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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of July 2, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

It's HOT here in California ... in the 100s in many places. In Palm Springs, it's 120; in Death Valley, it's more than 130! What a July 4th we'll have!

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday documented the death of another legal job, the legal secretary. Firms are cutting back; young lawyers are their own typists; and the demand is languishing. Yet, a State Bar of California task force has finalized a "practical skills" proposal that, in essence, says lawyers currently are not sufficiently skilled to practice law after finishing law school and passing the bar exam. This proposal would increase the number of hours needed to be licensed ... by 75! How many students/lawyers will need to increase their student debt? No one is speaking.

Another State Bar task force is suggesting we add another license ... less than a lawyer and more than a paralegal, to address the unmet legal needs in areas such as immigration, family law and others. Gee, did anyone think about connecting the lawyers who need work with the citizenry who need lawyers? Wouldn't be easy, but would make sense. Perhaps it's too hot to develop such a program.
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Law and the Art of Analysis

A recent and highly popular movie, Moneyball, told the (mostly) true story of a baseball executive who brought success to his team by using detailed statistical analysis of player performance – the type of performance that most people in baseball had judged on "gut feel," and that many still contend cannot be reduced to mere numbers. Recently I heard Owen Byrd of Lex Machina discuss the concept of "Moneyball for Lawyers." He argued that it was possible to support legal research and reasoning with predictive analytics. This approach can help predict an opposing party's behavior at trial, the likely outcome of a lawsuit or the results from a specific legal strategy or argument. The concept is expensive and can be utilized only by the larger organizations with big money at stake. But, the handwriting is on the wall.

Certainly statistical analysis can be a practical tool to help any lawyer measure personal and firm performance against objective standards. This makes "The Business of Law®" understandable – and makes the firm stronger as a result. Every law firm is a business and every business should know where it's going. Lawyers who understand statistical analysis of their firm's operation can explore operating efficiencies, gauge the firm's performance relative to its financial goals, and better assess and reflect value to clients in their bills. But that is quite different from applying analytics to the practice of law itself. It is a truism for lawyers that the circumstances and developments in any case or matter are unique and typically do not fit precise patterns. Certainly this is sometimes true – but not always.

Take for example the issue of budgeting. There are of course different kinds of budgets within any law firm: for the firm itself, for practice areas, for functions (marketing, technology), for specific matters. Too often, when lawyers do the budgeting they are not detail oriented, both because they are not skilled in or oriented to financial specifics, and also because they are not convinced of the value of the process and prefer to adjust on the fly. Ultimately, a budget is a valuable discipline that can save lawyers much time and money.

Lawyers who integrate budgeting as part of their practices can better assess the value they provide to clients, and better reflect it in their bills. They begin to think in terms of anticipated travel, staffing plans, strategies for effective structuring of discovery within the context of the budget. They develop an appreciation of where costs can be controlled and where costs are inherent. In short, they do a better job for their clients – and that's what analysis is all about.

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Law practice management expert, Ed Poll, unwraps the business side of legal practice.

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In this issue:

Law and the Art of Analysis

3-Dimensional Lawyer
(3 CD set) - 53% OFF!

Video: Bringing in the $'s - Collections

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Birmingham, AL

Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |
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