Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Recently in Law Firm Business Category

If a law firm creates an actual physical product, like an easy to use legal guide for non-lawyers, can the law firm sell that guide? Or perhaps more apropos for today, if a law firm buys a program or website that can render legal services without the assistance of an attorney, like generating basic form documents, can a law firm sell those services, ethically speaking? Generally, the answer is an all too familiar: Yes, but ...

When it comes to products that may verge on the practice of law, or may be ancillary or related to actual client matters, there are some significant matters to consider. Naturally, each state's rules of professional conduct may have some rules that loosely apply. For example, California Rule 3-300 prohibits attorneys from acquiring pecuniary interests adverse to their clients. So a lawyer that represents a publisher of legal guides, might want to think twice, and maybe even get client consent, before publishing and selling their own guide.

If You Make a Material Error, You Must Tell Current Clients

First, the bad news: you have to inform current clients when you make material errors.

The good news is, you don't have to tell former clients. That's the gist of a recent ethics opinion from the American Bar Association.

So what are we to learn from the "tell-don't-tell" rule? Get rid of those erred-upon clients so you don't have to tell them?

Is the Older Generation Holding the Legal Profession Back?

Caroyln Elefant, the popular attorney-blogger, says it is time for old-school lawyers to step aside.

Suggesting the legal profession take a cue from the Hebrew exodus, Elefant points out that Moses had to stay behind when his people reached the promised land. Likewise, she argues the older generation of lawyers has to leave it all behind.

Not to be a noodge, but didn't Moses miraculously part the Red Sea for the next generation to pass through to the other side? And who's telling this Passover story anyway?

New Law: All Third-Party Litigation Funding Must Be Disclosed in Wisconsin

Constraints on litigation funding just got real in Wisconsin, and will make the legal business a little trickier everywhere else.

Wisconsin now requires attorneys to disclose any third-party litigation funding deals to clients and "to the other parties" in a case. "Oh no you didn't." (That's what we said.)

But the law does exclude contingency fee agreements, a big "whew" to plaintiffs' counsel who depend on litigation finance to swing at the big ones. Now what are you going to do about it?

#MeToo and Another BigLaw Partner Goes Out the Door

It's not so surprising that sexual harassment is a problem at many law firms, especially where the old boys' clubs exist.

With the #MeToo movement in full swing, it's practically a given that more high-profile cases will come out. But what's surprising is that too many lawyers seem to think the problem will go away quietly.

Like the partners at DLA Piper who hoped the latest scandal would remain confidential. If social media stands for anything, however, that's not going to happen.

An energized, self-motivated workforce is a dream for any business. Happy employees are more productive employees, and if law firms want their attorneys to be more productive, they might want to fight the lawyer loneliness problem.

While it may not come as a surprise that lawyers rank among the loneliest of American workers, it is certainly shocking to hear loneliness be described as being as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Law firms, as the largest employer of lawyers, are uniquely positioned to help the profession be less lonely. Below, you'll find a couple tips to help make any law firm a little less lonely.

New Business Models for Law Firms

'Horseback Law' is probably not what you think it is.

It is not equine law, where lawyers specialize in all things horse-like. "Horseback Law" is Google's law business model, a legal service tailored for fast-moving startups.

"Lawyer rides up, assesses the problem, offers feedback and moseys on," says practitioner-savant Carolyn Elefant. If you feel like saddling up, here are half a dozen new business models for law firms to consider.

The British Are Coming -- to American Law Firms

So the British are coming, but this time to American law firms.

The last time -- if you exclude the Beatles' invasion -- the English came to crush the colonies. We all know how that ended, but what about the latest rush of barristers and solicitors?

What are they doing, invading our law firms? Isn't it bad enough with the robots taking our jobs already?

When you opened the doors to your law practice, you probably didn't expect to spend the number of hours you do on administrative and management tasks and duties. And as most lawyers that run a practice learn, management responsibilities are much less exciting than lawyering responsibilities.

Interestingly, making the right business management decisions can actually end up freeing up your time to do what you want: practice law. Below, you can find three tips on how to run your law firm more like a business so you can spend more time lawyering.

You spent years training your legal secretary (because an associate would've been too expensive, ungrateful, and wouldn't have learned anyway), and your secretary is really good. But if you plan to go into semi-retirement while relying on your secretary to keep the wheels turning and profit machine churning, you might want to think twice about how hands off you go. Too much, or not enough, semi-retirement, could lead to full suspension or worse.

A recent case involving attorney discipline involved just one such scenario, and the semi-retired attorney, in the autumn years of his career, is now facing a six month suspension (where he'll get to test out full time retirement). However, the case here does not stand for the proposition that a lawyer, like a judge, cannot go on senior status or into semi-retirement. But, there are lessons to be learned.

Below, you can read three tips on how to avoid facing discipline for going into semi-retirement.