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Practice Management

Jun 17, 2011

Technology has revolutionized the law, but apps marketed to lawyers mostly ignored

Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach him new ways to perform his old tricks. The practice of law has long been defined by large offices with documents spilling out from every available corner. But since the advent of cellular technology (and the laptop … and the BlackBerry … and the iPad), some law offices have reduced real estate, found the ability to work on ai[...]

Jun 10, 2011

Where is your office, and why is it there?

Some lawyers like to be close to the courthouse; others like to be as far away as possible from a necktie. Some want the prestige of a tall building in the middle of a city's commercial district; others prefer the practicality of easy parking. A law firm's building and location declare something eloquent about the firm's mission. But they also deliver a less legal message, one of personality[...]

Jun 10, 2011

Tripped up

In 1972, when he began practicing law, Michael Kemp drove a 1972 Monte Carlo, paid 35 cents a gallon for gas and felt like king of the hill. Today, the Mount Holly attorney gets around in a Honda Accord and pays at least $3.35 a gallon for gas. The rising price of fuel has taken its toll on attorneys, particularly those who must travel to multiple courthouses, and many have adjusted their drivi[...]

Apr 29, 2011

Guest Commentary: Super-charge your conference calls

Do you find yourself participating in more telephone conference calls (aka teleconferences) today than several years ago? Many of us have noticed an increase in the number of conference calls due in part to the challenges and expense of travel.

Apr 21, 2011

Coach’s Corner: Your lease is a strategic planning tool, make use of it

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 t[...]

Apr 21, 2011

Drawing boundaries with clients

While many lawyers pride themselves on client service, few enjoy losing their nights and weekends to client calls and emails. Lawyers must balance their need for personal time with the importance of providing great client service, advises Erik Mazzone (pictured), director of the Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar Association in Cary. That said, "being a lawyer is a hard job a[...]

Apr 18, 2011

Coach’s Corner: What makes a law firm a good place to work?

Every law firm is, or should be, a team, with lawyers, staff and support personnel committed to a team effort for providing the best possible service and work product for the benefit of clients. Involving everyone in the office so that they feel a sense of inclusiveness, understanding their roles and looking forward to exercising them, creates a better and more successful firm. At too many law fir[...]

Apr 8, 2011

Guest Column: The greatest practice management tool ever … possibly

I am generally an early adopter of technology, and, admittedly, a bit of a gadget snob. I can't believe this little gem escaped my radar for almost two years. I've just purchased my first Livescribe Pulse Digital Smartpen. As a compulsive note-taker, this pen changed my life (sounds ridiculous, I know) and it will change the way you practice law. Professional note-takers like lawyers and paralegal[...]

Apr 1, 2011

Coach’s Corner: Dissolution should not be a firm’s only contingency

Clients clamor for alternatives to hourly rate billing because they want lawyers to have an incentive stake in the outcome of a matter. This is the case with contingency fees, where lawyers get a flat percentage of the value earned for the client. Contingency fees are often used in litigation, from personal injury cases to high-stakes corporate disputes.

Mar 25, 2011

Coach’s Corner: ‘They can’t replace ME with a computer’

We have frequently written about how computer technology is a two-edged sword that can offer cost-efficient advantages to the law firm that leverages it, or can be the death knell to the law firm that does not keep pace. Nowhere was this duality been better illustrated than in a recent story in The New York Times. Its headline alone should give any member of the profession pause: "Armies of Expens[...]

Mar 18, 2011

Coach’s Corner: If you’re pitching, who’s catching?

Couplings, like metaphors, create mental pictures that help us to better understand concepts. How about "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage?" Well, that was in an earlier era. Oops, showing my age again. Perhaps that's appropriate for having turned another year older and wiser.

Mar 11, 2011

Coach’s Corner: Objectively measure ‘value’ when selling a practice

Lawyers interested in growing their practice are well advised to seek practitioners who want to sell and harvest their legacy. I've negotiated such deals, and it always strikes me as odd that such prospective buyers think that law practice is unique, that the process cannot be conducted as other businesses, professional, service and manufacturing, are conducted.

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