Financially Legal is a twice-monthly podcast with accompanying articles on the financial aspects of the business of law. Host, Dan Lear, talks with law firm leaders, academics, business professionals and thought leaders to provide compelling and provocative insights at the intersection of finance, economics, and law.

Episode 45. What does it take to get a collections rate of 95% and how does that intersect with diversity, transparency, and compensation? An interview with Jim Meadows from Culhane Meadows

Posted by Dan Lear on September 7, 2022

How, if at all, do compensation, diversity, and transparency overlap? How can these competing priorities be reconciled? Jim Meadows from Culhane Meadows doesn’t have the perfect answer. But he’s giving it a solid try.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business of Law


Episode 44. How do creativity and analytics blend to grow a contingency law firm? An interview with Lynn Bradley from The Potts Law Firm

Posted by Dan Lear on August 24, 2022

Plaintiffs' lawyers are often bold, brash, larger-than-life characters with billboards, regular TV ads, and ambition to match.

But they're also visionary creatives. They excel at building something from nothing and carving out a new and unique path for legal professionals - often where no path existed before. But that creativity needs to be leavened with stability and more strategic thinking. 

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business of Law


The State-by-State Guide to Client Financing

Posted by Dan Lear on August 22, 2022

Financing legal fees is not new. Bar associations have been grappling with the rules around   lawyers accepting a simple financing tool - credit cards - since the 1970's. Given that cards haven't been around for that long - and that some states are still grappling with how lawyers can use them* - what happens most often when clients need to finance their legal bill is that lawyers or law firms themselves become the bank. They offer installment payments or financed offerings to their clients in order to enable the clients to pay the firms' legal bills.

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Topics: Stored Payment Methods


Join Legendary 'No B.S.' Business Leader Dan Kennedy for an Exclusive Interview

Posted by Dan Lear on August 18, 2022

If you don't know who Dan Kennedy is, you should. Here's just a quick recap of the impact he's had on the business world in his 30+ year career:

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Topics: Business of Law


Episode 43. How does your firm limit write downs and write offs? An interview with Kevin Krese from Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs

Posted by Dan Lear on August 17, 2022

Two episodes into our four-episode series with law firm CFOs one theme that's emerged is collections. Specifically, how much money lawyers and law firms leave on the table by failing to implement processes that ensure that the firm gets paid for the work it bills out.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Episode 42. What’s your firm’s “collections calendar?” An interview with Scott Shaffer from Winterfeldt IP Group

Posted by Dan Lear on August 10, 2022

One thing every law firm needs is money. And I don’t think that I’m going out on a limb suggesting that money and financial health are common elements across most successful firms. In this episode, the first of our series of interviews with law firm CFOs, we speak with Scott Shaffer of Winterfeld IP Group. We dig in with Scott on law firm collection rates, collection strategies, whether firms should refer clients to collections agencies, the firm’s tech stack and how it helps facilitate the firm getting paid, Scott's “most important financial metric,” and a bunch more.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


How Immigration Law Firms Automate Payment Plans with QuickBooks

Posted by Emery Wager on August 2, 2022

Immigration law firms have unique billing practices. Most immigration firms we encounter either predominantly or exclusively put clients on payments plans. These plans involve the client entering their payment information so they can be automatically billed on a regular schedule until a specified dollar amount is reached.

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


The State-by-State Guide to Auto-Billing Stored Payment Methods

Posted by Dan Lear on June 29, 2022

Amazon stores your credit card. Uber or Lyft might have it too. Do you use Netflix, Disney Plus, or other platforms to regularly consume goods and services? 

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Topics: Stored Payment Methods


The Legal Ethics of Trust-less Retainers

Posted by Dan Lear on May 12, 2022

One of our most popular blog posts is a post about how lawyers can realize the benefits of a retainer without a trust account.  By storing a client payment method and subsequently charging the payment method in accordance with the attorney/client engagement agreement, firms can get the benefits of having access to funds on hand without the burden of trust account compliance.

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Topics: Business of Law, Payments


The Collections Optimizer

Posted by Emery Wager on May 11, 2022
Collection rates for law firms on average hover around 80%. Said another way, a firm with $1M in annual billings on average leaves $200K on the table each year. That's $200K of work that has already been completed and billed!
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Topics: Business of Law


Trust Accounting in Gravity Legal

Posted by Emery Wager on May 4, 2022

Do you have practice management or accounting software that does your trust accounting? Great. This post is NOT for you.

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Do You Write Checks...to Yourself?

Posted by Emery Wager on April 30, 2022

Let's face it. Most bankers have no idea what an IOLTA account is. These types of accounts are an afterthought - one of those banking products that gets little attention. We hear horror stories of banks regularly debiting fees from IOLTA accounts or sending erroneous overdraft notifications to the Bar. We recently spoke to a firm that had to call their bank to speak with a real live human being every time they wanted to check their IOLTA balance. 

