How will you compete in 2018?

Use the Christmas break to reflect on how your firm really competes, and start off 2018 with some positive improvement plans. This time last year I encouraged readers to think about how they allocate time. This year, I want to talk about competing for business, and how to better understand what matters. A colleague, Mark

Debt recovery or problem escalation?

  Avid readers of this column (I live in hope) will be familiar with my pieces on competent retainer management.[i] In the last year, I’ve encountered an increase in small practitioners who take their eyes off their aged debtors lists to suddenly discover that they have a serious cash flow problem. Now, the best way

Cutting through fears of criticism and failure

  Fear of criticism and fear of failure are common concerns of early career lawyers. The sources of these fears are divergent, but there are common threads. Graduates will often have been the brightest and the best at school, where failure was a rare experience. Also, university learning style is structured and predictable, compared with

Extracting value from the first hour

  I think I’m OK at the whole productivity/behaviour game. But just recently a client spoke to me so passionately about value lost at early morning log-on that I thought I’d pass the story on. It goes like this… The lawyer arrives, logs on and opens Outlook. He starts scanning his email inbox. In the

Managing expectations via the agreement schedule

  Most firms now divide their client agreements into a set of general conditions which are common for all clients, and a schedule which sets out the essential facts and details of the matter. This works well because (a) each schedule item aligns with the associated field in the practice system, (b) essential information is

The Psychology of Pricing

ABSTRACT We often view pricing through too narrow a lens… a purely rational approach founded more in accounting than in client behaviour. A better understanding of client emotions and preferences can increase client satisfaction and profits.  I love pricing. It’s so multi-faceted. And there’s always that fabulous moment of truth in quoting / estimating work

How about some New Year’s resolutions?

Make 2017 the year you actively improve the areas you aren’t naturally good at  So we’re all back from the beach and ready to go hard again… which is great. It’s a good time to reprioritise efforts… not just going harder, but identifying areas for personal improvement. For this issue, we’ve considered the major parts

It’s nearly Christmas, so think mid-year reviews

Mid-year performance reviews can be really beneficial, provided you go about them the right way. Theory and practice regarding performance management is constantly evolving and reshaping. There are, though, some enduring boxes to be ticked. They are: ·       Do we review? ·       When do we review? ·       How do we go about it? ·       What

The new mobility – opportunity and threat

For some 20 years, delegates in the QLS Practice Management Course (PMC) have been asked what is driving them to be owners or co-owners in law firms. And for 20 years two themes have dominated without exception – money and control. In large practices money typically is first, but control (or related concept) a close

The matter and the money

Talking confidently and concurrently about matter and money In the Proctor July edition, we reproduced a piece called Getting paid: Start with file opening. This is a reprint from the same journal 10 years earlier. Some things just stay important. The essence of that article was that responsibility for slow or poor payment by clients

Low price vs low cost – the strategic trap

As part of the emerging Newlaw dialogue, there is a groundswell of opinion that low prices and in particular, fixed low prices are the new must haves in law firm competition. But that’s only half the story… Some 30 years ago, Michael Porter’s generic competitive strategies were all the rage. Broadly speaking, you had to

Getting paid: Start with file opening

A practical plan to improve cash flow and client relations Some messages are worth repeating. This popular article appeared in the April 2006 edition of Proctor, but the message in this updated version is as relevant now as it was 10 years ago: ABSTRACT Many firms bemoan the difficulties with slow, combative, and non-payers. And

Strategise through your website

Starting this way can powerfully inform the viability of your business model…. The profession currently demonstrates a monumental spread of capabilities in online presence and activity… from the utterly incompetent one page set and forget through to the very active and easy to access (including transactional and assisted transactional) sites. We can say unconditionally that