I Don’t Want to Create a Business Plan!

I get it.  I really do.  They involve work and you’re busy.  And if you’re not trying to sell someone on why they should give you money to start or grow your law practice, why would you bother?

Because, my friends, every once in a while you should be selfish and do something for yourself.

client-meeting-cropped

Six Good Reasons Why Every Lawyer Can Benefit from a Business Plan

Everyone can benefit from the business planning process, especially startups.  But existing businesses need a vision too.  Creating a business plan will give you:

  • Clarity about what you want to do
  • Control over your own fate
  • A strategy for staying organized and on track
  • Accountability
  • A way to measure and monitor your progress
  • A path to help you move forward

For associates in law firms, creating an annual business plan is the only way to build a successful strategy for bringing in business – something all associates are expected to do sooner or later.

For partners, annual business planning is likely to be more about reflection: now that I’m an experienced lawyer with a book of business at XYZ Law Firm what do I want to do? If the answer is: make a lateral move, creating a business plan will likely be required.  If the answer is: something else entirely, then time spent reflecting and planning will help you ferret that out.

Why Lawyers Don’t Write Business Plans

Aside from the obvious excuse that creating a business plan is time consuming, you may also perceive it as too difficult.

But there is an even better reason not to write a business plan.  If you don’t put specific goals and objectives on paper you can’t fail.

Here’s What You’re Really Missing Out On

The problem with avoiding failure is that you also set yourself up not to succeed. And you miss out on the other benefits that go along with creating a business plan.

Create a Direction and Lower Your Stress

When you know what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there (the specific objectives included in your plan), it lowers your stress level. There is no more floundering or misdirection.  Having a plan means you’re back in control.

Doing What You Want to Do For People You Want to Work For Means Reduced Exposure to Liability and Ethics Complaints

There’s a huge difference between practicing door law because you’ve always done it versus purposefully choosing a niche.

The door law route exposes you to greater risk of malpractice claims and ethics complaints.  Keeping up with a few areas of law is hard enough.  Trying to keep up with five or ten is bordering on ridiculous.

Imagine instead that you are working in one area, or a handful of areas, that you know well or can master.  With a focus, you can target clients deliberately and work for a client base that you truly want to represent.

You’ll Also See Gains in Efficiency, Money, and Resources

You are a resource.  Your staff is a resource.  Spend your resources on meaningful, designed goals.  This is what creates efficiency.  And with efficiency you can’t help but save money.  Or at a minimum, experience a better return on your investment.  You know it, you can see it, you can measure it.

Business Plan Checklist and Resources

If I’ve convinced you, contact me.  I’m happy to send along my business plan checklist and a list of resources for creating a plan.  Do what you want to do.  I am.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017

The New Year Offers a Fresh Start

If your goals for the new year include any of the following:

  • Reducing your stress leveldownload
  • Improving your office routines
  • Increasing productivity
  • Streamlining office systems
  • Balancing the demands of work and home

then resolve to get a head start.  Check out these classic posts on how to “spring clean” your office systems and work habits.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

If you’re an Oregon lawyer, you have a great resource right in your own backyard:  the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program.  The OAAP can give you guidance on how to develop your own stress management program using deep relaxation, meditation, time management, and other proven stress-reducing techniques.  Best of all, OAAP services are free and confidential.

Looking for Practice Management Advice?

We’re here to help! Professional Liability Fund Practice Management Advisors provide free and confidential assistance with office systems.  If you’re a lawyer in Oregon, give us a call!  800-452-1639 Toll-Free in Oregon or 503-639-6911.

Coming Soon – Turn Over a New Leaf through Better Client Management

Stay tuned next week for a new post: Turn Over a New Leaf Through Better Client Management.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2016]

The New Year Offers a Fresh Start

If your goals for the new year include any of the following:

  • Reducing your stress level2014
  • Improving your office routines
  • Increasing productivity
  • Streamlining office systems
  • Balancing the demands of work and home

then resolve to get a head start.  Check out these classic posts on how to “spring clean” your office systems and work habits

Feeling Overwhelmed?

