Mike Roster, former chair of ACC, and Susan Hackett, current General Counsel of ACC, presented their thoughts at a recent meeting of the Los Angeles Chapter of Legal Marketing Association.
My earlier post summarized their comments and included a few of my challenges to their concepts.
Susan has given permission to include her notes from their Power Point presentation.
The discussion has been joined. Please email your thoughts to me. We all will have a hand in the shaping of the future of our profession.
Many folks are complaining about the high price demanded by lawyers. It was reflected in an article in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago and, more recently, by a few corporate counsel in suggesting that they will “fire” their outside counsel because of their hourly rates.
In its December 6th edition, the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal highlighted California’s “Top Neutrals.” I read the supplement with great interest … and was struck by the very high prices demanded/commanded by these triers of fact. From a low of $400 per hour to the upper reaches of $12,000 per day, I don’t hear the complaints against these rates!
Years ago, our system of independent neutrals developed because of changes in the judiciary’s retirement system causing economic pain to judges who remained on the bench, I lamented the separation of the rich and poor … The poor folks had their matters heard by the judiciary, paid by taxpayers. The rich had their matters heard more quickly by independent neutrals, paid by the parties. Independent neutrals who work full-time earn far more than judges.
Our system of justice suffers when economics plays such a dominant role in the determination of disputes, when the poor receive different treatment than the rich. It’s bad enough when the rich can afford to gather a “dream team” for the assertion of their claims; but, it’s outrageous when economics can determine who will be the trier of the facts.
According to a recent study by Altman Weil, Inc., the closer to retirement a lawyer gets, the more likely he/she is to oppose mandatory retirement ages. Interviews with a number of aging lawyers suggests that they don’t want to retire, but they do want to work only part-time and they no longer (if they ever did) want to be responsible for rainmaking.
Q: Ed, do you have any fresh ideas about how I can market my law business?
A: There is no better way to establish effective prospect relationships than by establishing a presence for your firm or your practice at industry trade shows and association meetings. By properly researching and targeting your audience, you can meet more prospects in one day than you might otherwise meet in months. And by physically being present at these meetings of potential clients, you demonstrate that you know their business, understand their concerns, and are serious about offering solutions.
In October, managing partners from across the country gathered at the Canadian Bar Association’s third annual high level conference created to focus specifically on their issues. They came together in Montreal to exchange ideas and discuss best practices. The Lawyers Weekly wrote about the conference and, particularly, my remarks.
Rees Morrison observed, "Certainly no law firm can hazard more than a guess on the worth to a particular client at a particular time of its 10 paralegal hours, 20 associate hours, and 8 partner hours on a revision of a major sublease. For much that law firms do, value and cost are incommensurable."
I agree with Rees when one looks backwards. However, if one reviews the matter with the client before the engagement actually begins, the client generally will be able to assess the value to him/her/it. At that point, the law firm and client, together, should evaluate whether the anticipated service can be delivered for a fee that is commensurate with the value delivered as perceived by the client.
Budgeting for the matter, with the involvement and concurrence of the client, will go a long way to establish both the value to the client and likely fees the law firm will charge.
In this discussion, we must be careful not to equate the result for the client with the value because no law firm can guarantee the outcome.
Gary Chen, Senior Analyst for Yankee Group Enterprise made the following important points in the recent Application Continuity 2007 conference about technology:
- 83% of medium businesses (more than 100 people) have remote or mobile workers
- That means that only 17% of such businesses have no mobile workers at all
- Lifestyles today blend work and personal activities with fluid boundaries between the two
- 15% of our workforce are telecommuters
- 23% of our workforce travel long distance
- 27% of our workforce travel locally
- "Anywhere solutions" can boost productivity and enhance the probability of recovery in the event of disasters
- New technology for unified communications, not yet a driving force, is generally reviewed, if at all, at the time of replacement or updates rather than as an independent purchase now
- One of the greatest challenges facing today’s business is that information is lost or stranded within the head of one individual
That means that technology becomes even more important in the management of a law firm. Technology affects current law firm profitability and becomes essential for survival and continuity in times of disaster. In current terminology, "knowledge management" will be the backbone of the success and survival of a law firm. And knowledge management needs enhanced technology to be effective and readily available. As I’ve said before, I believe law firms of the future will grow or die based on their effective implementation of knowledge management.