A Graceful Exit
Last Day of Pay

Building the Service-Centered Firm

A bold proposal to bring customer service back to the professional service firm.

Matt Homman of the [non]billable hour fame is writing a new treatise on a service oriented approach for law firms.  His work will be a must read for anyone serious about alternative billing and innovative business models.  Not surprisingly, he rejects the hourly billing model on the following premise:

In my essay, I’ll argue that lawyers (and other professionals such as accountants, architects, and designers) who have embraced hourly billing have based their entire business on a model that rewards inefficiency and is at odds with the best interests of the clients they serve.

He invites bloggers to comment on the outline and content.  Great work Matt.  You are truly a leader at a time when lawyers need inspiration and insight that things do not need to be as they are.  How fortunate am I that I start my non-solo practice with Matt's blog  riding second chair.   

Here is Matt's chapter outline:

1.  Learn to think for yourself.  Lawyers, in particular, are paid to be innovative and creative, but only on their clients’ behalf.  Professionals get so caught up in fixing their clients’ problems that they seldom apply that same creative energy on their own businesses.

2.  Identify your best clients.  Just as you don’t pick out a box and then find a present to put in it, you can’t build a business based upon delivering superlative customer service until you identify that customer you want to serve.   

The next five “chapters” will be the meat of my essay.  I will give dozens of customer service ideas and strategies that fall mainly under these broad chapter titles:

3.  Have something cool to sell.

4.  Make sure your customers want it.

5.  Give some of it away for free.

6.  Make the rest of it simple to buy.

7. Don’t sell it to everybody.

Finally, my last chapter will be my thoughts on the future of professional services in this country – including the commoditization of law practice.  I will suggest that those professionals who fail to embrace change now will be forced to do so, and on much poorer terms, in the near future.

Great work Matt. 



Stan Chess (En Passant http://lawtv.typepad.com/en_passant/2004/a_question_of_l.html) writes "kaplan's Concord School of Law says it's one of the largest law schools in the country, yet for each administration only about 25 of its graduates sit for the bar exam. What happens to the hundreds of other students in each class?"

According to the New York Times: Recently, a number of for-profit colleges have faced inquiries, lawsuits and other actions calling into question the way they inflate enrollment to mislead/increase the value of their parent company’s stock.

In the last year, the Career Education Corporation of Hoffman Estates, Ill., has faced lawsuits, from shareholders and students, contending that, among other things, its colleges have inflated enrollment numbers. The company acknowledged that it was under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In February 2004, F.B.I. agents raided 10 campuses run by ITT Educational Services of Carmel, Ind., looking for similar problems.

Kaplan is wholly own by the Washington Post Company. I provided the S.E.C., Department of Education, and federal courts information that appears to prove Kaplan inflated the Concord School of Law enrollment, telling investors that the “flagship” of its higher education division has as many as 600 to 1000 or more students.

Why didn’t the Justice Department and S.E.C. included Kaplan with their investigation?

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