Edison's lightbulb patent

 

Walker Clark LLC and our strategic partner, Intricate Research Pvt. Ltd., announce another session of our popular advanced law firm management seminar for patent law professionals.

"Confronting reality requires tough decisions."

The culture of a law firm in good times is a reliable predictor of how it will function in an economic crisis.

This article, first published in 2008 at the outset of the Global Financial Crisis and recently updated, has proven to be even more instructive for law firms that are still struggling now to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The best way to manage a crisis and to prevent or mitigate its return in the future is to face it head-on.

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A post in the Law Society Gazette suggests a growth strategy that might be very productive for small and midsize law firms.

Instead of trying to expand your market presence in a major commercial center, which is already crowded with competitors, your firm's better opportunities might be found in a "legal desert."

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Does your law firm have a documented career management strategy for your associates?

Is it more than "each year, we pay them a little more."

The truthful answer for the vast majority of small and midsize law firms, everywhere in the world, is "no."

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For a large number of law firms, the answer is clear: associate compensation. For many of these firms, associate compensation has become a serious vulnerability in the competition to recruit and retain good lawyers.

Reviewing and improving your firm's associate compensation system need not be time-consuming or involve high consulting fees. Moreover, improvements now can begin to produce a return on investment as early as the first quarter of 2022.

Look at it this way: What would be the long-term cost to your firm - not only in terms of lost fees but also in terms of the loss of a future partner - if you lose one of your most promising associates?

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The last two quarters of any year present increased risks to associate retention. Coming out of the global COVID-19 pandemic, law firms worldwide are seeing even greater movement this year in the market for talented associates. It is a reasonable assumption that even if your firm has only four associates, at least one of them is actively planning to leave your firm by the end of the year if what looks like a better opportunity comes along.

The good news is that there still is time to reinforce -- or, for too many law firms, develop for the first time -- an effective associate retention plan that is right for your firm.

This article, originally posted in March 2015, is even more timely today.

One of the most important lessons of the pandemic has been the vital importance of maintaining frequent personal contact with clients.

Client Relations Management (CRM) systems need to move from the marketing department onto the desktop of every fee earner in a law firm. In the hands of a reasonably diligent lawyer -- even a horribly busy one -- a good desktop CRM system streamlines the flow of information between a central marketing and business development database and each lawyer. These systems have demonstrated quite convincingly how they can save valuable time, build more durable and productive one-to-one relationships with clients and their organizations, and produce a substantial return on a firm's total investment of resources, time (especially partner time), and management attention.

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As law firms begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them are considering or reconsidering whether membership in a network should be part of their strategy for the 2020s.

Our clients have told us that four blog articles, first published seven years ago, have given them a good intellectual framework for their discussions and decision making. They remain among our most frequently-accessed items at Walker Clark World View.

Casper David Friedrich, "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog"

Things will never be the same. They might be a lot better eventually, but there's no going back to 2019.

Nor should we want to.

-- managing partner of a Walker Clark client law firm in Europe.

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Over the past 12 months, we have observed an unusually high degree of "churn" in associate and partner movements in legal markets worldwide. In most instances, compensation has been a significant factor in these departures, although not the only one. Remote working during the pandemic has opened new opportunities for discrete lateral recruiting, with the "losing" law firm not finding out about someone's decision to leave until it is too late.