All posts by Jo

7 Simple SEO Tips For Lawyers and Law Firms

You don’t have to be a computer programmer to understand the fundamentals of marketing your law firm’s website. To increase the number of clients inquiring about your legal services, there are a few easy steps to take. Let’s get started by laying a foundation for the basics of law firm SEO.

Some SEO Advice from a Google Expert

If you plan on getting your website on the front page of Google, it is important to know about Matt Cutts, an SEO Specialist and Engineer with Google.

To stay on top of your website’s optimization and attract new clients, here are a few tips from Google’s search engine expert:

As you can see in the video above, how your website is structured, the quality of your backlinks and the authority (or the importance) all play a part in whether your website shows up in the search results.

Now, let’s see if your attorney website is search engine friendly. Here are 7 SEO tips for lawyers and law firms:

SEO Tip #1: Improve Site Speed

Your website’s load time has a direct impact on both a visitors experience and your search engine rankings.

Think about this: a one-second delay in page load time could:

  1. Reduce page views by 11%
  2. Increase visitor dissatisfaction by 16%
  3. And, reduce client acquisition by 7%

The speed of your website can have a dramatic effect on your business. Prospective clients searching for a lawyer may not be patient to wait for your website to load before jumping back on Google to find a faster loading lawyer website.

To put this into perspective, Google has performed some research on the average site speed for websites in the United States:

To check the performance of your law firm’s website you can use Google’s free Page Speed Insights Tool. If we take one of the top search results for “California law firm” and put it into this tool, here’s what you’ll see:

Marshall Law Firm has a good score for the desktop version of their website and offers suggestions to improve its performance.

You may want to talk to your web developer to make the appropriate adjustments to your law firm’s webpage load time (i.e. reducing web coding and server response time).

However, according to Yahoo 80% of your website’s load time comes from the different images, videos, and design style to that page. If you can reduce either the size of these files or minimalize your site design, you can improve the performance of your load times.

SEO Tip #2: Focus on Visitor Experience

Google and other search engines want you to focus on user experience and site design. Their goal is to offer the best websites to provide only the best experience.

Your law firm’s website should be responsive which means it can be viewed on both a desktop and a mobile device. Since so many people are using their smartphones to find information, you don’t want to lose potential clients to a competitor staying ahead in the digital race.

Another feature about user experience includes the content on your pages. All your pages should have text and a few images, this is what search engines use to determine what your pages are all about.

Think about some of the best websites you enjoy. That’s the kind of experience you want to provide when someone visits your website or reads your law firm’s blog.

SEO Tip #3: Use Words People Search For

Understanding which words are being used in search engines is the most important part of your law firm’s SEO strategy.

Keywords, the words or phrases used in searches, should be used throughout your website and blog to increase your website’s search engine rankings and help you attract potential clients.

There are a number of free research tools you can use to find exactly which keywords people are using. Here are a few you can start using now:

  1. WordStream
  2. SERPS
  3. Google Keyword Planner
  4. Keyword.io (for longtail keywords)

SEO Tip #4: Create Keyword Specific Pages

Once you have discovered the keywords related to your law firm, the next step is to start building pages or blog posts with them in it.

Be sure to use specific keyword phrases and don’t be afraid to create pages from keywords that have low competition. For example, if a keyword phrase like “low price divorce attorney” only gets 10 to 50 searches per month, yours may be the only website specific enough to answer their questions (and potential business inquiries).

SEO Tip #5: Avoid Penalties

No one fully understands how a website is ranked by search engines, however, there are a few known penalties that can affect you. Here are a few you should know about:

  • This penalty occurs if your website is showing full content to Google and partial content to your visitors. For example, if you force users to sign-in, register, or log-in to see the full content.
  • Hacked Site. If your website has been hacked and its redirecting visitors to spammy sites, search engines like Google will quickly pick up on this and flag it. The results can lead to your website getting buried in the search engines.
  • Keyword Stuffing. From time to time, using keywords in your law firm’s blog is how search engines know which content to offer their searchers. However, if you use the keyword too many times, known as keyword stuffing, your website can be penalized for it.

