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    Archive for November, 2009
    How Much Will That Be…?
    Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

    ♫ Tell me something good (tell me, tell me, tell me)
    Tell me that you like it, yeah…♫

    Lyrics and music by Stevie Wonder, recorded by Rufus and Chaka Khan.

    My colleague and fellow co-writer of the “Profitability” column in Law Practice Magazine, Laura Calloway, and I have for years now, been discussing the need for lawyers to develop budgets – for their practice, for themselves and for the files that they handle. Sadly budgets seems to be like the weather – everyone talks about them but nobody does anything about it.

    Since our last column in Law Practice Magazine has just been published, it was timely to read that The Law Society of Upper Canada has placed a PDF template entitled The Litigation Cost Estimate Template on their website. Actually it is two templates…a long form and a short form.

    Both forms are quite detailed and assist a lawyer in breaking down the cost of a litigation file by all the different steps involved and disbursements that could be incurred. The LSUC advises lawyers to tell their clients that this is an estimate only, not binding, may be subject to change and is for informational purposes only.

    The template states:

    “The following Templates are based on the Uniform Task-Based Management System, jointly developed by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, the American Corporate Counsel Association, and a group of corporate clients and law firms coordinated and supported by Price Waterhouse LLP.”

    Hats off to the LSUC for taking the lead on this important area and providing a useful precedent for lawyers to use to estimate the costs of handling a litigation matter. I am sure that after using it for a period of time and comparing actual costs with estimates, a firm could gain enough experience to comfortably use it with clients and improve the communication in and around the potential cost of litigation.

    For those lawyers seeking a law firm budget, I have a Twelve-Month Law Practice Cash Flow Budget Worksheet up on the Law Society of British Columbia’s web site, in Excel format, for use by lawyers seeking to build a budget for their law practice.

    By building budgets, the expectation is that we can have an informed discussion with our clients and our partners on the actual costs involved in running files and/or the office, rather than making guestimates. After all, when asking how much will that be, most, if not all of us, would like to hear something good…

    I would also like to thank Laura for our years of collaboration and friendship. I could not ever imagine working with anyone better. Certainly the lion’s share of the credit for the column is due to Laura and her southern style and charm in developing the ideas and shaping the content as well as the text into the form that was finally published. She was wise, quietly but purposefully effective and a fabulous collaborator. The Alabama State Bar and the lawyers of Alabama are indeed fortunate to have her as their Director of Service Programs, Staff Lawyer and Practice Management Advisor. Thank you Laura! I would also like to thank the staff and volunteers of Law Practice Magazine for all they have done over the years to assist us with the column.

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »
    A New Discovery
    Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

    ♫ And gazing down from yonder,
    On a world of blue and green,
    He’ll say with eyes of wonder,
    I have seen, i have seen,
    My eyes have seen…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Chris de Burgh.

    I have recently posted on www.slaw.ca on Barclay Johnson’s use of a Sony Reader in Court. Here is the start of the article:

    A lawyer friend of mine told me about his recent use of his new Sony Reader in Court. No, this wasn’t to read books while waiting to speak in Chambers! He is using it in direct and cross-examination in court and I thought it would be of interest to the readers on Slaw. So with no further ado, here it is in his own words:

    I thought I would contact you to let you know that I have recently purchased a Sony Reader Model PRS 600 (touch screen with dictionary) at a cost of $399 plus tax. I also purchased the leather book jacket for $40 (which comes with a night light) as well as an AC adapter for $40. I had looked at previous models and decided to wait until some of the issues had been resolved regarding the transfer of text and PDF files. I’ve used this amazing new device in a recent five day trial here in Victoria.

    To read the rest of the article, go here.

    Thanks to Barclay Johnson [bwjohnson at shaw.ca] of Victoria BC for allowing me to post his experiences here in order that all of us can gaze with eyes of wonder and say I have seen ..I have seen…

    Posted in Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Some Great Advice…
    Friday, November 20th, 2009

    ♫ Every day I wander in negative disposition,
    as I’m bombarded by superlatives,
    realizing very well that I am not alone,
    introverted i look to tomorrow for salvation,
    but I’m thinking altruistically,
    and a wave of overwhelming doubt
    turns me to stone

    and I guess it struck a nerve…♫

    Lyrics and music by Greg Graffin, recorded by Bad Religion.

    A fellow blogger Henrik Edberg has written a great piece on blogging entitled: 9 Life Lessons I Have Learned from Blogging

    Not only is the article well done, he uses quotes to start his articles (well ok, they are not musical lyric quotes, but they are quotes none-the-less). Henrik is talking about 9 lessons about life that he has learned from blogging.

    So many people seem to be blogging in an attempt to get others to buy things – advice, products etc. To me that isn’t the reason why you blog – you try to make people’s lives a little bit better and in turn, hopefully you will read something, somewhere that does the same for you. We are all stronger if we help each other. Henrik has his own way of stating this:

    “If you are trying to get other people to always give you more value than you give them – in real life or on your blog – then you suck the positive feelings out of the place. And people will become less and less likely to want to hang around and interact with you.”

    Henrik’s post struck a nerve for me today. Great stuff Henrik – keep up the good work!

    Hat tip to fellow PMA Jim Calloway for sending me in Henrik’s direction!

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »
    Luddites in the Dust…
    Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

    ♫ Dust in the Wind
    All we are is dust in the wind…

    Lyrics and Music by Kerry Livgren, recorded by Kansas.

