Firm Blueprint

Firm Blueprint

  1. Introduction – History – Mission – Vision
  2. This document provides the most current expression of Boatman Ricci’s Blueprint, which articulates the Firm’s policies and aims as well as some brief historical context, and a discussion of the Firm’s culture and the motivations behind the Firm’s mission, vision and values.  The goal of the Firm’s leadership in drafting this document is to give current and prospective team members good understanding of the guiding principles behind the Firm’s management.

    This Blueprint also describes the roles of each position within the Firm and the expectations for how each team member should function in order to fulfill the Firm’s collective objectives.  The Blueprint also describes the logic behind the Firm’s approach to compensation of its team members and clearly outlines the path towards growth within the Firm all the way from clerkship to equity partnership.

    Finally, the Blueprint sets out the faith-based foundation of the Firm, which starts from the premise that “all are welcome” no matter what faith tradition you come from (if any).  We certainly are not here to convert anyone; we just want to have the healthiest work environment possible for everyone which we are convinced requires an openness to faith (all faiths) in the workplace.


  3. History – A chord of three strands.

    In 2007, Jim Boatman, Esq. left an established firm and, with over a decade of experience within traditional law firm cultures, embarked on a journey to create a new law firm (initially named “The Boatman Law Firm”) that would operate with motives different from those he had experienced elsewhere. Fueled by a God-inspired conviction that a law firm could offer more to its employees, clients, and the profession at large than just excellent legal work, Mr. Boatman bought a laptop, rented a small executive office, and began practicing law with a “truth guided, relationship driven” mindset.

Eight years later, Attorney Ernest Ricci joined the Firm in 2015 after working as a Staff Attorney  with the 20th Judicial Circuit and immediately demonstrated tremendous intellect and work ethic, as well as a great aptitude for leadership.  Critically, Mr. Ricci also brought a Biblically-driven mindset and a loyalty to the Firm and its mission.  These character traits helped propel him from Associate Attorney to equity partnership within just 2 years of joining the Firm.  Mr. Ricci brought to the leadership a fresh perspective and an entirely different – yet highly compatible – personality and skill set to Mr. Boatman, which elevated the management of the Firm and greatly impacted the advancement of the organization. In 2020, the Firm changed its name to Boatman Ricci and took a substantial step in its growth and development.

Three years later, early in 2023, Attorney Stephen Schahrer, who initially joined the Firm as a law  clerk in 2016, became an equity shareholder, moving from summer clerkship, to associate attorney, to contract partnership and equity ownership in just 7 years.  Mr. Schahrer’s advancement within the Firm was a direct result of a strong work ethic, a high intellectual quotient, and an attention to detail and excellence in his work product.  Having previously worked in leadership positions within charitable organizations and having pursued a Master’s Degree in Divinity from Liberty University, Stephen brought a ministry-minded perspective to the leadership team. Weaving Stephen’s unique gifting and experience into the ownership group has been essential in further strengthening the management and succession path of the Firm.

  1. Mission – “Truth Guided, Relationship Driven”™


From early in its origin, the Firm has operated under the motto, “Truth Guided, Relationship Driven.”™  The “Truth Guided” aspect of the Firm’s mission consists of two elements.  One is the belief that objective truth has intrinsic power in the dynamics of conflict because it has a “resonance” that gives a real advantage to one that advocates from a position founded in objective truth.  Stated more simply, the truth sounds different than a lie, and that makes it powerful in communications.


The second aspect of “Truth Guided,” which is even more fundamental, is that the Firm seeks to be guided in all it does by Jesus Christ, the personification of Truth.  This aspect of the Firm’s “DNA” is one thing that sets it apart from most other law firms.


The “Relationship Driven” aspect of the Firm’s mission also has both a natural and a spiritual element.  First, from a practical perspective, the Firm strives to be relationship driven in its interactions with clients and those outside the Firm with whom it interacts in the conduct of its professional services. This focus provides for the development of meaningful interpersonal relationship which results in a degree of compassion and cooperation between attorney and client that is all too uncommon in the legal industry.


