Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

April 2009 Archives

Are Women More Difficult Bosses for Female Attorneys?

An article by Vivia Chen that's appearing in May's issue of The American Lawyer, titled "The End of Sisterhood," asks the question whether its harder for female attorneys to work for another woman than it is to work for a man.

In the piece, Chen mentions the results of a recent study by the American Bar Association that found that a majority of female attorneys under age 40 prefer a male boss.  She contrasts that sentiment with the growing movement among female attorneys to band together in order to create more opportunities for women within the male-dominated legal profession.

Conference: Law Firm Business Development Forum

May 20 to 21, 2009 Harvard Club of New York City - New York, NY

Law Firm Business Development Forum is a new conference designed to address how law firms can gain new business from new and existing clients. This conference is designed for business development professionals and partners with marketing, business development and client service responsibility. This conference is for law firms of any size and will examine the unique aspects of law firm business development informed by client perspectives.

More Information >

2009 Am Law 100: The Party's Over

The 2009 Am Law 100 is in, and the first line of the report sums it all up rather well:

"Last year was the worst for The Am Law 100 since the early 1990s."

They're talking way early '90s - 1991 to be exact.  And, because of the cutoff date for gathering data for the report, the dismal results don't even fully capture how horrendous the state of BigLaw has become.

Most troubling of all, the report predicts that the worst is yet to come.

San Francisco, CA, April 28, 2009 - To broaden service offerings in the rapidly diversifying intellectual property marketplace, global law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP and Northern California-based Ovidian Group, LLC (Ovidian) announced that they are collaborating to meet client needs. We believe this is the first collaboration of its kind.

Ovidian is a newly launched IP asset management and business advisory firm that provides services to companies, investors and entrepreneurs around the world. Ovidian offers services such as IP portfolio management, strategic IP business consulting, structuring and outsourcing of corporate IP departments, and assistance in dealing with the range of new IP investment firms, brokers and risk management vehicles that have arisen in recent years. Ovidian was established recently by Joseph Siino, a prominent Silicon Valley IP attorney who most recently served as Yahoo!'s senior vice president for global intellectual property. Previously, Mr. Siino built and ran the IP strategy and technology transactions practice group at law firm Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in San Francisco.

Seminar: Suddenly Solo--Are You Ready?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 1-2 pm PT

Free Telephone Seminar

In these uncertain times preparation equals survival. If you have ever considered starting up your own law practice and plan to make the move soon or if you are afraid that a pink slip might be in your future, you won't want to miss this important seminar. Lawyers are not seasoned in the way of layoffs and are typically caught completely off guard and unprepared without a "plan B" when hit with a pink slip or when their firm goes out of business. California law firms are laying off lawyers by the dozens and the hundreds. You will have a better chance of survival if you are prepared.

This seminar is intended for those attorneys out of work through no fault of their own, as well as for those who anticipate that they might soon be handed a pink slip and for those attorneys who simply want to learn what it takes to start their own solo law practice right now. This excellent presentation qualifies for 1-hour continuing legal education in ethics. This seminar will not teach you how to find a job, instead it will focus on what is involved in starting your own solo law practice.

Creating a Social Hub on the Web to Promote Your Practice

Yesterday, I wrote a post on Google Profiles and Google's announcement that it would allow people to edit their profile information and begin displaying that information on search results related to their name.

As long as you can get over any qualms about giving Google more control over your personal information than they already have, filling out a profile could be a good way to promote a legal practice and make sure that you actively participate in your online identity, rather than leaving it entirely to chance.

But Google Profiles isn't the only way you can tend to your online presence.  Microformats, particularly the rel="me" tag, can help you to connect all the various sites that you control or that are about you to a "social hub" online.  Search engines and other applications will then take notice of this and give you some serious link juice that could raise a page of your choosing to the top of search results for your name.

Changing Your Public Face on Google with Google Profiles

If information is power, then Google is master of the universe. 

Any attorney who has a website, blog or is trying in other ways to promote themselves online knows this all too well.  We never go very long without thinking of the search engine giant, we watch for subtle changes in its mood, and we make minute, arcane changes to our sites and entries in (mostly) vain attempts to please it.

Now, like the information overlord that it is, Google has come up with a way to use its enormous influence to make its subjects feel more in control of their own destinies - while simultaneously increasing its power over them.

As China grows as a world economic leader, it will be essential for attorneys whose clients do business with Chinese companies to have a strong grasp of the legal structure that governs business in China.  Two new offerings from West, a Thomson Reuters business, give attorneys the insight necessary to help their clients succeed with their endeavors in China.

EAGAN, Minn., 4/22/2009 - The People's Republic of China is now the world's third-largest economy and the recipient of more foreign investment each year than any other country, yet its business laws and the practice of deal-making have long been a source of confusion or mystery.

West, part of Thomson Reuters, is releasing two books that provide relevant information for doing business in China: Mergers and Acquisitions in China and Shareholder Agreements and Joint Ventures in China.

Lawyer Will Donate to Charity for Twitter Followers

A plaintiff's attorney for victims of food-borne illnesses has thrown down the gauntlet: if he gets 25,000 Twitter followers, he will donate $25,000 to charity.  Bill Marler made the offer on his blog, and told the ABA Journal that he has 275 additional followers after three days.

Twitter, for those of you who haven't heard one of the daily news reports on the thing, is a microblogging service that allows people to broadcast updates about what they're doing or thinking.  It has become a sensation, with people using it for everything from mundane personal announcements to news updates to serious marketing campaigns.

Will Broadband Connect Firms to More Work?

Ah, the Internet - what can't it do these days?

