Tips To Hiring The Best Law Firms

Generally, people are afraid of getting involved in legal matters because they believe that they will be forced to spend huge amounts of money on attorneys, and legal expenses. As a matter of fact, it is much better to stay away of any legal matters, but this does not mean that you should not be prepared to confront them. To overcome this fear, people should try to seek information in order to understand better what it’s all about. You could try to find out more things about legal firms, because this way you will be more confident.

A good lawyer will always be an expert in litigation. It is not recommended to hire a law company if you do not really need expert advice. If you are having legal problems, you will need to hire a legal firm. Sometimes people hire such firms because they want to enlarge their legal teams in order to convince their adversaries that they are determined to do whatever is needed to win. Many people feel more secure, and confident, when they have a proficient crew of reliable lawyers working for them. You may need to spend great amounts money, in order to hire more lawyers, but you have more chances of winning. And, if you want to save up, and you hire just one attorney, and you lose, you will then need to spend even greater amounts of cash to fix things.

If you are sure that you want to hire a law firm, you should start doing some background research. In order to make a wise choice, you must look up numerous legal directories, and find out further details related to diverse legal companies. Online research is one of the most efficient ways to find out the details you need, because all important law firms feature webpages and specialized forums. Furthermore, many law firms provide online reports on their activity, as well as on some of their previous clients’ cases. It is know that one of the most important benefits of a law company, is that has recent graduates in its staff, and they are constantly up to date with the newest modifications in law, which is a very significant feature.

It’s very important for lawyers to constantly update themselves because knowledge is what allows them to build their case with relevant figures and facts. Law firms have varied prices, depending on their sizes. For example, solo practitioners are not so expensive, while mid-sized and large firms entail higher costs because they have greater legal resources allowing them to solve your legal issues effortlessly. Make sure you hire a law firm that has the ability to explain things in a manner that you can understand. There is no point in hiring someone who speaks in a technical language or doesn’t return your calls. You should find an experience company, which is capable of defending you in court, and which is treating you politely as well.

You will have more things to gain if you hire a law company which is efficient and reputable, but which also knows how to establish a friendly relationship with its clients. Once you find a suitable law firm, you will no longer be scared, and with the help of you lawyer, the trial will be a complete success. All you have to do is to point out what you expect, and a whole team of lawyers will do their best to defend your cause.

How to Increase Your Law Practice Cash Flow By Helping Your Clients Choose Their Own Fees

One of the biggest reasons most lawyers struggle with the business end of law practice is because of the old, outdated, clients hate it and so do lawyers, practice of billing time on an hourly basis, often in six minute increments.

When I was working for large law firm, there was really no choice but to bill time. The managing partners had no way to track effectiveness of associates without it. And, frankly, it’s one of the reasons I left to start my own law practice.

As a corporate tax and estate planning associate, billing time just didn’t seem to work well. Clients weren’t communicating with us as often as they should because they knew they’d get a bill in the mail weeks later for the $67.50 email they sent and I would more often than not choose not to bill time for work performed because, honestly, I felt bad doing it when I was answering a quick question for a nonprofit or personal client.

When I hung my own shingle and started my law practice, I knew that I’d have to make the switch from hourly billing to something else, but I wasn’t sure how to do it or what the something else would be.

I found myself losing money because I wasn’t billing for the quick calls, the requests for referrals to other lawyers and the myriad of other little things that would come up that felt like billing would take more time and cost more than just writing off the time.

I was losing money, fast. And I could see it wasn’t sustainable.

So I made the shift to billing for my estate and business planning services on a flat fee basis. I looked at what other lawyers were doing based on their listserve posts and discussions and created my own flat fees.

But there was a problem… client’s weren’t signing up as often as I felt they should and I knew it all had to do with the fees.

I wasn’t explaining them properly. I almost considered switching back to the hourly model, which all clients could understand and, it seemed, almost expected.

Then, I engaged a client for a $5,500 trust package. Success! Except then it wasn’t…

Within 2 weeks they had called me back to cancel the planning. They had found another lawyer who would provide EXACTLY what I was providing for just $2,500. And while they said they would be happy to pay me $1,000 more for the additional service and relationship I provided, they couldn’t justify more than double.

I was devastated. I knew I was offering more than the lawyer who was charging just $2,500 for EXACTLY the same thing, but I didn’t know how to articulate that more.

