Back to Business School for Ethics Violations

When a lawyer runs afoul of the rules of professional conduct, there are consequences. Depending on the severity of the rule violation, discipline might consist of disbarment, suspension, reprimand (public censure) or admonition (private reprimand). What about being sent back to school for an ethics violation? Continue reading at ... Read More
Categories: Legal Careers

Be a Small-Town Lawyer

No one needs to remind law students and recent law school graduates about the dismal job market. Only 85 percent of the class of 2012 found a job of any kind post-graduation — and only 64 percent of those jobs required bar passage, which is an all-time low. This is the fifth consecutive year of decline and the lowest rate in 18 years, according to the National Association for Law Placement. Continue reading this post at ... Read More
Categories: Legal Careers

Get a Better Job: When and How to Pursue an Alternative Career

At one time or another, many lawyers consider ditching their legal career and doing something else. It’s no surprise why. A recent Forbes article reported that the number-one unhappiest job in America is associate attorney. Pursuing an alternative career can be worth the (considerable) effort, but before you quit, take a deep breath and make sure you aren’t miserable for more-easily-fixed reasons. If the environment in your law firm is toxic, or if you are practicing in an area you don’t enjoy, do not give up on the profession just yet. Lawyers can practice the same type of law in many different settings, or practice many different types of law in the same setting. If a change of firm or practice area — or going to a non-profit or g… ... Read More

Four Tips for Meeting Two People in the Room

Lawyers typically dread attending events like annual bar association fundraisers, CLE conferences — or any gathering where there will be a large number of attendees. In short, they dread the type of event where their “working the room” skills are put to the test. To make connections that bring in new clients, though, you have to spend plenty of time outside of your office — and, sometimes, your comfort zone. Continue reading this post at ... Read More

Five To-Dos for Unemployed Senior Lawyers

Last month, Jared Correia wrote two excellent posts on why older lawyers are finding it harder to stay employed and the challenges encountered because of certain employer assumptions. Now it’s time to focus on what out-of-work senior lawyers should be doing to rejoin the workforce. Here are my five to-dos. Continue reading this post on ... Read More
Categories: Legal Careers

Successful Networking Is a Numbers Game

The most successful salespeople strongly believe that sales is a numbers game. In other words, you don’t have to be an ace or a homerun king to be successful at business development. You just have to keep pitching and swinging in the general direction of the clients. The more at-bats, the more runs (clients) you are likely to earn (win). Continue reading this post on ... Read More

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

In this troubled legal economy, most of the focus is on attorneys who are unemployed or underemployed. More attention should be paid to those who are unhappily employed. In a lousy job market, many lawyers feel compelled to remain in jobs that they despise. While it’s not new for lawyers to be unhappy about their jobs, it is new that jobs are scarce and unhappy lawyers do not have as many options if they leave. Lawyers dislike their jobs for many reasons, including: Continue reading this post at ... Read More

What You Need to Know in Order to Sell a Law Practice

For years, selling a law practice was prohibited because ethics regulators believed clients, files, and a firm’s good will were not something that could be sold. This prohibition did not really affect larger law firms, which would just buy out partners, i.e. the partnership would return the percentage of the equity owned by the retiring partner. Smaller law firms were able to “sell” themselves by merging with other firms. Continue reading this post on ... Read More

How to Make Small Talk

“Working the room” is the one business development tactic that strikes the most fear in lawyers. Most lawyers hate finding themselves at a reception at some conference or benefit, where they hope to meet a few new people in a crowd of hundreds. Even when the drinks are free, most lawyers would prefer going to the dentist. Many lawyers feel awkward and uncomfortable chatting with strangers, in large part because they view small talk as a complete waste of time. Being lawyers, they want some evidence to support the value of chitchat. Well, last month The Wall Street Journal (paywall) ran an article entitled, “The Hidden Benefits of Chitchat.” The article confirmed everything I’ve always thought to be true about small talk. Plus, it… ... Read More

Soliciting Clients by Text Message

It can be hard for legal marketing ethics experts to keep up with rapidly expanding modes of electronic communication, but the State of Ohio recently gave it a try. The issue was text messaging. Is a text message like an email, or is it more like an internet chat-room conversation, where the communication takes place in “real time?” If your answer to this question is, “Who cares?” my response is that lawyers should care. How you answer this question determines the legal and ethical guidelines that control when you solicit a client by texting. Continue reading this post at ... Read More

How To Determine If Your Law Practice Is Worth Anything

Frequently, soon-to-be-retired solo practitioners or small law firm owners want to know if it is worth the effort to sell their practices. By far, the most significant determinant of the answer to this question is whether and for how long the practice can continue to produce revenue once the seller is gone. Are future revenues predictable? When purchasing a law practice, the buyer hopes that clients will continue to knock on the door even though the seller is no longer there. For some kinds of practices, this will not happen. Very prominent criminal defense attorneys and other well-known litigators are good examples of practices where future revenue is very unlikely. These practices are too closely linked to the reputations of the sellers.… ... Read More

