Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


Americans don't really negotiate over things as much as people do in other countries. We're accustomed to just paying the sticker price and moving on with our lives. But there are a plethora of things you can acquire for a cheaper price by putting your fancy lawyerly negotiatin' skills to work.

Here are five examples:

Smooth or crunchy? Sean Connery or Roger Moore? Free consultations or no? These are the debates that characterize our times. Because this is a legal blog, we're going to have to save the first two for another blog (although, off the record, the answers are "crunchy" and "Roger Moore").

We're qualified to help you answer the third question, though. Many opinions abound about whether you should offer free consultations, where the potential client comes in to explain his or her problem. What should you do? Here are a few points to ponder:

I hope you've purchased your Costco-sized bottle of antacids: The holiday season means travel, and travel means stress via missed flights, delayed flights, poor weather, nasty people, and luggage that's in Boston instead of Albuquerque (but don't worry; you'll get a $25 voucher for your troubles).

So how can you get work done on the go? Thankfully, airports, airplanes, trains, and even buses are much friendlier to getting work done than they ever have been. (Downside: You're expected to be working all the time.) Here are a few tips that can help:

Black Friday will soon be upon us; or, more properly, the month-long holiday binge once called "Black Friday" is already here. That means you can get discounts on lawyer gifts for your lawyer friends as early as today.

But what do lawyers want for Christmas? Law-related stuff, of course, which includes gifts that make them seem more important than they really are. Here are some gift ideas that should please any lawyer.

There is a lot of debate about what exactly a "virtual" law practice is: Is it someone who doesn't have a full-time office and primarily uses email? Or is it something more: online-only, using secure document portals for clients, perhaps using more than just e-mail (video chat, maybe)?

For now, we're going to go with the online-only lawyer. Think: someone who never meets clients in person and who could run his firm just as easily from North Dakota as he could from a motel in Amarillo, Texas. What are the pros and cons of such an unusual, "virtual" arrangement?

There's Google My Business, a local directory that also has Google reviews baked in. There's Apple Maps Connect, which is its own local directory with ratings and reviews. And you know you need to keep your eye on Yelp, the mother of all review sites.

Now Facebook wants to join the party too! Introducing Facebook Places, another local directory that you might use some time when your Yelp app won't load. The Web-based service (it hasn't yet been baked into the mobile app) simply prompts you to "Discover great places in every city." Enter a location and wham, bam, boom: You get cool stuff to do, all with reviews by real Facebookers.

Again, it screams "Yelp competitor," and really, it is. And you need to keep your eye on it.

Social media is a mixed blessing. Sure, it allows instantaneous communications with friends and family (especially over cat photos), but it also allows clients to make terrible decisions at the push of a button. Part of your initial meeting with a client should be a brief overview of why the client should stay away from Facebook and Twitter (and others).

Clients are big boys and girls; so why should you take on the Herculean task of telling them not to respond to that itch to comment?

Lawyers often assume that clients know how things work, and when clients say, "You bet I understand!," the lawyer takes the client as his word. But the client doesn't always understand why, for example, you haven't called in three days to update him on his case. A lot of client frustration comes from not understanding what's going on or why something is the way it is, which can lead to unnecessary state bar complaints.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are five things you should explain to clients to avoid potential confusion:

You know what was vastly underrated? The Smith-Corona typewriter. Typewriters didn't distract you with celebrity gossip. They didn't have email alerts popping up in the corner of your screen, ready to interrupt your work every few minutes. And eye fatigue? Not so much, not when you're not staring at an artificially lit computer screen for 8 to 10 hours straight.

Sadly, the typewriter is no more. Research, brief writing, and even filing is done using these damned computers and the "information superhighway." According to the 2014 Digital Eye Strain Report, Americans on average are now spending nine hours per day in front of a digital screen. Nearly 70 percent of adults report eye strain, more so among younger adults (18 to 34) than older adults with presumably higher rates of actual eye issues.

What can you do to relieve the pain? Here are a few tips:

Marketing is one of those things that people think they can do on their own. A couple slogans, a sign, and boom -- you're done. But marketing turns out to be harder than it looks. That's why some law firms have dedicated marketing managers -- experienced people who make it their full-time job to advertise the law firm.

It's a good idea to have a marketing manager (and here are some good reasons), but the question for today is, what do you look for in a marketing manager? Here are a few considerations to get you started: