Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


I have a pet peeve: I hate it when a website has a really interesting link in a post, something that SCREAMS "Click me! CLICK ME!" like the "Exorcist" girl, and then when I do, it's a standalone video.

A video. A video that I can't watch in public unless I have headphones, a video that will take a ton of my monthly data allotment on my phone, a video that I can't watch at work because that would totally be unprofessional.

But not everybody is me. Some people like videos. Some people would rather watch a three-minute video than read a 900-word article. And if that sounds like your target clientele, you might be wondering: Should your law firm website have videos?

In the 1980s cartoon classic "Garfield's Halloween Adventure," Garfield sings a song about what he should be for Halloween. The same song could apply to new lawyers forming some kind of firm. There are just so many corporate forms to be!

Should you be a PC, LLC, LLP, or another type of entity? Thankfully, we're here to help you make some sense of this alphabet soup so you can decide what's best for you.

But first, here's Garfield:

Truth be told, if someone asked me whether their law firm should have a Facebook page, my gut reaction would be "no." Why? Practically speaking, it's a lot of work for little payout, more so now that Facebook has entered the "Pay to Play" era. A Facebook page that pays dividends is going to require constant fresh content, moderation of user comments and questions, and likely an advertising budget.

But if your firm already has a Facebook page, or if you really want one, here are three simple tips to make it worth your time:

Is electing judges a good idea? Our gut reaction is "no," but for the sake of argument, let's take a look at the current state of the courts to see just what's happening with elected versus appointed judges.

In Pennsylvania, a former Supreme Court judge just dropped her appeal of her sentence for campaign-related crimes. In Illinois, a record-breaking 2004 campaign, for which $9.3 million was spent by or on behalf of the candidates, has been followed up with a 10-years-in-the-making retention election sequel, raising questions of why lawyers and businesses are dumping millions into that election -- to "buy" an outcome for their upcoming Illinois Supreme Court case perhaps? There's even money being dumped into a district court race in Missouri.

And then there's the hypocritical rules on raising funds -- in many states, judges mustn't solicit donations but do need to fund their campaign -- that led to a Supreme Court cert. grant earlier this year.

It's a mess, one that could be solved easily with one small change: Ending the popular election of judges.

If you've thought about becoming a law professor, you probably know that it's hard to become a full, tenured professor. You have to go to the right school (cough, Yale, cough) and then spend the next several years writing articles and doing research.

If you're a practitioner, that's not a likely sequence of events. But what you can do is become an adjunct -- an untenured "guest" professor who teaches courses here and there (though, increasingly, more than just here and there).

Want to teach young minds, and make a little extra money on the side? Here are a few potential ways to do it:

What's the quickest way to get yourself sued, for the most amount of money, advertising-wise? It's as simple as picking up the phone (or fax).

Unsolicited calls, texts, and faxes, which are often made in bulk, can lead to statutory damages of between $500 and $1,500 per violation. We've seen plenty of appellate cases dealing with the nuances of the law and regulations. And as you might expect, appellate courts have little sympathy for telemarketers and junk faxers.

We're not even going to talk about ethics rules here, not just because they vary so much by state, but because it's hard to imagine an unsolicited text/call/fax campaign that wouldn't violate solicitation rules. (If you're looking for the next big thing in law firm marketing, either put the phone and fax down, or talk to someone who really knows what they're doing.)

Prestigious legal jobs, up to and including federal clerkships, require letters of recommendation, that most hagiographic of exercises that's really fairly pointless. Seriously: What is a prospective employer going to learn in a letter of recommendation? (The dark secret is that this is the employee's chance to show off whom he or she knows.)

It's getting to be recommendation season, so if you're going to write a letter of recommendation for young lawyers, law students, or even prospective law students, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

How many times have you stumbled upon a blog that was once active, but hasn't been updated since 2009? Or you go to someone's website and see the infamous WordPress placeholder: "Hello world! Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!" Gross.

It's easy to start a blog. It's far more difficult to keep one alive. If your firm's blog has stagnated, and you're in desperate need of a little motivation, here are five reasons to resurrect your blog, including SEO benefits, two easy types of posts for when you're stuck, marketing benefits, and of course, the creative outlet:

We've talked a lot about the importance of local-mobile searches, but here's the two-sentence recap: Searches from mobile phones is rising exponentially, and Google prioritizes local business listings on its search results page. Plus, adding a local listing simply makes it easier for people who are looking for you to actually find you, especially since everybody uses their smartphone for navigation.

That latter point is why you may want to sign up for Apple Maps Connect as soon as possible. While adding yourself to Apple's database may be of no use whatsoever in search engine queries, it will help the legions of iPhone users locate your office.

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee died Tuesday at the age of 93. Bradlee was the editor of the Post during one of its most difficult times, and the time that made it famous: the Watergate scandal of 1972-73. Even long after Watergate, Bradlee continued to helm the Post, cementing its place as a national newspaper, not just a "metropolitan daily."

So what lessons can lawyers learn from Bradlee?