Legal Business

Recent Posts

How to improve the management of legal teams (Part 2 of 4)
Posted on 23 Mar 2011 by Jim Hassett

Legal teams come in so many shapes and sizes that it is impossible to come up with a short list of rules that apply to every case. But if you review all the ideas discussed in this series, you are sure to come up with a few action items that could help... Read More

Legal Spending Is Down, Opportunities and Project Management Will Rise
Posted on 22 Oct 2010 by Tom Kane

An article in Tuesday's ABA Journal online reports that legal departments cut spending for the first time in 10 years. This is based on the Hildebrandt Baker Robbins 2010 Law Department Survey. The results are significant because the 9 previous yearly... Read More

Prudent planning for innovation
Posted on 21 Mar 2011 by Norman Clark

This is the fifth in a series of nine postings about successful innovation in law firms. Today we look at the third secret of successful innovation. Write a conservative plan. Conservative - even skeptical - planning might seem to be antithetical... Read More

Yes, Successful Rainmakers Can Be Made
Posted on 16 Apr 2010 by Tom Kane

Some would argue that Rainmakers are born that way, and those that aren't can't. It is conceded that developing business does not come easily for a lot of folks, but the skills can be taught, at least to most lawyers. Ed Poll's article... Read More

How to improve the management of legal teams (Part 4 of 4)
Posted on 4 May 2011 by Jim Hassett

Rule # 8: Motivate the players "Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." George S. Patton Rule #1 in this series was to identify what drives your team: the inherent... Read More

Why take the risk?
Posted on 3 Mar 2011 by Norman Clark

This is a the second in a series of nine posts about successful - and profitable - innovation in law firms. As readers of this blog already have observed, Walker Clark, LLC, takes a strong risk-management approach to many aspects of law firm strategy... Read More

Most in-house counsel neither manage nor lead others – they do work
Posted on 9 Mar 2010 by Rees W. Morrison

Upwards of 80 percent of all US law departments have fewer than 10 lawyers. Even at the top of the range, assuming at least four or five direct reports to the general counsel, none of the other lawyers manage more than one or two lawyers and maybe they... Read More

5 Business Development Tips For These Economic Times
Posted on 3 Aug 2010 by Tom Kane

It certainly is no secret that the buyers of legal services are closely scrutinizing the costs associated with outside law firms, especially during this economic downturn. There are two things that some firms recognize in that climate: first, there is... Read More

Risk collars: A great way to start offering alternative billing
Posted on 3 Mar 2010 by Jim Hassett

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... Read More

Ten More Ways to Knit Up the Raveled Sleeve of a Spread-out Legal Department
Posted on 22 Feb 2010 by Rees W. Morrison

If your legal team has offices strung out from Albania to Zimbabwe, you probably wish there were more cohesion, collegiality, and collective culture (See my post of Jan. 16, 2009: physically decentralized law departments with 13 references.). To the... Read More

Managing Social Media in Your Law Firm | The Next Big Thing
Posted on 14 Dec 2010 by Jayne Navarre

We've come a long way, baby! Three years ago, when I founded my company Law Gravity , I talked to a lot of law firms about their "plans" for using social media. Their response: "What plans?" There were firms that had a blog... Read More

Law departments can turn to a full-fledged graphics department at a law firm
Posted on 3 Mar 2010 by Rees W. Morrison

Weil, Gotshal & Manges has set up an ancillary function that is unusual. "One of the things that we have done is to create an in-house graphics group for trials and hearings. They do all the in-court graphics rather than our going outside and... Read More

Legal Project Management (Part 8): McDermott’s Deal Dashboard
Posted on 12 May 2010 by Jim Hassett

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... Read More

Getting a rash from the rash of law firm RFPs
Posted on 5 May 2010 by Deborah McMurray

During round table discussions in 2009 entitled, "Best Practices in Business Development and Proposals," we asked invitees (law firm marketing and BD professionals mostly) about the uptick in the receipt of RFPs and RFIs from clients and prospects... Read More

Risky business
Posted on 12 Jan 2011 by Norman Clark

The new year brings an upsurge in risky business. To hire a partner from another law firm is one of the riskiest decisions that lawyers and law firms make. As we begin the new year we are already observing an upsurge in lateral recruiting and hiring... Read More

  • Blog Post: How to Discuss Innovation and Strategy with Lawyers

    Nathan Darling , the Director of Client Development and Marketing for Van Ness Feldman in Washington, DC, and the 2010 President of LMA International , has the following suggestions for marketers who want to "brainstorm" ideas with their firm lawyers. 1. Frame such sessions as "strategy...
  • Blog Post: Ten More Ways to Knit Up the Raveled Sleeve of a Spread-out Legal Department

