Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Great Guide For Using Twitter

So I am still on the fence regarding twitter, the tool that is taking the social networking world by storm. Perhaps my lingering reticence is a product of my low comfort level with the twitter technology. In other words, I may not know what I am doing? "Gasp!" Well that is about to end. Derek Halpern is coming to my rescue. The publisher of Prevential.com, Derek has posted the entirety of his twitter e-book on his site. Actually it is a collection of Twitter articles and resources that Derek has compiled onto one site filled with hyperlinks. Technically it isn't a traditional e-book, but it is a great Twitter resource!

How to Attract and Influence People on Twitter — The Ultimate Twitter Resource is packed with practical, technical, and over the top tips for Twitter users. I am going to find the time to read through it.

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, February 24, 2009

Cool Solar Charger For Your Cell Phone


Here's a neat toy. A solar charger for your cell phone. From Devotec Industries, the charger is about the size of an average cell phone, comes with power tips for Nokia old, Nokia new/N series, Sony Ericsson, Motorola/Blackberry/mini USB and Samsung phones as well as a DC 5V tip for PSPs and many digital cameras, an iPod tip, and one for female USB. At $39.99 the price is right. Several gadget head sights I have read have given it good reviews.

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.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Podcast, podcast, podcast....

I am always reading blogs that sing the praises of podcasts. In my simple mind I hear "podcast," and I think of a grainy, sloppy home movie playing on my computer screen. A commercial. I don't watch them because I don't want the noise they produce disturbing other people in the office. Obviously I am missing a big boat because podcast is one of the big buzzwords in marketing these days. I must investigate further.

Source number 1, Wikipedia. Here's what my favorite internet encyclopedia says:
A podcast is a series of audio or video digital media files which are distributed over the Internet by syndicated download, through Web feeds, to portable media players and personal computers. Though the same content may also be made available by direct download or streaming, a podcast is distinguished from most other digital media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically when new content is added. Like the term broadcast, podcast can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.

The term is a portmanteau of the words "iPod" and "broadcast", the Apple iPod being the brand of portable media player for which the first podcasting scripts were developed (see history of podcasting). Such scripts allow podcasts to be automatically transferred from a personal computer to a mobile device after they are downloaded.[2]

As more devices other than iPods became able to synchronize with podcast feeds, a backronym developed where podcast stood for "Personal On Demand broadCAST." though such a definition would create a misnomer, because podcasts are not available "on demand"; they are subscribed to and usually received at set intervals. Such a definition would more accurately describe a direct download or streaming media....

Podcasting's initial appeal was to allow individuals to distribute their own radio-style shows, such as Kooba Radio, but the system quickly became used in a wide variety of other ways, including re-broadcast of traditional radio and television content, distribution of school lessons,[6] official and unofficial audio tours of museums, conference meeting alerts and updates, and by police departments to distribute public safety messages.
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Podcast&oldid=272733268

Next, I am going to let Robert Amrogi give us his ten podcast essntials for lawyers:
Podcasts come and podcasts go – and others merely lie fallow. Inconsistency is the curse of podcasting, particularly within the legal field, where lawyers have plenty enough demands on their time without trying to squeeze in a regular broadcast.

Launched with the best of intentions, podcasts often have a short half-life. In fact, when I set out to revisit my 2005 column in which I listed 10 essential podcasts for lawyers, I discovered that five of them had disappeared or gone dormant.

Among the podcasts from my earlier list that are no longer active are Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground Podcast, last updated in January 2007; Evan Brown's Internet Cases Podcast, last updated in February 2007; and the Supreme Court Watch Podcast (later Justice Watch), last updated in October 2007.

But for every podcast that turned off its mikes, others came along to fill the silence. As I surveyed the current crop of podcasts, I concluded that, within the legal field, podcasting remains alive and well. There are so many worthwhile programs that I had trouble winnowing my list to 10. (As you'll see, I cheated on the numbers to include more than 10 programs).

So herein is my latest set of 10 podcasts I recommend as essential for legal professionals.

1. Legal Talk Network. Here is my first opportunity to cheat – and a self-serving one at that – because LTN hosts not one podcast, but several. They include Law Technology Now, the monthly program hosted by Monica Bay, editor-in-chief of Law Technology News, and Ringler Radio, a show that explores a variety of issues related to personal-injury and tort litigation.

LTN also produces Lawyer2Lawyer, the weekly legal-affairs podcast that I co-host with California lawyer and blogger J. Craig Williams. Now in our fourth year of broadcasting, we feature guests from all over the world and all corners of the legal profession to discuss current issues in the news.

