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    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.

    This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 at 10:00 am and is filed under Law Firm Strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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