Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

September 2013 Archives

Last week we went over the basics of SEO and why you should implement SEO as part of an effective online media strategy. Now, we're getting into the nitty gritty of SEO: keywords, page tags, links and content.

Earlier this week we talked about law firm website basics such as domain name, design and content. Now we get to the fun stuff -- SEO, or search engine optimization.

Why SEO Is Important

Key to SEO strategy is making changes to your website to increase its visibility to search engines, resulting in your site getting ranked higher in search results. This is especially important because many people begin their hunt for legal representation online by searching for local attorneys. Not only that, but online searches are a free way for your firm to have huge exposure.

5 Tips to Get You Through an All-Nighter at Your Firm

Need tips to get you through an all-nighter?

Ah, the all-nighter. Despite not being in college anymore, they are often unfortunately still necessary in the legal sector. The truth is, we have clients, our job gets difficult, and the tasks pile on to the point where we just can't get everything done, even with the help of our staff, in time to go home for some shut-eye.

So, what should you do? If you find yourself facing a pressing task that requires an all-nighter, don't fear. You can still get through it. Here are five tips to help you out:

What Do Solos Need to Do to Prepare for Obamacare?

You'd think, being a solo practitioner, that you wouldn't have to do anything to prepare for the upcoming Obamacare deadlines.

Think again.

Though your mandated duties, per the Affordable Care Act, are minimal as a small business/sole practitioner, there are a few things you need to do in the near future in order to avoid penalties and taxes.

5 Things to Help You Get Motivated and Productive on Wednesday

It's Wednesday. Has anyone ever written a song about this drag of a day? The songs don't say "easy as [Wednesday] morning," and no one "gets down on [Wednesday]." Wednesday is the most hated day of the week for a reason, as there are still two more days of work left before you are free.

Getting amped mid-week can be hard. But you need to. There are emails to return and a mountain of research and/or paperwork sitting right there, looking at you. So, here are a few sources of short-term and long-term motivation to jump-start your mid-week mind.

Though Congress is still trying to defund the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, for the bazillionth time, it's slated to go into effect on October 1st. As a small business, you may or may not have obligations to fulfill in a few weeks.

After reviewing the official informational site HealthCare.gov, we decided to clear away the clutter to let you know how you might prepare for the upcoming changes. Depending how you answer the following two questions, you will have different responsibilities.

Many firms have websites, and chances are if you're reading this blog post you're probably technically savvy enough to have one for your firm. If you don't, welcome to the 21st century (where the hell have you been?), and get thee to a web designer.

In the first of a two-part post on law firm websites 101, here is a synopsis of our best posts on the subject. The FindLaw team has done some great work on describing why your firm needs a website, and what needs to go into a law firm website. We're listing our best content on the basic concepts of creating a law firm website from domain names, content, design, all the way through creating a mobile site.

NJ Supreme Court: Judge Can't Do Comedy

Okay, this decision unfortunately makes a lot of sense.

Judge Vincent August Sicari, a part-time municipal judge making $13,000 per year, had a second, more lucrative, and more exciting career: he was a stand-up comedian and actor under the stage name Vincent August.

Now, he'll have to give up the honor of overseeing traffic tickets and disorderly person offenses in favor of reality television and stand-up comedy, reports The Associated Press.

Your Firm Business Plan: 3 Resources to Help You Draft

Did Gabriella convince you?

If you're preparing to launch your own small firm practice, you really should have a business plan. The plan should weigh the relevant factors, from practice area to practice location, before you open up shop. A proper law firm business plan may also be a necessity if you are applying for a small business loan to cover startup costs.

If you're suffering from writer's block, despite Gabriella's great advice, here are few more resources to get you started:

We recently found inspiration from a series of posts in Forbes about 16 things a person should do at the start and end of each day. While some of the points applied to lawyers, many did not. We tried to give the posts a legal spin to tailor it to our readers.

After a long day, here are five things you should do to put a close to a productive day ...

While you may have to set aside dreams of the corner office aside for now, that doesn't mean that you can't put a little effort into making your workspace look nice. Since you likely spend most of your waking hours in your office or cubicle, take some time to make it serene and comfortable.

Here are a few tricks to making your law office or cubicle a place where you want to put in some time.

Five Things Every Lawyer Should Do in the Middle of the Day

What should lawyers be focusing on in the middle of their work day?

Recently, we gave you five things every attorney should do to start their day. Of course, before that, there were reminders about what you should have done before you leave the office at the end of the day.

So, naturally, the next obvious question is -- what about the middle of the day? Not the beginning, as you're revving up, or the end, as you begin to wind down. But, the middle. You know, that huge chunk of the work day when you, hopefully, really dig into the meat of practicing law and all that other good stuff? Here's a checklist of 5 things to remember in the middle of the day.

