As scary as it is to admit, you never know when you will need a personal injury lawyer. Nobody ever thinks they will find themselves in a scenario that requires an attorney, and most people don’t expect to fall victim to a serious injury.
Unfortunately, accidents and injuries happen to people every single day – even to careful individuals who have done nothing wrong.
By nature, you can’t prepare for an accident (whether that’s a car accident, a pedestrian accident, a slip and fall accident, or something else), but you can plan what you will do in the aftermath.
One of the best things that you can do to protect yourself in the event of an accident is to find the right legal help – but that requires to you know how to choose a personal injury lawyer.
Being prepared and knowing what questions to ask can make all the difference in your case, from the amount of money you’ll be able to recover for your injury to the level of stress you have to deal with throughout the legal process. Make sure you choose an attorney who will provide you with the level of support you need, as well as someone who is qualified to get you the best outcome possible for your accident case.
To help you navigate the process of choosing the best personal injury lawyer in California or elsewhere, read the tips below.
The more experience a lawyer has in personal injury law, the more likely they are to succeed in your case. That’s because they’ve seen it all, so they know how to handle even the biggest obstacles, from proving the damages of highly complex, catastrophic injuries to seeing through the tricks of manipulative insurance companies.
An accident lawyer with years of experience under their belt is likely already familiar with the kind of personal injury case you’re bringing to them.
To properly assess an attorney’s level of experience, make sure to ask the following questions:
Is personal injury one of the main practice areas they focus on as a lawyer and as a firm? (For some general-practice law firms, personal injury could be one of a dozen types of law they practice, meaning they only deal with these cases from time to time, and they might not have the right level of experience.)
How many years has the attorney and law firm been handling these types of cases?
Does the attorney have extensive trial experience?
Are they well-recognized and well-respected in the personal injury law community? (This recognition might be in the form of professional awards, membership/leadership in personal injury or trial lawyer associations, etc.)
Do they have experience handling the specific type of case you’re dealing with? (For example, if you suffered from a brain injury, does their firm have experience winning compensation in brain injury cases?)
2. Ensure they have a strong track record for success.
Keep in mind that there are many attorneys who have years of experience but still do not actually have a strong track record of success. For example, they may be known for giving in to low-ball settlements from the insurance company, or they might not have proven results for winning the toughest, most high-value cases.
As you consider an attorney, review their case results and ask these questions:
Have they consistently recovered multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts for clients?
Do they have experience winning cases involving catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death claims, not just accidents involving minor injuries?
Have they won any awards for their settlements and verdicts?
3. Pay attention to how they engage with you.
Trust your judgment. The attorney-client relationship is important, so make sure that you like the way that you are being communicated with and treated by any lawyer you are considering hiring.
It’s important to pay attention to the following:
Are they ready and willing to answer any questions you have?
Are they friendly and professional?
Are they strong communicators? (Do they clearly explain the legal process, call you back promptly, etc.)
Are they willing to travel to you as needed?
Do they seem genuinely concerned about your well-being?
4. Understand their payment model.
Make sure to read the fine print carefully when hiring a new attorney to ensure that you fully understand their payment model so there are no surprises later.
A few good questions to ask include:
Do they offer a free initial consultation?
Do they work on a contingency-fee-basis? (This means you only pay the firm legal fees if they win your case. Additionally, your legal fees are taken out of your settlement, or paid by the defendant, so you don’t have any upfront fees related to your legal representation.)
Can they provide a cash advance to cover costs before your settlement or verdict?
5. Consider what additional resources they offer.
It’s important to think about the additional resources your prospective injury lawyer can provide. Some personal injury law firms offer a higher level of assistance with various elements of stages of the case, creating less hassle for you and a smoother experience overall.
Make sure to ask the following:
Do they have a network of medical professionals they can use to help you find the treatment you need?
Can they help you find doctors who are willing to work on a lien basis so your medical expenses can be taken out of your settlement or verdict?
Can they assist with additional services related to your case such as property damage valuation and liens negotiations (i.e., negotiating costs with your medical providers)?
Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in the First Place?
After being injured in an accident or another incident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be wondering if you actually need to hire a personal injury lawyer. The quick answer is YES, you do!
Why? Because there will be an opposing party in your case that will be working against you, either to prove you were at fault for your own injuries or to give you the lowest settlement possible. In most cases, this opposing party will be the insurance company of the person or company that caused your injuries.
Insurance companies deal with injury claims day in and day out, so they’re experts at using manipulative tactics to lower their payout to injury victims. This is why you need a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney on your side protecting your right to fair compensation.
A good lawyer will investigate your case, prove liability by the at-fault party, and handle all negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. They will also make sure you don’t get short-changed, fighting for the highest settlement or verdict to which you are entitled.
