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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of February 25, 2014

LawBiz(r) newsletter

The Winter Olympics are over. It seems to me that every athlete in the competition talked about having a personal coach for their particular skill or sport. Some had more than one coach that included the sport, nutrition and psychology (to better focus their energy).

In sports, as in business, it's not the mediocre or the underperformers who get the extra coach. It's the top talent that has the potential to really shine with a little bit of extra help. When we realize that the difference between first place and second place is a matter of less than 2%, sometimes less than 1%, the importance of coaching becomes apparent. Consider, for example, the ice dancing team of Davis/White.

How are you seeking outside perspectives to help you grow and separate your practice from the competition?

As you read this, on Tuesday, I will be commencing a one week vacation on my bike. The mantra of our camp will be "train, eat and sleep." For one of the few times in my career, I intend to follow this mantra and leave work behind. Thank you for your support.

On Thursday, March 27th, I will be in Chicago and I invite you to join me for breakfast at 8 a.m.. Write or call for further details.

Ed signature

A Debt-Free Firm: Lessons Learned from the Winter Olympics

Forty billion dollars. That is the amount by which Russia exceeded its planned expenditures on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia had predicted costs of $12 billion; by the start of the Olympics, that number ballooned to $51 billion. And some news media reported many substandard aspects to the event!

Regardless, the important takeaway here is that it is much easier to exceed a budget than it is to win a gold medal. Clearly, spending more than one has is something that every lawyer should strenuously avoid.

Every law firm is a business, and every business should know where it's going. Like the driver of a car, a lawyer must look out the window to see what's ahead (analogous to identifying new matters for generating additional revenue) while glancing at the dashboard to make sure that all indicators (in this case, of financial performance) are positive.

In terms of financial metrics, the dashboard glance covers financial benchmarks that help law firms measure their business effectiveness by analyzing profitability, cash flow, and collections. Lawyers who understand financial benchmarking can explore operating efficiencies in the firm, gauge the firm's performance relative to its financial goals, and better assess and reflect value to clients in their bills.

For effective benchmarking, three measurements are paramount: profitability, realization, and cash flow. Financial benchmarking focuses on profitability. The key to any firm's profitability is integrating how many hours you bill with how much money you collect. The goal is to have a high collected-to-billable ratio, well over 90 percent. A rolling twelve-month statement of cash receipts and payments will highlight delinquents so that you can move quickly to collect overdue accounts.

Keep careful track of these key metrics, and you won't find yourself sliding uncontrollably down the slippery slopes of the Winter Olympics.

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A Debt-Free Firm: Lessons Learned from the Winter Oympics

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Video: Rule 1.17


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Ed Poll on YouTube

Rule 1.17 

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New Life After Law Coaching Program



"Ed Poll created and presented your three-day workshop "Starting, Operating, Growing and Profiting from the Practice of Law" for our Law School, the Continuing Legal Education Committee and the Washington Law School Foundation. Ed's professional management skills and presentation talents provided our alumni and students with an outstanding program. The evaluations, both oral and written, were excellent and demonstrated that his audience agreed. One evaluator was particularly appreciative of the thought-provoking and interesting new concepts. Another said, "I have a much better understanding of what I'm to do -- I'm energized. Thank you!" Ed had a major impact on the future of our attendees; this is a unique quality and we are most appreciative of his efforts to create such an interesting and informative program. I enjoyed working with him and look forward to doing so again."

John F. Rapp
Director, CLE
Univ of Washington

"Ed Poll's efforts resulted in the success of our Mid Year CLE Program event. During the planning stages of this Mid Year Program, the Section's leadership indicated that if 75 lawyers attended the program, it would be considered a success. With our program attendance at over 100 attendees, the leadership clearly is very pleased with our efforts and want to continue bringing programs to the solo and small firm practitioner. We look forward to this challenge of making the Mid Year Program a regular event."

Lee S. Kolczun, Chair
Sole Practitioners and Small Firms Committee
American Bar Association


Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management

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