It’s easy to feel all alone when you have a [fill in the blank] challenge in your law practice. Cash flow slowed to a trickle? Wacky client? Stagnation on the business development front? Fraud or ethics scare? Or so burned out you just don’t care? You name it and you know you didn’t learn it in law school. So where to go when you need a helping hand? Today’s Friday Five offers a few places a lawyer can look for practice management help, and feel certain there are solutions to be found.
1. Ask an expert. Many of the larger bar associations have on staff someone with encyclopedic knowledge of the real world of practicing law. If they don’t flat know the answer to your tough question, they know how to help you find it. Ask about the practice advisor program at your state bar or province. If you’re not taking advantage of these practice management wizards, you’re out of your mind. (Here’s a link to the ABA’s list of PMAs of North America, and a list of state bar association resources.)
2. Get back to school. But this time make it something other than law school. After all, you know how to practice law, it’s this management stuff that’s tough to master. Start with a quick check of your state bar’s CLE requirements. Then search the web for webinars, podcasts and even in-person workshops with the focus you need. Marketing? Try the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference or, more immediately, select from inexpensive downloadable legal marketing audiofiles from prior webinars. Technology? Sign up for ABA TECHSHOW. Other practice management quandaries? Check the ABA Center for CLE and ALI-ABA programs.
3. Take a day for basic training. Step away from the daily grind and immerse yourself in a full-day of learning new ways to run your practice. Solo and small firm conferences, bootcamps and “solo days” are a great way to rack up CLE credits, sure, but you can also get intensive basic training to run your business. Speakers often are practice advisors from neighboring states—it’s their mission to help lawyers just like you. So ask lots of questions, attend the networking socials and get to know people. This month, both the Washington State bar and Iowa-Nebraska solo and small firm programs take place, and Minnesota’s conference is in August. The big ABA GP SOLO National Solo & Small Firm Conference happens this October in Denver, and conferences devoted to small firms are scheduled this fall in Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Just do it!
4. Borrow from other business. Lessons galore are available for the taking, you just have to be willing to translate to the practice of law. After all, if those sweater-knitters and potters at Etsy.com can find lessons in the story of Bloomberg LP, surely you’ll dig out helpful stuff when you regularly read Entrepreneur online.
5. Start enterprising. If you buy that your personal practice of law is an actual business enterprise—and we do—you’ll enjoy the business inspiration and innovation to be found at American Express’s Open Forum. Whether it’s about supervisory skills or managing growth, there’s something spot on for you nearly every single day.