Getting a penalty on your website can dramatically damage your standings on the results pages of search engines. Here, the best SEO tip for lawyers is to avoid these penalties and use search engine webmaster tools (such as Google Search Console) to monitor your website. If there’s ever a problem with your website, for example, if it gets hacked, Google Search Console will send you an immediate notification.

SEO Tip #6: Add Your Law Firm’s Website to Google My Business

Google My Business is extremely important to your website’s search rankings as it affects your local SEO. After you sign up, you have to wait for a postcard to be sent via mail to verify your business. As soon as you get it, verify your website so you can show up in localized and map searched.

Other search engines have their own local listings and directories which you should add your website to:

In addition to these popular business directories, you should also put your website up on these lawyer specific listings:

SEO Tip #7: Use a Strong CTA

Of all the lawyer SEO tips to help improve your website’s search rankings and attracting more visitors to your website, this is the one tip that matters most.

A call to action is a unique and noticeable statement telling visitors what to do when they arrive at your website. When potential clients are coming to your website you should have a dedicated page with a contact box, location, and other ways to reach you.

Additionally, you should think about how to make your number and contact information pop-off the page. Or, consider offering a free consultation if they schedule an appointment online. Whatever you do, after putting all this work into getting people to your website, contacting you should be obvious and easy to do.

Inside The Courtroom, Who’s Doing What?

There are a lot of different people who enter the courtroom for a trial or hearing. The common players are the lawyers, their clients, and the judges making the ultimate decision. Let’s take a look at all the people found in a courtroom.

The Parties

The people or entities (i.e. a business) who are involved in a lawsuit are known as “parties”. In civil cases, you’ll have plaintiffs (the suing party) and defendants (the party being sued). In criminal cases, there will only be the defendants involved with the crime. Particularly in criminal cases, defendants have a constitutional right to be present at their trials. The Sixth Amendment says, “the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted by the witnesses against him.” Whereas in civil cases, you can opt out of attending the trial.

The Lawyers

Inside the courtroom, lawyers represent their clients or state-appointed parties in the lawsuit. Lawyers provide the majority of the speaking while presenting their party’s side of the case. Lawyers must follow legal procedures while trying to prove a defendant’s innocence or verify they should be accused of their crime.

Criminal cases involve a defense lawyer which can be state-appointed or hired by the defendant and a prosecutor. The prosecutor attempts to prove guilt while the defense lawyers attempt to prove innocence. In some cases, a jury may be present.

Civil cases do not necessarily require a lawyer, however, if a representation is needed, each party must pay for their own.

Lawyers have certain duties to maintain in court, according to the American Bar association, which include:

  • Not seeking court sanctions
  • Not withholding or delaying the disclosure of information regarding discovery objections
  • Only ask questions appropriate for the prosecution or defense

For the complete list, please see ABA’s Lawyer’s Duties.

The Witnesses

In court, witnesses are those who provide a testimony which includes facts and perspective on the case. Witnesses are asked called to the witness stand where they make their statement and can be examined and cross-examined by both lawyers present. Both sides can have witnesses and the kinds of witnessed may be known as plaintiff’s witnesses, defendant’s witnesses, or government witnesses.

The Jury

In some court hearings, a selected group of people, known as the jury, may be present in the courtroom to determine the outcome of the trial. The jury is responsible for listening to and understanding the facts. Afterward, they must apply the law which has been instructed by the judge prior to the hearing. If the facts are conflicting or confusing, the jury must decide together the truth and reach a verdict. Court hearings can get very complicated and jurors have to decide who is telling the truth and make a decision that’ll have a dramatic effect on someone’s life.

A Judge

Playing the most important role in the courtroom is the judge. Judges are responsible for the following tasks:

  1. Presiding over the hearings and maintaining order;
  2. Ensuring that the evidence presented by the parties illegal or not;
  3. Educating jurors before a jury trial about the laws that apply to the case and the conditions they must follow to assist them in making a decision about the facts they hear in court;
  4. Listening to the facts during bench trials to determine what are the facts and decide the outcome of the case;
  5. Convicting defendants in criminal cases.

