Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


We've written before about how lawyers do (or at least, should) extend each other professional courtesies. These small actions, like not objecting to reasonable discovery requests or scheduling depositions at convenient times and places, amount to treating opposing counsel with respect.

Some lawyers, though, think that any amount of cordiality amounts to surrender. They've got to the establish themselves as the Alpha Dog, or whatever metaphor their self-help books use. How do you deal with these crazy people?

Love it or hate it, Microsoft Outlook is here for the long haul. Like cockroaches, Twinkies, and the leather jacket, it was here before we got here and it will keep going long after we're gone.

Rather than rage, rage against the Outlook, embrace it. Sure, it's part of a somewhat clunky suite of giant enterprise-level software, but you can bend it to your productivity will -- with the right tools, of course.

Keeping abreast of legal developments, picking up some management skills, learning about new legal tech or marketing strategies -- these are just some of the benefits of making sure you have continuous professional development. After all, in an industry that evolves every time a new case is decided, lawyers can't stay idle. Attorneys have an obligation to keep up their professional development.

But what are you to do if you're a solo practitioner or your firm doesn't offer a formal (or just good) professional development program? Fret not. There's plenty of P.D. opportunities out there for you. Here's five places to find them:

There's a reason LinkedIn urges you to upload a photo. For better or worse, how we look deeply affects others' perceptions of our strength, intelligence and trustworthiness, according to a round up of the relevant neuroscience done by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Happy faces -- think smiling, bright eyes -- make you seem more trustworthy. People respond better to faces they perceive as healthy over ones they see as smart. Those sort of impressions matter, especially when you're looking for a leg up in a job hunt.

So, are you ready for your close up? Here's five tips to help you repeat the benefits of a well-done LinkedIn photo:

People tend to think marketing is simple: a jingle, a camcorder and voila -- you're a veritable Don Draper, ready to sell yourself to the world. If only it was so easy. In fact, marketing, like law, requires a bit of expertise.

Just as you wouldn't cut your own hair or do your own dental work, most lawyers could probably benefit from hiring a marketer. But when is the right time?

Good news, women who get paid a fraction of what men get paid! You're also working harder for that fraction of pay! That's what the women's equality movement was all about, right?

A survey of four Harvard Law School alumni classes -- one from each decade since the 1970s -- revealed that women from the class of 1975 worked about six more hours per week than men, and women from the class of 2000 worked almost eight more hours per week.

These days, pretty much any lawyer with a laptop, a cell phone, and a bar membership can start her own solo practice. There's no need for the wood-paneled offices or stacks of legal reporters. Solo practice can offer you more control and greater flexibility in your work, but it also requires that you take on the role of manager, accountant, marketer and more -- in addition to your legal responsibilities.

Lawyers thinking about opening their own practice should carefully consider their options beforehand. Here's three questions to ask before you go solo:

Spring is here and with it come new beginnings. Baby birds are chirping, tulips are sprouting, and -- marketing plans are getting reevaluated? Yep, the season of regrowth and regeneration is a great time to turn a sharp eye on your legal marketing strategy.

But, what exactly do you need to look at when reevaluating your marketing strategy? Here's three questions that can help you determine what you're doing right and what you could do better.

If you're an expert in your field, or if you're representing a noteworthy client, you should expect to get contacted by the press at some point. A reporter may want background information on tenant's rights or healthcare law, or ask for your comments on an important ruling.

Great! Getting your name out in the media as a legal expert is exactly the kind of publicity lawyers should court. If your clients are involved in high-profile litigation, speaking to the press can help you get their side of the story across.

Make sure, though, that when you speak to the press, you do it right, focusing on getting your points across clearly and avoiding any ethical entanglements. Here's some tips:

Clients gripe all the time about how expensive lawyers are, and the rise of Google means that everyone's a lawyer, which only makes matters worse ("why am I paying you $300 an hour when I can look up the statutes myself?").

There are, of course, times when lawyers can and should provide legal work for free -- and times when they shouldn't.