We may have learned to think like lawyers in law school, but once out in practice, many of us still struggle to think like businesspersons. If you didn’t know it before law school, it’s likely you didn’t know it after you got out. Unless we did a JD/MBA program at law school, most of us can use some additional education on law practice management skills. Luckily, the Law Practice Management Section can help with the four important core areas of marketing, management, technology and finance. This issue provides education in the core area of finance and is dedicated to law firm profitability.
Money is an important topic, but one that can make many lawyers uncomfortable. After all, practicing law is a calling, and though we consider it our career, we look askance at the professional who is too businesslike. Despite how well lawyers practice law, they may have only a general idea about budgets, profit and loss statements, or 12-month cash-flow projections. At the end of the day or month, their personal realization rate for billable hours collected may not seem all that important. Why waste time that can be better spent practicing law or getting new clients, right?
Hold onto your checkbooks! This month, we thank the hardworking members of the Law Firm Profitability Issue team, led by Dan Siegel, who gathered up fellow members of the LP editorial board Michael Schewe and Tom Grella, along with Arthur Greene, principal of Boyer Greene LLC, a law firm consulting organization, and author of numerous books, including the popular The Lawyer’s Guide to Increasing Revenue. In addition to helping to plan this issue, Arthur has written our lead article, “The New Normal: Restoring Profitability.” A good place to start in a great issue!
If you are wondering about using alternative fee arrangements, be sure to check Mark Robertson’s article, “A Case for Alternative Billing,” as well as Colin Cameron’s “Win-Win Alternative Fee Arrangements.” Both will give you insights and helpful tips for structuring creative and ethical alternative fee arrangements for your client matters.
Additional useful tips can be found in “Accelerating Receivables for Greater Profitability” by Kevin Harris and Allison Renaud, “Making the Most of Your Physical Network” by Dan Siegel, and “15 Proven Profitability Techniques” by Joel Rose.
With all this talk about profitability, what about providing pro bono services—does it have any positive impact on the bottom line? Martha “Frannie” Reilly shares her experiences in “Helping Others Helps You,” which should encourage more lawyers and law firms to step up their pro bono practice.
I want to thank Nerino J. Petro Jr. He has written our popular Product Watch column since 2007, and this issue contains his final column. Personally, I consider Nerino one of the best sources of “the plain English” answers to my technology conundrums. Nerino will return to these LP pages writing longer feature articles.
Lastly, with fondness and gratitude, we say goodbye to LPM Section Chair Tom Mighell, whose year of service draws to a close at the end of August. Together with Tom, we have taken big steps forward collaborating to increase and improve law practice management resources available to the practicing lawyer.
On behalf of everyone working on this issue, we hope you will find some new tools for achieving profitability.
Sheila M. Blackford