April 22, 2019

Archives for October 28, 2011

Coach’s Corner: No Firm Needs to Be an Island

One of the many byproducts of the Great Recession has been a slowdown in the indiscriminate pursuit of law firm mergers.

Combining law firms to increase their size makes them better only when the parties have thought through what they want to accomplish and what synergies exist between them — and the recession showed that few merged firms have done so.

Size inevitably seems to create inefficiencies, and firms are slow to eliminate redundancies.

The strategic plan for firm mergers typically envisions economies of scale, the collaboration among organizations for enhanced product quality and even greater revenue. But such plans will fail without effective integration.

It is difficult to combine two organizations without a great deal of attention to the fears and hopes of the people in each organization. It is almost impossible do it “on the run,” the typical merger approach once the top leaders shake hands on their deal.

Formal mergers, however, are not the only way firms can achieve synergies. No law firm needs to remain an island when there are so many alternatives to merging. Firms can combine their strengths in a variety of informal arrangements that support better service to existing and potential clients.

Here are examples of potential approaches:

1.     Shared space

  • Small-firm or solo practitioners can structure an arrangement in which lawyers share the expense of a reception area, conference rooms, clerical staff and office equipment.
  • Another strategy is renting an office in a larger law firm on a monthly basis, with opportunities for the sub-tenant (small firm) and the tenant (large firm) to refer work back and forth.

2.     Contract lawyers

  • Many small firms hire contract lawyers to provide legal counsel on a specific matter beyond their practice or geographic scope. The contracting firm has oversight of the outsourced legal work and communicates with the client on how the work is applied.
  • Participants in a contract agreement should have their own written fee arrangements.

3.     Retainer arrangements

  • To better serve full-spectrum needs of business clients, firms can establish ongoing mechanisms to call on other allied lawyers as “outside counsel” for help as needed. Such contract arrangements can contribute to work and cost efficiencies if used correctly, particularly if the lawyers involved bill at different rates.

4.     Offshoring arrangements

  • Firms can use high-speed Internet technology to connect with the growing pool of highly educated talent in developing countries where the use of English is widespread, India being the prime example.
  • Such offshore legal service providers can reduce by up to 80 percent the cost of legal functions like research, document review and patent searches, with the work delivered electronically and produced under the firm’s supervision.

5.     Virtual alliances

  • Although these are still emerging, one such model is a group of lawyer-entrepreneurs called Virtual Law Partners, a firm that employs lawyers who work at home and correspondingly saves on overhead and costs clients less in legal fees.
  • The firm and its lawyers are available for contract arrangements, except for litigation (because all work is done at home), and the lawyers keep 85 percent of what they bill. It’s a novel arrangement, but one that, like all of these informal combinations, recognizes the law’s changed business dynamics and client expectations.
Ed Poll is a nationally recognized coach, law firm management consultant, and author who has coached and consulted with lawyers and law firms in strategic planning, profitability analysis, and practice development for over twenty years. Ed has practiced law on all sides of the table and he now helps attorneys and law firms increase their profitability and peace of mind. He writes a syndicated legal column, Coach’s Corner, where this post originally appeared on May 23, 2011.

Make History Colorado Pro Bono Campaign Launched

Throughout the long history of the legal profession, pro bono has been at its core. Our laws and rights have been shaped by monumental cases, handled by great lawyers in history, and many of these cases were handled by lawyers who took the case pro bono.

Though National Pro Bono Week is nearing its end, the need for pro bono legal services is there all year-round. In the past months, pro bono has been a hot topic nationally and locally, whether it’s articles about funding cuts for legal services providers or Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender’s initiative to increase pro bono work for the indigent.

This week, the Make History Colorado pro bono campaign was launched by the Colorado Bar Association and the Colorado Access to Justice Commission. The goal of the campaign is to educate and link attorneys to resources on and opportunities to provide pro bono legal services.

The website for the campaign, makehistorycolorado.org, will connect attorneys with pro bono opportunities, provide information about rules relevant to pro bono legal services, and share how to become involved with the Colorado Supreme Court Pro Bono Legal Service Commitment and Recognition Program.

