CLE 2.0: Online Quality

Recently, I attended the mid-year meeting of the Association for Continuing Legal Education. ACLEA is the primary organization for CLE professionals from bar associations, law schools, law firms and for-profit entities, as well as other CLE professionals like me. I’ve been attending ACLEA meetings for about a decade. I always leave with some interesting new thoughts about the future of CLE. CLE 1.0 For a long time, the CLE model involved actual speakers before a physical audience. When I first joined the group, everyone was talking about how the introduction of online CLE programming would completely destroy the traditional model. This was CLE 1.0. We all know that there are still plenty of live CLE lectures. There’s no doubt, however,… ... Read More
Categories: Legal Careers

Networking Groups – Are They Ethical?

Referral sources are the lifeblood of many successful attorneys. Old standby places to meet new people and establish relationships with referral sources include bar and trade associations, as well as business community organizations (such as Chamber of Commerce or Rotary). Although the missions of these groups vary significantly, referrals are the inevitable reward for active participation. Continuing reading this post at ... Read More

Networking and Websites Are Your Best Bet for Marketing

I’m frequently asked how much time and money should attorneys spend on marketing. Like a true lawyer, I reply that “it depends.” There is no magic percentage of revenue or billable hours to be allocated to business development activities. The answer to this question will vary by practice area, geographic location and budget. But when asked about the two most important marketing tools for attorneys, my answer is rarely “it depends.” The answer is your networking efforts and your website. No matter how much time and money a lawyer decides to spend, spend it in these two areas. Networking Works Like it or not, law is a relationship-based profession/business. Always has been and always will be. People hire lawyers whom they like and t… ... Read More

Keep Your Marketing Out of Ethics Traps

The most important ABA Model Rule governing professional conduct in the area of legal marketing is Rule 7.1, which covers communications concerning a lawyer’s services. All states have adopted this rule, worded exactly the same or very close to it. The rule provides: Continue reading this post on ... Read More

Why Lawyers Should Beware of "Specializing"

It is the rare lawyer who is familiar with all the intricacies of legal marketing ethics rules. Most of them, however, seem to know that they must take care when using the word “specialize.” At the same time, most of these attorneys have no idea why. Continue reading this post to discover the answer. Source of the Specialist Rule In the 1970s and 1980s, some states and national organizations began to offer a process by which lawyers could become certified specialists in select practice areas. Typically, this involves a CLE requirement, a level of practice experience, peer review and testing. Rule 7.1, which prohibits “false and misleading” statements, didn’t prevent the misuse of term specialist in the eyes of the regulators. A se… ... Read More

Even Abraham Lincoln Had to Market

I enjoy the holiday season for many reasons. One is because Hollywood usually releases a few decent and entertaining movies. One movie that earned a respectable amount of praise this season is Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. If you read the reviews, or talked to friends and colleagues who have seen the movie, you’ve probably heard a common refrain: “I didn’t know that Abraham Lincoln did that.” Lincoln the Trial Lawyer Most of you should remember from your history classes that Lincoln (like many presidents) was a lawyer. You may even recall that he was a famed Illinois trial lawyer. But you probably don’t know that Lincoln the lawyer was just as skilled at marketing his own services as he was in the courtroom. By today’s standards… ... Read More

Billing by the Hour: We Didn't Always Do It That Way

Billing by the hour is just one of many established customs within the legal profession. Why do we do it that way? I’ve always been amused by the answer to that question. Inevitably, the answer is, “because we’ve always done it that way.” End of discussion. In the early 1980’s, when I first entered the legal profession, billing by the hour was well ingrained as the standard for all but a handful of practice areas. As a young associate in a large law firm, the thought never even occurred to me that attorneys could bill clients in any other form. Now, of course, I know better. I am very familiar with the flaws of the hourly rate system. I suspect you are, too, since the legal blogosphere is full of posts on this topic. Instead, I’… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Law School Regrets

I graduated from law school 30 years ago. When speaking to law students about how to find a job today, I mostly cover the basics. But I draw on my own experiences, too, and offer one bit of advice rarely provided by most career counselors. I arrived at this advice when, to prepare my presentation, I asked myself: “Knowing what I now know about legal careers after all these years, would I have done anything differently when I attended law school?” Continue reading post on ... Read More

Signage for Solos

I recently received a call from a former lawyer-coaching client of mine seeking marketing ethics advice. He’s a solo practitioner and plans to relocate to a new office building. In the new location, he will office share with two other solos. His question: What kind a signage is appropriate when three solos are sharing one office at the same address? The two-word answer attorneys always provide to clients applies here. “It depends.” It depends on what the sign says. The signage must not confuse the public into thinking that there is actually a three-person law firm at the location, rather than three solos in one location. One really doesn’t need a lawyer to make this determination. Just ask anyone who drives by the office. Moreover,… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Unhappy Lawyers; Why So Many?

