Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marketing Needs to Continue After Landing a Client

As odd as it may seem, the chase and the capture of a new client ends marketing for some professionals. They get so caught up with gaining a new client that they forget that marketing does not end with obtaining a new matter, it is only the beginning.

Since marketing is everything you do as a lawyer, how you handle the relationship after you land the new matter will really determine your long term success. Client relationships are what marketing and business development it is all about. Focusing on building those relationships is extremely important. And that should happen from Day One.

Click here for all of the article by Tom Kane on his Legal Marketing Blog.com

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Getting Clients To Pay Their Bills

Most would hope that their law practices are for-profit businesses. The tool by which we get paid is the bill that we send to our clients. Here is how Ed Poll sees it in an article that he has written for the ABA's Law Practice Management Section. Ed observes:
You've sent your bill to the client. It's been several weeks and they haven't paid yet but there's no reason to be concerned. After all, if there were a problem, wouldn't they tell you so by now?

The answer, regrettably and often inevitably, is "no." If you defined your payment terms up front in your letter of engagement with the client, and the client has not lived up to those terms, it's symptomatic of a deeper communications problem. My book, Collecting Your Fee: Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice, notes that there are five reasons why clients fail to pay their bills:

  • They didn't get your bill/statement
  • They didn't understand your billing and/or what you did for them and/or the value to them of what you did for them
  • They didn't ask you to do what you billed them for
  • Their cash flow is temporarily interrupted, despite the best of their intentions to pay you quickly
  • Their business has gone "south" and they can't afford to pay you.

Always Communicate

In times of recession, the last two of these reasons are to some extent beyond a lawyer's control. Even so, if there is a problem with a client's ability to pay, good communication can uncover it by learning about and being more sensitive to the needs and conditions of clients. None of this requires constant calls or elaborate questionnaires. Simply meet clients over coffee and ask, "How are you doing? Did you understand my bill? Is there an issue that concerns you? Is there something I can help you with?" Given this opportunity clients will provide you with honest answers. And if there's a problem, it's better to know sooner and come up with a solution than to keep haggling over an unpaid bill.

The first three reasons for unpaid bills also involve communication issues, but of a different kind. They reflect the fact that, although the main purpose of a bill is to secure the client's payment, there is a secondary purpose that lawyers often miss: to leave the client with a favorable impression of the services he or she received. In other words, the bill is another tool for client communication. An effective bill is one that speaks clearly and directly to clients about how you as a lawyer have improved their lives.
This is a vital article for an issue that is vital to the success of our practices. Click here to take a look at everything Ed has to say.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lexis Nexis Software Upgrades Getting Bad Grades

With thanks to John Heckman and his Does It Compute? blog we getting the following heads-up about problems with software updates from Lexis Nexis:
When Time Matters SR3 was released, a major problem was immediately discovered: SR3 broke TM Connect. A “fixed” dll was immediately posted, but anybody who updated via the “approved” method didn’t know that.

Other problems were also noticed: clicking on a hyperlink in the Messenger crashed the Messenger (but not the program). Problems with html display of email that existed in SR2 were not fixed. Various other problems in SR2 were also not fixed. This is to the point where the semi-official CIC listserv is recommending to wait on installation for SR3a (which will no doubt be out shortly). And in fact, as of yesterday afternoon, SR3 seems to have been pulled from the Time Matters download site which, under the circumstances, seems like a smart move.

Nor is this limited to Time Matters. Most people never even noticed that there was a PCLaw release 9.20e, because it was pulled so quickly and rapidly gave way to 9.20f. And the soon-to-be-released PCLaw 9.30a reportedly has massive bugs with credit card processing and links to other products. Normally, during the beta phase, testers are notified of bugs or things that are not ready (that is part of the beta process). In this case, however, LexisNexis apparently was aware of the bugs but didn’t warn anybody.

The major issue here is not which bugs did or didn’t get fixed, but the fact that versions are released without proper Quality Control. This is obviously a function of having to “rush out” a release before it is ready. Given that the new product manager for Time Matters comes from a quality control background the conclusion can only be that development and QC are no longer in charge of developing and releasing the product.

This trend by LexisNexis underscores the old adage that you should never install a new release immediately. But now you have to extend this to “never install a new service pack immediately.” The only other product where this is accepted wisdom is with Microsoft service packs, which are notorious for breaking things.
Click here to see John's original article.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Monday, October 20, 2008

LinkedIn For Lawyer Marketing

Kevin O'Keefe gives a big thumbs up to the social networking site LinkedIn. According to O'Keefe:
Consumers of professional services, whether corporate executives, small business owners or consumers, look to LinkedIn, the grand daddy of professional directories. If they don't know of LinkedIn, just googling your name and lawyer is apt to pull up your LinkedIn profile.
Click here to read his entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Digsby To The Rescue!

