Category Archives: Business

Health Insurance For Lawyers

Health insurance is a vital consideration for any lawyer practicing law. Whether you’re a solo-practitioner, small law-firm or a team of multiple partners, having the right insurance policy will provide peace of mind and financial support in the case of any unforeseen medical events.

Depending on the size of your firm, there are various packages you can obtain which cover general health, dental, and more extensive health related operations. You can choose between short-term medical to long-term medical and rates will vary depending on who you choose.

If you’re looking for malpractice insurance, you can read a comprehensive article about what you need to know.

Importance of Health Insurance

Health insurance is often in debate in the United States and regardless of the responses, having a good health insurance plan helps pay for the high costs of medical care.

Health care plans come in different packages and sizes. You can purchase individual health insurance plans or packages that protect you and the people working at your law firm.

All plans will vary on their degree of coverage however most plans provide coverage for general medical situations such as: seeing a primary care physician (i.e. for general medical check ups), medical emergencies (may require deductibles to cover expenses), preferred medical providers (where you have the freedom to choose your medical practitioner).

Getting the right health insurance deters any unexpected and unwanted costs associated with complications to your health. If you’re unsure where to get health insurance for lawyers, keep reading to review some of the choices available to you.

Health Insurance from the American Bar Association

Before searching for health insurance from private companies, you find a variety of beneficial health insurance packages from the American Bar Association (ABA)  or your local state bar.

If you are or become a member of the (ABA), you are eligible to receive discounted rates for health, dental and long-term health insurance plans.

For a solo practitioner, you can apply for a non-subsidy plan or choose from a list of affordable medical insurance plans that cover short term, long term, or temporary periods of coverage.

Additional packages can be purchased separately such as dental and vision insurance. If you’re operating a firm with multiple partners and/or associates, you can receive group rates at a higher discount. These insurance plans offer 100% coverage and you won’t have to pay any deductibles. In addition, you’ll receive nationwide coverage and you have the freedom to select and dentist of your choice.

If you’re looking for long term health care coverage, the ABA provides coverage to protect you today until old age.

The options offered through the ABA offer high limits, no deductibles and no credit checks. If you’re unsure where to get your insurance, reviewing the policies offered here would be a good start.

Public Assistance Programs

If you’re looking for a simple solution for health insurance you can apply for public assistance programs. While these programs are often available for lawyers who have limited or no income, depending on your situation, they may provide a viable alternative to more expensive health insurance packages.

One example of a public assistance program includes Medicaid. Medicaid is a health insurance program provided by the federal state which covers nursing home case, personal care services, and other medical costs for people with limited incomes.

This option is typically for those lawyers with low incomes and may apply to your situation.

If you or your law firm has more flexible and can invest in higher health care premiums, the following list of insurance providers may be more suitable for you.

Tips for Choosing Health Insurance for Lawyers


There is a lot of specific language included in health insurance policies. You will often see acronyms like HMO and HSA used repeatedly to describe what coverage you receive and how much the insurance company will provide.

As a legal professional, you know the importance of understand the fine details of a case. When it comes to choosing health insurance, you’ll want to know as much as possible to make the best decision for you and your lawyers.

Here’s a few tips to help guide you when deciding which health insurance provider to go with:

  1. Who Needs Coverage? If you’re a solo practitioner, you may only need coverage for yourself and any staff that helps out at the office. However, for a bigger law firm, you’ll want to consider who needs coverage, what’s their family situation, and whether or not your employees have children. Finding family-friendly insurance policies will provide coverage for not only your own needs but the needs of those who work at the office.
  2. What’s your budget? Once you know who needs health insurance and the kind of insurance you may want to receive, what is your budget going to be? Health insurance can be expensive and you’ll have to factor in your law firm’s budget when deciding how much coverage you can afford and the cost of the premium per person. Depending on where you practice law, you may be obligated to provide at least half the cost of the insurance plans.
  3. What are your options? You have the freedom to shop around for a health insurance provider that works best for you, your staff and your budget. Before making a decision, here are a few important points to consider:
  • What is the monthly premium rates?
  • Is there a deductible or co-payment? How much?
  • Can you choose your own health care provider or do you have to choose from a predetermined list from the insurance provider?
  • Does the insurance plan cover prescriptions?
  • Are there add-ons available? Dental? Vision?

