Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

September 2012 Archives

Is it Ever Wise to Sue Your Client for Defamation?

It's not good practice for an attorney to bring a defamation lawsuit against a client, but in some cases it may be warranted.

The reality today is that consumers have many very public outlets to express their opinions about an attorney's work. And unfortunately, these outlets rarely check the veracity of comments made.

As a result, many attorneys can get harmed by misstatements and outright lies on sites like Yelp, message boards, and discussion groups.

But while an attorney likely can't sue for every negative comment, you may be wondering just when an attorney should bring a defamation lawsuit.

Chicago Prosecutor Bit Man's Leg While Drunk, Cops Say

Cook County prosecutor Sarah Naughton was arrested Saturday night after being kicked out of a store and allegedly biting a man on the sidewalk.

Naughton may have taken her bulldog persona in the courtroom a bit too far, if the allegations are true.

Witnesses say that the incident began with the 31-year-old Naughton and her male companion at the Taboo Tabou store in Chicago, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. If you're not familiar with Taboo Tabou, it is a shop that specializes in sexy lingerie and kinky sex toys.

Should You Post Your Legal Rates Online?

If you take a look at your competitors' websites, you may notice that about half your competitors post their legal rates online, while the other half request that you call back to learn their rates.

There are obvious advantages and disadvantages of posting your rates online.

Depending on the type of firm you have, how long you've been practicing, and what your competitive advantage is, it may make sense to keep your rates off your law firm website.

5 Essential (and Unexpected) People for Your Law Practice

When you think through the most neccessary people you work with in your law practice does a newspaper report come to mind? Maybe it should. A list of people essential to your law practice was recently written by Brian Tannebaum at Above the Law.

The list is interesting as it includes many people you would not normally think of as "necessary" to start a law practice. So you won't see secretaries, law clerks, or paralegals on this list.

In fact, the list is actually quite contrary to what many young attorneys may believe, especially those attorneys who think they're set armed with only an Internet connection, computer, and telephone.

Social Media's Impact on the Attorney-Client Relationship

Social media has its risks for attorneys who don't want their private life to affect their professional career. The things you write online can have a negative impact on attorney-client relationships.

Of course unprofessional conduct on social media can be a turn-off to clients. But the real issue is when statements made by an attorney run the risk of violating the rules of professional responsibility. We don't mean in terms of wardrobe or 'conduct unbecoming an attorney.'

It's not about your image as a professional. Comments on social media can also call into question your competence to represent your clients.

The Ins and Outs of Working With Relatives in a Family Firm

Many small law firms are run by multiple generations of the same family or at least have family members on the payroll as attorneys or support staff.

On one hand, you already know those people and (hopefully) know you'll work well together. On the other, working with family members can make both relationships more complicated.

Hiring family members can be a great business move but you need to be prepared for how it will affect your firm.

Intern Rights: The Hot New Area of Employment Law?

A law firm in New Jersey is banking on intern rights as the burgeoning new area of employment law.

In fact, attorneys Lorin Schneider and Yonatan Rubin are so certain that intern rights will take off that they have devoted their entire firm -- Schneider & Rubin LLC -- to representing interns exclusively, reports NJBIZ.

The two partners say they got the idea to start the intern rights law firm as they looked around job sites like Craigslist and college job fairs and saw so many employers still offering unpaid internships and other illegal positions, reports NJBIZ.

3 Things to Avoid When Trying to Sign a Prospective Client

The difference between a successful law practice and one that doesn't work out often depends upon how you talk to and close on prospective clients.

When you're starting off, you may be tempted to say anything to a prospective client -- especially, the really big whales -- to get their business.

But you should be careful not to make too many promises or guarantees or you could find yourself in trouble, and possibly even the target of a lawsuit brought by the once-coveted client. Here are three things you should never say to a prospective client:

Hottest New Fashion Accessory in NY, LA: Lawyers

Forget the sky high heels and the over-sized purses. The best fashion accessory these days is apparently your law degree.

It's a well-known adage that everyone needs a lawyer but fashion law is a growing specialty tailored to the specific needs of fashion designers. Whether it's a new area or simply one that's getting attention now is unclear.

