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Best Practice tips

Best Practice Tips: Attorney Career Progression

Posted on March 14, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a member of a three-member executive committee with a 12-attorney firm in San Antonio, Texas. One of our responsibilities is oversight of our career development program for associates and non-equity partners. We have been discussing our policy of admitting associates to non-equity partner and non-equity partners to equity partner. Presently, we do not have anything in writing regarding timeline for consideration or what qualifies one to move to the next level. Associates and non-equity partners are unhappy with the present process. They want more clarity concerning their career advancement within the firm. Your advice would be helpful to us.

Best Practice Tips: Demonstrating Expertise Through Marketing

Posted on March 7, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a new non-equity partner in a 16-attorney firm in Phoenix, Arizona. My equity partners are telling me that I have to do more than generate billable hours and perform quality work for clients. They now expect me to bring in clients. Where do I start?

A. I often advise attorneys that while what you know is important what you want to be known for is more important. Just having your name known is pretty useless unless it is known for something. For example, it is best to be known as an outstanding personal injury plaintiff lawyer – not just a good lawyer. In law firms it is the reputation for expertise that matters, not just the reputation. Therefore, a successful marketing program must project and demonstrate expertise. This can be accomplished in the following ways:

Best Practice Tips: Selling My Law Practice to My Associate

Posted on February 28, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the owner of a general practice firm in Chicago’s west suburbs. My firm has three associate attorneys and three staff members. I am 64 and contemplating my retirement and exit from the practice. I would like to start phasing back over the next three years and be out of the practice by December 31, 2021. There is one associate in the firm to whom I would like to sell the practice and he has expressed an interest as well. What are your thoughts as to how I approach this?

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Staff Work Distribution Analysis

Posted on February 21, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a new firm administrator with a 35-attorney litigation firm in Los Angeles, California. The accounting department has seven staff members handling a variety of tasks. My partners are concerned that we are inefficient and over-staffed. I am having a hard time finding where to start so to get a handle on this issue. Please provide any information that you are willing to share.

Best Practice Tips: Compensation Ideas for Law Firm Staff

Posted on February 14, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the firm administrator with a ten attorney firm in Long Beach, California. I really enjoyed reading your blog post Law Firm Compensation – Bonuses for Staff, which discussed how to measure performance for bonuses. I really like the approach of establishing goals at the beginning of each year — two for the firm, and two that are personal — and tying bonuses to measurable outcomes. Have you used other approaches other than percentage of salary? Can you give additional examples of specific goals that would be appropriate for a bookkeeper, office manager, or firm administrator?

Best Practice Tips: Partner Withdrawal from a Law Firm

Posted on February 7, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a law firm in Walnut Creek, California. There are four other partners and three associates. We are a general practice firm and our clients are primarily individual clients. I have a good relationship with the other partners. I have decided to leave the firm and join a larger firm in San Francisco. I have notified my partners in writing of my intention to leave. They are supportive of my decision, and I anticipate an amicable withdrawal. This is the first time a partner has left the firm for any reason, so we are not sure what the next step is. Please share with us any thoughts that you have.

Best Practice Tips: Hiring a Legal Administrator in a Small Firm

Posted on January 31, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is an eight-attorney estate planning firm in the Chicago area. Our firm has grown from two attorneys to our present size in four years. We have five partners and three associates. Firm management is currently handled by a managing partner. The partners have been discussing hiring a legal administrator. We were thinking of hiring someone with experience in managing law firms and a solid background in human resources and bookkeeping/accounting. One of our clients suggested that we hire someone with a strong academic background, such as an MBA or CPA who has served as the CEO of a mid-size corporation. What are your thoughts?

Best Practice Tips: Client Satisfaction Surveys in Law Firms

Posted on January 24, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is a 17-attorney firm is San Diego. We are a boutique business litigation firm and we represent companies of all sizes. We represent several Fortune 500 companies. I am a member of our three-member marketing committee and during our last meeting one of our members suggested that we consider a formal survey of our clients. What are your thoughts regarding client satisfaction surveys? Is this something we should consider?

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.

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