Below is the video that introduces Make History Colorado. The CBA tapped attorneys who regularly provide pro bono legal services, and members of the judiciary, including Chief Justice Bender and Justice Greg Hobbs, and asked them to share why pro bono matters to them.

As you’ll see, they all have different reasons, but narrator John Moye reminds us to, “Make History. Only you can.”

In the comments, share with us why pro bono matters to you.

Strikes for Tykes: Strap on Your Bowling Shoes with the DBA to Benefit Children’s Outreach Project

On November 5, the Community Action Network of the Denver Bar Association will present the first annual Strikes for Tykes bowling event to raise funds for Children’s Outreach Project, a non-profit, therapeutic preschool and child care center serving north Denver and the surrounding communities. The vision of Children’s Outreach Project is “to provide young children of all abilities with excellent early childhood education and care that is affordable for families.”  This exciting event is a fun and wonderful way to give back to our community and it will be held from 11:30 am until 3:00 pm at the Elitch Lanes Bowling Alley, 3825 Tennyson Street in Denver.

As part of your support for the Community Action Network and the Children’s Outreach Project, you will receive bowling, shoe rental, food and drinks, and will be eligible to win prizes awarded for the highest scores!  Registration is $50 for adults and $35 for children, with a $5 per person discount if you sign up with a team of four.

So strap on your bowling shoes, team up with your friends and family, and join the Community Action Network and Children’s Outreach Project for an afternoon of fun and community support.  More importantly, please visit www.childrensoutreachproject.org for additional information on Children’s Outreach Project and the amazing work it does on behalf of the children in our community.

For registration or questions, please contact Kasi Schuelke at kasi@bmrpc.com or (303) 623-1836 or Evan Lee at evan@bmrpc.com or (303) 623-1840.

Thanks in advance for your wonderful support of Strikes for Tykes and Children’s Outreach Project and we look forward to seeing you on November 5!

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 10/27/11

On Thursday, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued six published opinions and forty-nine unpublished opinions.

Published

People v. King

People v. Warrick

Board of County Commissions of the County of Park v. Park County Sportsmen’s Ranch, LLP

Planning Partners Int’l, LLC v. QED, Inc.

People In the Interest of Joyce A. Strodtman

Tomar Development, Inc. v. Bent Tree, LLC

Summaries of published cases are forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: No Excusable Neglect when Failed to Explain Why Required 3 Months to Locate Counsel and 3 More Months to File Motion

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Marcus Food Co. v. DiPanfilo on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Respondent, a food company based in Kansas, entered into an oral agreement with Petitioner, a citizen of Toronto, Canada, under which Petitioner served as an independent sales and purchasing agent for Respondent. “The agreement included a provision that rendered [Petitioner] liable to [Respondent] for 45% of any net losses on his accounts. After the parties’ relationship ended 10 years later, [Respondent] attempted to collect on debts allegedly owed it under the agreement by suing [Petitioner] in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. A default judgment was entered against [Petitioner] following his failure to appear or respond to the complaint. [Petitioner] moved to set aside the default judgment six-and-a-half months later on the grounds that it was void for lack of jurisdiction and/or because his delay was due to excusable neglect. After a hearing, the court denied {Petitioner]’s motion, finding personal jurisdiction over [him], subject matter jurisdiction over the case, and insufficient support for his excusable-neglect argument.”

The Court agreed with the district court’s findings. “The parties’ conduct demonstrates that they intended to create a continuing relationship” in which Petitioner would serve as an agent of Respondent and would receive compensation in exchange for his work. “His contacts with Kansas arise out of this relationship and are sufficient to meet the threshold for minimum contacts supporting jurisdiction. By entering into this contractual relationship and benefitting therefrom, [Petitioner] availed himself of the forum and should have anticipated that he might be haled into court there in the event of a contractual dispute.” Additionally, Respondent’s complaint contains no amount-in-controversy defects to warrant reversal on subject matter jurisdiction grounds. Lastly, the district court correctly concluded that Petitioner “failed to demonstrate excusable neglect because he could not explain why he required three months to locate counsel and an additional three month to file his motion.”

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 10/27/11

On Thursday, October 27, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and two unpublished opinions.

Unpublished

Anderson v. The Cato Corp.

QEP Energy Co. v. Sullivan

No case summaries are available for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.