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Guide To Law Firm SEO Strategy

Having an effective SEO strategy for your law firm will not only keep you competitive but also give you access to more prospective clients. If you already reviewed our SEO Tips for Lawyers and advanced SEO methods, we put together any missing pieces to the SEO puzzle right here.

Understanding SEO

Ever wondered why certain websites appear on the front page of Google when you search, “Criminal Defense Lawyer in Florida”?

This is made possible by SEO.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is simply increasing your visibility in search results. There are many different ways to improve your search rankings such as backlink building, decreasing website load time, and more.

If your website is currently found on the 27th page of Google’s search results implementing just a few of the ideas in this article could see a significant increase in your search rankings.

Keep in mind, getting your website ranked on the top pages takes consistent effort because there are likely other law firms competing for the same position. However, by implementing an SEO strategy for your law firm you can take advantage of getting free traffic from search engines.

SEO Strategy #1: Know Your Search Words

The first step to improve your website rankings in the search engines is to understand the words people are using in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.

In a Google Consumer Survey, it was found that 96% of people use search engines to find legal advice. They also found that 74% of them would go to a lawyer’s website and take action.

This makes search words extremely important so that your law firm is discovered by people looking for your legal services.

How to Find Your Keywords

There are a few free and simple tools you can use to find the keywords being used in the search engines.

Tool #1: Google Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to find all the keywords people use which are related to your law firm. The insights you get from this tool includes keywords, ad group ideas, historical statistics, competition, keyword, trends, bidding and much more.

To use Google’s Keyword Planner, you need an AdWords account. Don’t worry, you won’t have to add your credit card or purchase any ads to use their free keyword planner.

If you’re unfamiliar with Google Keyword Planner, follow these steps to get started.

Step 1: After you sign in or sign up, you’ll arrive at the AdWord dashboard.

Step 2: Click on the tool icon in the top right corner.

Step 3: Select “Keyword Planner”.

Step 4: Enter your search terms.

Example:

Let’s use “Divorce Lawyer California” for our example.

The results show some important stats like Avg. Monthly Searches, Competition, and ad-related details.

You can use these results to put together keywords your web pages and blog content.

To improve the effectiveness and accuracy of your law firm’s keyword research, be sure to adjust the location and the date.

Adjusting the Location

Your law firm SEO strategy may be to attract more clients from your local area. To do this, you can use the location settings to find all the keywords being used from within your city or town.

Use the location search to be as specific or as general as you want.

Adjusting the Date

What if there were higher rates or accidents at certain times of the year? Or you’re a tax attorney and caseloads tend to increase at certain times of the year?

If adjust the date settings, you can see keywords that are used during certain seasons, recent searches, or an overview of keywords used throughout the year.

Even though Google’s Keyword Planner is meant as a guide for setting up your Google AdWords PPC, you can take advantage of the statistic for planning the keywords for your law firm’s SEO.

Tool #2: Keyword.io

Keyword.io allows you to find longtail and other related keywords. Longtail keywords are more detailed phrases (up to 3 words) which can be used to target a smaller demographic of people.

Instead of focusing all your effort on popular and competitive search terms, longtail keywords can be used to find prospective clients your competitors might be ignoring.

With Keyword.io, you can create a strategic list of keywords for any search engine including Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo.

You can use Keyword.io to research keywords for a PPC Campaign, SEO, or article writing (more about this later).

Example:

Let’s use the same search term from before, “Divorce Lawyer in California”:

With Keyword.io, you can see variations of how the keyword is being used in the search engines.

Combining these results with Google’s Keyword Planner, you can come up with a strong set of keywords to use for your law firm’s SEO strategy.

SEO Strategy #2: Write and Publish Quality Content

The purpose of your law firm’s website is to attract prospective clients. To achieve this, you should write and publish quality content.

Here are a few simple strategies to guide you toward effective SEO Content Strategy:

  1. Publish only compelling and quality content. You want to make sure that what you publish is both unique and useful to the people reading it. Ask yourself this, what value does your content give readers?
  2. Use keywords. You now know how to search for relevant and current keywords so put them into your content. Use different keywords for each piece of content you publish. This not only expands your reach but also prevents SEO issues with Google and other search engines.
  3. Share on social media. You’ll soon learn how popularity is important to improve your SEO. Start by sharing your posts after they are published and encourage others to share them as well.
  4. Keep your content fresh. When you are writing and publishing new content on your law firm’s blog, keep it fresh and up to date. Spend a few minutes researching current events and try to write something related to today’s trends.
  5. Obtain backlinks. You’ll learn all about this in SEO Strategy #3.
  6. Publish frequently. Don’t just publish one or two articles and think that’s enough. You have to publish frequently to remind the search engines that your site is live and your content is important.

To get started on your law firm’s SEO content strategy, you want to be optimizing content for discovery and conversion. This means using the keywords you found and writing in a way that turns website visitors into new clients.

Also, you also understand the intent of the search words being used in Google. If someone searches, “Divorce Lawyer Fees,” they are likely shopping around for the best prices. If that person chooses your website, which do you think would be more compelling?

Sample Content #1:

Our divorce lawyers fees start at $100 per hour. Contact us today for a consultation.

Sample Content #2:

We offer some of the lowest divorce lawyer fees in town. Contact us for a free consultation to get started.

Another example of keyword intent could be someone searching for, “My wife wants a divorce.” Here, the intent is for information, both emotionally and legally, that will help them handle their divorce. In this situation, you may not want to sell your service but instead, come across as a warm friend with helpful advice.

Remember this: when you write content for your law firm’s website, you should always put your audience first. Writing to satisfy the ever-changing algorithms of Google and other search engines could lead to a negative SEO. Instead, focus on providing quality content that comes from you and resonates with your current and prospective clients.