The National Law Journal is reporting that many firms are expecting the Internet to lead to more work as companies clamor and grab for a share of the $7.2 billion set aside for broadband infrastructure development in the economic stimulus package passed last February.

Top Links for April 10-17

This post contains links to some blog posts out there with some great information about running your firm.  Whether you're looking for ways to partner with bigger firms, trying to ward off competition or get ahead of the pack with an effective marketing campaing, or trying to determine the substantive direction of your practice, these articles will tell you what you need to know.

Here are the top 5 links this week:

Many Lawyers Are Driven, Successful, Social . . . and Alcoholics

Sarah Allen Benton has written an article for The Complete Lawyer detailing how many lawyers defy the typical stereotypes associated with alcoholism, while still engaging in problematic drinking behaviors.

These "high functioning alcoholics" (HFAs) are typically driven professionally, with perfectionist and workaholic tendencies, and they often drink with friends and colleagues, rather than alone.  It's often more difficult for these types of alcoholics to realize they have a problem since they are successful and appear normal and healthy to the rest of the world.

Should Laid Off Lawyers Strike Out On Their Own?

Anyone thinking of starting their own firm after being laid off from a position in BigLaw should read this post in Above the Law

In it, Roxana St. Thomas, a laid-off New York lawyer, lists the reasons why she does not, no way, no how, under any circumstances whatsoever want to start her own firm.

Roxana has come up with several compelling (and amusing) justifications for continuing to look for work with a firm rather than hanging out her own shingle..  As always, though, there are counterpoints to every point, and in the end it really comes down to individual goals and abilities.

Abacus Rainmaker Helps Law Firms Grow Despite the Economy

San Diego, CA -- April 14, 2009 --With the release of Abacus Rainmaker, attorneys have the ability to capture and understand critical data about their clients and prospects, the firm's marketing efforts and its client service. Adding Abacus Rainmaker to AbacusLaw v18 provides the following benefits:

  • A better return on your marketing dollars
  • More effective prospecting
  • Better client service
  • More repeat business
  • More referrals
  • Improved brand image

Top 10 Types of Legal Forms Your Clients Will Need

It's no secret: The practice of law requires a lot of paperwork, and it's not all just filing briefs and writing memos.

When working on behalf of your clients, you will need to fill out forms - lots of forms - some of which you would never have imagined existed before you actually needed them.

Sometimes, just having the right form at your fingertips can make all the difference in a client's matter, and can lead to repeat business and positive referrals.  We've collected the 10 types of forms that legal professionals request most often from US Legal Forms, Inc., so you can quickly find and access the form that will lead to the best outcome for your client.

Are Law Blogs a Marketing Miracle or a Nonbillable Nightmare?

The ABA Journal recently published an article exploring the benefits that lawyers can achieve through blogging.  The lawyers quoted in the article have seen direct marketing and referral results from their blogs, and state that starting a law blog, or "blawg," is one of the cheapest things a lawyer can do do market their practice.

But are blogs really so cheap?  As the article mentions, it costs virtually nothing to set up a blog or a series of blogs.  The real cost comes in time spent writing updates and monitoring user interaction with the blog. 

The lawyers mentioned in the article thing that the nonbillable hours spent blogging have paid off, but for many lawyers, a blog's benefits might not outweigh its costs.

Economic Crisis Creates Opportunity for Smaller Firms

As big law firms around the country are cutting associates and staff because of major dropoffs in business, smaller firms may be poised to swoop in and grab some BigLaw clients who are looking to cut legal costs.

The current economic crisis has everyone looking to reduce expenditures across the board.  A Bloomberg article states that many companies are adding smaller firms to their roster of outside counsel, and saving as much as half of what they would pay for similar work at a BigLaw firm.

Tough Times Force Firms to Reconfigure Offices

You know that things have gotten bad when firms are considering shrinking the size of their partners' offices.

The National Law Journal has an article describing how some firms are cutting costs by changing their office configurations.  As part of this push, many firms are putting partners and associates in identical offices, removing one of the most obvious signs of rank within the firm.

Will COBRA Changes Bite Into Your Bottom Line?

Recent changes to the government program known as COBRA that's designed to help the unemployed retain health insurance have many employers afraid of increased costs, the Associated Press reports.

As part of the stimulus package passed earlier this year, the federal government added a subsidy to the COBRA program that allows someone who has lost their job to pay only 35 percent of the COBRA premium.  The remaining 65 percent is covered by the former employee, who is then reimbursed by the federal government through a payroll tax credit.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Merit-Based Attorneys' Fees

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case to determine whether judges can award extra attorney's fees to reward what they see as exceptional lawyering. 

The case, Perdue v Kenny A., involved a challenge to Georgia's foster care system.  The U.S. district court judge added extra money for the plaintiffs' attorneys' fees onto the original award because of the extraordinarily positive results that the attorneys achieved.  The 11th Circuit declined to overturn the decision.

Fewer Jobs Mean More Work for Divorce Attorneys

Unemployment rates are at the worst levels in 30 years, and the situation seems to deteriorate a little more each day.  But there's a silver lining for divorce attorneys: Higher unemployment rates can lead to more work as divorced workers who have lost their jobs apply for modifications to child support or alimony payments, according to the results of a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).

Ex-Thelen Employees Show Some Real Class (Action)

Thelen's spectacular implosion was one of the first in a series of law firm dissolutions that, unfortunately, continues to this day.  Three associates and a staff member who lost their jobs in the run-up to the firm's demise filed a suit days before the firm's collapse alleging violations of federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) and California's equivalent statute.  The plaintiffs in the suit have just been granted class certification, and plan to continue their action on behalf of all similarly situated ex-Thelen employees.