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Law Blog Lessons and the Best of #BusinessofLaw for 2014

Law Blog Lessons and the Best of #BusinessofLaw for 2014

Readers of this blog seem prefer posts about two things: law firm billing metrics and industry studies. At least that’s our assessment of the top 10 posts for 2014.

The following are the most read blog posts from the year, with two exceptions. If a post already appeared in either of our previous two year-end roundup posts – one on legal infographics and the other on legal market research – we simply skipped over it to the next highest post.

Before we dive into the top 10, we thought we’d share two observations blogging from this law blog.

Two Social Media Lessons for Legal Pros

In the course of conducting this analysis, we thought these two points that might be helpful for legal pros working to get an understanding of blogging and social media.

a) You Can’t Make Viral Happen.

Marketers, including legal marketers, get excited over any discussion of “viral” but the reality is, you can’t make viral happen.  It’s the #3 post on this list (see below) that got us to thinking about the virality of social media in the legal space because that post earned more than 1,400 “stumbles” on StumbleUpon.

StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking and discovery engine that will help you find interesting content by “stumbling upon” it.  We have no tangible data to say why this went viral with 1,400 stumbles.  We probably couldn’t make that happen again if we tried, so instead of trying, we concentrate on simple publishing content we think lawyers and legal pros will find helpful.  We are grateful when someone notices.

b)  Viral Also Exists Outside of Social Media.

We enjoy the work produced by BTI Consulting and look forward to their surveys, blog posts and webinars – and it seems our readers do too.  A post recapping a BTI Consulting webinar earlier this year ranked #7 among the top 10.  In contrast to the thousands of social shares post #3 earned, this post earned a paltry 20 social shares – and yet it still it earned thousands of readers. 

This happened because a small, but steady stream of visitors searched for, and found this piece, every day, all year long.  It never went viral on social media and an “influencer” didn’t scoop up the post and share it with 100,000 followers. Instead, it’s useful and interesting information that earned a little bit of web traffic everyday.

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Top 10 Business of Law Blog Posts in 2014

Without further ado, here are the top 10 blog posts from 2014.

1. Six Business Metrics Every Law Firm Should Measure

Based on a presentation titled, “Moneyball for Lawyers” by Christopher T. Anderson, this post identifies the top business metrics law firms should measure to evaluate and improve firm performance.  One example included:

Cost of servicing a client. The cost of servicing a client includes all of the fixed costs – rent and utilities – and the fixed marketing expenditures to determine what it costs to merely bring a new client in the door.

2. What are the Going Law Firm Rates by Practice Area?

Based on more than $15 billion in legal spend this post shares a part of the CounselLink Enterprise Legal Management Trends report and identifies bill rate metrics for partners, associates and paralegals, in addition to a blended rate.

3. 5 Solid Tips on Law Firm Billing and Invoicing

This is a roundup of sage billing tips from a range of credible lawyers, legal professionals and organizations including, Lawyers Mutual, BTI Consulting, Attorney at Work and the ABA Journal and Lee Rosen:

Lee Rosen, an attorney in North Carolina, calls the moment a client opens a bill the “red zone.” If there’s a conflict between a client and an attorney, “it surfaces moments after opening the bill.” In a post titled, 13 Billing Tips for Keeping Clients Happy, he recommends getting payment in advance. “Clients making decisions about a fee before they owe it are happier than clients hit with a bill after the fact.”

4. Porter’s Five Forces for the Legal Industry

This post is an effort to organize the legal landscape into the competitive analysis framework created by renowned Harvard economist and academic Michael E. Porter.  One area the framework looks at is the threat of new entrants, which includes:

  • Alternative means to staff legal work: Axiom, Robert Half Legal, and UpCounsel
  • Legal process outsourcing commodity legal work moving to “The Law Factory”
  • M&A is a top trend among law firms and in essence forms a new competitive entity

5. 5 Questions with a Law Firm CFO

Frederick J. Esposito, Jr., CLM, the chief financial officer of Rivkin Radler, LLP, a leading national law firm answers some of our questions about the challenges and opportunities facing law firms.  It is a very compelling interview and includes commentary such as:

The one thing technology cannot do is to provide that ever important critical thinking component. We need analytics, but we also need a critical thinking component which assists us in ascertaining if the analytics make sense.

6. 3 KPIs to Make a Law Firm More Profitable

Based on a free PDF guide – Boosting Your Law Firm’s Profitability – this post looks at realization, leverage and margins. For example:

Realization, in very simple terms, is the rate at which the firm’s bills will be collected and paid. This involves understanding how long it takes from the moment a client receives an invoice to the point at which the firm will be paid. This enables firms to know the minimum amount of money the firm needs to sustain business operations.

7. BTI Consulting: US legal market exceeds $100 billion 

It was a 90 minute webinar that proved to be very worthwhile – and yielded a blog post packed with data and metrics about the legal industry such as:

Money changing hands in the U.S. over legal services has surpassed $100 billion in total. BTI says there’s a roughly 60/40 split meaning about $60 billion is spent on outside law firms and the other $40 billion in-house. Notably, corporate counsel has been increase its internal spend by about $6 billion over the last two years, which Mr. Rynowecer says indicates a substantive change in that businesses are bringing more work in-house.

8. 25 Essential Legal Blogs and Free LegalTech Bloggers’ Breakfast

Which law bloggers would you like to have breakfast with?  This post was a bit of a promo for the annual Bloggers Breakfast at LegalTech NY – but also a chance to share some of our favorite bloggers.  We’re sponsoring the Blogger’s Breakfast again this year – and we’ll look to develop another list again.

9. 7 Takeaways from a Geek’s Presentation on Law Firm Pricing

Toby Brown gave an exceptional presentation on law firm pricing at the ABA TECHSHOW last year and this post summarizes his thoughts.  It’s no surprise to see this post in the top 10:

Mr. Brown set the stage by noting the “GC guild was broken in 2008” a reference to the economic downturn and subsequent demand by business to put a cap on legal spending. He stated that law firms used to raise rates about 10% a year, but today, rates grow at just about 3%. In addition, productivity is down and demand for legal services is flat.

10. 9 Takeaways from the Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition Study

In a very detailed 131 page report, Altman Weil made quite a splash among market watchers. The first “takeaway” gets right to the point:

From pricing to commoditization – and from leverage to outsourcing, the data indicates acceptance that the legal industry is in fact changing. It’s not a new concept, since 90% of respondents have agreed “there is a permanent market shift requiring greater efficiency in the delivery of legal services” since 2011. However, this year it seems more and more sharp legal minds believe the pace of change is increasing: “Two-thirds of law firm leaders think the pace of change in the profession is still increasing. Another 30% believe it will remain at its current pace (which is not inconsiderable).”

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Is there a post from this past year you’d like to call out?  What topics would you like to see us explore in 2015?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
25-Plus Predictions for the Legal Industry in 2015 

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.
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