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Whether you work for a large firm or a small one, you're bound to encounter the bureaucracy in at least some of its glorious forms. At big firms, for instance, corporate policies limit innovation because every action has to performed according to a prearranged script, and deviations from that script are either not allowed or need to be approved by five levels of management.

On the other hand, at small firms, you're in charge of your life, but you're in more direct contact with the court system. Sometimes, it can be like pulling teeth to get an answer to a question or to get a problem solved.

How do you get what you want? Turns out it's all about collaboration and treating someone like a person.

Love is in the air -- or maybe that's just the air pollution being caused by everyone turning on their fireplaces for a romantic evening at home. After all, Valentine's Day isn't just a holiday for candy companies, florists, and edible underwear salesmen.

Believe it or not, lawyers can also benefit from Valentine's Day, and not just in the form of gavel-shaped chocolates. As it turns out, the holiday can be quite lucrative.

How so, you may ask? Consider the following:

Certain practice areas are like a leather jacket: They never go out of style. Personal injury, estate planning, and criminal defense will always be there. But is there something more you could be doing?

As it turns out, there is. Changing technology, government policies, and legal environments mean that there are more opportunities than ever to expand your practice into new areas. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Virtual Law Office 105: Processing Credit Card Payments

How complicated is getting paid by credit card?

In an ideal world, one would only need a credit card processor, such as the many ones we've talked about that handily operate via an attachment to your smartphone. If a food truck can take plastic, lawyers certainly should be able to do so too, right?

Except IOLTA accounts. Damn trust accounts. If you're taking payment in advance of services rendered, things get immensely complicated because most credit card processors take their cut out of what the consumer pays -- which creates an obvious ethics issue for unearned fees that are supposed to be sitting in your IOLTA account.

The 10 most popular posts of 2014 on FindLaw's Strategist blog ran the gamut -- from things you could learn from Frank Underwood to a judge beating a public defender (not in a battle of wits; like, with his fists).

Did your favorite post make the cut? Read on to find out. (Note: My favorite post -- about lawyer typography -- came in at No. 12. But I got it in here anyway!)

Paralegals are the unsung heroes of the law office. They handle the logistical aspects of a case, like scheduling and docketing, as well as research and drafting.

If you're a solo practitioner, there's a fair chance it's just you, toiling away in quiet desperation, without a paralegal or a secretary. Do you need one? Here are some considerations.

Are Office Christmas Parties for Clients a Good Idea?

It's an interesting question: Should you throw a Christmas party for your clients? Booze-filled egg nog, mistletoe, ugly Christmas sweaters, clients mingling with staff -- what could go wrong?

It's a chance to build relationships, to celebrate the season, and to connect with your clients on a less formal level than you ordinarily would. It also means booze and the celebration of one religious holiday to the exclusion of others.

Should you throw one? Let's talk this through, shall we?

Moving Law Offices? Here is a Really Big Checklist

Moving stinks, no matter what your budget or occupation. But for us, the lawyers, it's an even bigger pain: everybody, from the courts to the bar to clients, all need to be notified, there is no room for downtime, and everything needs to go according to plan so that you can get back to work ASAP -- doubly so if you have important case deadlines pending.

The key to a successful move, then, is organization. Advance planning, a big checklist, a free weekend, and enough luck to avoid any lost boxes or damaged equipment are what you need to close up shop at one office on a Friday and open back up the following week, without missing a beat.

Here's one of those things -- the checklist:

Smooth or crunchy? Sean Connery or Roger Moore? Free consultations or no? These are the debates that characterize our times. Because this is a legal blog, we're going to have to save the first two for another blog (although, off the record, the answers are "crunchy" and "Roger Moore").

We're qualified to help you answer the third question, though. Many opinions abound about whether you should offer free consultations, where the potential client comes in to explain his or her problem. What should you do? Here are a few points to ponder:

The Pros and Cons of an Online-Only 'Virtual' Law Practice

There is a lot of debate about what exactly a "virtual" law practice is: Is it someone who doesn't have a full-time office and primarily uses email? Or is it something more: online-only, using secure document portals for clients, perhaps using more than just e-mail (video chat, maybe)?

For now, we're going to go with the online-only lawyer. Think: someone who never meets clients in person and who could run his firm just as easily from North Dakota as he could from a motel in Amarillo, Texas. What are the pros and cons of such an unusual, "virtual" arrangement?