 

Stress is part of life. You can’t get around it. If you did manage to get around it, you would likely be dead.

You actually need stress to live.

Without stress, you would not get up in the morning, get to work on time, put food on the table, or shift positions when you are uncomfortable.

Stress is your body’s way of letting you know you are out of balance. Feeling hunger—that’s a stress. Feeling cold — another stress. Worried about paying your bills— stress again.

If the weather outside gets colder, the blood vessels in your body will constrict to help your body’s temperature accommodate. If this isn’t enough to maintain your body’s temperature, you will feel cold. All stress. That cold feeling will then motivate you to put on something warm. Presto, you have now adapted to the change in weather.

That’s pretty much how it works. You feel stress. A stress response is activated in your body that triggers physiological changes that motivate you to seek relief.

The problem isn’t so much stress, but the inability to get relief from stress, like being hungry and never getting any food, or being cold and not having something warm to wear. Not only is the stress an issue, but so is the stress response, which becomes over-activated, leading to a whole host of pathological problems like increased blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, inflammation, depression, and so forth.

Why is this a problem for you?  You, like most people, ignore your stress. For example, when you feel tired, do you sleep or drink coffee? When you are anxious, do you take care of your feelings, or do you numb them with food, alcohol, or work?

The key to resilience is being able to recognize stress warning signals to motivate you to take care of yourself, not let the stress take the care out of you. You have the power to transform your mind and improve the functioning of your body, if you choose to pay attention, or you can let the functioning of your body deteriorate over time. Here are some tips to get started:

Listen to your body’s whispers before they become screams.

You want to learn to quiet your mind and your stress response long enough to become fully aware of why your body is in stress to begin with. This involves being mindful while witnessing and observing, nonjudgmentally, the sensations you experience in your body and how it may be speaking to you. Witnessing has its roots in the Buddhist meditation practice called mindfulness, which involves being in a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, sensations and feelings, as well as of the surrounding environment, and has the added benefit of turning down the stress response, which then improves your mood, ability to cope more effectively.

To do: Pause. Take a deep breath in, counting to four, and let the breath out, counting from four down to zero for five cycles of breath. Allow your thoughts and tension to be released with your breath. As you quiet down, ask your body what it needs. Ask your heart what it wants. Observe any sensations that arise, listen to thoughts, do not judge.

Move your body.

The term “survival of the fittest” means your ancestors had to be fit to survive. Not only did the strongest and fastest person get to the food first, but research also tells us that regular exercise helps your cardiovascular functioning and reduction of stress response activity. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, as long as you do it. I personally recommend alternating days of vigorous exercise (can’t hold a conversation), with days of moderate exercise (holding a conversation), with active rest days (strolling with the dog).

To do: You feel anxious? See if going for a walk or a light jog helps. Feeling achy? Try stretching. Low energy? Perhaps this is from lack of activity. Begin by moving your body for 10 minutes—taking the stairs, parking your car farther away from the store, or dancing to your favorite tune.

Food is your fuel.

Food is not your enemy, nor is it your savior when you are anxious. Rather, food is fuel, your source of energy, not your source of inflammation. If you were to slow down and eat mindfully, or take the time to listen to how your body reacts to different foods, you might discover that certain foods leave you feeling more achy, tired or irritable, even though in the short-term, they enable you to feel better as your cravings are tempered. Indeed, studies show that sugar intake, particularly in the form of glucose, is likely more of a risk factor for developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease that high salt intake.

To do: Eat mindfully. Enjoy the aromas, the colors and the textures of the food on your plate. Chew. Notice the tastes. Choose food that is grown naturally in your environment. Choose grass-fed foods. If it doesn’t grow in the earth, don’t eat it regularly. How do you feel, not only immediately after eating your food, but the next day? Ask yourself, “If I loved myself and really wanted to be able to function as my best, would this food serve the purpose?” Aim for an 80/20 healthy eating plan (20% of the not-so-good stuff, if you can tolerate it and you still really want it).

Make time for rest and recovery.

We live in a society that encourages us to push ourselves, go faster, work harder, sleep less. Even high-level athletes know that their best performance happens when they take the time to allow their body to rest and recover. Even modest sleep deprivation of one or two hours negatively affects your physiology, especially stress physiology.

