Plan and Grow Your Firm! Learn how to price legal services, how to decide credit extension to clients, how to bill for your work, and how to collect fees that you've worked so hard to earn. Learn about bank loans to attorneys and much, much more! This is a comprehensive book that guides lawyers in all aspects of evaluating and implementing a sound action plan for success. Most people don't plan to fail; they just fail to plan. Break that cycle with this book--and succeed on purpose. Written by law practice management expert Edward Poll, "The Business of Law" is equally helpful for startups, solos, small-firm practitioners, large-firm practice group managers, fee-based and contingency lawyers. The many ready-to-use forms, charts and samples are available on an optional computer disk for all levels of computer sophistication. Software formats include: Excel, QuattroPro, Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect 5.1.
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This book is the result of a lifelong attempt to combine my love for the law and for business.
In my early days, I was fortunate to observe and experience an entrepreneurial environment. My uncle was a shopkeeper, an owner of a neighborhood delicatessen in New York who retired to Los Angeles. He was bored with retirement and started another business, again a delicatessen. It grew, and he invited other members of the family -- including my father -- to join him in the enterprise. As the business expanded, it changed from a retail shop to a manufacturing business, making pickles and related condiments. As I was growing up, I learned to love the spirit and excitement of the business.
During this time, I was also observing another member of my family who was one of the finest lawyers in the country, and who believed in the highest principles of our profession. I looked upon him and his work with great admiration. It was with his influence and my observation that the law was a caring and helping profession that I decided to go to law school.
Throughout my career, I have always been involved in business ventures, even while practicing law. And I found that my law clients frequently asked for my advice in their business affairs while talking about their particular legal matters.
In the late 1980s, I was asked to manage a small, but prestigious, law firm in Beverly Hills. I realized then that management was the avenue that would permit me to combine my love of business with my love of law. I wanted to help colleagues in the legal profession improve the way they help their clients.
At about the same time, I talked to friends who were involved with risk management companies, malpractice insurance carriers and The State Bar of California. They startled me with the statistics of disciplinary proceedings before the Bar and of malpractice complaints. I learned that at least half of all consumer complaints were caused by poor management practices of lawyers! If I could reach out to my colleagues in the profession with my knowledge of business, then I could make a contribution. Thus, I started a new career: law practice management consultant.
I was fortunate enough to work with Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company of California, and we created a program that went throughout the state of California talking to the insureds of LMIC about the financial management of their practices. Many of my ideas were refined as a result of these discussions and presentations.
I also had the good fortune to be invited to speak to the profession throughout the country. People I have known for years in the General Practice Section of the American Bar Association made it possible for me to learn about the needs of lawyers all over the United States.
All of this, however, brings me back to a basic tenet that I learned while working with my father in the manufacturing business many years ago. And that is that the client (or customer) must feel taken care of and must feel that he/she is receiving good quality service for the money being paid. It does not matter whether the product is a 5c pickle from a barrel or legal services at $250 per hour. The client/customer is king, and their perception of the quality and value of the service is paramount. Lawyers need to look up from the form books, the treatises, the cases and the statute books to find out who their clients really are and what they expect. If I can help lawyers understand this process and help them improve their office and financial procedures so that they can provide caring, understanding and effective legal services to clients, my objective will have been achieved.
This book, then, is designed to help you -- attorneys and law firms, start-ups, solos and small-firm practitioners, fee-based and contingency lawyers -- accept the twin principles of planning for the future and running your practice in a business-like manner while retaining your professionalism.
My primary goal is to describe a plan of action that is workable, manageable and that you will use and refer to frequently. Part I describes the how and why of creating a business plan; Part II gives additional strategies and techniques to implement when carrying out the business plan.
After reading the book, I hope you will have -- or be ready to prepare -- a completed plan consisting of three components (goals, marketing and the finances) with 1-3 pages in each section. That's right -- only 1-3 pages each. That's a total of less than 10 pages. But those 10 pages will probably be the most important you will ever prepare. They will represent what your practice is all about and where you're going with it.
This work comes out of my love of the profession and my hope that I can help make your practice more profitable and more effective in the delivery of quality legal services for your clients. I welcome any comments and suggestions that you may have.About the Author:
Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, is a certified management consultant in Los Angeles who advises attorneys and law firms on how to deliver their services more effectively while increasing their profits at the same time. He is the author of "The Profitable Law Office Handbook: Attorney's Guide to Successful Business Planning" and the creator of "Law Practice Management Review: The Audio Magazine for Busy Attorneys." He is also the author of the book, "Attorney & Law Firm Guide to The Business of Law: Planning & Operating for Survival & Growth," published by the American Bar Association, and developer of "The Tool Kit for Buying or Selling a Law Practice."
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