Solo & Small Firm Lawyers: Finances
Developing a Financial Plan for Your Office
Regardless of your firm’s size or location, it is critical to your ongoing viability that you understand and pay attention to the business side of the practice of law.
Cash Flow: How to Get it, How to Keep It
If your outflow exceeds your income, the upshot is your downfall. This lesson is hard for lawyers to grasp because they too often equate financial success with hours billed out rather than cash realized in.
Outsourcing: Is it Right for Your Small Firm?
Outsourcing was once a novel strategy for law firms. We all remember the first time we noticed; for me it was an answering service for a small firm. “I don’t know the attorney’s schedule, this is an answering service.” Imagine that, someone not in the office taking messages.
Clients and Successful Billings
Lawyers must communicate with clients at their level of understanding, and do so frequently. Here are some important points to consider about communicating on payment and collection matters.
Sharing Office Space: Tips for Solo Practitioners
Want the physical perks of a large law firm, with the freedom and independence of a sole practitioner? Sharing office space and facilities with other like-minded lawyers just might be the answer.
Happiness Today is a Positive Cash Flow
The financial health of your law firm ultimately depends on how well you manage cash flow. From budgets to billings, there are ways to keep your firm in the black even in these tough times.
The Mighty Billable Hour: Is it Preferred in a Downward Economy?
Many clients are seeking an alternative to hourly billing as a way to better manage their legal costs. But before offering any new arrangements, especially in uncertain financial times, law firms must be aware of the risks involved and how to contain them.
Cutting Your Fee – If a Client Asks, What Do You Say?
Cutting fees to keep clients is the start of a slippery slope. But there are ways to break the discounting cycle and improve your chances of being paid what you’re worth.
A Recession Coping Guide for Canadian Law Firms Podcast Now Available!
The legal profession is feeling the effects of the economic downturn, but there are steps you can take to lessen the impact. From renegotiating what you pay for office supplies to asking partners to take a cut in pay, here are the top 10 tips for survival.
When Is a Law Firm Like an Airline? When It “Unbundles”!
Rather than raise the fees for all, airlines are being selective. Just because it’s an extra charge doesn’t make it unreasonable, so long as customers see the reasoning and the value behind it. This is an excellent lesson for law firms facing client pressures to reduce billing rates and fees due to the recession.
Strategies for surviving a recession
The signs are clear. The world is definitely in a recession, even if the tsunami has not yet washed over Canada’s shores. So what can law firms do now to prepare for the hard times?
Name your price: how to set and discuss fees in a solo or small-firm practice
To be competitive in the legal services marketplace, you must properly price those services based upon both your demographic area and the practice area.
Don’t throw in the towel yet: seven points for a struggling solo to consider
By the end of your first or second year, you may be struggling financially, you may be saddled with clients who don’t pay, you may have an unproductive assistant you’re reluctant to fire, and you may be feeling like a failure because you haven’t been able to make your firm work. At what point do you cut your losses and give up?
More Secrets of the Business of Law
CBA PracticeLink has teamed up with LawBiz.com to offer our readers a series of excerpts from Ed Poll's must-read book, More Secrets of the Business of Law:
The Complex Conundrum of Cash and Lawyer Compensation
If your revenues from a given client are less than the costs to service that client in lawyer and staff compensation, your law firm is like an athlete exercising in hot weather. Lawyers often see only the intake—the cash “hydration” of revenue—and do not realize the dehydration that dissipates cash faster than the money comes in.
Is Flat Fee Billing a Viable Alternative?
Rather than setting price by a standard unit or result, alternative billing options focus on actions taken to benefit the client, beyond the time of how that value is applied. One of the simplest such options, and one that has increasingly received a great deal of attention in Canada, is billing for legal services at a flat rate.
Not If, But When: Prepare a Disaster Recovery Plan Today
There are two types of law firms: those that have experienced a disaster, and those that will. Protect yourself with these steps and checklists for developing and implementing a disaster recovery plan for your firm.
Is Your Overhead Too High? The Factors Involved in Reducing Law Firm Overhead Costs
All law firms, large and small, have one thing in common: a finite limit to discretionary spending. Overhead can, with some creativity, be reduced if necessary—there should be no such thing as a fixed cost. Spending for such items as leases and staffing is important but can be modified when necessary.
How to Get Paid
These columns address a variety of issues—structuring an engagement letter, raising your fees, working with your banker on cash flow management—all of which have the same basic theme: helping you get paid.
How to Benchmark Your Law Firm’s Financial Performance
Financial benchmarks can help uncover operating deficiencies in a law firm and provide fact-based information to gain consensus among your colleagues. Most importantly, benchmarking enables you to measure progress toward achieving the firm's goals and strategies.
Developing Alternatives to the Billable Hour
Choosing the right alternative is ultimately a business matter for both the firm and the client. There is no universal best billing alternative. Client preferences and each firm's operations differ, and each project or case has a multitude of factors that could accommodate these billing options.