2. Podcasts at Hamline University School of Law. Now my second cheat. What started several years ago as a single podcast called Conversations in Law – a series on law, leadership and legal education – has expanded into an array of podcasts covering law and leadership, health law, public law, Native American law, dispute resolution and intellectual property. Within the Conversations series, programs range from a discussion of feminist jurisprudence to Kenneth Feinberg recalling the many personal stories he heard as administrator of the 9/11 victim compensation fund.

3. ABA podcasts. The ABA provides my third opportunity to cheat, given that its Web domain is host to a variety of podcasts. One that I particularly recommend is the ABA Litigation Podcast, a series highlighting "tips and tactics for the practicing trial lawyer." Another is the ABA CLE Podcast, a series of free CLE programs on various practical and legal issues. Finally, there is the ABA Book Briefs Podcast, which features ABA authors discussing their books and current issues related to their books.

The ABA's Web site is also home to The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology, a monthly podcast from two well-regarded practice-management professionals, Sharon D. Nelson, president of Sensei Enterprises, a Fairfax, Va., computer forensics and legal technology company, and Jim Calloway, author of Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog and director of the Oklahoma Bar Association's Management Assistance Program. The podcast is produced as part of the Law Technology Today e-zine of the ABA's Law Practice Management Section.

4. University of Chicago Law School podcast. This series of podcasts, produced as part of the law school's Faculty Blog, features recordings of lectures and other programs at the school. In one recent episode, legal scholar Adam Samaha discusses the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. In another, law professors Cass Sunstein and Richard Epstein debate whether conservative voters should support Barack Obama.

5. Law and Disorder. This is produced as both an independent radio program and podcast. With four left-leaning lawyers as its hosts, the show examines issues surrounding civil liberties, privacy and politics. The show is professionally produced and features a range of guests and topics. Recent topics included arrests of protesters during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., trials at Guantanamo and new FBI guidelines for investigating terrorism.

6. Out-Law. The U.K. law firm Pinsent Masons produces this weekly 10-minute podcast on topics relating to Internet and intellectual property law. The podcast is part of the firm's award-winning Out-Law.com Web site which provides a variety of guides, articles and news stories about the law. Recent episodes of the podcast examined whether database law is bad for business and whether patents and copyrights make innovation impossible.

7. This Week in Law. Don't let the name mislead you into thinking this is a weekly program – a new episode is posted every month or so. Host Denise Howell, a California lawyer and longtime blogger, tackles cutting-edge issues at the intersection of law and technology. Think of it as the McLaughlin Group for cyberlaw. Each show includes a panel of guests – some regulars and some not – who weigh in on such topics as cyber-bullying, cloud computing, blogger liability and domain-name law.

8. Hearsay Culture. This is another show produced both as a podcast and for radio – Stanford University's KZSU-FM. Recorded in cooperation with Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, the show is hosted by Dave Levine, an assistant professor at Charlotte School of Law. Each 50-55 minute program covers issues of law and technology, but not, as the show's Web site says, "from a purely law or geek perspective."

9. International Dispute Negotiation. From the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution, this series of podcasts – more than 40 episodes as of this writing – focuses on timely and practical topics in dispute resolution, with an emphasis on cross-border commercial conflicts. Among the topics the program has covered are mediating with hard negotiators, detecting lies and concealing emotions, and dealing with arbitrator bias.

10. New Jersey Law Blog. The law firm Stark & Stark offers weekly legal updates in podcast form as part of its blog about New Jersey law. Podcasts feature lawyers from various practices in the firm discussing recent developments in New Jersey and federal law. Although these podcasts are directed more at consumers than other lawyers, I include them here in part because they demonstrate how effectively a law firm can use podcasting as part of its overall marketing and positioning strategy.

With this list as a start, load up your MP3 player (or listen on your computer) and start to explore the world of legal podcasting.
Please click here for Robert's original article.

Hhhmmn. Seems I may be missing a real marketing opportunity with these podcasts? I am going to keep investigating. I will let you know what I come up with.

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

Carolyn Fights Back!

Although I have never met her, I am a big fan of Carolyn Elefant. I have been reading her MyShingle.com for years, and have always been impressed by her commitment to the practice of law, and to us lawyers. So, it caught my attention when I saw Carolyn feeling a need to defend herself this week. Seems there is a bit of hostile commenting going around. In particular Carolyn is put out by an anonymous poster on her site questioning her ethics. Is Carolyn worked up? You betcha. Am I questioning her character? Nope. In fact, to show my support, I am giving Carolyn another forum to vent. Here's what she has to say:
In response to my post on The DC Bar and Avvo, I received a comment from DC Attorney that angered me enough to write this post. Specifically, DC Attorney attacked my integrity, and the integrity of this site with the following remark:

Regardless, since it's obvious Carolyn and Josh King have a financial stake in Avvo's promotion, it's not really worth the time to bother with either.

