THE MAGAZINE      May/June 2002
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What If?

Want to think differently? Ask different kinds of questions. Look at your practice from new angles. Turn it upside-down and sideways in your head. Contemplate seemingly crazy what-if scenarios. You just might hit on an idea whose time has come!

What if your legal services were packaged just like groceries? Like panty hose? Or like municipal bonds?

What if you charged for your services based on their value to the client, instead of basing your fees on how much it "cost" you to perform those services?

What if one year your firm’s legal assistants and secretaries were in charge of making the partner compensation decisions in your firm?

What if a consortium of geographically diverse midsize law firms shared their firms’ resources—all of their resources—over the Internet?

What if your firm chose to be the equivalent of a teaching hospital for law school graduates?

What if you asked your client to pick "one task from column A" and "one task from column B" when engaging your services?

What if you didn’t actually, physically, have an office from which to work?

What if a committee of your regular clients ran the firm while you did what you do best—practice law?

What if your firm gave quantity discounts to its clients?

What if lawyers were required to do a two-year apprenticeship before they were allowed to practice unsupervised?

What if a lawyer, a doctor and a CPA went into business together to ease the pains of ill or aging clients?

What if your client paid you a flat fee just to be at the other end of the phone line—and be smart—whenever and wherever he or she called?

What if your firm’s partner compensation system provided a bonus to the lawyer with the lowest billable hours to dollars collected ratio (fewest hours to most dollars)?

— Merrilyn Astin Tarlton