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How Law Firms Select The Wrong People To Become Partners

Many law firms could do a much better job of selecting partners.  Law firms routinely create a process for evaluating partners, but too often that process is critically flawed.  Here are five recurring problems I have observed over the years in my role as a consultant to law firms: Failing to set clear criteria in […]

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Demanding Payment When a CA Lawyer Can’t Withdraw From a Representation

What can California lawyers do when they haven’t been paid, but they can’t withdraw from a representation?  For example, suppose that the lawyer is representing a client in litigation and is being paid by the hour.  The client owes the lawyer money on the eve of trial. California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-700 provides the […]

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The Scrouge of Face Time

This is not a rant against video conference technology for your tablet or phone. This is about a different kind of face time.  This face time refers to the policy that requires lawyers to be physically present at the office even if they can work just as productively elsewhere. Twenty years ago, law face time […]

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Part-Time Lawyers Willing To Work For Cheap

The ratio of legal talent and what it costs to hire it is extremely favorable for law firms.  That is the unmistakable conclusion I reached after reviewing applications for three different part-time positions.  The positions were being filled by three different law firms with whom I am consulting.  For two firms, I placed an ad […]

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Running A Law Firm As A Business

Many lawyers are urged to run their firms more like a business.  But what does that mean?  It can be confusing to know given the variety of scenarios in which business owners and executives justify a decision by saying “It’s just business.” Maximizing behavior is often justified on the grounds that it’s needed to run […]

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How to Avoid A Shot Gun Law Firm Business Divorce

Many law firms are under economic stress.  One of the manifestations of that stress is an increasing number of partner divorces.  Most commonly, the law firm partners go to work for different law firms or start their separate, individual firms.  In these circumstances, much of the divorce process involves negotiating who will take what client […]

Management versus Leadership

When Law Firm Staff Ignores Junior Lawyers

When I was a second-year associate at the Los Angeles office of Skadden Arps, I shared a secretary with one of the most prominent partners at the firm.  I was warned that my work would be ignored because secretaries would focus all of their efforts to serve the partner.  Fortunately in my particular case the […]

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How Many Networking Organizations Should A Lawyer Join?

Lawyers tend to join bar associations and stay as members without regard to whether their membership results in quality referrals or new clients.  In my role as a business consultant to lawyers and law firms, I have spoken with attorneys who have belonged to a bar association for more than a decade even though they […]

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Avoid Comments About Appearance at Business Meetings

Is it ok if, during a business meeting, a man says to a woman, “You have beautiful eyes”? Or how about commenting at a networking event that “I was sitting with the lovely Anne, Beth, and Cathy, and what could be better than that.”? Based on my recent experience, some lawyers persist in making comments […]

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When Lawyers Should Have Free Meetings With Clients

Lawyers who bill by the hour are understandably reluctant to work for free.  In particular, lawyers tend to shy away from having client meetings and then not billing them for it.  Too often lawyers wait until the client has expressed anger or threatened to end the representation before finally agreeing to have a free meeting.  […]