Let me be clear: I do not have any financial stake in Avvo whatsoever. I have a listing at the site, but given my highly specialized practice area, I don't generate clients from my listing nor do I ever expect to. I've previously defended Avvo, however, there, my remarks came in response to the dismissal of a class action against Avvo. And in my most recent post, my focus was more on the DC Bar's reaction to the site, rather than a promotion for the Avvo itself.

Look, DC Attorney - if you don't agree with my position on Avvo, just say so - and preferably, identify yourself when you do. But don't you dare attack my integrity. I realize that it's hard to believe that a little site like mine can offer so much content without financial support from outside sources, but yes it's true. Because MyShingle has always been, at least in part, a labor love and posting here, even over six years has never felt like work.

Above all, though, I value, and stand proud of my integrity particularly in a place like the blogosphere where many others are quick to cash in on fame and change their position once cash starts flowing. So I want to make clear that at least here, my readers can trust that I am fully transparent, as I have been for six years. If I ever recommend or post favorably about a product or a company, I will always disclose my affiliation and whether I'm getting a financial benefit (in fact, in this post where I recommended Blawging Lawyers, I noted that Grant Griffiths was a friend. What I didn't say is that Grant has offered me affiliate opportunities which I declined). And even where I do have paying sponsors (such as the law.com affiliation and Nolo), I am always clear that I retain full control over my site content and my sponsors respect that. In fact, I choose sponsors carefully, and I'm only interested in those who appreciate my mission: to improve the image of solos and equip them with encouragement to succeed and to serve as an honest broker.

As some of you may know, I am currently working on a build out of MyShingle, and I will, in a measured way, be taking on sponsors and adding features to help the site generate revenue so that I can continue to provide features like Bars Reviewed. But no matter what I do, I will always be transparent with readers.

As for DC Attorney, I'd have been happy to take this offlist with him, but he cloaked his email. How ironic that someone who thought to attack my integrity didn't even have the integrity to identify himself.
Please click here to read Carolyn's original 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.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Security flaw in Acrobat

Thanks to Ernest Svenson for bringing to my attention a security flaw in Acrobat. Acrobat and Acrobat Reader (all versions since version 7) are vulnerable to a Javascript exploit that can crash Acrobat.

Adobe is planning to release updates to Adobe Reader and Acrobat to resolve the security issue. It expects to update Adobe Reader 9 and Acrobat 9 by March 11th, 2009. Updates for prior versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat will follow soon after.

If you're worried about this exploit right now you should turn off Javascript support in the preferences settings.

Click here for Ernie's message.

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, February 18, 2009

Blogging For Business

Michelle Lore at minnesotalawyer.com writes about the value of blogging as a marketing tool.
You’re a busy lawyer. You’ve got a deposition this morning, a client meeting this afternoon and a legal brief due tomorrow. Is it really worth it then to spend time nearly every day in front of a computer adding posts to a law blog that you’re not sure people will even read?

For Minneapolis consumer law attorney Samuel Glover, the answer is a resounding yes — as long as you do it well, that is. Over the 3 ½ years he’s been blogging, the techno-savvy lawyer has retained dozens of clients who have found him through his law specialty blogs — caveatemptorblog.com (a blog concentrating on consumer rights) and lawyerist.com (a blog concentrating on law-practice management, which he co-authors with Minneapolis attorney Eric Cooperstein). Combined, the blogs get around 14,000 visits a month.

“That makes me have a bigger network of people than just about 99 percent of the law firms out there,” he said.

Brendan Flaherty, an attorney with Pritzker Olsen in Minneapolis, agreed that blogging is worth the time and effort that goes into it. He said his firm’s blog — The Food Poisoning Law Blog — has been a simple, economical way to get information out to the public and get the public in the door.

Breeding business

Blogging lawyers are convinced that their blogs generate business, but acknowledge that it can be difficult to measure exactly how much. Some clients come in directly as a result of reading the blog, while others come in after a recommendation from an attorney who reads their blog.

“I get referrals and clients directly from it,” said Hopkins attorney Gregory Reigel, who links to his aviation-related blog from his law firm website. “I can’t quantify how much business I get out of it, but I definitely get some from it.”

