Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 25


"To build your practice, it is important to get
out and meet people. Find and identify
networking events. Don't just sit in your
office. Meet people and follow up on them."
Rettinger says lawyers who are further along in their
careers can change their habits, too. If you haven't
started putting a portion of your salary into savings
and investments, start now, says Rettinger.

"You never know what the future might hold," says
Richards. "You may think you will hold that
high-paying job forever, but you might end up taking
a massive pay cut."

As for savings, how much is enough? Generally,
financial advisors say, lawyers should always have at
least four to six months of salary saved for an
emergency.

In addition, sometimes lawyers use their savings to try
something new and potentially more lucrative, such
as starting a new business. As Richards points out, if a
lawyer hasn't saved any money they may have to
forego these sorts of opportunities.

"It's stunning to me how many lawyers don't do this,"
says Brian Jones, chairman of CJM Wealth Advisers,
Ltd. in Fairfax, Virginia. "It's shocking. What if you need
to change jobs? What if you want to start your own
company? You need to have that money saved."
Financial advisors also emphasize the importance of
avoiding debt. However, if a lawyer does accumulate
debt, the key is to not get "in over your head and in
turn [have] the debt run your life," says Jones.
But when debt is unavoidable, "lawyers who work at
medium- to large-size firms usually have access to
favorable lending arrangements with an outside
bank," says Kimball. "This can be very useful for a
short-term cash need, like covering an unexpected
tax bill."

Michelle
Cotter
Richards

When Rebecca Geller decided to start her own
consulting and law business, she was, she admits,
scared. Five years later, the Geller Law Group, her
Fairfax, Virginia-based firm, has grown from a sole
practitioner to a busy firm with seven lawyers and a
total of 11 employees.
"I had to take the risk," says Geller. "It was the best
professional decision I ever made."
Geller says that she made her decision carefully.
Before she launched on her own in 2011, she and her
husband cut their expenses and decided on financial
goals for her first year.
"I did some calculated, careful risk-taking," says Geller.
She admits she initially dipped into her savings to start
her firm, but also points out that she had money
saved to do so.
Geller warns that lawyers who get caught up in the
lifestyle of a big law firm and fail to save may find
themselves unable to leave.
"My advice to other lawyers is to invest in your vision,"
says Geller. "Invest in your dreams."

INVEST IN TECHNOLOGY

UNPREDICTABLE TURNS
These days, Richards helps lawyers develop the
professional skills they need to succeed. In this role,
Richards says she's seen clients who have never
thought much about investments and have always
assumed that they would be fine financially if they
continued working.
"For some lawyers, the main investment strategy is to
keep earning and to assume that their salary
trajectory will continue, but you don't always have
control over that," says Richards. Our lives often take
unpredictable turns, she points out.

Lawyers who take the plunge to start their own shop
or who join small, but growing firms soon learn they
must make choices as to how much and where to
invest in their practice.

Washington says that for many "firms with
boots-on-the-ground consumer practice areas, case
management systems can be very important."
Washington suggests investing in a cloud-based case
management system. "These systems allow for more
efficient communication and faster response time to
address the needs of your clients," she says.
Additionally, says Washington, if the system you have
purchased does not include a billing component, you
may need additional software in this area.
There are also ways for lawyers to save money.
Lawyers can spend $5,000 or more per year on legal
research fees. But they don't have to invest quite so
much money into their research service, says Ed
Walters, chief executive officer of Fastcase. The D.C.
Bar offers free membership to Fastcase, a nationwide
database of laws, cases, and statutes.
If you are a D.C. Bar member, says Walters, "you don't
need to waste money on a paid subscription service.
Take full advantage of what the D.C. Bar provides for
free and invest your money elsewhere."

