Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

Category: Law firm trends

Feb 23, 2011

Times are Tough – How Are Other Small Firms Doing?


I am a partner in an 8 attorney firm in the Chicago suburbs. Our firm has started having discussions about what we need to be doing differently. This is huge for us – one meeting a year is our typical meeting frequency and then only to discuss how we are going to cut the pie. How have other firms done during the recession? What are you seeing?


In general small firms in the midwest have fared pretty well during the recession. Last year some firms had the best year ever while others experienced flat or 10% revenue declines. Small firms that had the biggest problems were those that had issues before the recession or were in problem practice areas. Big law firms have had to face unique challenges.

Small firms that have weathered the storm and fared the best were those that:

I believe that law firms that fail to focus their practices, set goals, measure accomplishments, and foster accountability will fall short and not meet their financial objectives. Law firms that fail to plan are planning to fail.

Law firms as well as solo practices need to begin focusing their firms and practices, setting firm and individual production goals, measure accomplishment and implementing systems to instill accountability from all members of the team – attorneys and staff alike.

Consider using budgeting which is a tool that can be used to measure goal attainment and how well the firm is doing.

What gets measured is what gets done.

Click here for our blog on law firm strategy

Click here for my article on creating strategic (business) plans.


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

Jan 12, 2011

Changes and Challenges Ahead For Law Firms and Lawyers


Our firm is conducting a planning retreat next month. We have had retreats in past years that have focused on “touchy feely” programs for the attending partners. This year we really want to focus on a strategy and plan for the future. What do you see as primary changes and challenges ahead for law firms and lawyers?


The internet as well as advances in information technology has and will continue to be the key driver forcing change in the legal marketplace as well as other segments and our daily lives as well. Being the king of the hill or the biggest is not the strategic advantage that it once was. The internet is leveling the playing field in many industries as well as law firms.  There are new opportunities and new competitors. Consider the following:

  1. Everything is being commoditized. More practice areas are moving down the value curve and prices are becoming more price sensitive.
  2. Disintermediation of traditional delivery channels. The internet provides new access to information and is eliminating the middleman. It is impacting how we shop, bank, conduct business, and pay our credit cards and taxes. It is also impacting how clients locate and select lawyers and how legal services are delivered.
  3. Our society is becoming – more and more – a DIY (Do it Yourself) nation.
  4. Lawyers competitors are just a click away whether they be legal process outsourcing providers (LPO) in India, other lawyers in your state – but further away and servicing clients remotely, legal publishers, or online form providers.
  5. New client opportunities for your may also be just a click away.

Challenges and Questions to Think About

  1. How do you deal with commoditized transactions?
  2. How do you tie yourself to your client in an online world?
  3. How do you compete with new models and approaches to the delivery of legal services?
  4. How do you compete with virtual law firms?
  5. Would you consider adding a online delivery component to your traditional brick and mortar practice?
  6. Should you embrace legal process outsourcing and begin forming alliances and relationships or should you wait until your clients take the initiative themselves?

Click here for our blog on strategies

Click here for articles on other topics


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

May 10, 2003

Changes That Will Have the Greatest Impact Upon the Legal Profession


What changes do you believe will have the greatest impact upon the legal profession?


The continued impact of the Internet and globalization of business. The Internet is making the world smaller, introducing new markets and competitors, and having a direct impact on what legal services are offered and how they are delivered. Legal services are, and will continue to be provided electronically over the internet. This will cause increased commoditization of some forms of legal services. This technological revolution fueled by the Internet has placed us in the midst of the biggest transformation of civilization since the caveman began bartering. Business is going to change more in the next ten years than in the last fifty. We have become a self-help nation and more self-help legal services are on the horizon. Within ten years the legal profession will be dramatically changed and reinvented. According to Tom Peters, a leading management consultant, only one in ten lawyers (in roles as we now know them) will left standing in ten years. During this period of transformational change it will be imperative that lawyers discard the status quo, embrace change, and define and take charge of their future. Failure to do so will result in the same fate as the medial profession.

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

    Subscribe to our Blog