The Law Practice You Have

Its the New Year. You have a great opportunity to look at your law practice and decide what changes you want to make in 2011. But first you need to know what the law practice you have looks like. You may think you know but many attorneys are surprised when they do the numbers.

  1. Make a list of all of the types of files you have handled during the past year. For general practitioners this should be relatively simple. If your practice is more specialized, break down the cases as best you can. For example, a litigation practice may have commercial, real estate, labor/employment, personal injury etc. cases. A family law practice could have uncontested divorces, contested child custody, contested property division, ad litem appointments, etc.
  2. Count the number of files in each category. Are there enough to really call this a practice area? If not, do you want more cases like these, or not?
  3. Determine the percentage of  billable time represented by each type of case. Examine whether some case types typically involve substantial non-billable time. If so, why? What’s that about?
  4. Determine the percentage of gross income derived from each case type. Take into consideration non-recoverable costs that may skew the numbers.

Compare the time invested vs. the income for each case type. What does your law practice look like? Are low profit cases taking up more of your time than you would like? Any semblance to the 80/20 rule? Often attorneys accept any case that comes in the door because they feel they have to. You don’t. And they continue to accept legal cases that are not that helpful to the bottom line and often are the kind of cases and kind of clients that make the practice more work that it should be. It doesn’t have to be like that.

So, now you know the law practice you have. Give it some thought. What do you like? What don’t you like?

The next step is to determine the law practice you do want. Start thinking.

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series: “Upgrading Your Law Practice.”

Part 2 of the series: “The Law Practice You Want” will publish January 10, 2011.

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