So I let them out of our agreement. As I did so, I made a request. I said to the client, “okay, I understand what you are saying and I have a request. Would you please get back in touch with me after the planning with this other lawyer and share your experience with me?” He said yes and, frankly, I never expected to hear from him again.

But hear from him I did. And it was better than I could have ever hoped for. In fact, what he shared with me became the basis for a complete redesign of the way I charged for my legal services, explained them to clients and was most likely the #1 single thing most responsible for my being able to go on to build a million dollar a year plus law practice.

This client came back to me with a point by point analysis of my process and the other lawyer’s process and what I was able to see is that the plan the lawyer was delivering for $2,500 was not EXACTLY like the one I had quoted a $5,500 fee for.

In fact, for the plan that lawyer was delivering to his clients, I would have charged only $3,500, which was the exact amount the clients said they would have paid for my enhanced service and relationship offering.

In fact, I was including two additional items in my $5,500 plan that I could now let my clients choose whether to include or not and they could, in effect, choose their own fee!

Today, those $1,000 questions are the foundation of the fee quoting system I developed and have now taught to hundreds of lawyers who are using these questions to engage more clients and receive higher fees by clients who are happy to pay them.

While I cannot explain the $1,000 questions in full here, I can describe the starting place for making the shift from hourly services to packages your clients are happy to pay for.

First, identify three levels of outcomes or value you provide to your clients.

For example, in the estate planning practice, our Personal Family Lawyer members have a basic plan for families who don’t have assets that would go through probate, a mid-level plan for families with assets that would go through probate and a high level plan for families who want their lawyer to handle not only all the planning and documentation, but the transfer of their assets as well.

In the business planning practice, our Family Business Lawyers may have three packages focused on clients just starting up their business and need all the deliverables associated with a new startup, a package that is for the business owner who has been at it for some time and needs ongoing strategic support and finally a high-end package for the business owner who is ready to consider selling the business and wants to prep it for sale.

In a divorce practice, you may use stages, such as pre-divorce consultation and planning, filing of the complaint and all pre-litigation matters, mediation or collaboration of marital settlement agreement and then a whole separate set of packages if litigation is necessary.

Second, assign a value to these outcomes.

The value is not about the hours you will put into the outcome, but instead about the value of the outcome to the client.

For example, a startup client in the business side of a law practice may require far more hours than the strategic support for the ongoing business owner needs, but the start up client has less available assets and your package would be priced less with the intention that the start up work is just the beginning of a life-long relationship with the client that will net your law practice quite a lot of income over time – if you can support the business to get off the ground.

A client family with less assets at stake in the event of a death or disability would naturally want to pay less than a family who has assets that would go through probate or even be subject to estate tax.

Price your packages accordingly.

Third, create a fee schedule that lays these packages out clearly

I invested $10,000 to work with a consultant to design my packages and fee quoting system. Then I invested another $2,500 to visually represent the packages in a fee schedule.

That $12,500 was the best investment I ever made in my law practice because it took me from struggling to engage clients and command fees I knew I deserved to engaging just about every single client who came into my office and at higher fees than I ever had before.

The best part is my clients were happy to pay the fees because they were choosing the fee themselves. And, thanks to the $1,000 questions, in many cases, they were choosing to pay me $1,000-$2,000 more than they would have if I had just quoted a fee without the questions.

Are you ready to make this kind of shift in your practice? If so, why? If not, why not? What’s stopping you?

Top Ten Reasons Why Law Firms Should Consider Selective Legal Outsourcing

In the last quarter of 2008 America faces economic challenges never imagined even a few months ago. How will businesses manage and survive the limitations on credit, demand and growth? How does the economic downturn impact lawyers and law firms which service the business community?

It is an obvious fact that businesses can only look at modifying two revenue streams, income and expenses, in order to increase profitability. If income is down and not expected to increase markedly in the near term, clients of law firms will take the hatchet to expenses in order to survive. Legal fees will be under extreme scrutiny. Legal outsourcing, while still a nascent industry, is gaining momentum, being considered in more corporate boardrooms. As the pressures to outsource build, lawyers ponder whether they should embrace outsourcing legal work offshore or resist it. In the face of global economic challenges coupled with the increasing loss of American jobs why would a U.S. law firm want to even consider legal outsourcing? Are there valid reasons why targeted legal outsourcing should be considered by every U.S. law firm?