Not surprisingly, there are thousands of unhappy lawyers who are new to the profession. After all, there’s plenty to be unhappy about if you’re unemployed and trying to pay back six-figure loans. But what about more-experienced attorneys who have stable jobs and little-to-no debt? Are they a satisfied lot? A 2007 American Bar Association survey found that only 55 percent of lawyers were satisfied with their careers. In my opinion, this is because many of them become lawyers with vague or unrealistic expectations about what a career in the legal profession would be like. Why Did You Go To Law School? First, I’ve learned from my experience as a coach, that many seem to decide to become lawyers by default. I’ve coached well over 100 la… ... Read More
Categories: Legal Careers

Career Change and Money

Whenever attorneys consider any type of career change, whether minor or major, the issue of money inevitably comes up. That’s hardly surprising. Often, the changes being contemplated require some sort of financial sacrifice, at least in the short term. Some require short-term and ong-term sacrifice. For purposes of this post, I consider a career change to mean, among other things, a modification of a practice area, switching work environments, going solo,or even getting out of law. Don’t Let Money Interfere Too Much Far too many lawyers let the money aspect of any career change get in the way of making the best choice. Risk-avoiding lawyers are often unwilling to assume any risk, no matter how reasonable it appears on paper. This is unf… ... Read More
Categories: Legal Careers

Pro Bono: It Pays to Be Good

Recently, New York became the first state to require that law students perform 50 hours of pro bono work before they can be admitted to the bar. Plenty of bloggers have already chimed in on whether this is a good or bad idea. There’s little that I can add to that debate. But I like to remind lawyers that the benefits of performing pro bono work go well beyond feeling good about “doing the right thing.” Too few of us recognize that it can also yield substantial, practical economic benefits for ourselves, our organizations and our profession as a whole. When it comes to pro bono service, “it pays to be good.” Continue reading this post on ... Read More

Client Service: Are Your Clients Really Satisfied?

If you are like many lawyers, you assume your clients are satisfied. Oftentimes, three reasons support their assumption. Their clients don’t complain, they pay, and they come back. Each of these answers seems reasonable as an indication of client satisfaction. In reality, however, they provide little support. My Clients Don’t Complain Many of you eat at restaurants frequently, I suspect. I do. Unfortunately, I often receive lousy food, lousy service or both. Do I complain to my server or to the host/hostess? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. It usually depends on just how bad the food or service was, and upon my mood. Although I am not shy about voicing my opinion, many times I simply walk out of the restaurant without expressing a word of… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

A Personalized Cover Letter Should Accompany Legal Bills

Do you include a cover letter when you send out your monthly legal bills? Most of you do, I suspect. In my previous life as an in-house lawyer for more than a dozen years, I reviewed more outside legal bills than I care to remember. Certain things stick out. The more important portion of legal bills, of course, are the page with the “almighty” time entries and descriptions. However, I also clearly remember the attached cover letter. They all said the same thing: “Enclosed, please find.” What a waste of a valuable opportunity. Personalize Your Cover Letter Consider sending out your legal bills with a personalized cover letter. Now, before you start whining about yet another “soft skill” client service suggestion that seems on its… ... Read More
Categories: Practice Management

Why Be Afraid of Networking?

Unfortunately, most lawyers aren’t particularly excited about the idea of networking. Even lawyers who’ve taken steps to get help with business development will object, inevitably, when it’s time to test their networking ability. Two primary fears seem to be the basis for their lack of enthusiasm and their objections. So let’s take a look at why those fears are unfounded. Continue reading this post on ... Read More

Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Alternative careers — doing something other than practicing law — are looking more attractive to both new and experienced lawyers as the job market gets more dismal. Of course, the notion of lawyers using their legal degrees to do something other than practice law is nothing new. After all, the U.S. President and his challenger both have J.D.’s. I’m sure that many of you thought along these lines when making the decision to attend law school: “I may not ultimately practice law, but a legal degree is something that can always be put to use.” Implied in that logic is the notion that a J.D. enhances one’s value in the overall job market and that an alternative career is very possible. Indeed, that seems to be the conventional wis… ... Read More
Categories: Legal Careers

A Coach Reviews The Lawyer's Guide to Professional Coaching

At long last, the ABA has published a book about coaching for lawyers. As an attorney coach for almost a decade, I understand that many lawyers don’t even know that the option of coaching for their profession exists, let alone understand how coaches can help their careers. The publishing of this book by the ABA should enhance the credibility and popularity of lawyer coaching. With those thoughts in mind, I eagerly sat down to read The Lawyer’s Guide to Professional Coaching, by Andrew Elowitt. The Basics of Coaching Elowitt does an excellent job providing an overview of the basics, including why a lawyer would need a coach, how coaching works, why coaching is more than a fad, and how to select a coach. That said, much of the material co… ... Read More

When Networking, Confidence and Enthusiasm Are Essential

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Usually I agree with Woody Allen, who is famous for (among other things) making this remark. But when it comes to networking for purposes of business development, I’ll have to differ from the well-known filmmaker. Confidence and Enthusiasm Are Paramount Networking is a complete waste of time and money — unless one can sound confident and enthusiastic when doing so. Just showing up is not enough. Simply put, no one wants to hire an attorney who sounds tentative and is not passionate about what he or she does. Think about it. Would you hire a lawyer who tells you, “I’m not so sure how to do that, but I think I can figure it out”? Would you hire a lawyers who says, “Been there; done th… ... Read More

ABA report: No New Rules Needed for Law Firm Rankings

When U.S. News & World Report decided to rank law schools, this ranking – for better or worse — fundamentally changed the law school admissions process. Continue reading this post on ... Read More

LegalZoon: Good or Bad News for the Legal Profession?

In the past ten years, LegalZoom has had more than two million customers. Its revenue in 2011 was $156 million. What does the apparent success of LegalZoom and other online document companies mean for the legal profession as a whole? ... Read More
I found it very helpful to have Roy’s “bird’s-eye view” of my immigration practice and current career prospects. When we started, I knew I needed a change. I didn’t know if that was a completely new career, adding a new practice are…" Read the rest
– Solo Practitioner, St. Paul, MN

For More Information

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.