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This is a great resource for anyone planning to start a firm or rethink their existing practice. There's a lot of actionable steps for lawyers to take that will, one hopes, lead to more creative and satisfying work lives for many of us. I think it will be particularly useful to any lawyers without any background in business who find themselves overwhelmed by the business side of running a firm.
That said, I'm giving the book five stars because I think it's excellent and worth reading, but as always there's room for improvement. For a "roadmap" I expected something a little more... map like. I understand that circumstances will vary from practice area to practice area, firm to firm, and lawyer to lawyer, and that the next steps for one firm may not always be the next steps for another firm, but a clear list of action items for each chapter would be useful generally, I think. Additionally, it's mentioned throughout the book that additional resources are available online at the Lawyerist website, but they're hard to find and connect to the relevant sections of the book. In one case when I managed to find the page for the relevant resource, the page said it was being retooled to better fit with the book and would be available in 2020. That was a bit of a let down after I finished the chapter excited to use the material!
Again, I don't want the paragraph of (hopefully) constructive criticism to dissuade anyone from buying the book as it is absolutely worth your time. I'm just hoping the team of authors will continue to iterate in subsequent editions and deliver even more value.
This is one of those books you can really pick up, read and begin to implement in your firm. It has a wide range of topics from personal goals, strategy, marketing, systems/procedures, finance and staffing. Many of the chapters give you tools and tips to jump in and begin implementing. Others will require more deliberate planning and research.
We use their methodology at our firm, and I have seen it work. It is not about making sweeping, enormous changes to everything at once. Instead it is about making thoughtful, deliberate and consistent incremental changes over a long period of time to create lasting transformations.
Sam, Aaron, Marshall, and Stephanie provide immense value in this book to anyone seeking to open or improve a law practice. The advice is very straight forward. There’s a lot of noise in the law practice management space and this book is signal. It’s an tremendous value for the price. I will be gifting this book to friends.
Reading this book, it's easy to see how much the authors care about not only the success, but also the health and well-being, of small-firm lawyers. The big takeaway here for all lawyers considering starting their own firm (or even those who already have) is that there's a lot more to consider than they might have suspected—and that the old way of doing things simply isn't going to cut it anymore.
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2019
This book is the single best resource for solo and small firm lawyers I've read in the last 5+ years--and as a consultant to small firms, I've read a lot! The folks at Lawyerist have spent the better part of the last decade working to understand what makes a law practice really succeed, and they've distilled their experience into this clear and engaging text.
Fair warning: This is not just "Foonberg 2.0" or some clone of other traditional "how to set up and run your law practice" books. Yes, there are plenty of tips and suggestions for things you can try--specifically, things that have worked well for other lawyers--to help your practice succeed. But the nuts and bolts are far less important than the things this book will teach you about mission and goals and strategy. It will help you learn how to think like the modern entrepreneur you are, understanding value from the perspective of your client and then crafting legal products and services--along with the systems to deliver them--that your clients will truly love.
The book is centered around the Lawyerist Small Firm Scorecard and the corresponding Small Firm Roadmap, both of which are designed to help you understand your strengths and shortcomings relative to best practices. (And, I should add, those best practices are condensed from some of the most proven business concepts available today--stuff like The Lean Startup, Traction, Deep Work, and Business Model Generation that have provided the blueprints for many of the most successful businesses of our time.) The Roadmap then gives you concrete steps you can take that will not only improve your practices today, they will help you establish a learning organization that will better respond to the constantly evolving legal landscape of the future.
I personally have seen the Lawyerist approach work for dozens of lawyers and their teams, and I was excited when I first heard they were working on a book to present their methods. But the book itself has exceeded my already high expectations. I couldn't recommend it more strongly.
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2019
At this point, hundreds of individuals who have played around in the world of legal innovation and reform have developed opinions about the future of the profession, and how to navigate it as a lawyer, practitioner, service provider, or entrepreneur. Any one of those opinions has value, but invariably the viewpoints deeply reflect the person's own experience. Where you sit is where you stand.