Forbes recently posted an article about the 16 things one should do at the start of the workday -- while some of the points were useful to lawyers, others didn't apply because of the nature of the work we do.

Since time is money, we've decided to whittle the list down to the five top things you should to every morning to kick start your day. Here goes ...

3 Major Ways to Reduce Your Office Overhead

With all the focus on your online and offline marketing strategies, case management, and overseeing your staff, one thing that often falls by the wayside is overhead. Introductory discounts to things like research services and Internet access have expired, hiking your monthly rates. The costs of consumables, such as printer cartridges for your six-year-old laser printer have skyrocketed due to planned obsolescence. Your budget is bleeding from a thousand paper cuts.

Now is the time to cut back, but where do you start? Here is a list of three areas that could cut your overhead, from managing your staff to adopting new technology.

Yelp Turns Tide in Review Filtering Case, Countersues

This case just went from interesting to fascinating

Last month, we reported on widespread concerns about Yelp's business practices, specifically their spam review filters, which some say, are nothing more than extortion. Many small business owners claim that after they turned down Yelp's advertising overtures, their positive reviews were filtered out, and negative reviews were given more prominent placement.

One of those disgruntled small business owners was a San Diego law firm, which filed suit and won, with the small claims judge comparing Yelp's practices to the mafia. However, Julian McMillian's victory was short-lived, as late last month, an appellate court overturned the decision, and now, he's the defendant in a separate lawsuit, with Yelp claiming that McMillian was posting fake reviews.

Did Lamar Odom's Alleged Mistress Violate Attorney Ethics Rules?

Following celebrity gossip isn't amongst my pastimes, nor is taking pleasure in the misery of Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian. Other than wishing that one of my favorite players, who has dealt with a lot of personal tragedy, would get into rehab and get his life in order, I haven't followed the tale of his drug addiction, his marital troubles, or his alleged affair with recent Pepperdine Law grad and California Bar Admittee Polina Polonsky.

Until now that is, thanks to Above the Law, which raised the interesting question of whether Polonsky had violated legal ethics standards during her supposed relationship with Odom.

Thinking About Moving Your Firm? 3 Things to Consider First

Thinking about moving your law firm? For whatever reason, you may be itching to relocate. Maybe your current practice has just outgrown its physical space, or your commercial lease is ending soon and you'd rather not renew it.

No matter how many associates are at your firm, or if you're a sole practitioner, the bottom line is: Moving is a pain. It requires a very time-consuming process that involves coordination, meticulous planning, and a lot of tiring communication.

With that said, here are three big things to think about before you dive into the process of relocating your law firm:

To start, or not to start, that's the question you've been pondering for some time. Maybe you're taking a leap from law firm or government practice to start your own, maybe you're a new graduate, maybe you've already started your own firm.

Wherever you are in the decision process -- even if you've already started -- consider writing a business plan, because you are after all, starting a business.

Should You Charge for Consultations?

It's a question as old as the business of law itself, and for new solo attorneys, it is an important part of your business plan. Do you charge for consultations?

Feelings on free consultations vary. Some think it is a great idea, as it gets potential clients in the door, where they can be wooed by your personality and professionalism. Others are wary of giving away "free" time, or have had too many experiences with people seeking free legal advice.

Here are some factors you should consider when setting your consultation rate.

Our 5 Top Posts on Billing -- From Foundations to Floundering

The beauty of a blog is that it is always brimming with new, brilliant tips and information. That also means older posts can get lost in the shuffle.

Today, we're going to try something we haven't done in a while. We're going to take a look back at some of our best posts on a topic near-and-dear to every small firm's heart: getting paid. From billing blunders, to the annoyances of alternative fees, here is a listing of what you need to know as a solo or small firm practitioner.

States are required to be reimbursed for their Medicaid outlays, for the treatment of plaintiffs, from tortfeasors. When plaintiffs receive their judgment or settlement, many questions arise regarding the calculation of a state Medicaid program's share.

Two Supreme Court cases help clarify the situation.

After a 3-Day Weekend, 3 Tips to Get You Through The Day

Ah, the day after Labor Day. Welcome back, first of all. Did we encourage so many relaxation methods or vacation tips that you, over-worked attorney, actually took time off this past 3-day weekend? If so, good for you. But, we may have forgotten to mention that returning from a long holiday weekend (read: back to reality) is often one of the tougher adjustments any attorney will have to make on a regular basis.

Oops.

Well, we can't let that be the case for too long. So, first off -- go caffeinate. Then, here are 3 tips that will hopefully help you get through this day so that it's both bearable and productive: