As I told a group of law students last week, the practice of law is an honored profession and an essential part of one of the three branches of government. But, at the same time, a law firm is a business. It has income and expenses. One goal is to make a profit for the owners (or partners.)

Given the tough economic times, the July/August 2012 issue of Law Practice Magazine, the "Law Firm Profitability Issue," should be required reading for about every lawyer in private practice. The cover story is The New Normal: Restoring Profitability by Arthur G. Greene, who has spent much of his professional career consulting with law firms.

Arthur G. Greene is our guest on our new Digital Edge podcast "The New Normal." He discusses how to address today's economy by using existing resources, the importance of determining your firm's revenue capacity and the rise of alternative billing. Arthur is a soft-spoken individual with an immense store of knowledge. I will admit to being a bit skeptical when he discussed revenue capacity as it is somewhat of measure of perfection that cannot be reached. But he did convince me and he may prove convincing to you. We hope you enjoy the podcast.

Sometimes a theme issue of a magazine may reflect a cover story and another feature. The Law Practice Profitability issue has five articles directly relating to profitability, two on alternative billing and others that indirectly relate to profitability. These include Increase Profit by Decreasing Costs by K. William Gibson, Accelerating Receivables for Greater Profitability by Kevin C. Harris and Allison Renaud, 15 Proven Profitability Techniques by Joel A. Rose and Profiting When the World Is Flat by Karen MacKay and Stephen Mabey.

I also note two articles of special personal interest to me: A Case for Alternative Billing is by Mark A. Robertson, a fellow Oklahoma lawyer and my co-author on the book, Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour, 3 ed. and Choose the Right Case Management Software by Erik Mazzone, the director of Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar. It is going to be an ongoing challenge to be more efficient in the upcoming years and I think getting case management software or signing up for a cloud-based alternative is critical.