Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


You? Make a mistake? No way. Never gonna happen. But for some other lawyers (we won't name names), mistakes are common place. And we're not just talking about a typo in a contract or court filing. There's a whole universe of mistakes attorneys make, from mishandling client funds (accidentally!) to misusing those fancy Latin phrases.

So, to help you that other guy out, here are some of the most common attorney screw ups and how to avoid them.

BigLaw Firm Goes Nuts Expanding Parental Leave

The Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn must be eyeing the prize for most-loved BigLaw firm in the Windy City -- perhaps even the country. Expanding its already generous parental leave program, the firm has decided to up its number of paid weeks to twenty.

To sweeten the deal, the firm is also doing away with "primary" and "secondary" caregivers, thus incenting more men to actually use the numbers allotted to them. What is going on with BigLaw lately? It's gotten so ... likeable.

You're finally upgrading to a new P.C., or you're getting rid of those old external hard drives you found in the storage closet. Maybe you have a ton of dated USB drives you no longer need, now that you're cloud-based.

Whatever you do, don't just toss out, sell, or give away your old hard drives. First, make sure you wipe them of their data. Here's how.

Sure, lawyers have our in-speak. We talk about obscure rules, using even more obscure Latin phrases, mixed with an alphabet soup of government laws and regulations. But at least we don't talk about "crushing our quarterly goals" and "synergizing" efforts. Well, we don't often. Corporate jargon can slip in to legal practice every once in a while, whether it's from clients or colleagues.

If you've ever wondered where those awful phrases like "ping me" and "wheelhouse" came from, the National Geographic's Mark Strauss has done some sleuthing for you, putting together a condensed etymology of workplace clichés. Here are the highlights.

Lessons in Legal Fees: $41,000 Base + $30,000 Interest = Censure

Wyoming's highest court has publicly censured a lawyer working out of the state's capitol for charging a client $30,000 in interest fees on a bill that was originally just $41,000. So if you're considering charging your clients almost 50 percent in interest, we recommend against it. Top tip? Just don't.

One could say that Cheyenne lawyer Bruce Asay, the recipient of the court's censure, was merely covering himself, however. After all, one of his apparently office policy was to charge a rate of 1½ percent interest on all accounts receivable per month. The idea was to get those pesky clients paying -- instead, he got himself into ethical hot water.

You've heard about the cloud, but what is it exactly? Simply put, someone else's computer. Or rather, computer farm. The cloud allows you to store and access a virtually unlimited amount of information remotely, without having to build up any of the infrastructure on your own.

The cloud isn't just going to transform the way people work, it already has. But the cloud also poses major legal questions. For example, how should attorneys apportion risk when negotiating cloud contracts? What privacy rights are afforded to documents stored in the cloud? Does information uploaded to the cloud count as an export?

You can't do it all yourself. If you're running a small or solo firm, you're going to have to bring in some help sooner or later. But, even if you're a wiz at the law, you might struggle with staffing and management.

To help you out, here are our top tips on finding and retaining the best talent, from the FindLaw archives.

Where do real lawyers practice the law? It’s not exclusively in BigLaw high-rises, managing a team of dozens of associates. It’s not in corporate conference rooms or cocktail parties, schmoozing with high-paying clients. And it’s not just grinding away at clients’ legal issues, either.

Real lawyers do all of it — the managing, the marketing, the lawyering. And one place offers the opportunity to play all roles: small law. Here’s why practice in a small law is as real as it gets.

You've built your own firm and want to see it grow even further. Or perhaps you've found your grove, but need to advise business clients as they expand. You can try to figure things out on your own, or you can turn to the experts, thought leaders from some of today's most forward-looking businesses.

Luckily, much of that leadership can be found in one place: "What's Next: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level." This guide, published by Thomson Reuters' Aspatore, provides insider perspectives on how to advance a business, from leaders in their field. (Disclosure: Aspatore is one of FindLaw's sister companies.)

Tips for Writing a Legal Letter of Advice

How to write a legal letter of advice? It's an excellent question with a much hated answer: it depends.

The fact of the matter is that the individual demands of the situation dictate the length and style of legal correspondence just as much as convention. But we've cobble together a few tips to help solos and small firm attorneys get pointed in the right direction. Once you write a few, you'll find that many of these letters practically write themselves.