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Security on Gravity Legal

Posted by Dan Lear on April 14, 2022

Lawyers make their living by helping others comply with rules and stay out of trouble. But every lawyer will tell you that there are gaps in their knowledge. And this is true even for a given lawyer’s professed area of expertise. So it’s not a surprise that most lawyers don’t understand - and perhaps don’t even want to understand - how technology and internet security work.

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Topics: Gravity Legal News


Episode 41. Can offshore virtual staffing help you grow and scale your law firm? An interview with Brett Trembly from Get Staffed Up and Trembly Law Firm

Posted by Dan Lear on March 30, 2022

What’s a lawyer doing running an offshore virtual staffing firm? Starting in 2011 Brett Trembly built a successful business law firm, Trembly Law Firm, in Miami, Florida. They now employ 30+ people and nearly a dozen lawyers. 

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Episode 40. What's a CRM? And what can a law firm do with it? Announcing the Gravity Legal/Lawmatics Integration with Matt Spiegel, CEO of Lawmatics

Posted by Dan Lear on March 1, 2022

On this special episode of Financially Legal, we’re announcing the launch of our integration with Lawmatics. Lawmatics is a Legal Intake Solution, Marketing Automation, and Law Firm CRM software all in one. Today they are announcing the launch of their time and billing module with Lawmatics payments powered by Gravity Legal.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Episode 39. Why do lawyers struggle to get paid for the work that they do? Julie Steinbacher from Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak and The Million Dollar Solution

Posted by Dan Lear on February 16, 2022

Why do lawyers struggle to get paid for the work that they do? Whether it’s the low collection rates that we see in the Clio Trends Report to lawyers offering too steep a discount, to lawyers refusing to sue their clients, and on and on, “Show me the money” is definitely not the #1 mantra for many of our fellow lawyers.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Financing for Law Firms Now Available Through Gravity Legal

Posted by Emery Wager on February 1, 2022

We believe lawyers and law firms have the power to change the world. Every day we interact with lawyers making positive change, sticking up for the underdog and expanding access to the justice system. But we recognize there can be tradeoffs between pursuing these aims and paying the bills. 

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Topics: Business of Law


QuickBooks for Lawyers and Law Firms

Posted by Emery Wager on January 20, 2022

Millions of business use QuickBooks as their accounting platform. From sole proprietors to large corporations, from cobblers to manufacturing firms, QuickBooks users come from all corners of the business world. With QuickBooks serving such a diverse set of clients, there are certain industries and business types with unique accounting needs that QuickBooks doesn't fully support out-of-the-box. Law firms fit into this category.  

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Topics: Accounting, QuickBooks Integration, QuickBooks, Business of Law


Retainers Without the Trust Account - Payments on File for Law Firms

Posted by Emery Wager on December 8, 2021

Trust or IOLTA accounts evoke feelings of fear and frustration. Untangling trust accounting mistakes can devour precious hours, and the risk of running afoul of the rules of professional conduct is constant. Yet for all the bad, retainers (in particular evergreen retainers) are one of the top ways to improve your firm’s collection rate. With collection rates averaging around 85% according to the 2021 Clio Trends Report, collections is a major financial drain on the legal industry.  

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Topics: Business of Law


Episode 38. What are the roles of financial metrics and your physical workplace in the seven essential parts of a law firm? Interview #4 of 4 with RJon Robins

Posted by Dan Lear on December 8, 2021

In this, the fourth and final installment of our discussions with RJon Robins on the seven essential parts of a law firm, we move to the 5th and 6th essential parts of a law firm: physical plant and financial metrics and controls. The topic of physical plant naturally brings up the question of “whither physical law firms in the time of COVID?” We also discuss how intellectual property may be the most significant way that you can add value to your law firm. We wrap with a discussion of financial metrics and controls and the one metric that you as a law firm should be tracking. We also take a detour and talk briefly about Joe Walsh.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


How to Dispute a Chargeback for Law Firms

Posted by Emery Wager on November 24, 2021

Whether a client unilaterally decided not to pay your firm, or you made a legitimate mistake in your billing process, disputes or chargebacks on credit card transactions do occur. The card brands have processes in place for settling these disputes, and this article outlines the actions your firm can take after receiving notice of a chargeback. For information on how to avoid chargebacks, see How to Protect Your Law Firm from Chargebacks.

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Topics: Business of Law


Episode 37. What is the role of profit in your law firm? An interview with Brooke Lively from Cathedral Capital

Posted by Dan Lear on November 17, 2021

Have you ever considered the role of profit in a law firm? No, I mean, really thought about what it is, why it exists, whether it should be a part of your firm, and/or how to grow it. If so, then this episode is for you.