Being “Relationship Driven” extends beyond interactions external to the Firm. We recognize that fostering strong relationships within the Firm is equally vital. Each member of the team, with their unique talents and perspectives, is valued and respected. Collaboration, mentorship, and a sense of camaraderie are cornerstones of the Firm’s relationship driven culture. 


From a spiritual standpoint, the Firm is “Relationship Driven” in that it seeks to be driven by its relationship to the Father and the advancement of His Kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit.  For the Firm, this is not an empty ideal; this is how we actually seek to run our business.


It is critical to clarify that “as applied” in the management of the Firm, its spiritual underpinnings result in an inclusive approach to people (employees, clients, etc.) and not an exclusive one.  The Firm is open to people of all faiths and does not believe that its mission includes efforts of “conversion”.  An individual’s belief in the existence, non-existence, or name of God is between that person and God.  We just happen to believe in Jesus, who is open to everyone, affords free will, and operates in sacrificial love.  The Firm believes that is just as good a philosophy as any other under which to operate an organization.  Whether that philosophy is man-made or God-revealed does not have to be decided in the workplace.


  1. Vision – “To set the Captives Free”


As the Firm moves towards its 14th year, our goal is to grow to at least 60 lawyers statewide within the next 10 years.  But that goal is not simply about adding attorneys to our roster.  The goal is to create and steward a culture that grows primarily because it offers a better way of life than other firms in the marketplace.  We want to free lawyers from the top-down, economic pyramids of so many law firms which too often lead to dead-ends for associates and middle partners.  We want to offer lawyers, in the alternative, the opportunity to become part of a fair-minded, transparent financial approach that seeks to meaningfully reward an attorney’s productivity, commitment to the Firm’s mission and provide a real opportunity to build a long-term practice and achieve equity ownership with the Firm.     


The plan is not complex: run the Firm in a way that it is a blessing to those it serves and employs, provide excellent work and interactions to clients at market-driven prices, offer its employees an authentically relational culture and competitive compensation and build a viable and lucrative organization that attracts professional staff and law clerks, young lawyers, and experienced lawyers from across the state who are interested in contributing to the Firm’s mission in pursuit of either long-term contractual partnerships or equity ownership.


In terms of the outward impact of the Firm’s vision manifested, we see the practice of law as an opportunity to serve others and make a positive impact in an industry fraught with conflict, stress, and uncertain outcomes. With this underlying belief, the Firm wants to become an ever-brighter beacon of hope in the Florida legal landscape, offering guidance and support to clients facing conflict and navigating complex legal challenges, all for the Kingdom of God.


  1. Expectations for a Collaborative Team Culture and Individual Excellence


Our Firm is dedicated to providing exceptional legal services to our clients, and we understand that achieving that goal requires a cohesive and collaborative team effort. Therefore, we are seeking individuals who can effectively work together, from administrative staff to legal assistants, paralegals, law clerks, associates, and partners, to manage complex communication dynamics and conflicts while consistently producing outstanding results aligned with client outcomes. Our team operates with the highest level of legal efficacy at prices that remain competitive in the marketplace.


  1. Responsibilities for All Team Members:


  1. Communication Management: Foster open and effective communication channels among team members at all levels, ensuring that information flows smoothly and efficiently.


  1. Conflict Resolution: Proactively address conflicts and challenges that may arise within the team, seeking amicable resolutions and maintaining a positive and collaborative work environment.


  1. Team Collaboration: Encourage and facilitate teamwork, emphasizing the importance of mutual support, sharing knowledge and ideas, and leveraging diverse perspectives to achieve optimal results.


  1. Case Management: Coordinate efforts within the team to manage cases efficiently, ensuring deadlines are met, and client expectations are exceeded.


  1. Client-focused Approach: Maintain a deep commitment to understanding and meeting client needs, consistently delivering high-quality legal services that align with our clients’ desired outcomes.


  1. Continuous Improvement: Actively participate in regular team meetings and training sessions to enhance skills, share best practices, and stay updated on legal developments and industry trends.


