Law Practice Management News
Ideas for Lawyers and Managers That Dare To Be Different August 2012

in this issue

Law Firm Succession: Using Affiliation As a Phase I Pilot Test

Using Competitive Intelligence to Support Law Firm Strategy

Solo-Small Firm Question of the Month - Staying Ahead on Retainers

Download Our Profitability Checklist

Looking to Sell or Merge Your Practice - Let Us Know

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John W. Olmstead


Welcome to Olmstead & Associates Law Practice News, a law practice management resource for practicing attorneys, managing partners, administrators, and others that must keep updated on all aspects of law firm management.

Our Law Practice Management E-Newsletter is distributed on the first Wednesday of each month. Look for it and send us your emails with your ideas for topics that you would like covered. I wish to thank those who take the time to email me with their thoughts and comments. I encourage our readers to do so.

  • Law Firm Succession: Using Affiliation As a Phase I Pilot Test
  • There are a lot of law firm owners in their 60's that are starting to think about what to do with their law practices. Some want to continue to practice as long as they can and are starting to have discussions with other sole owners that are interested in buying their practices. Those that want to practice as long as they can are concerned about the timing of the sale of their practice due to the current ethical rules. They also want to insure that the other firm would be the right fit for clients and staff.

    Making the right decision concerning the "Who" is usually more important than the "What" or the "How". Take your time to do the proper due diligence regarding the other firm. Get to know the owner as well as the employees of the other firm. Ascertain practice, client, and cultural compatibility. If you both determine that a a deal might make sense - then move to the "How". Even though you have done the best due diligence you can - you won't really know about the other firm until you try working together. So before you jump - consider taking a few baby steps first. You might start with an affiliation arrangement (Of Counsel) as a Phase I pilot test for six months.

    Read on . . .
  • Using Competitive Intelligence to Support Law Firm Strategy
  • Competitive intelligence is a popular term being used to describe information gathering (secondary research) on your clients, client industries, prospective or target clients, competitors, geographic markets, emerging practice areas, etc. Its goals are to provide actionable intelligence that provides a competitive edge. It reduces risk and identifies opportunities.

    All strategic plans should contain a secondary research (competitive intelligence) component. Research objectives might focus on one or all of the following:

    1. Identify prospects
    2. Spot litigation activity for current and prospective clients
    3. Identify emerging litigation issues and trends
    4. Improve the quality of your client proposals
    5. Identify lateral candidates
    6. Identify potential acquisition and merger partners
    7. Identify emerging client and industry needs
    8. Identify emerging new practice areas
    9. Explore expansion into new geographic locations

  • Solo-Small Firm Question of the Month - Staying Ahead on Retainers
  • Question I do a good job of collecting initial retainers before doing work for my family law and criminal clients. But then I fall behind on retainer replenishments. Do you have any thoughts or ideas?

    Answer:This is a common problem I hear from clients in all practice areas. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Try to collect a larger retainer initially.
    • Actively push the use of credit card.
    • If it is capable, set your time and billing system to alert you when you are at say 85%-90% of time used. Some systems will alert you when entering a time sheet after this level has been reached.
    • Have someone assigned to review your Work in Process Report daily to identify any client reaching the 85%-90% level and notify you accordingly.
    • If more work is to be done insure that the client is promptly billed for additional retainer before work reaches the 100% mark.
    • Consider billing the client electronically if this is a method that works for the client.
    • Postpone work until an additional retainer is received. If this course is chosen insure that this does not violate any ethical guidelines or responsibilities.

    The key here is assigning someone the daily responsibility of monitoring retainers, having a good time and billing system, and using the managment reports from the system to stay on top of retainer useage.

  • Download Our Profitability Checklist
  • Are you looking for a quick and dirty checklist to use to review the profitability of your practice. Click below for a copy of our Law Practice Profitability Checkup.

    Click here to download ...
  • Looking to Sell or Merge Your Practice - Let Us Know
  • We frequently consult and work with law firm clients working on implementing succession strategies that involve the sale of a law practice, merging with another firm, or hiring lateral talent. If you are looking to join up with another firm keep us in mind. We will be posting confidential listings on our website in the near future.

  • FREE Guide to Law Firm Management Best Practices
  • Download a FREE copy of our Guide to Law Firm Management Best Practices.

    To learn more about Olmstead & Associates visit their web site at www.olmsteadassoc.com

    To View & Print the FREE Guide

    ::Phone 314-241-5665