Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : July 2009

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 SOLO/SMALL FIRM PRACTITIONER

  

Sometimes, it is important to remind members of the services that our department (LOMA) and other departments at the MSBA provide. It is often difficult to remember the many services we offer. So get ready, because we are going to let you know how we can help you. Pay attention; there will be a quiz at the end.

Also, welcome to all new admittees who are receiving their first MSBA Bar Bulletin.

The Law Office Management Assistance (LOMA) Department: What Do We Do?

Through LOMA, we provide information on many software applications. We have a small library of reviews and articles describing various software packages. We try to keep the reviews as up to date as possible. Effective as of this month, this information will be available online for MSBA Members only at www.msba.org/departments/loma/index.htm.

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 links to assist solo practitioners with these requests; all of these will now be available online. For articles on the website, go www.msba.org/departments/loma/articles/articles.htm. You can also find information on starting a practice, marketing and client development, office management, characteristics of an efficient practice, technology tips and more at www.msba.org/departments/loma/infopacks.htm. In addition, we now have articles on “Closing a Practice”, “How to Leave a Practice” and “File Retention” that can be viewed and downloaded from the website. Again, this is for MSBA Members only.

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 of your questions, but we will find someone who can.

We make available to our members ABA publications that relate to technology or law practice management issues. They are available at a discounted price on our website at www.msba.org/departments/membership/discounts.htm.

Our “How to Start a Solo Packet” contains a large amount of information that must be considered when starting a solo practice. This is also available online.

We are in the process of putting up some Law Office Management videos with accompanying materials.

Each month’s issue of the MSBA Bar Bulletin features a “Solo and Small Firm Practitioner” column on topics of interest to solo/small firm practitioners, written either by a solo practitioner or me. The column is practical and offers tips and suggestions on managing a small law office.  Each of the articles offers free additional information on a variety of topics.

Education Programs

In addition to the law practice management programs, we present a “Solo and Small Firm Conference” each November. The dates for 2009 are November 6-7, at a new location, the Baltimore Hilton. Registration begins online in mid-July. You can register and get additional information at www.msbasoloconference.org.

This is an all-day program with as many as 30 different sessions. Topics include 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 geared specifically toward solo and small firm practitioners.

In conjunction with the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section, we have two “How to Start a Solo Practice” programs each year to assist new practitioners in setting up a law practice. The programs are always the last Saturdays in February and July and are usually held in Laurel. The topics covered include 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 give practical advice for new practitioners.

Each year, the Solo and Small Firm Section sponsors “Solo Day @ the MSBA Annual Meeting”. This is specifically to give solo and small firm practitioners the opportunity to attend the MSBA Annual Meeting for one day of educational programs designed specifically for solo and small firm practitioners. It is held on a Friday, and there is a one-day registration fee. Videos of the morning sessions for the 2009 “Solo Day @ the Annual Meeting”, “Using Social Networking Sites to Grow Your Practice” and “Finding The Silver Lining: Practice Tips For Managing in Tough Times” will be available online at the Solo Section’s website,  www.msba.org/sec_comm/sections/sections.htm.

www.msba.org

Although LOMA was initially instrumental in developing the website, all departments contribute information to the site. Listed here are just some of the information and services it provides.

n Member Directory. All MSBA members are listed on the website (unless they request to not be listed). The member directory is available to the general public, and it is possible to search for a lawyer based on various criteria. Members of the public can perform searches based on last name, law firm, county, practice area, section membership and state. For example, a member of the public could find a family law attorney 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.
  • Departments. A list of all staff and responsibilities is listed on the site. This will help you get the right person in the beginning. (www.msba.org/departments/index.htm)
  • 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 members of the given section only. There is also a description of all committees and the work they do. (www.msba.org/sec_comm/index.htm)

In addition, you can join all section Email Lists at this site. All sections have Email Lists where you can post questions and get answers. (www.msba.org/sec_comm/lists/index.htm)

  • 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.
  • Calendar. A listing of all MSBA, MICPEL and many local bar programs/meetings can be found on the calendar. There are also directions to all MSBA-approved restaurants on the calendar page. (www.msba.org/calendar/default.asp)
  • Member Benefits. There are many items listed on the member benefits page (www.msba.org/departments/membership/benefit.htm), including information on all of the vendor benefits that the MSBA offers and contact information. There is a link to the LOMA page, which has many articles on office management and technology and lists of information packets that are available for members.

Some of the many benefits that are offered can really help you practice and save you money. Just a few of those benefits are:

  • ABA Publications. MSBA members can receive a discount off all ABA Publications, including podcasts.
  • Credit Card Processing through Law Firm Merchant Account allows you to take credit card payments for both retainer and operating account fees.
  • Office Depot offers additional discounts on office supplies to MSBA members.
  • Online backup through our newest benefit, Corevault.
  • Cost-effective web design with ESQSites 123.
  • Postini Anti-Virus software (which we also use at the MSBA).
  • Free Online Legal Research with Fastcase.

For Members Only

  • Electronic Bar Briefs (EBB). This free, members-only service will e-mail you a daily synopsis of Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals opinions. You can choose from a list of 15 practice areas. (www.msba.org/members/ebb/index.htm)
  • Ethics Opinions. A searchable list of all MSBA Ethic Opinions are online and can be printed. (www.msba.org/members/default.asp)
  • Mentoring Program. This is a list of 250 MSBA members who have volunteered to answer questions on a variety of topics. They are listed by county and include practice area information. (www.msba.org/members/default.asp)
  • Fastcase. This legal research site is free to all MSBA members.
  • Publications. The Table of Contents for all editions of the Maryland Bar Journal are listed. The complete Annual Report is online, as are articles from each month’s edition of the Bar Bulletin.

The MSBA offers a series of 24 easy-to-read guides designed to inform the public about common legal problems, all of which are available online. These brochures are free to the public and attorneys may purchase copies for 25 cents each. This can be a great help for new solo practitioners. There is also information on ordering the brochures. (www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/brochures/index.htm)

In addition, many other publications such as the Gender Equality Report and the Code of Civility are available.

  • 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 specific for members of the legal profession. 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. (www.msba.org/links/index.htm)

This is just a snapshot of all the services we provide through LOMA and the MSBA website, but there is so much more. If you need information, visit www.msba.org, or contact Pat Yevics at (800) 492-1964, ext. 3039, or pyevics@msba.org. If I do not have the answer, I will help you find it.


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Publications : Bar Bulletin: July 2009

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