Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 8

PR AC TICE MANAGEMENT

THINK LIKE AN ENTREPRENEUR

By Dan Mills

(PART TWO OF A TWO-PART SERIES)

L

ast month several D.C. Bar
members responded to findings
in the 2019 Legal Trends Report
released by Clio, a practice management software provider. Among the
report's key points: Increasing hourly
rates is not effective in driving longterm growth, and the average utilization rate for law firms was 31
percent, meaning the average
lawyer spent 2.5 hours on billable
work each day.
Criminal defense lawyers, however, aren't
tied to the billable hour. Most work on a flat
fee paid in advance. How did they respond to
the Clio report?
Damon D. Colbert, a criminal defense lawyer in
Northern Virginia, says the hourly metrics of the
Clio data do not apply to him since he charges
flat fees up front in nearly all his representations.
"My business metric is to bring in at least
$25,000 in gross revenue each month," says
Colbert, "and as long as I'm doing that, my
business is good.
"I'm priced in the middle of the pack as far as
the competition goes. Most of my clients come
from referrals from former clients and other
lawyers. I also use direct mail, and that works
well for me," adds Colbert, who agrees that
being available and responsive is essential for a
criminal defense lawyer. "My call service has to
be very good and operate 24/7. When someone's back is to the wall and they are reaching
out to a lawyer, they need to hear my voice as
soon as possible and I make sure that happens."
For Joseph Scrofano of Scrofano Law PC, a
criminal defense firm located in the District, the
value of the Clio report is its information on
client expectation and experience. "Clio clearly
has its finger on the pulse of the small firm legal

8

WASHINGTON LAWYER

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JUNE 2020

community," he says, "but it is not geared
toward the flat fee and value-based legal world.
I see more and more firms shifting to a flat fee
and value-based model. We use Clio in many
ways, but we have also constructed several
custom systems to allow our four-lawyer firm to
track flat fees and the benchmarks where fees
are earned."
Most of Scrofano's new business comes by way
of the firm's website, with the balance from
referrals and direct mail. Scrofano also uses a
detailed post-case communication system to
keep in touch with the client and develop a
referral source.
"We use Clio Grow to track leads, Clio Manage
to work the case, and then once the case concludes, we use GatherUp for reviewing client
feedback. We work hard to get our clients a
good result and to develop an ongoing,
positive relationship," Scrofano says. "The Clio
report confirms that this is what clients want."
Sara Kropf of Kropf Moseley PLLC agrees with
the study's findings that using revenue alone
as a growth indicator is not reliable. "I am more
interested in seeing our profit grow consistently," says Kropf, a high-stakes litigator who
has managed her own practice for seven years
after leaving a big D.C. firm. "And I was surprised
by the 2.5 billable hours a day average. My utilization is at least double that and often more
during busy times."
"What is really important for me in onboarding
a prospective client is to talk to the individual and
hear how the person describes their problem,"
says Kropf. "As a litigator, I charge a significant
advance fee and need to know if the prospective
client can afford our representation."
Mark Rollins of the Rollins and Chan Law Firm
believes the Clio study accurately reflects the
business and growth issues of most small firms
in the Washington, D.C., area. "What was most
interesting to me and really affirming for our
practice is that new business is coming in
through the web, which is just as important as
a referral network," says Rollins, who does a mix

of retained and court-appointed criminal
defense work in D.C. Superior Court. "The Clio
study confirms my strong belief that a small firm
of any type needs to have a strong presence on
the web."
"Of course, the one-on-one relationship is important, and how well you solve the client's problem
is very important, but a strong web presence is
often the first contact the client has with you,"
Rollins says, "and that needs to go well."
"Consumers of legal services are smart," he says,
"especially in this metropolitan area. Many start
their search or vetting process on YouTube.
They want information. Ultimately, they need to
see that you get their problem."
The Clio report also revealed that while most
attorneys are confident in their legal skills, only
half are confident in running the business side
of their firm. This is not surprising, given that
lawyers tend to be highly skeptical, intensely
cerebral, very independent, and urgent in their
approach to problem solving. But lawyers, in
comparison to nonlawyers, are very low in resilience and sociability.1
While many of these characteristics make
lawyers good at solving client problems, they
also cause lawyers to be challenged with
managing and growing a business. Too many
lawyers apply their client problem-solving skill
set to managing the business of their law firm.
This explains why most lawyer marketing misses
the mark when it's all about the lawyer rather
than the problem of the client.
As the Clio study demonstrates, lawyers
who have an entrepreneurial approach to
business and are responsive to clients grow
and profit.
For practice management help, contact the Bar's
advisors, Dan Mills and Rochelle Washington,
at 202-780-2762 or 202-780-2764, respectively,
or email pmas@dcbar.org.
NOTE
1 Dr. Larry Richard, a lawyer-psychologist and
expert on lawyer behavior (lawyerbrain.com).


http://www.lawyerbrain.com

Washington Lawyer - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - June 2020

YOUR VOICE
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
ON FURTHER REVIEW
THE LEARNING CURVE
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
WORTH READING
ATTORNEY BRIEFS
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 4
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - YOUR VOICE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE LEARNING CURVE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - WORTH READING
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ATTORNEY BRIEFS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 48
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover4
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