What I would do if I wanted to run a 20th century firm in the 21st century*

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imgresIf I wanted to start up a professional firm in the 21st Century based on a 20th Century model, here is what I would do.

  1. If I could find other 20th century thinking professionals I would form a partnership.
  2. My business model would be to leverage my employees x time x hourly rate.
  3. I would undertake retrospective pricing and bill by time for as much as, and for as long as, I can.
  4. I would refer to my people as  "fee earners" or "non-fee earners" ( and make the "non-fee earners" feel very guilty).
  5. I would make my "fee earners" record their days in 6 minute increments.
  6. I would provide all my "fee earners" with annual, monthly and daily billable hour targets.
  7. I would measure and reward my "fee earners" by their performance to their billable hour targets.
  8. Each of my "fee earners" will be assigned the same hourly rate for whatever task they are performing solely based on their title and seniority.
  9. I will provide estimates of my fees to my clients based on expected time to be spent on their matter (but only when asked or made to) which will invariably be exceeded.
  10. I will undertake annual performance reviews on my people.
  11. Under the guise of benchmarking, I will willingly share my hourly rates, the remuneration I pay to my employees, my billable hour targets, my realisation rates,utilization and other retrospective financial information with my competitors to ensure we all look the same.
  12. I will tell everyone that I am a "full service" firm.
  13. I will avoid potentially risky traps like social media and the Cloud.
  14. I will state on my website that:I will be my clients "trusted adviser";that I will understand my clients business and the industry they operate in;that I will treat all my clients equally; and that what will make me different is that I  am "innovative","progressive","client focussed",have a"collaborative culture"and as a firm we are "recognised thought leaders".

Thank goodness there are no 20th century professional firms around now.

*when I first wrote this article on LinkedIn I headed it "What I would do if I wanted to run a 20th century law firm in the 21st century".Many readers commented that the sentiments I expressed in my LinkedIn post didn't just apply to law firms but to other professional firms as well, so I have changed the terminology to "professional firms" to include all the guilty.

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