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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of April 1, 2014

LawBiz(r) newsletter

Yet another comment about the bar exam suggests that there may not be sufficient steam amongst practicing lawyers to eliminate the exam. One such comment said, "...Keep the Bar exam. I ... do not think it is ANY measure of the competence of a lawyer, but I do believe the bar exam is here to stay because so many of us suffered to pass it ... "

The ABA TECHSHOW last week was larger and better than in recent years. While there, I participated in the Retirement webinar on selling your law practice. More than 1,000 attendees demonstrated the importance of the subject. Thanks to Jill Chanen and Molly McDonough of the ABA Journal for the webinar idea and for inviting me to participate. Watch for the announcement about our new website, coming next week about selling and buying a law practice.

I was able to visit with good friends such as Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog, Bruce Dorner from New Hampshire, Carolyn Elefant of Solo By Choice, Derek Flower of ScanSnap and many others. But, Chicago was ccccold, though not so bad as in recent weeks. Winter seems to be over in Chicago, but it's great to return home to sunny California (in spite of the earthquakes).

Ed signature

A Grant Whose Time Has Come?

Too many lawyers or too few? The answer depends entirely on where you live. If you live in a rural area, the answer is too few.

The solution lies with law schools. Law schools should institute programs providing grants to graduates who agree to practice in rural areas for a specified number of years. Although there are some existing programs of this type, more need to be instituted.

It has become a maxim that there are too many lawyers and that there is an ongoing softness in demand for legal services. This is certainly true in some areas. However, although there is a glut of lawyers in some areas, other areas-rural areas, in particular-are experiencing a deficit of attorneys. The real problem is a dislocation between the supply and the demand.

In addition, a future problem is that, due to the law of economics, there might be an undersupply of lawyers everywhere. The general oversupply of lawyers coupled with a weak economy has led to a decrease in opportunities for law school graduates and thus a precipitous drop in the number of students entering law school. For the 2013 academic year, law school admissions were headed for a thirty-year low, a decline driven by student worries about rising tuition, debt load, and unemployment after graduation. Potential law students increasingly understand that it is a fool's gamble to spend many thousands of dollars in the false hope of getting a well-paying job at the end of three years.

It doesn't have to be this way, though. If more law schools would offer grants in exchange for rural service, law school students could graduate debt-free with a job waiting for them. In addition, rural areas would gain the legal expertise that they so sorely need.

It's a win-win for lawyers and for rural America.

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A Grant Whose Time Has Come?

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"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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