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Best Practice tips

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Shareholder Admission Criteria

Posted on September 19, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our firm is a small firm of two shareholders and two associates based in Bakersfield, Calif. The firm was formed 15 years ago by the two existing shareholders. We have never added additional shareholders, but we believe that we owe it to our associates to have some guidelines as to what we are looking for in future shareholders. We’re considering a partner track program/document. Do you have any suggestions?

A. I believe you should have at least a general set of guidelines laid out in writing. For example:

Associates who have been in practice for seven years and employed by your firm for two or more years and who have consistently performed as outlined below should be eligible for equity shareholder-level review based on equity shareholder-level openings, competencies attained, performance, and behavior.

Best Practice Tips: Lawyer Retention Incentives

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the administrator of a 16-lawyer firm in south Florida. There are six equity partners, two non-equity partners, and eight associates. The firm was formed nine years ago, and we have not lost any attorneys during this period of time. We believe that we have a positive culture and great lawyer retention. However, we would like to do more to ensure that lawyers stay with the firm and implement more incentives for them to do so. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Valuation - Factors that Effect Firm Value

Posted on September 5, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the owner of a small estate planning firm in Kansas City, Mo. I have two associates and four staff members. I am considering acquiring a small solo practice in a nearby community. I have read some of your articles as well as your book on succession planning and valuation, and the multiple of gross revenue used to establish a goodwill value for a law firm. What are some of the factors that can impact whether the multiple is higher or lower – a firm’s potential value?

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Effective Rate Improvement

Posted on August 29, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a partner with a 16-attorney firm in downstate Illinois and a member on our three-person management committee. My responsibility on the committee is overseeing the firm’s finances and supervising the firm administrator’s accounting and finance. In reviewing our financial reports, I have noted that our effective billing rates (realization rates) are not what they should be. We are reluctant to raise client rates. What other steps can we take to improve our effective rates?

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Retreat Follow-up and Implementation

Posted on August 22, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a partner in an 18-attorney firm in Milwaukee. Over the years our firm has held retreats, but the results have been disappointing – a lot of talk and little action. We have the same problem in our monthly partner meetings. We spend a lot of time in meetings – discussions and decisions made but little implementation. This week we are having a partner vote to decide on whether to have a retreat this year. Frankly, I will vote against it and I think it will be a waste of time. What are your thoughts concerning law firm retreats?

Best Practice Tips: Six Worries That Keep Law Firm Managing Partners Awake at Night

Posted on August 15, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a new managing partner in a 35-attorney firm in Tucson, Ariz. I replaced the previous managing partner who retired. He was the firm founder and had been in the position since the firm’s inception. I have had this position for six months and I am finding the job overwhelming – trying to serve my clients and managing the firm at the same time is very difficult. What are the major challenges that managing partners are having?

A. I understand and appreciate your situation. Managing partners advise me that the following challenges are what keeps them awake at night:

Best Practice Tips: Firm Administrator vs. Director of Administration or Chief Operating Officer

Posted on August 8, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our firm is a 14-attorney firm in south Florida. I am the senior member of a three-member executive committee. Our firm is in the second generation of partners. The founders retired five years ago. Upon their retirements, we changed our governance from a managing partner to an executive committee model supplemented with an office administrator – some refer to the position as the office manager. Our executive committee model has worked relatively well. The administrator who we hired five years ago is still in place, but we are not satisfied with his performance. We believe that this is in part due to the fact that our expectations have changed. When we hired him, we thought that we needed an office administrator primarily to manage the office staff, billing, and the bookkeeping. So we hired an administrator who had an associate degree in accounting and had worked as an office manager in an eight-attorney firm for two years. He has done a good job managing the staff, billing, and the bookkeeping. However, we have now discovered that we want more – we want executive-level leadership. We want someone who is respected by all the attorneys and can:

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Merger or Of Counsel Arrangement with Larger Firms

Posted on August 1, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a solo practitioner in upstate New York and I hope to retire in three years and move to Florida. I have been talking with a larger firm with 20 attorneys in Albany that has an interest in me either merging my practice with their firm or joining as Of Counsel. My plan would be to work three more years, gradually phase back, and transition clients and referral sources.

I have had several meetings with the partners in the firm and they are now asking me for detailed due diligence information – tax returns, financial statements, etc. I have no problem providing these documents, but I was wondering if I should be asking them for information. What do you think?

Best Practice Tips: Getting Partners to Discuss their Future Plans

Posted on July 25, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the firm administrator for a 25-attorney firm in Baltimore, Md. We have 14 partners, nine of whom are in their 60s. We have no succession or transition plans in place for senior partners. Every time I bring up the topic there is resistance to even discuss it. I would appreciate any help that you can provide.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Structure and Elevating Associates to Partnership

Posted on July 19, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I started my firm as a solo practitioner nine years ago in New Orleans. My practice focuses on maritime defense litigation. Over the years I have added associates and currently I have six associates working for me. I am overwhelmed with work – from the legal work that I am doing in addition to business development and firm administration. My thought is that I should consider restructuring the firm by making some of my associates partners so I can offload and share some of the administrative responsibilities. I would like your thoughts. What are other firms in my situation doing?

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