Implementing Longtail Keywords

Let’s take another look at the list of longtail keywords from before:

You’ll notice quite a few keyword phrases found that can be used to shape the type of content you create. Alternatively, if you’re out of ideas you can use this list of longtail keywords to write articles like:

  • 7 Reasons Not To Get a Divorce in California Without a Lawyer
  • Low-Cost Divorce Lawyer in California | YourLawFirm.com
  • 3 Simples Steps for Filing for Divorce Without a Lawyer

Creating Quality Content

You could have a blog talking about your thoughts and experiences as a lawyer or you could create content with a strategic plan and a specific goal.

Again, using the list of keywords you researched related to your law firm, you can create a long-term strategy to publish and share content related to the needs of your prospective clients.

For example, during the Christmas season, you may want to write a series on the consequences and outcomes of drinking and driving. Or, if you’re that divorce lawyer from California, you can write about divorce rates and actions to take if they’re considering divorce.

Take note of what Matt Cutts, Google’s software engineer, has said about creating content:

“You need to find some way to pull people in, to get them interested, to get them enticed to try to pick up whatever concept it is you want to explain. So I would argue, first and foremost, you need to explain it well, and then if you can manage to do that while talking about the science or being scientific, that’s great.”

SEO Content Calendar

Planning out your content in advance can make your marketing efforts significantly easier.

You should plan for one to two months in advance and prepare content that can be interlinked with each other. Interlinked content are pages linking to another page on your website (this adds SEO benefits and also keeps visitors on your website longer).

Once you have created an SEO content calendar, you can start to publish on your social media accounts, email newsletter and any other places you can think of. However, before you do, you should consider the best times to publish your content. Here’s what Hubspot recommends:

  • Facebook: 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm (with 1 pm getting the most shares) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • LinkedIn: 7-8 am, 12 pm, 5-6 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  • Instagram: 2 am, 8-9 am, and 5 pm on any day.

You’ll have to test your own content to see which times get you the most traffic and the best results. Ultimately, here’s a few tips to follow for your law firm’s SEO content calendar:

  1. Post consistently (i.e. three times a week)
  2. Use multiple social channels
  3. Choose times that get the most engagement with your target audience

SEO Strategy #3: Build Your Backlinks

By now, you may notice that your law firm’s SEO strategy is quite complex. However, to keep things simple, the ultimate goal of SEO is to improve your popularity.

In order to boost your law firm’s “popularity” and get prospective clients coming to your website, you have to build backlinks from various online sources.

Search engines like google are looking for law firms with relevant and authority links pointing to its website. The way authority websites are measured is also based on the amount of traffic coming to that website.

Steps for Build More Backlinks

Building backlinks to your law firm’s website can be challenging. There are some methods you can try, but they could get you in a lot of trouble. For example, if you decided to purchase backlinks from an unreputable source, Google may put a penalty on your website which can block you from the search results.

To ensure your website doesn’t get blocked, here’s a few steps for building quality backlinks:

1. Publish quality content. If you’re producing great content that connects with the people who read it, there’s a great chance that they will share it with their friends and family. This is the best way to introduce your legal services to new people.

Take note of these blogs rated by the American Bar Association to be the best law blogs:

Clio offers incredible law firm management software and they use their blog effectively to share their knowledge and expertise.

Verdict is a magazine blog provided by Justia (an online resource where you can sign up, add your website, and find prospective clients) which has a blog full of content on every aspect of the law.

Overlawyered is one of the oldest law blogs exploring the American legal system. Take a look at the bottom of this blog, notice the comment section? Here is a great way to contribute to the discussion and sometimes share a link your website:


2. Network and help others. Expecting people to link to you is unthinkable. You have to reach out to others and show off your expertise. You should join various forums and online groups to meet new people and offer help when you can. Here are some examples:

Quora is an active community of people asking and answering questions. After you set up an account for your law firm, you can search for relevant questions related to your legal services. Here’s an example using our California Divorce Lawyer:

If you had an article titled “Low-Cost Divorce Lawyer in California | YourLawFirm.com” you could insert a link into your answer. Quora is an authority website and not only can you use it to send new visitors to your website but it’s also effective for your backlinking efforts.

Reddit is a community of news enthusiast sharing and reading the top stories in America. Before you start sharing your content here, you should know that direct marketing is often frowned upon by its community members. There are various discussion boards where people are seeking answers to their problems, however, the website uses a rating system to rate anything posted and commented. So, be careful.

In this example, you can see that people are sharing their experiences getting or considering divorce in California. Here’s your chance to make direct connections with a potential client by offering content related to their situation and sharing your insights in a response.

When selecting which posts to comment, choose the ones with more points as these are receiving active engagement and interest.

LinkedIn Pulse is one of many social channels you can use to publish your content related to law firm’s blog. Here’s an example of a law firm using LinkedIn to share direct links to their blog:

LinkedIn may not be best place to find new clients but it’s a great way to build links and increase your website’s authority.

Want more ideas for marketing your content? Read 30 Law Firm Content Marketing Ideas

3. Become an online authority. If you’re publishing great content consistently, you can expect people to start writing and linking back to your website. You can’t expect your online authority to change overnight. By following the previous two steps and consistently engaging with people online, you can start to see more of your links getting shared online and you may even get featured on top news channels (links from these sources carry a significant authority that can boost your website’s search rankings).

Summary

Creating the perfect SEO strategy for your law firm starts with knowing which words prospective clients are searching online. Once you research these terms and create incredible content, you can start to share links to authority websites to grow your online presence and increase exposure to your legal services.

A Lawyer’s Working Conditions

Lawyers tend to enjoy a well-earned career after investing years in education and training as an associate. While the path from law student to a successful lawyer will be different for each person pursuing law, there are numerous similarities in lawyer’s working conditions.

Working Hours

Successful lawyers work hard and put in long hours at the office. It can be expected that lawyers will sacrifice their evenings and weekends to work with clients. This is due to many clients being preoccupied with their own 9 to 5 day jobs and cannot get time off work to visit a lawyer for legal aid.

