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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of January 21, 2014

LawBiz(r) newsletter

This week was busy. First, to Detroit in the beginning of the week, and second, to San Francisco at the end of the week. Love both cities and talked with lawyers with divergent practices who all seem to have the same basic challenge: How to run a law practice like an efficient business, The Business of Law®. There are many avenues from which to select, no one right way. Our many coaching assignments confirm this. My best clients are able to combine my experience advice and combine with their comfort zone and commitment to succeed to reach better outcomes than otherwise would be the case.

Contact me at if you need a coach.

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What Lawyers Need for Successful ADR

Increasingly litigators look past the emotion of going to court, and pursue alternative dispute resolution (ADR) through arbitration or mediation as the best strategy to achieve client objectives. Doing so successfully of course requires understanding the law and the appropriate ADR techniques. But it also requires creating a foundation of trust such that the client accepts the idea that negotiation and settlement, rather than a fight-to-the-death approach, is in the client's best interests. These are some key points that any lawyer can emphasize to show the wisdom of taking a more conciliatory dispute resolution approach.

  • The adversarial nature of lawyers' training risks creating a win-lose mentality when dealing with opposing counsel. Such behavior often merely entrenches the opposition further. Aiming to "win," sometimes under the pressure to generate fees, is counter-productive for lawyer and client. The lawyers who serve their clients best are problem solvers.

  • It's essential that the client knows what the lawyer is doing, and that the client approves of the tactics to be taken to achieve the client's strategy/goal. Effective ADR requires finding out not only what the parties need, but also what they want. A "satisfactory" result may leave clients on both sides feeling that their full objectives have not been met. A collaborative resolution of the dispute, based on a foundation of trust created in an interactive negotiation process, has the best chance to satisfy the objectives of both sides.

  • Through discussion with clients, counsel should establish how much money they want to spend to resolve a problem. A higher initial cost may be acceptable if the long-term return on investment justifies it. Sometimes a legal problem is large to justify spending big sums. Most issues, however, involve everyday costs of doing business. It makes no sense to budget spending $2 million to try a case if a $100,000 settlement meets the client's objectives.

When budgeting for ADR in a risk-sharing arrangement, there should be different budget milestones tied to success. The budget can be for the entire case, or just to that point in the proceeding where a negotiated settlement has a good chance for success. The engagement goal is tied to that probability, as a success bonus if the process has stayed within budget to get to that milestone. Different parameters define different success outcomes. Client and lawyer work as a team to achieve them and both parties benefit: the client gets out of the lawsuit and the firm gets a success bonus. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

Practical Profitability

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What Lawyers Need for Successful ADR

Practice Profitability and Small Business Planning Package - $99 Special!

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Suing the Client 

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New Life After Law Coaching Program



"In the short time that Ed has been coaching me, his comments and guidance have been invaluable. Within weeks, he has improved my self-confidence immeasurably, guided me to run my law practice more like a business and most importantly, helped me obtain my goal of increasing my income while decreasing the time I spend working. It is a joy and pleasure working with Ed and I look forward to each coaching session. My only regret is that I did not start with you sooner."

Atlanta, GA

"I was initially reluctant to expend the money for Ed Poll's strategic planning session, but knew that in order to grow in an organized manner, I needed to spend the time in a one-on-one session. By the end of the first hour of our session, Ed helped me formulate a plan which, when implemented, resulted in an amazing return on the investment of the session. Ed then proceeded to analyze my financial statements and helped me to see my business in strictly financial terms - something us attorneys don't normally do. If we had concluded our session then, I would have felt that it was extremely worthwhile and would have felt that I had received my "money's worth." But I have now used Ed as my business coach for the past two years and have been extremely impressed with his practical approach to the practice of law. With Ed's encouragement, I find myself coming up with creative ideas regarding how to grow my business. I now feel that I can engage in the business of law, leaving my team to engage in the practice of law."

London, England


Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management

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