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Tag Archives: Practice Management

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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Want more referrals? Say ‘thanks’ for the ones you’ve gotten (access required)

The importance of giving thanks to colleagues for client referrals isn't lost on Raleigh lawyer Mark Sullivan (pictured). His family law practice draws about 60 percent of its client base from attorney referrals. That's why he turned the etiquette of saying "thank you" into a deliberately structured part of his business plan about 20 years ago. But it took time to figure out what strategy was best.

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Coach’s Corner: Is a retainer really necessary? Maybe not

One of the first "wants" for lawyers opening a new firm is to get as many clients as possible on retainer basis, viewing the retainer's certainty as the Holy Grail for fee collection. Retainers set up a fixed-fee-per-time cycle (often monthly) in which client funds deposited in a trust account are drawn upon during a year or other designated period. Retainers can be a one-time payment to guarantee the future availability of the lawyer/firm, or as a deposit against future services.

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Coach’s Corner: Finder, grinder or minder – what type of lawyer are you?

For law firms to be successful they must be more than a collection of single practitioners. Success in the law, like success at sports, is a team effort - if the team isn't firing on all cylinders, it gets away from what made it successful and people no longer play their true roles. No law firm can be profitable and growing without a range of skills and abilities. Not every player on a sports team is expected to be a star, and not every lawyer in a law firm should be expected to play similar roles in the life of the firm.

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Experts for hire: Womble Carlyle’s litigation support team is not just in-house (access required)

When Cris Windham arrived at Womble Carlyle 25 years ago, he got involved in the firm's tobacco litigation and quickly began to see the need for in-house medical experts. A litigation support team that included nurses and other experts to assist the firm's attorneys in developing medical defenses was assembled. Over the years, it grew. And grew. Today, Womble Carlyle's litigation support team is not only an in-house function. It is a subsidiary of the law firm in the form of FirmLogic, with services available not only to Womble Carlyle but also to other lawyers and firms. It's an unusual set-up. Womble Carlyle is one of only a few large law firms in the nation that offers their own in-house support services to other lawyers.

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Tried & Proven: Managing and leading great staff meetings

I'd be a very rich gal if I had a nickel for every employee complaint I've heard during my 20-plus years of law office consulting about negative, unproductive staff meetings! A No. 1 request from staff is the desire for upbeat and informative meetings. In some firms, they just want meetings that are taken seriously and not cancelled at a moment's notice for non-emergency reasons (or excuses!). In others, they object to information and instructions being shared in a "shoot-from-the-hip" and rushed manner.

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Firm outfits lounge to lift morale, build staff cohesiveness (access required)

Your eyes are fatigued from fluorescent lighting. Clients have been making tough demands all day long. You need to get away. Next stop, the No Work Zone. By month's end, that's where attorneys and staff at Smith Moore Leatherwood in Raleigh will be able to go in order to take a breather. The firm is in the process of converting an old supply room into an employee lounge replete with a sofa, rugs, TV, soft lighting from lamps, a computer and an aquarium. It's all part of an effort by an office group that is responsible for coming up with creative, out-of-the-box activities for lawyers and staff to do together.

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