Salaried lawyers and associates may work according to a structured schedule. They may follow a strict 8 hour work day and only offer more when demands at the office grow.

Private lawyers and solo practitioner typically have irregular working hours. If they have started their own law firm, they will spend more time implementing marketing strategies, writing a blog, conducting research, consulting clients, and preparing documents.

Overall, lawyers may be billing clients 40 to 50 hours per week when they are actually working 55 to 70 hours (or more).

“Seasonal” Lawyers

Seasonal lawyers can be considered as those who provide specialized services at particular periods throughout the year. One example of a seasonal lawyer would be tax lawyers.

However, the work a lawyer provides is not exactly seasonal. Instead, they may experience spikes in the intake of clients and increasing caseloads. During this time, these lawyers may experience greater levels of stress, longer work hours, and higher pay. 

Freelance / Remote Lawyers

Instead of working as a salaried lawyer at a firm, there is the possibility of becoming a freelance or remote lawyer. These kinds of lawyers find various contracts by working with established firms and agencies.

Freelance lawyers have much more flexibility with their time and client caseloads. They can have their own office or they can work from the comfort of their own home.

The range of opportunities is greater for freelance lawyers which allows them to work in various jurisdictions. Since they will be working with attorneys at an establish firm, they are the ones who sign off and finalize documents which the freelance lawyer assisted on.

24/7 Access 

In some cases, lawyers may have to provide 24/7 on-call access. Depending on the demands of the case, clients may require contact with their lawyers to help handle their particular situation. Offering 24/7 access to a lawyer is common for high-profile cases and not typically provided by most firms.

However, in order for some law firms to remain competitive, there are 24/7 services that provides access to lawyers at any time of the day. This is particularly useful for intaking new clients who may call an office for information when it is urgent for them to find an answer. There is a list of outsourcing solutions for lawyers that allows law firms to have round the clock access.

Relationship Demands

Lawyers are expected to have strong interpersonal skills since they will be working with clients dealing with a wide range of emotional and personal situations.

Clients coming into an office may be angry, unhappy, or emotional upset because of their legal situation. Depending on how a lawyer communicates with their clients, it could make the difference between another successful case or an unfortunate pursuit of malpractice.

Having the social skills are critical for a lawyer to maintain their practice. Lawyers will spend a significant amount of time communicating with their clients. They will use the telephone, e-mail, memos, letters, and other forms of communications to rely on information to their clients and other legal professionals.

Expectations and Responsibilities

Lawyers have demanding working conditions requiring attention to details, precision with communications, and attentive decision making. If there’s an error in a lawyers judgment or action, it could result in delays and improper rulings in the courtroom.

Lawyers are greatly responsible for the outcome of their client’s case, which ultimately affects their lives and reputations. In some cases, lawyers are solely responsible for the decisions they make which can have an overall impact on a firm. If firm’s don’t agree with their lawyer’s decision making or if it jeopardizes the profitability and ethics of a firm, lawyer’s can lose their jobs.

The workload for lawyers requires intensive research and investigation. Lawyers are expected to perform the same mental tasks in and out of the office. They may also have to follow a dress code.

In The Courtroom

When a lawyer goes to court, they serve as the representative of their client; they provide advice to their clients; they explain the legal rights, obligations, and appropriate actions; they are an advocate of law and assert their client’s position; they negotiate terms and ensure an honest outcome; they evaluate evidence and structure compelling arguments; they write reports and summaries of the outcomes of their client’s legal affairs.

Lawyers going to court must act professionally and provide prompt support to their clients. In these situations, tensions can be high because rulings can completely alter a client’s life. While a lawyer may serve as a beacon of hope for their clients, they must also adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct outlined by the American Bar Association (ABA) and protect themselves from being sued from malpractice.

Competition

Lawyers experience a significant amount of competition throughout their career. It begins with law school, competing to enter some of the best law schools in the country. Those who get into those schools have a greater chance of landing a job at a high-paying firm.

If a lawyer does get hired as an associate, they must learn their trade while also proving useful to the firm. If an associate is offered to become a partner, they not only receive more legal work which provides more money, but they also hold greater responsibility regarding the profitability of the firm.

Law firms are constantly competing for clients in their district. Having the right marketing strategy can make all the difference for those lawyers that succeed and those that close office after a year or two of practice.

Top 7 Benefits of Being A Solo Practitioner

Whether practice big law and you’re looking for a break or you’re junior associate searching for your career path, becoming a solo practitioner comes with some unique perks.

Solo practitioners are considered to be private lawyers who work for them self at their own office or remotely. Typically, these lawyers handle almost all of the responsibilities required for their legal services and may occasionally hire legal assistance (i.e. clerks) for support.

If you’re considering your career path in law, here are 7 benefits of being a solo practitioner.

1. Complete Control

Since solo practitioners work for themselves, they’ll have more control over the direction of their service as a business. Not only should a solo practitioner be a great lawyer, but they should also have a strong sense of business as well.

Having control over the destiny of your legal services allows you to decide which client cases you take on and which ones you don’t. There will no longer be a need to seek approval before making a decision that affects a law firm. Instead, every decision you make will have a direct impact on your legal services as a business.

2. Diverse Clients

Working as a solo practitioner can allow for a greater diversity of client experiences. For example, lawyers who work at a firm and have been told to focus on criminal cases associated with violent crimes may not be able to specialize also in property crimes. In some cases, violent crimes and property crimes can overlap. Solo practitioners can have a greater flexibility in the areas which they practice.

If you’re the kind of person that enjoys new challenges in their work, being a solo practitioner offers just that. You can gain experience discovering which cases and legal situations you are more interested in and can later tailor your legal services to areas you are more interested and dedicated.

3. Cost Effective

There is a significant difference in cost of operations between big law firms and solo practitioners. Big law firms tend to have higher bills which cover rental expenses, staff, benefits, and more. Solo practitioners on the other hand usually operate out of a small office and may have few to no staff at all.

