A question to Coach Poll:
How can one go about creating an alliance with a law firm in another country such that the second law firm will send client work to the first firm? We have been in alliances with other law firms in Canada for the last fifteen years. Recently my partners have discussed the possibility of associating with a firm in the U.S. How should we approach other firms to create alliances for work both in the United States and in our country?
Response from Coach Poll:
If you don't want to sell your practice, but merely reach out and create an alliance with a U.S. firm, it seems to me that you would first want to know what U.S. clients you want to represent; then, seek to find the law firms that those clients engage to represent them. Then, you can contact those law firms to determine if they already have Mexico counsel or would like to have Mexico counsel. The firms you would want to associate with also should have some similarities to your firm, both in size and in the nature of your practice and firm culture.
The same principle applies to creating alliances in other cities and in other States.
If you don't want to get "burned" and lose much time and money, you may want to consider one of the most important axioms of business: Keep all of your clients at less than 10% of your total revenue. Thus, if any one client "forgets" to pay you, the "sting" won't be so hard to handle. I have seen too many folks focus on a very few, larger clients and be severly damaged when the fees from that client fail to continue ... irrespective of the cause, whether not liking the last bill(s), changing attorneys or their own economic hardships.Continue Reading...
At a recent trade conference, an editor for a leading legal publication made the following points about dealing with the media:
- Read the publication before you decide to reach out to it.
- Have a relationship with the publication before contacting it.
- Choose your messenger with care.
- Don't paper the publication with junk press releases.
- If you are called to participate in a survey and choose not to do so, give notice to the publication that you're opting out of a survey.
- Know the time restrictions and deadlines of reporters who call you for a story.
- Use your most likeable and articulate people to pitch a story idea.
- Always assume you're on the record why you're talking to the press.
- Realize you're not in control of the reporter or the story.
- Don't lie.
These are very good points to remember when dealing with the press!
An effective tool of management is to assure that you are allowed to have your vacation without surprise attacks from your opposing counsel. When in litigation, preparing and filing with the Court (and serving opposing counsel) a "Notice of Unavailability" will go a long way to prevent sudden motions or deposition settings, etc. when you plan to be out of town for more than a few days.Continue Reading...
Interested in getting a loan?Did you know that you can learn your FICO score before you apply for a bank loan?
FICO is the number bankers use to determine whether they want to lend you money ... like the SAT scores that help determine your eligibility to get into law school. (The FICO score card was created by a credit analysis firm, Fair, Isacc & Co., hence the name.)Continue Reading...
It's tax time! Well, not really. But, it is time to start planning for end-of-the-year moves that will impact how much you pay in taxes at the beginning of 2004. Consider some the discussed here before the end of the year is on top of you.Continue Reading...
One topic very few law firms, small or large, ever discuss with associates is why and how they can/should be profitable.
When I was practicing as an associate, I had a conversation with the managing partner. The subject of profits and billing came up, though I don't remember how or why. I showed him what percentage my billings were of the firm; I showed him what my expense to the firm was. (Most of these numbers were available at that time; they may be more difficult to get today.) And I showed him what my "profit" to the firm was (though I had no clue about the realization rate of my billings by the firm).Continue Reading...
Marketing tips of the day:
- It's not who you know that counts, it's who knows you!
- The secret to success is contained in the formula of the 3 F's: Follow-up; Follow-up; and follow-up! Persistence does pay dividends.
- Trust is built in small increments, not any single event. Thus, doing what you say you will do is essential to building and maintaining that trust.
With less than 3 months remaining in 2004, there are tax benefits that may impact your buying decisions.
Law firms can deduct the purchase price of technology equipment acquired for use in 2004.
Amended IRC Section 179 provides for a new limitation of $100,000 instead of the old limitation of $25,000. This provision also applies to off-the-shelf software. The opportunity is limited to 2004, while reverting back to the old limits after this year.
Check with your tax adviser or the Internal Revenue Service for more details.
With rising malpractice insurance premiums, what can we do to keep our costs as low as possible?
Shop the carriers. But, this will go only so far because all carriers are facing the same issues of rising costs from earlier poor underwriting judgements, increased litigation against lawyers and a generally poor investment market.
What is in the control of law firms, however, which will help control this cost? Good client selection and good client relations policies! Here are some specific suggestions.
Be choosy. Select clients who can afford to pay for the services they request.Continue Reading...
For those of you who want to see other web logs (BLOGS) in the business/marketing context, take a look at Business Blog Consulting. It's a great site and I just learned of it.
Did you know that banks will, as of on or about November 1st, convert their paper check system to an electronic system? If my understanding is correct, vendors will be paid (e.g., by a paper check); they will then convert the check into an electronic transaction and either keep, return or, most likely, destroy the paper check.Continue Reading...
- As with construction, the move will take twice as long and cost twice as much. Consider this in your budget for cost of move as well as for time to get the task done.
- Create a list of items to be moved. Put everything in a boxes that can be; label each box. Tag each box and each piece of furniture and equipment. Be sure the marking on every tag is the same as the notation on your master list.
- Color code tags based on the space in the new facility to which each tagged item is to be moved.
Most lawyers' billings are "features" billings. This is what I did and these are the days I worked and this is what you owe me. Billings, in my opinion, get you better results when you prepare a "value" billing. What are the results of your effort for the client.
Sometimes that's not possible, for example, when you bill for a telephone call to set up an appointment. Other times, it's obvious such as when you have a negotiating conference call with opposing counsel -- what did the client get for your effort?Continue Reading...