Courtroom Interpreter

In cases where one or both parties cannot speak or understand English, a courtroom interpreter may be required. Courtroom interpreters will assist with the translation of a testimony which will be included in the court’s records. This is a challenge position since details can be lost in translation. Therefore, interpreters must be precise and only interpret exactly what is said by the witness or defendant. This means, if someone is lying, they must continue with the translation and not make any alterations whatsoever. Doing so can lead to a mistrial and other consequences.

Courtroom Reporter

The courtroom reporter is responsible for recording everything that is said and the evidence that is introduced during the hearings. Reporters use a machine called a stenograph to type information or they can create a recording. After the trail, this recorded information becomes the official record. Courtroom reporters will be responsible for creating a written transcript if either of the parties seeks to appeal the decision made in court. Occasionally, reporters may visit lawyerès offices to record depositions and conferences for judges.

Note: Stenographs are more commonly used by courtroom reporters. This machine uses symbolic keystrokes based on the spoken word. These machines can record upwards of 300 words per minute. Electronic sound recordings will use a special microphone placed within the courtroom. Both recording methods require a written transcript of the hearings afterward.

Courtroom Clerks

Court clerks are responsible for administering the oaths made by witnesses, interpreters, and parties. In addition, these clerks work within the courtroom to take care of records, authenticate copies of court documents, keeps minutes of the hearings, as well as prepare judgment and verdict forms. Courtroom clerks are essentially the judge’s assistant throughout the trial.

Courtroom Officer

Inside most courtrooms will be an officer responsible for security. These are the law enforcement personnel in the case that a hearing gets out of hand and the must maintain order.

Who Works for the Court?

Of all the people inside the courtroom, only jurors, judges, reporters, clerks, and officers work for the court system. Lawyers will work for themselves or their law firm and require fees to receive support or legal advice.

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.

Solo Lawyer’s Guide To Websites

Being a solo practitioner comes with added obstacles and challenges that established law firms may not experience. From office administration to employee management to client intake, there are many tasks that must be performed in order for a legal service to succeed.

This article will focus on the importance of lawyer websites and why having one would benefit a solo lawyer.

Here’s a quick overview of everything this solo lawyer’s guide will cover:

  • Getting a website
  • Finding web design ideas
  • Starting a blog
  • Promoting the website
  • Improving the website’s performance

Reasons Solo Lawyers Need A Website

Solo lawyers have the ability to choose their own hours, select who they work with, and decide which cases they want to work on. While this may sound appealing at first, the additional work required to run a law firm by yourself can take a considerable amount of extra time.

To reduce some of the inevitable work, solo lawyers can use a website to delegate many of their regular office tasks.

Here are a few benefits solo lawyers can get with their website:

  1. Advertise Legal Services.
  2. Find New Clients
  3. Establish a Brand / Reputation.
  4. Improve Intaking.
  5. Share Professional Legal Knowledge

There are some DIY website builders or if you don’t have the time to build a website yourself, you can hire a professional developer.

Website Design for Solo Lawyers

Although a website should provide useful information, the design and functionality can affect whether a visitor will use your legal services or search somewhere else.

Most visitors coming to any website will be searching for the information they need right away. If your solo lawyer website takes too long to load, has an unattractive design, or is confusing to navigate, expect visitors to leave before ever inquiring about your practice.

Designing a website with your prospective clients in mind will have greater benefits in the long term. Here are a few tips to guide you toward a good website for your solo service:

  • Choose A Good Design. The aesthetics of your solo lawyer website is important. Consider the look and feel of your website. Ask yourself, does it showcase your professionalism? Expertise?
  • Don’t Confuse Visitors. When visitors come to your website, keep the message clear and make your pages easy to navigate. Nothing is more frustrating to someone online than landing on a website and not knowing what to do or where to go.
  • Offer Quality Content. While it may be useful to have a website featuring your office hours and contact information, you can improve your website’s performance by adding a blog and providing helpful information.
  • Have A CTA. You need a Call To Action on your website. This could be an onscreen pop-up requesting an email or your contact number in large font that offers the visitor a free consultation if the contact you today.

