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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of June 7, 2011

LawBiz(r) newsletter

Come June 7th we're taking off on our National Road Show crossing the country in our truck and Airstream Silver Bullet. I am speaking to bar associations, law schools, gatherings of sole and small firm practitioners along the route. Providing thousands more with Best Practices for increasing your revenue, improving your profit picture and reducing your stress. Making The Business of Law® fun again!

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Weds, June 15 - Portland, OR

11am - Managing Client Expectations (Oregon State Bar)

Mon, June 20 - Seattle, WA

11am: Lifting the Hood of Your Future (Washington State Bar)
3pm: Succession Planning and the Profitable Exit Strategy (Association of Immigration Lawyers)

Don't forget to look up our sponsors, Fujitsu ScanSnap and Lexis Hub. Thank you,

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Are You Indispensible?

A Mandatory Retirement Age
On Memorial Day it was my privilege to be quoted and pictured in a New York Times article about the difficulties law firms and other organizations have in enforcing a mandatory retirement age. The title, "Easing Out the Gray-Haired. Or Not," well expresses the dilemma. On the one hand, employers are reluctant to continue carrying (as they see it) older producers who no longer seem to be pulling their own weight. On the other, those individuals often still see themselves as being viable contributors and resent being forced out - to the point of filing lawsuits to stop it.

Large versus Small Law Firm Perspective
As told the reporter, there is a vastly different dynamic for this issue in large versus small law firms. In large law firms every partner targeted for retirement, forced or otherwise, was originally added to the partnership because the firm had a strategic goal for his or her practice. However, when the firm's overall strategic goal for profitability is not being met, the older partners are asked to go. The days of "professionalism" and "collegiality" are replaced by tough competitive circumstances and high financial expectations. Something has to give.

Large Firm Partner: A Question of Contacts
Partners who refuse to leave quietly can sue to keep their positions, which the article pointed out has happened at large firms like Sidley Austin and Kelley Drye & Warren. My suggestion was more positive and more proactive: staying at your firm is not a question of skill, it's a question of contacts. "Very few people are so skilled that they can't be replaced by a younger, more current practitioner," I noted. "You've got to be so connected to important clients that the firm is going to fear your departure." This doesn't mean holding firm or clients hostage. A senior rainmaker can play an active role as a service team coordinator, for example, representing the firm to clients and maintaining key contacts while helping direct work to younger lawyers. Senior lawyers remain engaged in the business without fear of financial loss, while firm and clients benefit from a planned transition.

Sole Practitioners Enjoy Fruits of Their Labor
The other side to this issue is the small firm. Every such firm represents an investment of years of hard work and financial resources in growing the practice and building goodwill, which can be sold when the lawyer is ready to retire. Contrast that to the big firm senior partner who is facing an abrupt and painful end to a career. The sole practitioner has definitely built something of value and can be in the position to enjoy the fruits of those labors. The big firm partner that has not proven he or she is indispensible may have no alternative but to sue the firm or accept the transition to his "second season."

Law Firm Fees & Compensation:

Value & Growth Dynamics

Law Firm Fees & Compensation: Value & Growth Dynamics

Every law firm is a business, and every business has three common elements: Get the work; do the work; and get paid. This publication shows you how these issues intersect and guides you through an integrated approach to growing your practice and your profits while simultaneously adding value to your billings and services.
Learn more.

Now Available
Price: $47
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In this issue:

Are You Indispensible?

Law Firm Fees & Compensation

Video: Why Market Matters for Lawyers, Part 2

Featured Video:
Ed Poll on YouTube video


LawBiz Forum

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What Clients Are Saying:

"Ed helped me assess my situation and cut to the core issues that needed to be dealt with to improve it. Ed's no-nonsense approach to setting and achieving goals helped me get on track. I can recommend Ed to anyone who's ready to come to grips and take charge of their practice or career."

RA, Horan, Lloyd Law Offices

"I wanted assistance from someone outside the firm: an expert who knew and understood the practice of law, business development and marketing, and law firm dynamics, ethics and politics. I needed someone who knew the practice of law to give me good and solid advice on how to raise my professional profile in the legal community and within the firm and to address challenges associated with working in a law firm environment. Through Ed's invaluable coaching and no-nonsense approach, he enabled me not only to stay employed at the firm, but to make partner and have a future with the firm. Since I began working with Ed, my family has noticed the positive effect on my confidence level, goals, and direction. My wife has been supportive of Ed since Day One."

JM, Los Angeles, CA

Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |
©2011 LawBiz® Management. All rights reserved.

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