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Law Office Management
University of Alabama School of Law
Ksobiech, Thomas C. L.

Law Office Management – Fall 2013
 
·         3-4 Essay Questions
·         Closed Book
·         2 hours
 
Law Practice Management – three parts:
–          Management of the legal organization
–          Management of the legal work product
–          Management of the individual as a professional person
 
Chapter 1 – The Business of Law
 
Why Law Practice Management is Important
–          Involves management of the organization – the firm, the law department, the law office
–          Involves management of the legal work product
–          Involves the acquisition and mastery of a set of professional skills, which allow lawyers to be effective managers in a wide variety of situations – critical key to professional success
 
Changes in the Practice of Law
–          Technology
–          Accessibility
–          Automation (i.e. computers, outsourcing)
–          Harder Partnership Track
–          Fee Arrangements
–          Non-Associate Hires
–          Number of Lawyers
–          Increased Competition
 
Chapter 2 – The Marketplace for Legal Services
 
Lawyer Demographics
 
–          Total number of lawyers in US: about 1.2 million
–          Total revenue for legal services: $220.3 billion
–          No single law firm in the country accounts for more than 1% of total revenue or total number of attorneys
 
–          PriceWaterhouseCooper is the largest accounting firm – 180,000 employees
–          Clifford Chance LLP is the largest law firm – 6,700 employees
·         Why?
o   Mainly, no opportunity for private investment in law firms
o   Also, conflicts of interest, geography, etc.
–          Most popular size law firm in US: 2 to 10 lawyers
–          Why do we want the legal profession to be more diverse?
·         Comfortable (i.e. minorities may be more comfortable with lawyers of the same background)
·         Different perspectives
 
The Competition
 
–          Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee (UPL)
·         Designed to protect lawyers’ professional monopoly from nonlegal competitors
–          Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee v. Parsons Technology (N.D. Tex. 1999)
·         Texas court found that Parsons’ Quicken Family Law software constituted unauthorized practice of law
·         Texas legislature amended UPL statute after the Parsons case to permit QFL and other groups to operate legal websites
–          So why do we need lawyers rather than self-operating legal websites?
·         Quality
·         Deeper understanding
·         Trust
·         Accountability
·         Higher stakes
 
Non-Lawyers who compete with lawyers for legal business:
–          Financial Planning
·         Estate planning
–          Accountants
–          Realtors
–          Title Companies
–          Agents (i.e. sports and entertainment)
 
What can we do about this?
–          Stricter regulation of UPL
·         Regulate who can practice/hold themselves out as attorneys
·         Regulate competency of lawyers
o   Benefits clients by providing better services
o   Benefits lawyers by protecting against malpractice and bad reputation
o   Benefits society as a whole
·         Regulate where one can practice
o   Protect sovereignty of individual states (i.e. Connecticut law firms would not exist if they didn’t have a state bar – NY firms would take over legal market)
 
 
 
Legal Employment (Gary Munneke article on pg. 27)
–          Legal education costs growing at a rate faster than inflation – but so is every form of education
·         More clinics and skills courses
·         Smaller class sizes
–          Bimodal range of salaries for entry-level lawyers
·         $48k-65k; $125k-160k
·         More entry-level lawyers will earn salaries on the lower end of the spectrum
–          Increasing use of permanent staff (i.e. non-equity partners, of counsel)
–          More entry-level lawyers will earn salaries on the lower end of the spectrum
–          Graduates increasingly working non-legal jobs
 
Chapter 3 – Business or Profession?
 
Practicing Law Across Geographic and Professional Borders
–          Blend of business and professional skills and abilities
–          Evolving marketplace – four aspects of the new economy are changing how business enterprises perceive and manage legal and business risks
·         Rapidly changing business norms
o   Increased risk of inadvertently violating jurisdictional laws, professional standards, administrative rules, or client expectations
·         Globalization of business and consolidation of marketplaces
o   Merged entities, joint ventures, strategic alliances, etc.
·         Commercial and regulatory complexities require interdisciplinary solutions from teams of professionals with a blend of business, legal, and relevant technical training and experience
·         Technology revolution
o   More effective global compliance with regulatory requirements, transmission of advice and work product, paperless discovery, online dispute resolutions, etc.
 
Multi-Jurisdictional Practice
 
–          “Pro hac vice” – out-of-state lawyer permitted to litigate, often with a requirement by the court to retain “local counsel”
 
–          Birbrower v. Superior Court (Cal. 1998)
·         NY law firm did extensive work in California for a California client, which ended up not paying the legal fees
·         None of the lawyers were licensed to practice in California
·         Court decided

zed the right of the Bar Association to impose reasonable regulations on advertising, but refused to permit a complete ban on truthful advertising by lawyers
 
Alexander v. Cahill (2nd Cir. 2010)
–          Group of attorneys sues New York disciplinary committee responsible for adopting disciplinary rules
–          Conduct prohibited by the rules:
·         30-day moratorium for targeted solicitation following a specific incident
·         Portrayals of fictitious law firms
·         Special effects
·         Client testimonials
·         Nicknames
·         Judge in ad
–          District court held that all the provisions were unconstitutional except for the thirty-day moratorium provision
–          Appellate court agreed with district court, except for the ban on portrayals of fictitious law firms (held constitutional)
 
Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan
 
–          Give the clients what they want and need to hear, not what you want to hear
–          Invest in your marketing plan
–          Develop a message platform: a short statement that capitalizes what it is you do for clients
–          Marketing is an on-going activity
–          Involve everyone in the firm
–          Once you get clients, strive to keep them
–          Know the rules that govern legal advertising and solicitation
Creating a Marketing Plan
–          Analyze the Marketplace
·         Get an accurate picture of the legal needs of the public in the area where the firm intends to practice
–          Assess the Competition
·         Legal providers and other professional industries
·         Overcome competitive forces by providing a unique service or distinguishing the services you provide from others in some way
–          Evaluate Yourself
·         SWOT Analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
–          Identify a Niche
·         Specialists tend to be more efficient than generalists
–          Develop a Plan
·         Now that you have assessed all of these things – what are you going to do to attract clients?
·         Allocate time and money to the plan, assign responsibility, create a timetable, and assess the effectiveness of marketing strategies