Law Firm Rainmaking for Small Law Firms - Strategist
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The consult -- whether it's free or costs some kind of money -- is like a first date. Not much substantive happens; you and your potential new client are getting to know each other, to see if you really like each other and want to take this to the next (billable) level.

By and large, the consult is going to be free of substantive legal talk, except for the outline of the case. Here's what you can cover in a consult, and what you can save for later.

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:

Old and busted: drunken driving. New hotness? Drugged driving. The latest survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that incidents of driving under the influence of alcohol are down by a third since 2007.

That's good news for road safety, but there's some bad news too: 25 percent of drivers tested positive for marijuana or another drug that could impair their ability to operate a vehicle. Indeed, among weekend nighttime drivers, the number who had pot in their systems jumped by 50 percent between 2007 and 2014, NHTSA found.

Maybe it's time to modify your DUI practice?

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:

The online legal researcher. The one whose non-lawyer friends know better. The one who wants updates daily. The one who wants to double-check your work. There are a lot of kinds of irritating clients out there, and while any one of these people might be tolerable, there may come a point where you just can't stand it anymore. You're going to have to quit representation.

How to do it? Well, there's the ethical way, which is heavily circumscribed. Then there's the tactful way, for which there are no state rules.

So what's the best way to go about firing a client?

There's really nothing worse than a client who has a strictly casual relationship with the truth. (Well, maybe that and a client who can't pay you.) When clients lie, it makes life difficult for everyone and makes you look like a schmuck; attorney-client privilege sort of precludes exclaiming, "But he swore up and down he didn't have any other assets!" But even if no one else finds out about the lie, it harms your ability to represent your client. One lie begets another; how do you know that everything isn't a lie? Finding out requires time, which means money.

In order to fend off the possible sanctions, the bruised ego, or something as prosaic as opportunity cost, how can you make sure that your client is telling the truth? (Note that this advice isn't for clients who plan to lie to a tribunal, but rather clients who aren't being forthright with you.) Here are five signs to look out for:

Time to select the jury. A hundred people from around town file into the courtroom, upset that they have to be there at all, even more upset that they had to wait so long, and all of them claiming to have a prepaid vacation.

And just your luck: There's a lawyer in the pool. Do you really want a lawyer on your jury? Here are some pros and cons to consider:

The rise of house-sharing via services like Airbnb raises an interesting question: Could this open the door for ADA lawsuits?

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides for a private right of action by disabled people against establishments that aren't ADA complaint. It's hard to dispute that the Act has been great for ensuring equal access to public facilities for everyone, regardless of ability or disability.

But with the rise of the "sharing economy" and cities regulating Airbnb rentals as though they were hotels, could house-sharing become the next battleground for ADA violations? (Answer: probably.)

Making a Good Impression With Clients: 3 Simple Tips

They say that image is everything, but it isn't: Substance is. Unfortunately, clients can't just look at you and know the quality of your legal work. They tend to judge you on the image you project. With that in mind, here are a few tips to make sure you're making a good impression:

1. Dress Appropriately.

You and your client will feel more comfortable if you look the part. If you're not sure what's appropriate, look at what other lawyers are wearing in your area and choose clothes that are just a little higher quality and a little more conservative. If you want specific advice, you can't do better than John T. Malloy's classic books on how to dress for success. They are a bit dated, but they are based on research on how to make a favorable impression rather than a fashion statement, and that makes them unique.