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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of July 19, 2011

LawBiz(r) newsletter

My travel on the Road To Revenue National Tour continues to be outstanding. Today we are in the Heartland. The heat has reached record highs, 108 degrees yesterday and 107 degrees today with little relief in sight. With such extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter, one has to be hearty. No wonder the Midwest and South win so many college football titles!

Other than the heat, I continue to enjoy the interaction with lawyers throughout the country. Tomorrow is Oklahoma City and Friday is Kansas City. We'll take a few days respite and drive down to see the Clinton Library in Little Rock and a show in Branson, MO. Then on to Cleveland before turning back toward home. Our next presentations:

Fri, July 22 - Kansas City, KS

11:30am-1:30pm: Managing Client Expectations
(Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, Kansas City)

Weds, August 3 - Cleveland, OH

Noon-1:30pm: Financial Metrics for a Successful Law Practice (Cleveland Bar Association)

Check our calendar at and If I'm coming near your community and you want to join us, contact me. In the meantime, be well and enjoy your success. Thank you for this opportunity to connect with you.

Ed signature

Can You Maintain a Second Practice?

Considering Alternative Careers
Can a carefully defined solo practice be a sideline while a lawyer maintains a primary job in a larger organization - providing that no conflicts of interest or other ethical issues intrude? Given the swiftness with which firms fail, partners are de-equitized and associates are laid off, the question is not a moot one. Such a side practice can be a valuable safety net. Today there is a greater inclination by many lawyers to consider alternative career scenarios that would previously have been unnecessary.

Balancing Two Careers
Lawyers, of course, have done moonlighting in a certain sense for many years - in holding positions as elected officials, in serving with nonprofit or community interest boards, in being members of company boards of directors. As with these activities, the practicality of a sideline practice becomes a question of definition. If a lawyer in solo practice has a different full-time job, that full-time client probably represents 90 percent of the lawyer's time and revenue stream. No matter how many other clients the solo practice has, the overall emphasis will be smaller both in the amount of time required and in terms of dollars earned.

Satisfying the Primary Client
If it is essential to retain the primary job, the lawyer must make sure not to anger the primary client (the employer) while serving others. With a full-time job, you have one client; and if that client takes a sudden dislike to your sideline practice, you may find the full-time position terminated without notice. Of course, it is also possible that the full time employer has a sudden problem (a major loss of business, or power structure change) that dramatically impacts you. If your ultimate goal has been to build up the solo practice in order to establish freedom of action if need be, your foresight will be rewarded.

Can You Handle the Pressure?
There is another danger for both the full-time and sideline practice: the risk that the pressure of trying to do too much will create unmanageable pressures that distract your attention and cause you either to neglect clients or actually to make errors in counseling them. Remember that the majority of disciplinary complaints against lawyers relate to careless dealings with clients - poor service, failure to return phone calls, inaccurate arithmetic on the billing statements. These are all management issues, not technical or substantive issues of law. Poor client service is a problem compounded by inattention or distraction. Particularly if you increasingly find one side or other of your dual practice more engaging, you may emotionally desert your clients on the other side well before you make a decision which practice to emphasize. If the result is a malpractice action, you could lose your law license - and both of your practices with it.

Secrets of The Business of Law®:
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Provides attorneys and law firms specific and practical suggestions for being more effective and making more money in the process. This book is organized in five parts:

 •  Planning for Success
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In this issue:

Can You Maintain a Second Practice?

Secrets of The Business of Law®

Video: Collecting Your Fee Begins At the Intake

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Ed Poll on YouTube video


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What Clients Are Saying:

"Ed Poll created and presented your three-day workshop "Starting, Operating, Growing and Profiting from the Practice of Law" for our Law School, the Continuing Legal Education Committee and the Washington Law School Foundation. Ed's professional management skills and presentation talents provided our alumni and students with an outstanding program. The evaluations, both oral and written, were excellent and demonstrated that his audience agreed. One evaluator was particularly appreciative of the thought-provoking and interesting new concepts. Another said, "I have a much better under- standing of what I'm to do -- I'm energized. Thank you!" Ed had a major impact on the future of our attendees; this is a unique quality and we are most appreciative of his efforts to create such an interesting and informative program. I enjoyed working with him and look forward to doing so again."

John F. Rapp, Director, CLE
University of Washington

"Ed Poll's efforts resulted in the success of our Mid Year CLE Program event. During the planning stages of this Mid Year Program, the Section's leadership indicated that if 75 lawyers attended the program, it would be considered a success. With our program attendance at over 100 attendees, the leader- ship clearly is very pleased with our efforts and want to continue bringing programs to the solo and small firm practitioner. We look forward to this challenge of making the Mid Year Program a regular event."

Lee S. Kolczun, Chair
Sole Practitioners and
Small Firms Committee,
American Bar Association

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

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