In regards to staffing, if you’re a solo practitioner that really wants to save, there are various lawyer software which makes operating your legal business more efficient and cost-effective. If you want to improve your intaking, you can hire a virtual receptionist or place some live chat on your website. Or, if you need something to manage your taxes and ensure invoices are sent out there are accounting software programs specifically for lawyers.

4. Benefits for Clients

Not only are there great benefits for being a solo practitioner but also for their clients. By reducing the overhead costs, solo practitioners can cut the total costs of their legal fees. In situations where a client may have to hire their lawyer for a longer amount of time can allow for more time and resources to be dedicated to a case.

One of the biggest influencing factors which affect someone’s decision to hire a lawyer is a price. If you’re able to cut your operating cost while providing legal services at a competitive price, you may be able to take on more clients. This can be very strategic for new lawyers searching for their first clients to get their name out there.

5. Work Environment

When you have the ability to design your work environment it can lead to a happier and more productive work environment. Solo practitioners have complete control over their working conditions. From the office space to the office supplies, everything is decided and designed by the lawyer in charge.

Creating the perfect office environment may come out of your own budget, but this will be the foundation of your legal services. Working from a place that suits your style and quality of service can set a strong first impression with your clients.

6. Custom Work Hours

Custom hours if often one of the most rewarding benefits for solo practitioners. Working at a firm, big or small, can create a high demand for a lawyer’s time both after hours and in the off-season.

By gaining more flexibility over your legal services, you can choose just how much, or how little, you want to work. If you want to take time off for vacationing or to attend a conference to further your professional development, you can. For those who have a family, being a solo practitioner allows for more time at home.

Having more time to focus on your legal services can also lead to better quality work. You can create strong marketing campaigns to find prospective clients that need your service. Or, if you have a website you can dedicate any extra time toward developing a blog and sharing your legal expertise to more people (see lawyer’s with a blog).

7. Higher ROI

 

The choice of becoming a solo practitioner may have a greater risk but it also involves greater reward. To emphasize the importance of having strong business skills, solo practitioners can work harder and see a high net gain.

If you’re working at a law firm, you may take on more client cases yet your salary stays the same. As a solo practitioner, the profitability of your legal practice will be based on your ability to find clients and handle their legal needs successfully.

7 Simple Steps To Become A Freelance Lawyer

If you’re looking for a change in your law career that provides more freedom and flexibility, becoming a freelance lawyer could be it.

Life at a law firm isn’t for everyone. The working hours are long, the caseloads are stressful, and the working environments may not meet your ideals. Becoming a freelance lawyer allows you to choose which client projects to work on and who are your colleagues.

There’s no doubt that being a freelance lawyer has benefits. If this is the direction you want your legal career to take, keep reading to learn a few simple steps to get started.

Step 01: Decide Your Legal Services

The first thing freelance lawyers should do is decide what legal services they are going to provide their clients. At a law firm, associates and fellow lawyers must choose a single area to focus their practice. For a freelance lawyer, there’s a bit more flexibility.

When shifting your legal career toward freelance, it’s best to do some research before taking the plunge. If you decide to provide legal services in an area that is uncommon in your region, you can expect to go out of business pretty quickly.

Choosing the right area that has a steady demand will keep you in business longer as well as provide you with stimulating cases on the job.

Step 02: Register Your Services

Depending on your personal goals, you have complete control over the destiny of your legal profession. Once you have an idea of what you want to practice, the next step is to begin the legal steps to register your service.

Will you be a sole proprietorship? A limited liability company? Or, a corporation?

Understanding the differences between the three can help determine how you wish to operate your freelance legal services.

Step 03: Administrative Tasks

With your legal services registered, you’ll need other important elements to organize and maintain your administrative responsibilities. You may need a separate bank account for billing and tax-related purposes.

If you plan on working completely on your own and without the support of any legal assistants, consider using lawyer accounting software. Not only do these program help automate repetitive administrative tasks, they can also be used for the following:

  • Calendaring
  • Document management
  • Invoicing
  • Billing
  • Payroll
  • Time tracking

See a complete review of the best accounting software for lawyers.

Step 04: Network

Once you have laid the foundation for your freelance legal services, you can share your new service with your network.

Traditional lawyers working at a law firm tend to target individuals and other businesses for work. The clients you’ll often find as a freelance lawyer will typically come from other lawyers and law firms.

If you have a large list of contacts, this is the best place to start searching for business.

Alternatively, you can set up accounts on social networking websites to begin expanding your personal network. If you don’t have one already, LinkedIn is one of the leading social networking websites for all professionals. Other sites to network with lawyers and in-house job opportunities can be found here:

If you want to join a social networking website rising in popularity check out Foxwordy. At Foxwordy, you can reach out and connect with other lawyers and contribute toward various projects in the legal industry.

Finally, if you haven’t done so already, you should join your local bar association and participate in as many local events as possible.

Step 05: Get a Website

Freelance lawyers with a website can offer a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Lawyer websites are a great way to showcase your services and allow for prospective clients to discover what you do.

Your website can feature some of your past legal projects and highlight your area of expertise.

If you decide to get a website, it is also important to understand how to use it in a way to benefit your business. If you’re on a tight budget, performing these local SEO methods can help more people find your services.

Or, if you some money to spend, you can try advertising your services using Google PPC or Facebook Ads. Both advertising choices have their own set of benefits and features.

Step 06: Start a Blog

Are you an expert in a particular area of law and want to share your knowledge with others? Starting a blog is a great way for freelance lawyers to make more connections with prospective clients.

If you’re unsure about the benefits of blogging about law, here are a few:

  • Free service promotion
  • Improves your website’s SEO
  • Make connections with prospective clients
  • Build a credible reputation online

It will take a bit of time and commitment for a blog to become a successful marketing tool. However, with these tips for lawyers who blog, you can get ahead of your competition.