What we do know is that it's a field looking for lawyers. But before you dive in headfirst, make sure you can offer what they're looking for.

FindLaw Ranked Among Best Legal Research Tools by Small Law Firms

If you're looking for one of the best legal research tools on the Internet, look no further. You found one.

Results are in for the New York Law Journal's 2012 Reader Rankings and FindLaw comes in at No. 2 in the Best Small Firm Legal Research Tool category, right behind WestlawNext.

WestlawNext is a well-loved legal research tool, and our sister company. But as so many small law firms around the country know, FindLaw has one distinct advantage: the price.

As the highest ranked free legal research service we have a lot to live up to, but we also have a lot to offer.

Consider Moral Character When Hiring Law Office Staff

Many attorneys don't think about moral character when making legal staffing decisions.

If a secretary or paralegal has the right experience, and is willing to accept what you want to pay, you may just hire them on the spot.

However, it may make sense to perform some investigatory research into moral character before making your legal staffing decisions. A little time and a little money spent on the hiring phase may save you a world of trouble later on. Just ask the suburban Chicago law firm who had over $500,000 embezzled from it by their secretary.

7 Hot Practice Areas to Grow Your Law Practice

One challenge of hanging out your shingle is figuring out how to differentiate your practice area from other similar attorneys. The problem is finding a hot practice area that fits into your area of expertise.

An unusual specialty can easily grow into a full-time business with the right marketing. So we've put together some specialties that can fit into an existing practice but have lots of growth potential.

This list may contain your ideal new practice but it's also a good jumping off point to inspire your own niche market.

Creative Lawyer Files Cartoon Amicus Brief Due to 5-Page Limit

When his brief was limited to only five pages, Bob Kohn made it a cartoon to save space.

Kohn submitted the brief as part of a suit filed by the Justice Department against Apple and five publishers of E-Books. The complaint alleged price-fixing and three of the publishers settled the case, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Kohn isn't a party to the case but he asked the judge if he could submit an amicus brief. The judge agreed but cut Kohn's proposed 25-page brief down to only 5 pages.

To make the page limit, Kohn took some drastic steps.

Should You Become a Marijuana Lawyer?

Unless you live in a very small town, you're going to need to find your niche to develop a successful law practice. So why not become a marijuana lawyer?

As you may know, more and more states are legalizing marijuana for certain medicinal purposes. However, the laws are very new and potential users and growers need legal guidance.

Sure, if you practice in this area you'd have to tell people you specialize in marijuana law. And that's probably the major drawback to becoming a marijuana lawyer. But if you keep an open mind, there may be a wealth of opportunities for you.

The Best Credit Card Payment Services for a Law Firm

Let's face it, the fees for your service as an attorney are expensive. So if you don't accept credit card payments, you're missing out on a large group of potential clients.

But every day we're seemingly bombarded by some new credit card payment service or technology. How do you know which one is the best for you?

Like with all things dealing with the law, the answer is that "it depends." Most of the large credit card payment services for attorneys provide the basic tools you need -- the ability to enter a client's credit card information and collect money. So in choosing the best service for you, you will have to consider other factors. Here is a look at three of the top credit card payment services for attorneys, as compiled by Attorney at Work:

How to Stay Sane in Your Home Office

If you're starting a home office for your law practice, you'll hear a lot of tips for your practice, including picking practice areas, getting clients, and making money. However, you'll probably not hear too much advice regarding one of the most daunting obstacles of a home office -- staying sane.

There are some obvious struggles of starting a home office. After all, you'll need a spare space where you can work. You'll also need a space that is relatively quiet yet convenient to physical things like electric outlets and phone jacks.

But even if you have everything perfectly set up, there will more subtle challenges to deal with in a home office, like dealing with the quietness and solitude. Here are five tips to help you with these mental challenges of starting a home office, as reported by Sole Trader:

Top 5 Ways for Lawyers to Get Word of Mouth Referrals

Referrals are an important source of new clients and the best kind are the ones that come by word of mouth.

When people are in need of a lawyer they often ask family and friends rather than trusting advertising. Word of mouth referrals are more likely to be successful because they seem natural and organic.

But you don't have to wait for word of mouth referrals to spread. You can boost them yourself in several different ways.