Jennifer S. Javed
RES/351 Business Research
November 24, 2014
Julie Bonner, Instructor
For the majority of my adult working life, I have worked in small, private legal practices, mostly as an attorney assistant. How widely different these practices were managed has always struck me as interesting – there seems to be no standard business practice to follow. Steve W. Henson and Bruce D. Berger of Western Carolina University and Jeff Foreman of North Georgia College and State University also found the discrepancy in the business principles of private legal practices interesting. In their article, Business Skills Education and Training Needs for Law Firms, they discuss the lack of attorney’s business skills and the possible reasons for such a gap in business knowledge.
Identify the Research Problem
All good business research attempts to answer a question or address a problem. To do this, a business research study first must identify the management dilemma. In law firms, especially attorneys in private practice, general business knowledge and skills are often lacking. Henson et al, in the study mentioned above, examine which business skills, currently absent, are necessary to remain competitive in today’s business environment. Henson et al further identify the absence of a business curriculum being taught in law schools as the primary factor contributing to this lack of skills. and identifies the reasons such business skills area necessity for attorneys.
Identify the Research Method
In order to address this dilemma, researchers used an explanatory study. A descriptive study involves the collection of data about a single research variable or the interaction between two research variables but does not address the reasons why the data interacts in a certain way. An explanatory study goes further than just merely describing a variable or variables and addresses the reasons behind the interaction. In this study, the researchers examine why such large gaps in business knowledge exist between managers and managers of private legal practices (Henson et al, 93).
To do this, Henson et al identified eight business tasks that are associate with key fields in business, such as accounting, finance, and legal and ethical issues (Henson et al, 94). They then developed a survey questionnaire of sixteen questions that measured attorneys’ knowledge of these business fields on a five point scale from a very low level of knowledge to a very high level of knowledge, while also collecting personal and organizational demographic data (Henson et al, 94). These surveys were emailed to one thousand sample participants, all attorneys in private practice. Eight hundred and fifty surveys were delivered via email and sixty-seven participants responded, a response rate of around eight percent (Henson et al, 95).
How the Research is solving the Problem Respondents to the survey overwhelmingly noted that attorneys in private practice should have a high level of knowledge of the eight business fields, particularly human resources and organizational behavior (Henson et al, 96). Interestingly however, the majority of respondents noted very low levels of existing knowledge in these areas. The survey results indicate large deficits in existing knowledge of key business areas among attorneys in private practice. Using this analysis, an argument can be made for expanding the curriculum of law schools to include courses that teach basic business concepts to law students. This study also indicates the need for continuing curriculum classes to include more business training and business education for practicing attorneys (Henson et al, 97). This research can help to convince lawyers of the need to expand their business training and knowledge of key business fields.
Other Potential Applications of Business Research Other applications of