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Implementation and Change

An all-too-common sight on the bookshelves of many law firm partners is the thick, dusty binder labeled "Strategic Plan." The partners, usually with the assistance of a consultant, developed an elegant, impressive, detailed strategic plan. They implemented almost none of it. Implementation...

Spread of Managerial Effectiveness as Law Departments Become Bigger because of More Threats and Opportunities

The more lawyers in a legal department, the more choices its general counsel and managing attorneys can make. With 100 lawyers the number of initiatives, decisions, permutations of structure and process, and investments are uncountable. Because of that profusion, some departments excel; other departments...

To determine the financial stability of a law firm, how far should legal departments inquire?

When coalescing its group of outside counsel into a smaller number of primary firms or selecting a firm for a multi-year commitment, a law department rightfully wants to select firms that are financially solid, that will prosper during the term of the agreement. That desire prompts questions in the Request...

The keys to new business in a changing economy (Part 1 of 2)

When the economy changes, lawyers must change too. New client demands and new levels of competition are requiring lawyers to rethink the way they develop business. When I wrote the book Legal Business Development: A Step by Step Guide a few years ago, I outlined the steps each lawyer should take to find...

The keys to new business in a changing economy (Part 2 of 2)

Whether you choose to focus on current clients and referral sources or to spend your time looking for new ones, the marketing tactic that is most critical in this changing economy is increasing the value you provide. This need is hardly limited to the legal world. In his book, What the Customer Wants...

Recruit lawyers through an ad in a major trade publication? (Microsoft does)

Oodles of lawyers desperately want jobs, it's a buyers' market for any legal department that has an opening, and unsolicited resumes and beseeching inquiries flood in to general counsel - or so I thought. Why bother to throw out a line when fish are leaping into your boat? To find out, read...

The Revenue Impact of Alternative Fees (Part 2 of 2)

Last month, Of Counsel, the Legal Practice and Management Report , published an article based on The LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees , which they described as "the most lucid and comprehensive study that we have seen on this topic." This post reproduces the second part of the article...

Quality is a firm-wide issue

This is the second in a series of seven posts about the elements of successful quality assurance programs in law firms. It only takes one hole to sink a ship, not a hole in every compartment. If one practice group - or even one lawyer - has a vulnerability, the same or similar weaknesses probably...

Risk collars: A great way to start offering alternative billing

Whenever I give speeches about alternative fees, lawyers who are just starting to consider this approach are fascinated by the idea of risk collars. These arrangements are essentially the same as hourly billing, with one giant exception: risk collars align the interests of lawyers and clients. If work...

Use your quality assurance experts

The people who do the work are in the best position to improve it . This is the third in a series of posts about the characteristics of successful quality assurance programs in law firms. Many law firms assume that the installation of an effective quality assurance program will require hiring a...

Stop the pain

The third characteristic of successful quality assurance programs in law firms is that they focus on the greatest risks and attack the biggest quality problems. A practical approach is best. The best quality assurance methods do not seek to perfect each and ever task, function, and process in the...

In-house law departments and trust

When I published the results of our national survey of alternative fees, one of the most discouraging sections concerned the lack of trust between in-house law departments and the firms that serve them. Although the interviews were focused on alternative fees, the findings also have implications for...

Decisions, not guesses

This is the fifth in a series of posts about the characteristics of successful quality assurance systems in law firms. Previous posts outlined three important points that distinguish quality assurance from crisis-to-crisis after-the-fact improvisation: Quality assurance is a firm-wide issue...

“People just like us”

A managing partner of a reputable and reasonably successful midsize law firm recently told me, "We look for partners who are just like us, who we know will fit in." This is not the first time that my colleagues and I have heard about this "unwritten trump card," as a senior partner...

What every lawyer needs to know about project management, Part 2 of 5

Is it possible to control the costs of legal matters? While some lawyers have been working on a fixed price basis for years, others still believe that fixed fees simply cannot be applied to complex legal matters. The cost of defending a suit may be very low if your opponent is willing to settle early...

Family firms in emerging markets – a perspective from the Middle East

The Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania has recently published a very interesting article " Family Firms in the Middle East: The New Rules of Engagement." A significant number of Walker Clark clients are "family" law firms in emerging legal markets. We have...

Fear of Facebook Part III: Fan Pages for Law Firms?

"There's a lot of business done in country clubs, but you'll never see a company open a booth in the club's dining room. Instead, individual business people network quietly there, blending into the scene and using the social atmosphere to their advantage. That's how I feel about...

Measuring Success in the Corporate and Legal Worlds

Bruce MacEwan (Adam Smith, Esq.) asked a good question the other day : What is the one line item that appears on virtually every corporation's balance sheet but not a single law firm's? The answer: retained earnings. An upset - and I think inaccurate - post in Above the Law this morning...

Legal Project Management (Part 5): Six Sigma and Lean

When I started this series of posts, I thought it would have only five parts. However, a significant amount of new information has been published on this topic since I started the series a few weeks ago, so I will continue with several additional posts. When experts talk about increasing legal efficiency...

Legal Project Management (Part 6) – Budget problems and solutions

Many lawyers believe that it is simply not possible to predict the costs of complex legal matters. As the managing partner of a firm with more than 1,000 lawyers put it in The LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees : [Some] litigators say [a fixed fee] just doesn't work at all, because who knows...

Law Firm Branding: Hocus Pocus or Results?

Baker McKenzie beat Skadden in gross revenues in the 2010 AmLaw 200 list taking over the top spot for the first time since 1994. That's a big deal, I guess. Ben Hallman writes in " Behind the Numbers : A Change at the Top", ( The American Lawyer , April 19,2010) that Baker McKenzie,...

Legal Project Management (Part 8): McDermott’s Deal Dashboard

If you believe what's been written on the web lately, you'd think that the idea of applying project management principles to legal matters was brand new. In fact, however, some lawyers have been focused on these ideas for years, developing new tactics and tools, often under the radar. For...

10 Cheap But Effective Marketing Tips For Today's Realities

Earlier this year there was an article by Jessica Sharp published in The Legal Intelligencer , and republished this week on Law.com's Small Firm Business . Since the "10 Tips for Lower-Cost Law Firm Marketing" don't get old with age, their worth mentioning. They include (with my...

How to Write a Blog Post: content ideas for lawyers who blog.

Setting up a blog is easy. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you, it will probably be the last easy thing you do in your life as a lawyer who blogs. The rest of your life as a lawyer who blogs will revolve around an empty white box-a box longing to be filled with your nifty ideas...

Are Your Web Site Images Effective?

Marketing professionals have for years gotten a pretty good laugh over the too often used pictures lawyers have on their web sites (and brochures). That is, courthouses, gavels, scales of justice, law books, etc . Can't remember if I've mentioned before how boring and predictable these images...