I've got a business e-mail account, a Yahoo e-mail account, a GMail account, a Yahoo Messenger account, a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account.... I could spend all day just signing in and out of all of them. Fortunately I have found a solution. Rather than leaving numerous browser windows open, I now run Digsby!

Digsby is a FREE download that makes all of my e-mail, messenger, and social networking accounts available through one clean, easy interface. It lets me know when I have new mail and messages, allows me to preview the messages, and allow me to click through to the various services. Give it a try, I have found it makes things a whole lot easier. Click here to visit Digsby.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Social Networking: My Space, Your Space, We All Have Face Space

On line social networking is the latest craze in the marketing world. MySpace, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc., etc. Are they right for us lawyers? According to an article on Law.com, maybe yes, maybe no. For example, MySpace. No good for lawyers. Facebook. Good for lawyers. Click here to read the entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Develop Relationships As Part Of Your Marketing

On his LawMarketing Blog Larry Bodine reminds us that relationships are the foundation of a healthy referral network.

"Lawyers need to meet people to generate business and to retain clients, according to author Ari Kaplan. He suggests lawyers join a sports league, the chamber of commerce, and hook up with law school classmates.

Start with those you have already met and have them introduce you to their friends, recommends Elizabeth “BetiaynTursi, the founder of Tursi Law Marketing Management. “I have gotten business from friends with whom I went to elementary school,” she notes." Click here for more.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm Not Crazy For Not Understanding Twitter!

On his Real Lawyers Have Blogs blog Kevin O'Keefe offers the following words that are comforting to me:

You've heard about other lawyers and marketing professionals using Twitter. You think they've lost their mind when they tell you they find Twitter an effective networking and communications tool. You've tried Twitter. You're convinced others have lost their mind, 'Twitter is the dumbest thing ever.'

If you're like me, looking at the Twitter interface and trying to make sense of that madness, it's easy to reach those conclusions. It was only after going to the well on Twitter for the 3rd or 4th time and using a Twitter application (think Firefox as a browser for the Internet or Outlook for email), that Twitter started to make sense.

After trying other Twitter applications, Geeklawyer, a London Barrister, turned me onto TweetDeck. TweetDeck rocks.

With TweetDeck, Twitter has become one of the most effective networking, PR, and reputation building tools at my disposal. I am generating significant new work for LexBlog via 'small talk' exchanges on Twitter. Small talk about personal affairs. Small talk about business. And small talk passing on stories I see (social media).

Click here for the entire post.

As for me, well I think Kevin is a pretty smart guy. So I am going to take his office and give TweetDeck a try, because I still haven't figured out the value of twitter in marketing my practice.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Portland Law Firm Gets 400% increase in Web Traffic

From Larry Bodine's Law Marketing Blog:

The law firm Gilroy & Napoli multiplied traffic from target clients to their website nine times by using a combination of search engine optimization and paid search marketing using Google Adwords.

More importantly, the firm received an increase of almost 400% in the total number of visitors who converted into a lead during the five-month campaign.

The firm employed sophisticated online techniques that any law firm could use, to make certain its top 10 most important search terms appeared on the first page of search results on Google. As a result, the firm enjoyed the massive increase in traffic and the higher conversion of visitors into leads.

Click here for the entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Check Out my Twitter Gadget

OK, I made the plunge. I created a twitter account. I still have no real idea what twitter is, or what it does. All I know is that everyone is talking about it (including lawyer/propeller heads). Apparently it is non-stop texting, kind of like what my adolescent kids do with all their friends via cell phone? Apparently, instead or working, I am supposed to spend all day watching the dozens of messages that pass through my account?

If you take a look at the bottom of this blog, you will see that my twittering has even evolved to the point that I have added a twitter gadget here. I am led to believe that for all those twitter fans out there this is a cool addition, that allows a summary look at my twitter world. I really would like to learn more about twitter, and how it helps lawyers. Comments, instructions, advice are enthusiastically invited!

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Client Trust Accounts And Bank Stability

On his LawBizBlog Ed Poll delivers some great information about attorney-client trust funds accounts ("IOLTAs"). Lawyers who hold money in trust on behalf of their clients (for example, retainers, house sale proceeds, etc.) can find themselves at the mercy of the financial system. Here is what Ed has to say:

The State Bar of California recent answered several questions about the FDIC and clients' trust accounts. While their comments relate to California lawyers, their comments are instructive for all lawyers with clients' trust accounts. Caveat: Check your jurisdiction's rules and regulations, including those of both the bar and the banking associations.

In general, the insured limit for a single depositor is now $250,000. The title of the account and the social security number on the account are factors used to determine if we're dealing with one depositor with multiple accounts or multiple depositors.