When you discuss your website with a web designer, remember to focus on the website’s function while paying attention to the overall aesthetic and design. To get more ideas for you website design, check out 2017’s best lawyer websites or 2018’s best law firm websites.

Blogging About Law

Solo lawyers with a blog on their website can improve their reach for prospective clients. Blogs are a great way to share informal information, showcase your expertise in your area of law, and build an online reputation.

Blogs allow solo lawyers with competitive strategy for marketing their legal services. For example, the information and expertise about the law may be unique to you. Sharing some tips, such as what to do after getting in a car accident, can help you stand out against other law firms in your area.

To create a successful lawyer blog, you’ll want to consider the keywords people are using in search engines. For example, if you’re a solo lawyer practicing divorce law in California, you’ll want to write an article with similar words inside. Keep reading to learn how keywords in your website can improve its performance. 

Promoting Your Legal Services

In order for a solo lawyer website to serve its purpose, finding new clients, it is going to need visitors. Paid promotions can be an effective method toward promoting your legal services and finding your next client.

To get started, two of the most common places to promote a website include Google PPC and Facebook Ads.

Google uses competitive keywords to provide ads on the first page of their results to people making searches related your selected words. Facebook offers this same feature, however, it has an even more powerful tool for targeting the perfect audience.

Depending on your budget and goals, Google PPC and Facebook Ads can have different results. For more information about which one you should use to promote your website, go to Google PPC for Lawyers or Facebook Ads for Lawyers.

Check out the free PDF: Advertising Tips for Lawyers to get some design ideas and easy-to-use tools to a powerful advertising message.

Improving Your Website’s Performance 

For alternatives to paid promotions, you can make a few modifications to your website to improve the performance. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a method of making your website better recognized by search engines which presents your website to more people.

As mentioned before, having a blog is one way to improve your SEO. Blogs allow you to add various keyword rich pages to your website which can improve the likelihood of your website being discovered.

Other methods of improving your solo lawyer website’s SEO includes:

  • Obtain backlinks from other websites
  • Perform competitive keyword research
  • Add titles, sub-headers, and meta-information
  • Submit website to directories

Improving the SEO of a website can be both technical and confusing. To get a better understanding of SEO and the things you can do to improve your website go to SEO for Lawyers.

Which Lawyers Make The Most Money?

If you’re getting into law just to make money, this may not be a career for you. Lawyers are responsible for working on some sensitive cases that can alter the outcome of people’s lives. Keeping this in mind, there is much more to the law than just money.

However, money is a motivating factor in any career. For recent graduates from law school with heavy debts, getting a good paying legal job is likely a top priority. Also, listening to an experienced lawyer with a six-figure salary might tell new associates not to worry about the money can be demotivating.

Instead, let’s take a look at which lawyers are making the most money.

High Paying vs. Low Paying Salaries

Whether working at a law firm or as a solo practitioner, lawyers, in general, make a decent amount of money.

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, these are some of the published salaries for lawyers in America. On the lower end, the average salary is just over $50,000. In comparison, some of the top paying salaries can earn over $200,000.

There are two major factors that influence the amount of money a lawyer earns which are location and area of specialization.

Highest Paying Cities for Lawyers

Depending on where you practice law, you could also earn more money. According to the BLS, the following states offer the highest salaries: California, New York, Florida, and Texas.

Highest Paying States for Lawyers

Some states have a higher salary than others. Here are the best paying states with the highest mean salaries according to the BLS: District of Columbia, California, New York, Massachusetts.

Highest Paying Industries for Lawyers

If you’re an in-house lawyer, you can earn more money depending on which industry they work for. Here’s the what the BLS says are the highest paying industries for lawyers: Scheduled Air Transportation, Industrial Machinery Manufacturing, Beer, Wine and Distilled Beverages, Semiconductors and Other Electronics.

