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How to handle a scamming, scheming staffer

By Lynne Curry Question: I run a small firm. When I advertised for a new hire, I didn’t find anyone who had the right skill set. “Will” applied. Although he lacked the skills I sought, he interviewed well and said he was willing to learn everything necessary to become my No. 1 employee. I took a chance on him and invested months in training him. He shadowed me, developed rapport with my key clients, and learned strategies I’d spent 20 years developing. We had one skirmish. When he found out how much I was paying his predecessor, he lobbied fiercely for a raise. Although his work didn’t justify the salary I was already paying him, he had good natural talent and I didn’t want to start over with a new… . . . read more


6 essential tips for law office administrators to attract more clients

As a law office administrator, one of your key responsibilities is to ensure the growth and success of your firm. A crucial aspect of achieving this goal is consistently attracting new clients. In an increasingly competitive legal landscape, it’s essential to employ effective strategies that can help your law office stand out. Consider these tips to help you gain more clients and enhance the reputation of your law firm. Develop a Strong Online Presence: In today’s digital age, having a robust online presence is imperative for any business, including law firms. Create a professional and user-friendly website that highlights your firm’s expertise, practice areas, and contact information. Optimize your website for search engines to improve its visibility. Leverage social media platforms to engage with potential clients, share informative content, and… . . . read more


5 reasons to turn down a promotion … and how to do so tactfully

Should you take a promotion if it is offered to you? Perhaps, but it might not be your best move. Consider these reasons to turn down a promotion and stay right where you are—successfully managing your law office. Loss of work-life balance: Consider whether the promotion would significantly impact your work-life balance. Assess if the increased responsibilities would require longer hours, increased stress, or decreased flexibility, which may affect your overall quality of life. Misalignment with career goals: Reflect on whether the promotion aligns with your long-term professional aspirations. Assess if it offers growth opportunities in areas that you are passionate about or if it veers your career path away from your goals. Lack of interest or passion: Evaluate whether the new role aligns with your interests and passions. Consider if it takes… . . . read more

Associate compensation plans: The 20-year salary swing

By Brenda A. Barnes and Camille Stell While the salary comparisons from 2000 to now may not seem important to your small or mid-size firm, keep in mind the trickle-down effect means: Unrealistic expectations of salary from recent law school graduates As your associates compare salaries with their colleagues at larger firms (who often have lockstep pay, at least for new associates), they may begin to ask for salary transparency that makes you uncomfortable as pay disparities will be brought to light Law school debt causes law school graduates to search for the highest paying position. This may result in local salary wars, or your firm falling behind therefore losing a competitive advantage in hiring As you consider your associate recruiting and retention strategy, it may be time for a new compensation… . . . read more

Looking for a job promotion? Relationships are critical

It makes good business sense—and is respectful professional etiquette—to stay in touch with your former bosses, says Allison & Taylor, the nation’s oldest professional reference checking firm. As your career advances, your efforts to stay connected with past employers could pay dividends many times over when they provide you with favorable professional references. Conversely, failing to maintain solid relationships with your references could have long-reaching professional consequences. “As an employer, if a prospective employee’s former boss neglected to return your call looking for a professional reference, what message would that convey?” asks Jeff Shane of Allison & Taylor. “Oftentimes, job seekers pay close attention to their resumes and interview skills, but fail to nurture their professional references…and a personal commentary can make or break a successful job search.” To enhance the likelihood of… . . . read more


Whatever you call it, negative workplace behavior is expensive

By Dr. Steve M. Cohen Whether you call it harassment, bullying or something else, negative workplace behavior can be expensive for any business. Unhappy employees today are also more likely to seek legal recourse against their employers, a fact that even legal office managers should keep in mind. Although the legal field is highly professional, it’s also staffed with human beings who sometimes use bad judgment, have questionable intentions or are even just misunderstand. Combine that with the expanding exposure many organizations face from regulations, legislation or lawsuits, and it’s not an issue I recommend my clients overlook. In every business setting, bullying and harassment directed at employees by employers has been a courtroom staple for years. Bullying directed at employees by other employees, often ignored as office drama by… . . . read more


Model Policy: Office Room Temperature

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for maintaining a comfortable and productive work environment for all staff and clients by regulating the temperature in the law office. By implementing this office temperature policy, the law office aims to maintain a comfortable and productive work environment for all staff and clients. Consistent communication, monitoring, and maintenance of the HVAC system, and accommodating individual needs will contribute to the success of this policy.


Compliance and conduct rules for selling a law practice

By Brenda A. Barnes Selling the practice is one  of the possible routes to law firm succession. For a law office administrator helping create a succession plan, here are some things to consider: According to ABA Rule 1.17 Sale of Law Practice, “A lawyer or a law firm may sell or purchase a law practice or an area of law practice, including goodwill, if the following conditions are satisfied: The seller ceases to engage in the private practice of law or in the area of practice that has been sold and in which the practice has been conducted; The entire practice, or the entire area of practice, is sold to one or more lawyers or law firms; The seller gives written notice to each of the seller’s clients; The fees charged… . . . read more


6 tips for remembering names

It’s easy to remember a client’s name when you have their appointment details or case file open in front of you. It’s a lot harder when you meet someone away from these paper or electronic prompts. People like to be recognized and remembered. In the office, it’s reassuring for your clients. In other settings, remembering names can help you connect and network with people. In fact, remembering names is a skill that can advance your career. Here are some tips to help you: Focus: When you are introduced to someone, focus on their name and repeat it back to them. This will help you remember their name and also show that you are interested in getting to know them. Associate: Associate the person’s name with something that is familiar to you. For… . . . read more

Common partner compensation systems

By Brenda A. Barnes and Camille Stell Partner compensation is probably one of the most sensitive aspects of a law firm’s practice management. Whether you are adopting a new system or modifying the current one, there must be an extraordinary amount of thought, care, and study. Systems are either non-performance-based systems or performance-based systems. Here are the typical systems: Non-Performance-Based Systems: Ownership percentage: Income is allocated on relative ownership percentage. Pay equal: All partners are paid equally, or nearly so. Seniority or lock-step: Partners are paid based on years as a partner. This method is all but obsolete, however, some firms still have a baseline built into their systems for more senior partners. Performance-Based Systems: One person decides: Typically the managing partner or other designated key partner (often referred to as the… . . . read more