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The lawyer/client relationship is based on service. The Rules of Professional Conduct contain specific guidance on the following service related topics: Duty to Act Competently, Diligence and Communication. We will discuss these topics in the context of a review of the relevant Rules of Professional Conduct as well as pertinent case law and advisory opinions issued rendered by the Nebraska Ethics Advisory Opinions for Attorneys.

By staying organized and running your practice efficiently, you lessen your chances of violating MRPC 1.3 (Diligence) because you will by and large be on top of your work load. I will introduce several practice management and activity mastery strategies that participants can incorporate immediately into their practices as well as day to day personal lives. Tools that will assist with organization and self management will be provided along with a detailed explanation as to how the diligent and persistent use of these tools can help you achieve balance in personal as well as professional lives.

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  1. 1. Presented by Cynthia Sharp • Professional CLE Speaker • Attorney Business Coach
  2. 2. Event Sponsor: Featuring Cynthia Sharp The Sharper Lawyer 2 STRATEGIES FOR TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR LAW PRACTICE March 17, 2014 @thesharperlawyer
  3. 3. Preliminary Thoughts •I would be really happy if we could cover the following: •I decided to attend “Take Charge” because: 3 @thesharperlawyer
  4. 4. Strategic Skills 4 • Manage client expectations • Create a culture of client communication • Deliver top notch client service • Develop a powerful & loyal staff • Stay on top of pending cases • Minimize daily stress & irritation @thesharperlawyer
  5. 5. Johari Window What You Know About Yourself And Everyone Else Knows Too What You Know About Yourself But Nobody Else Knows What Everyone Else Knows About You But You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know About Yourself And Nobody Else Knows Either 5 @thesharperlawyer
  6. 6. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” - Albert Einstein - Albert Einstein 6 @thesharperlawyer
  7. 7. Goal Setting Tips 7 • Aim high! • Set specific goals • Firm deadline • Don’t allow current results to control • Know that you are worthy! • Take action even if you don’t know all steps @thesharperlawyer
  8. 8. “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.” Rule 1.3: Diligence 8 @thesharperlawyer
  9. 9. Symptoms of Lack of Diligence • Failure to timely file pleadings • Missed court appearances/meetings • Files have grown mold • Numerous requests for extension 9 @thesharperlawyer
  10. 10. Causes of Lack of Diligence • Too much work • Procrastination • Disorganization • Incompetency • Personal issues 10 @thesharperlawyer
  11. 11. “Procrastination is a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.” - Neil Fiore, Ph.D. 11 @thesharperlawyer
  12. 12. 12 @thesharperlawyer
  13. 13. Activity Management Concept - Covey Quadrant I. Urgent/Important II. Not Urgent/Important III. Urgent/Not Important IV. Not Urgent/Not Important 13 @thesharperlawyer
  14. 14. The Ideal Week 14 @thesharperlawyer
  15. 15. The Ideal Week 15 @thesharperlawyer
  16. 16. The Ideal Week 16 @thesharperlawyer
  17. 17. The One Year Challenge 17 @thesharperlawyer
  18. 18. The One Year Challenge 18 @thesharperlawyer
  19. 19. 19 @thesharperlawyer
  20. 20. What is Your Most Powerful Negotiation Tip? 20 @thesharperlawyer
  21. 21. Rule 1.4: Communication (a) A lawyer shall: (1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), is required by these Rules; (2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished; (3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter; (4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and (5) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law. (b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. (c) A lawyer in private practice shall inform a new client in writing if the lawyer does not have professional liability insurance of at least $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 in the aggregate per year, subject to commercially reasonable deductibles, retention or co-insurance, and shall inform existing clients in writing at any time the lawyer’s professional liability insurance drops below either of those amounts or the lawyer’s professional liability insurance is terminated. A lawyer shall maintain a record of these disclosures for six years after the termination of the representation of a client. 21 @thesharperlawyer