Too Busy? When to Hire Help

Most solos are all-to-familiar with the “feast or famine” roller coaster. Either you have too much work to comfortably handle on your own, or you are wondering how you are going to pay the bills. Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about a number of ways to successfully deal with the “feast” option. First of all, don’t panic. Too much work is a good problem to have. Put your situation into perspective. “Feast” is a much better problem for a solo to have than “famine.” You just need a plan. One way to handle the problem of too much work is to turn some of it down. You now have the luxury of becoming more selective about the work that you do or the clients that you work with. There’s a reason why successful lawyers tend… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Just Like Lawyers, Legal Marketers Can Be Good or Bad

This week, the news broke that law firm Seikaly & Stewart is suing legal marketing outfit the Rainmaker Institute over implementation of a search engine optimization program that allegedly broke Google rules and damaged, rather than enhanced, the law firm’s online results. None of us opining about this development in the blogosphere has a clue surrounding all of the relevant facts regarding the litigation. And I don’t much care who wins or loses. I’d just like to use this case as a jumping off point to comment on the venom that seems to accompany the term “legal marketer” whenever it appears in the blogosphere. Let’s get it out in the open. Yes, at times, I earn money by providing legal marketing advice to clients who are la… ... Read More

Are Your Clients Satisfied? Ask Them.

Most lawyers are quite sure that their clients are satisfied. If you ask them why they are so sure, the most likely response is, “I just know they are.” Well, how do they know? Continue reading this post at ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Show that You Care with Reception Area Reading

Leo’s post last month on Lawyerist complaining about opposing counsel’s failure to provide coffee and snacks reminded me of my biggest pet peeve when visiting a law office – a lack of decent reading material. Most law firms forget that their reception area is a component of its client service. What kinds of materials does your law firm provide for clients cooling their heels in your reception or waiting area? Most firms underestimate the importance of reading material, and therefore fall short. Diversion can be important Most lawyers are very busy during normal office hours and, as a result, sometimes run late for client appointments. When the inevitable wait occurs, what do you have for clients to do to occupy their time? When I’m… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Are You Earning Enough Money?

Rarely do I meet lawyers in private practice who are not concerned about how much money they make. That seems pretty obvious. Here’s what’s not so obvious. How much money does it take to keep a lawyer satisfied? Although this is not another lawyer joke, there is a punch line. The answer is, “As much money as my colleague down the hall or my competitor across town earns.” Continue reading this post at ... Read More
Categories: Legal Careers

Client Service: Happy Clients Can Set Lawyers Apart

It’s not always easy to convince lawyers that they should care more about client service. Too many genuinely believe their legal expertise is paramount—the only thing that truly matters when establishing their law practice’s reputation. But lawyers should not underestimate the impact of how they treat their clients: It’s the only part of the lawyer-client experience that we can control, and the only thing that can be accurately evaluated and appreciated by any client. Continue reading this post on ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

The Perfect Marketing Mix: Business and Pleasure

Recently, I was talking to a lawyer about the ideal mix of business with pleasure, in the context of successful business development. This attorney observed that a lawyer in his firm with lots of clients seemed to devote most of his life to his practice. All of this successful lawyer’s social and community activities revolved around clients or potential clients. His personal life was hardly separate from his work life. This lawyer I was speaking with wondered if he should take the same approach. Should he be marketing 24/7? I hate to sound like a lawyer, but the answer is both yes and no. First, I’ll provide the “yes” answer. Then, I’ll provide the “no” answer. Mixing business with pleasure is necessary Think of the most succe… ... Read More

Qualities of a Successful Rainmaker

Many myths surround successful rainmaking in the legal profession. Perhaps the biggest myth is that only attorneys with an outgoing and gregarious personality stand a chance of attracting clients. I know that you’re skeptical, but give me a chance to make my case. Continue reading this post at ... Read More

Face Time in the Office

How important to career success is “face time” in the office when compared with the same amount and quality of work done at home? Yahoo! and Best Buy recently received a considerable amount of press (traditional and online) regarding this issue. In both cases, the companies made changes to increase face time in an effort to improve communication and collaboration, as well as profits. Yahoo! starts the trend First to take the stage was Yahoo!. In late February, new CEO Marissa Mayer announced that Yahoo! employees may no longer work from home. This is the same Marissa Mayer who was hired last year while pregnant, came back to work after a two-week maternity leave and has a nursery next to her office (paid for with her own funds). The rat… ... Read More
Roy’s coaching has been extremely valuable. Since he was once an in-house attorney and frequently a client of law firms himself, I respect his insight about what client development efforts work best. He also holds me accountable. When working w…" Read the rest
– Partner, mid-size Minneapolis, MN law firm

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