Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 28

What kind of
law office you will
create and where it will
be located are dependent
on many factors, including
the nature of your
practice and how
much space you
can afford.
If a client pays you in advance, the advance fee will almost always need to go
into your firm's Interest on Lawyers' Trust Account (IOLTA), a trust account
governed by D.C. Rule 1.15. One opens this account at an IOLTA-compliant
bank using the IOLTA registration form (available at dcbar.org, keywords:
IOLTA account). It's best to have both accounts at the same bank. If you have
never handled a trust account and IOLTA-eligible funds before, contact the
PMAS for information.
If you are accepting fees by credit card, be sure to use a processor like
LawPay.com, a Bar member benefit, so that an advance fee paid by credit
card goes into the IOLTA, and an earned fee paid by credit card goes into
the business account. Not all credit card processors allow you to be Rule 1.15
compliant, so be careful.
Be sure to keep "complete records" as required by Rule 1.15(a). At a minimum
you will need ledgers for the trust account and operating account accurately
reflecting all transactions, client ledgers reflecting all client transactions, and
underlying paperwork, PDFs, or other evidence supporting all transactions.
The basis of the requirement of "complete records" described in In re Clower,
831 A.2d 1030 (DCCA 2003), is that the records themselves should tell the story
of what happened to the funds.
When you have a client, you will need to create a fee agreement that is compliant with Rule 1.5. Elements of a sound fee agreement always include an
adequate scope of representation description, a clear statement of the fee,
and a statement of what expenses, if any, are involved with the representation
and who will be responsible for those expenses. While the Bar has no official
forms, the PMAS makes sample forms available by request.

LOCATION, BUSINESS PLAN
& CASE MANAGEMENT
What kind of law office you will create and where it will be located are dependent on many factors, including the nature of your practice and how much
space you can afford. The Bar has a member benefit with Carr Workplaces,
which has workspaces in many locations in the District of Columbia,
28 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

APRIL 2019

*

Maryland, and Virginia. If you cannot afford or do not need traditional, dedicated office space, then Carr Workplaces can provide a professional address
and workspace as you need it.
While the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct do not require that you have
an office in the District, a D.C. Bar member should be careful about holding
him- or herself out as a lawyer from an address in a jurisdiction where the
lawyer is not licensed. Rule 5.5 prohibits a D.C. Bar member from engaging
in the unauthorized practice of law in another jurisdiction.
If you have not created a business plan for your firm, now is a good time
to do that. Your firm is a business, and a business needs a plan. The plan
provides focus, control, and direction for the enterprise. Creating one causes
you to relate to the firm as a system for solving the problems of others.
Planning reduces risk and increases reward. If you don't have a plan, your
decision making will be driven by how much money you have in your
operating account. That is a short-sighted way to try to develop a law
firm. Request a business plan template, spreadsheets, and workbook from
the PMAS.
A tool that lends itself well to a growing firm is Clio, a case management
application for small firms that allows the lawyer to maintain all client data
in one place. Clio is another D.C. Bar member benefit. It also includes a time
and billing function, calendar, and integrations with many other applications,
including QuickBooks Online, Xero, Fastcase, Google and Outlook calendars,
and document management with Dropbox, NetDocuments, Google Drive,
and Box. Clio has three pricing levels. The most a single lawyer will pay for the
elite package is about $90 a month with the Bar discount.
Finally, you will need to decide how to market your firm and how to maintain
good client relations once the clients arrive. These are vast topics in and of
themselves and depend upon the kinds of problems you want to solve, the
nature of the clients that bring you those problems, and your personality and
experience.
Lawyers market best when they focus on the kinds of problems they solve
rather than on themselves. There is no marketing silver bullet. Marketing is a
long game. Figure out the tool that works best for you and commit to a longterm plan.
Clients like lawyers who solve their problems and are accessible, informative,
honest, and fair. One of the biggest reasons lawyers get in trouble with the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel is client neglect. Don't take on more than you
can handle. Learn how to say no to a prospective client when you are too
busy, are not competent to solve the problem, or just don't feel like you are
a good fit with the person seeking your help.

The D.C. Bar Practice Management Advisory Service has helped thousands of Bar
members launch, grow, and manage firms. Its services are free and confidential
under Rule 1.6(j).
Assistant Director Dan Mills can be reached at 202-780-2762 or dmills@dcbar.org;
Senior Staff Attorney Rochelle Washington can be reached at 202-780-2764 or
rwashington@dcbar.org. Email PMAS@dcbar.org to request business planning
tools or sample fee agreement forms.


http://www.dcbar.org http://www.LawPay.com http://dcbar.org

Washington Lawyer - April 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - April 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
DC Bar Practice Management Advisory Service feature
Niching Down to Build Up feature
Going Small feature
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 12
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - DC Bar Practice Management Advisory Service feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Niching Down to Build Up feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Going Small feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 26
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 31
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Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 36
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 48
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 49
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 51
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover4
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