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Coach's Corner

Feb 11, 2011

Coach’s Corner: Finder, grinder – or minder?

For law firms to be successful they must be more than a collection of single practitioners. Success in the law, like success at sports, is a team effort - if the team isn't firing on all cylinders, it gets away from what made it successful and people no longer play their true roles. No law firm can be profitable and growing without a range of skills and abilities. Not every player on a sports t[...]

Jan 28, 2011

Coach’s Corner: How a law department becomes a profit center

Law firm partners and corporate general counsel are all lawyers, but they practice law in very different worlds. Whether the issue is hourly rates, cost cutting, governance or other measures, corporate culture is focused on organizational performance and values.

Jan 21, 2011

Coach’s Corner: Here comes the judge – online

During the past decade the Internet has created ethics dilemmas that lawyers and bar associations could never have imagined before. Thanks to websites, blogs and social networks, lawyers have a virtually unlimited presence. They are often governed in their online conduct by the rules of jurisdictions where they have never set foot, though one would normally conclude that receiving an e-mail from a[...]

Jan 14, 2011

Coach’s Corner: The lawyer as consultant – Should you charge?

Most law firms, whether large or small, begin a new client engagement with a consulting process: a stated period of time, such as an hour, that potential clients spend with an attorney to discuss their matter and explore whether to establish a client relationship. This consulting process is essentially a business-development effort, targeted to converting prospects into clients. It is marketing in[...]

Jan 7, 2011

Coach’s Corner: Public virtue versus private violation

Many of the largest law firms strive to be paragons of public virtue in their programs intended to foster social responsibility. Pro bono service is the most obvious example. Nearly 15 years ago the American Bar Association and the Pro Bono Institute launched the "Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge" for larger firms with more than 50 lawyers to make an institutional, rather than an individual lawyer, pro[...]

Dec 30, 2010

Coach’s Corner: Billable hour: Going, going … still here

In a recent article, I asked whether the billable hour method of billing clients is dead or on life support. It turns out that there is a third option: Hibernation. A recent survey reported that almost 73 percent of 2009 outside counsel fees were based on arrangements other than the standard hourly rate, up from 66 percent the year before. It is clear that law firms are scrambling with deals to re[...]

Dec 23, 2010

Coach’s Corner: You must define when payment is delinquent

If a lawyer fails to specify a "pay by" date for a client, at what point, if any, can the client legally be considered delinquent for failing to pay? This question is essential to "The Business of Law®." Every engagement should begin with an enforceable written agreement on services to be provided and fee to be charged. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5 states that "the basis or rate of [...]

Dec 17, 2010

Coach’s Corner: What does it take to go national?

By ED POLL, Special to Lawyers Weekly [email protected]   In 1960, fewer than 40 law firms in this country had 50 or more lawyers. In the latest listing of the 250 largest U.S. firms – even after two years of declines in total employment – No. 250 on the list still employed 160 attorneys. Many […]

Dec 10, 2010

Coach’s Corner: Politicians, lawyers and ‘protecting the public’

Lawyers nationwide increasingly face state and federal government actions to implement a whole new regulatory structure aimed at what is in fact a growing problem: companies that charge consumers an up-front fee to modify the terms of a mortgage or deed of trust they can no longer afford, then either fail to deliver results or actually abscond with the fee itself. In an early effort, New York bann[...]

Dec 3, 2010

Coach’s Corner: When does a prospect become a client?

When does someone visiting your website, blog or LinkedIn page become a prospective client? This does not seem to be a difficult issue. Everyone that a lawyer meets, including in cyberspace, is a prospective client! To think otherwise is to say you don't believe you have something of value that can help the person reading your material or who is standing in front of you. Of course, if your target [...]

Nov 12, 2010

Coach’s Corner: Leaders are made – even in law firms

When it comes to management, law firms, particularly large firms serving major corporations, are not trendsetters. They follow their clients. The much-criticized billable hour is an example. Until well into the post-World War II era, legal fees were based not only on time spent, but also the nature of the service, the result achieved and the amount at stake.

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