    I wish to say thanks to the Lawyers Weekly and Valerie Mutton for including me along with Jennifer Gray, Technology Integration Specialist at McInnes, Cooper in Halifax and Lawrence Pascoe, a lawyer in Ottawa, in a great article entitled: Technophile lawyers leaving luddites in the dust.

    Valerie listened when we talked about the transformational power of technology:

    “Ten years from now, Bilinsky says, there will still be traditional firms that use technology in a limited fashion, but there will be many others who will be the leaders. He says that now, with the introduction of the interjurisdictional practice protocol, it’s possible to build a practice that is national in scope even if you live in a small town or practice a niche area that might not be lucrative locally. You can use technology to market yourself and cast a wide net for your client base. Lawyers can also do innovative things like having a “virtual” law practice, with associates who are not physically present in the same city, let alone the same office — allowing you to hire that promising young associate, even if she doesn’t want to relocate.”

    You can read the rest of the article here.

    It is indeed refreshing that when we speak about the positive effects of technology on lawyers, it isn’t just dust in the wind…

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »
    A Couple of Updates..
    Monday, November 16th, 2009

    ♫ It takes two, baby,
    It takes two…♫

    Music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman.

    A couple of updates:

    One:  OnPoint Legal Research’s Take Five Newsletter is now up for November, summarizing the 5 most interesting cases for BC:  November Take Five

    Of course you can access past issues on their website as well as sign up for their newsletter by email.

    Two:  Bob Denney’s November 2009 Legal Communique has now been released:

    BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING MAXIMS

    ‘Maxim: General truth or rule of conduct expressed in a sentence.”
    The Oxford Dictionary

    1.   Be the best lawyer you can be.
    2.   Be afraid. Fear of failure guarantees success.
    3.   Don’t sell. Educate. No one wants to be sold legal services. Ask clients and
    prospects what their problems are, then educate them on how you can help them.
    4.   Focus. Specialize. You can’t be all things to all people.
    5.   Have a marketing plan and follow it. Hell is paved with good intentions – and
    marketing plans that were never implemented.
    6.   Market like you were a sole practitioner. If you don’t, you may become one –and
    then you’ll have to.
    7.   Everyone in the firm must be a marketer, from the Managing Partner all the way
    down to the messenger.
    8.   Current clients are your best sales agents.
    9.   Word-of-mouth is still the best form of marketing and business development.
    10.  Your friends may not become clients, but your clients can become friends.
    11.  Your next client may be across the table.
    12.  To get and keep your client’s business, know his or her business.
    13.  Treat every client as if he or she were your only client.
    14.  The three keys to delighted clients:
    • Listen and communicate
    • Listen and communicate
    • Listen and communicate
    15.  Under-promise. Over-deliver.
    16.  Don’t be afraid to say “yes” – but have the courage to say “no”. The
    magic words to a client are: “Yes, if . . .” or “No, but . . .”
    17.  Be a problem-solver, not a problem-maker.
    18.  Give the client alternatives but don’t stop there. Say, “It’s your decision but
    I think this is what you should do and these are the reasons.”
    19.  Know your competition. It’s just as important as knowing your client.
    20.  Ask for the business.

    Robert Denney Associates Inc. has provided strategic management and marketing counsel to law
    firms throughout the United States and parts of Canada for over 30 years. Reports and discussions of
    other timely issues are posted on his web site, www.robertdenney.com. His annual report on “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” will be coming in December…visit his website to sign up for his newsletters.

    When it comes to this post, it takes two!

    Posted in Business Development, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    A New Portal…
    Friday, November 6th, 2009

    ♫ Feel in my heart
    the start of something new…♫

    Lyrics and music by: Matthew Gerrard & Robbie Nevil, from High School Musical.

    The BC Courthouse Library Society is launching their new website today (http://www.courthouselibrary.ca/cms/) which should be ‘live’ shortly (the old site is still there as this is posted).

    The new site certainly fulfills their Strategic Direction as set out on their site:

    Provision of Legal Information, Products, and Services to Members of the Legal Community:

    Goals:

  • To understand the changing practice of members of the legal community and how they obtain and use legal information.
  • To design products and services in consultation with members of the legal community to meet their needs and improve the quality of our service.
  • To optimize access and services for members of the legal community outside the Lower Mainland and Victoria.

    This is certainly not your standard library research website. Johanne Blenkin, Mandy Ostick and their team deserve full credit for their ‘out of the box’ thinking and creativity. There is a blog included as part of the site (called “The Stream”), a “New and Notable” section that can be organized by practice areas and “Practice Portals” (presently Civil Litigation, Family Law, Personal Injury, Practice Management & Technology and Wills & Estates) that recommend books, publications and news in these specific areas (which I expect will be expanded shortly).

    The Search function is customizable (you can search everything or search specific areas such as BC Proclamations or News Archive or any combo of the 10 sources presently listed). If you wish, you *could* just search the library catalogue, but with the wealth of resources on their site, why would you? Chances are your search will be much more valuable by looking at the additional resources that Mandy and her team have built.

    You can save your searches (after logging in) to save time if you continually look for information on specific topics. There are subject guides to aid in your starting out researching in such subjects as Federal Legislation or Pleadings or Costs and other 4 areas listed along with “How To” guides and video tutorials.

    Hats off to the BC Courthouse Society for moving legal research and law libraries a quantum leap forward in terms of web site design, functionality and appeal. I feel in my heart that this is truly the start of something new…

  • Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »