So, this month we are going to introduce you to (or remind you about) all the help we offer. Pay attention – there is going to be a quiz at the end.
What Do We Do?
Through Law Office Management Assistance (LOMA), we provide information on many topics of interest to solo and small firm practitioners on such topics as starting a practice, marketing and client development, office management, characteristics of an efficient practice and technology tips.
Our office receives many calls each week from new and experienced practitioners about such areas as equipment, accounting, technology, etc. We have created many information packets that assist solo practitioners with these requests. Some of the information is located directly on our website and other information will need to be requested and mailed to you. For online articles, go to http://www.msba.org/departments/loma/articles/articles.htm.
We have become the telephone help desk for law practice management and technology for solo and small firm practitioners throughout the state. If you have any questions and do not know where to start, call our office. We may not be able to answer all your questions, but we can find someone who can.
One new topic we have information about is how to close a practice. This is getting to be a much more-requested topic for many of the “boomers” who are considering slowing down their practices. Included with the packet (but also available separately) is information on how long to hold onto client files and how to dispose of those files.
At the other end of the professional spectrum, we have a “How to Start a Solo” packet containing items which must be considered when starting a solo practice.
Every month in the MSBA Bar Bulletin, there is a “Solo and Small Firm Practitioner” column on topics of interest to solo/small firm practitioners, either written by a solo practitioner or me. The column offers practical tips and suggestions on managing a small law office. Each of the articles offers free additional information on a variety of topics.
In addition to the law practice management programs with local bars, we present a Solo and Small Firm Conference each November. This year’s program is Friday and Saturday, November 7 and 8, at the BWI Marriott. This is an all-day program featuring as many as 30 different sessions. The topics are about technology, profitability, employees, marketing, client development, stress and time management and other issues for solo and small firm practitioners. In addition, MICPEL sponsors a track with legal topics. Also in attendance are many vendors with services and products specifically for solo and small firm practitioners.
Each year we ask all solo section members as well as attendees for input on what topics would be of interest to solos and small firms.
In conjunction with the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section, there are two “How to Start a Solo Practice” programs each year to assist new practitioners in setting up a law practice. The topics covered are marketing, business aspects of starting a practice, how to avoid malpractice, attorney/client relationships, etc. All of the presenters are experienced members of the bar who have practical advice for new practitioners. The next “Hanging Out a Shingle” program is scheduled on Saturday, July 26, 2008, at the Hilton Inn in Columbia, Maryland.
Each year, the Solo and Small Firm Section sponsors “Solo Day @ the MSBA Annual Meeting”. This program is designed to offer solo and small firm practitioners the opportunity to come to the MSBA Annual meeting for one day of educational programs geared specifically toward solo and small firm practitioners. It is on a Friday, and there is a one-day registration fee.
This year, Solo Day @ the Annual Meeting was podcast and video-taped for podcasting. More details about seeing the Solo Day Program are available at the Solo Section’s website, at www.msba.org/sec_comm/sections/solo/.
The MSBA website, www.msba.org, has been expanded, and all of the departments as well as Sections and Committees have information on the website. In addition, the Annual Meeting and the Solo Conference now have separate websites.
• Website Search. It is now possible to search the entire website by going to the homepage at www.msba.org and scrolling down to “Search MSBA.org”.
• Member Directory. All MSBA members are listed on the website (unless they have requested to not be listed). It is possible to search on a variety of ways to find a lawyer. The directory is available to the general public. Members of the public can search by last name, law firm, county, practice area, section membership and state. For example, a member of the public could find a family law lawyer from Baltimore County who is licensed in both Maryland and Pennsylvania. • Change of Address/Membership Data. It is possible to change your membership data online by going to the Member Directory. Go to https://www.msba.org/directory/update/index.cfm.
You can also change your membership information by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Departments. A list of all staff and responsibilities is listed on the site www.msba.org/departments/index.htm. This will help you get the right person in the beginning.
• ID Badges. Applications for Court House ID badges can be found at www.msba.org/departments/administration/idbadge.htm. They can be printed and mailed to the MSBA for your ID Badge.
• Online Dues Payment. Members can now pay dues securely online at https://www.msba.org/mymsba/login.asp?a=1&r=/members/dueslogin.asp.
