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Author Archives: Ed Poll, Special To Lawyers Weekly

How do you rank with your clients?

The legal profession seems obsessed with how it rates. From the long-established Martindale-Hubbell two-letter code ranking of lawyers and the listings in The Best Lawyers in America, to more recent authorities like Chambers USA and SuperLawyers, to the host of online services led by, ranking lawyers is a cottage industry.

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No way to practice law

In a recent Wall Street Journal column, writers from the Brookings Institute espouse their philosophy for deregulating the legal profession and lowering costs for buyers of legal services: Let anyone practice law, whether they’ve gone through law school or not, and allow anyone to own a law firm. These are not new ideas, but the assertion that these ideas are the key to lowering costs of delivery of legal services is misplaced for three major reasons.

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Top 10 ways to increase law firm revenue

Top 10 lists have long been a journalistic staple, but their ongoing role on David Letterman’s television show has made their use almost a cliché. Even so, a concise ranking can combine the value of focus with brevity. And there is nothing on which any business, including a law firm, should be more focused than increasing revenues.

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Create a “dashboard” of metrics to track firm’s financial performance

Every law firm is a business, and every business should know where it’s going. Like the driver of a car, a lawyer must look out the window to see what’s ahead (analogous to identifying new matters for generating additional revenue) while glancing at the dashboard to make sure all indicators (in this case, of financial performance) are positive. Admittedly, today’s financial information systems and software can and do produce extremely detailed assessments of financial performance. However, many of these programs tend to provide far more data than can be assimilated intelligently.

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It’s not just a lease, it’s a strategic planning tool

I received a call from a lawyer wanting to know what percentage of his gross revenue should be allocated to rent and whether his percentage was in line with other law firms. I cited one study that put the average at 9 percent, but his comeback was that another consultant said the average was 12 percent. Such generic numbers totally miss the point on two levels. First, they allow lawyers to think that they need not try to do better than the average. And second, they obscure the point that the cost of office space is a statement about the law firm itself, raising issues that should be addressed in a strategic plan.

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You’re a practice group leader – now what?

The practice group structure has become an accepted organizational model in many firms. Such groups can also be called departments, teams or some other designation, but the concept behind them is fundamental. Practice groups organize and focus the firm’s resources in a given area of legal discipline to improve client-service quality, marketing performance, lawyer training and development, and competitive effectiveness. Practice groups reinforce to the client that service is provided by the entire firm and not just one lawyer.

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