Tips for conducting the business of law

By Correy Stephenson Dolan Media Newswires BOSTON, MA--Pssst ... want to hear a secret? Coach and management consultant Ed Poll wants to share a few in his new book, "Secrets of The Business of Law: Successful Practices for Increasing Your Profits." Compiled from Poll's LawBiz blog as well as other publications, each chapter functions as a stand-alone piece of advice on a given topic. Chapters are grouped by subject matter, such as "Client Relations," "Financial Management" and "Law Office Technology." The book covers a broad range of issues, from the pros and cons of legal partnerships to the importance of scanning documents from both a records management and electronic discovery perspective. Poll's book is filled with practical tips for lawyers. Some chapters even contain step-by-step guides, like how to prepare a law firm business plan and ways to improve collection efforts. Poll also offers solutions for common problems facing attorneys. Clients hate talking to a machine instead of a person, he writes, so ensure that a receptionist or secretary--a real person--answers the phone for the initial call to the firm. Addressing ways to hold onto clients, Poll suggests ignoring the clock. Work-life balance is important, he acknowledges, but the client is a customer who writes the check. If he or she calls at 7 p.m., it is the lawyer's job to find a solution to the problem, regardless of the hour. Small firm lawyers and sole practitioners can learn from chapters on accounting--which include definitions of key terms for the true beginner--and discussions of whether to accept credit cards as payment. A section on technology covers good tech investments for attorneys and the importance of a return on that investment, as well as advice on blogging policies and best practices. Even small firms can benefit from a formalized policy, according to Poll, that offers guidance on the purpose, expense and time to be spent on the blog, as well as the professional responsibility implications. In addition to covering marketing and rainmaking strategies for growing your practice, the book also addresses the flip side: the sale of a law practice and considerations for lawyers beyond retirement. Poll uses his decades of coaching and consulting to draw upon real-life situations that readers can relate to. For example, he discusses a sole practitioner who struggled with assessing the growth of her practice and whether to add an associate, as well as an attorney who was exhausted by his busy practice and needed guidance on how to do a good job for his clients while attracting more business. The book closes with a reminder that the recent recession has greatly impacted both the practice and business of law. Poll provides a "Checklist for Lawyer Success" to help attorneys learn from the mistakes of the practices that were forced to close their doors because they failed to adapt to changing times. To buy the book, go to Entire contents copyrighted © 2012 by The Dolan Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is expressly forbidden. Published: Mon, May 21, 2012