Financial planning for law firms

At the ABA conference in San Francisco last week, I had the pleasure to moderate an outstanding panel of experts about the financial management of their firms and their “best practices.”  The panel consisted of Bob Hirshon, CEO of Stoel Rives in Portland, OR (and former ABA president); Marcia Wasserman, COO of Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott; Larry Kleinberg, CFO of Munger Tolles & Olson; and Ron Yano, CFO of Loeb & Loeb.

Reid Trautz  mentioned his observations from our panel:

“From a terrific panel of firm financial managers moderated by Ed Poll, comes these interesting ideas:

  • Firms are taking advantage of the new check scanners offered by some banks to more quickly and securely deposit client checks.
  • More firms are closing their billing on the 25th day of each month to get their bills into the “first of the month” billing cycle of clients–both businesses and individuals.
  • Law firms are putting more pressure on partners to collect bills sooner (nothing new there!), but they are using automated e-mail and other added technology features now available in many time & billing programs to keep the pressure on, well, automatically!
  • Larger firms are doing more to ensure that each new client matter has a signed representation letter or agreement before starting any work. This is a smart practice, and is just one area where large firms tend to lag behind smaller firms.”
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