Q&A with Marcia Watson Wasserman and Cynthia Thomas About Their New Book The Law Office Policies, Procedures and Operations Manual, 7th Edition

Who is your book written for/Who would get the most out of reading your book?

Marcia: The policies and procedures contained in the book can be used by attorneys, managers, and other legal professional staff in firms of all sizes. However, the primary focus of the book is for small and medium law firms as well as solos.  They would benefit the most from it since large and BigLaw firms have their own in-house professionals who document policies and procedures for their firms, branches of their firms, and practice and industry groups in their firms.

What inspired you to write this book?

Cynthia: I was inspired to write the book because I was always passionate about legal operations and the professional management of law firms.  I believe all law firms regardless of size should have written policies and procedures which in my opinion is necessary to be transparent, competitive, and sustainable law firm.

Marcia:  Part of the reason I wanted to write this particular book was to pay it forward.  The author of the 1982 first edition , attorney Berne Rolston, who is now 100 years old, had been a mentor and friend to me much earlier in my career. Beyond that, it is important that law firms be consistent in how they address policies and procedures within their firms.  Documenting them and keeping them current helps keep everyone informed and assists in preserving firm culture.

What experience, knowledge or special training helped you to write this book?

Marcia:  Since I am a law practice management consultant and fractional COO, I have been asked by law firm clients to write and have written many policies and procedures documents for clients over the years.  I am a fellow in the College of Law Practice Management and a former law firm Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director and Director of Administration.  When I worked in-house at law firms, I was the person typically charged with keeping Policies and Procedures manuals current.

Cynthia: Having worked as a Director of Human Resources, Chief Operations Officer and now a law firm management consultant, I was and am often responsible for creating and updating law firm policies and procedures manual to reflect the changes in the employment laws and business practices.

What problem faced by lawyers does Law Office Policies, Procedures and Operations Manual solve/address?

Cynthia: Not only does the LOPPOM provides downloadable templates for the creation of a personalized Policies and Procedures Manual, but this edition also includes several bonus chapters on topics such as risk management, branch office operations, insurance for law firms, and law office design, which are a must read for law firm leaders today.

Marcia: In addition to targeted bonus chapters, the Policies and Procedures portion of the book includes a comprehensive chapter on the importance of technology written by subject matter experts and covers information security policies, social media policies, and malicious software management.  This chapter includes a sample law firm information security policy as well as security policy awareness and training.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?

Cynthia: The biggest challenge in writing LOPPOM was the Covid-19 pandemic.  The labor and employment laws underwent several changes throughout the pandemic. Therefore, trying to keep up with all the changes to incorporate in the book was challenging since we did not want the book to be outdated prior to the publication date.

Marcia: The Sixth edition of our book was published in 2011 and written during the economic downturn of 2008 – 2010. So much had changed in the economy, and in law firms and their use of technology between the time the Sixth edition was published and when we first started working on the 7th edition of the book at the end of 2019. We had to reconsider and reimagine the majority of the book.  In addition, the pandemic slowed down our writing process because we needed to take time to digest the swift changes caused by the pandemic that resulted in newly virtual and hybrid law firms.

Marcia Watson Wasserman is Founder and President of Comprehensive Management Solutions, Inc. which provides “C.O.O to Go”TM law practice management consulting services to boutique and mid-sized law firms.  Prior to consulting, she served as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director for over 15 years at several law firms – both national and local – including an AmLaw 200 firm.  Marcia is a fellow in the College of Law Practice Management.

Cynthia Thomas is owner of PLMC & Associates, a law firm management consulting company that provides best practices in human resources and financial management to small and midsize firms.  With over 20 years’ experience in the role as a law firm Administrative Director and Chief Financial Officer, and certified Six Sigma Champion with white and green belts, she often serves as interim law firm C.F.O./C.O.O.

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