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Jan Copley
Certified Practice Advisor
Atticus, Inc.

530 South Lake Avenue, Suite 250
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 696-3145
(626) 421-6747 (fax)

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Be Nice!

April 25, 2012

Filed under: Referrals — @ 1:05 pm

Some of my readers may remember that I’ve blogged about the six things to say for a successful relationship with referral sources. However, as we all know, words are not enough; you have to do things, too. That’s why I was interested in, and I pass along here, a blog article titled, “Business Etiquette: 5 Rules that Matter Now” in the online edition of Inc.

Five polite things to do. In the article, Eliza Browning talks about what she calls “five business etiquette rules that matter now:”

    1. Send a handwritten thank you note. It’s not that hard, it shows you’re classy, and it makes you stand out. I’ve gotten thank-you notes for my thank-you notes.

    2. Know the names of the people around you (and the clients sitting across the table from you).

    3. Don’t talk about anything private until you have private surroundings (Browning calls it the “elevator rule;” I think I would update it to the “cell phone in a restaurant rule”).

    4. Pay attention when you’re talking to someone; in other words, stop playing with your phone/iPad/computer/electronic device du jour.

    5. Don’t judge — not everyone is perfect like you and me, so it’s a good idea to keep your criticisms to yourself.

Why it’s important. You might think that this kind of stuff is old-fashioned, stodgy, stupid, and that I’m some sort of old fogey for promoting it. But, I like Browning’s observation that manners are “really all about making people feel good.” It seems to me that making people feel good is an excellent way to ingratiate yourself with clients, prospective clients, referral sources, opposing counsel, and your team members. And if they’re happy with you, won’t your life be easier?

Please let me know how this helps you!

Be Deliberate About Your Pricing

April 20, 2012

Filed under: Pricing — @ 8:00 am

I’ve been blogging about pricing and making money lately, and I thought it would make some sense to spend more time talking more about your pricing strategy.

Price Strategically. The first thing to remember about pricing is to be deliberate about it. What this means is that you think about what you are charging for your services and why. You base your prices on factors relevant to your business, rather than on what the attorney down the street charges. Thoughtful, careful pricing is a key to the profitability of your business.

Deliberate pricing for profitability requires you to ask the following questions:

  • What’s the value to the client?
  • How much do you want to take home?
  • What’s your monthly overhead?
  • How much revenue do you need to generate to meet your goal?

Set goals and metrics. Once you’ve set your goal, you can put some metrics in place to meet them. For example, if you are an estate planning attorney, based on historic performance in your office, you can estimate the number of trust-based-estate plans, the number of Medicaid planning cases, and the number of trust administration matters you are likely to generate this year.

With this information, you can price deliberately — that is, you can determine how much you need to charge for each matter to meet your revenue goal.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Charging for Staff Time

April 11, 2012

Filed under: Billing — @ 1:16 pm

In my previous blog postings, I’ve talked about setting prices for the work you do as a lawyer. Now, let’s talk about setting prices for your paralegals and other staff people who charge for their time.

How do you set prices for your staff? I bet you’ve set your prices for your team members the same way most attorneys do — by imitating the prices charged by the lawyers down the street.

You can do better than that!

The Rule of Three. At Atticus, we propose that you use something called “The Rule of Three” for your team members who charge for their time. What that means is that any employee who bills his or her time should produce revenue three times the amount of his/her salary.

Why this rule? This is how to break it down:

    1. The first one-third covers the employee’s salary.

    2. The second one-third covers expenses associated with the employee, such as payroll taxes and benefits.

    3. The third one-third is your profit.

Implementing the rule. Do your employees produce income to meet The Rule of Three? If not, there are two things you can do:

    1. Raise your billing employees’ hourly rates.

    2. Set minimum billing standards for your employees. If they know how much billable time is expected of them, they’ll probably meet your expectations.

My guess is that if you follow this simple rule, you’ll make more money. And, since you won’t have increased your overhead, all that extra money will be profit to you.

Please let me know how this helps you!