Do you know the RULER for law firm economics?

Law as business vs. law as profession is a conversation that has largely lost its meaning and relevance, especially in today’s economy.  Lawyers must understand some of the basic law firm economics from day 1, if not before.  I happened across an article that presents these basics along with a handy acronym, RULER:

Rates: lawyers’ hourly (or alternative) fees
Utilization: the number of billable hours a lawyer works as compared with the cost of maintaining the lawyer
Leverage: the associate:partner ratio
Expenses: what a firm must pay to do business
Realization: the amount of fees collected vs. billed


Networking: the top activity for business success.

I’ve noticed that summer associate season is in full swing — not only because clients are mentioning their summer programs, but because I’m seeing more and more summer associate-related searches that people have entered before landing on the Life at the Bar blog.  So, it’s time for me to trot out my favorite topic not just for summers, but also for new associates and even long-time lawyers: networking.

Why is networking my favorite topic?  Because no other single activity has the potential of networking.  A network is a resource for business development, for future employment, for getting the help you need from other professionals, for developing an ad hoc advisory board for your career, for plugging into the grapevine for business news, and for fun and social activity.  (I met my husband at a networking event, as a matter of fact.)  Many people hate the idea of networking because it has a reputation for requiring pushy behavior, but the great news is that good networking is about meeting people, developing relationships, and seeking to serve.  And the key point is that a network must be cultivated over time.  There’s no time like the present to start building your network — and if you wait until you need the resources a network can offer, you’re too late.

Bruce Allen of The Marketing Catalyst blog has a terrific 7-part series on networking.  Start with his Idea #1 and follow the consecutive days to read the whole series.  My favorites are #3 (how to handle the lull when standing alone at a networking event, with no one to talk to, and facing the desire to flee the event) and #7 (how to make sure to do the follow-up that creates the opportunity for a networking meeting contact to grow into a business relationship).

If you’re interested in some of my previous posts on networking, they’re collected here.