But make sure you do your homework before choosing a lawyer. Not every personal injury lawyer will be qualified to get you the best result possible in your case. Remember to choose wisely using the tips in this article!
Law firms are now faced with the challenge of increasing their brand awareness online. With a growing number of individuals using the Internet to search for service providers, effective law firm marketing is essential. Law firm marketing online is becoming an important aspect of advertising for law firms for several reasons:
Reaching Prospective Clients
It’s important to have a well-designed site that is user-friendly. A website visitor’s ability to easily navigate the site has a direct impact on the business. People often associate how organized a legal site is with the quality of the law firm in question. A poorly organized website can indirectly influence the user’s perception of a brand. Effective website marketing can help a law firm leave the consumer with the best possible first impression.
Consistency Impresses Clients
Effective law firm marketing experts agree that messaging is important to a user’s experience. For example, a website should target the desired audience in a consistent manner throughout the site. The prospective client should be able to see the material presented in a cohesive manner and easily answer a call to action. This helps the user associate the brand image with professionalism.
SEO Ups the Rankings
Law firm marketing online should always be search engine optimized. Placement in search engine results is critical to the Internet user’s ability to quickly locate a site. If a law firm uses SEO services in its online marketing efforts, placement in search results is higher. Individuals are most likely to visit the sites that appear within the first two pages generated from an Internet search. The website of a law firm located within the first page of search results has the best chances of being visited.
Content is King
Websites for law firms should include information regarding upcoming speaking engagements, trade conventions, and even a blog. Educating the viewer on upcoming events gives the user a way to reach out to a member of the law firm by attending the event. Law firm marketing helps a business cross-promote other events the firm may be involved in to help increase brand awareness.
Promote Awareness Through Social Media
Law firms should promote themselves using social networks. This tactic works by ensuring that the customer is able to reach out to the consumer in multiple ways, and the brand is promoting the idea that it is accessible. Accessibility is one of the most important things to a potential client. Clients do value having the ability to reach out to businesses with ease. Law firm marketing facilitates this process by helping to advertise social media profiles.
Law firm marketing can also help establish meaningful connections in various social networks. Social media experts advise that all businesses expand their reach through various social networking sites. In doing so, the business is able to increase the number of contacts it has and increase web presence while doing so.
Online law firm marketing helps a firm communicate its legal expertise to an audience. An effective strategy could help a brand market its knowledge in a variety of ways. From article marketing to blog content, online marketing should help a business create the right content to attract the ideal audience: those in need of legal advice. The content is introduced in an optimized manner to increase the likelihood of reaching a potential audience.
Offline and online marketing efforts should complement a law firm and be presented with a strong, but consistent, web presence. online marketing for law firms should also help a brand create the best strategy that won’t detract from other marketing efforts. Just as a brand has to be consistent within a website, it must also communicate a message consistent with other marketing efforts.
Law firm partnerships are often a disaster. They usually feel like a group of lawyers rowing a boat: everyone is paddling in a different direction, each attempting to reach a different destination, in the opposite direction from everyone else.
The boat either stays still, or goes around and around in circles without ever getting where anyone wanted to go. Partnerships unravel with alarming frequency, especially among smaller groups of lawyers.
Likewise, the partnership you’re contemplating right now will probably result in disaster. Slow down before you join up. The formation of a law firm partnership is a bigger decision than it seems.
The theory behind a partnership seems sound: bringing in a partner will spread the risk, create synergy, and double the odds of success.
The reality, though, is that many law firm partners spend all their energy fighting for a bigger share of a pathetic little pie. Instead of synergy, they get misery when the relationship unravels and the partnership fails.
The business relationship has failed, and more often than not, the personal relationship has soured as well.
The huge time suck of disharmony among partners
I just finished advising a lawyer to extract himself from a partnership because the two lawyers couldn’t stop squabbling over money. The “successful” partner is grossing under $200,000 a year. The “failing” partner is grossing $130,000.
Their competitive nature is dragging them both down, because they aren’t focused on the right metric. These two are so wrapped up in their arguments about money that they aren’t doing any marketing. They’re squabbling over whose piece of the dwindling pie is bigger, instead of baking a larger pie.
They’re both failing, and they’re each blaming the other instead of themselves. They’re both losing. Having one another keeps them distracted from the reality that neither is winning, and both need to get busy growing a real practice.
If you’ve got a really good reason to form a partnership (like you’re married to a lawyer and they insist) then go for it. But be aware: getting along with your law partner often proves more challenging than building a successful practice.
Why? Because lawyers can be nasty, you know? (I can say that because I’m a lawyer.)
