Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


You may make a great first impression on your potential clients, what kind of impression does your law office make?

If your office looks like every other lawyer's office, your potential clients could be underwhelmed. Everybody has seen the diplomas on the wall, the fake potted plants, and the bookcases filled with law books that nobody ever touches.

Instead, dress your law office for success and make a great first impression with these five tips:

After a long interview process, you've just hired some new associates. Congrats! Now it's time to get to work.

As you invest hours and other resources into training your new associates, you'll want to make sure they stay long enough to provide a good return on your investment. Still, despite your best efforts, some new associates may not stick around for very long, for various reasons.

Keep an eye out for these three warning signs that your new associates may be looking to stray:

Stay current on your child support obligations, or you might lose your law license. As the ABA Journal reported yesterday, the Supreme Court of Kentucky disbarred Daniel Warren James for failing to pay over $200,000 in child support obligations over 13 years.

That's not just a failure to pay a little child support; it's a failure to pay a lot of child support. That, coupled with a history of attorney discipline, led the Supreme Court to conclude permanent disbarment was an appropriate sanction.

Courts move slowly, as Chief Justice Roberts noted in his State of the Federal Judiciary Report earlier this year. Yes, he knows that the Court needs electronic filing and video recording, but for vague or unspecified reasons, they're just not ready for that yet.

Now that we think about it, all courts at every level have weird anachronisms that shouldn't exist anymore, or practices that just plain don't make sense. We've assembled a list of five things courts need to stop doing in the year 2015. This is the year of the Hoverboard, after all!

It's been 25 years since a University of Michigan Ph.D. student named Thomas Knoll and his brother John, then a visual effects supervisor at ILM, created a program for displaying images on a black-and-white display.

That little program for Mac OS 6 was Adobe Photoshop, and after 15 versions, it's going well beyond just displaying images. Photoshop is the industry standard for photo manipulation, and indeed, is now a verb for the act of digitally altering a photo.

Speaking of digital alterations, Photoshop may be used more often than you think in a legal context. How do you know when an image has been Photoshopped?

The point of most marketing is to solve a problem. Most of the time, the problem is pretty easy. When your product is dog food, the problem you're solving is that dogs need food. Then the strategy comes in: Why do they need your food, and not your competitor's?

Legal marketing is a little different. People contact attorneys for lots of different reasons, so in order to effectively determine your strategy, first you have to know what problem you're solving. Deep within FindLaw's 2014 Consumer Legal Needs Survey lies part of the answer.

Between Facebook, Twitter, and a website (and, if you've been reading here, podcasts!), maintaining your Internet presence can seem like a full-time job, or at least a half-time job. And, wait, don't you have a law firm to run? All that marketing won't matter if you don't have to do any actual lawyering.

That's why you might want to consider hiring a social media manager -- a full- or part-time employee who not only manages your Twitter feed, but functions partly as a marketing manager who knows how to leverage social media.

OK, so you have a blog. You have a Twitter account. You have a Pinterest, a Tumblr, an Ello, and even a lawyer Tinder (but we should talk about deleting that soon). What tools are left for solos and small firms to use to market themselves?

Podcasts! You've probably heard about them, you may have listened to them, but did you know it's dead simple to make your own? All you need is a laptop, a USB condenser microphone, and an hour a week to record a show about a topic of your choice.

We've been quietly watching a proposed change to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure wind its way through the appropriate channels, wondering if it's worth writing about. As the proposal has gathered steam, it turns out it's created as much divide as Team Edward v. Team Jacob -- minus the abs and the longing looks.

The proposal to reduce the maximum length of federal civil briefs from 14,000 words to 12,500 words has drawn comments from lawyers and judges alike -- and guess who's on which side of the proposal.

Whether you work for a large firm or a small one, you're bound to encounter the bureaucracy in at least some of its glorious forms. At big firms, for instance, corporate policies limit innovation because every action has to performed according to a prearranged script, and deviations from that script are either not allowed or need to be approved by five levels of management.

On the other hand, at small firms, you're in charge of your life, but you're in more direct contact with the court system. Sometimes, it can be like pulling teeth to get an answer to a question or to get a problem solved.

How do you get what you want? Turns out it's all about collaboration and treating someone like a person.