Step 07: Be Patient

Becoming a successful freelance lawyer is not going to occur overnight If you decide to take this path in your legal career remember that it is going to require strategic planning, time, dedication, and most importantly patience.

Keep in mind that your legal services are much like a business and like all business, there is a chance of failing. The beginning will be some of the toughest moments until the momentum builds and your reputation spreads amongst your community.

Thinking about starting your own law firm instead of being a freelancer? Give this a read.

Steps For Setting Up A Virtual Office At Your Law Firm

For a solo practitioner or a small law firm, setting up a virtual office at the office can make legal services run more effectively and efficiently.

A virtual office allows for lawyers to reduce their management and also their marketing efforts. This can help free up time to focus on client cases and other aspects of growing the firm.

If you’re thinking about setting up a virtual office, here are 5 steps to help you get started.

Step 1: Understand your needs

A virtual office can exist anywhere with the common belief that telephone operators from developing are taking calls and working the front desk.

In the legal world, having inexperienced and unprofessional telecommunication companies handle the intaking and scheduling of your prospective client’s can be both bad for your reputation and your business.

There are telecommunication services available that are dedicated to lawyers. They have trained staff that may even be specialized in your area of practice, such as criminal defense or family law.

Alternatives to using a telecommunication service are to add Live Chat to your law firm’s website. In this list of the best Live Chat services for lawyers, you can quickly and easily add a professional button to your website and interact any visitor.

Overall, there are various types of virtual office solutions. Here’s an overview of a few services virtual office service available to lawyers:

  • Customer Relation Management (CRMs)
  • Live Chat
  • Accounting Software
  • Virtual Receptionist

Virtual offices allow you to automate and improve the efficiency of your daily routines at your firm. In addition, with technology trending toward mobile interactions, you can expect to find various solutions you can manage with your smartphone.

Step 2: Consider the Pros and Cons

Establishing your law firm into a virtual office comes with both benefits and disadvantages. If you’re sure this is the right decision for your firm, there must be substantial reasoning and benefits to do so. Here are some of the benefits a virtual office can include:

  • Reduce costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Effective client intaking
  • Flexible employment
  • Operate your intaking 24/7/365

The disadvantages to a virtual office may be difficult to imagine. However, when considering the sensitive information that passes through a law firm, you may want to think twice before outsourcing work to those outside the office. Here are a few disadvantages to establishing a virtual office:

  • Reduce moral in current employees
  • Lack of support
  • Privacy liability
  • Bad for reputation (i.e. outsourcing calls)
  • Security risks

Using technology and outsourced solutions will always alleviate the workload at the office. However short-term benefits may have long-term consequences. Carefully evaluate which services are right for your legal practice.

Step 3: Measure costs

Cost reduction and savings are two major factors that influence the decision to establish a virtual office. Accounting software can provide invoices with the click of a button while tracking cash flow to make taxes easier. Virtual receptionists can handle inquiries at the office and schedule appointments for serious inquiries.

When selecting the services for your law firm, it’s best to shop around. The pricing and features offered with each will vary. There is a competitive market to provide solutions specifically for lawyers and each service will provide similar yet varying options.

If possible, you can start with a trial of their services which is usually free and does not require a credit card.

Step 4: Stick to your budget

When you sign up for virtual services you’ll be locked into a monthly or yearly billing cycle. You’ll have to determine your monthly costs accordingly and select the services that you feel will help your law firm yield the best returns.

There are services that stick to a monthly pricing plan and others that invoice you per client or lead they acquire. If you’re paying per lead, be sure that you are successfully converting those prospective leads into new clients. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your money.

Step 5: Analyze effectiveness

Even though you have spent a significant amount of time and money investing in potential virtual office solutions, it is best practice to analyze their effectiveness on a quarterly or yearly basis.

If you’re using a virtual receptionist, measure how many new clients they help you acquire per month. Determine whether their services are providing you an improvement to your legal services or simply using up your budget.

Here are a few points to analyze with your law firm’s virtual office services:

  • How many clients does it yield
  • How much time is being saved
  • How are much are costs being reduced
  • How many issues have occurred
  • How often is tech support needed

The ease of installation for more virtual office services may reduce the hassle of finding a talented staff to hire at your firm, taking the time to develop in-house employees can sometimes be worth the effort.

In-house staff can reduce headaches of spending hours on a phone with support teams that may or may not be able to resolve your problems right away. Also, training staff can establish to long-term employees which understand the process of how your law firm functions and can lead to better performance than outsourced solutions.

These 5 steps are just a guideline if you’re thinking about turning your law firm into a virtual office. For solo-practitioners, reducing the number of administrative tasks may be the best option to improve efficiency and effectiveness of your legal services. If you’re looking for the best virtual solutions, check out these law firm management software.

Should You Become A Partner At A Law Firm?

When you’re law career begins, you may find yourself working at a law firm as an associate and provided with a base salary. Transitioning from employee to becoming a partner at a firm is a great leap.

The path from associate to partner at a law firm may not always be clearly defined. However, there are a few criteria that can assist you if you’re being considered or have been offered to become a partner at a law firm.

The Path to a Partner at a Law Firm

Firms hiring lawyers often choose the best they can find. Applicants from top law schools are recruited first with interviews being limited to specific schools only.

There is a chance of distinguishing yourself in another way, however, most candidates for law firm positions will be considered by pre-selected schools.

Upon hire, your career often starts as an associate. You will be working with a mentor to learn how to practice law. At this time, you will be paid a relatively high salary as the law firm is investing in you at their firm.

While law firms seek to find the best potential lawyers, not all make partner at their firm. Some may leave to start their own private practice or start a firm of their own after a few years with the firm. The path to becoming a partner can be long and take now take over ten years before it occurs.

Partner vs. Non-Partner

On becoming a partner at a law firm, you not only take on more responsibility but also receive an equity stake in the firm’s profits. This provides you access to draw profits to cover your bills and monthly expenses. At the end of the year, you’ll be able to take a larger share when profits are distributed.

