Law Firm Business for Small Law Firms - Strategist
Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Recently in Law Firm Business Category

Thousands of lawyers leave the law every year. Corporate attorneys become yoga gurus. Prosecutors become public school teachers. Family lawyers become family counselors. And some attorneys change careers without giving up legal practice, moving from BigLaw to nonprofit work or from a government agency to their own solo practice.

But how do you know when the time is right for a career change? Here are four tell-tale signs.

3 Tips for Choosing the Best Practice Area for Solo Attorneys

It’s a question that has dogged young lawyers for generations: How do I choose my area of practice? Some people are lucky in the sense that they knew right from a tender age that they wanted to be a lawyer and knew exactly what area of law they wanted to practice.

But others usually have to wait a little longer and let the iniquities and practicalities of life form their answer. Now that you’re a licensed attorney, what are some of the hard choices you have to make?

The wealthiest clients can afford to pay hundreds of dollars an hour for representation. The poorest may be able to find a lawyer for free. It's those in the middle that can be the hardest to attract. For, while Internet marketing has made it easier to get your name out to middle class clients, the rise of the Internet has also made it easier for cost-conscious clients to shop around, or even to pursue alternative legal services instead of hiring a lawyer.

When it comes to attracting middle class clients, how can you stand out from the crowd? Flat rates may be the answer.

Tips for Training Associates for Loyalty

Associate attorneys occupy a strange area in the law firm hierarchy. As far as clients are concerned, one lawyer is the same as the next: they charge too much. But there’s much more to the whole associate makeup than just that overly abridged characterization.

Part of the problem is that associates are considered by most within the legal industry as exchangeable commodities that will soon leave the firm anyway. This is an attitude that we hope to change. Ideally, the associate will be the next lawyer to take the reigns of the firm in the next decade or so. But in order to do that, it’s up to you to develop a sense of loyalty.

You? Make a mistake? No way. Never gonna happen. But for some other lawyers (we won't name names), mistakes are common place. And we're not just talking about a typo in a contract or court filing. There's a whole universe of mistakes attorneys make, from mishandling client funds (accidentally!) to misusing those fancy Latin phrases.

So, to help you that other guy out, here are some of the most common attorney screw ups and how to avoid them.

Lessons in Legal Fees: $41,000 Base + $30,000 Interest = Censure

Wyoming's highest court has publicly censured a lawyer working out of the state's capitol for charging a client $30,000 in interest fees on a bill that was originally just $41,000. So if you're considering charging your clients almost 50 percent in interest, we recommend against it. Top tip? Just don't.

One could say that Cheyenne lawyer Bruce Asay, the recipient of the court's censure, was merely covering himself, however. After all, one of his apparently office policy was to charge a rate of 1 percent interest on all accounts receivable per month. The idea was to get those pesky clients paying -- instead, he got himself into ethical hot water.

Where do real lawyers practice the law? It’s not exclusively in BigLaw high-rises, managing a team of dozens of associates. It’s not in corporate conference rooms or cocktail parties, schmoozing with high-paying clients. And it’s not just grinding away at clients’ legal issues, either.

Real lawyers do all of it — the managing, the marketing, the lawyering. And one place offers the opportunity to play all roles: small law. Here’s why practice in a small law is as real as it gets.

You've built your own firm and want to see it grow even further. Or perhaps you've found your grove, but need to advise business clients as they expand. You can try to figure things out on your own, or you can turn to the experts, thought leaders from some of today's most forward-looking businesses.

Luckily, much of that leadership can be found in one place: "What's Next: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level." This guide, published by Thomson Reuters' Aspatore, provides insider perspectives on how to advance a business, from leaders in their field. (Disclosure: Aspatore is one of FindLaw's sister companies.)

Tips for Writing a Legal Letter of Advice

How to write a legal letter of advice? It's an excellent question with a much hated answer: it depends.

The fact of the matter is that the individual demands of the situation dictate the length and style of legal correspondence just as much as convention. But we've cobble together a few tips to help solos and small firm attorneys get pointed in the right direction. Once you write a few, you'll find that many of these letters practically write themselves.

Lawyers Are Skeptical of ABA's Law Firm Biz Restructuring Proposals

A bevy of solo attorneys recently responded to the American Bar Association's invite to comment on the proposal to allow non-lawyer investing in law firms. Forty-three individuals submitted their comments: only one thought it was a good idea.

Now that may sound like good new for those opposed, but a growing number of advocates claim that the changes simply mark the inevitable.