  1. Effective Use of Technology: Develop and maintain a level of proficiency with the Firm’s technology that allows team members to work efficiently, productively, and profitably within the Firm’s protocols and team dynamics.


  1. Ideal Personal Attributes for Each Team Member:


  1. Effective Communication: Exceptional verbal and written communication skills, enabling effective collaboration and client interactions.


  1. Conflict Management: Strong conflict resolution and problem-solving abilities, with the capacity to navigate challenging situations while maintaining professionalism and fostering positive relationships.


  1. Teamwork: Proven ability to work effectively in a team-oriented environment, valuing and leveraging the expertise and contributions of others.


  1. Legal Expertise (excluded for Administrative Staff): Comprehensive knowledge of relevant legal principles and practices, with the ability to apply them strategically to achieve client objectives.


  1. Time Management: Excellent organizational and time management/capture skills and habits, ensuring profitable and efficient handling of multiple tasks and priorities.


  1. Adaptability: Demonstrated flexibility and adaptability to evolving situations and changing client needs, remaining focused on delivering exceptional results.


  1. Professionalism: Uphold the highest ethical standards, maintaining confidentiality, and treating all team members and clients with respect and integrity.


  • Equity Partnership Track


At Boatman Ricci, every law clerk, associate attorney, or lateral partner is hired with an eye towards fostering the development of that individual towards equity ownership.  That is the true organizational desire for each new hire.  Of course, not everyone hired will be invited into an equity position, but the failure of that to occur will not be a function of some invisible glass ceiling or the Firm’s lack of openness to that outcome. 


What follows is a description for each of the positions held at the Firm which are subordinate to equity ownership (Shareholder status) as well as expectations for such positions and the path beyond such positions towards equity ownership.


  1. Law Clerks: The Firm sees law clerks as one of the most critical positions within the Firm.  After all, the hiring of a law clerk represents one of the key opportunities for the Firm to find someone very early in their career who can have a long-term impact on the Firm achieving its vision and mission. 


Law clerks are an exciting opportunity for the Firm, because the Firm can choose from among the best and brightest law school scholars those individuals who are drawn to the Firm’s culture and who demonstrate, from the evidence supporting their candidacy, that they have the intellect, work ethic, and cultural temperament that makes them a good potential fit. 


From the Firm’s perspective, the earlier such individuals can start to work with the Firm and show whether their practice is as promising as their candidacy, the sooner that individual can start advancing their own professional goals in concert with the Firm’s collective vision.


Advancing from Law Clerk to Associate.  For law clerks to receive offers to join the Firm following law school, the Firm looks for clerks who demonstrate strong communication skills, both informally while interacting with other team members, as well as in their formal writing (memoranda, etc.).  Good grammar and mistake-free work product are a must.  If an associate is submitting work product with grammar issues and typos as a rising 2L or 3L, that is not a good sign.  We also like to see evidence over the course of a clerkship that the clerk progressed in their relative situational awareness within the Firm in terms of case management, work-flow, time capture, and technology.  Of course, alignment with culture is critical as is a genuine sense that the clerk is happy at the Firm and looking to make a long-term commitment if given the opportunity.


  1. Associate Attorney: An Associate Attorney should have a greater developed set of the same attributes found desirable in Law Clerks (intellect, work ethic, superior work product, situational awareness, comfort with technology, cultural alignment, profitability).  The goals of young Associate Attorneys should be to:


  1. grow in dependability in case management;


  1. demonstrate healthy collaboration with paralegals;


  1. continue to develop their capacity to prosecute case strategies of increased scope and complexity;


  1. increase efficiency and efficacy in drafting work product; and


  1. become ever more familiar with the anatomy of a lawsuit (or other conflict dynamic) so as to require less and less management and oversight by senior attorneys.


Associate attorneys must also be extremely diligent in capturing (billing for) their time spent on cases, and they must demonstrate an appropriate “hunger” for productivity, despite the lack of formal billing requirements.  As with any position within the Firm, evidence of an alignment with culture is essential.


