David J. Parnell

Legal Search & Placement, Author, Columnist

The Mechanics of Law Firm Profitability

Many law firms today are far too focused on increasing market share; they should be paying attention to what makes them a more profitable business. Market share doesn’t matter much if you’re not profitable, and firms cannot simply grow their way to prosperity by undercutting the competition. Instead, firms must focus on value creation and increasing clients’ willingness to pay for their services. The question should be: “What can your firm do better, or more efficiently, and more profitably than anyone else?”

The Mechanics of Law Firm Profitability: People, Process, and Technology examines why a focus on profitability and metrics is reshaping law firm operations and matter management; how to define the bottom line and to distinguish between “good” revenue and “bad”; and how to change the dialogue from “hours and revenue” to “revenue and profit”, while changing the mindset from increasing market share to simply running a profitable business. This book can be purchased on Ark Group’s site.

The Mechanics of Law Firm Profitability covers topics including:

+ The “every dollar is a good dollar” fallacy: The difference between good and bad revenue

+ Increasing profitability by improving client intake

+ Using KM to increase firm profitability

+ Pricing, profitability, and compensation

+ Measuring different practice groups, differently

+ Creating a profitable lateral strategy

+ Four challenges in managing law firm profitability

+ Strategy and culture driving effective use of people, process, and technology

+ Profitability and the Concept of ‘Managing on the Edge’ – Why It Is Important to Regional Law Firms

The Failing Law Firm: Symptoms and Remedies

As institutions, firms face different, and in some cases, more intense structural challenges than most-if-not-all others. They are not held to the same standards of transparency, financial hygiene, and infrastructural-sterility as their publically-traded clients. Leadership and management can all too easily be unprepared for their incumbency and overwhelmed by double duties. The firm’s “product” is highly mobile and prone to flight during even minimal financial dips. And while these are just a few hurdles, they alone are more than enough to bring many corporate CEO’s to their knees. The industry presses on, regardless, and deserves some guidance in its evolution.

The Failing Law Firm was initially written with the purpose of simply illuminating the symptoms of a struggling firm. But after some research and contemplation, the author came to understand that by the time most symptoms revealed themselves, it is often too late for the attorney, management, or leadership to do something about them.

He dug deeper, seeking not only to more effectively define and articulate the various major components of a firm’s embodiment, but, to also understand the ways in which they interact at a deeper, more fundamental level to induce stability or vulnerability. This deeper understanding can provide readers with a tool that is geared more toward predicting destabilization, rather than just defining it once it is happening.

The other side of this coin is a blue print that attorneys, management, and leadership can use in analyzing, or planning for, the robustness, cohesiveness, and strength of a firm’s infrastructure and embodiment. Importantly, and perhaps for the first time in a single volume, the themes and deeper phenomena that underlie the various components of a firm and how they interact—constructively or destructively—in a matrix fashion are discussed.

The Failing Law Firm Table of Contents:

1. The End of Innocence
2. The Anatomy of a Failing Firm
3. The Money Press
4. Law Firm Governance
5. Policies and Procedures
6. Law Firm Cultures
7. Law Firm Leadership
8. Law Firm Strategy
9. Law Firm Compensation
10. Taking Academia to the Office
11. Sleeping with the Enemy?

Follow the link to purchase The Failing Law Firm.

In-House: A Lawyer’s Guide to Getting a Corporate Legal Position

In-House: A Lawyer’s Guide to Getting a Corporate Legal Position is the “must-have” career book on finding, securing, and thriving in the fiercely competitive in-house legal market. Author David J. Parnell takes the in-house-bound attorney by the hand, leading him or her through

the maze of potential job-hunting strategies, dispelling the myths about corporate life, and offering the reader an arsenal of tips, skills and methods for creating a successful corporate career. Sometimes irreverent, always poignant, Parnell’s In-House is the first step on your way to corporate legal glory.


One of the more surprising attributes of the book is Parnell’s candor. For the first time, a legal recruiter is giving you an unfettered view of how things are done – or at least how they should be done. No hype, no silver bullets, no BS. For the practicing attorney who is frustrated by their current job search, this offers them a pragmatic, systematic approach that affords them more control over their professional destiny. For the recent graduate or those considering law school, this book offers a neck-breakingly raw explanation of what it takes, point by point, to land one of these positions.