Several weeks ago I received an email from a lawyer who was considering outsourcing some of the legal work of his law firm. Facing resistance and challenges from many in his law firm who wanted to maintain the status quo, he asked for my advice as to what he should tell his partners. Why should the firm outsource legal work offshore, a practice seen by some as adventuresome and risky, instead of staying the course, doing it “the way we have always done it.” I answered him with the top ten reasons why every law firm should consider selective legal outsourcing:

1. PRUDENT, TARGETED OUTSOURCING WILL RESULT IN REDUCED LAW FIRM OVERHEAD

Outsourcing some legal work to qualified providers in India will result in significantly lower overhead to the outsourcing law firm. In assessing the comparative costs the law firm will be wise to carefully calculate the real costs of employing one lawyer or paralegal. Those costs include salary and bonus, health insurance, vacation and holiday pay, sick time expense, FICA, office space and equipment for the lawyer, paralegal and secretarial staff assigned to that lawyer, pension and profit sharing, auto and parking expense, CLE seminar costs, and other employment benefits such as disability and life insurance. The real annual cost of one lawyer earning a base annual salary of $150,000-$175,000 is more likely in the range of $250,000 to $300,000 per year. NONE of these customary expenses accrue to a law firm utilizing supplemental offshore legal providers.

2. OUTSOURCING WILL ENHANCE LAW FIRM EFFICIENCIES

Selective outsourcing will improve the efficiency of your law firm. Because Indian lawyers work while American lawyers sleep, it will be like your law firm has a full time, fully staffed night shift. Some work can be assigned by a partner at 6 p.m. in the evening and the completed task on his desk when he arrives at the office the next morning. Litigation cases will move more rapidly through the court system with less need for extensions of time.

3. OUTSOURCING WILL RESULT IN IMPROVED LAWYER MORALE

As a child not many of the sermons I heard from my pastor stuck with me. But one, when I was fourteen years of age still rings a bell. He said: “Ninety percent of any worthwhile endeavor is pack work, plugging, day in and day out. Only ten percent of our work tasks are necessarily fun and enjoyable.” I have always remembered that statement. In more than two decades as a trial lawyer I enjoyed strategizing and trying cases to juries. But I did not necessarily enjoy all of the trial and deposition preparation, research and briefing, document review, and other mundane essentials of the practice of law. A law firm which incorporates outsourcing into its practice will inevitably foster more contented lawyers who devote their time and energies to the more challenging, fun and rewarding parts of the practice of law. Only the “chore” legal work is outsourced with the “core” work staying onshore. This allows more time for client interaction and development by the firm’s lawyers.

4. OUTSOURCING WILL RESULT IN OVERALL SAVINGS IN LEGAL FEES TO CLIENTS

Clients of law firms, particularly business clients, are searching far and wide for ways to cut their legal expenses. Many ask why they should pay, for example, $200 to $300 hourly for document review. Gone are the days when legal bills are simply paid without scrutiny. Likewise, the annual increases in hourly rates will not be well received by clients looking to cut costs. Wise law firms put the interests of their clients above their own. What is good for the client will ultimately be good for the law firm itself.

5. THE RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT REQUIRE OUTSOURCING CONSIDERATION

The Rules of Professional Conduct of require that: a. “A lawyer should seek to achieve the lawful objectives of a client through reasonable permissible means.” (Rule 1.2) b. “A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions about the representation.” (Rule 1.4 b) c. “A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.” (Rule 3.2)

A lawyer is required to explore and discuss with his client all reasonable means of accomplishing the client’s objectives. A lawyer is not permitted to charge an unreasonable or excessive fee. It would seem that a lawyer is arguably required to discuss selective outsourcing as a way of reducing the client’s ultimate fee obligation and furthering the interests of the client.

6. OUTSOURCING “CHORE” LEGAL WORK PROMOTES CLIENT RETENTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Clients have long questioned ever-increasing legal fees for basic, “chore” legal work. However, they felt as if they had no alternative. They needed the legal representation and wanted good quality work. As there was not a significant degree of fee variance from law firm to law firm, clients tended to “stay put.” This trend is beginning to change as clients learn that they have options. Lawyers who outsource selectively are reporting a more contented, loyal client base. Clients who perceive that their lawyers are looking out for the entirety of the their interests, including fee costs, tend to remain committed to their existing law firms and even refer other clients (whose lawyers refuse to outsource).

7. THE COMPETITION IS OUTSOURCING

If your law firm is not outsourcing, be certain that your competition is. On August 21, 2007 Bloomberg. com reported that even long-established AMLAW 100 law firms like Jones Day and Kirkland & Ellis are outsourcing under pressure from clients.