This is the typical style of partnership, however, there is also the possibility of becoming a non-partner which does not give you an equity stake in the law firm. Law firms have been adopting varying styles of multi-tiered partnerships which provide increases in salaries (and responsibilities) instead of receiving a small percentage of the firm.

In some cases, law firms may have different types of partnerships available. For example, you can be able to become an executive or managing partner.

There are many factors that influence the structure of a law firm and how it establishes available partnerships. Depending on the size and growth of a firm, offering a non-partnership promotion may be more financially secure than offering equity stakes. Law firms can be an LLC or a corporation and their level of success can determine how much access to equity their rising associates may receive.

Cost of Making Partner

Becoming a partner may not come cheap. Law firms that offer a partnership with an equity stake will often ask for a “buy-in.” That amount varies for each firm, however, some of the top firm’s may require hundreds of thousands of dollars as a capital investment.

Law school is already an expensive investment and many lawyers take years to pay back their loans. If you’re one of the few being fast-tracked to a partnership, consider the capital that may be needed to partner-up.

The “base” capital investment is not the only expected cost new lawyers are expected to cover. Becoming partner means you will be responsible for the costs of benefits and additional income tax deductions.

Finally, some associates moving into a position of being a full-fledged lawyer may experience a shift in lifestyle. This too can come with a heavy price tag.

Putting the financial situation into perspective, law firms don’t want to see their selected partners making less than senior associates. Partners are carefully groomed into their position and law firm’s take precautions to choose them carefully.

Why “Buy-in” to a Partnership?

The capital required to “buy-in” to a partnership position is needed to make investments and expansions at the law firm. You may not have to contribute the full amount as some law firms allow for a contribution that is spread out over a couple years.

Firms may offer a loan structure which secures the capital while imposing a debt onto the partner. However, other firm’s may opt out of requesting “buy-in” capital to avoid paying out a partner who decides to leave after the first few years. Another approach may be to delay the required capital investment by a year so that new partners can develop their services and get into the flow of their new career.

Benefits to Becoming a Partner at a Law Firm

After years of law school and enduring the high-stress legal world as an associate, becoming a partner adds the following benefits to a career in law:

  • Increased pay
  • Equity stake in the law firm
  • Greater prestige and power

Disadvantages to Becoming a Partner at a Law Firm

While the increased pay and access to the firm’s profits may seem like a lucrative leap in your career, here’s a few things that may be disadvantageous:

  • May take years to the firm before being considered a partner
  • Greater liability (i.e. sued for malpractice or if the law firm goes bankrupt)
  • Must pay additional fees: medical insurance, malpractice insurance, etc.
  • Required capital “Buy-in”
  • Consequences for not keeping the firm profitable

If becoming a partner at a firm is not your interest, you may want to consider starting your own law firm.

What’s Inside A Lawyer’s Briefcase

Lawyer’s need the right tools to provide their legal services anywhere they have to go. From the office appointments to courtroom appearances having a full suite of supplies will keep a lawyer equipped for any situation.

If you’re soon to be associate at a firm or just a polished lawyer looking for a few new tools for the “toolbox,” here you will discover what’s inside a lawyer’s briefcase.

Digital Recorder

Although smartphones can provide this solution, some old fashion lawyers may still carry around a recording device. Recorders are important to make notes, collect thoughts and record instructions. If you happen to be one of those lawyers using a cassette tape to record, upgrading to a digital device can save a lot of time.

Digital Camera

If you’re required to collect evidence for a case, such as a car accident, having a digital camera is a must. There are many small and compact cameras that can fit inside a small inner compartment.

Smart Phone

You could probably eliminate all the previous items on this list by just using a smartphone. Calculators, recorders, and even matter management software can reduce the weight in lawyer’s briefcase. However, there could be privacy concerns if you’re using your personal phone for your clients. Designating a phone for your law practice can be a smart idea.

Cellular Headphone Set

Cellular headsets are great to have when reception is bad and a client makes an urgent call. These take up little space, however, using a clip from the office to bundle the wires is a smart way to avoid untangle them each time you pull them out.

Notebook Computer

A lawyer’s briefcase is usually designed to perfectly fit a notebook computer. If you’re carrying around your client’s notes, matter, and also a computer, you may want to get a briefcase with a shoulder strap to reduce the load.

USB Scanner

This may not be a common item found in a lawyer’s briefcase, but it can be useful if you’re always on the move. Having a USB scanner can put documents on your laptop whenever you need them. You can send priority documents to clients immediately after court hearings while waiting in the break room.

Stationary Supplies

All lawyers require the stationary supplies to be functional for their job. Pens, pencils, notebooks, and other essentials can be stored in designated compartments for quick and easy use. Don’t forget to replenish your supplies whenever they run out.

Legal Matter

Inside most briefcases, you’ll find a sleeve dedicated for loose papers and folders. Storing the necessary legal matter in these places not only protects the documents but can also keep them organized. However, if you’re caseload is very large, you may require a larger suitcase to handle the load.

Final Thoughts

A lawyer’s briefcase is more than just a bag full of tools to perform legal work. When going from the office to the courtroom, a briefcase provides a secure and safe way to transfer sensitive and private information. Having a briefcase with anti-theft features with tracking may be over the top, but in a worst-case scenario, you’d have no regrets.

One last thing to remember, especially if you’re using or own multiple briefcases, is to be sure to transfer the contents on one into the other. You may find yourself rushing out the door with the wrong briefcase and wonder why all your client files disappeared.

Suit Advice for Lawyers

The way you dress often has a lasting impression on people. Lawyers are typically known to wear sleek suits that give them an appearance of authority and power.

While some law firms may be adopting a business casual dress code, associates and lawyers would be wise to ignore this. Formal business appearances will always be necessary if you’re heading into the courtroom or providing a client consultation.

