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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.

Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come. ... The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing in government, in education, and in employment. It will not be stayed or denied. It is here.

--Senator Everett Dirksen, minority leader in 1964, on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which passed "on the backs of Northern Democrats and Republicans" by a vote of 73-27 in the Senate, and 289-126 in the House, reports CNN. As he announced the passage of the Act, President Lyndon B. Johnson stated, "It does say that there are those who are equal before God shall now also be equal in the polling booths, in the classrooms, in the factories," says CNN.

As we honor this momentous piece of legislation, we look at some of our posts dealing with handling discrimination claims and litigation.

I once had a car, a 1986 Nissan Pulsar NX, that had no keys. The ignition was started with a screwdriver, and the doors were always unlocked. I had this car for more than two years before it was towed away by the city.

Imagine an estimated two-thirds of your Internet accounts being that car. This, my friends, is Heartbleed, which has left the doors open since 2011. And the locksmiths are taking their time going around and changing the locks.

Here are a few tips for managing this minor crisis:

As the use of visual aids and technology during litigation increases, it's imperative that you keep up with presentation trends so that you can use all the tools available to you to persuade a jury. Increasingly, attorneys need to hone their design skills as PowerPoint presentations move away from bullet points, to graphics.

Here are some tips and resources for you to upgrade your PowerPoint skills.

1. Keep It Minimal

You want your slides to be easy to see and free of clutter. Don't rely on too much text because you should never read your slides. Instead, highlight key terms and be prepared to elaborate.

There's been a lot of news about kids getting into trouble on social media -- so much so that California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would allow minors to erase their Internet history. But what about when your kids post about their parents' lives?

Patrick Snay learned the hard way that his daughter's Facebook posts can haunt him too.

As technology makes it feasible to work from just about anywhere, at anytime, the issue of telecommuting is getting more and more press. Last year, Marissa Mayer made headlines by requiring telecommuters to come in to the office, and this week Parade reported that a recent study "found that working from home enhances feelings of physical and mental fatigue in those who are having a hard time balancing their personal and professional lives."

Maybe Mayer was on to something . . . or maybe we just need to live by certain principles if we want to telecommute.

Litigators are nothing without a good expert in their pocket.

You can hang all the billboards you want, make indescribably amazing Super Bowl commercials or really bad ads, and line up dozens of clients in neck braces in your lobby, but without an expert to testify that her neck really is hurting from whiplash, your case is probably hopeless.

It's not just personal injury attorneys that need experts either. Criminal law, patent and IP disputes, and pretty much all litigation can come down to a battle of the experts.

Hey there reader,

You know all about our blogs. They're fun, informative, and handy. We attempt to inform about practice tips for small firm practitioners, new attorneys, and in-house counsel. We also lust mightily over gadgets and pontificate on the latest from SCOTUS and the rest of the courts.

But FindLaw is more than just blogs. We also have a pretty great (and free!) practice guides section. FindLaw's Anne C. O'Donnell joined us after years of practicing personal injury. We'd be remiss not to pass along her wisdom.

We said it once, we'll say it again: new year, new taxes. We've done a pretty good job of discussing your tax obligations by giving you small law firm tax preparation tips -- but what about your clients? They need tax tips too.

Since many of the clients you advise may be small business owners as well, many of the same considerations apply. So while you're getting your to do list in order, why not get one ready for your clients -- might we suggest a tax preparation newsletter? Never. Not. Marketing.

Personal Injury Videos: Should You Use Them?

Have you ever thought about using the services of a video production company -- not to make a cheesy lawyer TV ad -- but to create personal injury videos for use in legal proceedings?

The videos, which are typically used in litigation, mediation, and arbitration, give a bird's eye view of how an injury affects a plaintiff (or in a wrongful death suit, the victim's loved ones) or how an accident occurred.

Here's an overview of common types of videos used in personal injury cases and a few of their caveats.