MBA For Lawyers
The Business of Practice
Law schools teach theory (WHY) and process (WHAT) and then expect firms and clients to teach the students (WHO, WHEN, HOW, HOW MUCH). And they certainly never teach you about business – your client’s or how to run your own.
A recent survey found understanding business is the most requested feature from employers of graduates at Harvard Law School. That’s how important it is. If you want to succeed as a lawyer, you need to quickly get up to speed on business knowledge and skills.
“I went to law school because I’m not good at math!”
Why Do Lawyers Need To Understand This Stuff?
Many people come out of law school not understanding business (or thinking they don’t need to). This is a horrible position to be in. In almost any role, lawyers need a firm grasp of business fundamentals.
- If you have business clients, you need to understand how their business works.
- If you’re an associate, and want to make partner one day, you need to understand how the firm operates.
- If you’re ever thinking of going solo, you’re taking on two jobs: lawyer and small business owner.
How To Start A Law Practice
For the past few years I’ve served as an adjunct at a local law school teaching students how to start a law practice. The focus is on all the stuff law school doesn’t teach you.
- Researching and developing practice areas
- Office location and startup necessities
- Record keeping and tax compliance
- Fee setting and bill creation
- Business development skills
- Building a reputation
- Developing personal and professional relationships
- Real world ethics
- Technology in practice
- Communication and marketing
- Business plan creation
Understanding how a law practice begins will help you understand how any business functions. But the topics I cover will help you whether you’re an associate, partner, or solo.
To help provide depth and expertise in covering business topics, I’ve partnered with the leading strategic consulting blog – Consultant’s Mind – run by a 20+ year industry veteran and Emory business professor (who also happens to be my bro-in-law).
Build Your Business Skills
Why did Drucker say that these disciplines were universal? And why it’s necessary for you to adopt them to succeed in business.
Maybe you don’t feel confident with accounting literacy. That’s okay, but let’s not make this an excuse. Let’s start with learning the basics.
Managing staff is an essential skill for new lawyers. And it can easily be done wrong if you don’t know how. Apply this framework to successfully delegate tasks.
When you’re starting out your career as a lawyer, it can be tempting to take on any opportunity that comes your way. Don’t. Respect yourself.
Competitive intelligence is essentially how to quickly get up to speed about what other people are doing in your industry or niche. Why is this important for lawyers?
If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Prepare for the year by following this 3000+ word Reference Guide on Annual Planning. Template included.
Six Sigma is the idea that a process is very consistent and repeatable. It is about removing variability from a process. Learn why lawyers should apply it to their practice.
Latest Business Posts
A few weeks ago I asked lawyers how they preferred to communicate with their clients. The overwhelming response was email. Which completely makes sense. It's asynchronous, provides a written record, and can include attachments. But sometimes you do need to meet with...
Back in 2013, I was the first person to notice students graduating from the top universities in the country were avoiding law school in droves. The LSAC usually updates this information around this time of year, so I keep an eye on their website to catch it....
A couple years ago I had a software client who liked to communicate with me in whatever method was most convenient for him. We met in person at my office first of course. But afterwards we did the usual sorts of communications lawyers have with their clients - email...
Are you a hunter of a farmer? "Keith - I'm a lawyer, what are you even talking about?" In David Maister's classic book, Managing the Professional Firm, he makes an observation that most professional firms fall into two categories: Farmers and Hunters. Farmers:...