  22. 22. Communication with Person Represented By Counsel “In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized to do so by law or a court order.” Rule 4.2 22 @thesharperlawyer
  23. 23. 23 @thesharperlawyer
  24. 24. Strong Case Management System 24 @thesharperlawyer
  25. 25. Develop Rapport 25 @thesharperlawyer
  26. 26. 26 Ask Open Ended Questions @thesharperlawyer
  27. 27. Listen Actively 27 @thesharperlawyer
  28. 28. Keep Client Informed 28 @thesharperlawyer
  29. 29. Defining The Terms of Client Service •Retainer Agreement •Non-engagement Letter •Termination Letter 29 @thesharperlawyer
  30. 30. Retainer Agreement 30 •Responsibilities of Lawyer •Obligations of Client •Scope of Representation •Lay Out Stages of Case •Payment of Costs •Retainer Policy •Billing and Payment Policies @thesharperlawyer
  31. 31. Retainer Agreement 31 • Grounds for Withdrawal • Nonpayment • Client Misrepresentation • Failure to Cooperate • Client Requests Unethical Behavior • Include Sunset Provision • New Agreement for Each Matter @thesharperlawyer
  32. 32. Non-Engagement Letter 32 •Anytime You Don’t Accept Matter •Recommend Second Opinion •Be Brief and Polite •Record of Transmittal @thesharperlawyer
  33. 33. Termination Letter 33 •Reason for Termination •Conclusion •Nonpayment •Conflict Discovery •Client Terminates •Failure to Cooperate @thesharperlawyer
  34. 34. 34 Termination Letter •How to Obtain File •Status of Fees •Client Satisfaction Survey •Ask for Referral •Ask for Testimonial @thesharperlawyer
  35. 35. 35 Client Relations •Welcome Letter •Client Satisfaction Survey •Phone Appointments @thesharperlawyer
  36. 36. Attorney Competence 36 Rule 1.1 “A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” @thesharperlawyer
  37. 37. Business Expertise • Business Creator • Business Operator • Business Innovator • People Developer 37 @thesharperlawyer
  38. 38. Improve Your Law Firm’s Bottom Line “A buck in the hand in worth two on the books.” - David Farber 38 @thesharperlawyer
  39. 39. Significance of Key Performance Indicators A KPI is any measurement or statistic that is quantifiable, reflects a firm’s goals, and is viewed as key to its short and long term success. 39 @thesharperlawyer
  40. 40. KPI •Effective Billing Rate •Number of hours spent on project by attorneys and professional staff. •Assists in setting future rates and in ascertaining whether a particular practice area is profitable. 40 @thesharperlawyer
  41. 41. 41 KPI •Profit/Expense Ratio - This is determined by dividing gross revenue by partner profit. •Presume $300,000 gross revenue and $140,000 in expenses. •Profit/Expense Ratio - 53% @thesharperlawyer
  42. 42. •Number of New Matters Open This Year •Presume average matter generates $3,000 in revenue •Add new matters by increasing conversion rate •1 new matter per month = $36,000 additional revenue per year. 42 KPI @thesharperlawyer
  43. 43. •CONVERSION RATE •Number of Consulting Individuals Who Become Clients •Increase conversion rate through follow up •Requires follow up 43 KPI @thesharperlawyer
  44. 44. •Number of New Matters for Existing Clients •Do your clients return for other matters? •Do you maintain ongoing relationships with clients? •Data Base •Newsletters •Informational Pieces •Seminars 44 KPI @thesharperlawyer
  45. 45. •Collection Realization Rate •Percentage of billed work the firm actually collects. •Divide the amount billed to all clients by the amount of those bills collected. •Bill 1500/Collect 1200 CRR = 80%. 45 KPI @thesharperlawyer
  46. 46. •Billing Realization Rate. •Percentage of recorded billable time actually billed to clients. •Billable time -1700 hours/ Billed time 1500 hours BRR 88% 46 KPI @thesharperlawyer
  47. 47. •Billable Hours •“A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade”. Abraham Lincoln •$250 per hour •Additional 5 hours per month = $15,000 per year 47 KPI @thesharperlawyer