• Sections/Committees. There is a list of all Section Council and committee members. In addition, all Sections have websites with information specific to their respective practice areas. Section Newsletters are available online for Section members only. A description of all Committees and the work they do can be found at www.msba.org/sec_comm/index.htm.
A list of all Section/Committee events can be found in the right column of the MSBA Homepage.
• Calendar. A listing of all MSBA, MICPEL and many local bar programs/meetings are listed on the calendar. There are also directions to all MSBA-approved restaurants on the calendar page, www.msba.org/calendar/default.asp.
In addition, you can join all section Email Lists at this site. All sections have Email Lists on which you can post questions and get answers www.msba.org/sec_comm/lists/index.htm.
• Legal Vendor E-Mall. This is the place to go to find vendors that provide services and products specific to the legal community in Maryland. This should be the first place you look to find what your firm needs www.msba.org/links/emall/default.asp.
• Legal Links. This list of links is geared specifically toward members of the legal profession www.msba.org/links/index.htm. In addition to the usual government and court sites, we have links and information about all local and specialty bar associations in Maryland. We also have links to many of the agencies listed in the White Pages of the Maryland Lawyers’ Manual. This should be a bookmark on your computer.
• Members-Only Information. There are many items on the website that are for MSBA members only.
1. Electronic Bar Briefs (EBB). This is a service that will e-mail you daily a synopsis of Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals opinions www.msba.org/members/ebb/index.htm. It is free and for members only. You can choose from a list of 15 practice areas.
2. Ethics Opinions. A searchable list of all MSBA Ethic Opinions are online and can be printed www.msba.org/members/default.asp.
3. Mentoring Program. This is a list of 250 members of the MSBA who have volunteered to answer questions on a variety of topics www.msba.org/members/default.asp. They are listed by county and have practice area information. This is a simple but effective way to contact another MSBA member if you have a question about your area of law. When you call, indicate that you got the member’s name from the list of mentors on the MSBA website.
4. Fastcase. This is a legal research site that is free to all MSBA members.
Member Benefits The Membership Committee https://www.msba.org/sec_comm/committees/membership/ makes every effort to discover benefits and services to help MSBA members. A number of exclusive benefits are available for MSBA members only and we are looking to include more in the coming year. A list of all benefits are listed on the website at https://www.msba.org/departments/membership/benefit.asp
In order to obtain codes and specific information which is available for members only, you will need to log into the site. This login process assures us that only MSBA members will be able to access members only benefits. Some of the many benefits include:
• Free Legal Research through Fastcase
• Discounts on T-Mobile service and equipment
• 30 percent discount on almost all ABA publications
• Credit Card Processing for accepting credit card payments from clients through Affiniscape’s Law Firm Merchant Account. This allows you to accept credit cards for retainers without co-mingling of funds.
• Reasonably-priced websites using ESQSites 123
• Postini® anti-virus and spam-filtering software (which we use at the MSBA).
to many of MSBA’s publications can be found online www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/index.htm.
• The Table of Contents for each edition of the Maryland Bar Journal is listed.
• Each month, the articles from the Bar Bulletin are posted online. MSBA’s monthly newspaper, the Bulletin has many outstanding features, including a practice focus each month, a column about members, information about pro bono opportunities and help from the Law Assistance Program www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/bar_bult/index.htm.
• The Bar Brief is available each month once it has been distributed to all members.
• A list of all legal brochures and the text of all the brochures are available online. There is also information on ordering the brochures www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/brochures/index.htm.
• The complete MSBA Annual Report is online.
In addition, many other publications, such as the Gender Equality Report and the Code of Civility, are available.
Sections and Committees The MSBA now has 27 Sections with the addition in June of the Immigration Law Section. In addition to their individual websites, many of the Sections have webcast their programs and meetings, and these are available for Section members. The Section Email Lists are a valuable resource for both new and experienced practitioners.
It is the goal of the MSBA to provide as many services and benefits as possible to our members. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact any director www.msba.org/about/service.htm or officer www.msba.org/departments/administration/bog/bog.htm or Board member www.msba.org/departments/administration/bog/roster.asp.
We are here to help.