Monday, July 29, 2013

Content is king

It's not a shocking revelation, but this recent post over at "Real Lawyers have blogs" just reinforces the truism that content is king - in this case, content on blogs, websites, etc.

Many lawyers seem to have a fear of giving away the milk for free - understandable, in some situations, if there is a potential for an accidental attorney-client relationship; but establishing yourself as an expert in a particular field of the law or particular geographic area (or both) is just good business.

Depending on your practice area, this work may or may not result in a ton of direct clients - but who else might see your work - other attorneys (looking for local/co-counsel or someone to refer a matter to); journalists (giving you free publicity), and so forth.

Quality content is the ultimate in passive marketing - and it doesn't cost a dime.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Detroit is a lesson for lawyers

Let's confabulate on a couple of stories recently in the news: if you've been following the news in any way, shape, or form, you know that the City of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy.

If you are a reader/follower of legal stories, you've probably also seen a recent article proclaiming the coming downfall of BigLaw.

Both stories touch on a central theme that is an important one for attorneys to internalize (with apologies to Darwin): evolve or perish.

Without a doubt, the Detroit story is a complex one that hits most of the problems that have plagued this country for decades, if not centuries: racism, classism and inequality, suburbanization and sprawl, corruption, etc., etc., touched with an ideological component that leads to different cosmologies with divergent explanations; one central tenant (and one most can actually agree on) is that failure to evolve - to move from the industrial powerhouse that won WWII, but couldn't deal with the challenges of subsequent decades is central to the fall of Detroit.

With BigLaw too, there is unmistakably a certain level of doom and gloom, which may in hindsight look silly (remember why Y2K was going to send us back to the stone age?), but there is an element that cannot be denied, again, that business models and practices once golden have atrophied.

The lesson to today's attorney should be clear.  It's easy to sit back when things seem to be good and ride your laurels (we have plenty of clients!); it's easy to fight change, or denigrate it (the state bar would never let non-attorneys practice!  Legal websites don't give you good documents!), but in the end, those who do not change will die.  It might not be immediate and certainly if you're getting ready for retirement, it might not be something you need to worry about, but if you're going to be around for awhile, you have to change with the times.  More mobile, more responsive, more organized - leaner (and cheaper?)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Do law schools do enough to train future lawyers for the reality of practice?

Albeit a broad question; one that most people would answer the same, though, and that is with a resounding "NO"

One of the deficiencies in legal education was recently discussed by Michael Fitzgerald, and that is the dearth of technology teaching in law schools.

Given both the ever-present use of technology in the law firm settings, as well as the changing bar regulations that require attorneys to be competent in its use; this is a potential problem.  Admittedly, of course, younger would-be-attorneys (and younger people in general) tend to be familiar with technology in general (especially compared to older attorneys), but this familiarity does not necessarily translate into technical competence when it comes to use of common attorney applications and programs.

 Change is coming, however slowly.

Friday, July 19, 2013

California to look at the idea of limited licenses for non-attorneys

We previously told you about the NYC bar's recommendation that non-attorneys be licensed to help deal with un-met legal needs.  Now comes important news out of our most populous state, California, that they are recommending the same thing.

On the one hand, there is undeniably a large segment of the population that has legal service needs and cannot afford the services of an attorney.  Moreover, it's also true that the economies of the profession (namely, the cost of obtaining a legal education) make it almost impossible for private attorneys to meet these needs, despite what many would say is the overpopulation of attorneys in this country.

This said, it is also hard to imagine how the idea of a limited license doesn't spend and both further commoditize attorneys (and their work-product) and erode the economic justification, and perhaps even the raison d'ĂȘtre of the profession.

Being better organized and more productive can help the modern lawyer (especially those in the solo and small firm setting) compete.  We can help.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Delaware forms a Legal Technology Commission

From the Legal ethics blog comes interesting news from the State of Delaware.  The state has formed a permanent Commission tasked with providing education and guidance to Delaware attorneys on issues of technology.

It will be interesting to see how this Commission, the first in the country, evolves.  Given the newly developing ethics rules (already adopted by Delaware) which require attorneys to be competent in the technology they use, it will indubitably provide some of the means to accomplish this competence, as well as issuing opinions and guidance on such matters as cloud computing.

It's an exciting development and one we here on Online Legal Software support.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Proposed changes to the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct

We've mentioned the issue before as it relates to the ABA's 20/20 Committee and with the new opinion in Connecticut, now Massachusetts has released proposed changes to its rules of professional conduct (you can read more on the proposals on Robert Ambrogi's blog) which impose upon Massachusetts attorneys a new duty to understand the technology they use.

Certainly, the Bar will likely hear from both sides of the issue and it will remain to be seen if these changes will be adopted in full, but attorneys in the Bay State might need to brush up on their technology.

We at Online Legal Software can help.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Web-sites and SEO

We're always shocked by the number of lawyers who don't have websites and don't understand a lick about SEO.  Admittedly, if you're busy practicing law, these shouldn't be the primary focus of your life - BUT, the reality today is that many potential clients will find you by searching the web and people will draw negative conclusions about your firm if it's not online and you're missing out on good potential clients.

The nice thing is that you don't need to spent a ton of money to have a web presence - you can usually register a domain name (the web address people type in their browser to get to your page) and get a host (the company that holds your web-site data) for $50-100/year.

What your domain name should be depends on your location, practice area, etc.  It's common, of course, to have your name or your firm name, however, if you focus your practice in a particular niche or particular region, it might make sense to think outside the box and have a domain name that reflects such a concentration (alternatively, you can always register multiple domain names and have your niche names forward to a more "proper" domain).  Although there are many options for domain names, generally the most important (and most professional) is the .com ending (it is usually the most expensive, as well).  While you might want to consider other extensions, such as .biz, .net, and so forth, these are often seen as "lesser" sites more common with spam sites.

More to come...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Connecticut joins the states giving the OK to cloud computing

Add Connecticut to the ever-growing list of states who have formally approved the use of cloud computing by their attorneys.

In Informal Opinion 2013-07, the Connecticut Professional Ethics Committee found, as have other states, that use of cloud computing is OK, provided that the attorney take reasonable steps to secure the data.

Moreover, the Committee recognized another issue we've been discussing in this blog - that is the duty of an attorney to "reasonably" supervise the cloud computing provider.  This second duty is not inconsistent with the duty, as elaborated in the Model Rules, to understand the technology you use.

Monday, July 1, 2013

56% of people use social media to find an attorney... really?

The numbers from a recent blurb at Kevin O'Keefe's blog seem shocking to us.  Over half of people looking for an attorney use social media to help their search.  What's even more shocking are the numbers for younger people: a whopping 81% of people 18-29 and 73% of 30-39 year olds.

Think about that if you DON'T have a presence on Facebook or Twitter; don't blog, or rely on a static website to draw clients.  How do you expect to get found?