Sometimes we take our challenging personalities home to our spouses. But more often, we keep our oppositional defiance, and whatever other disorders, at the office. We get into arguments. We fight.
What do we fight about? Money, of course. But we find plenty of other things to fight about, too. We say upsetting things to one another. We treat each other badly, and we fail to communicate.
A business filled with partners who can’t get along won’t last a long time (or worse–it will last a long time). You have to find a way to get along with the other owners, if your business is going to last. Or, you have to find a way to be the sole owner of your law firm, so that you’re not required to share authority with others.
Often, lawyers find themselves better off on their own rather than partnering up. Staying solo might be the most efficient and effective path forward.
Compare: law firm partnership vs going solo
Let’s compare two law firms.
First, the solo scenario: Young, smart, driven lawyer starts out alone.
Year One–This lawyer gets going and it’s challenging. She’s undercapitalized, she’s overworked, and she has no idea how to market, price, or handle the crappy cases she’s pulling in the door. Year one goes by; she’s living on ramen noodles and camping out in her childhood bedroom.
However, she is getting out into the community. She’s scared, but not paralyzed. She’s involved in a young lawyers’ group, she joined Rotary, and she’s meeting older lawyers at bar association activities. She’s getting some scraps sent her way, and she’s eating them up. At the end of the year she’s still lacking in funds, but she has gained some good experience.
Year Two–She’s understanding how to do the work that’s coming in. She’s getting a steady stream of business. The cases are small, but she’s networking like crazy, and she sees signs of improvement. She lucked out and got one case that generated $45,000 in fees. That one case made her year. She’s moved out of her parents’ place, and she’s bringing in an average of $14,000 per month. She’s now spending some of it on Google AdWords, and it’s generating a return.
Year Three–The Google Ads experiment is paying off. She’s spending $2,500 a month on ads, and bringing in $30,000 a month in revenue, from all sources. She built a website and is blogging each day. The website is getting some traffic, and those visitors are starting to call. Her clients are referring family and friends. Things are humming along, and she hired an administrative assistant.
Years Four and Five–You get the idea. She’s winning. Her revenue has grown. Her team is growing. She’s doing well, and her parents are thrilled. Her little business is built on a solid foundation, and she’s set for a long and lucrative career.
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Year One–One of the partners insists that they need to get organized first. They spend much of the first six months working on drafts of internal systems and processes. The stuff they create is awesome and will support their business as it grows. They interview paralegals so they’ll be ready to hire when the business booms. One partner is focused on marketing, and the other is going manage the work—as soon as the work arrives. The year has been challenging, fun, and tough, and these partners are totally bonded. They’ll be friends forever.
Year Two–They’ve got everything you can imagine. Great systems and processes, cool technology and excellent management skills, and they’re ready. Sadly, the clients aren’t pouring in. The marketing partner has been busy helping out with the systems and technology, but business is expected: it’s just around the corner. Tension builds.
Year Three–Not having money is wearing on these partners, and the financial pressure is overwhelming. They’re fighting and sniping at one another. They unravel in the spring of year three and go their separate ways. Since there’s no money, it’s easy to dissolve the partnership. However, they figure out a way to spread the dissolution discussion into a 90-day-long negotiation/interaction.
Years Four and Five–They’re both figuring out what’s next. Job hunting is fruitless, so they both start out again on their own. The documented systems, being of no use anyway, get lost in the transition. Both of them try to get busy on marketing and bringing in some business. Many of their lunches with other lawyers are dominated by conversations about the angry breakup of the old partnership. After four or five years, they’re both back at square one, and only now feeling like they can really get started.
What do we learn from these two law firms?
Do you know lawyers like the solo and the partners? Have you seen this story play out? Do you know lawyers who, after five years, are in the same situation they were in at the starting point?
Of course you do. I know one particularly well. She’s told me her story–repeatedly. She’s bitter and angry, and can’t stop retelling her tale of woe.
She knew that she was working harder than her partner. She didn’t want to say anything, so she kept it bottled up. Of course, eventually, she boiled over. The argument wasn’t even about the money, but it was totally about the money. She was only getting half, and she knew she deserved more.
Her story is the story of small law firm after small law firm. The profits are shared equally, but the work isn’t. Resentment builds. Hostility is suppressed. Eventually, the volcano erupts. That’s when the law firm becomes two law firms. That’s when partners become solos. That’s when they swear “never again” and sign separate leases for separate spaces.
Law partnership is not a marriage
“They” say that being partners in a law firm is like being married. I’d say it’s much worse than that.
Here’s how a law firm partnership is different from a marriage:
Sex. In a marriage, you’re getting laid. Not so much in your law firm partnership. Well, actually, sometimes you are, and that’s the problem. But mostly you’re not.
