• Barry Seidel

Law Practice (and other business) Fundamentals

Due to deep seated psychological reasons, which years of therapy have not remotely addressed, I always believed I could not draw, paint, or do anything remotely "artistic". It's got something to do with my mother being an artist, and worrying too much about what other people would think about my artistic efforts. And yes, Dr. Freud, I know I married an artist, just to keep you amused.


However......once, in preparation for giving a talk on "Building a Law Practice", I made a little illustration. This is the only known work of its kind, created by my very hand.....

If I do not explain the meaning of this relic, I fear it may be later discovered and subject to mis-interpretation. The drawing is called "Law Practice Fundamentals". A law practice, or ANY business, is based on THREE basic things:


1. Getting the business.


2. Doing the work.


3. Managing the finances.


If a law practice (or ANY business) is having "problems", the source is often one (or more) of these issues. All these issues can be addressed and improvements can be made. This is a matter of clear thought, action, assessment, and adjustments. These are the things we all know and sometimes even do.


The BIG challenge is working all three elements simultaneously.


Most new practices initially consider themselves challenged with Item #1. I maintain this is easily overcome, so once business is brought in, the challenges of #'s 2 & 3 present themselves. Of course, once we are working really hard (surprisingly hard because we half didn't expect to succeed at #1), the inclination is to stop getting new business and/or lose track of financial issues. After all, we are SO busy, so things must be OK.


Then, after all that work we see that the bottom line doesn't measure up, so we belatedly look at financial issues (case selection, fee setting, expenses) and focus on that. And fall behind on the actual work, and of course, still no time to go back to #1. 


So then, we work on #3 and chase down some money, and quote some higher fees, but we have no new business, and so the treadmill runs.


Try not to do this. Or shall I say....DON'T DO THIS!!!!


These things are all related and inter-related. 


When (not IF) you market and network, have systems in place to handle the work efficiently.


Make good decisions on which matters to take (and reject) and think about the fees and billings and collections at the outset. Money problems generally arise out of defects in #'s 1 & 2. (We market for or accept unprofitable matters or we work inefficiently)


Law practice (or any business) requires seeing all 3 elements, and addressing them simultaneously and consistently.

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