Insider Tips for Small Law Firms - Strategist
Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Recently in Insider Tips Category

You know, you'd think that lawyers would have learned by now: Don't ask a question unless you're sure of the answer. Then again, a silly answer might be just what you were hoping for.

Robin Thicke, the vanguard of our proud nation's rich cultural traditions, preemptively sued the estate of Marvin Gaye to ward off claims that Thicke plagiarized elements of Gaye's 1977 "Got to Give It Up" in Thicke's hit song "Blurred Lines."

The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday on what Thicke had to say about the alleged infringement at a deposition. Here are a few lessons for lawyers:

There are many ways to mess up a closing statement in a criminal case with an improper argument, and as you might imagine, we've seen plenty of 'em in our coverage of appellate decisions in state and federal appeals courts. Arguments on race, sexual orientation, emotion, or improper credibility arguments all surface repeatedly, though they are easily avoided.

Will they cost you a conviction? Maybe, maybe not. In each of these cases, the defendant was tasked with showing prejudice after the fact -- a task that is easier said than done.

Still, you can avoid having your conviction reviewed on appeal and you increase the chances of a fair trial if you avoid these six improper arguments:

So you've decided to "hang your shingle" (oh, do I hate that phrase). Being a solo practitioner, by definition, is a solitary affair. That seems obvious from the word "solo," but it's solitary in a metaphysical sense, too.

If you're part of a firm, you can bounce ideas off others, take a break to discuss non-legal happenings, and you know that you can always rely on someone else if you have to. Solos don't have any of that, which means they more than anyone else need to get out there and network.

So how do solos network? Here are three suggestions that may work for you:

Providing free and helpful information is kind of our thing -- blogs, cases, codes, and practice guides for lawyers, Learn About the Law and blogs for consumers, etc. But you don't always want to read online articles, or print out blog posts. And sometimes, you want a more comprehensive approach to a topic than 400 words of snark-filled brilliance. (Dusts off shoulders.)

That's why we have Mini Guides. Each of these free little e-books contains an in-depth discussion on a single topic. For lawyers, we talk about social media use, malpractice insurance, negotiating liens, etc. We also cover consumer topics for your clients, the list of which would fill my word count, and might lull you in to a deep sleep.

Here's the rundown:

Who doesn't want to be on TV? It is a chance to be famous, even if only for your 15 minutes, and it's a great chance to market your skills and that of your firm. But, if you're going to be interviewed for a TV news story (especially on national TV), there's a chance the interview will be conducted via speakerphone. So how do speakerphone interviews work, and how can lawyers prepare for them?

For a speakerphone interview, a cameraperson (and sometimes an audio technician) will record your on-camera responses, but the reporter won't be there in person. Instead, the reporter (or a producer) will ask you questions via speakerphone, so he or she doesn't even have to leave the office.

For lawyers, being interviewed on TV may seem like a piece of cake. After all, you've interviewed clients and grilled hostile witnesses, so you know how to handle yourself, right? But from a former TV news producer's perspective (this blogger used to be one), there are many things a lawyer can do to make or break a recorded TV news interview.

We've come up with 10 tips for lawyers to keep in mind when being interviewed for TV. Today we'll cover the first five tips, which apply to TV interviews in general:

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

Dressing For the Jury -- It's More Complicated Than You Think

Dressing your client for a jury is more complicated that it might seem. Blanket advice, such as "have your client wear glasses," is supported by research for some cases, but not for others, for some types of clients, but not for others.

The best way to decide how to dress your client for a jury is to hire a jury consultant and work with at least one focus group. At the other end of the spectrum, the least you can do is find an organization such as Friends Outside to provide your in-custody criminal defendant with civilian clothes so he doesn't have to appear wearing a prison uniform.

Here are a few quick tips on dressing a client for the jury.

3 Ethical Traps for Lawyers You Might Have Never Heard About

You know not to threaten your clients, not to lie or break the law and not to fool around with trust accounts. But did you know there are hidden ways an honest lawyer can still get in ethical trouble?

Here are three traps you might not have known about and how to avoid them.

Lawyer Lessons From The Bard or 'Guess Who Just Turned 450'

Since it is Shakespeare's birthday, we wanted to talk about lessons from the Bard. He was, at least in one play, a great supporter of lawyers. The famous quote "first, let's kill all the lawyers" actually praises lawyers. It comes from Henry VI and is spoken by a bad guy, Dick the Butcher, who says that the first step in creating tyranny is to kill all the lawyers.

See? Lawyers are good guys and the Bard liked us. At least some of the time. He even had a few words specifically for lawyers. In The Taming of the Shrew, one character says, "And do as adversaries do in law/Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends." In other words, be collegial and leave the fighting where it belongs.

As a lawyer, you know the power of persuasion, whether you are trying to persuade a judge or jury, a client, or a party you are negotiating with. We recently came across an article in Inc., written for business people, about seven things persuasive people do, and thought we would tailor it for attorneys.

After all, you can never be too persuasive, right?

Here are three tips to help you become a more persuasive attorney: