Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

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June 2007

Jun 29, 2007

Business Identity Plans

Question: I have heard you speak about Business Identity Plans. What is a Business Identity Plan?

Response: A business identity plan is a communications design plan that insures  a consistent and professional firm identity and message is being conveyed through all of its collateral marketing materials and vehicles. It begins with identifying the firm’s core values, uniqueness, and essence which frequently is a result of a strategic planning process. Then designers create graphic identity scenarios depicting illustrative letterheads, business cards, web site, etc. Frequently logos and tag lines are developed. Once the firm selects an identity plan it is incorporated in a consistent manner into all marketing materials including:        

  • Letterhead & Envelopes
  • Business Cards
  • Web Site
  • Powerpoint Presentations
  • Newsletters 
  • Announcements
  • Press Releases
  • Jun 29, 2007

    Skill Requirements for Office Managers/Bookkeepers in Small Law Firms

    We are often asked about skill requirements for office managers/bookkeepers in small law firms. (Six attorney and under firms) Many law firms in the six attorney and under size have shared with us their frustration in staffing the billing and accounting function. Often their investment in computerized billing and accounting systems fails to yield desired results due to poor accounting and management skills. Many small law firms assume that legal secretaries also have requisite accounting and management skills. Our experience has been that often this is not the case. Training, skills, and work behaviors are often different. Bookkeepers/accountants and secretaries are different animals. Many small firms are better off creating a accounting/bookkeeping position and staffing the position with a qualified bookkeeper/accountant. For many firms under six attorneys that have fully automated the billing and accounting function and have distributed time entry, this is not a full time position. In such instances many firms have either recruited a part-time bookkeeper/accountant solely for the accounting function or have created a combined position of office manager/bookkeeper. This justified a full-time position. Look for the following skills when evaluating candidates. Professional training in bookkeeping and accounting fundamentals as well as management principles.

  • A basic bookkeeping class should be a minimum requirement.
  • While a college degree should not be a requirement for the small firm, some college courses in accounting and management is desirable.
  • Two years+ prior experience in a bookkeeping/accounting position in a professional services firm such as law, accounting, consulting, etc.
  • Prior experience in a law firm bookkeeping/accounting position is desirable.
  • Experience with computers and accounting software as well as spreadsheets. On hands experience with the accounting software that the law firm uses is a plus. However, this is often not possible.
  • Prior office management experience in a law or other professional services firm if this is to be a combined position.
  • Detail orientated
  • Professional and able to deal with multiple demands, multiple masters, and the politics of a law office.
  • Jun 29, 2007

    Client Development/Marketing – Long Way to Go in Many Small Firms

    We just returned from participating at a Solo Small Firm Conference which was held for solo and small firm practitioners in the mid-west. I spoke at two session and we had a booth there as well. A few statistics:

    Personal networking and relationship building is still one of the best ways to cultivate clients. Not having a presence on the internet is like not being in the phone book.

    Solo and small firm attorneys need to use all of the tools available to project their image. It does no good to spend money on developing marketing tools and then not use them.

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