Affinity Consulting Blog

Last October, President Obama signed an executive order that will change how the U.S. processes credit cards effective October 2015.

EMV technology: Most retail U.S. businesses must adopt EuroPay-MasterCard-Visa type (chip and pin) terminals to process credit cards or risk a major shift in liability should fraud take place. Businesses that don’t process cards via chip-pin terminals are

on the hook for any fraud

. Formerly the banks were liable, but as of 10/1/15, retailers themselves are liable if they don’t adopt EMV technology.

After many years of procrastinating, I FINALLY started writing my novel. Lawyers are writers by nature, and it is a rare lawyer who doesn't at least consider writing a book.

But have your ever tried focused creative writing on a computer? There are distractions everywhere! Your email notifications, the allure of the web browser, updates to your Twitter feed, and do I even need to mention Facebook? How do you eliminate distractions when writing - short of resorting to a legal pad and pen? Go retro!

Client communication is no longer limited to traditional forms of communication like emails, letters and phone calls. Client portals are featured in many practice managements solutions, allowing law practices to share documents, appointments, notes, and other data directly with their clients. The comfort level in sharing legal information via client portals will only expand in the coming years, as clients and lawyers become accustomed to accessing sensitive data like banking information over the internet and mobile devices.

"Approximately 75% of all grievances filed against lawyers are the result of poor communication." * If you want to minimize the likelihood of a communication breakdown with your clients, here are some recommendations.

There you sit. It’s 7:30 p.m. You haven’t eaten, and by now you have missed your son’s hockey game. You are still not done with the brief that has to be filed tomorrow. You work about 12 hours a day (including Saturday) because you have a 2100 hour per year billable requirement. The firm bills your time at $250 per hour, but you certainly don’t get paid $250 per hour that you work. You wonder why you don’t just go out on your own. Keep that $250 for yourself. You could do this on your own.

It is summer. Vacations happen, whether we are ready for them or not. Solo and small firm attorneys often have no choice but to be available to clients and staff while on vacation. Some work might even have to get done. But how?

Law firms are continuing to look for ways to move their Case Management and Document Management systems into the Cloud. Having access to cases and documents from anywhere in the world is a very attractive concept for most attorneys and firm administrators. By default, cloud software systems overcome some of the biggest technical hurdles for lawyers and law firms that need this kind of “anywhere-anytime” access. Firm locations, servers, and complicated networks really are a non-issue for cloud systems because the data does not live in your firm’s office. The data is hosted in secure data centers behind bank-grade security and is available to you from anywhere.

Get the business knowledge you need, when you need it

Law school prepares you to be a lawyer. We all remember courses like torts, civil procedure, and legal writing. But what many legal educations still lack is information on how to run a business – a law firm – that profitably and efficiently delivers your counsel to clients.

There are a few options when it comes to augmenting your business knowledge, and most are cost-intensive, time-intensive or both! You can earn an MBA or other advanced business degree; you can add business reading to your already packed day; or you can spend the time to recruit and hire (and pay!) “C-level” executives like a CEO, CFO, COO to bring their expertise to your practice.

The problem is that sometimes you need C-level business expertise but you don’t really need it full-time, or your money is better spent investing in other areas of your firm to help accelerate growth – marketing or technology for example. And that’s where YourExecutive comes in.

At Affinity, we know that if you are a leader of a firm, your focus in on the practice of law and serving clients. We have consultants on our team who have decades of experience helping businesses – including law firms – run in ways that are in line with industry standards, efficient and financially sound.

YourExecutive is a service that you can use on a recurring basis – for example, maybe you need CFO level knowledge that is “on call” or used once a month or once a quarter to help you consolidate, analyze and report on financials.

It’s also a service you can use to address a specific need. Perhaps you are developing a succession plan, merging with another firm, or adding a new office. We can provide CEO or COO support through that process without you having to worry about recruiting a new employee and / or addressing if there is a role for them long term (not to mention paying for their overhead).

And YourExecutive doesn’t just provide real-time support, part of what we strive to do is build up your comfort level and knowledge in all areas of your firm as much as you desire. We provide re-useable tools that can augment your existing operations and aid in your firm’s growth until there’s a time when you are ready to look at hiring a full time team member to take on those tasks.

Some of the areas with which we can help:

1. Strategic Management

a. Assist Partners and firm management in defining the firm’s Vision & Mission Statement

b. Develop strategic metrics for tracking progress

c. Review / analyze existing processes and make recommendations that align processes with goals

d. Create strategic communications plans for your organization

2. Operations Management

a. Improve firm processes (standard operating procedures) to increase bottom line

b. Develop a plan for regular review of firm policies and procedures

c. Development of metrics tracking systems/processes

d. Develop / refine organizational structure and employee development and review

3. Financial Management

a. Ensure proper fiscal record-keeping and reporting

b. Review monthly financial statements, internal controls policies and ensure effective audit trails are in place

c. Prepare Cash Flow Projections and Financial Management Reports

d. Assist in the development of a “Financial Dashboard” to regularly report on key financial metrics

4. IT Management

a. Conduct a technology audit of firm’s IT resources and recommend improvements

b. Work with business leaders to identify core processes and develop technology plan for support of these processes (i.e. paperless)

c. Work with financial team to develop/evaluate IT budget and address cost and efficiency savings

d. Manage major software projects – including but not limited to: version upgrades/system implementations/hardware migrations

5. Profitability Management

a. Develop processes procedures to ensure attorneys capture all billable time

b. Study of time spent on billable tasks versus non-billable tasks & collection analysis

c. Report detailing current state of billing and collections processes

d. Provide a step-by-step plan for collections and profitability improvement

e. Implement metric reports on fees; costs; utilization rates; billable hours; collections & performance

Join us for a free Webinar at noon EDT on Thursday, May 28, to learn more about how YourExecutive can add value to your firm.

Due to last-minute date changes after our April newsletter deadline, some of the Bootcamp dates listed in the newsletter were incorrect. However, the dates in the registration page links are correct.

The correct dates for the Bootcamps scheduled so far are:

PC Law

Columbus May 4 -5

Atlanta August 11 – 12


Boston June 2 – 3

Denver September 15 – 16

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