Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

July 2012 Archives

When a current or potential client needs legal advice, but not in your area of expertise, who you gonna call?

Chances are, you'll probably want to direct the client to a more experienced attorney. After all, ethics rules require an attorney to be competent, with the "legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation."

But in some cases, you may feel up to a challenge. How can you make sure you're sufficiently knowledgeable about an unfamiliar subject, and not in over your head?

The key to starting a successful law practice may be finding the right niche.

As a result, attorneys are dividing and subdividing practice areas to become masters of their domain. This trend is especially noticeable in family law, as divorce for men law firms have been popping up.

After all, half the clients in a divorce will be men. By being a divorce lawyer for males, you can cater (and market) to the unique fears of getting a raw deal as the husband, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Court Can Consider Attorneys' Ability to Pay Court Sanctions: 9th Cir.

Court sanctions against attorneys are somewhat discretionary, according to a recent ruling by a federal district court. Judges can consider an attorney's ability to pay the fines when they impose sanctions.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded a case in which an attorney was sanctioned $360,000 under 28 U.S.C. § 1927. The lower court judge believed that he had no discretion in imposing the sanction on Gregory Melvin Haynes for pursuing frivolous litigation.

Haynes claims that he makes less than $20,000 annually which would make the court-imposed fine a significant burden.

The issue of whether Sec. 1927 sanctions can be reduced based on inability to pay had never before been presented to the Ninth Circuit, but it's not a new issue.

5 Hard Questions to Ask Before Starting a Solo Practice

Deciding to start a solo practice is a difficult decision, especially for a new attorney with little practical experience. And it's difficult for law firm veterans as they have to let go of the "golden handcuffs" and steady paycheck of firm life.

Before going out and hanging your own shingle, you may want to ask yourself the following questions to determine if solo life is right for you:

Shared Workspace May Be Better Than Cubes For Law Firms

Shared workspaces are popular in cutting edge industries like technology but it could also be a boon for law firms, both large and small.

Rather than working in offices or cubicles, technology companies turned to collaborative group spaces where employees can share communal tables for working rather than hiding behind office walls. Now that way of thinking has caught on at law firms as a way to keep costs down.

Big firms are converting unused spaces to create an open office design which is a good way to decrease existing costs.

That's all well and good for existing office space, but starting with a more collaborative space model can be more cost efficient for new offices.

Picking Practice Areas When Starting a Firm Can be a Science

When you're just getting started with your own firm, you'll need to decide on what practice areas you'll specialize in.

This is true for fresh attorneys out of law school as well as experienced attorneys. Because unless you already have a steady book of business, you'll need to reach outside of your comfort zone and take on unfamiliar cases in unfamiliar areas.

When choosing which practice areas to handle, you can make life easier for yourself by knowing that certain areas go hand-in-hand, and certain areas will naturally lend itself to more business in a separate area. Here are some tips to think about when starting your own firm.

Thinking about making your small screen debut with your own lawyer TV ad? The potential payoff is huge, in terms of new clients -- as is the potential to become a laughing stock.

With all the YouTube vigilantes out there, an embarrassing or poorly produced law-firm TV commercial could make you the next viral video sensation, for all the wrong reasons.

To help you make the most of your lawyer TV ad, here are some dos and don'ts:

3 Potential Clients an Attorney Should Walk Away From

Getting clients is probably the most difficult challenge for a new solo practitioner.

You may be desperate for a start, or have hit a dry patch, and any potential client seems appealing. However, you should be aware that not all prospective clients are created equal.

In fact, there may be times when a prospective client who walks in through your doors is more trouble than he is worth. Here are three types of clients you should be wary of:

10 Tips to Help a Solo Practitioner Go on Vacation

Guest post by Jennifer K. Halford, Esq.

Most solo practitioners I know find it is difficult to take a vacation. Hearings or trials get scheduled. A client needs something immediately. Or some other legal "emergency" arises.

Those who take a vacation generally work twice as hard the week before to prepare and then twice as much after playing catch up. Plus they worry the entire time they are away that something is going wrong at the office.

So how can a solo practitioner take an actual vacation? Here are 10 tips for you to take a vacation:

5 Professional Responsibility Traps for Young Attorneys

So you decided to start your own firm.

You got your practice areas set, a name for your law firm, and you might even have a website.

But before you jump in and start doing legal work, it's probably a good idea to brush up on the rules of professional responsibility. It could end up saving you a lot of heartache -- and possibly your bar card.

A Vacation Doesn't Mean Putting Legal Marketing on Hold

You deserve a vacation. You're a great attorney, you work hard, and you could probably use a break. But you also work hard on your legal marketing. Will taking some time off undo all that hard work?

'Out of sight, out of mind' still holds true, but just because you're out of the office doesn't mean you have to be out of sight.

We have 5 Tips on how to keep your legal marketing going while you're on vacation so your clients won't even know you're gone.

Writing an eBook Can Pay Off for Your Practice

What better way to add rich and copious content to your website, while simultaneously adding "published author" to your resume than to publish an eBook in the areas of your legal specialty?

You may be surprised that in this age of digital media, becoming a published author is not that difficult. And potential clients may view a published author and attorney in a practice area as more "expert" than some other lawyer who only makes hollow claims on a website, giving you that competitive advantage.

3 People to Hire When Starting Your Own Law Firm

There was a recent survey on lawyer billing efficiency of law firms with 50 or fewer lawyers, and it was revealed that many lawyers bill only for a fraction of their time worked.

In fact, the survey showed that the smallest firms with one or two attorneys, only billed for about 40 percent of their time.

So what happens to the other 60 percent and what are the takeaways for someone starting your own law firm?

You might associate bedside manner only with doctors.

But if you don't incorporate some sort of bedside manner in your law firm practice, you won't be keeping your clients happy, and you won't be getting referrals from your clients in the future.

Here are five attorney bedside manner tips that every attorney should know.