Welcome, from the Law Practice Management Section

Issue September/October 2017 By Dmitry Lev

The Law Practice Management (LPM) Section welcomes everyone to the 2017-2018 program year. LPM Section is unique in that the challenges and concerns raised by the business of practicing law are applicable to practitioners across all practice areas and modes of practice; government, big firm and solo practitioners alike face the daily onslaught of emails, time management challenges and keeping up with the latest technology.

LPM, in cooperation with other sections of the Massachusetts Bar Association, offers educational CLE programming, networking, pro bono and volunteer opportunities, and other ways of getting involved for attorneys at all career stages, whether starting out solo, transitioning from a large firm into a smaller environment, succession/retirement planning - all aimed at enhancing the experience of managing the business of practicing law and striking the appropriate work/life balance. The programming offered by LPM addresses not only the general areas of operating a business, such as accounting, finance, marketing, management, planning and technology, but also presents unique contexts with additional topics applicable more narrowly to the practice of law.

Here is a sampling of programs that LPM has sponsored or co-sponsored over the last few years.

"How to Get Paid: Fee Structures, Referrals and Collecting" provided a discussion of the various fee structures available for attorneys in Massachusetts, including referral fees between attorneys. Also discussed was the MBA's Fee Arbitration Board, which helps facilitate settlement of fee disputes with former clients.

"Work/Life Balance: How to Have a Productive Day and Still Make it Home in Time for Dinner" offered a panel that included retired Judge Robert A. Gordon, two practicing attorneys, and a guest speaker from Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. The title perfectly captures the topics discussed.

"Starting or Jump-Starting an Innovative Law Practice" was a four-part workshop series that combined traditional tools, including business plans, marketing plans, and check-lists, with more innovative tools, such as visual facilitation and imagery, to help develop and leverage an entrepreneurial mindset. This series was co-sponsored with the Solo and Small Firm Section and the Young Lawyers Division.

"Take a Bite out of KPIs" featured a discussion of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and how to utilize statistics to learn more about a firm's clients, define performance targets, and achieve higher profitability. This program was co-sponsored with the Solo and Small Firm Section.

"From Bankruptcy to the Bank" addressed steps to be taken when a client files for bankruptcy, aimed at maximizing the chances of the practitioner getting paid, including how to file proofs of claim, working with bankruptcy trustees, and avoiding violations of the bankruptcy laws.

"When to Splurge and When to Save" was a presentation on how to better manage a firm's budget. The topics included rent and office equipment, VOIP phones, virtual assistants and answering services, refining fee agreements, paperless office, and usage of apps to save money and time.

"Data Protection Revisited" provided an updated look at the modern threats to data, practical ways of protecting data, and how attorneys are accountable for safeguarding client information.

"Using Video Marketing to Attract More Clients" offered an overview of the importance of video marketing, different types of video marketing, and how video marketing has changed. This program was co-sponsored with the Solo and Small Firm Section.

"Reclaim Time and Clear Your Mind" provided an overview of Evernote and similar programs, their unique application to the practice of law, and their use as a searchable data repository for daily use. The program was presented by Heidi S. Alexander of LOMAP and Chief Justice Angela M. Ordoñez of the Probate and Family Court Department. This program was co-sponsored with the Solo and Small Firm Section.

"How to Become a Mediator" provided information on training, marketing, and integration of mediation as a component of a practice. This program was co-sponsored with the Dispute Resolution Section.

"Techno Mind Meld" is a recurring discussion of various aspects of law office technology. Topics include managing email, cloud computing, advances in telephone systems and automation, case management, paperless office, and more.

In addition to the programming sampled above, LPM works closely with area law schools to facilitate the annual Mock Interview Program, now entering its fifth year, where law students can practice their job interviewing skills in a real-world scenario by experiencing a mock job interview after being paired with one of dozens of volunteer firms. The program is structured in two parts: first, an interview takes place where students are prepared to discuss their skills and achievements, as well as ask and answer questions as a part of the interview process. Thereafter, students receive immediate feedback on their interview performance, with suggestions for improvements and other feedback.

During the upcoming year, LPM intends to continue to provide quality programming reflecting the modern trends in the business of practicing law, including a series tailored specifically to new bar admittees, and additional opportunities for law students to get involved. LPM Section members will continue to contribute articles for the Massachusetts Lawyers Journal, take part in the MBA Dial-a-Lawyer program, get involved as coaches and judges in the MBA High School Mock Trial Competition, serve as mentors to the local legal incubators, and maintain involvement in the many legislative initiatives and other programs within the MBA.

Wherever one may be in their legal career, and whether one's goal is to teach or to learn, we look forward to working with you during the coming year. See you at the MBA!

Dmitry Lev is the vice chair of the Law Practice Management Section Council. His solo practice in Watertown, now in its 12th year, is focused on bankruptcy litigation and criminal defense.