Kids. In a marriage, you’ll often end up with kids. See #1 above. Sometimes kids cause people to try hard to make a marriage work. There’s a reason to stick it out when times are tough. That’s not always the case with a law firm partnership.
Community. In a marriage, you’ve got community, family, and other relationships pushing you to stay together. With law firm partnerships, there’s no such pressure. In fact, other lawyers tend to jump on the bandwagon when you complain about your partner.
Love. Last, but not least, marriages (hopefully) involve love. That’s a powerful bonding force. You might really like your law partner. But odds are that you aren’t in love. Infatuation maybe, but probably not love.
No sex, no kids, no community pressure, and no love mean that many law firm partnerships dissolve. It happens quickly. It’s painful, expensive, and–sometimes–embarrassing.
I’m not a huge advocate of small firm lawyers joining forces. Many of the perceived benefits fail to materialize. Much of what is gained by coming together as partners can be negotiated in an employer/employee relationship. The employment relationship usually involves substantially less drama.
The arguments about money and contribution are inevitable between law firm partners. Without sex, most law firm partnerships aren’t strong enough to withstand the relationship. I’ve stumbled across a number of law firm partnerships that include the sex, and many of them can’t withstand the relationship either. It’s tough.
Top 3 partner fights: money, money, and money
I’d like to tell you that law partners argue about growth issues like picking an additional practice area, or deciding where to put the expanded office, or when to have the next referral source party. But that’s not what they spend their time fighting about.
Law firm partners spend their time arguing over the trivial things that involve spending money. Money, money, and more (or often less) money is the core argument. It manifests in a variety of conversations about a range of topics but deep down, it’s a money conversation disguised as a conversation about a particular issue. The power struggle boils down to who gets the money.
Back when I was an associate, I overheard (hold a glass firmly to the conference room door and press your ear against the bottom) the partners arguing about an automatic door closer. They spent nearly an hour on the discussion. There were six of them in the room. They could have billed more than $2,000 during that hour. The door closer they decided to buy cost $300.
Ultimately the partner bringing in all the money was tired of the other five partners spending his money on their behalf. He wanted to make the decisions. I’m sure he formed this partnership with the idea that the group was more valuable together than apart. But he found himself caught up in the trivia and resenting that his money was now being used to finance their decisions.
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Money fights manifest as arguments over lots of small issues. The partners distract one another from moving forward, and they get mired in trivia. When the partners argue about trivia, they lack the time required to make real progress (and don’t kid yourself: it’s nearly all trivia).
They spend hours discussing whether to add a new paralegal or whether to fire the existing paralegal. They spend little time, if any, figuring out how to finance and execute on a plan to generate 100 referrals in 100 days.
They spend days arguing over who gets credit for which revenues and how to split a declining pool of profits. They spend little time, if any, figuring out how to automate their practice and document management systems so they can assist more clients (growing revenues) without adding support staff (reducing costs).
They spend days debating whether the firm should reimburse for a particular personal expense rather than figuring out how to expand into a new market or practice area.
We like to say “money makes the world go round.” Unfortunately, it also brings law firm partnerships to a complete standstill.
Maybe you need a friend, not a law partner
Many of us are lonesome. It’s not unusual. It’s tough for many of us to make friends after we finish our schooling. Finding prospects for friendship is easy in school. We’re thrust into situations together where we connect and bond.
But practicing law isn’t well suited for meeting and making friends. Those of us who are proactive about building relationships can find opportunities in professional and business groups. But those of us who rely on happenstance find that it’s tough to build connections.
Many of us are practicing solo or in very small firms. The other lawyers we meet are our bosses, our adversaries, or our competitors. Each of these relationships contains obstacles to friendship. We’re not necessarily on equal footing. We’re hesitant to open up and be vulnerable, and we have limited time for building relationships.
Our loneliness sometimes drives us toward a partnership. We seek someone who will understand our stress, and with whom we can bounce around ideas and balance out the financial pressures. We need a buddy, not a business partner.
Sharing office space might be a better solution than going into business together.
I watched George and my father share office space for decades. They moved offices a few times over the years, and staff came and went. They survived together. The money was separate: each lawyer had his own checking account, his own trust account, and his own clients. They covered for one another when one went on vacation, or when one of them got sick. Sure, they argued about what to buy or how much to spend, but they were able to minimize the complexity of their financial relationship and keep the money arguments simple. The beauty of the arrangement, though, was that it didn’t destroy their friendship.
Partnerships just aren’t what they used to be
I often advise lawyers against forming partnerships with other lawyers. I pretty consistently argue for keeping finances separate, while sharing office space and expenses.
