By Stephen P. Gallagher
Originally published February 1, 2002 in the New York State Bar News
The New York State Bar and the Law Office Economics and Management Department have formed a partnership with Atticus®, the nation’s leading practice management education and training organizations for attorneys.
The Bar and section will offer results-orientated programs to help members increase their income, long-term security and competitiveness, as well as reduce frustration and stress, enhance their professional and personal satisfaction and achieve a more balanced life.
The programs will include C.L.E. accredited half day and two-day seminars as well as ongoing one-on-one attorney support through a 12-month program. All programs are designed to help attorneys learn better business management, client development, time management, staffing and profitability skills and strategies. Each program is designed to give attorneys the in-depth business training they haven’t traditionally experienced.
“The partnership is an important step for our members,” said Bar President Steven Krane. “We have been looking to do more for members by offering very real, practical, hands on help regarding practice management and other issues, particularly for solo and small firms but also for larger firms whose challenges may be different, but are challenges just the same. It’s not enough to do what’s been done before. This partnership with Atticus® allows us to provide more information in a variety of areas practice management, marketing, staffing, etc. all challenging areas for many members but most importantly it offers a structured process and available support if members want it, to get concepts fully implemented in and working in their firms.”
Through the department Atticus® will offer Bar members its nationally acclaimed practice development program called The Forum. This 2-day program is designed to help members take steps toward improving their practice winning new higher quality and better paying clients, managing staff more effectively, having fewer interruptions, increasing cash flow while implementing better time management strategies and so on.
Members will also be invited to participate in a higher level program limited nationally to just 160 attorneys per year designed to fully implement these strategies in the firm and produce significant outcomes for those firms who participate. In the style of personal trainers, here Atticus® Practice Advisors work with those attorneys directly to actually restructure their practice for greater success.
Atticus® reported lawyers across the country participating in The Forum or the more advanced support have found the programs helped them dramatically change their practice from one that drains them personally and professionally to one that delivers profits.
Stephen Gallagher, Director of the Law Office Economics & Management Department added “I think the high level of change that’s effecting the profession has gotten to the point where something is needed to address what that change means to every attorney and how they operate their practices. One simple example is that client demands and expectations are ever-increasing, putting still more pressure on attorneys. There is so much change now that this partnering offers a way to help members keep up with it. Atticus® represents more than what’s traditionally been offered to the profession because the approach is a different one. Rather than just educational programs going to classes or seminars doesn’t always do it the Atticus® follow up and the support available for the full implementation of the ideas is unsurpassed nationally and very appropriate for our times. The bar wants to get involved and help attorneys thrive within this changing market, this relationship is one way we can do that well. It’s part of our ongoing efforts to help attorneys adjust and enjoy greater satisfaction and personal reward from their practices, while maintaining some more balance in their lives.”
Mark Powers, President and founder of Atticus® reported that: “In this competitive marketplace, it is no surprise attorneys are working longer hours than ever before, unfortunately for lower returns. The result of this trend is a greater sense of a lack of control over
their practice, high levels of stress and less time to spend with family, on community interests or even on personal health. For many attorneys this is leading to increasing concern about the future and even, questions about the profession itself. Rapidly changing technology is also forcing attorneys to make decisions more quickly. Clients, as consumers buying any service, demand instant access to their attorney. That constant barrage of e-mail, faxes and calls lessens the time attorneys have to review documents and provide a response, to actually practice law what most attorneys really want to do.” He continued to say, “The situation is stressful for lawyers, who are trained to provide comprehensive, well-thought-out work. It’s made harder by the fact that the business aspect of the practice places heavy demands on them as well, an area where most attorneys don’t like to focus. With all of these pressures, it is not unusual for many attorneys to wake up one day dissatisfied with their practice and the financial return it generates, particularly given how hard they tend to work and why they went into practice in the first place.”
“Ironically, the business end of the practice is actually the way out. Focussing on practice management and marketing does offer some enormous opportunities for growth, that when leveraged can allow the attorney the freedom they’re looking for and the ability to enjoy the law again, profitably”.
For 12 years, Atticus® has provided in-depth, ongoing training and support to help attorneys build their practices and attain long-term business and personal goals. Through a unique needs assessment process, seminars, the web site, teleclasses, customized coaching programs and other practical tools, Atticus® has helped more than 5,000 attorneys achieve dramatic improvements in their practices and their quality of life.
Atticus® and its team members are nationally recognized experts in the field. The company, Mark Powers mentioned earlier and Dustin Cole, Forum Director, have been featured in national publications such as Lawyers Weekly USA, Money Magazine, the ABA Journal and ABA Law Practice Management and spoken at industry events across the country. Atticus® Practice Advisors are also gaining in reputation across the U.S., having worked with clients to increase their revenues by up to 32% – one recent win included adding $105,000 in revenue for a Texas based firm.
One Atticus® graduate, Willard DaSilva, Managing Partner of DaSilva, Garson & Hilowitz, LLP, a firm in Garden City praised the company’s programs and encouraged NYS Bar members to give the company a try: “I found the program to be very helpful to me, one reason is that it was very personal, it was one on one contact on a weekly basis so that any progress or lack of it, could be discussed. It also took a very practical, realistic and business like approach, keeping in mind the goals that I sort to achieve.”
“Toward my goal of reducing the case load, the results evolved over a period of time. By eliminating the less profitable and more troublesome cases, I could focus on the clients whose need I could serve better and who were in a position to respond more appropriately to my suggestions for effective results. This resulted in having fewer clients who consumed a disproportionate amount of my time and who paid less for those services so that I could concentrate more on the higher level of clients in terms of cooperation and real needs for representation of genuine issues. That also freed up additional time for non-legal, non-work pursuits. The program, it works. This did not negatively effect my income at all, in fact it enhanced it, my income is somewhat higher, and I’m spending less time generating that income. My time is being spent far more productively. I think this is good for any attorney.”
He went on to say, “I find NYS Bar members to be lawyers particularly interested in the profession and their advancement in the profession and career. I think then that the NYS Bar Association is an excellent vehicle to provide these additional services to its members through Atticus®.”
Other clients from across the country had comments also. “Atticus® has changed my life, said Jim Lupino, a commercial litigator based in Florida. “I was at a stage where I could have just walked away because I didn’t enjoy practicing law anymore. I used to manage from crisis to crisis, but now I have control over my day and can accomplish much more. I would have taken a pay cut to have more time with my family. The interesting thing is that I’ve been very successful.
This is my best year.” Another, Thomas M. Hoopes, a well-known Boston attorney, former chairman of the MBS Criminal Justice Section and legal analyst said: “We attorneys are trained to concentrate on our cases, rather than the business of law. An Atticus® coach is teaching me some exciting techniques to keep a consistent focus on the business aspect of my practice and that’s helping me attract the kind of clients I want.”
In February, Atticus® will conduct a series of live 4-hour workshops previews to The Forum. These will cover a wide variety of issues including an assessment of the upcoming issues facing law firms, how to deal with those, ways to address time management challenges, marketing, client profiling and management. These events are intended to provide a sample of proven techniques to increase revenue, decrease stress and improve the quality of life for the attorney while providing an opportunity for attorneys to assess if The Forum is appropriate.