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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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

“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...

What every lawyer needs to know about project management, Part 3 of 5

How to reduce write-offs Another best practice discussed in our project management workshop at Warner Norcross & Judd was just as simple and even more likely to quickly impact the bottom line: "Hold difficult conversations before money is spent, not after." Anyone who has been involved...

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 II: How to use Facebook privacy settings

Facebook estimates that only 20% of its members take advantage of the privacy features. As a business professional using Facebook , privacy settings allow you to manage your network so you can speak discreetly to certain Friends, like co-workers or family members, as opposed to other "Friends"...

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...

Can Anyone Manage Projects?

The title of this article, Can Anyone Manage Projects, has two meanings. When I said it to a colleague about two years ago, we got our wires crossed for a minute because of the dual meanings. I asked, in effect - and rhetorically -"Do you have to be some sort of certified project manager to...

Yes, Successful Rainmakers Can Be Made

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 that appeared in LawyersUSA this week, advises small...

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...

A Radical Future For The Legal Industry?

Rory Webber, Martindale-Hubbell Connected's Marketing & Community Development Manager interviews legal journalist and MH Connected member, Richard Parnham. In today's difficult economy, many law firms are focusing on how to survive over the next few months. But good times will - hopefully...

More On The Reality of Alternative Fees

During Jackson Lewis ' annual corporate counsel conference, as reported in The National Law Journal and on Law.com's Small Firm Business , alternative fees are "putting down deep roots." This got my attention, because although there has been much written about the subject including...

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...