Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


Phone interviews are about as fun as flu shots. And like shots, they're painful, sometimes nauseating, but a necessary part of life. Deprived of the many cues afforded by a face to face meeting -- the types of visual aids that let us know when the other side is done speaking or if they are even still listening -- phone interviews can be stilted and awkward for both the interviewer and interviewee.

However, there's a reason we do them. The phone interview can be a great, quick way to connect with candidates who are far away, or to screen candidates before bringing them in to meet face-to-face. So don't dread them, make them better. Here are three simple tips to help you conduct improved phone interviews.

Lawyers aren't often known for their clarity and concision -- we paid good money to learn our Latin phrases, after all. We have also been known to fall for the specificity, if not clarity, of a few extra words every now and then. But, pair the somewhat obscure language of legal writing with the in-speak of certain professions, and you can end up with a virtually indecipherable mess.

Put more plainly, your writing will suck.

So much in fact, it's almost enough to get you sanctioned. After filing a jargon-laden petition for cert, a BigLaw partner narrowly avoided that fate last week. Just how far did he have to go to nearly receive the wrath of a High Court's sanction?

Firms go to great lengths to find and hire the best talent, but once hired, many firms stand back and see who sinks and who swims. While some talent can thrive on its own, taking an active hand in managing your lawyers' development ensures that the firm gets the most out of its employees.

How can you build your firm's professional development program in order to turn promising talent into an actual pay out? Here are some ideas to start with.

Electronic discovery is the name of the game these days as more and more people and companies store their stuff in the form of bytes, not pages. That means that lawyers need to know how electronic discovery works (and in some places, that's an ethical requirement).

Even so, nobody's perfect, and replying to requests for ESI can cause headaches. When you're responding to an ESI request, take caution to avoid these three mistakes.

It's officially now spring, which means (for most of the country) blue skies and warm weather. People are outdoors at fairs, festivals, and farmers markets.

What are you doing indoors on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? You should be out there, at the fair, drumming up business. Outdoor events are a great way to talk to potential clients, and even if you don't sign anyone up, you get your name out there in the neighborhood and be part of the community.

People are cheap, they like free things, and paradoxically, this can be a great way to get into their pocketbooks. How can you turn a giveaway into a payday? For many lawyers, it's via the free consult, where attorneys meet with potential clients, answering basic questions and providing simple advice.

But, when your product is your legal expertise, does it make sense to give it away? Like so many things, the answer is "it depends."

Can you name the movie associated with the phrase "In space, no one can hear you scream"? How about "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water"? What product comes to mind when you hear "Don't leave home without it"?

The answers, of course, are "Alien," "Jaws 2," and American Express. A good tagline piques an audience's interest, gives them some information about the product, and sticks with them. All of these elements come together in a good law firm tagline, too. After people see your billboards, websites, and TV commercials, how do you ensure they'll be interested and remember who you were?

Here are three things that go into a good tag line.

Normally, a defense attorney's strategy is to claim his client didn't do it. But extraordinary cases call for extraordinary measures. On day one of the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged Boston Marathon bomber, the defense conceded that Tsarnaev helped plant the bomb that killed three and injured over 260 back in 2013.

From the very beginning, though, the Tsarnaev team's strategy has been to look ahead to the sentencing phase by planting the seeds of that argument here in the guilt phase.

Client satisfaction should be central to any firm. After all, it takes much less energy to retain a client than to develop a new one. Utilizing client surveys can be a great method to gather invaluable data about your firm's performance, identify strengths and shortcomings and find new ways to improve your marketing.

Whether it's a simple online questionnaire, a lost client survey, or a formal focus group, client surveys can help you understand clients' feelings and concerns and make sure you are excelling in the areas that matter most to clients.

If you've decided to lease office space rather than go the virtual route, congratulations! You're well on your way to looking professional.

Before you get that office space, though, there are some things you want to think about that will make your whole experience better in the future. They might not seem important before you sign that lease, but if you don't take these things into account, they'll slowly nag at you until you wish you had.