Getting Ahead In the Business of Practicing Law
Quick Tips - Solos & Small Firm Practitioners
Automate client data and file tracking. A good case management software system can really pay off. You can be assured that all critical dates are tracked and no deadlines forgotten. You can produce standard, predictable documents efficiently. In addition, you can track the status of each case for each client. You can also review the electronic version of every file without chasing down the physical file.
Adapted from Time Matters in One Hour for Lawyers by Storm Evans. ABA Law Practice Management Section, 1998.
Document how your lawyers practice together. Your agreement should address the following questions: What is the basic information about the partnership? Can partners be added without terminating the existing partnership? How will the firm be managed—with a benevolent dictator; an executive committee; a committee of the whole or rule by all; or a managing partner? Is there a method of voting on significant issues that affect the firm’s options and future? How will a partner’s contribution be evaluated for income-sharing determinations? Can the founding partners be compensated for their sweat-equity? Should retirement be mandatory, and will there be benefits? How can the firm retain the retiring partner’s knowledge? And to whom should clients be shifted?
Adapted from Getting Started: Basics for a Successful Law Firm, edited by Arthur G. Greene. ABA Law Practice Management Section, 1996.
Quick Tips - Young Lawyers
Procrastination can be a big problem. One way to get started on a task you’ve been putting off is to promise yourself that you’ll spend only 15 minutes on it. Once you get started, you will probably want to keep going. Also, start your day by updating your to-do list. Keep a running list of pending tasks in your computer. Prioritize tasks, but don’t allow low-priority tasks to stay on the list too long.
Adapted from Running a Law Practice on a Shoestring by Theda C. Snyder. ABA Law Practice Management Section, 1997.
Quick Tips - Experienced Lawyers
Display your competence. Used properly, the computer presentation can convey your competence. Four categories describe the advantages of using computers for display: (1)The message is best received when presented through the right medium. (2) The computer helps achieve the best of the elements of flow and control. (3) Computer presentations save a lot of time. (4) People increasingly expect the use of technology in the courtroom and the conference room.
Adapted from Persuasive Computer Presentations: The Essential Guide for Lawyers by Ann E. Brenden and John D. Goodhue. ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2001.
Quick Tips -Managing Partners
Writing a new compensation plan? Mix in considerations of the shifting balance from lawyers to clients, the explosion in starting salaries for new graduates and expenses related to technology.
Adapted from Compensation Plans for Law Firms, edited by James D. Cotterman. ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2001.
Be aware of the fine line. Managing partners must exercise care and skill when enforcing the rules because they must often address exceptions to those rules, both before and after the fact. There is a fine line between bending and breaking the rules—and some rules cannot be bent at all. It is a matter of judgment and perspective.
Adapted from Managing Partner 101: A Guide to Successful Law Firm Leadership, 2nd edition, by Lawrence G. Green. ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2001.
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