If you’re an Oregon lawyer, you have a great resource right in your own backyard:  the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program.  The OAAP can give you guidance on how to develop your own stress management program using deep relaxation, meditation, time management, and other proven stress-reducing techniques.  Best of all, OAAP services are free and confidential. 

Looking for Practice Management Advice?

We’re here to help! Professional Liability Fund Practice Management Advisors provide free and confidential assistance with office systems.  If you’re a lawyer in Oregon, give us a call!  800-452-1639 Toll-Free in Oregon or 503-639-6911.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

Working with Mobile Notaries

For lawyers who may need the services of a mobile or ad-hoc notary, here are some best practice recommendations:

Verifying the Validity of a Notarial Commission

Call the Corporation Division of the Oregon Secretary of State or visit the Secretary of State Web site to verify that your proposed mobile notary has a valid, current notarial commission.  The Corporation Division can be reached at 503.986.2200, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. 

Notaries registered with the Corporation Division prior to September 1, 2013 may not have complete online listings because notaries at that time did not agree to a public record address.  The Corporation Division advises:

When you search on our database by name to verify a notary and there is no address available, you can check the stamp information on the document. The commission number, expiration date, and name should match with a record you see on the database.

Alternatively, addresses are maintained on an internal database, so calling the Corporation Division is another method to verify a valid commission. 

Complying with Current Laws

Ask your mobile notary if he or she is aware of the new notary law effective September 1, 2013.  Sweeping in scope, this law affects nearly every aspect of functioning as a notary in Oregon – from qualification, examination, and application – to minute details of notarization, including:

  • Acceptable forms of identification
  • Notarizing documents for relatives
  • Qualifying as a “credible witness”
  • Maintaining notarial journals
  • Use of an Official Notary Stamp (in lieu of the former notary seal)
  • Procedures for electronic notarizations

This document summarizes the changes from the old law to the new law.  The new notary rules may be found here.

If you want to learn more about the new notary law, consider attending a live, free notary public education seminar or take the Web Tutorial (part of the online examination process).

Concerned about your notary’s potential ignorance of the new law?  Select a different notary or ask the notary to sign an acknowledgment that he or she is aware of and in compliance with the new law and rules.

Protecting Journal Records

Keeping a proper notarial journal is a long-standing requirement.  The new law modified this process.  Notaries are now permitted to keep a paper journal, an electronic journal, or both.    Ask your mobile notary which journal method(s) he or she uses.  If the notary uses an electronic notarial journal, the signature of the signer must be:

  • Unique to the signer
  • Capable of independent verification
  • Retained under the signer’s sole control
  • Attached to or logically associated with the electronic journal
  • Linked to the data in such a manner that any subsequent alterations to the electronic notarial journal entry are detectable and may invalidate the electronic notarial journal entry

Using Bonded or Insured Notaries

Oregon does not require notaries to be bonded or carry liability insurance.  If this is a concern for you, you may wish to use only notaries who are bonded or who carry appropriate coverage.

 All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis – 2013

Kick-Start Your New Year

new year.jpgIf you are among the 45% who typically make a New Year’s Resolution, I genuinely wish you the best of luck.

If your goals for 2013 include any of the following:

  • Reducing your stress level
  • Improving your office routines
  • Increasing productivity
  • Streamlining office systems
  • Balancing the demands of work and home

then resolve to get a head start by “spring cleaning” your office systems and work habits.  Remember, you can always contact the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program if you are feeling overwhelmed.  The OAAP can give you guidance on how to develop your own stress management program using deep relaxation, meditation, time management, and other proven stress-reducing techniques.  Best of all, OAAP services are free and confidential.  Similarly, the Professional Liability Fund Practice Management Advisors provide free and confidential assistance with office systems.  Give us a call!  800-452-1639 Toll-Free in Oregon or 503-639-6911.