  48. 48. •Increase in awareness will improve bottom line. •Structuring law practice as efficient business increases possibility that practice can be sold in the marketplace, thereby ultimately increasing the attorney’s net worth. 48 Building a Practice to Sell @thesharperlawyer
  49. 49. Leverage Yourself 49 @thesharperlawyer
  50. 50. MEMOS •In Ray James Madison •In Ray John Smith •In Ray Millicent Daniels •In Ray Tammy Curry @thesharperlawyer
  51. 51. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower 34th President of the United States 51 @thesharperlawyer
  52. 52. “The Buck Stops Here” Popularized by Harry S Truman 52 @thesharperlawyer
  53. 53. Delegation Dynamics 53 •The Fundamental Process •Delegation Reluctance •Problematic Delegation Problems •Action Plan - Moving Forward @thesharperlawyer
  54. 54. Setting the Stage •Organization Chart •Regular Staff Meetings •SOP Manual •Culture of Trust The Fundamental Process 54 @thesharperlawyer
  55. 55. Types of Delegation •BASIC: Expectation is to follow instructions explicitly •CHALLENGING: Responsibility for an outcome The Fundamental Process What can I delegate? 55 @thesharperlawyer
  56. 56. The Responsibility Shift 56 @thesharperlawyer
  57. 57. The Responsibility Shift 57 @thesharperlawyer
  58. 58. •Review the assignment. Loose ends? •Clearly define the responsibility to be assigned •Who is right for the job? •Team Attitude The Fundamental Process The Preparation Phase 58 @thesharperlawyer
  59. 59. •Specificity as to end result •Explicit authority (or lack thereof)Available resources Set specific deadlines •Set specific deadlines The Fundamental Process The Explanation Phase 59 @thesharperlawyer
  60. 60. •Confirm understanding of assignment •Encourage QuestionsSupport and Communicate Give Feedback The Fundamental Process The Conversation Phase 60 @thesharperlawyer
  61. 61. •Discourage Upward Delegation •Watch Out for Re-delegation The Fundamental Process 61 @thesharperlawyer
  62. 62. Delegation Reluctance “Old habits die hard.” ~ English Proverb 62 @thesharperlawyer
  63. 63. •Nobody does it better •Not enough time •Fear of Resentment •Unclear as to Authority Delegation Reluctance 63 @thesharperlawyer
  64. 64. Problematic Delegation Styles Procrastination 64 @thesharperlawyer
  65. 65. Problematic Delegation Styles Micromanagement 65 @thesharperlawyer
  66. 66. Problematic Delegation Styles Dump and Run 66 @thesharperlawyer
  67. 67. The Mistake Process “Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.” ~ Al Franken, "Oh, the Things I Know", 2002 67 @thesharperlawyer
  68. 68. The Mistake Process Delegator •Private Discussions •Support with Corrective Measures •What is the “Learning”? 68 @thesharperlawyer
  69. 69. The Mistake Process Delegatee •Confess quickly (if you find the mistake) •Ask for support where needed •Create process to avoid similar errors 69 @thesharperlawyer
  70. 70. MRPC 5.1 Responsibilities Of Partners,Managers, And Supervisory LawyersMRPC 5.2 Responsibilities Of A Subordinate LawyerMRPC 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants 70 @thesharperlawyer
  71. 71. The Reality Focus Self Assessment Tool 71 @thesharperlawyer
  72. 72. Work/Life Balance 72 @thesharperlawyer
  73. 73. Take Charge Plan 73 @thesharperlawyer
  74. 74. Four Decisions •Decide what you want •Decide what you will give up to get what you want •Decide to take personal responsibility •Decide what value and service you are going to offer74 @thesharperlawyer
  75. 75. “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” - Abraham Maslow - Abraham Maslow - Abraham Maslow 75 @thesharperlawyer
  76. 76. Moving Forward •Did you learn anything new today? •Did you gain any insight into yourself or someone else? •Do you plan to change any of your behaviors as a result of today’s session? @thesharperlawyer
  77. 77. Evaluations 77 @thesharperlawyer
  78. 78. @thesharperlawyer
  79. 79. Connect with Cindy like us follow us follow us share with us The Sharper Lawyer connect with us @thesharperlawyer
  80. 80. The Sharper Lawyer now offers a complimentary half hour coaching session. Email Cindy for more details! @thesharperlawyer
  81. 81. Thank You The Sharper Lawyer