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You should use notes during a trial. After all, you don't want to forget an important issue or lose track of your train of thought.

But don't let notes become your crutch. If you're looking down at your notes every few seconds, you're doing it wrong.

The fight over worker status (Is she really a contractor? Is he an employee?) has become an increasingly common legal battle in the past years. The rise of the "gig economy" means that more and more people are working, at least nominally, as independent contractors or under other alternative employment arrangements. In 2005, the last time the Bureau of Labor Statistics collected data on the subject, seven percent of workers were independent contractors. In the more than 10 years that have followed, it's safe to say that the percentage has increased dramatically.

But even though a worker might be called a contractor by name, that doesn't mean she is a contractor, in the eyes of the law. A host of high profile class action lawsuits have recently asserted that thousands of "independent contractors" are actually employees, entitled to the benefits of any other employee. So what sets the two apart and how can you properly advise your clients on contractor-employee classification issues?

If you haven't been near a public school in the last few years, you may have missed out on one of the biggest public policy battles of the past decade: Common Core education standards. The Common Core State Standards Initiative seeks to set out a single, comprehensive set of standards of what every student should know in English and math in every grade, from Kindergarten to the senior year of high school. They've been adopted in 42 of the 50 states, but they face stiff resistance from some teachers and parents who reject the new standards and the increase in standardized testing that accompanies them.

But Common Core isn't just about education, testing, and college readiness -- it's also about the role of federal and local governments in education and, ultimately, about the law itself.

Two rules make up the bedrock of pretty much any basic writing instruction: know the difference between your and you're, and don't use passive voice. Passive voice is one of the main literary bogeymen, despised by grade school English teachers and law school writing professors alike.

But there are plenty of times when the passive tense is the perfect choice, particularly in legal writing. Here's why.

If you're looking for a new date night restaurant, you probably check out online reviews. If you're considering buying a new couch, you'd be smart to find out what other couch buyers have to say about it first.

When it comes to finding lawyers, clients are increasingly turning to online reviews to discover and evaluate attorneys. And being reviewed online is becoming increasingly important. According to a new survey by FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing, two-thirds of consumers would be more likely to hire a lawyer with online reviews.

Forget Siblings Day, Bat Appreciation Day, and even Arbor Day. Tomorrow, Tuesday the 12th, we celebrate April's best holiday: Be Kind to Lawyers Day. So stop complaining about your boss, your colleagues, or your spouses' divorce attorney -- for a day, at least.

If you're looking for a way to express your attorney appreciation, we've got you covered. Here are five great gifts for the attorneys in your life.

If you've got a question about managing your practice, if you're looking to explore a new area of law, or if you're just curious about the latest legal developments, well, you're in luck. There are literally thousands of resources available. (Look, you're reading one!) But with all the blogs, websites, and online resources available, it's still sometimes nice to have a real, solid book to line your shelves.

Here are some practice guides that could make a helpful addition to your legal library, all from our friends over at Thomson Reuters' Aspatore. (Disclosure: Aspatore is one of FindLaw's sister companies.)

Here's the startup dream: find an untapped need, (say, cheaper travel lodgings or easier cars on demand,) put together a new product to meet that need, "disrupt the paradigm," and get rich in the process. But, as the rise of Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify show, that fast growth can soon run headfirst into a legal brick wall, causing major problems down the line.

Despite these legal troubles, many startup founders think they can worry about the law way down the line. Here's why they're wrong, and how you can help save startups from themselves.

When we talk about heavily regulated industries, we are usually talking about things like toxic waste management, health care providers, or public utilities. But there's one highly regulated trade that often goes unrecognized: the beer, wine, and spirits industry. The mess of regulations, and regulatory bodies, that make up the industries is, well ... enough to make you drink.

But thankfully, the beer, wine, and spirit industry's regulatory system isn't completely unnavigable. If you can tell the difference between a Loire valley Cabernet Franc and Beaujolais, you can probably figure these out as well. Here are some tips.

Police Misconduct Databases Find Use in the Courtroom

When an incident between citizens and the police takes place, oftentimes the reliability of witness testimony can hinge on the believability of witness testimony or a question of character. And persons of some ethnic and social demographics have often felt that the police have enjoyed an unfair presumption of credibility. This has been a point of frustration both for lawyers and their clients.

But lately there has been a growing social movement to push back, manifested in the form of police (mis)conduct databases. In light of increased public focus on police behavior, police conduct data-banks are sure to see an increased use by defense attorneys seeking to discredit police-witnesses based a cop's past bad behavior. But what are the social costs?