Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


Tips on Productivity: Go Slow and Steady

Many years ago, I drove a 1969 Volkswagen almost 1,000 miles up and down the California coast to attend a deposition.

It was a beautiful trip, especially along the cliffy stretch between San Simeon and Carmel. Not everybody gets to see it because sometimes rock slides cover the highway. As I look back now, I realize how that drive taught me something about life.

Slow and steady wins the race. It's as true on a road trip as it is in law life. Here are some tips to help you manage your productivity in a busy law practice:

When drafting a pleading, most practitioners focus on proving their case to a judge, and never give a second thought about the general public as an audience. This may seem like the right strategy, but there are certainly some advantages to simplifying your legal writing so that the general public can understand your case, too.

For starters, judges might not be as smart as you think you are. If you are unsure about the definition of a word, they might be as well. And if you're unsure about a word you're using, the general public, with its 8th grade reading level, will more likely than not be confused. Focusing on readability is good, not just for the public, but also for your judge.

Your legal writing style, believe it or not, matters. Judges, and their clerks, appreciate clear writing devoid of unnecessary terms and phrases. However, when it comes to legal writing, court and local rules, and even individual judges' standing orders, tend to focus on formatting, citation, presentation of exhibits, and other more logistical matters.

One of the great stylistic legal writing debates involves whether to capitalize party designations. Unfortunately, though seemingly logistic, this is not something courts usually provide official guidance on. Matters of style are left to the attorneys to figure out, or sometimes it's left to an attorney's boss to dictate. The current popular school of thought preaches the use of concise, plain language. This means that, as much as possible, a pleading should be understandable by a layperson. But what about capitalization?

Solo Lawyers: Tips for Working on Your Summer Vacation

'Working vacation' is an oxymoron, especially for solo attorneys.

So why do we plunge head first into the ritual? It's like starting a journey, knowing that you'll never get to your destination.

But such is the attorney's fate, and so we soldier on with our lattes in life. Here are some ideas for your next working vacation:

Time to Raise Your Billable Rate?

When is it time to raise your billable rate?

When you want to buy a new BMW. Just kidding, sort of.

Deciding when to raise your rates depends on a number of factors, but always involves calculating the bottom line: how much do you need to stay in business?

What's Your Practice Worth?

Thinking about selling your practice?

If so, the next question may help you make up your mind. How much is it worth?

It's hard to say, kind of like explaining to clients the value of their case or the reason for your hourly rate. It's a complicated question but boils down to this: How likely is it that your clients will actually continue with the potential buyer?

A handful of attorneys are lucky enough to have the problem of dealing with public backlash for representing unpopular, high profile clients. When the media makes your client a villain, it's not always easy for a lawyer to step to the side and not be cast in the same light. But, with high profile clients comes media attention, which is, basically, lots of free advertising.

Even when attorneys are maligned publicly for being willing to represent the reprehensible, the process of name/brand recognition is at work. Seeing the recent critical articles written about O.J.'s pending parole might make some lawyers wonder whether tying their shingle to unpopular causes and names is really a wise choice. After all, bad press is good press, except when it's really really bad, right?

Have you been waiting for an exciting niche area of law to take your practice to new heights? If so, and you are in any way, shape, or form technically capable, you may want to consider studying up on the laws surrounding drones.

The mass production of unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as drones, that exploded onto the market over the past few years, has heralded a whole new set of legal concerns for businesses, individuals, the general public, and government entities. Unfortunately, there currently are not enough lawyers to help navigate these emerging legal concerns. Even major firms are trying to enter the field, as it is just that hot.

A train needs coal, a car needs gas, and a lawyer needs clients. Solo practitioners, you didn't go to law school to learn to market your legal practice, or to learn to build websites; you went to learn to be a lawyer. While lawyers are known to be persuasive in the courtroom and in legal writing, the same isn't necessarily true when it comes to persuading new clients to hire you.

So, how do you create successful acquisition strategies as a solo lawyer? The new playbook by FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing can help. Offered as a free download, "Client Acquisition Strategies for the Solo Practitioner" provides important insights on some best practices to help solos land new clients.

Law Firms Resist Changing Business Model, Despite Growing Competition

Lawyers are not very serious about changing their business model, according to a recent survey of nearly 400 law firms.

Less than one-fourth of the survey respondents said they were seriously considering a change in their legal service delivery model. Nearly two-thirds blamed the reticence on the law firm partners.

The Altman Weil "Law Firms in Transition Survey" says lawyers are not ready to change, despite a competitive pinch from legal tech and legal service providers. Surely, there have to be lawyers somewhere doing something about it?