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Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the sole owner of a five attorney personal injury plaintiff firm in the Dallas suburbs. Over the years I have built a sustainable brand through advertising. I have helped my associates develop their reputations, handle substantial cases, and be involved in various areas of firm management. I am planning on retiring in five years and I would like to begin the transition early next year by selling some stock (minority interests) to deserving associates with the remainder of my shares to be purchased upon my retirement. Originally, I had through about selling shares to two associates that have been with the firm for over fifteen years - now I am thinking about selling shares to all four associates. I think it would be easier for the four to come up with the required money. I welcome your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. Our firm is a 14-attorney general practice firm located in Dayton, Ohio. Two of our attorneys focus their practice on personal injury defense and the others are transactional attorneys. While the practice is doing well overall, our litigation work is dropping off. I would appreciate any ideas that you have pertaining to marketing a litigation defense practice.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. Our firm is a twenty two lawyer insurance defense firm in Seattle. Over the years we have told our associates that they were hired to work on firm business and there was no requirement for them to develop or bring in client business. In fact we specifically asked them not to bring in business. Now we are rethinking that policy. Many of our equity partners are retiring and we are finding we have a group of grinders - with very few minders or finders capable of either retaining existing clients or bringing in new clients. What are your thoughts?

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. Our firm is a five attorney estate planning/administration practice located in Kansas City. Our estate planning work is handled on a flat fee basis for our clients. We collect one half of the fee upon acceptance of the signed engagement letter and the other half upon signing of the estate planning documents. This has worked well for us. However, we are not doing so well with our estate administration work. This work is time billed against a retainer. We do a good job collecting the initial retainer but then we fail to ask for replenishment retainers and when we bill for the remaining work we have collections problems. We have over six hundred and fifty thousand dollars in accounts receivable over 120 days old. We would appreciate your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a partner with a fourteen attorney business litigation defense firm in Los Angeles. I am the member on our three member executive committee that is responsible for financial oversight. This year we put in place an 1800 annual (150 hours per month) billable hour expectation for associate attorneys. No one has ever reached 150 hours. Are our expectations unrealistic? What is our problem? I would appreciate your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the partner recently put in charge of marketing in our eight lawyer general practice firm. For years we have simply relied on referrals from past clients, lawyers, and other referral sources as our sole means of client development. A few years ago we invested in a website. We are now considering whether we should invest in social media. I welcome your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a partner in a six-attorney firm in downtown Chicago. I am sixty four and starting to think about retirement and would appreciate your thoughts on how where to start.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the managing partner of a twelve attorney defense litigation firm in Santa Monica, California. We have four partners and eight associates. Associates are paid a salary. We have several associates that are being overpaid - they are being paid $150,000 - $180,000 and just barely generating $300,000 in working attorney fee receipts. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a partner in a twelve attorney general practice firm in Upstate New York. There are eight partners and four associates in the firm. Our firm was formed five years ago when we broke off from another firm in the area. That firm was led and managed by a dictatorial founder and other attorneys in the firm including partners had no say in management matters whatsoever. When we formed this firm we decided that all attorneys including associates would be included in the decision-making process. All management decisions must be passed by all attorneys in the firm. When we were smaller this worked okay but now that we are larger we are having problems. I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. Our firm is a fourteen attorney firm in Orlando, Florida. We have Two equity members, five non-equity members, and seven associates. We are currently managed by the managing member. In order to be more inclusive we are thinking about eliminating the managing member position and moving to a three member executive committee with one of the three members being a non-equity member. I would appreciate your thoughts?