“As compared to other marketing sources, it’s the cheapest thing you can do. That’s what is so great about it,” said Flaherty.
Please click here for the rest of the 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, February 17, 2009

Don't Dilute Your Niche In a Down Economy

A few years ago I made the jump to a niche practice, and became a family law specialist. It was scary, but ended up being the best business decision I have ever made. Now things are humming along. For others, the path may not be as shiny. The economy is down, and revenue streams are drying up. In these trying times Tom Kane provides sage advice to specialists.
It is very tempting to take whatever legal business comes over the transom in a down economy. Heck, if the firm’s normal business is slow, some lawyers might be tempted to take whatever work comes along. Wrong!

It is the worst time to start diluting your brand. Better to crank up the marketing to get more visibility in the industry or practice area you are known for. Otherwise, it will take longer and cost more to restore your niche when things start turning around.
Click here for the rest of this very important 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, February 13, 2009

Thoughts on Yellow Pages Advertising

Here in California we have the Yellow Pages published by AT&T (sort of the official "Yellow Pages"), and we have a slew of competitors. The biggest of those competitors is a company called the Valley Yellow Pages.

Yesterday a sales person from the Valley Yellow Pages stopped by our offices. His visit reminded me of how obnoxious that company's sales people can be. It also got me thinking about the value, or lack thereof, of the yellow pages.

The sales guy from Valley Yellow Pages introduced himself to our receptionist. She offered that we had no need for his services. He then asked for the person in charge of our advertising and marketing. My office is next to our lobby. Without getting out of my chair I told him "no thanks, we are not interested." He responded, "Your losing half your customers without us." I then told him "that approach is why we don't do business with your company. Thank you for stopping by." At that point he finally got the clue and left.

This hard sell is repulsive to me. It is designed to plant the seeds of panic and paranoia in the customer. This is the same company that ten years ago came to my office and convinced me to buy a substantial ad at a very low price. When contract signing day arrived the salesperson arrived with his "sales manager" in tow. The sales manager explained that the ad price I had been quoted was in error. The actual price would be roughly three times higher. Appreciating that I was being subjected to the old bait and switch that you run into when trying to buy a car, I pulled the plug on the whole deal. Infuriated (I am talking about the woman actually yelling at me!) the sales manager gathered her belongings and then said this to me on her way out the door: "You will be out of business in six months. Good riddance to you!"

These two interactions with the Valley Yellow Pages justifiably turn me off to that company. They also give me pause to reflect on the value of yellow pages ads. There are many firms that do benefit from their ads. My firm was never one of them. We have had ads in the past. And we have tracked the return on our investment. The ads never paid for themselves. In fact, they never even came close! I learned that the people that turn to the yellow pages for a divorce lawyer are usually bargain shoppers who cannot afford me, or who aren't worth the trouble when it comes to getting paid.

Mine is a high end practice representing high worth individuals. Now after twenty years in practice I am in the luxurious position of getting most of my clients by way of referral. We don't even have an ad in the yellow pages. We have one line listing name and number in the AT&T Yellow Pages (just that costs $55 per month!). All the other books: forgetta bout 'em. That does not mean that we don't market. Our web page is a significant source of business. This blog could be taken as a form of marketing. We have invested in a logo and branding strategy. I write articles, and speak at seminars. The best business generation tool for me though, is still the tried and true meet and greet. I attend as many meetings of various bar associations as I can. I get involved with activities in my community (and in particular get to know as many parents at my childrens' schools as possible). I do a lot of handshaking on the golf course (and yes, there is a return). I call and e-mail friends, former clients, and other lawyers to see how they are doing. I stay in touch, and I stay in sight. Face recognition leads to name recognition, and vice versa.

My experience tells me that I am the product people buy. People send business to me because they have drawn a favorable impression when meeting me. Colleagues send me business because they are impressed with my skills and ethics. Satisfied former clients refer business to me. Adverse parties impressed with my work refer people to me! Being a good lawyer is what keeps my practice humming. Marketing is still crucial. But for my practice the smart money is not spent on yellow pages advertising. I would love to get comments from other family law lawyers.

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

The 60 Minute Divorce

Here's a marketing idea for you:

A New York City law firm is touting a “60 Minute Divorce” for couples with uncontested issues, no kids and no property to divide.

The Brodsky Law Firm is offering to prepare divorce papers and file the case while divorcing couples dine at a nearby McDonald’s or Starbucks with a $10 gift card provided by the firm. “Walk in married. Walk out divorced (almost). And get a free lunch,” says a press release issued by the firm.

“After that, it's just a matter of waiting for the court to issue the divorce, usually just a few weeks,” the press release says. “There are no further office visits required, and no additional paperwork to sign.”