Highest Paying Government Lawyers

There are some positions in government that pay significantly more than others. Public interest lawyers often have the lowest salaries whereas lawyers at the federal level can earn six figures. Here is a summary of the top paying government salaries for lawyers from the BLS: Federal Government, Local Government, State Government.

Highest Paying Law Firms

If you’re wondering which law firms offer the most money, that’ll depend on whether you are a partner or just an associate. The following law firms are some of the top-earning firms in America as of 2016: Latham & Watkins; Baker & McKenzie; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom; Kirkland & Ellis; and Clifford Chance.

Here’s a look at those numbers in more detail:

Firm
Name
Year Established Yearly Revenue Profit
Margin
Profit per Lawyer
Latham & Watkins 1934 $2.65B 50% $606,000
Baker & McKenzie 1949 $2.62B 35% $183,000
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom 1948 $2.41B 51% $727,000
Kirkland & Ellis 1909 $2.3B 55% $771,000
Clifford Chance 1987 $2.11B 36% $251,000


Source of Law Firm Statistics:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_law_firms_by_revenue

Solo Practitioners

What does the salary look like for a solo practitioner? Information for the amount of money earned by solo practitioners gets released each year by the IRS. Often, these lawyers have considerably lower salaries than those listed above.

In 2012, salaries were reported to be as low as $50,000. However, this amount is often seen as the starting salary for new solo practitioners.

The reason why solo practitioners have a lower salary could be due to the fact they are responsible for all aspects of their legal services. If it is not in their budget to hire legal staff to reduce time spent on menial tasks such as administrative and financial related duties, it can limit their salary.

On the other hand, there are various affordable solutions for lawyers to make their legal services more efficient and effective. Legal software help lawyers to free up more time to work with clients and network.

In addition, solo practitioners can be more successful at finding new clients if they have a website for their legal services and learn how to use online marketing.

One thing to remember is that pursuing a career in law should not be for the money. Instead, pursuing a business career may prove to be more lucrative if money is a lawyer’s true motivation.

Most Common Areas of Law Practiced In America

There are some areas of law which are in more demand than others. Depending on the direction of your legal career, you may want to pursue an area of law that will maintain your business for years to come.

Aside from the financial aspects of your career, you may also want to choose a career that is challenging and stimulating. If you have been wondering which area of practice to focus your legal career, here’s a good place to start.

1. Commercial Litigation

Coming in at the top of this list is commercial litigation. This type of law covers a wide range of legal services relating to the business world. A few examples include:

  • Class action lawsuits
  • Business Torts
  • Contract cases (i.e. breaches)
  • Disputes between partners/joint ventures
  • Shareholder issues
  • Civil RICO claims

In these cases, lawyers will either be the prosecutor or defense attorney for their clients. This area of law requires lawyers to be extraordinarily creative, possess accurate judgment, and quick to build a winning position.

Commercial litigation has some of the highest paying lawyers in the industry. It is the lawyer’s responsibility to work in favor of their clients’ needs and achieve the best results possible.

2. Real Estate Law

Real estate law is a busy area of practice involving a lot of technical requirements focused on sales and entitlements. Some of the services expected from real estate lawyers include:

  • Provide legal support with the contract requiring construction and other agreements toward property development.
  • Examine title, evaluate expectations, and negotiate related insurance policies.
  • Sales and Acquisitions. Represent buyers and sellers and assist with contracting the acquisition and disposition of property.
  • Assist with the negotiation of lease agreements.

3. Personal Injury Law

Some of the most common occurrences of personal injury claims involve car accidents and work-related accidents. However, personal injury lawyers provide services for a range of damages that occur in an individual. These cases are made whenever one person claims to have been injured by another person, business, or legal entity.

Other cases of personal injury include sexual harassment, wrongful death, and fraud.

Lawyers will provide legal services for clients that may be entitled to monetary compensation for any damages. Cases of personal injury must be evaluated by an expert attorney as some situations may be viewed as a criminal offense and require a criminal lawyer. In this case, there may not be any monetary compensation and if the accused is found guilty they may end up serving time in jail.

