Event: Texas Tech University School of Law, Planning to Conquer the Real World of Private Practice (Feb. 24, 2007)

Planning to Conquer the Real World of Private Practice

Panelist, Texas Tech University School of Law

Lubbock, Texas

February 24, 2007

Event: If Your Firm Doesn’t Have a Website, It Doesn’t Exist (Feb. 22, 2007)

If Your Firm Doesn’t Have a Website, It Doesn’t Exist

Presentation with Luke Gilman

Houston Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section

February 22, 2007

For more details contact Scot Dixon, 713-758-3373, or sdixon@velaw.com

Trimming Expenses to Fatten the Kitty

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Recently I have been getting a number of questions about reducing overhead in law firms, so this article will give you some tips. For a strong first step, get a clear picture of the existing expenses, and determine which of them are necessities, and which are luxuries.
Review and Investigate the Firm Financial Reports
Do you review your firm’s monthly financial reports? Do you really know what the specific numbers on your financial statement represent? Are there some categories that fluctuate pretty dramatically from month to month or year to year? If so, that might indicate some discretionary spending items, and it may be worthwhile to review the expenditures represented by those numbers. It may be appropriate to develop some approval procedures within those categories. Establish a budget and follow-up on over-expenditures to get a real handle on expenses.
By investigating the facts underlying financial reports, lawyers I know have discovered seriously overdue accounts receivable, employees using firm services and accounts for personal purposes, courier services used daily for routine non-urgent transmissions, unnecessary equipment service contracts for nonessential or infrequently used equipment, infrequently used season tickets, and downright embezzlement. (Lawyers are rather common victims of embezzlement.) Some of those expenditures sound deminimus, but with frequent repetition, they add up.

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A Year by Design, or by Default?

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

A bright and talented lawyer lamented: “Where did all the money go?” He was a charismatic guy and had attracted a few good cases. Because he was a skilled lawyer, he enjoyed some success. However, when profits began to dwindle, at first he didn’t notice. Then he didn’t know how to adjust his strategy, because he didn’t really have one.
In the business world, companies can’t get financing if they don’t have a business plan. That’s because bankers know that owners who run their businesses by the seat of the pants are more likely to fail. A business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but in the process of creating one, we establish goals. We consider ways to achieve those goals and how to address the obstacles to achieving them. We set a clear intention about how we want to spend our resources of time, money and talent. That clarity of intention helps us make better decisions when opportunities or obstacles arise. Sometimes during planning we have thought through the consequences of various options in advance. Other times we can ask ourselves, “Is this opportunity more likely to move me toward or away from my goal?”

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