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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of November 5, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

October has gone, a lost hour has returned; Summer has gone; Winter has come - what happened to Fall? My Bruins lost two football games to outstanding teams; all is not lost as we returned to the winning column this last Saturday.

More lawyers are feeling the pangs of their practice aging; more young lawyers are looking to acquire aging practices and jump-start their own careers. I'm getting more calls from lawyers wanting to exit and inquiring about the process of selling their practice. Perhaps I anticipated the Baby Boomer phenomenon when I wrote, Selling Your Law Practice: The Profitable Exit Strategy. Join our Group Coaching program and talk with other lawyers feeling the same angst and learn from your colleagues. And receive a complimentary copy of my latest book, Life After Law: What Will You Do With the Next 6,000 Days?
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The Either / Or Language Gap

Lawyers, like many other professionals, have a language all their own, even when it involves words that may have a seemingly clear meaning. The problem with understanding the message such words convey often involves the unique tensions between practicing law as a business while still observing the ethical requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The end result of similar words and ideas that convey different things doesn't have to be a language gap - so long as the usage is clear. Consider these three either/or examples.

Marketing and Selling. Both concepts relate to the necessity of getting work for the lawyer and the firm. Marketing, however, is a more passive concept in that it is informational. In marketing you are putting out information about what you do - whether through advertising, a website, a blog, a bylined article, or any other communication modality - so that a potential user of your services knows you exist. Selling is the more assertive next step in which you use the information you provide and move a prospect to action ... the action of hiring you to represent them. Marketing ideally is the prerequisite of selling; but selling is the real payoff.

Fees and Expenses. There are typically two components of legal service costs: fees and expenses. Fees, typically expressed as an hourly rate, get the most attention, and often the most outrage. Much has been written, for example, about the $1,000 per hour legal fee as a symbol for professional "greed." But the Rules of Professional Conduct state only that fees need be "reasonable" in terms of the service provided; a $1,000/hour fee may be perfectly reasonable for a complex or high-stakes matter. Expenses have no such requirement, but definitely are subject to client perceptions of what is reasonable. First class airfare, photocopying or fax charges, stays at expensive hotels may be costs of business, but not ones that clients want to pay.

Cost and Worth. Both fees and expenses together define the cost of legal services. Worth is something quite different, and goes to the heart of client perceptions of value received. The seller of any service must understand costs, set profit targets and gauge market demand. Demonstrating the worth generally involves ethical questions of professional conduct. Is the amount of the fee proportional to the value of the services performed? Do the lawyer's skill and experience justify the fee? Does the client understand the amount and nature of the fee and consent to it? The way that these questions are answered defines whether clients will see you as valuable, or expensive.

The Profitable Law Office Handbook

Attorney's Guide to Successful Business Planning

The Profitable Law Office Handbook

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"The central premise of this book, which I wholeheartedly support, is that law is a profession AND a business and that running an efficient business is an essential prerequisite for professional success and satisfied clients.

"Ed Poll contends that an efficient business requires a business plan and then devotes the rest of the book to creating a step-by-step guide for the creation of a business plan; working through the key elements of goal setting, developing a marketing plan and budgeting."
- Sally Dyson, Director, Firm Sense Limited


The Either / Or Language Gap

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New Life After Law Coaching Program



"I met with Ed for my first appointment in the Immersion Program, and at that first meeting, he saved me thousands of dollars by encouraging me to change a method of billing I have used for years. Ed validated and encouraged me to change something so simple which was costing the firm money. Ed is insightful, truthful and motivating. I look forward to our future meeting!"

Los Angeles, CA

"I would highly recommend the services of Ed Poll to anyone in need of assistance with understanding their business, improving its operations, or valuing it for sale or transition to some other operational format."

Austin, TX


Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management

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