The cost of the uncontested divorce is $299 plus court, filing, process and messenger fees—which comes to a total of $699, according to the law firm’s website. Have property to divide? Add $99. Kids? Add another $99. Need spousal support provisions? That’s $99 also.

Please click here for the entire article from ABAJournal.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.

More Attorney Training Videos From Adobe

1 hour redaction and metadata removal eseminar and Using the typewriter tool to type on a pdf are now ready for viewing at Acrobat For Legal Professionals.

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, February 12, 2009

Law blogs more important with advent of Twitter

From Real Lawyers Have Blogs, Kevin O'Keefe give us more inspiration to keep working on our blogs, and to integrate our efforts into twitter for valuable marketing returns.

I'm often asked with the advent of Twitter does it mean law blogs are less important. (Most recently this morning on Twitter and then at a law firm presentation this afternoon) It's just the opposite.

Twitter makes blogging as a lawyer more important than ever. In addition, the ROI to a lawyer who's blogging is even greater with the growth of Twitter.

Why? Social media in action.

Social media just means passing on news and information to friends via the various Internet mediums we have today. The hottest and fastest growing form of social media is Twitter.

Millions of people a day share links to news and information they've read. With the decline in main stream media and the rise in niche focused blogs, it's safe to say the majority of the links being shared on Twitter are to blog posts.

And we're not dealing with a random group of people tweeting and receiving news and links on Twitter. We're dealing with communities of people with similar interests.

These communities without gates and walls flourish with people with like interests following each other on Twitter. In addition, people following an RSS feed of a search at search.twitter.com follow topics being discussed by communities on Twitter.

If I'm an environmental engineer, there's going to be a lot of people I am following on Twitter and who are in turn following me that have an interest in environmental matters. When links and info are tweeted and re-tweeted within this environmental community on Twitter they're reaching a network I'd kill to reach if I am an environmental lawyer. I'd love to get to know people in this community and for community members to get know me as reliable and trusted authority on environmental law matters.

With a niche law blog, people tweet about the insight and commentary you offer on your law blog. Your insight reaches the hundreds or thousands of people who follow you on Twitter and the thousands of people who receive a link to your post when it is re-tweeted by some of your followers.

Without a blog, what are people going to tweet about you? That you're a great guy. I don't think so. Sure you can Tweet about things of interest and people may re-tweet it. But that's nothing compared to people sharing your blog content on Twitter.

And without a blog, what do people see for your profile link at Twitter? Your law firm website profile? Boring and typical. Your LinkedIn profile? Better, but no where near the 360 degree view one gets of your passion, skill, expertise, and philosophy on legal issues of concern to them when they see your blog.

In addition, the ROI from blogging is up big time with Twitter. Though ranking at the top of Google searches for what I do and the services LexBlog offers, Twitter is the leading source of traffic to my blog. And since using Twitter the traffic to my blog is up by 20 to 30%. With my blog the leading source of work for LexBlog, Twitter has increased my returns dramatically.

Blogging and Twitter are both part of social media, the concept of sharing insight and commentary on things we read and see. For lawyers looking to enhance their reputation as an authority they work very nicely together.
Click here for Kevin's 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.

Self-Marketing Is Key to Being a Top Lawyer

From Law.com comes a great article on self-promotion and branding.
Everyone has a personal brand even though most don't seem to know it. Your personal brand is how decision-makers view you. It is the total sum and breadth of your work history, reputation, involvement, initiative and personal values. Brand you is riding on whether people think you are competent, committed, available and willing to offer counsel. Sometimes for free. And often after hours.

If you are frustrated about not attaining high levels of success in your career, consider whether you have been cultivating or neglecting "brand you."

Your personal brand is established by the places you work and the titles achieved while there. It is your reputation for producing or failing to produce reliable, timely and quality work product. Your brand reflects your ability to communicate specialization but also to understand the issues and policies affecting your entire organization.

For top lawyers, career is not just about self interest. It is about contributions to the interests of the decision maker and the larger community.

Through expertise, involvement and shared values, top lawyers continuously cultivate reputable self-brands. It's the essence of those brands that separates top attorneys from colleagues destined for repeated lateral moves or career stagnation.

Top lawyers know that, while most of their colleagues look forward to relaxing at home at the end of the day, the highest-achieving ones do not focus on when one day ends and another begins. They look forward to the firm reception or foundation meeting at night because they are acutely aware that a little extra involvement is what moves the ordinarily competent attorney into the extraordinary, top attorney column. Even when not working, the top attorneys remain available and on call, considering the interests of their employers and communities at all times.

