Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The "LawTigers" opinion: another take

While some, including My Shingle's Carolyn Elefant, have decried it, Scott Greenfield commends the Indiana Supreme Court for holding an attorney responsible for the exaggerations (or misrepresentations) of a lead-providing service he signed up for.

Greenfield's points are valid and have merit, but his ultimate solution:

Hold lawyers accountable for their signing on to these schemes that promote them through deception and prosecute alt-law businesses that are engaging in the criminal enterprise of the unlawful practice of law. 

seems antiquated, at best.

Given the liberalization of lawyer advertising rules, it is difficult to imagine a retrenchment of rules in the first place.  What would have been seen as puffery years ago is now common-place.  This may not be a good thing, but it is reality.

More so for "alternative law businesses."  Sure, unauthorized practice of law is still technically a crime, but given both the acceptance of alt-law business and the money behind it, does anyone really think it's just going to go away because lawyers want to preserve their traditional monopoly?  It's far more likely unauthorized practice of law statutes will go away than to see a sudden resurgence in enforcement.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Will lawyers become obsolete?

Wired had an interesting article about a "futurist" who predicted lawyers will soon be obsolete.

Specifically, the claim is that AI might automate contract law.  This may well be, but it might be a tad premature to say lawyers will soon be obsolete, given that they do much more than just write boilerplate contracts (and realistically, much of that low level work has already been replaced by legal document sites).

We don't think lawyers have to worry about computers taking their jobs... yet.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Beating writer's block

We've touched on this topic before, but came across some useful tips from Julie Fleming on how to beat writer's block.

Writing is part of the essence of being a lawyer; and not just pleadings and the like, but also "content" - traditionally articles and papers, now more often on web-sites.

Potential clients often find you by your writings (perhaps by googling a specific legal topic) and being seen as knowledgeable in a subject goes great lengths to impress both potentials and search engines.

After all, they can't hire you if they can't find you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How's your security?

Interesting little article on how some clients are forcing their attorneys to be more security conscious.

Although written from a perspective of BigLaw, the fact is that all firms should be mindful of their security, lest something happen that would compromise client information or funds.  Lawyers have not been traditionally known as vanguards of technology, but the risks are real and the cost(s) of failure potentially high.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mental heath for lawyers

Lawyers don't want to talk about mental health issues.

That's a shame, considering that lawyers are more likely to suffer than the general population.  The stress of the job, the constant demands and pressure on your personal life, all help contribute to high rates of depression, anxiety, breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, even suicide amongst members of the profession.

But you don't have to suffer in silence.  There are people out there to help.  A recent guest lecture at Solo Practice University by Mayanne Downs discusses some of the things to consider and people to talk to.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Better web design helps potential clients find you better.

Most attorneys don't want to spend much time thinking about their web pages.  Heck, some attorneys don't even have a web-page (you really should though), but there are a few simple things you can do to ensure potential clients have a better chance of finding your page and figuring out how it is what you can help them.

One of the easiest things to do is to use proper meta tags.  Gyi Tsakaakis has a good primary on the subject and why it's important over at attorneyatwork.

Essentially, better meta tags help in searches - it's the bit of text we see underneath the webpage's title in search results.  Written concisely and accurately, they can help make your page stand out and give that potential client a reason to click on your page (and hopefully, of course, become a client)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Microsoft ends support for Windows XP

Last week, Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP.

Chances are, if you've been in practice for awhile and aren't particularly tech-oriented, you might still be running Windows XP on your machines.  After all, it's been more than capable of handing the needs of most legal practitioners and its reliability and simplicity have endeared it to many.

However, if you're still using XP, it's probably time to upgrade.  Upgrading your systems will allow you to take advantage of some of the best aspects of modern computers and with the cost of desktops being very reasonable, it doesn't have to be an expensive proposition.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Judges say shape up or ship out

A recent panel of federal judges put it bluntly to luddite attorneys - shape up or get out of the profession.

The judges specifically were referring to attorneys who lack even basic tech skills, which in today's world (and especially with e-discovery being so commonplace), makes them next to useless to the profession.

Harsh words, perhaps, but at the same time, it's hard to argue with their basic argument.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Catching more flies with honey than vinegar

Nice article from Christina Gagnier over at Above the Law on the oft-cited (but oft-slighted) idea of collegiality.

Most attorneys have horror stories about colleagues who are, at best, disagreeable curs.  It's a wide-spread issue and, given the pressures many attorneys face, it's not shocking.

But it is unfortunate and certainly has its own role in why lawyers tend to be so miserable - Gagnier's advice, be civil, don't be a jerk, etc. might be simple, but is important to take to heart.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nice piece by Kevin O'Keefe recently on the trap of "traffic whoring"

Most attorneys are familiar with the concept through the many websites that practice the same - essentially, generating traffic trough link-bait of salacious and/or insubstantial stories.

As O'Keefe says, while attorneys aren't likely to be postings cat pictures or "side-boob," there is certainly pressure to blog about popular topics solely for traffic.  This is not the best idea.

Much more important is to remain focused on what it is that you're blogging about in the first place.  Perhaps your short-term traffic may suffer, but long-term, your blog will gain more credibility in the eyes of readers (and often from search-engine algorithms too)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Network, network, network

Nice little piece from the Massachusetts Bar Journal regarding networking with non-attorneys.

Networking events with non-attorneys were always a good way to make connections, meet other business owners, and otherwise remain connected to a community (especially for a solo or small-firm attorney).  It's increasingly easy to find these groups - from traditional sources like the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, etc. to more modern groups from Meetup or LinkedIn or referral groups (if allowed by your local rules), such as BNI or Le Tip.

In our experience, you tend to have the best results from groups where you are the only attorney (or at least the only attorney doing what you do) and seeking clients in your general desired demographic (it should go without saying that if you're at BigLaw, a Meetup group isn't going to be worth your time, but if you have a small general practice or are just starting out, it often is).

No doubt, you're going to run into may people who have no need for your services (or no ability to pay), to lots of MLM types who try to sell you the latest snake-oil and lots of other useless connections, but the time involved is generally small (especially at the beginning of a practice) and you never know what might happen.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Working remotely tips

Some helpful tips on working remotely from the Legal Productivity blog.

Whether working remotely is an everyday thing (since you don't have a traditional office) or an occasional thing, chances are, you're doing it to some degree.

Accordingly, tips to make it better are always a good thing.  You're not going to find any ground-breaking advice, but nonetheless useful bits of information.