Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

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September 2016

Sep 27, 2016


Law Firm Marketing – Client Development for an Insurance Defense Firm

Question:

I am the managing partner of a thirty attorney insurance defense firm in Arlington, Texas. While we are still in our first generation – several of our partners are approaching retirement and some of our relationships in our insurance company clients are also retiring. We are looking for ways to shore up and expand our client base. We would appreciate your suggestions.

Response:

You need to get on more "approved lists" of insurance companies. Once you are on these lists you have to entice claims manager to use you as opposed to other law firms that are on their approved lists. In other words establish relationships with numerous claims managers throughout the company. This is harder than it used to be due to policies that many companies now have prohibiting various forms of networking such as dinners, gifts, ball games, etc. Now days it seems that educational venues is one of the few formats that is not frowned upon. 

Here are a few ideas to get started:

  1. Become involved in every possible organization that involves insurance claims, ACCA, and other such groups.
  2. Join and become actively involved in these groups.
  3. Offer to give speeches and presentations to these groups.
  4. Develop relationships with news reporters and have an effective public relations program that insures that you get all the PR you can when you have successful outcomes in your cases.
  5. Speak at ACCA and RIMS (Risk Insurance Management Society) conferences.
  6. Form alliances with bigger regional and national insurance defense firms.
  7. Research target companies and make application to get on their approved lists.
  8. Obtain listings in A.M. Best and Martindale.
  9. Get on the speaker list with seminars groups that target the insurance industry client industry – for example Perrin Conferences.
  10. Have a quality website that demonstrates expertise and a e-newsletter that provides information that will help claims managers and adjuster be more successful.

Click here for our blog on strategy

Click here for our article on insurance defense practice strategies

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Sep 20, 2016


Law Firm Startup – How to Get Started – Best Practices

Question:

I am a relatively new attorney. I graduated three years ago from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. After law school I started with a small firm in the northern suburbs. Now with three years under my belt I am considering starting my own firm. I would appreciate your suggestions on how to get started.

Response:

Owning your own practice will be much different that working for someone else. You will have to handle the nuts and bolts of running and operating a practice. You will not have people to do everything for you like you did in your last firm. You will need to learn how to be an entrepreneur and think like a businessperson. 

First, I suggest that you give some thought as to whether you have what it takes to operate your own firm and plan out your business. Read my article on Starting, Building, and Managing a Law Firm. Click here for the article

Then write your business plan.  Click here for the article

After your have developed your plan begin developing your business identity, firm name, tag line, website domain name, and related graphic package. 

For ideas download a copy of our best practices guide

Consider legal structure for the firm. Register with appropriate governmental and tax authorities.

Determine where you will practice, how you will staff your practice, and technology needs. Keep as much of your overhead as variable and low as possible. Consider virtual employees. At first do as much work yourself as you can. Add staffing resources as your firm grows. Don't skimp on technology. 

Implement a first class website on day one.

Good luck.

Click here for our blog on new firm startup

Click here for our blog on marketing

Click here for our published articles

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Sep 14, 2016


Law Firm Succession – Transition of Partners and Transition Plan

Question:

Our firm is a twenty-five lawyer firm with ten partners. Six of these partners are in their sixties. What should we be doing concerning planning the succession of these partners?

Response:

In a larger firm with multiple partners, shareholders, or members, succession and transition involves transitioning client relationships and management roles. Such transitions take time. Many larger firms have five-year phasedown retirements for this reason and require equity owners to properly transition clients and management responsibilities. Some firms tie retirement pay or compensation to completing a successful transition program.

A plan might included the following:  

Some firms are providing economic incentives for the transitioning partner to handoff work to others.

The internal succession/transition plan provides a mechanism for the firm to outline a general timeline for a senior partner’s retirement, a process to effect an orderly transition of clients and management responsibilities, and a vehicle for starting initial discussions.

Click here for our blog on succession

Click here for out articles on various management topics

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Sep 07, 2016


Law Firm Profitability – How Do I Know if We Have Enough Work for the Attorneys?

Question:

I am the owner of an eight attorney estate planning firm in Jacksonville, Florida. Our firm handles estate planning and estate administration. For this entire year our financial numbers are way down and I am getting concerned. For example, compared to last year:

I would appreciate any ideas on what I should do next.
 
Response:
 
Several of my estate planning/administration firms from different areas of the country are advising me that business is way down this year and they can't put their finger on the problem other than demand and timing.
 
I would start by:
 
  1. Take a look an your new matter intakes for the year – month by month.
  2. Examine the referral and marketing sources as to where this business is coming from.
  3. Prepare a open matter inventory report by attorney and matter type to get a count of the number of matters each attorney is handling
  4. Examine billable hours, non-billable hours, collected working attorney fees and realization rates for each attorney.
Compare each of the metrics above with last year and prior years. Meet with all of the attorneys and review their matters in progress and discuss their workloads. Also review your marketing budget and marketing programs to see if changes are warranted.
 
This should give you a feel for what is going on. You could have problems in the following areas:
 
While you may find that you have problems in each of the above areas I suspect that your biggest problem is that attorneys do not have enough work and your business is down. If this is the case I would question how they are using their non-billable hours – are they doing more business development and marketing – or they simply pacing their time so they fill an eight hour day.
 
If your problem is lack of work you are going to have to see if additional marketing can generate the business needed to support the attorneys you have on board or reduce your attorney headcount.
 

Click here for our financial management topic blog

Click here for our law firm profit improvement blog

Click here for articles on other topics

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

 
 
 
 

 

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