Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

When you think natural disaster response, you don't necessarily think of lawyers. Clean water, medical aid, and even evacuations might seem like more pressing concerns following a major hurricane, wildfire, or earthquake.

But in the aftermath of many natural disasters, lawyers can be an essential resource, helping victims access housing, insurance relief and disaster assistance quickly. Taking disaster preparedness to heart, San Francisco Bay Area bar associations and pro bono organizations have joined together to create a corps of attorneys ready to provide assistance should disaster strike.

Think your future is in weed law? Twenty-three states and D.C. have laws allowing for medical marijuana. Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska have legalized recreational weed, and California is expected to join them next year. All those growers, distributors, and vendors need lawyers and if the end of marijuana prohibition is approaching, enterprising lawyers will want to be on the ground floor.

There's one major complication. Marijuana remains illegal in the federal government's eyes. Lawyers who advise clients in the marijuana industry could theoretically face sanctions, even disbarment. As a recent interview with the managing partner of a BigLaw firm with a growing marijuana practice reminds us -- weed law is far from a sure thing.

When it comes to recruiting new attorneys, it can be hard for small practices and boutique firms to compete with for top talent -- but it's not impossible. After all, there's a reason you don't work for a major firm. Because those jobs are awful. Instead of being another overpaid drone working ten hours every day on a brief no one will see, you decided to set out for something different.

What drew you to your practice can also draw others. A committed small firm, focused on what sets it apart from the crowd, can still compete with bigger employers and bring in the talent it needs to advance.

You can trust old things. That's the logic of the ancient documents rule, which allows lawyers to introduce hearsay evidence so long as the document is old enough and appears authentic. How old is old enough? Just 20 years.

Ironically, that thinking is probably out of date, given the amount of digital data that can be hoarded away for long periods. If the logic behind the rule was questionable when it was established, some argue that it's even weaker now. The federal judiciary might agree. It decided earlier this month to consider ending the ancient documents rule altogether.

The Internet is bloated with over-opinionated jerks. Everyone knows this; but it's never anything to lose sleep over until someone comes after you personally. If your reputation is attacked by an anonymous online user on Yelp or some other public site, what should you do?

First, take a deep breath. Before you do anything, think about how your reactions will make you appear. Possibly the worst thing you can do is freak out and threaten to sue.

We don't often look across the pond for advice on making 'Merica's legal industry great. We took the Magna Carta, some common law, and haven't felt the need to look back since 1776. But maybe there's a thing or two American lawyers can learn from their English counterparts, at least when it comes to the structure of the "law firm of the future."

A recent debate among English practitioners about the future of the firm has plenty of good insights for American lawyers. Perhaps the most helpful reminder: when it comes to clients, no one cares about law firm structure. What they want is results.

You're a master of Internet marketing. You've got your Google keywording down. Your law firm's website is mobile friendly. You're on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. You even have an app! But if you don't have video, you might not have all your bases covered.

Online video should be an essential part of your lawyer marketing strategy. It's a great way to reach consumers, develop trust, and build your brand. It's also not all that difficult to create. So get ready for your close-ups, attorneys, you're about to become Internet video stars.

Few firms have physical libraries anymore, but that doesn't mean there's no work for law librarians. While much of their time is spent on helping research through electronic databases and keeping practitioners on top of recent developments, law librarians also see plenty of opportunity to expand their role in the firm.

That's the message found by a new survey of law firm librarians conducted by Bloomberg Law. Those librarians feel underused and underpaid and they're ready to take a more active role in bringing in business. So, if you want to make your law librarians happy, give them more work -- and maybe a raise.

As webpages are becoming increasingly important evidence in litigation, so too are the standards for capturing and preserving that evidence. For years, we've seen Internet evidence used to contest disability claims, to prove a spouse's cheating ways, to support claims of trademark infringement. Heck -- even Google Earth is being marshaled in courts as evidence.

Lawyers who want to make use of webpage or electronic evidence might be surprised that simply printing out that incriminating Facebook post, defamatory tweet, or infringing email might not be sufficient anymore. Instead, attorneys need to follow best practices for capturing webpage and electronic evidence in order to ensure its admissibility in court.

Here in Silicon Valley, it's not uncommon to see a tech millionaire zip by in their new electric Tesla sportscar, or to see those millionaire's secretaries sending gas money to their carpool through PayPal. Kids dream of privatized space travel; commuters long for super high speed rail.

Elon Musk, the tech mogul, has his fingers everywhere here. The former CEO of PayPal, Musk took his billions and spread them around through a variety of future-focused enterprises, from Tesla cars, to SpaceX, to hyperloop transit. He's quickly reached Steve Jobs cult-status.

We've often said small firms and solos need to think about their work as both a profession and a business. Part of business success is looking at business leaders. With that in mind, here's what lawyers can learn from Elon Musk, both in his triumphs and failures: