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INCREASING PROFITS

Should a lawyer do administrative tasks to save money?

By Elizabeth M. Miller Should a lawyer do administrative tasks to save money? Of course, the answer is no. Struggling business owners will spend time to save money, whereas successful business owners will spend money to save time. Because you can always get more money⁠—you cannot get more time. So, you need to ensure the work you spend your time on makes the biggest impact. This is called leverage and leverage is the best kept secret of the rich. It works like this: If you spend five hours per week on administrative work at $400 per hour x 4.3 weeks per month it will cost you $8,600.00 per month of billable client hours. Over the course of a year that is $103,200.00 of billable time that you could be billing… . . . read more

STAFFING

Is it a recession or not? The answer may surprise you

By Lynne Curry My in-box filled with questions after I posted a Recession Fears Loom blog. Readers asked how I made sense of the different views voiced by economists and politicians. As a law office manager with responsibilities around staffing and profitability, you are probably watching to see which way the economy goes. Here’s the background, and my answer to “are we headed into a recession?”: Some say “yes.” Over 60 percent of the 750 CEOs surveyed by the business research firm Conference Board expect a recession in the next 12 to 18 months1. Another 15 percent of surveyed CEOs report their region is already in recession.1 The most recent gross domestic product report that tracks our overall economic health showed a second consecutive quarter of negative growth, the textbook… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

Public service attorney pay grows but still below private sector

According to new research from NALP, salaries for public service attorneys have risen since 2018, particularly for attorneys working in civil legal services and public interest organizations. The results from the NALP/PSJD 2022 Public Service Attorney Salary Survey show that the median entry-level salaries for civil legal services and public interest organizations increased by $9,500 and $12,700, respectively, since the last survey was conducted in 2018. As shown in Table 1 below, that compares to increases of about $1,000 per year over the 2004-2018 period, although that growth was sometimes stagnant in the period from 2008-2014, depending on the kind of organization. Increases in median public defender salaries were more modest, with entry-level salaries only growing by $1,400 since 2018. However, the most experienced public defenders with 11 or more years of experience… . . . read more

PRODUCTIVITY

Artificial intelligence can boost billable hours

Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents one of the latest advances in legal technology. Rather than replacing attorneys and support staff, AI can help lawyers and other legal professionals do more to serve their clients with greater efficiency and less expense. Teaching computers to learn One significant advantage of employing AI is the ability of machines to learn tasks that previously required the time and effort of lawyers, according to a blog by SMI Aware, a social media evidence collection and preservation service. Likewise, AI enhances the ability of lawyers to extract pertinent case information by directly typing a query in a search field—or directing the machine to perform a given task. Of course, before computers can perform these tasks, they must be “taught” to do so by humans. Connecting various concepts, such as… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

Enforce those billing and collection guidelines

Getting paid or not getting paid to a great extent depends on the firm’s billing and collection guidelines—and whether they are enforced. Without guidelines, the firm is asking for money loss. Billing is haphazard, collection work isn’t done regularly, personal clients aren’t always satisfied with their bills, and corporate clients may hold up payment or contest the bill. Guidelines will vary from firm to firm. They have to reflect the firm’s culture along with its clients and the type of work it does. But in general, best practice calls for traditional procedures. Here are the basics. First and last month up front Start with a retainer. With almost all clients, the firm takes an understood risk when it accepts work. The client may be a slow payer or a part… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

5 law firm billing practices for better cash flow

By Brenda Barnes It’s probably not a big surprise that if your firm does not have sound billing and collection practices, your cash flow will suffer. It also probably goes without saying that when cash flow suffers so does partner compensation. How can you tighten this up? First and foremost, you need to have solid billing policies that are agreed upon and followed! Enter your time daily. With today’s mobile technology, there is really no excuse for not entering time daily. Your practice management software should be so easy to use, so easy to access that there are really no excuses. Enter time from your desktop, laptop, iPad, cellular phone and dictate it directly to your software. If your software is not providing your attorneys this flexibility, make the investment now… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

Can every attorney in your office answer these 10 critical questions for 2021?

Want to see more profit in 2021? Get each attorney to draw up a practice plan for the year. A plan forces the attorneys to organize their work agenda by focusing on practice development, production, and self-improvement. What’s more, it ensures that everybody does work that furthers the firm’s goals, it keeps the marketing focused, and it keeps the collections in line. Use this 10-point format: First are the hours goals 1 What is the number of hours you will devote to billable work? This forces the attorneys to take a serious look at how they should spend next year’s time. It also forces them to look at their historical performance. It’s not reasonable, for example, for an attorney who has billed 1,400 hours for the past two years to… . . . read more

FIRM’S FINANCES

5 ways to keep profit on your radar

Practicing law is a tough gig. There is always so much to do to ensure your practice is successful. Focusing on your clients is your first priority, but are you also keeping an eye on your firm’s financial health? After all, staying profitable is not only crucial to your success, but is also important to your clients’ success.

MANAGING THE OFFICE

How the “broken windows” theory applies to your law business

The “broken windows” theory is that a building with broken windows is evidence of abandonment, neglect of the property and a lack of respect for the law. In its simplest form, the “broken windows” is the beginning of the decline

RISK MANAGEMENT

4 bad financial habits that may increase your policy premiums and your malpractice risk

Ineffective billing and collections practices affect more than the bottom line. They ultimately may determine what the firm has to…


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