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Question: 
We are a group of six partners that are in the process of leaving a well established firm in Los Angeles, California and will be starting our own firm. In our early planning we have been discussing how we will structure and manage the firm. You advise and suggestions would be most welcomed.
Response: 
Most smaller to medium sized law firms choose one of three fundamental varieties of management structure. These systems may be characterized as management by:

  • Democracy
  • A managing partner
  • An executive or management committee.
  • Full Partnership – Full Partnership or All Partners –  Under a full
    Continue Reading Law Firm Structure and Governance

    Question: 
    I am a sole owner of a three attorney firm in Chicago suburbs. I am sixty-five and have two associates in the firm. We do estate planning, elder law, and estate administration exclusively. While I want to continue working for the next five years I want to begin succession planning and gain some understanding of how to value the firm and what it might be worth, if anything. Your thoughts on this topic would be most appreciated.
    Response: 
    Prospective buyers whether they be attorneys in your firm or another firm must be willing to pay the price you are
    Continue Reading Law Practice Succession Planning for a Sole Owner – A Question of Value

    Question: 
    I am one of three founding partners in a 17 lawyer insurance defense firm in Houston. We have a total of 18 lawyers in the firm – 3 founding equity partners, 4 other equity partners, 5 non-equity partners, and 6 associates. The three of us founding partners are in our 60s and approaching requirement and are concerned about succession planning and transition. We feel that we are in good shape concerning transition of clients but not so concerning management roles and responsibilities. The firm is managed by the three of us and we have kept tight reigns on the
    Continue Reading Law Firm Succession – Transition of Senior Partners Leadership and Management Roles

    Question:
    Our firm is a 17 attorney insurance defense firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. We are in first generation and we have 9 equity partners, 3 non-equity partners, and 5 associates. We are managed by a three member  executive committee and a firm administrator. We have been discussing the need to create a few practice groups and appointing practice group leaders for these groups. We are wondering what the roles of these leaders should be and what should be expected of them. Your advise is appreciated.
    Response:
    The overall purpose and role of practice groups as well as their leaders should
    Continue Reading Law Firm Practice Group Management – Practice Group Leader Roles and Responsibilities

    Question:
    I am the sole owner of a personal injury practice in Orlando, Florida. I am in my mid-sixties and am looking to transition out of the firm and retire in the next five to seven years. I have three associates in the firm. I would like to sell my equity to one of the associates that has expressed an interest and has been with me for many years. I would like to receive some value for founding the firm and my contributions over the past thirty years. I would like to see him a twenty percent interest initially and
    Continue Reading Law Firm Equity Partnership – Buy-Ins and Buyouts

    Question:
    I am one of three founding partners in a 12 lawyer general litigation firm in San Francisco. All three of us are in are sixties and are looking to begin admitting others as equity partners. We have three non-equity partners and five associates in the firm. The three of believe that we should receive some value for founding the firm and our contributions over the past twenty years. We would like to sell each of them a ten percent interest and we are trying to determine a firm value for calculating their buy-ins.
    Response: 
    In the final analysis the
    Continue Reading Equity Partners – Valuation of Shares and Affordability

    Question:
    Our firm is a seventeen lawyer insurance defense firm in Austin, Texas. The firm was founded by the two existing partners twenty-five years ago. In addition to the three founding equity partners we have five non-equity partners and ten associates. Non-equity partners and associates are paid a salary and a discretionary bonus. The two equity partners are paid their profit share based upon their partnership percentage which is fifty percent each in the form of distributions dependent upon cash flow. The two of us are considering offering partnership to two non-equity partners with a buy-in based on selling both
    Continue Reading Law Firm Compensation – Compensating New Equity Partners

    Question:
    I am the managing partner of a twelve lawyer firm in Dayton, Ohio. We are a first generation business litigation boutique. We represent mid-size companies and handle multiple matters for these clients. We  have seven equity partners and five associates in the firm. Three equity partners were the original founders and the other four were made partners later on. All seven partners originate client business and have significant books of business. Three founding partners are in their early 60s. We have had little success in succession planning and it seems that the three partners are reluctant to let loose
    Continue Reading Law Firm Succession – Incentives for Partners to Transition Clients

