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Is it in your best interest to go solo or pair up with a partner?
A lot of lawyers dream about making a name for themselves on their own – being their own boss and running their own practice. However, the reality is that going solo can be a daunting experience. That doesn’t mean it’s not an option worth exploring though; as, with any important business decision, it’s important to be fully aware of the pros and cons of forming a partnership before deciding which arrangement best suits your personality and work style.
The pros of a partnership
Any burden is more easily managed when shared, and that’s particularly true in business. A partner can help with:
- Costs: Sharing the expense of rent, staffing, software, research, marketing, signage, stationery, and technology means you can start out in style.
- Responsibility: Having a partner may bring peace of mind to your clients since there’s someone available to cover for you if a personal emergency should arise. They can also assist in managing the staff of the legal practice, saving time and effort better spent on clients.
- Brainstorming: Whether it’s how to bring in new business or solve a complicated issue, two heads are better than one and having someone to bounce ideas off can help with both positivity and productivity.
- Appearance: For better or worse, partnerships often bring a sense of security to new clients in that they seem more established than a sole practitioner might. A partnership also greatly expands your sphere of personal influence in terms of marketing since you’re now doubling your audience of family, friends, and former clients.
The cons of co-ownership
A business partnership isn’t all sunshine, shared costs, and roses, though. As with all things, the good comes with some bad and part of your decision in taking on a partner involves weighing out the potential for problems.
- Less control: This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your personality, but if you have strong ideas on how things should work and dislike the idea of making concessions or negotiating around your expectations, then a partner could involve more emotional labor than you’re willing to take on.
- More liability: It’s relatively easy to guard and manage your own work ethic and reputation but adding a partner to your practice comes with the risk of dealing with someone else’s potentially bad behavior and, if worse comes to worst, a malpractice suit.
- Conflict of interest: Depending on the size of your practice area, adding a partner could increase the likelihood of running into a conflict of interest that could prohibit your firm from taking on a case.
- Dissolution: Hopefully it never comes to this but dissolving a business can be as acrimonious as a divorce, and then you’re faced with some degree of starting over again. If you decide to commit to a partnership, choose carefully.
Making a match
The key to a successful partnership in any business involves finding the right match. The greatest benefit to a partnership comes with choosing someone whose strengths and weaknesses complement your own. For instance, an extrovert with strong ideas on marketing and networking is an asset to an introverted personality type who just wants to study and practice law. Diversifying your skill sets can increase productivity and profit while making day to day tasks more seamless.
A difference in perspective can be advantageous too. Avoid tunnel vision in your business goals or client cases by integrating the fresh opinions of someone you respect into the daily dialogue. Although being set in your ways feels comfortable, it leads to stagnation. Find someone who can articulate their ideas in a way that you appreciate and learn to listen with an open mind.
When it comes to finding a partner, you want someone who you can trust, admire, and communicate easily with – much like a marriage. Be clear in your initial intentions and expectations and make sure your business goals line up in a way that’s compatible. Make sure your partner is someone you can vent to, brainstorm with, and that you’ll feel comfortable with when having difficult conversations or exchanging constructive criticism.
Ideally, a partner would be someone you have an existing long-standing professional relationship with; not quite a friend, but more than an acquaintance.
And perhaps you’ll decide that a partnership isn’t for you – and that’s okay too. It’s far better to make that decision up front than to find out along the way. Take the time to assess all your options and invest your time and energy into whatever business arrangement aligns best with your future goals.
Boss Certified Realtime Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!
An RFP response can be a challenging task, but a worthwhile investment of time
Request for Proposals (RFPs) are an important part of a law practice’s business and formulating the response to one requires information that is thoughtful, well-researched, and timely. RFPs are very specific in outlining what services are required and what the client’s needs are, requiring an individual approach to each request received.
Your firm is often required to provide a range of information, including documentation and examples of experience, as well as responses to specific questions tailored to that project. The client wants specific information in simple terms – gone are the days of copying and pasting from one response to another. The various moving parts of putting together a winning RFP make them a time-consuming and challenging aspect of the business, but if done correctly, the results make the effort worthwhile.
The right response to RFPs
Take a close look: The first step of the process is to evaluate the RFP critically. Gauge the appropriateness before deciding to respond – don’t automatically reply to each request. In order to make it worth the cost of your time, you must be selective about which RFPs you respond to, which requires more than a cursory glance.
Check to see what the issuer needs, determine their intent, and assess what their priority is; are they primarily concerned with consolidation, service, pricing, or counsel change? Also, research the buyer’s trend in procurement to make sure they aren’t issuing RFPs without granting new rewards.
Assemble the right team: Involve your marketing and business development professionals as part of your proposal team. Having a highly effective team has a huge impact on your overall success; include a proposal writer, business development, strategy and pricing personnel, and the lead attorney. If it’s a labor-intensive RFP, you might want to have more than one attorney involved.
If you are the lead for the response, you will be responsible for key decisions and should be listed as the person who will do the work if the RFP requests that information. Make sure everyone involved understands their role and are prepared to contribute.
Check for conflicts: This may seem obvious, but the timing of this step is crucial. Assess the potential of any conflicts before letting the issuer know you intend to respond or accepting. You wouldn’t want to invest the time and concern for a job you cannot do.
Decide to respond: Once you’ve evaluated your team and the response, you need to determine if you’re going to pass on the RFP or submit a formal response. Start with the following:
- Research if you’ve done business with this issue in the past, or if you currently have a business relationship.
- Find out if you have professional relationships with specific people who work within the organization.
- Confirm that you are experienced and knowledgeable in the required services issued in the request.