To do: As yourself why you might be tired. Are you rested when you wake up in the morning? Examine your food intake. Examine the stimulants you may be taking (caffeine, sugar, etc.). Examine the quality of your sleep—how comfortable is your bed? Do you have physical pain disturbing your sleep? When does your energy lower during the day? When do you lose your focus? Perhaps this is a time to take regular naps or practice a 10 to 20 minute mediation.

About the Author

Elva Selhub is a physician and an internationally recognized resiliency expert. She is the author of several books, including Your Health Destiny. Follow her on Twitter @DrEvaSelhub.

Article Source: Law Practice Today

Tags:  Law Practice Management  Mindfulness  Wellness 

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Practice Pointer: Thoughts on Succession Planning

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, June 5, 2017

 

 

 Thoughts on Succession Planning[1]

 

How is your firm planning to deal with its future?

 

For many firms, coming to terms with aging and retirement, and identifying transition candidates, can be a difficult process. But, this is essential for all firms, small and large, because the failure to plan and develop a timeline for transitioning can have major repercussions including losing clients, losing talented associates or potential leadership, instability within the firm, among others.

 

Because most firms do not have a succession plan in place, here are a few tips and considerations:

 

1.      A succession strategy and plan should be incorporated into every strategic plan and partnership, operating or shareholder agreement. It is never too early to start thinking about succession planning.

2.      If any sole-owner firm, or when any partner in a multi-owner firm, is age 50 or older, it is important that the firm get started on developing a succession plan.

3.      Remember, the succession plan and transition will take time. Solo practitioners will have a significant challenge because there is no obvious person to whom the practice will transition. Thus, the practitioner may need to hire and groom an associate who could buy the firm or become a partner and eventually buy the partner’s interest.

4.      A succession plan should start no less than five years from the retirement or exit date of the owner/partner. For some, less time is sufficient. Think through your circumstances, talk with your partners, develop a plan that works for you and your situation, and then take action.

5.      “Write down the plan and timeline because what is written down, what is measured, what is calendared, is what gets done. Effective management of the succession planning process takes discipline and accountability. Once it is written down it is in the form of a “project plan” with due dates, start dates, tasks and action items, required resources and names of those responsible for different tasks and action items. Unless attorneys approach their retirement like a case or project and develop a succession/transition/exit plan with calendared timelines, the project will likely experience fits and starts, timeline drift and the needed momentum may not materialize”.[2]



[1] Olmstead, J. Are You Prepared for Your Exit? Your ABA Newsletter. Apr. 2017.

[2] Id.

Tags:  Law Practice Management  retirement  succession planning 

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Law Practice Management Blog Feed

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Friday, May 19, 2017

Happy Friday! I hope you have enjoyed the law practice management blog posts that have been coming your way over the past few months. In an effort to increase the depth and scope of the content of the blogs, I am adding this feed to the blog. By doing so it will bring in Law Practice Management Attorneys' postings from across the country. I hope you will find their information valuable in managing your practice!

Tags:  Law Practice Management  PMA 

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Succession Planning

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Monday, May 1, 2017

Succession Planning:  Allowing everyone a productive and secure place in the firm.

In 2006, the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program conducted one of the first retirement surveys of lawyers by a bar-related organization. Ten years later, in June of this past year, they invited about 6,000 of their members age 50 and over to again fill out a similar survey.

In the current retirement survey, bar members 60 to 69 years of age represented over half (53 percent) of survey participants. In addition, 50 percent of the respondents are planning to retire from legal practice in the next five years. We are looking at a paradigm shift with a departure of these Baby Boomers and the anticipated loss of their experience and expertise.

The trend revealed by the Oregon survey reflects the entire nation. Some 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old every day. Law firms throughout the country are scrambling to manage their aging workforce and what it means for the future of their firms.

Aging is no longer just about people 65 and older. As people are living longer, living better and maintaining a more balanced and vital lifestyle, this impacts the career expectations of attorneys at all points along the career trajectory.

Traditionally, aging has been a personal matter, rarely discussed outside one’s immediate family. But in a law firm setting, anxious younger partners may be the first to bring up succession planning as the area of concern. The pressing data from the Oregon retirement study indicates that succession planning for our aging lawyer population is too critical to be ignored and will not get any easier if left unattended.

