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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of March 26, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

One more week, and one more cycling camp. At the end of each, there is a major hill climb that Chris Carmichael has dubbed "the Stinger." It's a tough climb ... but I did reach the top in both camps. It was not pretty, but finishing was the goal, and I did, as well as ride well during the whole week.

Don't forget, send me your confirmation to join me for breakfast in Chicago on Tuesday, April 2nd at 8 a.m. When I receive your confirmation, I will send back a note with the location. I look forward to seeing y'all.Ed signature

Lessons Learned to Stay Afloat

One of my recent books, Growing Your Practice in Tough Times, talks about the lessons that law firms should have learned from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Yet the volume of calls I get has convinced me that many firms still haven't grasped the lessons they need to know in order to simply stay afloat in turbulent economic times. By way of review and re-emphasis, here are five lessons every firm should be putting to use today.

  • Firms can no longer be banks for their clients. Firm after firm has had to deal with financial crisis even as literally millions of dollars in receivables sit on their books. Stipulating payment rates and terms in the engagement agreement and then enforcing them is the best way for firms to survive a recession, and to prosper in an expansion.

  • Firms must budget for client matters. Budgets define successful business planning. Client involvement in the cost equation is here to stay, and smart firms will involve their clients in the budgeting process, get formal approval of the completed budget, and communicate constantly about how expenses are tracking.

  • Firms must have office space they can afford, with features that are most critical to operations, and that clients expect. With the virtual practice of law a viable option, physical locations become less important. Offices should be spaces that lawyers, clients and prospects are comfortable with, but affordability is preeminent.

  • Firms can no longer just take whatever clients are available, because trying to grow without a clear strategy is a recipe for disaster. Marketing can only be approached practically with a narrow focus that creates a profile of ideal clients and develops a strategy for communicating about services and capabilities this target, not everyone.

  • Firms cannot automatically raise rates. The billable hour may not be dead, but alternative billing is here to stay. Rather than setting price by a standard unit or result, billing alternatives focus on actions taken to benefit the client, beyond the time of how that value is applied. Choosing the right alternative has become a business matter for both the firm and the client. The casualty in the process is unilateral rate increases by the firm.

These lessons will improve the fundamentals of law firm economics. There's no going back to the past "let the good times roll" mentality.

Ed Poll's Life After Law
50% OFF - Special Prepublication Price!

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:

Lessons Learned to Stay Afloat

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

Video: Ethical Considerations in Collecting Your Fee

Featured Video:
Ed Poll on YouTube video

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   |   |   |
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