In addition, the book includes numerous appendixes, containing sample resumes, sample questions, a deal sheet and even a resignation letter. If you’re looking for an insider’s guide to getting a corporate legal job, this book is a must-have for your job-search library.

In-House Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: MythBusters: Separating In-House Fact from Fiction
Chapter 2: Guts, Tools, and Reality Check: Do You Have What It Takes?
Chapter 3: Painting the Bull’s Eye: Defining Your Ideal Position
Chapter 4: The Paper Ambassadors: Writing Your Resumé and Deal Sheet
Chapter 5: The Funnel of Love: Creating Your Marketing Funnel and Strategy
Chapter 6: First Contact: Approaching the GC Chapter 7: Interviewing 101: The Fundamentals of Interviewing
Chapter 8: First Impressions Are the Only Impressions: Maximizing Your Physical Appearance
Chapter 9: First Time’s a Charm: Interview Rapport and Compatibility
Chapter 10: Abe Lincoln Interviewing: Intelligence, Competence and Credibility
Chapter 11: Borrowing Johnny’s Fiddle to Bargain with the Devil: Compensation Negotiations

Appendix A: Personal & Professional Skills Questionnaire
Appendix B: Position-Specific Filtering Questions
Appendix C: Sample Resumé 1
Appendix D: Sample Resumé 2
Appendix E: Sample Deal Sheet
Appendix F: Position Comparison Guideline
Appendix G: Sample Resignation Letter
Appendix H: Search Checklist

Follow the link to purchase In-House.



The past 20 years of neurological research has found that self control, or will power, is more than just a theory, or some fluffy “thing” in the mind. With the invent and usage of equipment like FMRI’s, PET Scans, and Galvanic Skin Response machines, neurologists and psychologists have found will power to be a tangible, physical part of our neurology—our prefrontal cortex. It is measurable, it is finite, it runs off of a particular fuel source, and through the natural stresses and challenges of life, it can be developed just like a muscle.

With their notoriously over protective helicopter-parenting styles, much of the generations parents have literally prevented their broods from experiencing those very things–natural stresses and challenges of life. The result is a large portion of the cohort suffering from under-developed will power, causing them to be–statistically-peaking–the most porn-obsessed, obese, anxious, impulsive, narcissistic, depressed, and loneliest cohort in history: Gen-Y’s 7 Deadly Sins.

Solitude – Solitude and loneliness are directly linked to a higher risk for depression, social alienation, cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer. Surveys and statistics show that Gen-Y is living at home and staying single longer than any other generation in history, leaving them lonelier than any other cohort.

Pornophilia – Media statistics and surveys show that Gen-Y consumes more pornography than any other cohort in history. Pornophilia is an addiction that causes a significantly higher risk for breakups, and marriage separation, and/or divorce; further fueling their solitude, depression, stress and anxiety levels, all of which increase their risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Obesity – Obesity is directly linked to a whole host of health issues, including a higher risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, depression, and suicide. It is also linked to weaker will power. Both medical and governmental Statistics concur that Gen-Y is by far the most obese cohort in history.

Fear – Cancer research continues to uncover more and more linkages between fear and chronic anxiety and the risk of cancer. Medical and Pharmaceutical statistics agree that Gen-Y is by far the most fearful and anxious cohort in history.

Impulsivity – Medical surveys and statistics have financial burden as the number one cause of anxiety and depression, both of which increase the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and cancer. While credit and financial issues are a direct side effect of impulsive spending, statistics from the financial and credit industries show that Gen-Y spenders are by far the most impulsive in history – leaving them in the worst financial condition the world has ever seen.

Narcissism – Employment surveys and statistics show that narcissism and a sense of entitlement are linked to a higher risk for unemployment. Psychological research, surveys and statistics show that Gen-Y is by far the most narcissistic cohort in history. Like a piece in a puzzle, Gen-Y’s narcissism is a major contributor to their being the most unemployed and least liked cohort to enter the workforce. And just exactly how does this lack of employability affect their financial well being?