The reason this book is a long-term asset for the profession, and a key tool for individual lawyers, is that its authors did the work for a decade and more, interacting with thousands of small firm and solo practitioners, and then they went into the kitchen to cook with those ingredients. If it were just an aggregation of what they know, it would be a worthy piece. It's also got a point of view, which is hard to do when you're dealing with that much information. I happen to agree with its point of view.
To give you a taste, the structure of their view about what a law firm should be has six nodes: intentional, entrepreneurial, empathetic, self-aware, adaptable, and tech-enabled. These would be platitudes if it weren't that (a) law firms systematically are NOT these things, largely because of a failure to even contemplate what they should be at all; and (b) the Lawyerist folks have fleshed out what this stuff means in practice.
Pp. 99-100 have a helpful diagnostic . . . if you're a cheater, just flip to that and see if it's convicting. Then you can go back and read from the start.
Glad this book has been written. My professional life has been (a) trying to fix large in-house departments, and then (b) trying to fix the large law firms that work for them. All of which has given me enough of a perspective to know that - while this is a parallel and largely non-overlapping universe to mine - there's much truth in these pages that transcends the separate silos of the legal profession. It's important work and I'm glad these folks are working their vineyard the way they are.
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2019
Unless you ran a lemonade stand every summer since 6th grade, starting a law practice will send you into the strange and unexplored territory of entrepreneurship. Even if you worked for legal geniuses as an associate, few partners shared every nuance of every hair on fire day during their early years as business owners and managers.
Finally, the law school that got you to this precipice of entrepreneurship probably had only a few professors who ran their own practices. They could teach you Torts and Law of the Sea, but the curriculum generally lacked information about developing marketable expertise and client acquisition, much less formulating business plans and budgets. You need that now.
The stars at Lawyerist lived every hair on fire day, and, lucky for you, they thought carefully and reflected in what they learned -- what worked and what didn't. More luck for the reader -- in these days of Twitter, they took the trouble to write their advice in complete (and entertaining ) sentences.
Whether you buy paper or e-book will depend on which side of the digital divide you inhabit. You will annotate it. You will send quotes to your friends. You will read it before you go to sleep. You may dream about it.
Because you have these friends in your corner, you will benefit.
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2019
Nearly every new solo attorney strikes out on their own with visions and dreams, but no idea how to achieve them. Whether they have been trained to practice by more seasoned attorneys, or are just striking out with the knowledge they gained from law school and passing the bar exam, suddenly practicing law alone can be a terrifying experience—one that is not helped by feeling the need to recreate the wheel when it comes to running a law firm.
The good people at Lawyerist have spent more than a decade sifting through the advice, information, traditional approaches, innovative approaches, war stories, failures, successes, and experiences of those within their Lawyerist community and those without. [I had the good fortune to share on office suite with Sam and Aaron for a while when I was a baby lawyer, and learned incredibly valuable lessons from them both about the practice and business of law. Ten years later I still relate stories from my time with them; their lessons are still paying dividends for me and my colleagues.] Even at the beginning they were tirelessly testing new approaches, mapping paths forward, trying out new strategies for Lawyerist and for law practice, and like good scientists, they used the successes and failures of new ideas simply as an opportunity to learn as they continued forward.
The Small Firm Roadmap is a beautiful and useful collation of all their research, experience, and hard-won knowledge about the successful ownership and operation of a small law firm. As a young attorney I always had trouble balancing the time I spent building my firm with the time I actually spent being a lawyer. With each new miracle solution (e.g., Getting Things Done, Omnifocus, Basecamp, etc.), I spent more time sorting out HOW to manage my practice than actually MANAGING my practice. But you don’t have to live that way anymore.
The ideas and tools outlined in The Small Firm Roadmap provide attorneys the opportunity to move from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. The book helps the reader assess where they are right now, consider options are available to them in the future, set goals, and achieve those goals. And because the reader is guided through the steps, they don’t need to worry about reinventing anything or whether they do it “right.”
Being a lawyer can be difficult. Running a business is often difficult. Both at the same time can be maddening, terrifying, or life-destroying. Whether you feel lost on your current path, or want to refine an already-decent situation, the money and time you spend on The Small Firm Roadmap will be well-used and an excellent value to you—financially, emotionally, and professionally.