Brooke Lively is the founder and CEO of Cathedral Capital. Her mission is simple: make law firms more profitable. And she’s written a book for lawyers all about it: From Panic to Profit.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Episode 36. What are the roles of people and production in the seven essential parts of a law firm? Interview #3 of 4 with RJon Robins

Posted by Dan Lear on November 10, 2021

In this, our third installment of our discussions with RJon Robins on the seven essential parts of a law firm, we explore the 3rd and 4th essential parts of a law firm: production and people. As a reminder, in episode #1 we discussed the seventh and final part of a successful law firm, the owner and in episode #2 we talked about sales and marketing.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Episode 35. What is the role of marketing and sales in the seven essential parts of a law firm? Interview #2 of 4 with RJon Robins

Posted by Dan Lear on October 27, 2021

In this, the second installment of our discussions with RJon Robins on the seven essential parts of a law firm, we dig in on the first and second essential parts of a law firm: sales and marketing. As a reminder, in interview #1 we discussed the seventh and final part of a successful law firm, the owner.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Episode 34. What is the role of the law firm owner as one of the seven essential parts of a law firm? Interview #1 of 4 with RJon Robins

Posted by Dan Lear on October 20, 2021

Is law a business or is it a profession? Are law firms like other businesses? Are they different? How different? 

RJon Robins is the CEO and Founder of How To Manage a Small Law Firm, the largest provider of fractional executive (CEO, CFO, COO) services for small law firms in the country. I’ve known about How To Manage a Small Law Firm for a number of years. I first attended and spoke at one of their quarterly meetings a few years back, when I was working for Avvo. I’ve since attended a couple of other meetings and spent more time with RJon. 

 

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Gravity Legal - Now Available in the Reynen Court Solution Store

Posted by Dan Lear on October 13, 2021

Vetting, deploying, and managing new technology takes a lot of time and can be expensive. More to the point, while much of today’s cloud computing technology uses some common technologies, the implementation can vary significantly even in the cloud. This can be a real headache for law firms who not only often deal with sensitive information but have specific rules and heightened standards regarding how confidential and privileged information must be protected. 

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Topics: Business of Law, Gravity Legal News


Episode 33. How can you test and deploy new technology inexpensively and securely at your small law firm? An interview with Christian Lang from Reynen Court

Posted by Dan Lear on October 13, 2021

Small law firm owners may not be familiar with the terms "docker," "container," or "Kubernetes." They may even be a bit fuzzy on the definition of “the cloud.” But most firms know that, along with significant opportunities, new technologies often present security risks, interoperability challenges (will this system work with my other systems? And/or will my staff be open to using/willing to use this tech?) and, most relevant for the Financially Legal audience, significant costs in terms of time and money to vet, test, and deploy.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


Can Bankruptcy Lawyers Accept Credit Cards?

Posted by Dan Lear on September 25, 2021

You can’t really blame consumer bankruptcy attorneys for being finicky about how they get paid. After all, would-be clients wouldn’t be knocking on the door if the those debtors had managed their money well and been able to regularly pay their debts. As a result, many bankruptcy attorneys do way more gymnastics than other lawyers to ensure they get paid. For example, insisting upon upfront payment, payment by the debtor’s friends or family, automated payments that fall on a debtor-client’s payday, or even the development of a new type of bankruptcy, bifurcated bankruptcy, that changes how clients pay in order to improve their odds of getting paid (we won’t get into bifurcated bankruptcy here but watch this space for a subsequent post on the topic). You’ve got to hand it to them.

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Topics: Business of Law


Beyond Credit Cards: 3 Quick Tips to Optimize Payments at Your Law Firm

Posted by Dan Lear on September 25, 2021

Listen, we here at Gravity Legal work hard for the money we get paid. Payments isn’t as mentally straining as rocket science or physically demanding as coal mining but it is a fairly complex regulated business and we work really hard to try and make things great for our law firm customers. And while there are still a handful of bar associations that want to make it harder for law firms to accept electronic payments (we’re looking at you Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, West Virginia, Alabama, and Michigan), today most law firms are largely free to take advantage of the collections and convenience benefits that accepting electronic payments offers.  

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Topics: Business of Law


Episode 32. How can you get started with financial management at your law firm? An interview with Chelsea Williams from Core Solutions Group, Inc

Posted by Dan Lear on September 22, 2021

We all know the cliches and the tropes: Lawyers are terrible business people, lawyers went to law school to avoid math, law firms aren’t businesses, etc . . . . 

Many of these statements are true in some pretty fundamental ways. But they’re also really damaging. Even if we take the most mission-driven do-goodery lawyer in private practice the simple facts remain that (a) they can’t help others if they, themselves, can’t survive financially, (b) they can’t help others very well if they’re constantly scrimping, saving, cutting corners, working late, and losing sleep due to financial issues, and (c) they’ll help more people with a larger law firm.

Superaccountant-to-law-firms extraordinaire, Chelsea Williams, has the remedy. Combining her dozen-plus years of accounting experience with the eye that she’s trained on legal in the form of her company, Core Solutions Group, Inc, which provides tax, accounting and cash management services exclusively for lawyers and law firms, Chelsea’s developed a course called “Law Firm Money Mastery” that’s designed to help all small firm lawyers - but particularly those just getting started up to those with $1M in annual revenue - to not only get their financial houses in order but to help them figure out how to make the money in their law firms work for them.

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Topics: Financially Legal Episodes, Business and Culture


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