If you i.) have an IOLTA account (not all clients' trust accounts are IOLTA), and ii) the title of your account discloses that it is a trust account for clients, and further iii) keep trust account records in good faith and in the regular course of business, clients funds are separately insured to the maximum amount permitted by FDIC. In other words, you don't have to split the account into smaller segments just because the entire trust account exceeds the cap. Where your client has an account in the same banking institution where you have your trust account, however, the combined amount of his/her funds and the funds allocated from your trust account will be considered for protection, not each account separately. Discussion with your clients about this now very sensitive issue is suggested.

Another caveat requiring the attorney to be careful in selecting the deposit institution: Although FDIC may cover the account, delays in retrieving funds may cause severe hardship for your client(s). One such hardship might be the inability to finance a merger, or close a transaction, etc. Though the principal amount will be recovered, economic consequences to your client may be severe...and there may be repercussions for attorneys by way of claims of negligent management of client money. Lawyers Beware!

This is great information for lawyers and their clients. Thank you for posting it Ed. For the original article please click here to visit LawBizBlog.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Twitter? What's Twitter.

Here is what Steve Matthews has to say about Twitter on his Stem law firm web strategy blog.

Have you heard of Twitter yet? Perhaps not. And hopefully not, as this post is intended to explain one of the latest web-tools on our collective horizon.

What you should know is this: Politicians in the current US election are levering it, news outlets like CNN & Canada’s CBC are offering headlines that can be mixed into your reading stream, and companies like Southwest airlines are using it to interact with customers & take feedback.

It’s widely considered the fastest growing tool of web influence, and will at some point have a trickle down effect for the legal industry.

Giving you a finite definition of Twitter is tricky. It’s use varies greatly, and depends a lot on the individual user. Technically, Twitter is considered a micro-blogging tool. It’s just like regular blogging, but with one significant rule change. After logging in, you are faced with the question “What are you doing?”, and just like a blog you can share exactly what you’re doing, feeling, thinking, reading - but all in less than 140 characters of entry space.

In terms of the options available for legal web marketing, Twitter - or micro-blogging tools generally - is the shortest method of discourse we’ve seen to date. If e-books & web-distribution of publications are at the longer discourse level, and regular blogs are sitting somewhere in the middle, then Twitter obviously at the far end (short-end?) of our continuum.

Click here for all of Steve's educational piece on Twitter.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Online Marketing Must Stay Sharp in Recessionary Times

The recession is now. There, I said it even if the Feds won't. We are in a recession! Family law lawyers are not immune from economic slowdowns. eMarketingandCommerce.com posts an article the premise of which is online marketing is more important in these tough times, and reminding how important it is to keep your web content up to date, and that you must make special adjustments to your practice management. The article is directed at the investment community, but is equally applicable to legal professionals. It includes great tips on maintaining your online presence, managing your marketing budget, investing for the long term. Lots of shiny nuggets in this piece. Click here for the whole read.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Thank You for that Referral - Last Year"

Legal marketer Tom Kane shares his thoughts on the importance of thanking you referral sources. This is a task that many of us get lazy on. Tom's writing reminds us how vital it us to acknowledge those that send business our way, and so that those referrals will keep on coming. Click here to read this useful post.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Online Meeting Scheduler

My family law practice includes divorce mediation. My paralegal handles all scheduling and administrative contacts with the parties (to facilitate my neutrality). Yesterday I was reviewing the e-mails for a particular mediation file and saw a chain of twenty e-mails within the last week between the parties and my paralegal. Why? She was trying to schedule our next mediation session. One party would be available on a proposed date, but I wouldn't, etc., etc.

Well lo and behold, today I have found a solution. When Is Good is a free, online meeting scheduler. Each person selects their available dates and times, and the program finds the commonly available date. Pretty slick. Check it out. It is a real gold nugget! Click here to visit whenisgood.net.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Zotero: A Nice Add-On For Firefox Users

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself.

Features
Automatic capture of citation information from web pages
Storage of PDFs, files, images, links, and whole web pages
Flexible notetaking with autosave
Fast, as-you-type search through your materials
Playlist-like library organization, including saved searches (smart collections) and tags
Platform for new forms of digital research that can be extended with other web tools and services
Runs right in your web browser
Formatted citation export (over 1100 styles and growing)
Free and open source
Integration with Microsoft Word and OpenOffice
Integration with WordPress and other blogging software
Remote library backup
Advanced search and data mining tools
Access your library from anywhere via the web
Wide variety of import/export options

Vist the Zotero website to learn more.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

USB Connections

It is amazing how much stuff I have plugged in to my computer. There is my internet phone. My webcam. Speakers. Multiple monitors. Wi-fi. A ...