The RFP is most likely a good prospect if all the above can be answered in the affirmative. If you’re missing an element, re-evaluate your strength in one of the other two before proceeding.
Attorney involvement: Although the proposal writer, marketing and business development team members can help with details such as formatting, verbiage, and research, the attorney needs to be hands-on when it comes to strategy and insight in a way that demonstrates expertise and experience. Read and respond carefully.
State your offerings: Following directions, including well-researched information, and defining your strategy are the foundational steps of an effective RFP response. Make sure you clearly state what service you’re offering, how you will deliver that, why your firm best benefits the client, evidence of past success, and an estimate of cost. Covering all those bases will help you stand out as the optimal choice.
Reviewing RFP submissions can be as cumbersome as preparing them; poorly prepared responses stand out as taking up valuable time and are quickly cast aside. Ultimately, that’s a waste of time and energy for both sides involved.
Create a well-structured and clearly-defined RFP response process, pay close attention to the buyer’s needs, and collaborate with your team members based on their innate talents to produce a response that puts you in a league of your own, while helping you win more RFPs and guaranteeing a better return on your investment of time.
Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!
Transform toxic and turbulent to inspiring and inclusive!
What would your employees say if they were asked about the culture of your law firm? If you’re cringing at the thought of their feedback, perhaps it’s time to examine what life is like for your team. Lawyers everywhere, especially those who are just starting out, will tell you that between the endless hours at the office, the drudgery and an adverse ambiance, their firm is not only unpleasant, it’s downright soul-sucking.
If it comes as any comfort to you to know that yours isn’t the only company with this issue, great! Admitting there’s a problem is the first step to solving it. And if you’d like to come up with ways to elevate the mood among your crew and to transform your company culture, then read on!
“What am I doing here?” is one of those questions that creeps into everyone’s mind time and again. Employees who don’t have a clearly defined purpose are less engaged, less happy, and less productive. As management, it’s your job to define the missions and goals of the firm and to communicate these to your team. But it goes even a step further when you’re faced with a culture clash and that’s ensuring that employees understand their part in the mission and why what they do every day is important. Without this, there’s no purpose and without purpose, there’s no passion.
Recognition and reward
Employees who are recognized for a job well done feel happier and more appreciated which always translates into the motivation to work harder. It’s common sense really, but sometimes people get so busy and distracted with the daily grind that they forget that a little appreciation goes a long way. Law firms that implement an employee recognition and reward program see immediate improvement in their culture. Not only are team members inspired to work harder to earn rewards, they’re more likely to appreciate and recognize their co-workers. These are also key elements that go back to how valued they feel and why their role is an important part of your overall mission.
Room to grow
We can all agree that stagnancy stinks. Nobody likes immobility, especially when it comes to their career. Law firms that offer learning and development opportunities for their staff reap the rewards in various ways. First, they have team members that are learning new skills and advancing their knowledge that they can apply to their job and second, these people feel happier and more empowered to perform. Workshops, webinars, industry events, and other similar activities are key ways to provide growth opportunities to your team. Remember, the more they know, the better they can do their jobs all of which has a direct and positive reflection on your firm.
Positive company culture doesn’t always occur naturally. Consider your turnover rate. If you have employees consistently strategizing their exit, it’s time to take a new approach. At a time where companies like Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook set the standard for a progressive, innovative, and open-approach to culture, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you’ve got to keep up. Follow these tips to get started in a new, more positive direction.
Increase productivity and get everyone on the same page with a few clicks.
Any lawyer worth his or her weight will tell you that a key aspect to productivity and success is staying organized. It makes sense, especially since we live and work in an information overload world. So those attorneys who have a firm grip on their practice, including client and case information, deposition schedules, serve deadlines, and much more, are naturally going to be more prepared and ultimately more successful. And luckily there’s a plethora of tools out there that are free and easy to use. Let’s take a look.
For those who are using Microsoft Office 365, Groups is an awesome way to get everyone who’s working on cases together to be on the same page. It allows you to set up a team inbox in Outlook and a group calendar for case deadlines to create a document repository and more. This is tremendously helpful when you have multiple counsel or staff members working on cases together, and when new team members are added to the case they can simply scroll through the conversations that are available to get up to speed. There’s no need to spend hours forwarding information.
Perhaps one of the greatest collaboration programs out there, Microsoft’s OneNote (which is a part of the Groups capability), allows you to take notes and share them with everyone on the team at the same time. Think of it as a digital notebook, where you can layout your opening statements and closing arguments, sketch out demonstrations you plan to make and make outlines of steps you’re planning on taking during the course of the case.
Rolled out in the end of last year, this new legal document management system, which is also a part of Microsoft 365, is an add-on for Word and Outlook and gives you the ability to create new cases and save files directly to those cases. It’s extremely helpful because it allows you to organize files by matter, find documents, and securely collaborate with team members without having to log out of one program and into another. This organization method means less time searching for files and relevant information because it’s all stored together in one easily accessible place. With Matter Center, many attorneys find they are more productive because they have reduced the amount of time they need to spend on administrative functions and increase they’re time spent working on their cases.
Planner could possibly be the best collaboration tool you can get. With it you can organize your team for every case and have an easy way to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, share files, and update everyone on what’s happening in the case. Planner gives you a visual view of each plan, with a Board that keeps track of everything from due dates, all documents and attachments, conversations and more. And every time something new is added to the plan, all team members are notified via email.
Working with Microsoft Office 365, using Groups, OneNote, Matter Center, and Planner gives you powerful ways to stay organized and to collaborate with everyone on every case. There’s no better way to stay on top of all details and tasks that need to get done to ensure you’re as productive as possible.