Moving from Associate to Senior Associate. We recognize the importance of career growth and development for our associates. The transition from an Associate to a Senior Associate position is an important milestone that signifies increased responsibility, leadership, and expertise within our firm.  Such a transition will also have positive economic consequences for the Associate which will be discussed later in the Blueprint. To be considered for advancement to a Senior Associate position, individuals should demonstrate one or more the following key factors:


  1. Self-Governance and Case Prosecution: As an Associate, it is crucial to show the ability to handle cases independently, demonstrating a strong sense of self-governance and initiative. This includes managing a caseload efficiently, conducting thorough legal research, drafting excellent work product, and effectively representing clients. A Senior Associate should be capable of taking on complex cases with minimal supervision, showcasing their expertise and ability to excel in their legal practice.


  1. Profitability: While the Firm does not have specific billing requirements, it is, nonetheless, critical for an associate to be profitable.  In fact, profitability is an essential aspect of moving up to a Senior Associate position. It demonstrates a commitment to the Firm’s financial success and the ability to manage and capture time efficiently and effectively. Associates should strive to consistently meet or exceed the Firm’s aspirational billing targets, ensuring that their work contributes to the overall profitability and success of the practice.


  • Achieving an AV-Rating: To be considered for a promotion to Senior Associate, individuals should aim to achieve an AV rating, indicating a high level of legal proficiency and professional recognition.


  1. Firm Tenure: While the specific requirements may vary, typically, a minimum tenure of three years with the Firm is expected before being considered for a promotion to Senior Associate. This timeframe allows associates to gain valuable experience, develop relationships with clients and colleagues, and demonstrate their commitment to the Firm’s mission and values.


Throughout their journey from Associate to Senior Associate, individuals should actively seek opportunities to enhance their legal knowledge, refine their skills, and contribute to the growth and success of the Firm. This endeavor necessarily includes participating in professional development programs, attending relevant seminars and conferences, and actively engaging in Firm marketing and ministry initiatives.


The transition to a Senior Associate position is a significant achievement, recognizing an individual’s dedication, expertise, and leadership capabilities. We encourage all associates to strive for excellence, embrace continuous learning, and showcase their ability to self-govern, meet billing requirements, achieve an AV-Rating, and exhibit a commitment to the Firm’s vision.


  1. Senior Associate Attorney: A Senior Associate should be able to manage his or her own caseload with limited input from more senior attorneys.  Such input should be principally regarding complex issues, strategic nuances, client relations or heavy lifting assistance in the case of a trial.  Senior Associates should demonstrate client-retention and origination strengths[1] and be cultural leaders within the Firm.  Essentially, Senior Associates should be even more experienced and sophisticated within the realm of characteristics discussed in the Law Clerk and Associate sections above. 


In addition, Senior Associates would be wise to have developed authentic relationships with each of the partners of the Firm as well as the other team members with whom they work (paralegals, Firm Administrator, etc.).  To the extent a Senior Associate is originating more work than they, themselves, can do, they need to be effective at delegating work to others, including Law Clerks and less experienced Associates, and then managing that work post-delegation.  The origination of work and the management of the subordinate positions are critical to the profit-model of the Firm and the ability to excel in at least one of those areas is key to a Senior Associate’s advancement to a Contract Partner position.


Moving from Senior Associate to Contract Partner: The transition from a Senior Associate to a Contract Partner position is a significant step in a lawyer’s professional progression that reflects an individual’s ability to: a) manage cases, staff, and clients independently; b) consistently meet collections and profitability goals; and/or c) originate a substantial amount of work over an extended period of time. To be considered for a Contract Partner position, the Senior Associate should demonstrate these characteristics:


  1. Capacity to Manage Cases, Staff, and Clients Independently: For a Senior Associate to advance to Contract Partner, it is essential to demonstrate the capability to handle a wide range of cases with no supervision. This includes managing the entire lifecycle of a case, from initial client intake to resolution, while effectively leading and mentoring junior staff members. A Contract Partner candidate should exhibit strong leadership qualities, excellent communication skills, and the ability to navigate complex legal matters independently.