    If your legal team has offices strung out from Albania to Zimbabwe, you probably wish there were more cohesion, collegiality, and collective culture (See my post of Jan. 16, 2009: physically decentralized law departments with 13 references.). To the dozen techniques I have discussed in previous posts...
  • Blog Post: Three Innovations from Non-US Firms about Billing and Fees

    You might want to think about these steps taken by two UK firms and an Italian firm, as reported in the Financial Times, Innovative Lawyers 2009 at 37. Linklaters has created a "global pricing function." For the huge UK firm, "pricing professionals within its marketing department advise...
  • Blog Post: Law Firm CMOs: LSSO Listserve Discussion about Their Future

    "Where have all the CMOs gone?" is the subject line of an LSSO listserve discussion late last week. Some of the legal marketing/sales industry's top consultants ( Silvia Coulter and Bill Flannery , to name two) weighed in on this hot button topic. Silvia, a consultant with Hildebrandt...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: A five-way struggle to entice the general counsel and senior lawyers of major US companies

    Five organizations will vie in 2010 to win the favors of general counsel who lead legal teams at large US companies. The competition will be fascinating to watch and whatever the outcome will likely benefit all managers of legal departments. To find out about these five organizations, read the Law...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: Law departments can turn to a full-fledged graphics department at a law firm

    Weil, Gotshal & Manges has set up an ancillary function that is unusual. "One of the things that we have done is to create an in-house graphics group for trials and hearings. They do all the in-court graphics rather than our going outside and paying extraordinary fees." The quote comes...
  • Blog Post: GCs who report to the CEO are paid more, and a few thoughts on reasons why

    Recent data has appeared on general counsel among the Fortune 250 who do or don't report to the CEO as well as the compensation differences between the two groups. The analysis comes from Equilar by way of a summary in Inside Counsel, Jan. 2010 at 42. A graphic shows that 204 general counsel of...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: An Interesting Point in Support of AFAs

    Anthony Tijan's article in the Harvard Business Review about bundling services and goods goes on to make an intriguing point about Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs): "I remember receiving a legal bill that carefully showed the breakdown of all the expenses. As the buyer of these services...
  • Blog Post: Project Management, People Management

    What's the relationship of project management and people management? The worst professional project managers I've worked with over the years were universally terrible people managers. Conversely, the best project managers were outstanding people managers. (Two clarifications: First, I'm...
  • Blog Post: Found by firm: an “overwhelming desire by clients to get to know the associates who work on matters”

    In Met. Corp. Counsel , Vol. 18, Feb. 2010 at 11, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges ( James Quinn ) summarized one of the insights the firm derived from a client satisfaction survey. The firm identified "an overwhelming desire on the part of clients to get to know and work directly with our...
  • Blog Post: Most in-house counsel neither manage nor lead others – they do work

    Upwards of 80 percent of all US law departments have fewer than 10 lawyers. Even at the top of the range, assuming at least four or five direct reports to the general counsel, none of the other lawyers manage more than one or two lawyers and maybe they share management of a paralegal and a secretary...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: Quality is a cultural change

    This is the final posting in a series about the characteristics of successful quality assurance programs in law firms. How does one measure the success of a quality assurance program? When Walker Clark advises a law firm, we tell the partners to look for these indicators: Improved productivity...
  • Blog Post: Risky Business (So to Speak)

    Control Costs. Meet Schedules. Manage Risks. Maintain Sanity. Those four phrases represent the subtitle of my book Legal Project Management ... and are also the four critical actions of a project manager. Most understand they need to do the first two, even if they're not always sure how. (Subliminal...
  • Blog Post: The missing link in global business intelligence

    My Walker Clark, LLC, colleague, Bill Henderson has shared with me his notes for his address on 14 April 2010 to a business leaders conference in Zagreb, Croatia, sponsored by LIDER , a major business publication in Croatia. As our firm's clients already know, Bill is an outstanding thought leader...
  • Blog Post: “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...
  • Blog Post: What every lawyer needs to know about project management, Part 1 of 5

    This five-part series is an expanded version of an article I published last week on AmericanLawyer.com entitled "Teaching Lawyers How to Manage: Can It Improve the Bottom Line?" When I interviewed AmLaw 100 chairmen, senior partners and C-level executives for a recent survey of alternative...