Being caught in a casual outfit is not going to set a professional impression. To truly look like a lawyer, you’ll want to dress like a lawyer. If you’re wondering what you should wear at the office or when heading into the courtroom, here’s some advice about suits to wear.

Suit Color for Lawyers

Before reviewing a few suits for you to consider, you may want to know some of the latest trends in fashion.

Just like in business, you should follow the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Stylish yet Simple.

Black – tends to be seen as the most professional go-to for suit colors, however, it may not be suitable to wear in the courtroom. Black suits are often worn at funerals and this is not the impression you want to set when you step in front of a jury

Navy – this is a common color found in the courtroom and having the additional pinstripes is a classic lawyer’s look.

Brown – this color is often seen as informal and may be best to wear in the office and not in the courtroom.

Charcoal – here’s another common color worn in the courts, charcoal can be paired with many colors to give yourself a complimentary look.

White – you might have to be a lawyer working with high-class celebrities to pull this off.

Olive think about your skin complexion, olive is a color that is difficult to match.

While color is an important feature when considering what suit to wear at the office and when going to court, style is equally important. Polka dots may be your thing, but it may not convey the impression you desire. Remember to keep it simple, flat colors with the occasional pinstripes can provide a great foundation for your lawyer’s wardrobe.

Suit Accessories for Lawyers

Your suit serves a few specific purposes: to look sharp, to look prepared and to look professional. When selecting accessories, there are a few items that can put your suit together or strip away the appeal.

Necktiesevery lawyer in a suit needs a necktie. Depending on the style of suit you wear, choosing the right necktie can accentuate your overall appearance. Having a simple silk necktie with stripes or a solid color can maintain a professional appearance. Using bright colors, while showing off your personality, can be distracting.

Cufflinksgetting a sophisticated pair of cufflinks that add a touch of style to your lawyer’s suit. Try not to get anything too bold as a simple set of cufflinks should be all you need.

Tie Clipswhile not a significant enhancement to your overall appearance, having a tie clip makes your suit more functional and looking neat.

Maintaining Your Suits

There’s something about suits that have an effect on people’s personalities. Suits tend to add a boost of confidence, make you feel stylish, and of course, convey that you are serious about your career in law.

However, suits can be pretty expensive. If you’re in your first year of practicing law or you’re experiencing a financial crisis, you may try to use the same suit from your university years.

In all likelihood, the body you had years before is not the same body you have today. Having a properly fitting suit can make all the difference when interacting with new clients at a free consultation. Consider getting your suits refitted at a tailor or make an investment and restock your wardrobe.

Another important thing to do with your suits it to properly care and tend to them. Here are a few tips to guide you:

  • Never put it in the laundry, always dry clean.
  • Hang it up with a hanger whenever you don’t wear it.
  • Have multiple suits to give some suits a break
  • Brush it down with a soft brush to reduce dry cleaning visits
  • You’ll ruin your suit if you use an iron

Suits for Female Lawyers

Women’s fashion tends to have much more diversity and flexibility than men’s. However, even with the acceptance of casual attire in some law firm’s, sticking with a conservative attire works well with interviews, court appearances, and client meetings.

In the past, skirted suits were the expected dress code for female lawyers. However, this has changed and women in law are now seen wearing pantsuits. If you are considering to wear skirts, the common rule of acceptance is that your skirt should fall below the knee.

While suits are a common necessity for lawyers, women can wear other acceptable clothing such as cardigans, vests and collared polo shirts.

Women searching for suits to practice law have a few more things to consider than men. Wearing tight-fitting suits and low cut tops of any kind will be seen as inappropriate. As well, wearing skirts above the knee can be distracting and unprofessional.

Overall, there are similar rules that apply to both male and female lawyers: wear suits that fit properly and maintain professionalism.

Office Supplies Every Lawyer Should Have

For lawyers who are starting their own law firm having the right office supplies with help with staying organized and improving productivity. An additional purpose that office supplies should provide lawyers is to set a strong first impression whenever clients enter the office.

Whether you’re changing directions in your career or just getting started practicing law, having the right supplies and best website design will be determined by your budget and personal preference. However, one thing to consider is that purchasing the supplies for your lawyer’s office is one of your first business decisions. Purchasing a beautiful mahogany wood desk then experiencing budget cuts, later on, could result in an office environment that’s less than ideal.

Furniture Set First Impressions

Although legal services aim to help people in various situations, lawyer’s must consider their practice with business in mind. Setting a good first impression begins the moment prospective clients steps foot in your office, takes a look at your suit, and scans the conditions of your office.

  • Desks: This will be your workstation. Having a spacious and large desk can help with productivity and reducing the feeling of working in a cramped space. You should consider the height of your desk in relation to your body size. If you have a computer, will you place it on your desk or have an additional side table to use it?
  • Chairs: While your desk is vital for your workflow, having the right chair requires careful consideration. Consider this the throne of your working world. You’ll want to invest in something that is comfortable for the days you’ll spend hours working on your cases. Depending on whether you purchase a chair with wheels or four wooden legs, you may want to purchase a plastic floor covering to improve mobility and reduce damage to the office floor.
  • Bookshelves: these are a necessity for a lawyer’s office. Bookshelves allow you to organize all your law books, keep them in place, and show them off to those browsing around the room. It’s best to choose a bookshelf that matches your office furniture to avoid clashing.
  • Writing Supplies: this one may seem obvious, but it is important to have a bulk supply of writing instruments to work with your clients. In addition, your clients may be required to fill out forms and provide their signature so it is important to have extras at hand. As your practice grows, you can invest in branding your law firm, you can get pens with your logo, law firm name, and contact number.
  • Envelopes: here’s an office supply lawyer’s don’t want to run out. Law offices send out letters to clients and other attorneys on a daily basis. Buying envelopes in bulk is a simple and affordable solution which allows you to have envelopes available whenever you need them.
  • Lighting: most offices are built with good lights to keep the office bright and functional. However, you may find that some parts of the office may feel darker than others, especially if you’re stuck working after hours. Investing in a lamp to provide additional light in the office can help make it more inviting.

