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Best Practice tips

Best Practice Tips: Documentation of Processes and Procedures in Firm Procedural Manuals

Posted on April 24, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the sole owner of a six-attorney personal injury firm in San Francisco with five support staff. My father started the firm 25 years ago and has since retired from practice. I took over the practice five years ago. At the time I took over the practice, we had just my dad, myself, a couple legal assistants, and no technology. Since then I have done a lot to grow the practice, including adding attorneys and staff as well as implementing technology. My biggest problem is training new attorneys and staff. We have no written documentation as to how we do things, so training has to be done orally by myself or others every time a new attorney or staff member joins the firm. Can you offer any suggestions?

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Merger/Acquisition–Should We Merge or Acquire?

Posted on April 17, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the managing partner of an eight-attorney firm in Dayton, Ohio. We have two equity partners (both in our early 50s), two non-equity partners, and four associates. Our practice is a very niche-specific practice and there are only three or four other practices in the state that do the work that we do. There is another firm in Cleveland, Ohio, that has approached us regarding a possible merger or acquisition. The firm does similar work that our firm does. However, this firm also handles some areas we would like to get into that fall within our niche area. There are two founding partners in the firm (one in his late 60s and the other in her early 70s), one associate attorney, and four staff members. The two partners are planning on moving toward retirement and are looking for a succession strategy. They have not shared with us their timeline or any financial information. We have had one face-to-face meeting and several phone calls. We would appreciate your take on this, next steps, and whether we should pursue this matter further.

Best Practice Tips: Valuing a Personal Injury Law Practice

Posted on April 3, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the owner of a three-attorney personal injury practice in Columbia, South Carolina, and I am contemplating retiring in seven years. I have an associate on board to whom I would like to sell my practice during the next seven years. How do I go about valuing my practice and determining how much I should ask for?

A. A few of the various methods used solely or in combination with other methods for valuing a law firm include:

Best Practice Tips: Hiring Lawyers Who are Children of Law Firm Partners

Posted on March 27, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am an associate attorney in a nine-attorney firm in Orlando, Florida. There are five partners and four associates in the firm. I have been with the firm for four years and I am the senior associate. I am concerned about my future. Recently one of the partners announced that he was bringing his son, who recently graduated from law school, into the firm as an associate. Other partners have children in law school. I have hopes of becoming a partner in the firm in the next few years. I am afraid that with partners’ children in the firm, this may not happen. What are your thoughts on this matter?

Best Practice Tips: Associate Attorney and Non-Equity Partner Compensation

Posted on March 20, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the owner of a seven-lawyer insurance defense firm in downtown Chicago. Two of the lawyers are non-equity partners and four are associates. Currently I pay the associates a set salary and a performance bonus based upon annual billable hours over 1,800. Until last year, non-equity partners were paid in the same fashion, however non-equity partners received a few additional perks such as a firm credit card and a country club membership. Last year I changed the non-equity partner compensation system to focus on collected receipts rather than billable hours. Non-equity partners receive a salary and a performance bonus based upon working-attorney-collected-received above an established threshold and a delegation bonus.

Best Practice Tips: Choosing the Best Form of Communication

Posted on March 13, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the owner of a four-attorney firm in Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm has three associate attorneys, three paralegals, and three other staff members. One of my attorneys recently advised me that he wanted to do more work remotely. The next day I emailed him my thoughts and advised him that I would not let him work remotely. He then emailed me that he was giving me his two weeks’ notice. What should I have done differently?

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Financial Management—Managing the Firm's Inventory

Posted on March 7, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. We have an 18-attorney firm in Portland, Oregon. I was recently hired as the firm administrator. This is my first law firm. My previous employment was with a small manufacturing and distribution company. I have read some articles that discussed the importance of managing inventory in a law practice. Does a law firm even have inventory? I would appreciate your comments.

A. Inventory (or pipeline) management is a term used in the management consulting profession to refer to the process by which you continually evaluate your active opportunities (prospective clients to booked clients) for their balance of quality and quantity. The goal is to continually stay on top of the overall health, which is a full pipeline. Pipeline management allows client relationship managers to more accurately forecast fee revenues, better staff and manage client engagements, and close more client business.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Succession and Transition—All Three Partners Retiring at the Same Time

Posted on February 27, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. Our firm is a personal injury, plaintiff's litigation firm in Denver, Colorado. I am one of three partners in the firm. We have one associate who has been with us for 12 years and three recent law grad associates with less than three years’ experience. The three partners started the practice together over 30 years ago and we are all in our early 60s. Our lease expires in three years and we need to think about the future of the firm. All three of us are not ready to retire but none of us want to sign another lease. When we do retire, we would want to retire at the same time. Do you have any suggestions?

Best Practice Tips: Is Growth Always the Best Strategy?

Posted on February 20, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the sole owner of a five-attorney litigation firm in Mesa, Arizona. I started the firm 12 years ago after leaving a large firm. I was an income partner in that firm. For a few years I operated as a solo with a legal assistant. Then I began adding associates and staff. Now we have four associates, an office manager/bookkeeper, two paralegals, and two legal assistants. Our annual gross fee revenues are around $1.2 million, the overhead is high, and my net income is not all that much more than what I was making as a solo. My associates aren’t willing to put in the time to generate the billable hours that we need. Then there is the time and stress of managing all of this. Is growth a good thing?

Best Practice Tips: Tools to Improve Communications

Posted on February 13, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. Our firm is a 16-attorney personal injury insurance defense firm located in Dallas, Texas. I am a member of our three-person management committee. We have been experiencing associate attorney and staff turnover. Recently, we had all employees complete confidential surveys concerning their thoughts and feedback concerning the firm. One theme that was central to all was that the firm has poor communications with employees. I would like to hear your thoughts on what we need to do to improve.

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