It’s funny, because based on my thirty years as a divorce lawyer, I advocate the opposite for romantic couples. For couples, I suggest integrating the money–it’s symbolically significant and it’s good practice for coping with larger challenges to come. It creates a “we” and breaks down the “me.”
Law firm business partnerships are different. There used to be good arguments for business partnership: economies of scale, ease of collaboration, and development of specific expertise. That’s not the case anymore, with advances in tools that facilitate communication and collaboration, and changes in the delivery and pricing of most business services. Now the partnership is often a dilution of effort, message, and effectiveness.
But no matter how much I counsel lawyers to avoid partnership, they do it anyway, and I’m not one to ignore reality. So, if you’re going to do it, let’s talk about how to give it the best chance of success. Since we know that money is the source of most problems, let’s focus on the money.
How not to split the money
The reflex among new law partners is to split the profits equally. It never even occurs to them to do otherwise.
They take the pool of income, pay all of the bills (the smartest ones put a bit aside for emergencies), and then they divide what’s left.
That’s where the trouble starts.
It’s the equal split that leads to anger, resentment, and ultimately, the dissolution of the partnership.
Did you know that you’re not required to divide the profits equally? Yep, that’s not something you have to do. You can do anything you want with the money. You can pay one partner more than the other. You can come up with some kind of formula for dividing the funds. You can be creative and do something no one has ever tried before.
Ready to put these ideas into practice? I have a 10-day email course called Rosen’s Rules that will help you take action starting right now. It’s completely free, and this time in 2 weeks, you’ll be a lot closer to having the practice you deserve.
You already know that I think you’re headed for an argument regardless of what you do with the money, but it’s helpful for you to know—up until the wheels come off the relationship—that there are alternatives to a 50/50 split.
How to split the money with the partner you shouldn’t have
There are as many ways to split the money as there are law partnerships. I’ve heard about a hundred different plans and they range from the incredibly simple to the incomprehensibly complex.
1. Eat what you kill: One approach is to divide based on results, not effort. It pushes lawyers to act in their own interests rather than the firm’s shared interest. Nonetheless, it works for lots of lawyers. It’s basically a space-sharing arrangement disguised as a partnership.
These firms often prepare mini profit and loss statements for each partner, and pay an individual share of the profits after allocating expenses. These lawyers call themselves “partners,” but they’re really solos operating out of one bank account.
2. Revenue split: Some lawyers divide the money based on proportional shares of revenues. Each lawyer gets a share of the profits based on his or her percentage of the overall revenues that month, that quarter, or that year.
3. Subjective assessment: Some lawyers negotiate, using subjective judgments about each attorney’s contribution, and come up with a percentage of the profits to be paid to each partner. The negotiations get very involved with judgments about how to value the contribution each partner makes to the firm.
Does it matter which system you use? Probably not. Regardless of the approach you adopt, it’s easy to find fault with your methodology. No matter what you do, something unexpected will happen, and the system won’t work perfectly. That’s unfortunate, but it’s unavoidable.
I think it’s probably easier in larger firms with more lawyers. With a bigger group of lawyers, the money in your pocket didn’t necessarily come out of my pocket. It’s harder to blame an individual when you aren’t happy with your share.
In a bigger group, the lawyers tend to blame the firm, the system, or the committee at the top. They’re not any happier with the approach to compensation, but they have a harder time focusing their anger.
What to do about it? I’ve heard from advocates for every system and every formula. They all work—for a while. Then something happens, and something needs to change for the relationship to survive. It’s tricky, and there’s no single right answer.
Fundamentally, surviving a law firm partnership is about the relationship between the people. If the relationship is working, then the money will work out. When the upset, resentment, and bitterness reach an unacceptable level, then tolerance for the distribution of profits unravels, and the partnership unwinds.
Get a great prenuptial agreement
So what should you do? I don’t think there’s a perfect answer. If you find yourself talking about the topic before you start the partnership and have trouble agreeing, then you should probably recognize that trouble is coming.
Of course, it’s easier to agree before the creation of the firm and before there’s any money to divide. Once the cash shows up, the fireworks are more likely to start.
My suggestion on this topic is to lock it all down. Get it all in writing. Talk through every contingency and turn it into a comprehensive partnership agreement.
Don’t just trust one another. Don’t just make it a handshake deal. Write it all down in really excellent legalese.
Anticipate the end, because odds are good that it’s coming. Take a few minutes and imagine a very expensive, public, stressful, embarrassing end to your business relationship. Do what’s possible to mitigate the impact of the dissolution on your relationship. Is arbitration an option, so you can avoid airing your dirty laundry at the courthouse? Are there other steps you can take now to minimize reputational damage later?
