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March 2009

How to Maximize the Talents in Your Law Firm

The paring down of lawyers, paralegals, and staff has been an end result of the predominant model law firm practice.  Most law firms prefer to ensure that employees are in their chairs between certain hours than to inspire those workers to fulfill their potential.  Law firms prefer the certainty of uninspired, low-level, non-creative work.  Risk are low.  Simply calculate the number of billable hours per year times the number of lawyers times the hourly rate.  Boom!

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Dennis Kennedy's Recommendations Concerning Technology Choices for Solo Lawyers

There is a great new blog post over on the Dennis Kennedy blog about implementing technology. 

"The legal profession is not exempt from the current economic turmoil. I wrote the introduction to this column before the last big wave of layoffs, so it feels even more true now than when I originally wrote it: "Given the current economy, odds are there will be many more lawyers in solo practice at the end of 2009 than at the beginning. Change might come about by choice or by circumstance—the “suddenly solo” phenomenon—as news stories are illustrating all too well."

In the column, I focus on how a new solo, especially one who is transitioning from a large firm, needs to think about technology and set priorities. I wanted to focus on the questions to ask.

I highlight three key questions:

First, what is your practice area?

Second, what is your expected volume of clients, work and documents?

Third, what is your budget?

Over the years, I've become convinced that "volume," meaning number, amount and the like, really does drive technology choices. Think about it."

Natasha Richardson’s Tragedy Should Teach Tort Reformers about the Serious Consequences of Head Injury

One of the best parts about being a lawyer is that you get to learn things.  You learn about engineering principles.  You hire the top experts on the world on issues related to causation factors between injury and outcome and biomechanic.  And if you do anything in the injury area, you learn that mild brain injury is the most egregiously bad labeling of a diagnosis ever.  Mild brain injury is a misnomer because:

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Why "Trust But Verify" Hourly Billing Doesn't Really Work

We recently posted about some of the challenges which firms that are struggling financially face in preserving their client relationships.  Let's face it, there is always an uneasy balance of "friend or foe" between clients and their hourly billing law firms.  Some commenters replied that clients need to "trust but verify" the hourly billing engaged by their law firms, perhaps even more carefully now that there is a lot of financial stress in the system.  Others noted that big law firms who are cutting lawyers should be more trustworthy since they are at least taking measures to cut costs.  Other firms who aren't cutting lawyers may simply be engaging in "make work" projects which provide very little value to clients. 

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How Giving Away Legal Advice and Information For Free Is the Best Business Model for Your Law Firm

When our law firm started blogging its expertise six years ago, people said a lot of things.

  • "No one's ever going to hire off the Internet"
  • "Why would you give away legal information for free? That's how we get people on retainer, because we know more than they do and they need us.”
  • "Business model of laws premised on the fact that you know the answer and they don't.  You are providing the very information which allows the prospect to retain your services."
  • "You can't put legal information on the Internet without creating liability.  What if you provide bad information or the client interprets that information incorrectly?"

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The Art of Making a Proposal to a Client of a Flat Fee Project

Do you want to know what the best part of hourly billing is?  Hands down, bar none, the best reason to bill by the hour is its simplicity.  In fact, it is really thoughtless on almost every level.  A client calls with a problem, you tell them what the retainer amount is, and you get to work.  Putting aside for a second the fact that hourly billing does nothing to provoke a conversation as to whether or not legal work should actually be done in the first place; I believe that it is the simplicity of the business model that perpetuates the hourly billing system. 

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Doug Lichtman at the Intellectual Property Colloquium Launches New Podcast Series

For my regular readers, you know that I am a big proponent of A+ content.  Blogging is hard work.  And if you want to develop a following, you better provide some really good content.  There is a tremendous amount of competition out there. 

You also know that I am a big fan of vertical content; niche content on specific issues.  I was recently contacted by Doug Lichtman, a professor at UCLA School of Law, concerning his new website, The Intellectual Property Colloquium, which offers A++ content on intellectual property issues. Here is what Professor Lichtman has to say about his new offering:

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Children Understand Value. Why Can't We?

My older son Echo's friend Cole was asked this question the other day:  "Which of your friends has the coolest house?"  The answer surprised some in the room.

Cole and Echo have some friends with some pretty big houses with some pretty impressive toys.  Cole actually identified Jack's house as his favorite.  Jack lives in a late 1800's style downtown home which is probably 1600 sq. ft.  When Cole was challenged on his answer, "Jack's house is small!"  Cole responded this way……..


“Jack’s mom lets us do whatever we want.  His house is the most fun.”


Cole understood the concept of “value.”  Value does not mean size of the house or the price of the toys.  The value was the house where the most fun could be had. 

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Revisiting The Issue Of Why Lawyers Wear Suits

In a recent post titled “Why Do Lawyers Wear Suits”, we playfully explored the idea of the importance – or lack thereof – of a suit and tie for legal professionals.  The post drew some interesting commentary warranting a re-posting of the article here!

Are suits just another example of “form over substance” for lawyers and law firms?  I haven’t worn a suit in five years, except to court.  I deal with very powerful and important clients, as well as average business people and layman.  Clients feel more comfortable when they’re not sitting across from a stuffed suit.  No client has ever been taken aback by the fact that I wasn’t wearing a suit.  In fact, more often than not, neither were they. 

The concept that lawyers need to wear suits to meet their client’s expectations is ridiculous in most instances.  Clients aren’t that stupid.  They want good lawyers and good results.  They don’t care if their legal professional is wearing nothing but underwear while they accomplish those results.