If I wanted to start up a law firm in the 21st century based on a 20th century model, here is what I would do.
- If I could find other 20th century thinking lawyers, I would form a partnership.
- My business model would be to leverage my lawyers x time x hourly rate.
- I would undertake retrospective pricing and bill by time for as much as, and for as long as, I can.
- I would make my lawyers record their days in 6 minute increments.
- I would refer to my staff as "fee earners" or "non-fee earners" (and make the "non-fee earners" feel very guilty).
- I would provide all my "fee earners" with annual, monthly and daily billable hour targets.
- I would measure and reward my "fee earners" by their performance to their billable hour targets.
- Each of my lawyers will be assigned the same hourly rate for whatever task they are performing solely based on their title and seniority.
- I will provide estimates of my fees to my clients based on expected time to be spent on their matter (but only when asked or made to) which will invariably be exceeded.
- I will undertake annual performance reviews on my staff.
- Under the guise of benchmarking, I will willingly share my hourly rates, the remuneration I pay to my employees, my billable hour targets, my realisation rates, utilization and other financial information with my competitors to ensure we all look the same.
- I will tell everyone that I am a "full service" law firm.
- I will avoid potentially risky traps like social media and the Cloud.
- I will state on my website that:
- I will be my clients "trusted adviser";
- I will understand my clients’ business and the industry they operate in;
- I will treat all my clients equally; and
- what will make me different is that I am "innovative", "progressive", "client focused", have a "collaborative culture" and as a firm we are "recognised thought leaders".
Thank goodness there are no 20th century law firms around now.