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Commentary and Analysis Regarding Colorado Law

Is it your ethics, or your office management?

Tim O Neil 01

For most attorneys, their law school training readied them to counsel clients, draft legal documents, and litigate disputes; it may not have prepared them as well for the practical reality of running a business. At some point in our careers, however, most of us have to come to grips with the nuts and bolts of managing a law practice, especially those of us who are sole practitioners or members of small firms. While running your own business may not have been what drove you to the profession, being thoughtful and skillful about how you manage your law office is critical not only to your financial success, but the ethics of your practice.

The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, which govern the ethical and professional conduct of lawyers in the state, may not specify exactly how one must run their law office (although, with respect to certain matters, like what bank accounts to have for your business, they do), many times lawyers find themselves answering to the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC) regarding issues that arise from what are primarily office management problems. A lawyer who is remiss in viewing their office management practices through the lens of professional responsibility under the Rules might be unwittingly setting an ethical trap for herself in the future. The time demands of attending to client needs must be balanced with time demands of managing your practice.

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