Tag Archive: Finance

Law Firm Fees & Compensation

Michael Brychel, Senior Legal Auditor at Stuart Maue, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, writes an interesting review of our newest publication, Law Firm Fees & Compensation: Value & Growth Dynamics.

He says, "For those who accept the premise that “law firms ARE businesses – get over it” this book will be an effective jump start to incorporating that perspective into useful practice."

View page

Law Firm Fees & Compensation

Our new book will go to press in two weeks:   Law Firm Fees & Compensation: Value & Growth Dynamics  — A LawBiz Special Report

Stay tuned for the official press release.

View page

Will you work for free?

If you are salaried staff and not paid by the hour, and if the 29th day of February falls on a weekday, are you working that day for free?

Once every four years, we receive the opportunity to make a gift to our employers. Do you think they appreciate it? <g>

View page

Are you still in love with your business?

I love Andy’s question, “It’s Valentine’s Day, Are You Still in Love With Your Business” (aka Practice)?

He gives us 3 steps to follow if we love our practice … and 3 steps, if your answer is “no,” to fall back in love with your business.

View page

Professionalism vs Competence

In a survey reported in the February 6th edition of USA Today, Money Section B, the question was asked: "As long as they are good at their jobs, should rude and unprofessional co-workers be tolerated?"

Respondents said "yes" (15%), "no" (84%) and "don’t know" (1%).  It is clear that people are tired of bombastic behavior, at least in the workplace. Can this be translated into a more collegial, and team-oriented work environment?

Patrick Lamb, a leading proponent of "value billing" has certainly committed himself to the concept of team effort. He opened a new practice with two other partners in January 2008. Collegiality, outstanding client service and billing for value delivered (not time spent) gets promoted one step at a time. Patrick has taken that first step in his new firm. Congratulations and best wishes for his continued success. 

As more lawyers succeed in this business model, perhaps others will follow. Then, perhaps, will civility in the profession be achieved.

As a side note, I’m currently reading (actually, listening) the recently published book about Lincoln and his leadership skills. I’m struck by the number of lawyers who were the leaders of our country and the large percentage of our representatives in government (House of Representatives, Senate, and State legislatures) who were lawyers. At one time, the balance substantially exceeded 50%.  Contrast that to today when only around 25%, if that, of these bodies are lawyers. Perhaps the lack of civility in our society in general and the legal profession in particular, is the reason for the lack of faith in lawyers. I don’t know the reason or the answer to this dilemma. But, I do know that many lawyers are stressed, are "burned out" and are unhappy with their chosen profession.

Given this history, I am quite surprised and pleased that 3 of the viable, now 2, Democratic candidates for President are lawyers.

View page

Civility has no chance to succeed!

Civility is the new mantra for bar associations across the country. In California, last year, the then president of the State Bar created a task force to study the issue and develop a set of guidelines.

But, the legal profession merely reflects society at large. I just came across a 2007 book titled The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t written by Robert I. Sutton, a Stanford professor. Great title!

How about these statistics:

  • The number of homicides in the workplace is up
  • "Boss-icide" has doubled in 10 the last 10 years
  • Workers murder 3 to 4 supervisors each month, double the number of 10 years ago
  • "Going postal" is more than the post office violence
  • "Desk rage" is a new term
  • 27% of workers experienced on-the-job mistreatment, according to a 2000 study
  • One in 6 report persistent psychological abuse
  • 36% of employees reported persistent hostility from coworkers and supervisors, according to a 2002 US Department of Veterans Affairs study
  • 91% of nurses experienced verbal abuse that left t hem feeling attacked, devalued or humiliated, according to a 2003 study.

One factor that seldom is discussed is the "second-hand" impact of tolerating jerks on the rest of the organization. Jerks in any organization need not … and should not … be tolerated. The costs are very high. Those law firms that have been sued, and lost, can attest to one level of cost. But there are many levels, including low morale, lost productivity and high turnover.

If our society is facing these issues, how can we expect lawyers to be more "civil" than others?

View page

Collecting Your Fee — Sue As Last Resort

In my book, Collecting Your Fee: Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice, I maintain that your intake procedure is the most important step in the collection process; that an appropriate conversation with your client about payment of fees in the beginning of your relationship will almost certainly assure payment; and that a business-like approach to the pricing of legal services and collection of legal fees will assure collection of most, if not all, your outstanding billings.

However, where there is delayed payment, be sure it is not because of a legitimate complaint against you or the service provided. Given that, if the client has the ability but not the commitment to pay, you may want to consider filing suit against the former client.

You should review certain considerations before doing so: (more…)

View page

Public Defenders Are Taken to Task – For Shame!

In the op-ed of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, January 29, 2008, R. Konrad Moore suggests that public defenders who choose to strike betray the constitutional rights and liberty of their clients.

Shame on you for thinking that public defenders owe more to society than other lawyers, public officials or average citizen.  Mr. Moore seems to believe that becoming a government employee, a public defender, means that one’s human and normal rights are checked at the door. 

Yes, becoming a lawyer does mean that there are certain rights and responsibilities one takes on that are not required by others.  However, I do not hear Mr. Moore suggesting that all lawyers owe a pro bono obligation to society, or that government officials are not entitled to seek increased compensation or that Corporate America has a social responsibility to its customers and a responsibility to its shareholders by keeping CEO compensation within reasonable boundaries or, for that matter, that the State Bar owes a duty to the public to require that all attorneys have malpractice insurance.  And, I don’t hear that the State Bar owes a duty of any kind to its members, let alone  obtaining a program of low cost malpractice insurance so that attorneys could then better protect the public they serve. That would be spreading responsibilities too far. He’s concerned only about limiting the compensation of public defenders.

Why then showed public defenders not be entitled to come together as any other group of employees in order to seek better conditions of work.  Does Mr. Moore mean that the government can give any compensation, no matter how low, to public defenders and that the public defenders should be grateful to receive it?  What about district attorneys?  If they were to organize, as some have, does Mr. Moore likewise believe that there is a violation of the constitutional rights of citizens?

His argument is disingenuous and should be placed in its proper context. More to the point, why does Mr. Moore not argue that it is the responsibility of government and its citizens to make sure that defendants receive the best possible representation by compensating public defenders fairly and in accordance with compensation generally received in private law firms?

View page

The Revolution is Coming – Where Will Your Firm Be When It Arrives?

This was the title of a program offered today by the Los Angeles chapter of Legal Marketing Association, with panelists Susan Hackett, General Counsel of the Association of Corporate Counsel, and Michael Roster, former chairman of ACC, General Counsel of several major corporations, and managing partner of a major law firm.

ACC, at its annual meeting in Seattle, WA in October 2008 intends to roll out an effort to relate law firm billings to client perceptions of value. To some degree, the panelists suggest that they seek to roll back the clock 40 years, when there was a “professionalism” about billing, a stronger and more effective bridge of communication between the client and its relationship partner at t he law firm and less emphasis on increased profits per partner. ACC is not quite sure how they intend to get there nor what the “it” will look like. But, the discussions with stakeholders has begun. And the ride promises to be interesting, to say the least.

View page