Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


What do we have for you this week, in our favorite posts from across the blawgosphere roundup? How about three cases of lawyers behaving stupidly, all of which you can learn a lesson from.

A copyright defender turns troll, both for himself and his clients. A judge has a "shocking" response to a sovereign citizen's nonsensical ramblings. And Solo Practice University presents the tale of a lawyer who bit off more than he could chew when he decided to dabble in a new practice area.

Read. Learn. But most of all, enjoy the schadenfreude:

In the time of the "start up" business, where young people fresh out of college start a business, get some venture capital, and then make a bajillion dollars, the law firm seems like a vestige of an older time, when we were genteel country lawyers writing on parchment with quill pens.

Structurally, that's the way it is, too: the vanguards of the legal profession still like to pretend law firms are a separate, distinct, elite category of business-but-not-business entity. Really, though, the law firm is a business: it needs to act like one to survive. All the worn leather briefcases and elegant constitutional references the world won't pay the bills.

The Stanford University Graduate School of Business will launch a five-week online course, starting September 15, on "growing your business." Could law firms learn something from this course?

Business trips combine the best elements of vacation with the best elements of working. Wait, maybe they actually combine the worst of each of those things.

In any case, when you're away from your law office on business, here are some ways you can make your life easier, save some money, and operate your practice on the road:

1. Join Every Frequency Program.

Airlines, hotels, credit cards -- they all offer frequency programs that reward you for mileage or spending. Airline tickets and hotel accommodations cost a lot of money, but that means they also reap the most rewards. Even if you have a corporate card, you should be able to join the card's rewards program, meaning you get cash back, points, or whatever it is they offer (though you may not want to "abuse" the program). Similarly, it's free to join practically every airline's frequent flyer program, meaning you earn miles for every mile you travel. Even if you don't have enough miles to get a free airline ticket, you can still turn in your miles to get free stuff. It's how I get magazine subscriptions every year.

Sometimes, civility will not do. Your opposing counsel pushes every single one of your buttons, and hell, you're nobody's doormat. 

But how far do you go? Sharp tones, a threat of sanctions, or gasp, a profanity or two? And what else makes a good "F U" letter? Are there any other ways to irk opposing counsel?

We've got a few ideas.

Whether you're a new attorney who's just found nonprofit work or a seasoned associate looking for something new, nonprofit legal services can provide a break if you spend your day on M&As.

And if M&As were never really your thing to begin with, volunteering could lead to a paying job if you eat your peas and say your prayers. Note, however, that you shouldn't walk into a volunteer gig expecting a paying job out of it. Show them that you do go work, though, and it could be in your future.

Here are three ways you may be able to turn a volunteer legal gig into paying work:

4chan users posted graphic rape porn in the comments section of Jezebel, a feminist blog. You won't believe what legal issues arose next!

And what happens when an attorney develops a meth addiction? When a prosecutor breaks bad, can be make it back?

Folks, if clickbait titles make you want to punch your monitor, the Upworthy Generator might be the best parody you'll read all day. And if you want to read some of the best recent posts from the blawgosphere, keep reading.

Groan. The dreaded billable hour, which, like the last five minutes of a football game, never seems to end. Obviously you need to bill all your time, and you've got to be ethical about it, but are you selling yourself short? A survey conducted by timekeeping software provider Chrometa of 500 professionals who bill by the hour revealed that they captured just 67 percent of their billable time.

How do you squeeze the remaining 33 percent of that time out of your day? Here are five things you can do to make sure you're maximizing your billable hours:

So you've decided to "hang your shingle" (oh, do I hate that phrase). Being a solo practitioner, by definition, is a solitary affair. That seems obvious from the word "solo," but it's solitary in a metaphysical sense, too.

If you're part of a firm, you can bounce ideas off others, take a break to discuss non-legal happenings, and you know that you can always rely on someone else if you have to. Solos don't have any of that, which means they more than anyone else need to get out there and network.

So how do solos network? Here are three suggestions that may work for you:

It's only mid-August, and the days are getting shorter already. I'm noticing it's darker out at my usual wake up time, and I'm thankful that I invested in my Philips Wake-Up Light so I can awake not only to bright light, but also the sound of birds chirping (kind of like this gal).

But seriously, anyone who feels the slightest effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder knows the impact of light on sleep. Now, a new study takes it a bit further -- into the workplace.

Here's a fun statistic: 31 percent of traffic to law firm websites comes from mobile search. That's nearly one-third of all of your Web traffic coming from smartphone and tablet users. And make no mistake about it, mobile Google results are very different from desktop Google results, which means you're playing a whole different game when marketing your practice online to that 31 percent.

Plus, that 31 percent is likely to grow. In December 2012, just 23 percent of legal consumers used mobile search. In 2011, it was 14 percent; four years ago, it stood at a measly 6 percent.

Bottom line: There's a clear trend towards users looking for legal help on their smartphones and tablets, and you need to plan accordingly for these "local-mobile" searches.