Successful Small Firm Practice

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How Small Firm Lawyers Can Compete, Thrive, and Be Ethical in the 21st Century

The 2020 Course is now opening for registration with both weekday and weekend sessions.

This year, D.C. Bar members and their staff may attend:
(1) eight remote sessions on Mondays from Noon to 2:00 p.m. starting September 14 and continuing through November 9;
(2) two Saturday sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on October 3 and November 7.

To register, send an email to [email protected] and indicate if you are attending the Monday or Saturday sessions.

The Course was awarded the ABA Gambrell Award in 2015.

This program will be presented by PMAS Practice Advisors, Daniel M. Mills and Rochelle D. Washington. Mills and Washington combined have over 35 years of experience managing a small firm. Mills has twelve years of experience leading the D.C. Bar’s Basic Training and Beyond program and D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education sessions on trust accounts and fee agreements.  Washington has taught Basic Training and Beyond and the Course since 2013 and is the organizer of the annual Practice 360º program at the D.C. Bar.

Course outline for 2020 weekday and weekends sessions is here.

PAST Slides and other Program Materials are here.

The D.C. Bar, Practice Management Advisory Service annually presents this in-depth program for its members and their staff on starting, managing, and growing the small law firm in the District of Columbia. This unique program is designed to assist the lawyer who is considering or already has launched a small firm practice.

From core concepts such as understanding the legal service market, office management, ethics issues, and money management to advanced techniques in marketing, client–relations and cloud–based case management systems, this multi–session program will lay out the ground work for starting your own law practice as well as help you reach the efficiency, productivity and work–life balance that is possible in the small firm practice.

Attendees at this program are encouraged to actively participate in the sessions, and create work product during and between sessions which include a detailed law firm business plan, extensive marketing program, newsletter series, website content, social media program, law firm manual, risk management analysis, fee agreements, standardized client communication procedures, law firm account management systems, and a law firm backup and security plan.

Course Highlights:

  • Choosing a practice that is best for you and determining your ideal clients: Analyzing what kind of problem-solving fits best with your personality, interests, and, ultimately, what will make you as successful as you can be in the legal profession. Identifying Bar resources available to members.
  • Business plan/Back-up plan: You will be provided with the tools to create a unique, detailed, and functional business plan during this course to guide your growth. You will learn how to create a system to manage your firm in the event you are unavailable for the short or long term. The course covers the lawyer as entrepreneur and helps you to determine the characteristics needed to start and grow a firm.
  • The Basics: We cover creating the rule compliant firm name, forming the business–entity, the need for a tax ID number, tax issues, office space, and cloud versus server-based computing as well as identifying any ethical considerations in the start–up and growth process.
  • Ethics and Small Firm Management/Employee Relations: We show how to avoid problems though the establishment and implementation of systems and how to conduct a law firm assessment and risk analysis. We demonstrate how to effectively manage a growing office and create a firm manual.
  • Banking/Money Management/Billing: From paper ledgers to cloud computing—we show simple steps that will help you stay organized, profitable, and in compliance with the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • Fee Setting/Fee Agreements: You will learn how to determine the value of a productive hour, how to charge for professional services, and the “must have” provisions for fee agreements.
  • Creating Client Relationships: You will learn how to attract your ideal client, identify the problem client, and how to build relationships with clients that will be productive, avoid problems, establish referral source, and allow for an enjoyable professional practice.
  • Smart Marketing: We cover the challenges of marketing a regulated enterprise. You will create working, functional marketing actions that bring you your best clients.
  • Disciplinary Process: We cover why small firm lawyers are vulnerable to bar complaints, disciplinary statistics, review the complaint process and show how to reduce risk and avoid problems.
  • Maintaining maximum productivity: You will learn how to be as productive as you can be with the use of practical technology. 

For questions, call Dan Mills at 202-780-2762 or Rochelle Washington at 202-780-2764. You may also e-mail us at [email protected].

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