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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of March 5, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

Chicago in April. It sounds lovely, and I'm looking forward to spending the first week visiting the sights and sounds with my family and then the ABA Tech Show. I'll host a breakfast on Tuesday, April 5th at 8 a.m. Contact me if you'd like to join me.

Tombstone, Arizona In February, we spent three weeks in Arizona, marveling at the desert sights and the extraordinary cacti. I had the pleasure of riding in a pro camp in Tucson. In March, I will ride in a second cycling camp in Santa Ynez Valley, CA. Then Chicago in April.

What a joy the first quarter has turned out to be! And business continues to grow. Thanks to my clients, both new and continuing, who value our partnerships. See you in Chicago next month. Ed signature

Associates and Self-Education

It has been a regular theme in these columns that most new associates are ill-equipped to handle the business realities of law firm life. They enter law school with an undergraduate degree in the liberal arts. Law school curricula have little business focus, and the view that legal educators have of law as a profession means that they consider any business training to be trade-oriented and therefore inappropriate for law schools. This attitude is perpetuated by the lack of CLE courses in management and client service. What suffers is the concept of business competency. The associate who has it understands the operation of the firm as a business (budget, collections, profit, loss), the firm's billing structure, how each attorney determines firm profitability, and the importance of clients and their own businesses.

All lawyers today, and especially associates, need to be more sensitive to the financial needs and operation of their firm. The necessary conditions for this to happen are increased access to financial information, and better training in using it. How many associates, even partners, would possess the business competency to calculate, or even understand, the traditional key measures of law firm performance: realization, utilization, leverage and expenses? How many know, or understand, the firm's collection rate - or their own personal one? Until lawyers possess that kind of business competency, they are not truly qualified to be owners of their firms.

It's not necessary that an associate hold a business degree for such understanding. Except in unusual circumstances (as when a corporation wants a general counsel or deputy general counsel with a strong business background to participate in operations management), a business degree really confers no unusual benefits or advantages to most lawyers. However, even beyond any state bar association resources for business training, the associate who is serious about it has plenty of resources to pursue. The most readily available one is the Internet. Online resources include the comprehensive education programs found at the West Legal Education Center, which compiles business and legal education programs of the Practicing Law Institute and many others. The studies and reports of consultants like Altman Weil, as well as Bruce MacEwen's blog on law firm economics, are excellent for self-education.

These are just starters, but they can help all associates assess the value they provide to their firms, and create new ways to provide more of it. Associates who pursue such resources and the lessons the offer are the associates with the best chance to be tomorrow's partners.

Ed Poll's Life After Law
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Life After Law


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What Will You Do with the Next 6000 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:

Associates and Self-Education

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

Video: The Warning Signs of Financial Weakness

Featured Video:
Ed Poll on YouTube video

YouTube LawBiz Forum
FaceBook Twitter

What Clients Are Saying:

"Ed's command of the podium and his connection and inter- action with the audience were outstanding. His skills enabled us to successfully implement a new culture into the organiza- tion without damaging our relationships with outside counsel."

Torrance, CA

"When I had my own private practice as a solo practitioner, I wanted to run my office as efficiently and profitably as possible. I researched business coaches and discovered that most had "passive" models as their basis for coaching, i.e. they would promise all the things they would do for my practice without my having to invest time and energy into the process. I'm so glad I chose Ed Poll instead, for he had an "active" model, i.e. how much I got out of the coaching was directly dependent upon what I put into it. Over a period of six months, Ed conferenced with me and gave me weekly assignments for structuring my practice as well as giving me tips on how to work with clients from the initial interview through to the end of the case. After working with Ed, I didn't have a single outstanding account receivable over $500. The time I spent working with Ed was invaluable and I would recommend him to any attorneys interested in improving the quality and profitability of their practices."

Los Angeles, CA

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

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