Tag Archive: Practice

Open Letter to the State Bar President

(Note: The California State Bar President asked  California lawyers to contribute to the State Bar’s efforts to provide legal services to those in need. Following is an open letter to the President; his letter is set forth below.


Dear Mr. President:

 I agree with you completely. There is a tremendous "justice gap." I’m glad the State Bar is seeking to do something about this. I wonder, however, why the State Bar doesn’t expend the same energy on helping its own members, lawyers. One study reported by the State Bar several years ago indicated that 50% of lawyers in this state earn less than $100,000. Just think, if the State Bar would actually help its members be more effective with their clients, be more efficient in the delivery of their services and, yes, be more profitable, members of the Bar would then i) be less tempted to invade client trust accounts (a public service issue) and ii) have money to contribute to narrow the "justice gap."

Instead, however,  the Bar does things that are perceived by our members to be antithetical to the interests of lawyers … The list is rather long and I won’t bore you here with issues on which I’ve spoken before. But, until you (the organized, mandatory Bar) works with its members … until you (the organized, mandatory Bar) has as at least one of its primary goals the interests of its members, you have a great deal of courage (some might say gall) to ask struggling lawyers to contribute more than they already do.

If our Bar were a voluntary Bar, I suspect less than 50% would join … Then we would not have governance issues imposed on us by the legislature. Of course, we would also be far more interested in the thoughts and concerns of our members than is currently the case.

Clearly, these are my own thoughts, not those of any Section or other body of the State Bar … but these thoughts were clearly expressed to me just this morning by another attorney. I thought you should know, considering you’re asking us for money.

And let me take this opportunity to wish you and your family the best of the holiday season.  You’ve taken on a very tough job, some would say a thankless job, and I wish you great courage and strength. 


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What will be the value of your practice?

I met with an attorney today … he’s 61 … who is terrified that he now is solo and has never had to do anything in his career to attract clients. He was always part of a firm that delivered litigation clients to his doorstep. Now, he doesn’t have that … What can/should he do?

No matter what he does, the ultimate challenge for him will be on retirement, not that far away. Will he have developed any goodwill to be able to add more wealth to his capital for his heirs? The answer is: Maybe, but more likely not. That will be a crime after having been a very good lawyer for his entire career.

What are you doing to enhance the value of your practice? Do you have a succession plan? Does your law practice have an "estate plan?"

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Customer priority

As quoted by Alan Weiss, citing an IBM survey, CEO’s focus on three elements:

1. Embody creative leadership (take prudent risk, invite disruptive innovation)
2. Reinvent customer relationships (set priority of customer intimacy)
3. Operating dexterity (flexible cost structures and opportunistic capabilities)

Shouldn’t this be what law firms do? Take prudent risk to grow the practice and enhance the well-being of its members and staff; focus their energies outward, to benefit their clients, which would include both pricing and costing flexibility.

Too often, law firms are all about their lawyers, and they forget the well-being (intimacy) of their customers/clients.

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Lateral hires are in a seller’s market!

I’ve just talked with two legal industry "executive search" recruiters. They have never been busier in the last 5 years! And quality laterals are being sought!

That tells me that the economy is in recovery mode; that lateral partners are still being pruned from large law firms; that partners are getting tired of the politics in larger law firms where they see no rational basis for decisions being made that may very well impact their economic future; and that most law firms have yet to act as enterprises rather than as hotels for sole practitioners. Laterals with good books of business can just as easily move to another firm that will provide them with a larger umbrella and greater opportunity … or even start their own boutique law firm.

This further suggests that while the economy has forced changes in law firms, the sea change some discuss hasn’t yet taken place … and may never. As I’ve said before, we’re in an evolutionary, not revolutionary, mode. Write me with your thoughts and experiences on this.

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Twitter and money – an oxymoron?

Can you imagine that Twitter, WITHOUT any revenue stream, is valued at $1Billion! Wow. Not many employees and no revenue stream … and no prospects in sight to get revenue.

Just think what your law firm, with a decent revenue stream, might be worth? What is the difference? And why isn’t your firm worth $1B?

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