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Tips for Your Law Firm Social Media Policy

Have you ever seen a retraction or correction of a news story?

They are rare and often inconspicuous when they do appear. After all, nobody likes to highlight their mistakes.

The real problem, however, is that retractions and corrections do little to erase false impressions that have already been published. Words -- especially in the social media world of instant publication -- are very hard to take back.

For this reason alone, law firms must have social media policies.

How to Protect Your Law Firm's Reputation

"He who steals my purse, steals trash," William Shakespeare wrote, explaining that money doesn't last. "But he who filches my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed."

The great writer bled wisdom on the pages of literary history, leaving such truisms that adorn centuries of libraries and the freshest web pages today. Of course, he also wrote that the first thing to do in a new order is to kill all the lawyers, so whatever.

The point is, protecting your law firm's reputation is worth at least a quick read. Here's a to-do list:

What Does Your Vehicle Say About Your Law Practice?

Most clients won't see your car until after they have hired you. So unless you are practicing law out of your car, your choice of vehicle probably does not really matter to clients at first. We're lawyers, not realtors.

However, because we are lawyers, we also think about contingencies. What if the client sees you when you drive up to the courthouse? What if you are chasing an ambulance and you arrive at the accident scene ...

Seriously, clients are people, too, and they may judge you at some point by the vehicle you drive. So what does your vehicle say about your law practice? Here are some things to consider:

How to Put Your Creative Genius to Work in Your Law Practice

Everybody knows that Thomas Edison said, "Genius is one percent perspiration, ninety-nine percent inspiration." And everybody knows, or at least with a quick Google search can find out, that Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic in a dish of bacteria.

But does anybody know that James H. Solomon created a key to legal methodology, a human algorithm that can predict legal outcomes? Of course not, because I just made that up.

Here's the point: lawyers can be creative and it doesn't have to be fiction. Sometimes it comes through trial and error. Sometimes it just appears in the trenches.

In any case, creativity is a process that attorneys can learn. It's like improving your memory, but more fun. Here are some pointers from Jay Harrington with Attorney at Work:

Consider the Disabled in Your Practice Plans

When the Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano went blind, her admirer Pellegrino Turri invented a typing machine so that she could write letters. And thus began a story of innovation and romance that has left its mark for more than 200 years.

Lawyers can take a page from this history. The typewriter was born of a blind woman's necessity, but it became a tool for writers of every kind. By looking for ways to serve the disabled, attorneys may discover new ways to serve all their clients. It is not about disability; it is about accessibility.

If you're planning on cutting back your marketing budget in the year ahead, well, you're almost entirely alone. Nearly one out of every two lawyers is expecting to spend somewhat or significantly more on their marketing efforts in the year ahead, according to a recent survey by Robert Half Legal, the legal staffing company. Almost all others will be keeping their marketing spend the same.

So if you don't have your intentionally ridiculous T.V. ad in production yet, start planning. The market is about to get a bit more competitive.

How to Be a More Approachable Attorney: 3 Tips

In "Being John Malcovich," people were able to enter his mind and experience different relationships through his eyes. It's a comedy, with some strange twists, but basically it ends happily ever after.

In being more approachable, attorneys may also find themselves happier in their client relationships. Here are some perspectives from different lawyers on achieving good client relationships:

Imitation might be the highest form of flattery, but some legal blogs appear to have taken that imitation a bit too far -- by scraping content from prominent blogs and reposting it on their own.

Is this just part of doing business on the interwebs? Maybe. But these alleged fakes could also have real consequences.

Are Texas Personal Injury Ads Causing Harm to Patients?

Doctors v. Lawyers

No, it's not a lawsuit or an Alien v. Predator movie.

It's a real-life drama unfolding in Texas, where personal injury attorney ads have prompted doctors to fight back. With a survey showing lawyers advertise there more than most places in the country, doctors have mounted their own public relations campaign. Their slogan:

"Don't let a lawyer be a doctor."

Conducted on behalf of the Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse, the survey found that more than eight in ten doctors believe the lawyer advertisements are leading patients to question their medications. Also, apparently one in three patients stop taking their medications and suffer the health consequences.

If you've ever sat down to a WordPress blog and started typing out your thoughts on tort reform, legal tech, or the trials of starting your own firm, you've probably wondered: At what point does my attorney blogging become advertising? Sure, you're not posting "10 Reasons to Hire Me Today -- Number 7 Will Shock You!" But you are, perhaps, subtly selling yourself, showing your personality, experience, insight. Does that mean your blog is subject to the same rules as, say, an actual commercial?

Not according to the State Bar of California. The bar association recently finalized a new ethics opinion that will allow lawyers to blog, outside their main law firm website, without having to worry about regulations on attorney advertising.