The Legal Chamber Newsletter • November 2010

Blogs Equal Clients for Your Practice

If you're not familiar with blogs, you're really missing out on a free advertising opportunity and a great chance to connect with potential clients. A blog is like a journal to share with the public. Blogs are normally a blend of commentary, news, and multimedia, like videos or pictures. Bloggers maintain a consistent schedule for posting new content so they can more easily develop a following.

One major advantage of maintaining a blog is showing that you're knowledgeable. Many lawyers opt to write about past cases in their state or practice area. They explain what all the legal jargon means and how it could affect a potential client of theirs. Some lawyers like to record videos and post them.

Regardless of the direction you'd like to take your blog, it's a good idea to make sure you're writing material that's interesting to you and to others. If you're not interested, chances are others won't be either.

The comments section is an outstanding place for feedback from your blog's readers. Most blogs like TypePad and BlogSpot allow you to toggle if you'd like the comments section to be visible to readers. By enabling people to leave comments, you're allowing follow-up questions and inviting feedback. Make sure you're checking for comments; they can turn directly into clients.

New visitors often find blogs by searching keywords they are interested in learning about. If they have a possible case and find your blog with helpful information, they're more likely to reach out for your services, so make sure you place your contact information on there.

Below is a selection of popular legal blogs so you can get an idea of what you would like to do with your law practice's blog:

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Working with Non-Citizens

We all know immigration is a hot topic. Even if your practice is not focused in immigration law, you have probably heard about the Supreme Court decision of Padilla v. Kentucky where the court threw out a conviction because the criminal defense attorney misrepresented the effects of a plea bargain on the defendant's immigration status.

There are a number of extra considerations you must take into account when working with a client who is not a United States citizen. Family lawyers encounter these types of situations most often when two people are getting a divorce and one spouse is not a citizen. Criminal charges can have a drastic impact on an immigration case and can also have consequences on professional and drivers' license eligibility.

Next time you're working with someone who is not a U.S. citizen, remember these three things:

  • Hire or consult with an immigration attorney when these matters arise.  An immigration attorney can help advise you on any affects a plea bargain may have on a person's immigration status.
  • Remember to be up front with your clients. Incorporate a bolded sentence in any retainer agreement stipulating that you don't give advice on immigration issues.
  • For criminal matters, include a sentence in a plea petition that says you aren't making any representations of any collateral effect on the client's immigration case or status.

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5 Tips for Climbing the Ranks

Despite where you started your legal career, it seems that once you've gotten into Big Law or a corporate environment, it's all about climbing the ranks and making partner.  Clawing your way to the top has a lot to do with your legal expertise, goals, and the big one: bringing in new clients.

However, Partners want to make sure the attorneys they're putting in charge are competent and exhibit the necessary leadership skills. Acting as a leader can come in any capacity and will likely attract clients, too. 

Below are 5 methods of showing your leadership skills in everyday work situations:

  1. Understand how work flows through the office. This means you know where things can get lost, you may have ideas to streamline a process, and you are in touch with the employees above and below you.
  2. Check-in with team members regularly to make sure your priorities and goals are aligned with the law firm. This also allows you to give feedback to your employees and let them know how they're progressing. They want to work their way up, too.
  3. Establish goals that you and your team can keep. It's a great way to keep yourself and your employees honest.
  4. Set yourself apart by maintaining a high quality of work. This will also inspire your team.
  5. Figure out where you're going and what you want to do at the firm. If you understand the trajectory of the firm and make your own plan of how you'd like that to happen, you'll immediately set yourself apart.

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Stayin' Alive: Cost Cutting for Private Practices

Unfortunately, the legal field is flooded with help these days. Waves of newbie lawyers are hitting the streets in search of jobs.  It seems every legal professional looks back at the next graduating class with trepidation and annoyance. Many lawyers have changed professions or opted to hang a shingle. Some have gotten creative like Ed Stevens Esq. We know those school loans don't pay for themselves!

If you're one of the folks who are forging ahead with their own practice, there are two main methods of cost cutting to keep you afloat during those tough times:

  1. Negotiate – Some lawyers don't recognize that their practice is also a small business that is eligible for all kinds of discounts. In addition to price breaks on things like internet service and federal incentives, it's also a good idea to negotiate your rent. Sometimes you can strike a deal with your landlord to take care of some of his legal work.
  2. Cut Waste – There are 4 great ways to cut waste: lease instead of buy; buy used when available; enter into contracts with suppliers for extended periods of time to avoid borrowing; and offer discounts to clients who pay up front or promptly.

LegalMatch works for attorneys who need clients. More and more consumer are going online to find pre-screened lawyers and LegalMatch is the original client-lawyer matching service. It's free for clients to find you. LegalMatch attorneys enjoy a steady flow of cases in their legal and geographic practice areas.

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