    Question:
    I and another partner are the owners of a seven lawyer family law practice in Chicago suburbs. We started the firm twenty years ago after leaving behind a partnership in another firm. Of the other five attorneys there are three non-equity partners and the rest are associates. I am sixty three years old and my other partner is sixty. Both of us are beginning to think about retirement and how we are going to transition out of the practice. Two of the non-equity partners are well seasoned attorneys, have major case responsibility, and bring in client business. We have
    Continue Reading Law Firm Succession – Equity Partnership – Process for Admitting Equity Partners

    Question:
    I am the owner of a sixteen-lawyer firm in Nashville, Tennessee. We are in our twenty-first year of practice. The firm is a business litigation firm. There are five income partners (non-equity partners) and ten associates in the firm. I hold all of the equity in the firm. While associates and income partners are paid salaries and discretionary bonuses I am looking at other options. I bring all of the clients into the firm and I am trying to change that. I would like to base compensation on origination of new client business – rainmaking if you will. I
    Continue Reading Law Firm Partner Compensation – Client Origination

    Question: 
    Our firm is a sixteen lawyer firm in Cleveland, Ohio. There are six equity partners, three non-equity partners, and seven associates in the firm. Our firm is a litigation boutique that represents small to mid-size companies. Three of the six equity partners are initial founders and three became equity partners later. All six are in their sixties and plan on retiring at different times over the next three to six years. The firm is managed by the six equity partners. The non-equity partners have no involvement in firm management. The six of us have concerns as we approach retirement
    Continue Reading Law Firm Succession – Management Training for Future Firm Leaders

    Question:
    I am the sole owner of a twelve-lawyer defense litigation practice in Chicago. We represent automobile manufactures and have approximately ten major clients. I am the only equity partner in the firm and all of the other lawyers in the firm are associates. Two associates are seasoned lawyers with substantial experience and have been with the firm for many years and the other nine have less than five years experience. The two seasoned associates are in their mid-sixties. I am sixty-eight. I just realized that the firm’s office lease expires  in eight months and I have decided that this
    Continue Reading Law Firm Succession Planning & Practice Transition – Have I waited too Long?

    Question:  
    Our firm is an estate planning practice in the suburbs of Washington D.C. We have five attorneys and six support staff working at the firm. During the COVID lockdowns in 2020, and to some extent in 2021, our attorneys and staff worked remotely. At first we all felt that productivity actually increased. However, after a month or two working remotely we began to change our minds. Communications with each other, review of work, etc. took much longer and once the lockdowns were lifted all of us were anxious to return to the office. We have been working almost exclusively
    Continue Reading Law Firm Remote Work Post COVID 19 – Is Remote Work Here to Stay

    Question:  
    We are a thirteen attorney law firm in San Diego with four equity partners, three income partners, and six associates. We are a business litigation firm and we are in first generation. The four equity partners founded the firm and manage the firm. A few years ago we held our first retreat. Everyone enjoyed the experience but when it was all said and done nothing changed – no decisions made during the retreat were implemented – and many feel that the retreat was a waste of time. There has been some recent discussions of holding another retreat and several
    Continue Reading Law Firm Year End Retreat – Ensuring that the Effort is Worth the Time Investment

    Question: 
    I am the sole owner of an estate planning firm in Chicago Suburbs. I have three other associates in the firm. Our volume of business has expanded rapidly during the last six months and we desperately need one to two more associates on board. I have been looking for three months and have been unsuccessful. I have had some leads but when I made offers they were not accepted. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
    Response: 
    These are tough times for attracting and retaining talent in all businesses. Law firms are having difficulty hiring lawyers as well as staff. Many
    Continue Reading Finding and Hiring Law Firm Associate Attorneys During These COVID Pandemic Times

    Question:
    Our firm is an eight-lawyer insurance defense firm in Chicago. We represent insurance companies across the ChicagoLand  area representing their insured’s in personal injury cases. Our clients are billed by the hour and we have a wide range of hourly rates based upon the client, type of matter, who is working on the case, etc. We have three equity partners and five associates working in the firm. Currently all of the associates are paid a straight salary and a discretionary bonus. We are having issues with our associates not putting in the billable hours that we need them to
    Continue Reading Law Firm Associate Compensation – Bonuses Based on Hours or Dollars?