4. Labor and Employment Law

Labor and employment law involves complex legal support for situations occurring in the workplace. This area of law can my very complicated for employers, especially in the way it affects their employees.

The levels of law handled by these lawyers include local, state, and federal laws. When it comes to the process of law in court or mitigating cases, the outcome often has direct impacts on the lives and livelihoods of both the employees and employers.

Labor and employment laws strive to protect employment rights and wellbeing while ensuring the profitability of a business. The result of this can lead to some very complex situation that is difficult to resolve.

5. Family Law

Family law is a unique area of law that focuses on issues that occur in domestic relationships. This includes marriage, common-law, domestic partnerships, civil unions, and other related types.

It is common for family lawyers to handle cases involved the dissolution of marriages. A family lawyer will also be responsible for spousal alimony, child support, the division of assets, and other family-related liabilities. Family lawyers and divorce lawyers are often interchangeable titles.

Family lawyers have also known the handle cases involving child custody, child support, parental abduction, domestic abuse, adoption, and surrogacy.

6. Bankruptcy Law

Bankruptcy law not only covers situations of bankruptcy but also overlaps with some areas of corporate law and litigation. Bankruptcy lawyers are required to assess a client’s financial debt, transactional history, assets, securities, and taxes. All this information is needed to understand a clients situation and negotiate the terms of their bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy lawyers are involved with a very stressful part of the law. While this type of law applies at the commercial level, the impacts on individuals can be very consequential. Bankruptcy lawyers must have strong interpersonal skills while understanding the functions and operational side of finance.

These lawyers work with their clients to provide them with protections and amendments to their financial situation. Often debtors will be involved throughout the legal process. These debtors are used to offer a wide range of solutions for clients before having to resort to bankruptcy. The ultimate goal of bankruptcy lawyers is to establish and constructive outcome that can restore credit and financial rights.

7. Immigration Law

Immigration lawyers do more than just help immigrants become new citizens of the country they live in. Immigration law involves issues related to naturalization, visa, labor certification, deportation, fraud investigation, and political asylum.

In most cases, immigration lawyers protect their clients from deportation while offering legal advice to help them stay legally in the country. Alternatively, these lawyers offer support for obtaining the right certifications to work legally in a country by obtaining the proper visa.

8. Insurance Law

Insurance law involves cases regarding insurance policies and claims. To better understand insurance law it is critical to know the structure and terms involved:

  • Policy: this is the contract outlining what an insurance company is willing to pay in the case of loss.
  • Insured: this is the person who receives the benefits of the insurance policy.
  • Benefits: these are the services and financial rewards an insurance company provides in the case of loss.
  • Premium: this is the amount of money paid by the insured to the insurance company.
  • Claim: this is a request for benefits when a situation of loss occurs.
  • Coverage: these are the types of losses an insurance company provides coverage and reimbursement for.
  • Insurance agent: this is a person who is licensed to sell insurance policies to someone.

Insurance lawyers handle three specific situations:

  1. Insurance companies are hired to represent the insured in a situation where the insured is being sued for something related to their insurance policy.
  2. Insurance lawyers are hired to help people with a claim against an insurance company.
  3. Insurance companies are hired to ensure that a company under an insurance policy is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.

Can Lawyers Really Work From Home?

You’ve seen them on hit TV series Law and Order, the lawyer prepares for the courtroom sitting in an expensive leather chair at a monumental building in the big city. This is the industry standard required of a practicing lawyer, right?

Let’s examine a few career paths that allow lawyers to never step foot in an office and work from the comfort of their home.

Solo Practitioners

As a solo practitioner of law, there tends to be much more flexibility and freedom over the amount of time they work but also where they work. When a lawyer works for themselves, they don’t have to follow the traditional path of finding a commercial office space

Instead, solo practitioners are able to open up their own offices in the comfort of their homes. Alternatively, lawyers can set up a virtual office. Setting up a virtual office uses a SAAS application which provides secure and effective methods to communicate with clients and arrange their appointments.

