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   Jan/Feb 2002


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Getting Ahead In the Business of Practicing Law

Quick Tips

Solos & Small Firm Practitioners

Know before you show. Clients to whom you give computer presentations are not looking merely at legal qualifications. They want lawyers who can come up with technology solutions that help them impress the jury or meet their business needs. Adapted from Persuasive Computer Presentations: The Essential Guide for Lawyers by Ann E. Brenden and John D. Goodhue.ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2001.

Be cash wise. Here are six basic, no-fail tips for managing your money and cash flow:

1. Get and keep good credit.

2. Don’t spend money you don’t have.

3. Always pay your taxes on time.

4. Get a good CPA and learn as much as you can about good money management.

5. Save and invest for rainy days, as well as for the future.

6. Don’t spend your savings or investments except on those things for which you saved and invested.

Adapted from Flying Solo: A Survival Guide for the Solo Lawyer, 3rd edition, edited by Jeffrey R. Simmons.ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2001.

Hit the mark with your Web site. (1) Focus: Define your audience and target the Web site toward that audience. (2) Give value: Provide something through the Web site that will appeal to your target audience. (3) Reach: Promote the Web site effectively, both on and off the Internet, so your target audience learns about it.

Adapted from Flying Solo: A Survival Guide for the Solo Lawyer, 3 rd edition, edited by Jeffrey R. Simmons.

Young Lawyers

Balance your personal-time budget. For the next month, identify events at work that require you to commit time you hadn’t expected to provide: How many extra hours did any project take? Did you cancel or change plans? Then, total the number of hours of extra work you expended during that month. In month number 2, pay yourself back by expending the hours owed to you in some creative endeavor. See how long you can maintain a ratio of at least one personal hour for every two extra hours you gave to work. See if you are prepared to change or cancel plans to honor this time commitment to yourself.

Adapted from The Lawyer’s Guide to Balancing Life and Work: Taking the Stress Out of Success by George W. Kaufman. ABA Law Practice Management Section, 1999.

Dive in and learn to market. There are several potential roles for associates who want to build their marketing skills. Help prepare written marketing materials. Prepare new business proposals. And make direct contacts and schedule meetings with acquaintances to further the marketing objectives of the firm.

Adapted from "Progressive Levels of Associate Marketing" by Phyllis Weiss Haserot. Law Practice Management, September 1999.

Know the sum of client skills. Total client service equates to successful rainmaking. Rainmaking is not just about taking a client to lunch or boasting about a recently successful decision. It is about servicing a client with the highest-quality work product in the most efficient way possible.

Adapted from "Can Everyone Make Rain?" by Donna D. Fraiche. Law Practice Quarterly, December 1999.

Managing Partners

Identify the clients you want to attract. If you expect your firm to hit the target, you must know where to aim. Know your target demographics. Identify individuals by who they are (including gender, age, marital and family status). Look at psychographics. Identify people by what they like and how they live, such as hobbies and leisure activities. And aim by geographics. Identify individuals by where they live and where they work.

Adapted from"The Only Marketing Plan You’ll Need" by Trey Ryder. Law Practice Quarterly, June 2000.

Alternative Billing Methods 101

Fixed/Flat Fee: The price charged for defined services.

Contingent Fee: A charge that depends on the results.

Straight Hourly: Based on keeping accurate records for the time expended by everyone involved in handling the matter.

Blended Hourly: Involves establishing one hourly rate that includes the hourly rates charged by all individuals involved in handling the matter.

Hourly Plus Contingency: Involves both the lawyer and the client sharing the risks within the confines of the fee arrangement.

Percentage Fees: Based on a schedule of fees related to the amount involved in the matter being handled.

Retrospective Based on Value:Determined at the conclusion of the representation based on elements established in the fee agreement.

Availability-Only Retainer: Involves payment to a lawyer for the lawyer’s commitment to be available when requested and to refrain from representing parties adverse or in competition to the client.

Retainer: A deposit against future service ensures that the client will pay for the services rendered or disbursements made on behalf of the client.

Fixed or Flat Fee Plus Hourly Arrangement: Under this arrangement, portions of the services that can be defined as to scope are charged on a fixed or flat rate. The services involving uncertainties are charged on an hourly rate.

Adapted from Law Firm Profitability by Austin Anderson.AndersonBoyer Group News, Summer 2001.

Experienced Lawyers

Avoid revealing negative qualities. Don’t deliver too much technical information in a social conversation. An overabundance of it will be boring and position you as an intellectual elitist. Also, eliminate off-color jokes and cultural slurs. Be aware of bad habits that may be acceptable in your social dialogue, but disastrous with prospects. At all times, be careful not to show disrespect for clients. Lawyers sometimes forget that their clients are not supposed to know legal issues, and they make light of the clients’ lack of knowledge.

Adapted from The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Law Practice by Hollis Hatfield Weishar and James A. Durham.ABA Law Practice Management Section, 1999.

Build a strong support system. Your support system should be drawn from three sources: personal, professional and peer. For personal sources, select family members or close friends. For professional support, you can draw from therapists, counselors and other skilled persons. For peer sources, pick carefully the peers in whom you are willing to confide. You want their support—not their skepticism or challenge.

Adapted from The Lawyer’s Guide to Balancing Life and Work: Taking the Stress Out of Success by George W. Kaufman. ABA Law Practice Management Section, 1999.

 

FURTHER READING

Persuasive Computer Presentations: The Essential Guide for Lawyers

Would you like to know how to effectively express ideas and persuade others through computer presentations, in and out of the courtroom? With Persuasive Computer Presentations: The Essential Guide for Lawyers, you can learn how, when and why to create eye-catching presentations that are heard, understood and retained. Written by lawyers Ann E. Brenden and John D.Goodhue, this new book teaches readers how to create presentations—using popular programs such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Corel Presentations—for use during opening statements, direct examination, cross-examination, appellate arguments and at trial. It also illustrates how to use computer presentations for meetings with prospective clients, in-house presentations, seminars, pre-trial presentations and more.

Included is a CD-ROM featuring more than 250 slides that make up five sample presentations, illustrating use of photos, layering and 3-D techniques. Also included on the CD-ROM: Corel Presentations 9, a presentation software that allows users to quickly create Web-ready slide shows, multimedia presentations and interactive demos.

To order, call (800) 285-2221. Product code: 511-0462. $69.95 for LPM Section members; $79.95 for nonmembers.