A guest post by Jared Correia of the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program.
A couple months back, I drafted a guest blog post, in which I covered the potential importance of the decision to engage a practice management advisor, or “PMA”, in support of the effectual running of your law office. Naturally, this post swept the legal industry by storm. Could I reprise my take, I was asked, in all quarters. Well, after sifting through a multitude of offers, I’ve decided to write another post on the theme of “PMAs are great”, for Rocket Matter’s Legal Productivity blog. (They made me the best offer. I now hold in my hands a stale Ring Ding and a token for a free game at Pirate’s Cove mini-golf. Oh . . . no, wait. Actually, I already had the free game token.) This is self-serving, I realize, but, hey, a man’s gotta eat.
Of all the wonderful things about PMAs that I could address, I have distilled this posting’s coverage to a list of ten only. Ahem:
(1) You’re cheap. I know you are. You know you are. Practice management advising services, whether stand-alone, through bar associations, lawyers’ assistance agencies or malpractice providers, are non-profit ventures, generally, and come free, or cheap.
(2) If you look like Sasquatch, except, instead of being covered with hair, you’re covered with post-it notes, a PMA can help you get organized and make sure that you don’t miss deadlines, and that you stay in touch with clients. (I’ve written on the importance of client contact at our own LOMAP Blog; that post is accessible here.) Perhaps we’d even recommend Rocket Matter’s law practice management software product, as a nifty organizational tool for your practice . . .
(3) A foremost concern of almost every attorney is achieving that feeling of comfort that can only come from a tall glass of hot chocolate, or a hot toddy, on a winter’s night, or a properly reconciled IOLTA account. PMAs can help you set up processes for appropriate trust accounting, even if you don’t have a lot of time. If you don’t, check out Beverly Michaelis’ “Two Minute Tips” featurette on trust account reconciliation.
(4) Remember when I called you Sasquatch covered in post-it notes. Yeah. Good times. Well, maybe it’s not just post-it notes. Maybe it’s files and paperwork piling up everywhere. Maybe you feel like you’re covered in paper, only the paper is bees, and it’s stuck to you with honey. (Does honey attract bees? I don’t know. Anyway.) A PMA can help you move to a more paperless law office, saving you time and money. But, don’t take my word for it. PMA Jim Calloway tells you why you just gotta go paperless.
(5) If you’re either not tech-savvy, or just don’t have the time to stay up to date on the latest technology trends and advances within the legal field, a PMA can help fill in the gaps. Because we don’t practice anymore, we have the time, sometimes the inclination, and probably something like the duty, to research and write on and talk about technology. Just what you need to know, then, has likely been distilled for you, someplace, and likely in attorney-focused product reviews. Catherine Sanders Reach, director of the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center, is a veritable David Pogue of the law practice management technology field. You’ll find tons of great technology resources at the LTRC’s homepage.
(6) Nobody ever has enough clients. Even if you’re busy, you, perhaps, can never be quite busy enough; and, you’re likely looking for ways to better target and qualify potential clients. But, nowhere along the traditional line do attorneys necessarily pick up appropriate marketing skills. So, it almost always becomes an ad hoc process of grafting plates of marketing skittles onto your person, even if you have some sort of affinity for it, perhaps naturally. Of necessity, then, PMAs frequently address marketing issues, and you can access their takes to become a better marketer yourself. In particular, Erik Mazzone often provides incisive and interesting marketing content at his “Law Practice Matters” blog. However, it was not cool when Erik drugged me, and left me on a roof in Las Vegas at my bachelor party overnight.
(7) Lawyers, like the rest of the general public, are susceptible (perhaps more susceptible, given their line of work, and relatively high profiles) to becoming targets of scams, online and otherwise. In addition to providing information about improving your practice, PMAs also offer information concerning the protection of your practice, and, so, your livelihood. Dan Pinnington, of Toronto’s practicePro, frequently provides coverage of prevailing scams, as well as a number of other topics, at his excellent “Avoid A Claim” blog.
(8) But, there are not only manmade dangers surrounding your practice, and of which dangers you should be aware and concerned. Law offices, like any other businesses, are subject to interruptions caused by natural disasters, such as earthquake. Every business, including every law office, it follows, should be prepared for potential disaster, and should have settled policies in place for protecting against same, and for recovering from same. Nerino Petro, director of Wisconsin’s Practice 411 program has allocated a number of resources related to disaster prevention and recovery, which resources are accessible here.
(9) PMAs are also generous (we are, are we not?) enough to provide a steady stream of useful tips available to the general lawyer public. You can access a number of PMA Tips through the archive aggregator for such wonderful, golden, nuggety deposits, which are there available for panning.
(10) Neither are PMAs jealous. (When did this turn into a letter of St. Paul?) Not only does access to PMA resources guarantee you tips and information straight from the mouths of PMAs, but PMAs frequently share useful practice management resources emanating from other, esteemed sources. Access to PMAs, therefore, most often means access to a larger corpus of materials, from national and international practice management experts, as well. Shameless Plug: I mean, I just had Rocket Matter’s Larry Port on my podcast to talk about SaaS in the legal field.
(11) Furthermore, if you lose a tooth, and place it under your pillow upon the evening, a PMA will remove it, leaving a dollar in its place. Well, that’s not quite true. That’s the plot of what looks to be a horrible movie, maybe. But, this bonus number allows me the opportunity to mention David Bilinsky’s fantastic “Thoughtful Legal Management” blog.
Although I have not been able (try as I might–I may have required a top twelve for that), to reference every helpful, individual PMA out there, I would certainly not discourage you from discovering more of the PMA universe on your own. A list of practice management programs and advisors, across the United States and Canada, is accessible via the ABA.
Jared Correia is the law practice management advisor with the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program, providing free and confidential law practice management consulting to Massachusetts attorneys. True to certain veiled promises, he makes his thoughts on law practice management available generally online, most notably through the LOMAP Blog and his Twitter account. Jared is the recipient of Rocket Matter’s honored and rare Buggles Award for his initial contribution to their new media channel.