If it sounds like too much work, think again. Top attorneys don't view their involvement as work as much as they do a service for the people and causes they find most compelling. They recognize involvement as an indispensable component to staying on top in their careers.

If your objective is to become a good lawyer, then good jobs must suffice. You cannot offer only enough to be a good attorney and then be disappointed when you are not offered the top jobs.

Should you desire the top jobs, then simply put -- the top jobs go to the top lawyers. So it raises the question: What does it take to become a top lawyer? Build your brand.

Decision-makers give top jobs to the attorneys with the strongest brands. These are the brands that demonstrate shared values like reputation for responsiveness, accuracy, discretion, political savvy, family and participation in lofty priorities beyond day-to-day work.

Brands achieve recognition based upon consistency. While it is difficult to change a negative brand image, it is easy to destroy a positive one through inconsistency. Lawyers who desire higher levels of opportunity should begin contributing their time on workplace committees, in local politics or in community organizations. They should hone an expertise and develop relationships through involvement in shared interests.
Please 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.

Client Name Is Confidential

From the LawBiz Blog, Ed Poll reminds us of our duty to preserve client confidentiality.

Before disclosing the name of a client anywhere, get written consent from the client. Apparently, Quinn Emanuel did not do this ... and is now being sued by the client. They allegedly disclosed what was supposed to be a confidential settlement as part of one of their promotional brochures. A definite "no-no"! Click here for the rest of Ed's 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, February 11, 2009

LexBlog to Host Webinars on Social Networking, Blogging, and RSS

LexBlog's announces monthly Client Webinar Series.

The topics covered in this Webinar include:

Social Networking sites

* What value do they hold for business professionals/attorneys?
* How can they be used as a business development/marketing tool?
* Which social networking sites are worthwhile, and which are lame?
* What are some etiquette tips on professional social networking?

Twitter

* What is Twitter (in plain English)?
* How is Twitter being used by attorneys and other industry leaders today?
* Who are some of the "big guns" in the legal industry using Twitter, and what are some examples of how they use it?

The webinars will be hosted by LexBlog CEO Kevin O'Keefe, Client Services Director Stacey Merrick, Project Manager Rob La Gatta and Editorial Manager Lisa Kennelly.

Click here to go to the registration page. On the registration page, enter the word seattle when prompted for a password. If you cannot attend, a recording with the audio and screencast will be available after it's finished at the LexBlog Support Center.

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, February 10, 2009

Don't Forget To Review Your Malpractice Coverage

Allison Shields reminded me today to review my malpractice insurance as part of a comprehensive practice management plan. Sound advice on a topic that I think about once a year when renewal time arrives. Even though I rarely give the process more than cursory attention. Here are Allison's tips:
Is your malpractice policy a claims made policy? Claims made policies cover claims which are made during the policy period. This differs from an occurrence policy which covers any claim that was made as a result of an occurrence (i.e. the alleged malpractice) that took place when the policy was in effect.

Most homeowners and car insurance policies are occurrence policies, and those are the policies with which most people are familiar. But claims made policies are common for malpractice. If your policy is a claims made policy, once you become aware of a potential problem or claim, it is imperative to advise the insurer immediately. Failure to advise the insurer may mean a loss of coverage.

Does your policy have a prior acts date? This date may limit the claims covered by your policy even if the law firm become aware of the claim during the policy period. If the alleged malpractice occurred before the prior acts date, it won't be covered. If your policy contains such a provision, you will need to determine whether the date involves the whole firm or specific lawyers.

Do you have 'tail' coverage? This is important if you are switching carriers and don't have prior acts coverage with the new policy.

What are the exclusions to your policy? Doing work for free for friends or family? Taking on work in a new practice area that hasn't been previously disclosed to your malpractice carrier? Check your policy to see whether these items are covered under your policy.Does the policy you're purchasing cover all of your practice without exclusions for particular cases or practice areas? Does your policy's definition of professional services fit your firm and what it does?

Are you covered for all claims of malpractice, including those instituted as a result of a collections claim? An oft-cited reason why malpractice insurers don't like their policyholders to institute collections claims for unpaid fees is that the client often retaliates by instituting a malpractice claim. Sometimes those claims result in scrutiny of your billing procedures or the clarity of your communications with clients about your fee structure.

Are you covered for other activities related to your law practice, such as a real estate lawyer acting as a title agent, or any lawyer acting as a member of a board or bar association?

How much do you know about your malpractice carrier? Don't choose a malpractice carrier based upon price/premiums alone. Is your insurer reliable and experienced?

