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March 2014 Archives

Judge MacKenzie in Trouble Again, Urged Inmate to Drop Lawsuit

Award-winning Judge Brian MacKenzie, of Novi, Michigan (a Detroit suburb) is back in the news again, and just like last time, it's because of misconduct allegations.

When we last caught up with Judge MacKenzie, he had just lost control over his entire docket, due to allegedly ignoring the law, handing out illegal sentences, hiding and sealing case files, and tweaking court transcripts to avoid the problem of having prosecutors present during sentencing. No big deal, right?

This time, a secret recording from four years ago, where he appears to pressure a defendant into dropping a police brutality lawsuit, has come back to haunt him.

Did you know that Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost you upwards of $75/ounce? Compare that to Chanel N°5 that costs $38/ounce and that's some expensive ink. And, what exactly does this have to do with you and how you run your firm? Everything.

A 14-year old student found a way to save the U.S. Government $136 million per year, reports CNN. How? Simply swapping the Times New Roman font to Garamond in Government publications. Yes, us too.

So that got us thinking, what other small things can you do around your firm to save some money? We came up with a few for you.

As the use of visual aids and technology during litigation increases, it's imperative that you keep up with presentation trends so that you can use all the tools available to you to persuade a jury. Increasingly, attorneys need to hone their design skills as PowerPoint presentations move away from bullet points, to graphics.

Here are some tips and resources for you to upgrade your PowerPoint skills.

1. Keep It Minimal

You want your slides to be easy to see and free of clutter. Don't rely on too much text because you should never read your slides. Instead, highlight key terms and be prepared to elaborate.

Blogging Judge is Back, and He Just Made a Lot of Women Angry

Around these parts there is a wonderfully talented and very pretty female lawyer who is in her late twenties. She is brilliant, she writes well, she speaks eloquently, she is zealous but not overly so, she is always prepared, she treats others, including her opponents, with civility and respect, she wears very short skirts and shows lots of her ample chest. I especially appreciate the last two attributes.

Welcome back, Judge Richard Kopf!

His Tuesday blog post on courtroom attire managed to both make a lot of women angry and nod their head in agreement at the same time. If you don't recall, the wonderfully talented writer Judge Kopf hung up his keyboard in January, stating that he had nothing left to say. Earlier this month, he returned with bad news (a diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma) and began writing again, mostly about his treatment.

Metadata, Falsified Discovery Requests Lead to 6 Month Suspension

It is stupid to falsify legal documents instead of admitting your mistake and requesting accommodations from opposing counsel.

It's even more stupid to get caught due to electronic service of documents with metadata indicating the true date that the document was created. And it's downright idiotic to copy previous certificates of service from the same case and try to pass them off as authentic.

Jeffrey McGinness, a former NCAA national champion in wresting and Iowa attorney, probably knows how stupid his conduct was, and if he doesn't, he'll have six months to figure it out. He was suspended by the Iowa Supreme Court after lying about discovery requests, first to opposing counsel, then to the trial court, before finally accepting responsibility after the parties uncovered his ruse. (H/T to the Legal Profession Blog.)

Get Ahead By Debunking the SEO Myth of the 'Tail'

Attorneys need many tools to shape a successful online marketing strategy, but SEO is perhaps the least understood.

If a world of potential clients is heaven, then Google is St. Peter, and a proper search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is every attorney's keys to the Kingdom. But the only way to find and use those keys, and outpace your competition, is to really understand how "tails" affect searches.

If you've ever looked at stock photography of career women, used everywhere from websites to promotional materials, then you've probably noticed that women who work are often depicted doing the ridiculous. Whether it's sprouting eight arms, wearing boxing gloves or smiling at their salad, the examples are numerous -- and silly. If you look at photos targeted specifically toward women attorney the results are even dumber, i.e., "lawyer woman with gun."

Who does that?

Getty Images' Lean In Collection

Getty Images and LeanIn.Org jointly curated a series of images called the Lean In Collection, "a library of images devoted to the powerful depiction of women, girls and the people who support them." With "over 2,500 images of female leadership in contemporary work and life," some of the proceeds will go "toward the creation of Getty Images grants for images showcasing female empowerment and to supporting the mission of LeanIn.Org." One look at these images shows a refreshingly modern -- and realistic -- view of what it means to be a woman.

Google+, Authorship, +1s, and How it All Impacts Lawyer Marketing

Yesterday, we talked about marketing your law firm on Facebook in the new "pay to play" age. But Facebook isn't the only social network out there, and if you are disillusioned by the company's move away from "organic" (natural) news feed placement and towards paid advertising, you might wonder how the other social networks will come into play in 2014.

That's a good question. There are a lot of jokes out there about how the different networks compare (Facebook is "I like bacon," Twitter is "I'm eating #bacon," Foursquare is "This is where I eat bacon," etc.), but how should you, a small law firm or sole practitioner, approach the networks this year?

We'd start with Google+, surprisingly.

What's Your Facebook Marketing Strategy in the Pay to Play Era?

"Organic reach" will be slashed to 1 or 2 percent, Valleywag reported. CNET confirmed with the tech giant that the organic reach of Facebook Pages will "decline over time."

This sounds important, especially for law firms that maintain active Facebook brand pages, but what does it mean for your firm's online marketing strategy? If your firm uses a business page, Facebook is inching closer to "pay to play," where the only way for your page's updates to display in users' News Feeds will be to pay for advertising.

Spring Break: A Good Vacation Option for Solo Practice Attorneys?

