Law Firm Marketing & Management

Question: I am the sole owner of an estate planning firm in downtown Chicago with four other attorneys and six staff members. Since we are considered by the state of Illinois to be a  necessary business service most of us are still working at the office. I know that many firms are working remotely. How is that working out and what are the specifics of how to make that work – new client intake meetings, work on client matters, coordination with attorney and staff team, and client document signings? Response:  It is working out very well for many firms and…
Last year, there was a six-car pileup on the Kennedy Expressway which injured nine people and killed at least one person. A semi-truck struck stopped vehicles and the driver was charged with failure to reduce speed, according to the Illinois State Police department. Since then, not much has changed in regards to speeding citations on the Kennedy or the other highways which connect Chicago to the suburbs. The most unfortunate part is seeing cars travel at far too high of a speed on roads that can already be dangerous because of the number of vehicles. When Does Speeding Become Aggravated…
Question:  I am the owner of a six-lawyer business transactional law firm in south Florida. I have been practicing law for 12 and I started my present practice nine years ago. I am 42 years old.  The five attorneys that work for me are all associates, of which two are very experienced seasoned lawyers and three have less than five years experience. Since I am still a young attorney, I am not concerned about retirement or long-term succession planning; maybe I should be, but I am concerned about the short-term. What would the firm do if I got hit by…
Driving after consumption of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous action. It can put the driver and those around him or her at risk of injuries or even death. This is why Illinois has strict penalties for those who choose to drive intoxicated. Illinois State Police officers have the right to pull over any vehicle they suspect is being driven by a drunk driver. Signs that they look for are the car swerving across the road, braking and/or speeding suddenly for no reason, and misuse of car indicator lights. The DUI Traffic Stop Process Like any other traffic stop,…
Question:  I am a family law practitioner in the western suburbs of Chicago. I have been in practice for thirty years. I have two associate attorneys and two staff members. In the past I had other partners but that was many years ago. Over the last few years our business has been declining. Our financial performance last year was terrible and I made less than my associates. If this continues I may have to lay off an associate or two. Recently we have made some improvements to our website but I am not sure we have not done enough. I…
Question: I am the sole owner of an estate planning firm in San Francisco Bay area. I have four full-time associates, six paralegals, two secretaries, a firm administrator, and four other staff members. We are a high volume operation and we do a lot of marketing. We need help coordinating and handling the marketing. Are we ready for marketing coordinator or director? Response:  Personally I think the firm is a little small for a full-time marketing position. If you can find a person that is willing to work part-time that could work in a firm your size. Many firms your…
There have been many changes to Illinois law since the start of the new year. The number of new laws – including laws that have been amended – exceeds 250 and many of them deal with serious criminal charges, traffic violations, and more. Of course, the law has been talked about the most before and after the new year was the legalization of recreational marijuana. Not only did this law change possession of marijuana charges, but it also annulled several minor possession charges that were committed before 2020. The New Marijuana Law The state of Illinois is the…
Question:  I am a partner in a three-attorney law firm based in Orlando, Florida. I did a quick Google search this morning and stumbled upon your excellent blog posting – Associate Attorney Compensation.  John did an excellent job answering the attorney’s question.  We have an associate who I like very much; however, heading into her third year with the firm, she has gotten a bit comfortable with our laid-back style of management.  Our situation is similar in many respects to the situation posted by the Chicago attorney. I would like to find out more about whether coaching could help us…
Question:  Our firm is a fourteen partner firm in the northern suburbs of Chicago with ten partners and four associates. We are a general practice firm with different partners focusing on specific practice areas. Our partners’ compensation is determined by a three member compensation committee.  The compensation committee uses a combination of quantitative data based upon working attorney fee collections and client fee originations and makes a subjective determination regarding other contributions that a partner has made to the firm. The problem that we have is the compensation committee does not have a way to effectively measure the other contributions…
Question:  I am the owner of a twelve attorney business litigation law firm in Northern, California. I started the firm fourteen years ago after practicing ten years in a large law firm. While the practice has been fulfilling both professionally and financially, the management side is often a challenge. As I sit here on December 31, 2019 thinking about management challenges that I may face next year I was wondering what you envision the challenges will be in 2020. Response:  The following were the common challenges that owners and managing partners advised us that they faced in 2019: Talent Management…
Roadways are becoming more dangerous every year. Especially now entering the winter season, it is important for all drivers to travel safely and obey the rules of the road. Any action on the road that is noncompliant with the law can be considered reckless driving which leads to consequences. Illinois law says that reckless driving is any act while driving a motor vehicle that blatantly puts others in danger of injury or death. These actions are enforced through traffic citations when police officers observe reckless behavior on the streets. Examples of Reckless Driving The law is broad when it comes…
Question:  We have a 12-lawyer business litigation firm in Chicago. We have eight partners in the firm and we are managed by a three-member management committee that was just formed this year. I am a member of the committee and I am responsible for the general financial oversight of the firm. I am trying to get a handle on law firm financial metrics and especially what are the financial warning signs that I should be aware. If you have an outline or list that you would be willing to share we would appreciate it. Response:  Here is a short list…
Question:  I am an attorney in solo practice in the southwest Missouri. I am 45 years old and I have two paralegals working for me in the firm. The practice is a general practice firm that I started ten years ago. I have been advise that I should have a succession plan. What exactly do I need to be putting in place? Any thoughts that you have would be appreciated. Response:  Due to the number of baby boomers approaching retirement much of my writing has been on succession and exit planning for this group. Based upon your age I think…
The state of Illinois has a highly specific law regarding gun ownership and concealed carry rules. Guns are legal to carry as long as the owner has the proper paperwork which gives them the right to carry. Those who illegally carry a firearm will face misdemeanor charges for first offenses and possible felony charges for subsequent offenses. Illegal gun carriers will also face felony charges if they discharge their weapon resulting in injury or death of a victim. Requirements for Owning and Carrying a Firearm There are two types of permits that a person needs in order to legally possess…
Question:  Our firm is at a crossroads concerning partner compensation. We are a 12-lawyer firm in Richmond, Virginia, with nine partners and three associates. We are in our second generation of partners as the original founders have retired over the years. We do not have a managing partner or management committee – management decisions are made by all the partners. Our compensation is based upon compensation participating percentages set at the beginning of each year based upon the recommendation of a rotating member compensation committee, which must be approved by the full partnership. These percentages are then used to allocate…
Question: I am the firm administrator for an eight-attorney firm in Nashville, Tennessee. I started this position approximately six weeks ago. While I have worked in the legal field for many years as a paralegal, this is my first position as a legal administrator. I have done bookkeeping for several firms over the years. The firm has never had a budget and has asked me to prepare one for the upcoming year. I am not sure where or how to start. Any help or ideas that you may have would be appreciated. Response:  You will want to consider two budgets.…