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Tag Archives: Practice Management

Coach’s Corner: The lawyer as consultant – Should you charge?

Most law firms, whether large or small, begin a new client engagement with a consulting process: a stated period of time, such as an hour, that potential clients spend with an attorney to discuss their matter and explore whether to establish a client relationship. This consulting process is essentially a business-development effort, targeted to converting prospects into clients. It is marketing in its purest and most immediate sense - at the end of the hour, the lawyer either does or does not have a new client.

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Coach’s Corner: Public virtue versus private violation

Many of the largest law firms strive to be paragons of public virtue in their programs intended to foster social responsibility. Pro bono service is the most obvious example. Nearly 15 years ago the American Bar Association and the Pro Bono Institute launched the "Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge" for larger firms with more than 50 lawyers to make an institutional, rather than an individual lawyer, pro bono commitment.

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Coach’s Corner: Billable hour: Going, going … still here

In a recent article, I asked whether the billable hour method of billing clients is dead or on life support. It turns out that there is a third option: Hibernation. A recent survey reported that almost 73 percent of 2009 outside counsel fees were based on arrangements other than the standard hourly rate, up from 66 percent the year before. It is clear that law firms are scrambling with deals to retain clients. But is it also an inescapable conclusion from the survey that law firms are moving away from the standard hourly rate?

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20 things lawyers need to know in 2011 (access required)

Who's the next potential U.S. Supreme Court justice on Obama's list? Why does your firm need a social media policy - and an employee handbook? You will find the answers to these questions and more in this year's edition of "20 Things Lawyers Need to Know," complied by Lawyers USA, Lawyers Weekly's national sister paper. From the hottest technology tools to the latest tips for marketing your practice, we give you the insight you need to run a better law practice in the year ahead.

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Coach’s Corner: You must define when payment is delinquent

If a lawyer fails to specify a "pay by" date for a client, at what point, if any, can the client legally be considered delinquent for failing to pay? This question is essential to "The Business of Law®." Every engagement should begin with an enforceable written agreement on services to be provided and fee to be charged. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5 states that "the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation."

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Coach’s Corner: What does it take to go national?

In 1960, fewer than 40 law firms in this country had 50 or more lawyers. In the latest listing of the 250 largest U.S. firms - even after two years of declines in total employment - No. 250 on the list still employed 160 attorneys. Many of these firms began to practice in a single city or small region before their growth took them to a national level. Often such law firms followed their corporate clients, which for decades have lived by the philosophy that bigger was better.

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Law Tech Talk: Social media for women lawyers

Social media can be a powerful rainmaking tool for women lawyers because social media plays to their professional strengths. Studies have shown that women lawyers are reluctant to promote their accomplishments and for that reason, social media is a great fit for women attorneys. It allows them to demonstrate their substantive knowledge without having to brazenly promote themselves. Women also excel at communicating and collaborating, traits that social networking facilitates and rewards.

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Coach’s Corner: When does a prospect become a client?

When does someone visiting your website, blog or LinkedIn page become a prospective client? This does not seem to be a difficult issue. Everyone that a lawyer meets, including in cyberspace, is a prospective client! To think otherwise is to say you don't believe you have something of value that can help the person reading your material or who is standing in front of you. Of course, if your target audience is not focused on using the Internet and searching the Web on a regular basis, then you likely will not get many new prospects and clients that way.

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Tried & Proven: Five ways to reconnect with disgruntled clients

The best way to make clients happy isn't rocket science. We learned the answer back in kindergarten ... be kind to others, unselfish, helpful and respectful. In the legal profession, this translates into: showing compassion to all clients big and small; charging fair, reasonable and clearly explained fees; offering clear, legally sound and carefully analyzed advice; and showing plain, old fashion respect for others. Some attorneys tend to forget one or more of these simple basics of excellent client service, causing many of their clients to become frustrated, confused and often beyond angry. To change such feelings is not easy. In fact, turning a fed-up client into a satisfied

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What I’ve Learned About Life On The Way To The Courthouse: What I learned from the dog and the skunk

One of the most valuable lessons I learned about being a lawyer I learned before I started law school. I worked as a runner for a law firm in college. The firm was a prominent, old-line firm with a good book of business, and it had some high-powered lawyers to take care of that business. One of the lawyers was particularly bright, and well regarded for his intellect. He had graduated No. 1 in his class at a top 10 law school. And he had the ego to go along with it.

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