  1. Regularly Meeting Collections/Profitability Goals: To be considered for a Contract Partner position, individuals must consistently meet collections/profitability goals set by the Firm. This involves effectively managing client accounts, ensuring timely billing and collection of fees, and maintaining a strong financial track record. Regularly meeting collections targets demonstrates financial responsibility and contributes to the overall success and profitability of the firm.


  • Originating a Substantial Amount of Work: In addition to managing cases and clients, a Senior Associate aspiring to become a Contract Partner should actively engage in business development activities. This includes originating a significant amount of work by building and expanding their own client base. Demonstrating an ability to attract and retain clients showcases an entrepreneurial mindset and a strong commitment to the firm’s growth and success.


  1. Minimum Three-Year Track Record as a Senior Associate: To be eligible for consideration as a Contract Partner, individuals typically need to have served as a Senior Associate for a minimum of three years. This timeframe allows for the development of strong client relationships, the establishment of a solid professional reputation, and the successful execution of complex legal matters. It also demonstrates a long-term commitment to the Firm’s goals and values.


Throughout the journey from Senior Associate to Contract Partner, individuals should actively seek opportunities to enhance their legal skills, broaden their network, and contribute to the Firm’s strategic initiatives. This includes participating in leadership development programs, engaging in continuous education, and actively collaborating with colleagues to foster a culture of compassion and excellence.


The transition to a Contract Partner position represents a significant achievement, recognizing an individual’s ability to manage cases and staff independently, consistently meet collections requirements, and generate substantial business opportunities for the firm. We encourage our Senior Associates to strive for excellence, embrace leadership roles, and demonstrate a strong commitment to our clients and the long-term success of our Firm and advancement to a Contract Partner position.


  1. Contract Partner: A Contract Partner is someone nearing a pinnacle-plateau of their career.  Technically, the Contract Partner has moved as far up the hierarchy as possible within the Firm without having actually become an owner of shares in the Firm.


As a Contract Partner, the lawyer has demonstrated years of excellence in all of the facets initially looked for in Law Clerks, then grown and matured in those areas for several years as Associates and then Senior Associates.  A Contract Partner should have a significant level of professional momentum, gravitas, and prowess, and should be a personification of what the Firm seeks to model internally and externally from professional and inter-personal standpoint.


A Contract Partner should be originating a significant volume of work and/or well-managing the subordinate positions handling a significant amount of work delegated by that Partner.  The Contract Partner must be highly profitable for the Firm, and from a cultural standpoint, the Partner needs to be a leader in some area of compassion or ministry.  The Partner must also meaningfully contribute to the overall management and/or development of the organization and do so in a way that is responsive, innovative and dependable to the organization.    


Transitioning from Contract Partner to Shareholder: We recognize the importance of rewarding the loyalty and commitment of our attorneys. The transition from a Contract Partner to a Shareholder position is a significant milestone that reflects an individual’s long dedication to the Firm’s goals, strategic objectives, and their personal commitment to and their cohesiveness with the existing shareholders. To be considered for an offer to become a Shareholder, the following criteria are typically expected:


  1. Loyalty and Commitment to the Firm’s Goals: As a Contract Partner looking for an opportunity to become a Shareholder, it is crucial to demonstrate unwavering loyalty to the Firm and a deep commitment to its overarching goals. This includes aligning personal objectives with the Firm’s strategic vision and actively contributing to its growth and success.


  1. Personal Commitment to Existing Equity Shareholders: To become a Shareholder, it is essential to establish strong relationships with existing shareholders. This involves collaborating effectively, demonstrating respect for their expertise, and getting along personally. By fostering positive relationships and showcasing a willingness to contribute to the collective success of the Firm, an individual can prove their readiness for an opportunity to become a Shareholder.


