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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Why Should Associates Stay With Their Law Firm?

While I help law firms deal with a myriad of issues, the top focus of my consulting advice in 2022 had to be Associate churn. So, here’s a two-part post on this issue. First, I want to speak to Associates who are considering leaving their firm. Next, I’ll speak to law firms about how to create conditions that will lesson Associate temptations to leave.

Last year I wrote an article for SLAW called “When Should You Leave” to help Associates understand when it makes sense for them to move firms. But today, I want to talk about why . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

To Merge or Not to Merge

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind… never mind. You get where I was going with that. And I thought my English degree would never be useful.

I’ve had several recent strategy consults with lawyers about opportunities to merge their small firms with other firms – some small, some quite large. It’s a tough decision with lots of pros and cons to sort through. I thought it might be helpful for folks considering a merger to set out some pieces of how I run the analysis.

Reasons to Merge

When I talk to lawyers about why they are considering merging, there . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Wrapping Up the Year – Ten Questions to Reflect On

December 23, 2022. Time for a deep inhale and a longer exhale. You did it. You made it through another intense year.

Life these days is always some form of crazy. Change isn’t something that you have to handle once in a while. It is now part of the rhythm of daily life.

That said, there is much that remains constant. We love, laugh, help, care, and rest.

There is also so much within our control.

Who we choose to spend time with.

Where we place our focus.

What we do to celebrate.

As you read this, take a few . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Public Speaking for Lawyers

There are three keys to public speaking: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is achieved when the speaker is convincingly credible. Pathos is achieved when the audience is emotionally moved. Logos is achieved when the reasoning presented is reasonable. Note that none of these involve the mystical calling of charisma nor haughty concepts like truth. Public speaking is a skill involving elements available to all who work on them.


Before I move to these three keys, a word on development. Great speakers do not come naturally to the calling, but through testing. The speaker must test everything, observe effectiveness, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The State of Global Legal Regulation

The annual meeting of the International Conference of Legal Regulators, held in Chicago this year, was a terrific event with eye-opening panels and thought-provoking speakers. The consensus theme was that extraordinary change is occurring on multiple fronts in the legal world, creating huge challenges for the regulation of legal services, but also real opportunities to reshape this landscape for the better.

Here are 10 observations from the two-day meeting. Some of these insights are from speakers and audience members, others are my own. All of them point to a very different future for legal regulation, one that’s coming our way . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

It’s Time to Create Your 2023 Personal Plan

Typically, lawyers work from 40 – 80 hours per week. If they are able to bill out 2/3rds of that time, they are lucky (or organized). But it could be better. The difference between billed work and the rest of that time is often wasted or at least under-utilized time. That’s because most lawyers don’t have a clear sense of what they want to achieve in a year, a month, a weak, a day. They might know generally, but wishes don’t move mountains. Plans do.

As a lawyer coach, I NEVER forget that time a lawyer spends working, learning, marketing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

When Is Perfect Not Actually Perfect?

When it comes to initial consultations for your firm. The ideal conversion rate for turning initial client consultations into clients is not 100%. It’s counterintuitive, I know. It seems like if a potential client shows up in your office who needs the kind of legal help you provide, that it is some kind of failure if they don’t hire you. It feels bad. Like you’ve been rejected.

That’s the wrong way of looking at it. It’s prioritizing an emotional frame over an analytical one. You’d think we, as lawyers, wouldn’t often prioritize emotions over analysis, but when it comes to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Law School Gatekeepers

Every law society in Canada places one key condition on candidates for law licensure: Unless you are an internationally trained candidate, you must hold a three-year degree from an accredited law school before you can begin the bar admission process.

As a result, virtually every domestically trained lawyer in Canada has a law degree, and most of us who entered the profession this way have never questioned that. We assume that, well, naturally you need a law degree to become a lawyer — even though it’s not “natural” at all, but the result of a decision by the profession’s regulators. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Life’s Fragility

A personal injury lawyer knows, perhaps better than most, of life’s fragility. I represented a woman who lost her baby boy in a car accident. When I met her at the hospital she was beyond distraught – not in the sense of becoming more and more frantic, but of a person who had entered another phase of life, a life lived in silent tragedy. She held a worn look, her wrinkled clothes betraying days of use, the smell of dried sweat and tears emanating so much sadness. As I held her hand, she recounted what had happened, second by second, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Dealing With Law Firm Bullies

This post is for law firm leaders as well as for senior managers. My last submission to SLAW focussed on ensuring you don’t alienate your law firm with your decision process. This one focusses on another barrier to firm success: bullies.

Cutting my teeth as a law firm marketer, I was very aware of law firm bullies. Managers (like a Marketing Manager or Director but really, anyone in a senior but non-lawyer position in a law firm) have lots of responsibility and there are high-expectations for our ability to get things done. But we have very little power. This makes . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Partnership – Is It for You?

Sandy, a seven-year call, just had her annual review. The partners are thrilled with her performance and are starting to discuss partnership. But Sandy is wondering, is this something she wants?

For many associates partnership is no longer an attractive goal.

Many young lawyers look at partners’ lives and don’t see the appeal. The long hours, the burden of administrative tasks, and the high-stress levels don’t have much of a draw.

What if partnership offered more than this?

What if stepping into partnership meant greater agency over your career and a way to help create a better work environment for . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

There are humans, I am told, whose lives don’t revolve around to do lists, completion of tasks, and productivity systems like Getting Things Done or Atomic Habits. Humans who don’t wake up clutching a bullet journal or begin tapping on Todoist before they leave bed. Humans who more or less go with the flow, who live in the moment, and who don’t spend their life energy building and tweaking a set of byzantine systems to make sure they’re doing the right things at the right time.

These humans are called normal people. It is not a category that includes . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law