Will you will have the opportunity to choose or approve counsel should a claim be made against you? Your policy may give your malpractice insurer the exclusive right to choose the attorney or firm that will represent you.

Are your policy limits sufficient? what is the size of the potential judgment or value of the typical case or transaction being handled by the firm? If the numbers are high, you might want to consider higher limits. Consider the firm's assets to ensure that you're sufficiently protected.

Are your defense costs and expenses outside of the policy limits or included? Determine whether your policy limits include defense costs as well as liability limits. Review your deductible and be sure you know what it applies to - expenses or indemnity or both?

Having a malpractice policy isn't enough - make sure you know what that policy covers and where you may be vulnerable.
Please click here to read the 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, February 9, 2009

A New Look At Newsletters for Lawyer Marketing

Carolyn Elephant is the bomb. A pioneer in blogging and marketing for the solo lawyer, her energy on the subjects is boundless. On Nolo's Legal Marketing Blawg she revisits one of the old standbys in lawyer marketing, the newsletter. Here is what she has to say:

These days, blogs and social media are all the rage for lawyer marketing - and I plan to discuss the pros and cons of these 21st century marketing activities in future columns. But for today, l'm going to step back and take a new look at a more traditional form of lawyer marketing: the client newsletter.

So with new age tools like blogs or Facebook or Twitter available to keep your clients up to date on the law or your firm's accomplishments, why should lawyers resort to something as old-fashioned or static as a client newsletter? Well, believe it or not, newsletters offer several advantages that these other tools don't. First, newsletters give you a chance to connect with existing clients and retain contact with former clients. Since most lawyers report that client referrals account for their largest source of business, keeping in touch with clients ensures that they'll keep you in mind when a family member or friend asks for a referral. Second, newsletters are also a great way to build a mailing list for prospective clients by having them sign up to subscribe at your blog or website.

Newsletters also offer more flexibility over content than blogs or Twitter. Twitter confines users to 140 characters - barely enough to link to a news article or post of interest. Blogs also tend to focus on a single topic and don't allow for digressions. But many lawyers use newsletters to convey a variety of information to readers - from articles on legal issues to profiles of clients to jokes or recipes. Another drawback of blogs is that readers expect frequent updates, which leaves little time for lawyer-bloggers to really digest the news. By contrast, because newsletters go out bi-weekly, there's time to develop more substantive or analytical pieces.

If I've convinced you to take a new look at client newsletters, below are some questions and answers on the nuts and bolts of getting started and equally, if not more challenging, keeping a newsletter going:

1. How do I set up a newsletter? There are many options for creating professional looking client newsletters for minimal cost. Desk-top publishing packages such as those included in Word or Word Perfect are one option if you're comfortable with the software or have staff who can do it for you. If you decide to send out your newsletter in hard copy, these packages work best. Alternatively, you can also outsource newsletter production and printing to a virtual assistant or online company (just google terms like "client newsletter" and preparation").

If you prefer an e-mail newsletter, consider services like Aweber or Constant Contact, among others, to automate newsletter preparation. These services, which cost anywhere from $15 to $100/month provide professional, customizable templates for e-mail newsletters and autoresponder features that allow clients to register for the newsletter at your website. Both services are simple to use; you can set up templates yourself or outsource the work to a virtual assistant. The other benefit of an e-newsletter (as opposed to print) is that you can include URLs to sites or online articles of interests that readers can just click through to access.

2. Should I buy canned content? No, for several reasons. First, consider that your clients may be on several mailing lists and receiving newsletters with canned content from other lawyers. How embarrassing if they were to learn that your newsletter was the same as others they receive. Second, the newsletter offers an opportunity for you to let your personality shine through based on your content choice and writing style. Don't waste it.

3. If I can't buy canned content, how can I find content? There are a number of ways to develop great content for your newsletter. First, try to include at least one informational piece in each newsletter - perhaps a "tips post" on information to set aside for a will or how to keep your credit record clean. Next, set aside a folder and throughout the week, include links to interesting news stories or neat blogs that you've come across. You can alert readers to these materials in the newsletter.

Interviews are another great source of material for a client newsletter. Even better - there's no writing involved. Here's how. Identify a subject for your newsletter. For example, if you practice immigration law, you can interview a successful immigrant business owner within your community. If you practice family law, you might interview a marriage counselor who can share information about the counseling process. Next, set up a phone interview with your subject using a service like Freeconferencecalls.com which will record your call at no charge and transcribe it for a small fee. Conduct the interview and print the transcription in the newsletter. Couldn't be easier, plus, your subjects will be grateful for the exposure, and are sure to return the favor with referrals or introductions.

