Legal Fees

Silent Stupidity

“Fools believe silence is a void needing to be filled; the wise understand there’s no such thing as silence.”

Michael J. Sullivan, Age of Myth

Client: Why do I want to pay for two lawyers to be in this meeting?


To Thine Own Self Be True

“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” 

Hamlet – William Shakespeare.

I drove into the Big City the other day and had brunch with an old friend who I will call Sandy, because that is her name.

Law Students and Young Lawyers

What Danger Lurks in the Shadow of Brilliance?

Now that I have been retired for a few years, I sometimes wonder whether my experience as to how law firms work remains valid. Also, since I spent my days with medium-sized firms and not in Big Law, I occasionally worry that my view of what goes on in Big Law is not correct.

But then I speak to lawyers working in Big Law and they invariably confirm that Big Law is exactly what I always thought it was (which is just Medium Law on steroids, with worse side effects), and nothing has changed, and likely never will.

Legal Tech

Enough Chatter About Chat GPT: Time to Move on Up

So, so much chatter about Chat GPT. I believe some of it. I think that some of it is nonsense.

Here is the bottom line:

  1. Lawyers did not go out of business when computers were invented and we lost all of those hours reviewing draft after draft of retyped documents.
  2. We were still able to generate enough billable hours, even after we became able to produce documents faster with document automation software.
  3. Online legal databases did not replace articling students and junior associates.
Client Development

Buying Clients

Back when I was practicing law, ignoring my health, and always exhausted, there were oh so many things to think about.  One of them was referral fees.

Of course the Law Society has rules about referral fees, as they should. (There are a whole bunch of other things that they have rules about which they should not be involved in, but I will save my rant about that for another day.)

In our firm, we kept our rules about referral fees a whole lot simpler than the Law Society rules. We did not pay referral fees and we did not accept referral fees.

Law Firm Management

Keep it Stupid, Simple

Back in 1996 my sister became a doctor. No, not the type that the cabin crew calls for desperately at 35,000 feet when some overworked lawyer has a heart attack. One of the other kinds. In my sister’s case, she holds a Doctorate in Psychology, which is often quite useful given the level of crazy in my family.

For her doctoral thesis, my sister designed an experiment which examined, among other things, the effect of gender on the diagnostic process. She sent a questionnaire to medical doctors and psychologists describing the symptoms of a patient and asking them to suggest a diagnosis. The description of the symptoms received by each clinician was the same, except for one tiny discrepancy. In some cases the patient was described as a woman with certain symptoms typically associated with premenstrual syndrome and which she reported experiencing over several days before the commencement of menstruation. In the others, the patient was described as a man who experienced the same symptoms every four or five weeks.

Law Students and Young Lawyers

Look Before You Leap

In the early 1980’s, just about the time that I was looking for my first permanent job in the legal profession, someone had called a recession and everyone had shown up. The pickings were slim for first year lawyers. Luckily for me, there was Don, a lawyer with over 25 years’ experience in the profession, who was being let go by the firm that hired me. 

Client Development

The Slow Game

You think that baseball is a slow game? It has nothing on networking.

Here is a story for you.

Many years ago I met a tax accountant named Michael. Capable guy. We built up a trusting relationship and referred business back and forth from that day forward to my retirement.  

The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

The Iceman Cometh

Long ago I used to work with a great lawyer named Ed. Ed was calm, at least compared to me. When I was freaking out about my files and my workload and certain that I was going to get myself sued for something or other, Ed just did his work, calmly and professionally, no matter how much pressure he was under. We used to call Ed the Iceman because we were sure that he had ice water in his veins. I envied Ed. I never did find out if his insides were any different from his outsides.

Legal Ethics

Musings on Trust Funds and Ethics

If you are not in that part of the legal business which involves representing Banks on lending matters, you may not know that Banks love trust deposits. They pay a ridiculously low amount of interest on them, and while the firm’s mixed trust account (the “General Trust Account”) requires some managing, it does not take much effort to service the individual interest-bearing investment accounts for specific clients (the “Individual Accounts”). It is good business to have.

On the other hand, law firms like bank lending work. Less now than back in the days when it was more profitable, but still.