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3 Reasons to Take Business Risks in Your Legal Practice

During times of relative stability, it's so tempting to grow complacent. Sure, there are those professional risks you've fantasized about taking to boost your practice. But the dreaded string of "what ifs" soon follows and puts those fledgling temptations to rest.

But here's the thing: Those "what ifs" are crippling and can actually hurt the longevity of your business. Risks are not only necessary to thrive, they're crucial to survive.

Here are three reasons why you should take calculated risks in your legal practice:

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

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.

A recent ethics opinion out of Texas has drawn a lot of scrutiny over its ban on managerial titles for nonlawyers (e.g., Chief Technical Officer) in firms -- indeed, we had a lot of fun coming up with alternative titles for CTOs -- but the opinion also pointed out another area where firms can get into trouble with nonlawyer ownership and management prohibitions: bonus structures.

Contingent bonuses are target of the opinion, and if your firm bases bonus on revenue, you might want to reconsider.

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

Court appointed work is rarely lucrative, but lawyers in Franklin County, Maine were so fed up with the ridiculously low rate in state cases that they agreed to do something about it: go on strike by refusing to take sexual assault cases until the rate was raised from $50 an hour to $70 or more.

Unfortunately, the strike failed for two predictable reasons: the court found attorneys willing to undercut their fellow members of the bar and there weren't that many cases to begin with -- the Morning Sentinel found only two.

You had to know this was coming eventually -- Walmart selling legal services. Fortunately for us, the company's first forays into firms in supermarkets is happening north of the border, in Ontario, Canada. (H/T to Solo Practice University.) But expansion into the United States can't be too far behind.

Why? Take a legal system that prices services out of the reach of middle and low income individuals, add in favorable rulings for legal services providers (like LegalZoom) that aren't exactly law firms, toss in tens of thousands of unemployed lawyers, and you have an unserved market, a tempting business model, a cheap labor supply, and a distribution network already in place.

Starting Out in Criminal Defense? Here Are Some Mistakes to Avoid

You'd think that for $100,000 dollars or so, law schools would teach you everything you need to know to hang out your shingle and start out in criminal defense, but it just ain't so. Hopefully you've got good mentors, good practice guides and good malpractice insurance.

In case you have all of the above but could use a few more tips, here are a few criminal law "gotchas" you'll want to avoid.

Some call it a race to the bottom.

Some say that you're a lawyer, and you deserve to be paid $300 to $500 an hour.

Alright, but what percentage of the population can afford to pay such a rate? And can you afford to charge less, while still making a living and paying off your student loans?

What's the sweet spot?

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.

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 consder:

Beware: The Crypto Locker Computer Virus Strikes Again

The Crypto Locker virus strikes again -- this time targeting the computers of a law firm in North Carolina.

Using a deceptive email, the Crypto Locker virus locked the firm out of all their computer files and demanded a ransom to release the documents, Charlotte's WSOC 9-TV reports.

As if jury and arrest warrant scams weren't enough, law firms need to be aware of the Crypto Locker virus and what can be done to protect your files.