Get experienced counsel to review the agreement for you. Make sure you get someone who has dealt with painful, acrimonious law firm dissolutions. Find someone who has been to the dark side, seen it exposed, survived, and come back to share the lessons learned.
Fast forward to the partner leaving
What if you’re reading all of what I’ve written, and are seeing yourself in what I’m saying? What if you’re trapped in a partnership that hit a dead end long ago, and now you’re dreading the unraveling and just killing time until it finally ends?
Stop waiting. Take action. Get it done so you can move on. It’s time to get it finished and build something more for yourself.
Being a solo is easier and better than ever. Office space is available in small units for shorter terms. Technology is sold on a per-user basis with features never before accessible by small businesses. Phone systems are activated in seconds. Printed material can be ordered and delivered tomorrow. Virtual assistants, paralegals, and lawyer support are available on an as-needed basis at bargain prices.
I hate to be Mr. Negativity, but let’s face facts: the partnership is over. It’s time to move on. Why not get it done now–like, this afternoon? What are you waiting for? Deep down, you know you’re going to split up. It never gets easier. Waiting for that big fee to come in before you take action won’t solve the problem. Hoping he stops being crazy isn’t going to work out. Dreaming of the relationship getting back to what it used to be is pointless.
Free yourself of the burden of the broken relationship. The energy and enthusiasm you used to have will flood back in. You’ll get busy marketing your new practice, and you’ll be creating an asset that delivers a lucrative future for you. There’s no time like the present for taking a positive step forward.
11 tips for forming your law firm partnership
If you’re going to insist on the partnership route, then I’ve got some advice. Here are my tips:
1. Don’t do it
Walk away. Ask yourself whether there is anything to be gained that couldn’t be achieved without becoming partners. Don’t do it is my best piece of advice, but we’re going to assume you’re ignoring me. Okay, I’ve been ignored before. I really like it when, after the wheels come off, lawyers tell me I was right, so go ahead and do what you’re going to do.
2. Document the partnership
I mentioned this above but I’ll reiterate: get it all in writing. Build in a specific plan for unwinding the partnership. Detail who gets what money and what effort is required by each partner. The more details, the better. Hopefully, you’ll get heavily into the negotiation and realize what a disaster you’re creating. If you survive the negotiation, be sure you’ve documented–in great detail–your systems for sharing fees, paying expenses, and covering for each other.
3. Make it office sharing
When things get challenging as you negotiate the partnership agreement, you can simply back off and turn it into an office-sharing arrangement. Don’t share your finances. Maintain separate funds and accounting systems. You can still collaborate and share backup coverage and staff. You don’t need to become partners to make this work.
4. Assume it’s not going to work out.
Assume this is an exercise in figuring out how you’re going to make it work next time—in your second partnership. Think of this as an experiment and don’t get overly emotionally involved. Maybe it’ll work, and you can get emotionally committed later.
5. Assume joint liability for everything
If you are going to make financial commitments that require personal guarantees, be sure both partners are guarantors. And—and this is critical—make sure your partner has assets on the line. If your partner has no assets, then a personal guarantee is meaningless. Guaranteeing an obligation when you’re drowning in student loans and judgment-proof is emotionally meaningless. You want both partners to have skin in the game. No skin, no game.
6. Get separate phone numbers
Get a separate number for each partner. You don’t need a “main number.” Just use your own numbers on your cards and in your marketing. In the event of dissolution, it’ll be one less argument if the phone numbers aren’t in dispute. Trust me on this.
7. Create three websites
Create a site for the firm, and create a site for each partner. Do the same if you decide you need to blog. You need your own web presence for now. There’s arguably a marketing benefit in taking this multiple website approach, and it’ll most certainly ease the unwinding of the law firm partnership. Invest your time and energy in your personal website and keep the firm site simple.
8. Don’t get credit
Don’t get a firm credit card or a credit line. If you’re going to use credit, then do it on your personal accounts. At the same time, don’t allow one partner to contribute more to the partnership than the other. You don’t want to have to loan money to your partner, and disproportionate contributions to the firm from assets or credit lines create a debt from one partner to the other. That’s a bad idea.
9. Keep separate bank accounts
Create a firm trust account, if necessary, and open two separate operating accounts: one for each partner. You don’t need a joint account. Just run both accounts in parallel. Keep it simple, and keep it separate. Yeah, I know, this is starting to feel less like a partnership and more like space sharing. You caught me.
10. Create separate entities
If you’re going to create an entity, and there’s not always a reason to do so, then create two of them: one for each partner. Talk to your lawyer about how to get this done so that it’s easy to unwind the partnership when necessary.