Depression – Depression is linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease, smoking and obesity. It is a major cause of morbidity and is co-morbid with many other psychiatric problems. It probably won’t surprise you to know that medical and pharmaceutical statistics rank Gen-Y as the most depressed cohort in history…

Sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it? How did Gen-Y get placed in this difficult position? Well as it turns out, neurologists and cognitive psychologists alike have found that a single portion of the human brain – the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) – is responsible for controlling urges, managing emotions, strategizing and empathizing; all of which are necessary for reducing and controlling solitude, pornophilia, obesity, fear, impulsivity, narcissism and depression. If the PFC is developed and matured properly, or “normally,” there generally isn’t an issue. If it isn’t, well, then you get the lesser-side of Generation-Y…

Exacerbating, while at the same time, feeding off of the situation are large industries. And who can blame them? Where billions are to be made, it often make sense to make hay when the sun is out. It is up to Gen-Y to take control of their situation, and Generation-Y-Chology does just this.

Generation-Y-Chology Table of Contents:

1. The Gen-Y Psychotomy
2. You’re Not Getting Married Because of Her Rom-Com’s
3. You’re Not Having Sex Because of His Pornography
4. You’re Over-Weight Because Of Anna-Nicole Smith
5. You’re Getting Cancer From Ryan Secrest
6. You’re Impulsive Because of Big Credit
7. You’re Unemployed Because of Facebook
8. You’re Crying Because of Dr. Phil
9. Firing Your Autopilot: Taking Control
10. The Perfect Goal


The Communication Genome Project


The Communication Genome Project (CGP) is a comprehensive, 3 volume compendium regarding the psychology, theory, and practical application of influence, persuasion, and clear and effective communication. CGP offers the reader a complete understanding of the process of thought, as it pertains to motivation and communication, so as to gain a strategic advantage in personal or professional interactions. I accomplish this by educating them in the following four areas:

  • The way in which a communication recipient’s brain/mind functions so as to process information (i.e. perceived communication), generate thought from that information, and then convey that thought via their own communication.
  • The predictable psychological manifestations (or predispositions) of these processes, so as to better predict an individual’s behavior.
  • The comprehensive battery of methods regarding the construction, manipulation, and transmission of one’s communication for the purpose of creating a skill set. This will allow the reader to take advantage of those predispositions and achieve more control over their interactions.
  • Specific communication strategies to govern the way in which those methods will be deployed by the reader so as to effectively utilize each method during their communication.

Moving forward, these areas will be referred to as the “four points.” Now in using the four points as a guideline, the manuscript (as it is written) is broken up into 3 Volumes:

Volume 1—The Biology and Psychology of Communication. Consisting of 10 chapters, this section gives the reader a complete and practical understanding of how the brain functions during the processes of thought and communication. Specifically, this refers to areas regarding how attentional processes function, how language is produced, how the brain processes information, the function of memory, and the resulting dichotomy of mind, cognitive biases and heuristics.

Volume 1 Table of Contents:

1. Brain Function
2. Encoding and Retrieval of Information
3. Evolutionary Mating Preferences
4. Cognitive Biases, Fallacies, and Heuristics
5. Core Drives and Desires—The Human Instinct
6. Attitudes
7. Value Systems
8. Meta Programs
9. Belief Systems
10. Goal Systems

Volume 2—The Tools of Strategic Communication. Any given communication, as a whole, is comprised of a number of sub-components, or attributes. Changing the way in which these are used and/or presented, shifts the very meaning of the communication. As such, understanding each component and how it functions will empower the reader with more conscious control over their interactions.

Volume 2 Table of Contents:

1. The Meta-Model and Accurate Communication
2. The Milton Model—Hypnotic Language
3. Presuppositions
4. Cartesian Logic and Predicate Calculus
5. Sleight of Mouth Patterns
6. Predicates and Submodalities
7. Nonverbal Communication—Body Language and Facial Displays
8. Metaphors and Analogies
9. Abstraction Levels and Content

Volume 3—Communication Strategy. Turning toward practicality, the above information will need to be deployed via individual strategies, and, ideally, as a part of an overall strategy.

Volume 3 Table of Contents:

1. The Quadrants of Communication
2. Eye Accessing Cues
3. Advanced Rapport
4. Sensory Acuity
5. Strategic Listening
6. Strategic Questioning
7. Priming and Framing
8. Overall Strategy Development