Monday, December 24, 2007

Business Consulting for Lawyers

Click on the title to this post to read an excellent article by Sasha Pfeiffer in today’s Boston Globe about a free consulting service for lawyers in Massachusetts. When a lawyer goes to hang out his or her shingle, there is a whole dimension of business management and organization that might be missing. Pfeiffer tells her readers that most cases of malpractice stem, not from evil intent, but from lack of organization, inadvertence, and ignorance.

...[T]he consulting service is offered by Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, a Boston counseling agency that typically aids legal professionals battling substance abuse, addictions, and depression.

Launched in July, the program - its unwieldy name is the Law Office Management Assistance Program, or LOMAP - is intended to reduce the number of drug and alcohol problems, psychiatric struggles, disciplinary actions, and malpractice claims that result from poor business practices among attorneys.

"It's a preventative measure," said Gina Walcott-Torres, executive director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. "A lot of lawyers who mismanage their practices don't know how to run a business properly, and we're trying to give them the tools to do it correctly from the start."

The program's director, Rodney S. Dowell, coaches lawyers to do self-audits of their business practices, identify weak spots, and improve them. That may involve using different client-management software, backing up electronic files more systematically, keeping better time sheets, or adopting more diligent billing methods. ...

The service, which guarantees anonymity, is available to attorneys of any kind, and the increasingly entrepreneurial character of the practice of law means even big-firm lawyers often need help learning to think and act like business people. But it is geared toward small-firm and solo practitioners, who comprise a sizable portion of the state's population of attorneys, and especially young lawyers starting up their practices and older lawyers winding down theirs.
I find that a number of other state bar associations offer similar programs. Often, the programs are under the auspices of Lawyers Helping Lawyers, because being overwhelmed in the office can lead to depression and substance abuse.

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