11. Choose a decision-maker
Designate one partner as the decision-maker with ultimate authority. Lock down that authority in your partnership agreement. One of you needs to lead, and the other needs to follow when you disagree. Otherwise, you’ll debate endless trivia. If you can’t agree on this point, then you’re doomed anyway, so this is the perfect time to find out what each of you really thinks.
Ready to make this work? The quick test
I’d never have been a good law firm partner. I like to do things my way. I mostly think I’m right and that I know better. You’d hate having me as a partner. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you. I’ve provided a single question below that’ll help you shortcut the process and find out, without all the trial and error, if this is going to work for you.
Here’s the quick test. Ask yourself–and ask your prospective partner–this single question:
Are you a leader or a follower?
The odds are good that you’ll designate yourself as a leader. So will your partner. That’s what most law firms look like–lots of folks who think of themselves as leaders with very, very few followers.
That explains why so many law firm partners find themselves rowing the boat in different directions. They each have a different destination. They’re all leading the others to a different place. Unfortunately, nobody is following. That explains why they keep crashing into the rocks. See it now?
What’s the solution?
Stop. Stop trying to cooperate. You weren’t able to do it before, and you’re not likely to do it now. Stop dreaming that you or the others will change. Stop imagining that you’re going to convince the others to follow, or that you’re going to magically become a follower yourself.
Here’s what you do:
Option 1: Separate your practices. Split up. Divorce. Leave. Get away from one another.
Option 2: Stop being a leader. Let the other lawyer be the decision-maker. Shut your mouth and follow. Why you? Why not the other lawyer? Exactly! You should probably refer to Option 1 above.
As usual, I’m fatalistic about our chances of cooperating (I like to think of myself as realistic).
Sure, there are lots of reasons to work with other lawyers. However, working with other lawyers doesn’t require the sharing of all decisions. Someone can lead and the rest can follow. It’s essential to designate a leader who has decision-making authority. In fact, you’ll find that most successful practices have figured out a way to grant someone authority, regardless of the ownership structure. But it’s only when some lawyers relinquish the role of leader that law firm partnerships start to work.
Can a law firm partnership work out?
Am I opposed to all partnerships? Of course not. But mostly they don’t work, and the lawyers who join them spend 40 years playing musical partnership chairs. They group, regroup, move around to other partnerships, and spend unquantifiable energy on partnership issues.
A partnership isn’t necessary. It’s not essential, and it’s often a distraction from the important tasks required to build a business.
You’re driven, energetic, and willing to work hard. That’s like lightning in a bottle. There’s a powerful force in that bottle, and now is the time to use it.
You can use that energy on getting business, satisfying clients, and growing your reputation and practice. Or you can spend it on “partnership issues.” Your energy, your call.
If you’re tired of arguing, if you’re tired of rowing in circles, then choose from the options above and get moving. Soon you’ll be moving the boat forward. There may be fewer oarsmen on board, but you’ll be headed where you want to go. You’ll stop going in circles, and you’ll eventually reach your destination.
The Pensacola Law Firm You Can Trust Ferry & Ferry, was established in 2002 by attorneys Christopher A. Ferry and Nicole Kessler Ferry. Together, we bring more than 40 years of combined experience in helping individuals and families in the areas of family law and criminal defense in Pensacola and surrounding communities in Florida. Our firm celebrated its 17th anniversary this past May.
By intentionally focusing on only two areas of law, it ensures that we are up to date and current on the legislative changes that impact criminal and family law. We have found that criminal defense and family law are often linked together. So many times two spouses or partners will have a fight where one is arrested for battery. It can then follow that one of them will file for divorce or an injunction for protection (restraining order.) Our firm can handle all of it. Not many can. Chris Ferry focuses on criminal defense while Nicole focuses on family law cases. Currently, due to the Coronavirus, we are offering consults via Zoom. We recognize that family issues and possible arrests will continue even during this troubled time. Should you desire to schedule your consult, please call (850) 469-8118. Our staff is happy to streamline the process.
Chris and Nicole are compassionate and driven to seek their client’s best interests. We understand that each client brings a unique situation and we tailor our services to meet your specific needs and challenges. We listen to your story and educate you on your legal issues so you can make informed decisions. Clients benefit from the firm’s responsiveness and personal focus. We handle complex issues and strive to resolve your legal issues quickly and with the best possible results.
We employ an experienced, educated staff who will assist in your legal endeavors. We have a full support staff including Florida certified and registered paralegals. We don’t close for lunch! We don’t use an automated answering service. We want you to speak to a real person during regular business hours should you choose to call us. Our firm is quite comfortable with maintaining e-mail contact with clients, particularly those who are out of state or even out of the country if they so desire.
