Every day I talk to lawyers who are either making plans to leave an established firm and strike out on their own or have already done so. And I continue to be surprised that almost none of them have thought much beyond acquiring space and appropriate furnishings and equipment to set up shop. Very few of them have prepared a budget, or estimated what fees they will be able to bring in over the first six months, or thought about where they’ll get the money to cover an estimated, or unanticipated, shortfall.
Many of these lawyers have a general idea of what type of work they’d like to do, but they haven’t given any thought to defining their ideal target client, so they don’t have any idea where to find, or how to reach, this ideal client with appropriate and ethical client development activity. Some of them, particularly the ones who leave large firms, where almost every aspect of firm management is handled for them by a professional administrative staff, feel really lost.
What these lawyers need is guidance. Fortunately, the Practice Management Assistance Program now has another tool to help lawyers who are setting up new practices or who are already operating firms which are five years old or less.
Through an initiative of Alabama State Bar President Sam Crosby and the members of the ALASCORE Task Force, the Birmingham and Mobile chapters and members-at-large of the Association of Legal Administrators have agreed to form a partnership with the Alabama State Bar to accept referrals of our lawyers who would like their help in sorting out some of the management issues of practice.
These knowledgeable and experienced firm administrators have agreed to volunteer time to meet one-on-one with our members to guide them through the day-to-day nuts and bolts of practice, as well as provide advice on drafting marketing plans and budgets.