Blogging for Law Firms
Blogging can be a great way for compton law firm to promote their expertise and connect with potential clients. However, it’s important to create content that resonates with your audience.
Developing your niche can help put you on the partner track more quickly. Networking effectively is also a key factor to success.
The Structure of a Law Firm
The structure of a law firm can vary depending on the firm’s needs and the type of practice. Many firms have one or more senior partners who are in charge of management, an administrative staff to handle clerical tasks and office operations and several associate attorneys. Some firms also engage the services of “of counsel” lawyers, who are not employed by the firm but who work as independent contractors for a fee.
At the top of a typical law firm is a partner, who is the joint owner and business director of the legal operation. Typically, senior partners are experienced attorneys who have been with the firm for a long period of time and have expertise in the firm’s primary practice areas. Partners are compensated with a percentage of the law firm’s profits in exchange for their initial buy-in.
Associates are employees who are working on the path to becoming partners. They are responsible for conducting legal research, drafting documents and working on client matters under the supervision of the partners in the firm. In addition, some law firms have paralegals and other support personnel who provide the same types of services as their attorney and associate counterparts. Unlike larger corporations, law firms are not able raise capital quickly by going public on the stock market. Consequently, law firms must rely on internal capital contributions from existing or new equity partners or go into debt.
Of Counsel Attorneys
Attorneys in a law firm work on a variety of legal matters. As a result, their work often overlaps. To help lawyers avoid conflicts, a law firm may designate an attorney “of counsel” to handle particular cases. Typically, these attorneys do not have equity or managerial rights, but they are able to consult with partners and associates on matters that affect them.
Being of counsel is often a way for attorneys to retain the prestige of being in a major law firm without taking on all the risk associated with becoming a partner. Those who seek the flexibility of being of counsel might include attorneys returning to private practice after a stint in government or those who want to downsize their partnership and still have a large income.
Ethics opinions vary on whether the status of being of counsel requires that a lawyer share in the profits and expenses of the firm. In addition, the methods of compensating an of counsel attorney are also a subject of debate. One view, which is supported by Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers, Section 47, comment g, holds that an of counsel attorney can be compensated on the basis of individual cases and is not subject to fee splitting restrictions that apply to lawyers outside the law firm.
However, other opinions such as Formal Opinion 90-357 suggest that an of counsel attorney must be available to the law firm on a regular and continuing basis and must have a relationship with the firm similar to that of a partner or associate. This means that an of counsel attorney should be in daily contact with the firm and should be physically present in its offices.
There are a number of partner titles in law firms. These include equity partners, non-equity partners and various tiers of counsel. These attorneys all have a certain level of authority and responsibility within the firm. Attorneys who are not partners, however, do not have the same level of power and control.
The most senior-level lawyer in a law firm is the managing partner. This attorney oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and leads an executive committee that consists of other senior partners. They also play a role in establishing and guiding the firm’s vision and purpose.
Next are the associates. Associates are young lawyers that work as such for six to nine years before becoming a partner. Whether an associate becomes a partner depends on a variety of factors including merit, client work and generating business.
Some attorneys are exceptionally smart and quick in their legal analysis but lack the people skills needed to generate business. These attorneys may remain at a law firm but not become a partner because they do not make the cut. Law firms typically give them the title of counsel for this reason. Some attorneys are given this title because they have a very niche practice that the firm wants to maintain but does not want to take a risk on as a profit-sharing partner.
Law firm compensation is always a hot topic. Partner compensation is a complex matter as firms balance the need to reward individual performance with the need to encourage the right behaviors for the firm’s success.
One way of rewarding individual performance is to use a profit sharing model that aligns bonus amounts to specific KPIs (key performance indicators). For example, tying bonuses to a firm’s revenue goals allows for an additional measure of success that helps incentivize attorneys and non-attorney staff to work together.
Another way to reward individual performance is through the equity partnership model. In this scenario, an attorney will buy-in to a partnership and then receive a share of the firm’s profits which can be based on a number of factors, including business development efforts or client billing and collections.
The challenge with this type of law firm partnership model is that it may discourage cross-collaboration between partners because it rewards individual efforts over team effort. In addition, it can lead to a competitive culture which is counterproductive to the firm’s overall success. Finally, it doesn’t take into account the contributions of non-attorney support staff who are often essential to the success of a firm. Law firm support staff keep firms running by organizing legal documents, answering phone calls and updating attorney calendars. Leaving this group out of the mix can create tension that contributes to employee dissatisfaction and law firm churn.