A few more fundamental supplies lawyers should have in their office include trash cans, recycling cans, magazine and coat racks.

Lawyer Office Supplies: Quick Checklist

In addition to the items above, you probably need the following items below. You can cut costs if you buy in bulk and keep extras in a storage space. Also, creating a partnership with a supplier can provide you with additional benefits and discounts.

As you prepare your office it can be easy to forget all things you need for your office. Here’s a checklist to ensure you have everything you need:

  • Stationary supplies
  • Legal pads
  • Paper (legal-size and standard)
  • Envelopes
  • Protective desk covers
  • Coffee Machine (a must)
  • Sticky notes
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • File folders
  • Staplers
  • Staple remover
  • 2 and 3 hole punch
  • Tape
  • Sticky tabs
  • Scissors
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips
  • Corkboard and pins
  • Three-ring binders

This list should serve as a starting point to getting the supplies you need at your office. You will be able to find most of these supplies at your local stores or you can shop online to find more variety and style. While it may be tempting to cut corners to save some money in the start, remember that the environment of your lawyer’s office can shape the overall impression of your legal practice. If you’re not too concerned about your office space because you often meet clients somewhere in the community, here are some things you’ll find in a lawyer’s briefcase.

Legal Document Software for Lawyers

Imagine having a solution to writing out the same forms, again and again. For lawyers manually inputting information, legal document software may be a new way forward.

Legal document software provides lawyers with the ability to accurately and quickly create legal paperwork. Automation in the legal world may seem like a frightening future. However, when you can save time on redundant tasks, greater opportunities for the firm can be found.

What is Legal Document Software

Legal document software is a modern approach to improving efficiency and workflow at the office. By reducing the workload, lawyers can focus on reducing costs, saving time, and keeping their clients happy. Don’t be confused with legal management software, as this focused primarily on creating important legal materials.

Legal document software provides lawyers with a variety of templates that can be branded, designed, and customized for every client’s need. Templates allow lawyer’s and their assistants to complete tasks in much less time.

Functions of Legal Document Software

Aside from the obvious time-saving benefits of having ready-to-use documents, legal document software provides the following functions:

  1. Document Scanner Tools. If you have to scan your documents, you can easily upload into the program and convert them into PDFs and images to send to clients.

  2. PDF Tools. Since PDFs are a common document format lawyers send to clients, the PDF Tools allow editing, modifying, and adding signatures to legal documents.
  3. Automation Tools. There are certain parts of documents that must be added to every document. By creating a template in advance, these elements can be added to a legal document to save time.
  4. Data Control. Saving and organizing files are easily managed. You can also ensure that newer versions and updates never override previous versions to reuse them again if needed.
  5. Integration Tools. If you have a CRM service or want to send documents directly to your client’s emails, the integration tools allow you to connect your accounts.
  6. Legal Signature Integration. Some legal document software can be used with digital signature tools to create legally binding documents for computers or mobile devices.

Legal Document Software Precautions

Just as you secure your legal documents in locked cabinets and safe locations, you must consider the safety and security of your digital documents. Failing to keep your legal documents safe can lead to some serious legal consequences. Protecting your digital documents from hackers and theft must be a top priority.

To combat comprised data, legal document software offers a range of solutions to ensure you legal documents remain safe. Some may use a two-step authentication (i.e. providing a password and a pin code on your phone) or require a direct portal through a secure channel.

Storage Options

When deciding on which legal document software to purchase, you’ll want to consider whether to have a cloud-based storage or on-premise storage.

Cloud-based storage offers a secure server from the service provider to save and access data. Going back to the previous point, you should check with the service provider to ensure that your data is encrypted, has back-ups, and high-grade security.

These cloud-based products are offered via subscription license. You will be expected to pay a recurring monthly fee, or if available, a reduced annual rate. This may seem like an appealing choice as the fees are much less in the beginning.

On-premise storage allows you to manage and store documents directly on your devices. You own the software, instead of subscribing month-to-month, and you may require your own IT support. Keeping your data on private servers and away from your own laptop can prevent a situation where your computer malfunction and all data is lost.

Examples of Legal Document Software

MyCase offers cloud-based document solutions to improve communications with clients and minimize daily legal tasks. It features an intuitive form filling tool with task automation. They also provide solutions for organizing case documents, sending encrypted messages to clients, the one-click firm generated reports, billing solutions (i.e. invoicing and payment collection), and calendaring.

Pricing is just $39 per month for their cloud-based subscription. You can also try MyCase free for 30 days.

Abacus Law provides case management and document automation software. This is a cloud-based service with AES 256-bit encryption. With applications for androids and iOs, you can even access documents from your smartphone. In addition to their automation services, Abacus Law offers a full suite of useful tools such as email management, analytics software, and accounting software.

You’ll have to contact their sales department for a quote or schedule a time to see a demo.

TimeSolv has not only document management solutions and automation but also other tools to manage many aspects of your firm. Their document automation software allows you to create custom files unique to each customer while reducing the workload with custom templates.

They have a sliding pricing scale, depending on the size of your firm, with the starting price being $34.95 per month/timekeeper. You can also try it free for 30 days.

PracticePanther offer legal document solutions for small sized law firms. Their focus is to cut costs and save time for lawyers. They also offer a suite of services such as 1-click invoicing, email integrations, CRM, chat applications, and trust accounting. They offer a secure cloud service following HIPAA compliance.

Their monthly plan starts at $59 per month with a 7-day free trial.

Important Note

Legal document software is not an alternative to creating and managing all documents. The vast number of documents required for lawyers to perform their duties can be too much to convert into digital documents. Digital software should be used primarily to reduce redundant tasks and improve workflow in critical areas of your practice.