For many solo practitioners, taking a lengthy vacation is neither financially nor logistically feasible. If that describes you, a spring break trip might be a better option.

If your heart rate is already going up from just thinking about how to sneak away on a spring break trip, take a deep breath and read on. There are ways to tackle the two main vacation stressors -- finances and scheduling -- and maximize your well-earned (and frankly, much needed) vacation.

Calling All Solo Attorneys: Sign Up For a Lawyer Directory Listing

Solo attorneys need a marketing presence, and they should know to focus on it.

Still confused about where to get started? FindLaw.com offers a no-hassle marketing solution in the Lawyer Directory, and it's so simple to sign up.

First, there was a debate about what direction women should lean, and now, the debate of the month is whether we should "ban bossy" or not.

The Ban Bossy Campaign

Ban Bossy? Yes, if you haven't heard it's the new campaign from Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In Foundation, was trending last week on Twitter and Facebook, has Beyonce as a spokesperson and is in partnership with the Girl Scouts of America. Here's the gist of the campaign:

When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a "leader." Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded "bossy." Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys -- a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.

Should Your Firm Consider Law School Rankings When Hiring?

U.S. News and World Report is out with its annual law school rankings list. Should you consider these rankings when hiring new associates or staff members?

The U.S. News rankings are important for many potential law students -- and many more law school admissions officers. However, for managers at small and midsized law firms, law school rankings have been known to affect hiring decisions as well.

There are different schools of thought when it comes to using law school rankings in the hiring process at your firm. Here are a few things to consider:

What Mentors Can Learn From Their Mentees

While mentors are usually the ones doling out advice to the newbies, mentors can actually learn a thing or two from their mentees.

Although traditionally seen as a one-way learning experience, a mentor-mentee relationship might actually be mutually beneficial, according to the ABA Journal.

So what can your mentee teach you?

Gamification of Law: Good Idea or Game Over?

Gamification. It means taking video game elements and reward mechanics and applying them to non-game activities.

It's been touted as a great way to help you work out, but it is a smart idea to apply it to actual work? Specifically, law?

We recently came across an article on Bitter Lawyer, advocating the use of QR code tattoos (albeit sarcastically) in lieu of business cards. I gave it some thought, and in the first and only time I will ever quote Kim Kardashian, "Honey, would you put a bumper sticker on a Bentley?"

Granted, QR codes are popping up as an increasingly popular method of conveying information -- even for lawyers. As my colleague William Peacock noted last year, you can easily add a QR code to your business card. But does that mean that you should ink your QR code onto your "Bentley?" I don't think so.

Here are five -- among many -- reasons why you should skip a QR code tattoo:

Thanks Dan! 'Criminal Knowledge' Ad is Hilarious; Is It Effective?

"Consequences. They sure suck, don't they?"

Daniel Muessig, a recent Pitt Law graduate who was admitted to the bar in 2013, set up his shop like many other recent grads, most of whom have no better option. And one of the hardest things about hanging a shingle is getting your name out to potential clients.

This ad, which is sure to go viral, should do the trick. It's also another nominee for lawyer ad of the year.

There's been a lot of news about kids getting into trouble on social media -- so much so that California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would allow minors to erase their Internet history. But what about when your kids post about their parents' lives?

Patrick Snay learned the hard way that his daughter's Facebook posts can haunt him too.

Viral Super Bowl Lawyer Commercial Leads to a Reality TV Deal

One month. Five and a half million views.

Has any lawyer commercial, ever, come close to this? Jamie Casino is now Internet famous, and if this reality television deal pans out, he could become nationally famous.

That's right folks -- the lawyer with the flaming sledgehammer, who bought two minutes of Super Bowl ad space, just nabbed a reality television deal, and it came after a massive bidding war.

Every Single Thing You'll Ever Need to Know About Social Media

Maybe you Facebooked in college, or tweeted once or twice, just to see what the hype is about. Or perhaps you've been a luddite to this point and practiced online abstinence, eschewing social media as a venue for self-important twits to chat endlessly about their latest culinary consumption.

Now you're having second thoughts. You want to reach out to a new and broader clientele. You've heard about the benefits of online discussions with "thought leaders." You want to go back-and-forth with the legal Twitterati.

You could buy a lengthy, expensive book on social media management. You could go into it blind, Facebooking and Tweeting until your fingers bleed, with little to nothing to show except, maybe, an ethical violation or two.

Here is a better, more efficient, and free idea:

As a business owner, it's up to you to give performance reviews to your employees, and next to actually having to fire an employee, it ranks up there with "stuff I'd rather not do." But, to be a truly effective employer it's necessary to give your employees the feedback that will make them better at their jobs, and make your business more successful overall.

If you're used to being on the receiving end of performance reviews, and need some help on how to approach them, here are five tips to keep in mind.

Why Do Solo Attorneys Need to Focus on Marketing?

Part of being an effective attorney is zealously advocating for your client. And although you may be the most motivated, competent advocate in the market, no one will know that unless you actually have clients.

So for those still unconvinced of the need for solos to push for marketing, consider this:

Just last week we went over the benefits of starting your own LinkedIn Group, and you've just coined a clever name for your group and now, we have the audacity to tell you that you should do more. We hear you. Don't you already have enough on your plate with your blog, Twitter, Facebook page, LinkedIn group, and, oh yeah, your clients? Do you really need to add one more form of social media to this already, ever-expanding list?

Monica Zent seems to think so -- that's why she founded Foxwordy -- a social network just for lawyers.