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Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a six attorney boutique estate planning practice located in Madison, Wisconsin. We had a great year last year financially as we have the last several years. However, this year (2016) we are off to a terrible start. Our new matter intakes are down by twenty-five percent. We have a very proactive marketing program - print advertisements, directory listings, top notch website, and we do seminars for prospective clients. I know other estate planning attorneys that do more seminars than we do. Should we be doing more seminars? I would appreciate your insight. 

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the sole owner of a 25-attorney litigation boutique firm in Los Angeles. I am the only equity partner with nine non-equity partners and 15 associates. I am concerned that if I don't provide a path to equity partnership, some of my senior talent may gradually defect to other firms or split off to create their own firms. I also believe that providing a path to equity partner for deserving non-equity partners is the right thing to do. Therefore, I am planning on admitting two non-equity members this year. Should I require capital contributions?

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a member of our firm's executive committee. We are a 16-attorney business transactional firm in Seattle. Recently the firm has lost several key clients and we want to know what we can do determine why this happened and what we can do to improve client retention. I would appreciate your suggestions.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the founder and managing partner of a 27-attorney firm in Dallas, Texas. I own 90% of the stock in the firm. I have a three member management committee that serves as a sounding board, a firm administrator, and several people in accounting that work for the firm administrator. We are anticipating hiring a marketing director and are trying to think our way through how to structure this new position as well as future management positions down the road. I would appreciate any thoughts that you may have.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 12-lawyer insurance defense firm in Oklahoma City. We have four partners and eight associates. While we have grown over the last five or six years by adding associates, our profitability has remained flat. We feel that we are not getting the billable hours that we should out of our associates. What are other firms like ours getting out of their associates in terms of billable hours?

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am owner of a four-attorney firm in Amarillo, Texas. We represent both individual and institutional clients. Recently, we have had numerous complaints from clients advising us that our services took longer than expected and fees were also higher than expected. I would appreciate your thoughts.

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

Q. I am part of a three member management committee of a 16-lawyer firm located in Akron, Ohio. We have 10 partners and 6 associates. Several of our partners are in their 50s and 60s. We have had recent discussions with a couple of potential merger partners and laterals and in all cases they have backed out because they were uncomfortable with our balance sheet. What can we do to better position ourselves? We desperately need to bring in new talent with books of business.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm has three partners, two associates, and 2 staff members. This is a new firm that started in practice a year ago. We are equal partners and allocate compensation equally based upon these ownership interests. We believe the current system has worked well, but have been considering whether one person should handle all the management duties and how that person should be compensated. We would appreciate your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. We are a 14 lawyer firm in the Boston suburbs with four founding partners and 10 associates. Two of the partners are in their 50s and two are in their 60s. Several years ago we adopted a retirement buyout plan for the founding partners where each partner upon retirement is paid the balance of his cash-based capital account and a multiple of one times an average of his last three years earnings paid out over a five year period. I am concerned that when partners begin to retire the retirement payouts will place undue stress on operating funds and the firm's ability to be successful. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. We are an 18-attorney firm based in Tucson, Arizona. Our practice is a boutique general liability defense firm. Our clients tend to be self-insured large corporations and smaller business firms. Currently all of our clients are billed by the hour. Recently, we have been discussing whether we should propose an alternative billing approach to our clients. We would be interested in your thoughts.