For those who have been reading this column (either regularly or sporadically) you know that I try to go through all of the written publications I receive and share these Tidbits and Bytes with members. Before the internet and explosion of online resources, I did this more regularly because I received more publications. I have not done a Tidbits and Bytes column since April 2011, not because I have fewer publications, but because I have an onslaught of information from online resources and many printed publications. Something’s gotta give here.
Anyway, I made a commitment (in January) to go through many of the publications and share some of the more interesting bits of information and link to them online for those who want more details. Some of these magazines go back more than a year (I have been busy) so, in no particular order, let’s get started.
What About Me?
The theme of the January/February 2011issue of the ABA GPSOLO magazine was “What About Me?” It dealt with work/life balance issues and stress management.
Although there was no new revelations on how to handle the stress of solo practice, there were some lessons worth sharing.
In the article “Ride the Wave, Balance Your Practice”, Gregory Lawless, a solo in Seattle, gives four tips to help keep the balance:
- Fire the clients you do not like. (Only when legally and ethically able to do so)
- Fire the clients who are not paying you. (See about note)
- Only practice areas of law you like.
- Have the courage NOT to be too busy.
Seth Rossner, a practitioner in Saratoga Springs, New York, who wrote “Practicing Law in A Precarious World”, offers the following advice to keep clients happy:
- Always discuss fees at your first meeting with the client.
- At first meeting, define scope of engagement.
- Immediately send out engagement letter.
- Do not procrastinate.
- Keep accurate time records even if you are not billing hourly.
- Relay bad news to clients immediately.
- “Attorney Trust accounts are sacrosanct.”
- Know the Rules and keep a copy on your desk. (Or download the MSBA YLS App.)
- Treat clients as you would like to be treated.
Technology in a Disaster
In the February 2012 issue of the ABA Journal (www.abajournal.com), Dennis Kennedy gives tips on how to use technology in a disaster when little is working or available:
- Start to carry an extra charger and extension cord to charge devices if electricity is out in your office or home. Have extra batteries and even consider a solar or crank-powered charger.
- In an emergency, it is easier to get a text out when systems are overloaded and you cannot get calls out.
- There are many apps on smartphones and tablets that you can use such as flashlights, scanners, and GPS Tracking. You can also use them to access internet/email if home or office systems are out.
- Twitter, Facebook, and other social media can also be used to communicate information in emergencies.
Essential Do’s and Don’ts for LinkedIn Users
Dan Pinnington, a director at Lawyers Professional Indemnity Company in Toronto, has an extremely helpful article on using LinkedIn in the November/December 2011 issue of the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s Law Practice. Some of the many are:
- Do not list every job you ever had.
- Inject a little personality in your profile and make it less CV Formal.
- Make your profile public because this is for business/marketing purposes.
- Consider quality and not quantity when collecting contacts - this is not a popularity contest.
- Send personalized contact requests.
- Use the search feature to find other contacts and search organizations, firms, law schools.
- Share interesting ideas, news, links, or information.
- Don’t send all your updates at once. (Good suggestion for other social media as well).
- Don’t use messages for lawyer/client communications. (Should not need to be said but…)
The Lawyer Raters: In Their Own Words
As you may know, there are many lawyer rating sites that may or may not be accurate. Do not assume that you have not been rated. In fact you should check the various sites to determine whether or not you have been rated. In the November/December 2011 issue of the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s Law Practice, there was a listing of the major law firm rankings and ratings entities and how they rate and a side bar on what to do if you feel you have been unfairly rated. I recommend you read the article online, but the ratings sites interviewed are:
- AVVO. Click Find Lawyer and check your location and practice area to see if you are rated.
- LexisNexis Martindale-Hubble. This is a well known rating site. Again you want to go Find A Lawyer and you can choose both Peer Rated and Lawyer Rated.
- Law Dragon. An online media company that “publishes legal news, expert columns, lawyer profiles and lawyer evaluations.”
- Chambers. A global ranking organization that mostly ranks lawyers in large firms in the US and UK especially, but you should know that it is out there.
- Super Lawyers. Recently acquired by Thomson & Reuters, this was originally a Minnesota print publication but now has published rankings in all 50 states. I am certain you have seen the Super Lawyer publication and may have even been included in one of them. This is less of a client reviewed site than a ranking of what they consider to be the top lawyers in an area based on their specific criteria.
- That particular Law Practice issue was devoted completely to marketing, and I recommend that you look at some of the articles, especially the ones listed below because they can be helpful to solo and small firms as well as large firms.
- “Communicating with Clients Through Invoices.” It is absolutely worth it to take your time to craft better invoices.
- “How Lawyers are Using Video.” This is really an area where technology can level the marketing playing field for solos and small firms.
- “Ten Tips For Getting My Business.” This article is a perspective of in-house counsel but many of the tips can apply to many types of clients. This is really worth a read even if you are not a business law practitioners attempting to get business from in-house counsel. Good ideas are good ideas.
As you can see I have not even scratched the surface of catching up on my reading. This article will be online in mid-March, and you can get direct links from the MSBA website. Follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/MSBALOMA) because I will often share some of these tips.