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Best Practice Tips

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is an 18-attorney firm based in San Diego. We are considering hiring our first legal administrator and have interviewed several candidates and have narrowed our search down to two candidates. One candidate has a strong financial background and has worked as a director of administration in several very large firms - 200 plus attorneys. The other candidate has a strong HR background, a weaker financial background, and has worked as a firm administrator in two different law firms - a 30 attorney firm and a 20 attorney firm. We like both candidates. Which candidate would you lean toward?

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the owner of an estate planning firm in Oklahoma City. I have four associates that work for me in addition to two billable paralegals and three staff support members. I am looking for ways to improve our business development and marketing. The majority of our business comes from past client referrals and referrals from employees and friends. We spend a considerable amount on advertising which includes our website, print ads, collateral materials, newsletters, etc. We would like to do more to increase client business. I would appreciate your thoughts?

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is an 18 attorney firm in Chicago that was formed by the existing four equity partners 10 years ago. We have four equity partners (founders), eight income (non-equity partners), and six associates. The income partners are not required to contribute capital. We are considering admitting a couple of the income partners as equity partners and also approaching possible laterals. What should we require in the form of buy-in or capital contribution?

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a two owner personal injury plaintiff firm in Los Angeles. We have four other attorneys. We do traditional personal injury work with a high volume of medical practice and products liability. One hundred percent of our fees are contingency fees. My partner has expressed an interest in retiring and selling his interest to me. How do I go about determining a fair price to offer him for his shares? I would appreciate your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. We are a 25-lawyer insurance defense firm in Northwest Dallas. We are managed by a managing partner, firm administrator, and director of human resources. We have been discussing the need for a marketing director. Are we too small? If we decide to hire one what should we be looking for and where should we start our search?

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a lawyer from the Carbondale area. Last week I attended your Illinois State Bar Association CLE Webinar - Law Practice Succession and Transition - Ideas for Getting Started. I am 66 years old and I fit the "Sole Owner" model that you discussed. I am the practice. I have one associate and one legal assistant and my associate has neither the desire or the ability to take over my practice. I am tired and want to retire by the end of the year. With no successors in sight, I am thinking I should just close the doors. I welcome your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing member of an 14-attorney firm in Miami. We initiated discussions with a large firm in Boston concerning the possibility of our firm merging with their firm. We met with one of their partners recently at their offices and he presented our interest to his other partners. He has advised us that there is an interest in having us meet the other equity partners and taking discussions to the next level. He would like some initial financial information from us. We feel we must provide them with some financial information at this point, but are unsure what to provide at this stage. I would like to hear your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a solo practitioner in Orlando, Florida with two secretaries and I am planning on merging my practice with another attorney in the same office location. He has three staff members. We have both been on our own for 20 years and have enjoyed our independence. We have decided that we want to setup an eat what you kill type of compensation system. We would appreciate your thoughts.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the owner of a five attorney firm in Austin, Texas. My accounting/office manager has just advised me that she is resigning her position as a result of her husband's job being relocated. She is the best employee I have had the pleasure of working with and I am not sure where to start regarding finding her replacement. She will be hard to replace - not just her skills - but her manner, relationship with me and other members in the firm, clients, etc. She is truly a class act. I would appreciate any thoughts that you may have.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a member of our firm's executive committee. We are an 18-attorney firm in Baltimore with four equity partners, five non-equity partners, and nine associates. Recently we asked one of our non-equity partners to join the equity ranks and he said no. We were shocked and taken by surprise. Is this a common occurrence? We would like to hear your thoughts