The Legal Chamber Newsletter • September 2010
5 Tips for Securing a Speaking Engagement
Nothing can display your expertise and give you credibility like a speaking engagement. Whether it's an industry conference or local lecture, having time to bend an ear can directly translate into clients. That's money in your pocket.
Here are 5 tips for creating great speaking opportunities:
- Work out an interesting topic for a panel or discussion. Be sure to secure other participating members who are involved with the topic. If your panel was on pollution for example, then you could invite an environmentalist, policymaker, ranger, and others to broaden the input and increase audience size.
- Offer to be a legal correspondent for a local talk radio or news station. Everything you do will be free advertising.
- Moderate a speaking series or debate. The more networking and notoriety you gain in your community, the more clients you will see. People want lawyers with whom they are familiar.
- Get to know your local judges. Often they are invited to speak or moderate but are unavailable. Encourage them to send you instead.
- Publish an article in a newspaper or journal. Take the opportunity to introduce the topic of your proposed panel discussion.
Don't Miss Out on Hiring an Expert Witness
Sometimes the credibility of an expert witness can make all the difference in a case, so make sure you're not missing out. Expert witnesses can be utilized in a wide variety of matters, both criminal and civil.
Below are a number of criteria you should investigate before hiring an expert witness. After all, if they don't have the effect on your case that you want, then it is a waste of time and money, not to mention a detriment to your case.
- Ask other attorneys you trust for referrals to the experts they have worked with successfully.
- Request references from an expert witness and follow up on them, especially if they approach your practice.
- Make sure your expert witness knows how to work with an attorney and is on the same page as your interests. You don't want an expert "going rogue" on the stand.
- Research the rules of discovery beforehand to find out if you have to turn over any expert reports or conclusions to the opposition.
- Familiarize yourself with the average cost of an expert witness - they are business people who are looking to make a buck like anyone else.
Bringing in an expert witness is much like hiring a new employee. You want to make sure they will help develop your case effectively and therefore the more you know about them the better. It's always a great idea to interview multiple candidates even if you think you've decided on one.
Accepting Credit Cards: Are You Being Swindled?
If you're one of the many lawyers who have opted to hang a shingle, then you're probably well aware of the nightmare of credit card processing and the many confusing options. Needless to say there are lots of people out there who are looking to rip you off. Merchant account providers are the businesses that process credit cards and you're forced to select one if you want to accept them as a form of payment.
Read your contract. I know we're all lawyers here so a little legal jargon shouldn't be too bad to page through. Make sure you won't be charged for ridiculous things like cancellation fees that average around $300. Any changes to the contract should be reflected in writing, too.
Accepting credit cards is a lot like getting internet service: you don't want to rent or lease their equipment. Not only is there a risk of substandard equipment, there are also many companies that increase the rental charge over time without consent. You can buy the equipment for about $200 at an office store.
Compare your options and see if you can lobby one against another for a deal. Credit card processing is a business like cell phone service in that there is flexibility of pricing. You're a lawyer: see what kind of a deal you can get with those negotiation skills.
Law Practice Tip #8: Reeling in Your Phone Lines
Do you have trouble getting people off the phone and into your office for initial consultations?
Every lawyer knows that once they get a client into the office, the chance that their services will be retained increases dramatically. But what can an attorney do to encourage the transition from phone to office?
When speaking to the client for the first time, try letting the client know you run a very personal practice. Tell her or him that you make a point to meet every client face to face during your initial consultation. Suggest that it's important to you to make sure that you will be a good fit for them and their case: both professionally and personally. And mention that the best way to do that is to meet one on one at your offices. (This works particularly well with family law clients.)
The client just might get that warm and fuzzy feeling. You know… the one that makes them decide that they want a lawyer who cares about their case as much as they do.