Monday, December 3, 2012


As I talk with attorneys about their career goals, I have recognized a dramatic change from a few years ago.  Prior to 2008, there was an arms race for good partners and associates.  Fast forward a few years and the days of walking across the street for 20, 30, 40k raises in base salary are gone.

Successful law firms squeezed out expenses, got a lot better at due diligence in hiring, and offers now come with a certain risk adjustment reflected in salary or draw.  What a lot of them squeezed out, and have created a void that successful partners are now needing, is leverage.  

The graying of the workforce with the chopping that many firms did of their bench has created a gap that has left many firms in a precarious position that will continue to build.  

The frustration around being capped at the amount of work that they can actually do.  Bringing in more work, but not having  quality associates, service partners, or even assistants that were able to handle billable work at a competitive blended billable rate.

Leverage has become geographic and enterprise as well. Altman Weil documented that 2012 is a historic year for firm mergers. Work that single offices used to get is now being lost to larger firms that leverage clients from one city into business in other cities where they don’t have a presence. Small firms that were once happy with staying independent are now open to merging.  

Everyone needs leverage and yet it is the one thing that is becoming more rare. How do you leverage your partners, associates?  How do you leverage the percent of business that you get from existing clients into additional work for you and others in your firm? Is there a gap in the work that you can generate and the work that you can do?

So what does this mean to your practice?

As you look at year end planning and goal setting for 2013, think of ways that your practice can leveraged better and ask a few questions:

What partner to “quality” associate ratio do I need if I were to grow my practice by 10%, 20%, etc?

Are you at the top end of your bill rate or can you raise rates and retain your client base? 

Conversely, are you being mandated to bill at a rate that is causing clients to go elsewhere for work that you or your firm could be doing?

Do you have what you need to grow your practice or are you in a firm of similars that have found a comfort zone? Does that work for you?

Every business struggles with converting data to applicable knowledge.  How you apply that knowledge is what will leverage your practice.

Please contact me about how you would like to further leverage your client base at: 850-893-8984,