Annual Meeting 2010

Want to Build the Perfect Practice? Start Talking, Burn Your Timesheet and Get a Hog

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Kevin Houchin presents at Legal Rebels
event. Photo by Jayms Ramirez

Get paid to speak. Forget hourly timesheets. And find clients that share your passion – particularly if that includes riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Those were among the top tips shared at the Legal Rebels 2010: 10 Ways to Build a Perfect Practice & Career program Thursday at the ABA’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In a departure from traditional panel-type presentations, the event featured 10 speakers who were each given six minutes and 20 slides to present ways to boost bottom lines and manage careers in tough economic times.

The audience voted as their favorite presenter copyright attorney and motivational speaker Francine Ward, whose motto is: Speak Your Way to Bigger Law Practice (and get paid doing it). Bar associations, CLEs, corporations and small business groups are eager to connect with legal experts who can discuss emerging trends and hot topics, said Ward, who presented a series of steps to crafting a good talk. And, most will pay for those services. A tip from Ward: social media legal issues are some of the hottest trends around.

Speaker Ron Baker, whose 7-word bio included the title, Prosecutor of the Billable Hour and Timesheets, denounced hourly billing in favor of a revamped business model based on value.

“Time is not an attorney’s stock in trade,” said Baker, in contrast to Abraham Lincoln’s famous phrase. “Client’s are not buying your time; they are buying your results.”

To emphasize his point – as each slide quickly advanced – Baker, paraphrasing Revlon founder Charles Revson, said, “When it’s in the factory, it’s lipstick. But, when it crosses the counter in a department store, it’s hope.” Similarly, clients don’t care about labor or time spent on a matter. “They just want the baby.” They want the legal solution to their business problem, he said.

He wasn’t allowed to ride his motorbike on the expo floor, but biker lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez’s fast-paced slideshow included photos of the personal injury lawyer in his leathers and on his hog.

“The biker lawyer has become my persona,” said Fernandez, who built a national reputation in a niche practice through his weblog, Biker Law Blog. “I ride with my clients to build relationships.”

Online, Fernandez posts articles, comments on the effect new legislation has on the motorcycle community, and showcases his status as a legit biker who shares the passion of potential clients.

“The blog is the great equalizer,” Fernandez said. “I’ve become an expert for people who otherwise wouldn’t know who I am.”

The event is the kickoff for this year’s Legal Rebels project, profiling some of the most innovative lawyers in America. Videos of all ten presentations and profiles of the Legal Rebels 2010 will appear online at throughout September.

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