LOMAP: A resource for every attorney

Issue August 2010 By Rodney Dowell, Esq.

The Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) is a new program, created and funded by Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Inc., to improve the business-management skills of Massachusetts attorneys through multiple means ranging from telephone consultations, office consultations, educational programming, coaching services, publication of educational materials, and group meetings focused on office start-up and marketing. We recognize that even the most talented attorney may have no experience running a business, and more importantly, no training. Yet, we are professionals operating businesses and to do so well, we need to implement proper business practices in operations, management and finance. It is my belief that LOMAP's efforts to enhance business practices will allow Massachusetts attorneys to deliver higher quality legal services, strengthen their client relationships and enhance the participating attorney's quality of life.

Who Provides the Services?

Due to demand for the services, we now have two full-time law practice management consultants: LOMAP Director Rodney Dowell (me), and Law Practice Advisor Jared Correia. I practiced law for 18 years after graduating from Cornell Law School in 1989, to practice in a large law firm, a medium-sized firm, a small firm and in a solo practice. Having establishing a small firm, I am familiar with the day-to-day realities of operating a law office, and best practices for client management. Correia was also a practicing attorney in small law firms, where he developed excellent skills related to the issues facing each one of our clients. Not only does he have excellent experience, but his intelligence is coupled with a great deal of common sense. Both consultants are published regularly in both local and national publications and do CLE presentations locally and nationally on these critical issues.

Join the Bandwagon

In the three years since the program was started, the demand for our services has grown dramatically. LOMAP consultants have traveled from North Adams to Cape Cod to meet with attorneys and help them improve their business management skills. In 2009, LOMAP had 165 new clients seeking consulting services, while the numbers of attorney contacts were well over 5,000 for that year.

Benefits for All Lawyers

LOMAP consults with attorneys starting their first practice, those who need to improve their mid-career practice, and those who are closing their practice. We recognize that every attorney at every stage has different needs and different skills which require us to approach each consultation as the unique situation that it is. Ultimately, we seek to provide practical advice that works for the attorney in front of us.

We start with our Start-Up Crash Course, which includes a start-up kit. After finishing the course, attorneys can have access to our reference library, which contains wonderful materials to help attorneys in marketing, finance and operations. We are also available for ongoing consultations. For mid-career attorneys, we offer in-house consultations which usually focus on streamlining bottlenecks, causing either financial or operational success. These attorneys seek advice related to one specific management or operations area, or they may wish to conduct an office-wide audit with extensive recommendations.

Many attorneys are also surprised at how difficult it is to transition out of firm/partnership or transition out of practice completely. We have excellent resources to help attorneys plan to make this transition go smoothly for the attorney and their clients.

Easily Accessed Resources

LOMAP provides many resources that allow attorneys to easily access information on which we commonly consult with attorneys. Most importantly is the Mass.LOMAP blog, We also have an e-newsletter that focuses on law practice management issues with archived issues, and two podcasts, The Un-Billable Hour and The Legal Toolbox, which can be downloaded from iTunes or from Legal Talk Network. Most common questions have been covered in one or more of these resources. Finally, any attorney can sign up for our free marketing group which meets monthly (September through June) and features local experts on marketing, which we support with a Web site where participants can communicate and access related papers.

LOMAP's Independence

Although Mass.LOMAP works closely with many bar associations and other entities, it is an independent organization of non-profit Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Inc. Of primary importance is that all communications with LOMAP personnel are confidential as provided by the Massachusetts Professional Rules of Ethics, Rule 1.6(c). We are not legal counsel, however, if we discover issues during our audit that may violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, then we will notify the attorney of our concerns, and, if appropriate, we will suggest that an experienced attorney be retained to evaluate and resolve the purported ethical problem, or notify the attorney of appropriate resources that will help the attorney resolve any issue. The communications with our attorney clients are confidential, commensurate with the attorney-client privilege, and that confidentiality may only be waived as set forth in Rule 1.6, Massachusetts Rules of Professional Responsibility. Finally, we will be able to continue to provide services subject to my discretion and my perception that the attorney is responding to the concern in a positive manner. If I believe that LOMAP is being improperly used by the attorney, then I will exercise my discretion to withdraw as a consultant.

How should lawyers access its services?

They should telephone me at (857) 383-3250, or visit our web site

Is there a charge for its services?

With one caveat, we do not charge for our services. However, we are in the process of implementing an administrative charge for a consult at an attorney's office. This will be a flat fee for administration and to offset some cost of the trip. From a cost basis, there is no better time than the present to use our services.

Rodney Dowell, Esq. is director of the Law Office Management Assistance Program, which assists Massachusetts attorneys in establishing and institutionalizing professional office practices and procedures.