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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of March 19, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

I am in another cycling camp this week. This is the second one in two months. I've never treated myself this well before. Isn't it time that you think of yourself as well? I met with a client in the Southeast last week; he used to go to the "Y" regularly until recently; he became so successful that he didn't have time to work out and take care of himself. Like my 3Dimensional Lawyer(tm), there are 3 parts to our lives: Mental, Physical and Spiritual. Don't let the physical atrophy or the other parts will as well. I encouraged him to get back to his workouts. He will find that his revenue will not dip appreciably, but his enjoyment of life will be enhanced considerably.

We're closing in on my visit to Chicago. Contact me if you want to have breakfast on Tuesday, April 2nd in Chicago. Ed signature

Is Bigger Always Better?

A new study by the Acritas market research firm surveyed hundreds of corporate counsel across the U.S. The survey asked what firms come to mind first when corporate counsel look for outside counsel; what firms they favor most; and what firms they use for high value work. The answers define which firms have the strongest brand presence, and - surprise! - those firms are the biggest ones: Skadden Arps, Jones Day, Baker & McKenzie and Latham & Watkins lead the list. Corporate counsel are, of course, notorious for going with the front-runners. But what was really intriguing about the survey was conclusion that Acritas reached: even as the big get bigger in a saturated U.S. legal market, they are fighting over smaller shares of brand awareness because the legal services market is so crowded. [1]

That conclusion, I believe, focuses on "BigLaw" - the large corporate firms with many hundreds or even thousands of lawyers. These firms grew aggressively along with their corporate clients, but in so doing they made themselves more vulnerable to economic downturns. All those lawyers and salaried employees need to be paid every month, whether or not new business is coming in the door. The result, as I shared in a recent LawBiz Tips post, is that more Wall Street and middle market firms are quoting "suicidal prices" for legal fees simply to get enough work to keep lawyers occupied and cover their fixed costs.

While some proclaim that the legal profession's problem is too many lawyers, the imbalance is a unique variation of supply (jobs at Biglaw) and demand (still very large among the Main Street folks who can't pay $1,000 an hour legal fees). BigLaw is not all law. The bulk of the legal profession, perhaps as much as 80%, consists of sole practitioners and small firms that provide most of the legal services. Yes, there is Corporate America, a small but disproportionately powerful group serviced by BigLaw. The rest of the profession, however, provides the bulk of the legal work for the "other "99%" of the population. This large, underserved customer group includes individuals, families and smaller companies that don't fit the BigLaw skill set. These customers offer a lot of work to firms with costs flexible enough to be affordable.

The mega law firms with many hundreds or even thousands of lawyers may serve the 1% of the corporate world that is relentlessly pushing them for fee and overhead reductions. But, there will be a large group of customers who are underserved except for sole practitioners and small firms who are flexible in their cost structures and nimble in their legal analysis.

[1] Once Again, Skadden Tops List of Best-Known U.S. Law Firm Brands (2/25/13)

Ed Poll's Life After Law
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What Will You Do with the Next 6,000 Days?

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With an eye on balancing the professional and personal fronts, Ed guides readers through the steps:

  • Choosing retirement on your own terms

  • Guarding clients' welfare in the event of disability or death

  • Transferring client and rainmaking responsibilities

  • Charting an exit from a multi-partner firm

  • Strategizing the sale or closure of a practice

Plus, you'll find essential counsel on how to guard your retirement nest egg and create a fulfilling post-practice life! Learn more.

In this issue:

Is Bigger Always Better?

Ed Poll's Life After Law... 50% OFF

Video: Marketing Plan 101

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YouTube LawBiz Forum
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What Clients Are Saying:

"I requested that (my partners) allow me to take on the management of the firm and suggested the creation of a business plan.... (Our practice) is a successful practice, but in dire need of a direction -- and a business plan. They agreed to give me a shot and entertain a rough outline of my ideas. I was shocked when they agreed, but then horrified at the task before me. However, sitting on my shelf is "The Business of Law" that I purchased from you a few years ago. I began to read it and a whole new world has opened up for me. I just wanted to express my gratitude to you for writing the book... I am excited about the opportunity I have and just wanted to let you know that I appreciate all you do for the field."

Pleasanton, CA

"I was an associate at a large national law firm and I felt "stuck," but I didn't know how to market myself to clients or to other firms. Ed's focus on the business side of the law firm provided a solid grounding for me to evaluate my current situation and a platform from which I could start growing my own practice. In many ways, working with Ed is like working with a therapist. Part of my coaching process with Ed has been getting to understand more thoroughly my strengths and weaknesses as both a marketer and as a lawyer. After working with Ed for six months, I was ready to market myself to other firms: I developed a clearly articulated set of objectives and Ed has gave me the tools that I needed to increase my exposure. Today, I am working for a law firm that provides better opportunities for my professional growth."

San Francisco, CA

Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |
©2013 LawBiz® Management. All rights reserved.

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