Historically, retirement was seen as a single event – withdrawal from the workforce into leisure, relaxation and a slide toward the end of life. Accordingly, lawyers often had two options available to them when it came to retirement:  continue working full time or close the door and walk away. Law firms today can add new options by creating new lines of services, modifying traditional retirement policies and using new mobile technologies to better preserve the experience and value of their aging workforce and meet the demands of a rapidly changing marketplace.

Firms are likely to find that developing more flexible and accommodating work options will derive valuable client and firm service from those approaching traditional retirement as well as younger attorneys who don’t fit or want to fit inside the traditional partnership model. Almost two-thirds of the 2016 participants in the Oregon retirement study reported that they expected to continue working full or part time at age 65.

Retirement in the traditional sense may not always be an option. For others, work can be an enriching experience that may not need to end at an arbitrary age of 65 or even 70. Then there are those who find themselves sandwiched between generations, playing multiple roles by caring for both young children and elderly parent, realizing that retirement may have to be delayed. They have to continue working longer than they anticipated.

The devil is in the details with succession plans. Listed below are a few for your firm to consider:

1.      Today’s new retirement model must be seen as more of a journey than a destination, and law firms will need to take more of an active role in helping their partners transition to and from this new “retirement.” All partners should be involved in the conversations regarding the firms’ succession plans once a person reaches his or her 50th birthday. This new approach to a more flexible retirement should be introduced well before the more traditional retirement age, and it should last well into counsel’s mid-to-late 70’s. Too many mid-career professionals are left to deal – in silence – with illness of family members, caregiving responsibilities for aging parents and adult children, or just dealing with the impact of daily stress on law practice families. As lawyers begin thinking of themselves as life designers, they will begin to realize that they can actually influence the future that is possible for them. The participation of their partners in that process as it pertains to the firm can be both effective for the firm and reassuring for the yet-to-transition partner.

 

2.      As mentioned earlier, aging of the firm’s workforce is no longer the exclusive domain of just those partners approaching their 65th birthday. By taking more of a “system and design thinking” perspective in addressing the increasingly complex problems related to law firm succession planning, firms should be able to create more of a shared vision, a common ground, where all participants are able to work through the current situation and make decisions based on what is good for the firm as well as each individual. Make sure you include voices of younger partners because they may have a very different perspective of what the firm should be doing to continue as their practices grow.

 

3.      Law firms need to begin thinking of their senior lawyers as potential opportunities – a growing market for experienced part-time professionals who can provide both mentoring and client contacts – instead of as unaffordable financial burdens. Senior counsel should be perceived as a pool of potential “contract” partners who are interested in staying productive.

 

4.      Law firms need to come up with more creative ways of investing in long-term growth. Many firms already contribute to partner retirement plans. You may also want to examine how executive bonus plans, possibly funded with whole life insurance, can be used to provide tax-advantaged supplemental retirement income for all partners. Firms can cushion an early (or timely) retirement choice through third-party payers, which are not firm-dependent, such as insurance coverage for retirement benefits. 

 

5.      Change in law firm culture as older becomes the “new normal.” With the sheer number of Baby Boomers that is disrupting the traditional demographic shape of law firms and society, older is becoming the new normal. Law firms will have to figure out how to balance billable hour requirements with mentoring responsibilities while also helping senior lawyers enter this new life stage.

 

Law firms will need to support initiatives that promote a sense of purpose and a positive self-image. Senior counsel can then feel confident about navigating life transitions as integral parts of the law firm while younger partners see hope for their future careers and confidence that the firm will support them throughout their entire career.

The business of a law firm is dynamic, with continuing up-and-out succession planning pressure. The failure to plan can cause a toxic stagnation as junior attorneys depart for firms that offer greater opportunities for growth. With a thoughtful succession plan and creative financial planning, however, more senior partners can feel secure enough to serve as effective transition partners who help the firm continue to grow and thrive.

 

Article written by Stephen P. Gallagher, published in Law Practice Management (May 2017). Stephen is the founder of LeadershipCoach, an executive coaching consultancy primarily handling transition or succession planning for individual lawyers, law firm planning teams and bar associations.

Tags:  Law Practice Management  succession planning 

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