From start to finish, we provide sound counsel and effective representation. Ferry & Ferry, P.A. aggressively represents you at every stage of litigation.You will never attend a hearing or mediation alone, nor will you personally prepare a pleading to be filed with the Court. We are proud of the service we provide to our clients and find that they appreciate it.
Successfully serving clients in Florida
Our firm represents individuals and families throughout Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties in Florida. When you need skilled representation, call Ferry & Ferry, P.A. at 850-469-8118 or contact the firm online to schedule a consultation. If you would like a free criminal defense evaluation of your case, email Chris Ferry directly, at email@example.com
Military Discount We respect the sacrifice that our military service members make each day to keep our country safe. Both Nicole’s and Chris’s fathers are retired military service members. Out of respect for them and our other military service members, we discount our fees if the client or the client’s current spouse is a retired or active member of the United States military. (Effective 5/8/13)
As people age, safeguarding against unexpected events and ensuring their assets are passed down to their children, grandchildren, and other close relations takes on critical importance. Fortunately, such provisions can be organized through the establishment of an estate plan.
That said, several factors go into drafting a thorough and effective estate plan. New York residents are encouraged to read on to learn the value of hiring a NY estate planning attorney to assist in completing said action.
Estate Planning Overview
Estate plans are carefully conjured outlines containing important documents like:
This legally-binding document is officially referred to as the Last Will and Testament, which contains directives regarding how the author’s final affairs are to be handled. lists said individual’s heirs, and provides instruction about how their assets are to be distributed.
Health Care Proxy
Health Care Proxy document names a trusted individual to make medical decisions on the author’s behalf should they lose the capacity to offer such renderings.
Power Of Attorney
This document authorizes a trusted family member or associate to perform financial or legal transactions on the author’s behalf should they become unable to do so.
It is important established plans coincide with State law. Failing to do so could result in a host of future problems for the author or their heirs. An experienced estate planning lawyer understands the laws and knows how to draft documents satisfying such regulations.
Documents like wills can often be challenged on the grounds of authenticity. Wills authored, witnessed, and reviewed by established legal professionals are less likely to be challenged in court on such bases.
Identifying All Pertinent Issues
A reputable estate planning attorney will help prospective planners identify all pertinent issues. While estate plans are known for including documents like wills and powers of attorney, said blueprints might also contain financial plans and other crucial undertakings. Knowledgeable legal professionals will account for all possible concerns.
An estate planner can typically trust the intentions of an attorney. The legal professional in question serves the client’s best interests and works to help said individual establish a plan most befitting of their own and no one else’s needs or desires.
Cell phones are a staple of most peoples lives. Such mobile devices are used not only to communicate but perform countless other important functions. Though traffic law stipulates that motorists should not be utilizing said contraptions for any purpose while driving their vehicles, many still do.
Unfortunately, however, drivers who get caught are often administered NY traffic tickets that could cost them significant amounts of money. Fortunately, motorists can fight cell phone tickets in New York and, with the help of a competent and experienced traffic ticket attorney, might have these penalties reduced or possibly get the associated charges dismissed altogether.
The Value Of Fighting These Tickets
Many ticketed individuals fail to realize that they have the legal right to plead not guilty to the associated charges in traffic court. Merely relenting and remitting the fine might cost someone several hundred dollars depending on factors, such as their driving record and how many previous offenses they have incurred.
Moreover, cell phone violation charges could yield points on the motorist’s license. Should enough points accumulate for this and other traffic infractions, the motorist’s license could be suspended. Additionally, their auto insurance premiums could skyrocket.
The Ticket-Challenging Process
If the motorist in question opts to challenge cell phone tickets in New York, the process’s first step is formally entering a plea of not guilty to the presiding court. Typically, this action is done in person. However, should the defendant be unable to appear in court, not guilty pleas entered online or through snail mail might be accepted.
In certain cases, the ticketing law enforcement officer might not appear in court. In such instances, an experienced attorney might be able to persuade the presiding judge to dismiss the charges. Should the officer in question be present, a lawyer might attempt to have their client’s charges reduced or formulate some type of defense argument.
Inquiring if the officer in question possesses any type of visual proof demonstrating the an offense actually took place
Procuring eyewitnesses who could refute the officer’s claims
Discerning of the accused should be excused if the accused was executing an emergency call
Refuting the charges using evidence like cell phone records or GPS technology
These are only common defenses. Every motorist’s case is different and other stipulations might to each individual proceeding.
Though NY traffic tickets for cell phone use violations can be difficult to challenge, the process is not impossible. However, the prospect for a favorable outcome will be significantly increased with the assistance of an experienced traffic ticket lawyer.