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Best Practice tips

Best Practice Tips: Attorney and Staff Performance Compensation

Posted on January 17, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the firm administrator for a 22-attorney firm — 12 partners and 10 associates — in downtown Chicago. I have been with the firm for seven years. The firm pays associates and staff a base salary plus a year-end discretionary bonus, which is the same for all staff and associate attorneys. The firm does not do performance reviews and honestly, I believe the raises are simply an annual cost of living adjustment and the year-end bonuses a gift. Many of our associates and staff have been here for many years and salaries are getting out of control. We would welcome your thoughts.

Best Practice Tips: Increasing Case Volume in a Personal Injury Law Firm

Posted on January 10, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a two-partner personal injury firm in Tampa, Florida. We do not have any associate attorneys. Our firm only handles personal injury work. We have been in practice for 35 years and have been very successful over the years. However, the last few years have been terrible. Adjusters are not settling cases and the days of three-times specials is over. Our case volume is down, the quality of cases that we have in our inventory is far below what we had in previous years, and our revenues are down substantially. Cash flow is awful. We have had to live off of our credit line for the past year. Our main source of business over the years has been referrals from past clients and other lawyers, yellow pages, and our very basic website. We would appreciate any thoughts and suggestions that you may have.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm 2018 Initiatives and Goals

Posted on January 4, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is an 18-attorney insurance defense firm located in Los Angeles. We have six partners and 12 associates. We represent insurance companies in personal injury and property claims. Over the last five years, our growth and profitability have been flat. We feel that we have enough work to reach our goals, but we don’t think our people are energized. We have a billing requirement of 2,000 billable hours but few of our attorneys are hitting them. The partners met a few weeks ago to set goals for 2018. The firm does not have a business or strategic plan. Do you have any thoughts on 2018 goals and how best we can implement?

Best Practice Tips: Associate Attorneys as a Succession Strategy

Posted on December 26, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. My firm is a Tucson, Arizona business litigation firm. We have four founding partners and four associates. The partners are in their late fifties and early sixties. All four of us are contemplating retirement in the next 8–10 years. We are assuming that our associates will be willing to step up and buy out our interests. We have not had any discussions with our associates concerning this. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Best Practice Tips: Expectations for Associate Attorney Billable Hours

Posted on December 20, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is a six-attorney estate planning/probate firm in Mesa, Arizona. There are three partners and three associates in the firm. We have had associates for the last eight years and have never made money from them. Last year we decided to implement a billable hour expectation of 1,800 hours for the associates. A year later, no one is even close. Only one associate has reached 1,500 hours. Is our expectation reasonable? Your insight is appreciated.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Owners Use of a Leadership Team

Posted on December 13, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the owner of a 14-attorney law firm in South Bend, Indiana. The firm is a health care firm that represents various medical facilities in the area. I am the managing attorney who makes all of the management decisions, and all of the other attorneys in the firm are associates. I also bring in the bulk of the firm's clients. I want to retire in the next five years and would like to sell my interests to three associates in the firm. However, I am unsure if they will be good partners with each other, whether they have the management and client development skills to lead the firm, or even if they would want to be partners. My other option would be to merge with another firm. I prefer to sell my interests to the three associates rather than merge if at all possible. What are your thoughts?

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Partner Compensation

Posted on December 6, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a founding partner of a two-partner firm. We have been in business for three years. We have six associates and our practice focuses on health care law. My partner and I each have a 50 percent interest in the firm and our compensation is based on our ownership percentages. We split firm profits 50/50. Since starting the firm, I have been bringing in substantially more fees that my partner. This year I will bring in 65 percent of firm fees. I am getting frustrated and feel that our compensation system is unfair and needs to be changed. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Best Practice Tips: Business Development for New Associate Attorneys

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a 14-attorney firm in Denver. We have six equity partners and eight associate attorneys in the firm. Our practice is limited to health care law. We represent many local hospitals. Our associates range from those who have been with the firm less than one year to those who have been with the firm for over 15. None of our associates have developed business development skills and none of them have ever brought in a single client. Most would be unable to retain existing clients if the partners left the firm. This is in part our fault. When we hired them, we told them that we had plenty of client work and their mission was to bill hours and service our clients. However, as we the partners age and consider the future of the firm, we are beginning to realize that this was a mistake. How can we turn this around?

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Growth – Partnership/Merger

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the sole owner of a six-attorney energy law practice in Houston. I have had my practice for twenty years and have enjoyed the independence of being the boss, but I am tired of being solely accountable for the success of the practice, having to do all the management, and having all the worry and stress. I believe I have reached the point where I am ready for a partner or partners and I believe that the practice can be positioned for growth if I bring in a lateral partner, make a couple of my associates partners, or merge with another firm. I welcome any suggestions that you may have.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Marketing – Paid Seminars

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a six-attorney estate planning firm in Dallas, Texas. For many years, our primary marketing activity has been seminars that we put on for clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. These seminars have been put on solely by our firm, or in partnership with other organizations such as nursing homes, hospitals, etc. These seminars have been free of charge. We provide a lot of value at these seminars and have been wondering whether we should charge a fee. We would appreciate your thoughts.

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