Law Firm Fees & Compensation: Value & Growth Dynamics

By Edward Poll

(5.5"x8.5", aprox 150 pages, soft cover, Published by LawBiz® Management, Co., 2008)

Every law firm is a business, and every business has three common elements: Get the work; do the work; and get paid. This publication shows you how these issues intersect and guides you through an integrated approach to growing your practice and your profits while simultaneously adding value to your billings and services.

The vital concepts in realizing new value include:

  • Engagement agreement essentials for lawyer and client
  • Easy-to-understand pricing methods that convey meaning to clients
  • Collection strategies that secure prompt payments
  • Compensation policies that serve the firm's best interests

Book: $47.00

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eBook: $37.00

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"There is a reason Ed Poll has enjoyed longstanding success as a coach and consultant to lawyers–because he is the real deal. His Law Firm Fees & Compensation gives detailed information on how to incorporate value billing concepts in a practical and ethical manner, while giving clients certainty and transparency. And don't let the title fool you, the book works equally well for solos."

– Carolyn Elefant, Author of Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be

"Ed Poll's new report is a must-read for all lawyers. It covers everything from alternatives to the billable hour and clients' perceptions of value, to associate compensation, fee-splitting, collections, and trust accounts, all in one easy-to-read volume. This report is right in line with Poll's emphasis on the business aspects of practicing law and is a comprehensive reference that lawyers are sure to return to again and again."

– Allison C. Shields, Esq., LegalEase Consulting

"In his new book, Law Firm Fees & Compensation: Value & Growth Dynamics, Edward Poll is determined to force lawyers to act like the business owners and operators they are. In the most practical terms, this means that "Failure to communicate often means failure to get paid." This book outlines the ways this warning translates into law firm management, both internally and with clients. Read the full review..."

– Michael Brychel, Senior Legal Auditor at Stuart Maue

"We hear plenty of talk about the demise of the billable hour, but little substantive discussion about what method ought to replace it. Sure, there's mention of alternatives like flat fee billing, hybrids and "value billing," you don't always find much "there there." Plus, many non-lawyer advocates of value billing fail to account for our professional obligation to ensure that our fees are reasonable. That's one reason why I've always been a fan of Ed Poll – he's actually familiar with the code of professional responsibility and when he gives advice on fees, you can be confident that it will pass muster. He's also big on substance, and his recent book (which I previewed), Law Firm Fees and Compensation, offers a detailed discussion on setting fees using a variety of methodologies. Poll also discusses retainer agreements, trust accounts and collecting fees. In short, he fully discusses the only two questions that matter when it comes to fees: How much should I charge, and how do I get paid? While the book does include some material suitable for larger firms, at least 85 percent of it is relevant to solo and small firm practitioners – and offers information that I've not seen elsewhere in such detail. In short, it's a recommended read."

– Carolyn Elefant,

Section 1: Cost Versus Value: The Rise of the Hourly Rate
Negative Impacts of Hourly Rates
An Integrated Approach: The Three-Point Intersect
The Ultimate Objective

Section 2: The Engagement Letter: Essential Issues
Knowing the Client's Matter
Terms of the Engagement
Means of Payment: Special Points about Credit Cards
Other Fee Considerations
Sample Engagement Letter Provisions

Section 3: Budgets for Client Matters
Why Develop a Budget?
A Collaborative Process
Signs of Trouble
Three Key Parameters
Subsequent Communication
Use Informed Judgment

Section 4: Client Trust Accounts
Disciplinary Rule Requirements
Trust versus General Accounts
Flat, Retained, and Split Fees
Trust Account Access
Tracking Problems

Section 5: Pricing Services by Value Billing
Increasing Perceptions of Value
Charging for Ancillary Services
Justifying a Fee Increase
Unbundling Services
Communicating Value

Section 6: Alternative Pricing Methods
Making Alternatives Work: The Foundation
Primary Methods
Combining Options
Maintaining Control

Section 7: Fixed or Flat Fees: Further Exploration
Determining the Fixed Rate
Negotiating the Rate
The Contingency Fee Alternative

Section 8: Refunded Fees and Fees Not Yet Earned
Refundable Fee Issues
Payment of Fees Not Yet Earned

Section 9: Special Appearances
Financial Liability for Malpractice
Fee Splitting
Court-Ordered Fees

Section 10: Practical Billing Considerations
Defining Reasonableness
Conveying Value through Detailed Billings
Increasing Convenience
Value versus Time

Section 11: The Collections Process
Measuring Collections Performance
Assessing Client Responses
Setting the Terms
Maintaining the Relationship
Knowing When to Walk Away
Keeping Track
Detailing Your Collections Policy
Resolving Disputes
Ending Discounts
Getting Paid Faster

Section 12: The Role of Compensation Systems
Profits and Rates
Fair Compensation and Firm Culture
The Corporate Model: Value-Driven Work and Compensation
Pro Bono Issues

Section 13: Associate Compensation Issues
Associate P&L Calculation
Profitability versus Pay
The Role of Leverage
Recruiting Costs and Compensation

Section 14: The Fees Dynamic in Action
The Service-Driven Modality
The Functional Interaction
From Good Work to Cold Hard Cash

Section 15: Getting More Information
Firm Compensation Statistics
Consulting Resources
American Bar Association Publications
Fee Agreement Forms
LawBiz ® Management Company Resources

Sample Engagement Letter Fee Provisions
State Bar of California Fee Provisions Examples
A General Letter Example

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