Articles Tagged with “The American Lawyer”

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ABA’s Law Practice Today

Ethical issues and dilemmas hit the legal profession from all angles. In serving as issue editor for the September 2018 edition of the ABA’s Law Practice Today (LPT) webzine, I sought to address a wide variety of subjects from attorneys with different practices and backgrounds.

Of course, I authored my own piece, What Do the Revised Rules for Lawyer Advertising Mean for Me?, recapping the recently adopted Resolution 101, passed by the House of Delegates at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago this past August. These suggested amendments to the Model Rules (7.1 through 7.5) relate to the realities of today’s lawyer advertising. While change is long overdue, it will be interesting to see the true impact that they may or may not have on state bar regulations and subsequent enforcement.

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Someone woke up yesterday and thought it might be a good idea to provide better professional development training for attorneys. Go figure.

Last week, I had the privilege of spending some time with the leadership of the Professional Development Consortium (PDC) at their annual meeting in Washington, DC. For the record, this organization has been looking to organize and improve PD in (mostly large) law firms since 1990. While the group is growing rapidly, the reality is that for a long time it has been a relatively small gathering of people dedicated to delivering PD for larger law firms. However, the idea that the need for stronger and better investments in PD for partners (and in some firms, gasp, associates too), is not new or news.PDC_logo.gif

With the ABA, I have had the opportunity to further professional development initiatives on multiple fronts. First, as a speaker and planning board member for the first two ABA New Partner Conferences, designed to provide a wide range of training–from business development and ethics to issues of diversity, electronic discovery, and managing legal relationships. Secondly, as the creator and chair of the ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference, founded in 2007, focusing on BD, marketing and overall rainmaking skill sets. Third, as a current ABA presidential appointee to the ABA Standing Committee on CLE–now entitled the ABA Center for Professional Development (go figure). Finally, as Editor in Chief of the ABA’s Law Practice Today monthly webzine, we have joined forces with the PDC to provide a bi-monthly column (beginning in March 2013) from some of the country’s leading PD professionals from the largest law firms, along with an entire themed issue dedicated to PD in May 2013. Thanks to PDC leadership, including Jennifer Bluestein of Greenberg Traurig and Jeanne Picht of Stites & Harbison, for helping to further develop this relationship. In addition, ABA LPM’s sister publication, Law Practice, has an issue devoted to the topic as well in the coming months. In other words, the American Bar Association has long recognized the importance of PD and continues to provide numerous resources to lawyers and law firms interested in better training.

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The lead story in today’s Law.com distribution of The American Lawyer Daily touted, “Survey: Generally Content, New Partners Fear Lack of Training Will Hamper Ability to Win Clients.” One new partner quoted lamented, “I learned how to practice law, but I was not trained in how to develop business.” Claire Zillman reports on the internal ALM study.

There is no question that this training issue is changing–I would not say rapidly, but there are certainly firms willing to invest significant sums of money in BD training ranging from entry as summer associates right through the partnership ranks. I recently saw a 100-attorney firm invest one million dollars in BD development for partners. More and more firms are taking professional development more seriously. Yet, there are still what might be a majority of firms that don’t truly rank BD capabilities in partnership evaluations. I’ve met many a senior partner that has railed about the laziness of new partners, inability to originate, resting on the work of the past generation, etc., etc. We’ve all heard it.

Read the story and related survey for yourself. Last week, I chatted with a partner at an AMLAW 100 firm that was telling me how his firm did not credit any unbillable time toward year-end compensation. How do you get people to invest for the future, at the expense of the present, without incentive? There is a middle ground, and that should be the goal. Many of my clients refuse to train associates beyond some basics such as legal research. Yet, if I push too hard, the only lost BD will be my own. The truly great rainmakers usually took the long road–and have been able to benefit for the long haul.