WEBSITES AND MARKETING
Most lawyers are concerned with not just retaining
their existing clients but also with attracting new
ones. Washington suggests investing money into a
Website and a marketing plan.
"I don't care who you meet and how you meet them.
When you walk away, they are going to Google you,"
says Washington. "You want them to see that you
have a reputable, functional, complete Website."
Washington advises lawyers: "If you want to build
your own Website, take the time to make it look
professional and include content about the problems
you solve, not just about yourself." Otherwise, she

says, hire someone with expertise to create one for you. In addition, a marketing
professional with expertise in social media can ensure that potential clients can
find your firm through the power of search engine optimization.
Washington reminds lawyers to invest in their own protection by purchasing
malpractice insurance. She also emphasizes the importance of putting time and
money into building a network of colleagues and contacts. "To build your
practice, it is important to get out and meet people. Find and identify networking
events," says Washington. "Don't just sit in your office. Meet people and follow up
on them."
Geller advises lawyers advancing in their career to look for speaking engagements
as "useful tools to position yourself as an expert in your field."
Is a posh location or expensive furniture important? Geller says that, for the most
part, she has found that clients do not care about a law firm's physical
appearance. Rather, she says, they want to know that they are getting quality
work done on time.
"Invest in hiring talent," says Geller. "Each time I make a great hire, which is not
every hire, our firm grows because of the new employee's contribution to our
team and our clients."

WEST COAST!
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SKEPTICAL AND RISK-AVERSE
Besides investing in the firm, financial advisors suggest lawyers put money away
into 401ks and other retirement plans. After that, advisors say, look into investing
in your children's college funds. In all, it is important that lawyers understand and
try to follow through with both their long-term and short-term investment goals.
But no matter what financial advice they get, lawyers still struggle with making
even the simplest of financial decisions, from creating a long-term investment
plan to spending on their law firm's technology.
Many lawyers resist making decisions about their own lives and financial
futures, says Dr. Larry Richard, founder of LawyerBrain and a leading expert on
the lawyer personality.
Says Richard: "People who go into a legal career tend to be skeptical about the
world around them." According to him, lawyers "question the assumptions"
behind financial advice for particular investment options.

Rochelle Washington, senior staff attorney for the D.C.
Bar Practice Management Advisory Service,
emphasizes the importance of investing in specific,
targeted technology tools to help a law firm run
smoothly.
"That doesn't mean getting the latest gadget," says
Washington. "It's not just about buying tech. It's about
buying something that can be incorporated into the
work flow of your firm and then increase the firm's
overall efficiency."

- Rochelle Washington
D.C. Bar Practice Management Advisory Service

THE DC BAR IS COMING TO THE

For details & to register:
https://www.dcbar.org/dcbarometer/

Financial advisors urge lawyers to get over their reticence, their skepticism, and
their risk aversion to plan. "You don't want to be that person who makes a
million dollars, but is cash poor because you haven't figured out how to look
at the bigger picture, make financial goals, make decisions, and stick to them,"
says Kimball.

Rebecca
Geller

Anna Stolley Persky is a regular contributor to Washington Lawyer.
Find out great tools and tips you need to boost
your practice at dcbar.org/practice360.

Photos courtesy of John Matthews and Geller Law Group

24 WASHINGTON LAWYER * JANUARY 2017 *

* WASHINGTON LAWYER * JANUARY 2017

25


https://www.dcbar.org/dcbarometer/ https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/practice-management-advisory-service/practice-360.cfm http://www.dcbar.org/practice360 http://www.dcbar.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January 2017

Washington Lawyer - January 2017
Contents
Your Voice
From Our President
Our Membership
Career & Professional Development
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: An Inside Job
Feature: Investment Planning for Lawyers
Feature: Making the Virtual Leap
Feature: Lawyers Have Heart
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Partners' Perspective
Ask the Ethics Experts
Attorney Briefs
Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Washington Lawyer - January 2017
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Contents
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 4
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Our Membership
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: An Inside Job
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 20
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Investment Planning for Lawyers
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Making the Virtual Leap
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Lawyers Have Heart
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 32
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Partners' Perspective
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover4
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