Lawyers learn a great many things in law school, but how to build a successful legal practice is not one of them. This is an unfortunate fact of life because, in our modern transactional world, there is a dearth of mentoring available to lawyers, especially when it comes to law practice management. Although lawyers at all stages of their careers need this kind of help, the cruel reality is that many established lawyers are resistant to change. For this reason, I expect that it is new lawyers who are starting their own practices early in their careers who have the greatest need for someone to tell them exactly how to run a practice.
Into this less-than-happy scenario enters Lawrence S. Pascoe, who, after practicing law as a small firm lawyer and sole practitioner for 40 years, has spent the first year of his retirement downloading a lifetime of practical insights about running a legal practice into the book Innovative Legal Service Applications: A Guide to Improved Client Services (ABA, 2022) with the laudable goal of helping lawyers improve their client service and profitability while decreasing their risk of liability for malpractice claims.
Pascoe practiced primarily family law and wills and estates. Although his book would be useful for any lawyer, it would be particularly helpful for lawyers in these disciplines.
What I liked about this book was the step-by-step instructions as to how lawyers should organize their dealings with their clients. The author clearly understands the importance of establishing an excellent communication strategy with clients and that such a strategy can enhance client satisfaction, improve the collection of receivables, reduce costs, enhance profitability, generate referrals, and decrease the risk of malpractice claims.
I also liked the philosophy that Pascoe imparts to his readers about innovation in the profession. Throughout his career, the author was constantly looking for ways to improve the client experience. In today’s world, where doing things the way they have always been done is a recipe for disaster, young lawyers would be well advised to learn from Pascoe’s passion for constantly exploring ways to improve how legal services are delivered.
In short, I liked the substance of this book very much.
The things that I liked less about the book relate to the ways in which it has been packaged, which does a disservice to its substance. It has been published by the American Bar Association, which, on the one hand, is an impressive endorsement. On the other hand, the book reads like a textbook, which is great for reference but does not lend itself to a “quick read.”
Pascoe’s unifying concept of an “innovative service application” makes sense once you start reading, but you have to get into it to realize that the book is not about computer software but about both high-tech and low-tech ways to improve the delivery of legal services.
In summary, this book will be very useful to any lawyer who is prepared to put in the work to make positive changes in their legal practice. It would be particularly useful for anyone starting a legal practice from scratch in a small firm or sole practitioner environment. In any event, be prepared to settle in, read it carefully, and implement the wealth of ideas that Lawrence S. Pascoe had to learn the hard way but serves up to his reader on a platter.
Innovative Legal Service Applications: A Guide to Improved Client Services
By Lawrence S. Pascoe
Product Code: 5150528
2022, 382 pages, paperback and e-book
$99.95; member price $89.95
Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 13, Number 4, November 2023. © 2023 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.