8. OUTSOURCING U.S. LAW FIRMS MAY CHARGE A REASONABLE SUPERVISORY FEE

It is reasonable and acceptable for U.S. law firms outsourcing legal work offshore to charge a reasonable supervisory fee in conjunction with outsourced legal work. It is axiomatic that a lawyer who outsources legal work, whether to an associate, contract lawyer or offshore provider, ultimately remains responsible to his client for the quality and timeliness of delivery of the legal product. If a lawyer assigns the research and writing of a brief to a junior associate, the assigning lawyer will not customarily submit the final work product to the court without review and supervision. So it is with offshore legal outsourcing. Published ethics opinions of the San Diego, New York and American Bar Associations indicate that a lawyer who outsources offshore may charge a reasonable supervisory fee.

9. CLIENTS ARE INSISTING ON SELECTIVE OUTSOURCING TO ACHIEVE COST SAVINGS

Clients talk to one another. Executives of major companies golf and have lunch with one another. Corporate General Counsel attend meetings and CLE seminars, sharing information and ways to increase efficiencies and cut costs. They know about offshore outsourcing and the dramatic cost savings that can be achieved. It is unacceptable, therefore, to ignore legal outsourcing and, as one managing law firm partner told me, have “no appetite” for it.

10. OUTSOURCING WILL HAPPEN.

Doing nothing is not an option. Some are outsourcing. Many more are considering it, whether prompted by keen business sense or financial realities. Outsourcing is like a large, ominous wave a few miles offshore. It is preferable to surf the wave than wait to be engulfed, overwhelmed by its power and left wondering what happened.

British economist Herbert Spencer is credited with originating the term “survival of the fittest” in the mid 19th century. Although also having application to biology, Spencer applied the concept of survival of the fittest to free market economics. In a free market, companies and businesses will do what is necessary to survive. If that means outsourcing some U.S. legal jobs for the greater good of survival of the entity itself, then so be it. The model of ever increasing salaries and expenses for law firms followed by even higher legal fees charged clients cannot sustain itself any longer. Legal outsourcing is here to stay. The wise will take notice, survive and flourish.

The Secret Beyond the Secret – 11 Forgotten Laws

First we had the Secret and now I’m talking about the secret beyond the secret. Along with all the hidden laws and secrets and the 11 Forgotten Laws, it’s a wonder any of us know anything at all.

The reality is that we were created with all we need to create a life of abundance and fulfillment. Deep within us we know that or we wouldn’t have the desire to create or improve our lives in any way; but we have forgotten how to do that. If there is a secret beyond the secret, it is just that we have had the answer all along. Not only do we have these abilities through the power of our mind, but teachers have been sharing this message and showing us how since ancient times.

More recently early and mid twentieth century authors have written about the Truth of who we are and that we have access to all the secrets. They are neither hidden nor forgotten. So why aren’t we out there manifesting the lives we were intended to have?

Since the popularity of the book and the movie “The Secret”, many have become frustrated in their attempts to use the Law of Attraction. Millions in fact have been asking themselves and others what is the secret beyond the secret? What is it that I’m missing? What am I doing wrong? Why haven’t I been able to manifest the good in my life that the Secret told me was possible? So we have felt as though something was missing or hidden from us.

In the 11 Forgotten Laws program, the very first chapter of the text, workbook and audio presentations is called the Working of the Law. Notice that word-working. Could that be the secret beyond the secret? Did we really think that after a lifetime of conditioning, the constant media barrage telling us about the world of scarcity we live in, and the fear based headlines we come up against every day, that it was not going to take some effort on our part to change?

Bob Proctor and Mary Morrissey in their presentation of the 11 Forgotten Laws, come right out front and tell us that Working with the Law takes effort. The reason that people fail to manifest or see visible results is because they become inpatient with the process.

Our minds have actually been conditioned to think in an unnatural way. It takes practice, vigilance and persistence to recondition our minds to accept a new way of thought. This is the message of the first chapter called Working with the Law.

Just because we need to take action and study, doesn’t mean that we won’t see results right away; we may see immediate results. It does mean that consistent discipline of thought is required and I love that Bob and Mary point this out right up front.

In the 11 Forgotten Laws lessons, before we are even introduced to the Laws, we are given what I’m calling the secret beyond the secret. Working with the Law, the name of this Chapter and the book that the 11 Forgotten Law is based on, lets us know right away that study, patience and persistence are going to be needed if we are serious about making changes in our lives.