  • Meeting Requirements of Subordinate Positions: In addition to demonstrating loyalty and commitment, an individual aspiring to become a Shareholder must continue to excel in the areas that they mastered when they held subordinate positions within the Firm; essentially, they need to continue to be great lawyers and managers of personnel. This includes showcasing exceptional legal skills, consistently meeting collections targets, effectively managing cases and clients, being a cultural role model, and actively participating in business development initiatives. Exemplary performance throughout their tenure as a Contract Partner is crucial to establishing their readiness for an offer to become a Shareholder.


  1. Minimum Three-Year Track Record as a Contract Partner: To be eligible for consideration for an invitation to a Shareholder position, individuals typically need to have served as a Contract Partner for a minimum of three years. This timeframe allows for the development of a strong track record, the establishment of trust and credibility within the Firm and the other Shareholders, and the demonstration of a solid understanding of the Firm’s operations. This time-frame also evidences a long-term commitment to the Firm and its ongoing success.


  1. Personal Stability: Another critical aspect the Firm looks for in whether to offer an individual the opportunity to become a Shareholder is stability within the individual’s personal life.  Having healthy home dynamics, good personal habits, and demonstrating wise financial stewardship are very important criteria given that joining the Shareholder rank represents an opportunity to substantially impact the interpersonal, managerial and fiscal stability of the Firm which will have long-term, even generational, impact on the Firm’s health.


Throughout the transition from Contract Partner to Shareholder, individuals should actively seek opportunities to contribute to the Firm’s strategic goals, engage in leadership roles, and continuously develop their legal expertise. This includes actively participating in firm-wide initiatives, demonstrating thought-leadership, and engaging in ongoing professional development and ministry.


The Firm values the loyalty, commitment, and dedication of our Contract Partners. The transition to a Shareholder position is a testament to an individual’s unwavering commitment to the Firm’s goals, their personal relationships with existing equity shareholders, and their consistent performance in their subordinate positions. We encourage our Contract Partners to continue striving for excellence, embracing leadership roles, and demonstrating a strong commitment to our clients, colleagues, and the long-term success of our Firm so that they can earn the right to be offered a Shareholder position.


  1. The Threefold Dollar Allocation: A Transparent Approach to Finances


At BR, we believe in maintaining financial transparency and fostering a culture of shared understanding about how every dollar is allocated.  To that end, here is the very simple way we approach attorney compensation:


For every dollar collected by the Firm, a simple but efficient principle is applied – a threefold division. The first third of each dollar is allocated to the diligent “worker bee.” This is the person who has rolled up their sleeves, dug into the case, and committed their time and expertise to deliver exceptional work for which the collected fee was paid. This allocation serves as a recognition of their hard work and the value it brings to the Firm and our clients.


The second third of each dollar collected by the Firm is devoted to the “house” – the Firm’s overhead, management, and operations. This portion ensures that the wheels of our Firm continue to turn smoothly, supporting our day-to-day operations, maintaining our facilities, and ensuring effective management.


The final third of each dollar goes to the ownership. This portion underpins the Firm’s growth, future investments, and risk mitigation. Importantly, part of this third goes towards rewarding the origination of new work, underlining our belief that the growth and success of our Firm are closely tied to our ability to attract new clients and business.


For our team members aspiring for greater economic growth within the Firm, understanding this allocation model is fundamental. To increase your participation in the middle third, self-management and the management of other billing professionals is key. Furthermore, originating new work can significantly enhance your compensation level; origination is paid out of the ownership third.


Finally, equity ownership in the Firm presents an opportunity for increased compensation. It is an essential component of our Firm’s structure, allowing those who have shown exceptional dedication and performance to share in the Firm’s success.


This threefold allocation model is more than just how we distribute each dollar; it’s a reflection of our values – a commitment to fairness, transparency, and shared success.


  1. Empowering Our Non-Attorney Staff to Grow Professionally and Economically


At Boatman Ricci, we genuinely believe that every individual on our team, regardless of their position, plays an integral role in the collective success we strive for. Our approach to nurturing our non-attorney staff is rooted in this belief.


[1] In terms of origination, not everyone is a “rain-maker” and that is certainly not a requirement for advancement within the Firm.  It is, however, one element that can be considered by management in determining whether a professional advances.