It should be noted that just because a lawyer works from home, it doesn’t mean they’re less professional. Lawyers should always maintain their appearance and are expected to perform their legal duties.

Telecommuting Attorney Jobs

The legal industry is rapidly changing and adapting to the advancements of technology. Some legal services are now providing access to license attorneys via telecommunications.

Telecommuting attorney jobs come on a part-time basis. They are ideal for freelance lawyers and solo practitioners looking to supplement their current caseload.

Lawyers considering this career path may require a strong ability in drafting and negotiating commercial contracts, handling compliance issues, knowledge of IP, data privacy, real estate, litigation, and more.

Often, previous experience at a law firm or legal department is necessary to obtain these positions.

Nonetheless, these jobs allow lawyers to practice law wherever they want while providing the proper legal suppose to their clients. Some courts have now begun to offer virtual case reviews and hearings. The old fashion attorney attending the courtroom may soon become obsolete.

Legal Writers

Lawyers looking to increase their monthly income can become a legal writer. Depending on their expertise and skills, lawyers can provide a range of writing services.

Here are a few places legal writers are needed:

  • Brief writers – research and drafting of briefs, memos, motions and other legal documents required by a law firm.
  • Web writersblogs and other publishing companies require well-researched materials related to the legal industry to be used on law firm websites and other online publications.
  • Legal analyst – provide summaries of case law, prepare news articles and create other written papers.
  • Legal editors – offer editing of legal documents to be used for publication.

Lawyers who wish to provide legal writing services should also understand the importance of SEO.

In-House Lawyers

In-house lawyers, not to be confused with lawyers working from their home, are those that work as solicitors for in the corporate sector. These lawyers provide legal support for financial, manufacturing, utilities, retail, wholesale, construction, transport, communications, media, and publishing services.

As can be seen, the range of possible working experiences is vast. In-house lawyers are required to take care of the legal aspects of the organization. These lawyers may be selected and hired on a part-time, contractual basis which provides more flexibility than permanent in-house hires.

Choosing this style of legal career offers more diversity in the field of law. However, this requires a lawyer to be prepared to handle various situations which can include international law.

Freelance Lawyers

All the options found on this list are examples of possible work for freelance lawyers. Freelance lawyers are becoming a great economical choice for both corporate and individual legal situations.

As well, more lawyers are pursuing a freelance style of service for these reasons:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Closer relationships with clients
  • Ability to work remotely
  • Potential for more earnings
  • Opportunity to work on diverse cases

Becoming a freelance lawyer is also becoming much easier with the rise of online resources offering a place for lawyers and those seeking legal services to connect. Places like eLawyer, The Lawyer, and The Law Society are just a few of places to find freelance of in-house jobs in law.

Perhaps one of the biggest businesses catching onto to this recent trend in freelance lawyers is Lawyers on Demand (LOD). LOD is a fast growing company created by a law firm called Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP and a merger with AdventBalance. They have adopted a non-traditional freelance model of legal services which is dedicated toward providing organizations with the support required for their legal needs.

The kind of work you can expect with a service like LOD are project-based contracts, part-time in-house work, or offering legal expertise at a pre-established firm. This short-term and interim legal services offers new opportunities that cater for businesses with unforeseeable legal incidences.

Summary

Although it may sound unprofessional to think that lawyers are practicing law from the bedroom, the changes in technology and the effects it has on the legal industry has clearly changed the way things work.

Lawyers with the ability to work wherever they want are still able to:

  • Complete all text-based work, including emails and document sharing, with their main office or in-house clients.
  • Send and receive documents from clients and other parties. This can be achieved using secure cloud systems.
  • Make voice calls and perform teleconferences.
  • Arrange meetings with clients in alternate locations, such as a cafe or in the privacy of a client’s home.

Freelance lawyers offer an alternative and exciting new career choice for those who want to have greater control over their personal career. Possibly, lawyers working from home may become a rising trend in the near future.

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.