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Ed Poll
  Week of February 26, 2008

If You Leave, What Should
You Do Next?

If you make the decision to leave your firm and strike out on your own, be prepared. In my experience coaching lawyers (and entrepreneurs) who are opening their new adventures, it takes five years to get any new business - including a new law practice - off the ground and be stable enough to continue. I recently presented a multi-part series about what a new firm should focus on, as part of my regular "Coach's Corner" column that appears every Monday in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. These are some highlights of what any lawyer looking to start a new firm should keep in mind.

  • Finances. Managing money is your number one consideration for success in a new firm. Practice needs should always be met first, and personal needs should be the minimum expense necessary to maintain a standard of living. The one essential is that your new law firm should not be a bank for clients. When you bill clients, you are extending them credit. Lax collections mean you need more cash to stay in business while waiting for clients to pay. The new firm that stays on top of receivables will have the cash to survive and grow.
  • Infrastructure. Bricks and mortar, computers and software are essential to the new firm, but choices should reflect practical analysis and decision. Office space, for example, will tell clients and lawyers about what kind of firm you are. Lower real estate costs exemplify a firm sensitive to client needs (since lower overhead could well translate into a lower fee structure). The same applies to technology. New solo practices should avoid substantial spending on new computer hardware and software. A beginning practice can start with a refurbished laptop or PC, or skip Microsoft Office and Outlook and go with open source software and a free email management program. Any such tactics can give the benefits of technology to a lawyer newly in practice, without the big initial expense. Of course, with lower prices for technology and with a bit more cash reserve in your pocket, you can be more liberal with your choices.
  • Marketing plan. A marketing plan doesn't have to be complicated. Identify the people most likely to hire you for the work you want to do, communicate with them to let them know who you are, and then build close relationships with these people to help them achieve their goals. Develop a profile of your ideal client and craft a marketing strategy that focuses on this target, not everyone. You can increase your revenue dramatically by focusing on clients who will give you the work that you want. New law firms build loyalty by communicating frequently, offering something that competitor firms don't or can't, and creating something new that clients need or want. Providing solutions gets attention—and gets rewarded.
Ed Poll

There is a common misconception that being an attorney requires only an expertise in law. But being an attorney is also about being an entrepreneur. Let us help you with the business side so that you can focus on your work.
• All assignments and coaching strategies are based on the results you want to see.
• With over 25 years of experience as an attorney on all sides of the table, Ed will serve as your personal mentor, speaking your language and expertly helping you through the day-to-day minutia that is the reality of any law practice.
• As a private coach to lawyers for almost 20 years, Ed is available on your time frame and all calls and emails are returned promptly.
• Ed helps you develop long-term career strategies to get you to your professional goals even after the coaching program is finished.

Ed Poll
Ed Poll

Personal Commentary
Renee Barrett, a friend of mine, has taught me about the new social/business networking. Her article in the ABA Law Practice Management Magazine is a good tutorial on the why. One reason not included by Renee, however, is that the networking systems like LinkedIn and others allow you to stay current on some of the activities of the folks with whom you network.
For example, I've received quite a few good wishes for my birthday. At first, I could not figure out how so many people suddenly know the date of my birth...and then take the time to send me an email of good wishes. Suddenly, it dawned on me—social networking working at its best! Staying in touch with people who know you and with whom you have a relationship. This does a lot to create a greater bond.
So, to the many who care, I say "thank you" for caring. This is a great day for me...and a great time to know so many of you. Thanks.
Best wishes,
Ed Poll

Ed Poll
Ed Poll

What Readers Are Saying...
"Ed was coaching me during our firm reorganization when disaster hit! Key personnel departed and I was panic-stricken. Not only did he honor his commitment to 24/7, but his advice enabled me to refocus my priorities. Now, I'm eating, I'm sleeping, and I'm smiling thanks to his guidance."
-KH, England

Ed Poll
Ed Poll

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