Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

May 2012 Archives

Is Disgraced Journalist Stephen Glass Fit to Practice Law?

It's been years in the making, but disgraced journalist Stephen Glass will finally have his day in court. The California Supreme Court, that is.

Glass rose to infamy in 1998 after the world learned that he had fabricated dozens of stories that appeared in The New Republic and other publications. Though he left journalism, he continued on with his law degree at Georgetown, eventually graduating.

In 2007, he applied to join the California Bar, but the Committee of Bar Examiners denied his application. A legal dispute ensued.

The regulating body is not convinced Glass is morally fit to practice law. It's not even a case of "once a liar, always a liar" -- they don't believe he is sufficiently rehabilitated.

How to Get Low Cost Attorney Business Cards Without Looking Cheap

If you own your own law practice, you've probably always got one eye on your bottom line. Cost-cutting measures are a must if you (and your employees) want to get paid.

Attorney business cards are an essential in this business, but they can be incredibly pricey. They don't have to be. If you want to get professional-looking business cards on the cheap, you can. You just need to turn to the Internet.

Solo 401(k): Best Retirement Plan for Sole Practitioners?

Retirement isn't something that's usually on the minds of most sole practitioners. Well, not for a while anyway. They're usually wrapped up with trying to grow their firm. However, even a single-lawyer operation needs to think about retirement. And for them, a solo 401(k) might be their best bet.

Also known as an individual 401(k), a solo 401(k) is a special retirement plan designed for businesses that have few or no employees. It's not actually a new program. Rather, a solo 401(k) has the same rules and requirements as traditional individual 401(k) plans. The differences came in 2002, when an amendment in tax laws created certain benefits for small and solo business owners.

So what kind of benefits does a solo 401(k) plan offer over traditional retirement options?

Attorney Behind John Travolta Lawsuit Fed Case by National Enquirer?

Rumor has it the National Enquirer may have fed attorney Okorie Okorocha the John Travolta sex assault lawsuit.

Before hitting the big time earlier this month, the story was the National Enquirer's March 26 cover story. No one picked it up. Yet, five weeks later, the allegations found their way to Okorocha, a Pasadena DUI lawyer.


Will LegalZoom IPO Mean More Lost Business for Attorneys?

For many attorneys, the challenge of running their own practice isn't necessarily the law. It's keeping their business going. Maintaining a healthy flow of clients isn't easy, and sites like LegalZoom don't help matters much.

The online do-it-yourself legal documents company recently filed for an IPO with the SEC. Some analysts believe the move could raise up to $120 million for the organization.

So how many potential clients are your firm losing to LegalZoom, and is there hope?

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is coming under fire for treating child sex-abuse cases differently when they involve members of Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community.

Hynes, who's served as district attorney for Kings County, N.Y., since 1989, set up a program in 2009 specifically to deal with child sex abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community, The New York Times reports.

Under the program, called Kol Tzedek or "Voice of Justice" in Hebrew, ultra-Orthodox Jews who are accused or convicted of child sex abuse are never publicly identified. Sex-abuse defendants of all other religions, however, are identified, according to the Times.

Gay Prosecutor Rejected for Virginia Judgeship

Being an openly gay judge in Virginia wasn't in the cards for Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland. The House of Delegates rejected his nomination earlier this week despite years as a public servant and his status as a former Navy pilot.

The reason? According to Del. Robert G. Marshall, who is running for U.S. Senate, Thorne-Begland's "life is a contradiction to the requirement of submission to the constitution." The prosecutor considers himself to be married even though same-sex marriage is not legal in Virginia. Marshall also charges him with pursuing an "aggressive activist homosexual agenda."

David v. Goliath: How Small Firms Have an Upper Hand Over BigLaw

In recent years, the legal industry has seen many changes in the landscape of its workforce and overall practice trends.

With all the layoffs at many large firms, a lot of attorneys took to hanging out their shingles and starting smaller practices.

Now, some are predicting that small law firms may be the way of the future for the legal profession. But why would clients, or rather, why should clients flock to smaller firms for legal services? If you are faced with such a question from a client, here's what you can tell them:

Do Your Clients Think You're Incompetent?

If you don't believe your clients think you're incompetent, think again. A recent study of employment discrimination cases by the American Bar Foundation suggests they probably do.

Over half the plaintiffs interviewed reported that their lawyers were incompetent or worked against them. And at least one quarter of discrimination plaintiffs believed their attorneys were corrupt.

The good news is that a closer look at the study suggests that the real problem is our failure as attorneys to effectively communicate and manage their expectations.

When it comes to practicing law, who's better: extroverts or introverts? (Don't all speak up at once -- though we also understand if you're too shy to say.)

"It depends," may be the lawyerly answer. After all, it makes sense that extroverts would be attracted to "in-your-face" trial work, while introverts would prefer the quiet anonymity of the transactional department.

But results from a well-known personality test seem to defy the stereotype of lawyers as outspoken litigators. And a recent column in Wired suggests technology is bridging the gap between introverts and extroverts, including attorneys.

How to Get an Attorney to Rank at (or Near) the Top of Google Searches

These days, when someone is in need of immediate legal services, they don't turn on the TV. They don't even turn to the phonebook. No, they turn to the Internet and they search for "New York business lawyer" or "Philadelphia personal injury attorney."

There's no doubt that you want to be one of the first, if not the first, attorney to show up in Google's search results. You can make that happen. It's called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. And here's some insight that could help you with your business.

Branding 101: Nurturing Your Online Presence

Never underestimate the power of your brand. Your brand tells people where you stand, what type of clientele your firm takes and what your goals are.

A brand helps attract clients-- the right type of client. It also helps you gain recognition within your industry.

And since usually people look for a lawyer online these days, your law firm's online branding matters.

 So how does a law firm define its online presence?

Branding 101: Attracting the Right Clients

We've talked about the importance of branding your law practice. Branding your firm is an important element of law firm marketing. It defines your firm.

It sets you apart from the competition.

Branding is about definition-- first you define your practice area and then, you define your image by creating an online presence.

But you can't define your brand without defining your clientele.

When Are You Required to Breach Confidentiality?

A federal judge recently tossed a lawsuit against Florida attorney David Gilmore. Gilmore's elderly client, Thomas Kyros, died in a shootout after he fired several rounds at a woman and her daughter, with whom he was apparently obsessed. The family sued Gilmore, arguing that he had a duty to warn them about any possible danger.

The suit brings up interesting questions about the conflicts between negligence law and an attorney's duties to his clients. When do we, as attorneys, have a legal duty to disclose confidential information to third parties? And when can we?

Top Lawyers Under 40 Announced by Hispanic National Bar

With Cinco de Mayo inching ever closer, the Hispanic National Bar Association has announced its Top Lawyers under 40.

The news comes at a good time as it reminds everyone that the upcoming holiday isn't just an excuse to drink and party. Cinco de Mayo is about celebrating Latino heritage. It's about recognizing all the accomplishments and contributions Latino people have given to the world.

And the following HNBA honorees this year embody the leadership skills and intelligence every young lawyer needs to succeed.

Attorneys Offer Free Cinco de Mayo Cab Rides

Every company knows holidays provide great marketing venues for businesses. Lawyers included. That's why this Cinco de Mayo a number of attorneys are offering free cab rides to people.

The promotion makes sense, at least insofar as the service matching the event. Alcohol and holidays go together like PB & J. Cinco de Mayo is no different. So giving out free rides home makes sense from that perspective.

But is this a good way to market your law firm?