Finally, your newsletter needn't focus on legal issues exclusively. If you think your clients will enjoy off-topic issues, include jokes, light stories, home repair tips or cooking recipes - and invite clients to send in their favorites. You may find that you create a little bit of community through your newsletter.

4. I'd like to start a newsletter, but I'm concerned that I won't follow through. Any ideas on how to keep it going? First, schedule your newsletter as you would any other deadline. Every two weeks or month (and you may want to start monthly at first), set a date for when the newsletter will go out and milestones for finalizing content and putting it together. A newsletter is also an ideal task for a virtual assistant or a law clerk - you could send them material during the course of the month and ask them to take a first cut at formatting a draft.

5. Should I limit my newsletter to clients? Not at all. Make it available to clients, and prospective clients as well. And get double duty from a newsletter and added exposure by submitting it to some of the article archiving sites I discussed a few weeks back.
Please click here to read the 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.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Formerly Skeptical Lawyers Now Use Twitter in Interesting Ways

From LawyerCasting.com, more info on twitter:

Last month, we looked at some of the ways that attorneys can use Twitter. As follow up, let's consider a few examples of how lawyers are actually using this micro-blogging tool.

This article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer features four lawyers who use Twitter extensively. All were initially skeptical about using Twitter when they first heard of it, but became sold on its benefits after using it for a while.

* Wayne Serra, a partner at the Cleveland, OH firm of Ulmer & Berne, practices patent law. Serra calls Twitter a "very powerful tool" and uses it to network with other patent lawyers and information technology professionals. He has "tweeted" (posted short updates on Twitter) about court cases involving patents, new computer technology, new interpretations of the law of intellectual property, and developments at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

* Robert Ambrogi, a lawyer, writer, and technology consultant based in Boston, had doubted whether Twitter could be useful because of the service's "high noise ratio." Ambrogi now calls Twitter a "virtual watercooler," and says it helps him monitor the big topics that lawyers are discussing. He explained that attorneys can read Twitter to monitor what people are saying about them, their firms, their clients, or a particular business. Ambrogi also noted lawyers can use Twitter to build their professional brands by placing their name repeatedly in front of potential clients.

* Scott Greenfield, a New York criminal defense attorney and publisher of the Simple Justice blog, also admits to initial reluctance toward using Twitter. Although he's somewhat disappointed because he has observed that the increased use of Twitter has coincided with a decrease in thoughtful conversation on law blogs, Greenfield "tweets" because he finds many of his blawgging friends are now spending more time on Twitter and less on blogging. Simply put, Greenfield uses Twitter because it is now "incredibly mainstream for lawyers" and he doesn't want to miss any of his fellow blawggers' comments.

* Kevin O'Keefe, chief executive of LexBlog, also was a Twitter skeptic. But when breaking news was reported first on Twitter before appearing in the mainstream media, he began to understand the value. He now calls Twitter "networking on steroids," and avers that it's a far more efficient business development tool than joining a country club and playing golf.

For lawyers starting out on Twitter, if you already have a blog, you can feed your posts to Twitter automatically. To find opportunities to share your "two cents," search thousands of tweets to find topics that interest you. Then browse the many third party applications that can help you get the most value from Twitter.

Click here for the 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.

Smart Law Firm Marketing Includes Flexibility When It Comes To Collections

From his Legal Marketing Blog, Tom Kane offers his thought on billing collections in these tough times:

I met with the managing partner of an 80-lawyer firm on Monday, and was somewhat surprised to hear that the firm has not laid off anyone, not lawyers, not staff. Later the same day, I met with the executive director of a 110-lawyer firm who told me the same thing. What was even more amazing, the latter firm is actually in a hiring mode for lawyers, not because they have too much work for their current staffing level, but because they realize they can pick up some really good talent right now from those BigLaw firms that are busily shedding terrific talent. With the firm’s reputation for security (they have never laid off lawyers in their nearly hundred year history), they figure they won’t lose this talent when things turn around. Furthermore, the firm is looking to add to their marketing staff also.

Yet, both firms realize their clients are hurting in this current economy, and although these firms are not cutting people, both are cutting the clients some slack in terms of their invoices, mostly by setting up payment schedules that the clients can live with.

That appears to be the consensus of a number of smaller firms (which by definition have more flexibility than large firms) mentioned in an article in the The Connecticut Law Tribune and in Small Firm Business about the need for flexibility and patience in collecting fees these days.

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.

Tech Is Gonna Help You to Know Your Judge

To this day -- 30 years later -- I remember a story my law school civil procedure professor told us about his first attorney job. 20 years...