When choosing a health insurance provider for you or your law firm, it is importance to perform your own due diligence to find the best plan. Although deciding on an insurance policy will be determined based on your budget and number of staff in office, having the right plan is valuable for your staff and their overall well being. 

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.

Law Firm Virtual Receptionist

If you’re a solo practitioner or small law firm you may want to reduce your workload while improving the performance of your legal services. To do this in a cost-effective way, hiring a virtual receptionist can handle many of the small tasks required to run a law firm.

Virtual receptionists are able to help with tasks like social media, marketing, administration, advertising, answering phones and more.

Here you’ll find a variety of places to find a virtual assistant for your law firm.

What is a Virtual Receptionist?

Virtual receptionists offer highly-skilled service solutions that can manage many of the tasks your in-house staff would do. They can operate remotely, in office, or completely computer automated.

The benefits of hiring a virtual receptions include::

  • Cost effective
  • Time savings
  • Efficient
  • Reduce labour costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Access to expert talent
  • On-demand labour services

Virtual receptionists, also known as outsourcing, comes in the form of independent contractors, temporary office workers, remote workers, or

Are There Risks Using Virtual Receptionist?

While the benefits of having a virtual receptionist seem appealing, let’s take a moment to evaluate the risks of having a virtual receptionist.

Here’s some of the common risks that come with using a virtual receptionist:

  • Security & Confidentiality Risks. Providing legal services can expose you to a range of sensitive, personal information from your clients. If you choose a virtual receptions to handle your incoming calls, be sure there job requirements are clear: take calls, make appointments, and schedule consultation. Keeping sensitive information and data secure is a top priority at a law firm.
  • Quality Risks. Situations where quality becomes a risk include outsourcing calls to countries where language and cultural barriers exist. Potential clients may become frustrated explaining their needs to someone who is assigned simply to book appointments and set up an initial consultation.
  • Reputation Risks. Virtual Receptionists is another way of saying “outsourcing.” When you’re outsourcing work to other countries, it can sometimes lead to bad publicity and it may affect other staff working in house who may worry that they’ll lose their job to a cheaper, outsourcing solution.

When deciding how you’ll use a virtual receptionist at your law firm, if the risks outweigh the benefits, you should avoid including these outsourcing solutions at your law firm.

Law Firm Virtual Receptionists

If you’re busy providing legal advice or in the middle of a consultation, having an agent answering calls can increase the likelihood of securing new clients.

Services like AnsweringLegal provide dedicated call center solutions for law firms. They offer the following services:

  • Call handling
  • Message taking
  • Call routing
  • Legal intake
  • Customer support
  • Polite and professional customer experience

Call center virtual receptionist can be given a professional script to handle a range of questions and types of phone calls. Other services can provide 24/7 legal answering services to reduce missed opportunities at your law firm.

Here are a few more call answering services you can consider for your law firm:

PatLive – Offers 24/7 legal answering.

  • Pat Live provides virtual receptionists employed from the United States. They can help your law firm with message taking, appointment scheduling, lead collection, event scheduling, after hour agents, and more. With 27 years experience, Pat Live offer competitive virtual receptionist solutions for all business types.
  • Hours of operation: 24/7 services.
  • Pricing: $99 per month (50 call minutes) to $899 (1000 call minutes); provides additional features and a free 14-day trial.

Conversational – Offers friendly virtual receptionists in North America.

  • Conversational is an industry leading virtual receptionist service provider. Their team of professional and friendly receptionists come from the United States and Canada. They have over 14 years experience and are one of the few with 100% North America only receptionists.
  • Hours of operation: Custom operation solutions.
  • Pricing: $300 per month (600 call minutes) to $1000 per month (2400 call minutes); offers a 30-day free trial.

RubyReceptionist – Offers professional virtual receptionists and a mobile app to synchronize and manage all calls effectively.

  • Ruby Receptionists is a popular virtual receptionist service used by smaller law firms. They provide you with your own phone number which can be used to transfer to different lines and use detailed instructions to handle any situation coming into your office.
  • Hour of Operation: 8 am to 12 am EST + 5 am to 9 pm PST (can also operate on weekends)
  • Pricing: $259 per month (100 call minutes) to $989 per month (500 call minutes); includes 21 day money back guarantee.

AlertCommunications – Offers bilingual virtual receptionists and provide services exclusively for the legal industry.

  • Alert Communications has been providing their services since 1965 and use a client intake call centre strategy with their virtual receptionists. Instead of taking a call and transferring it to you, these virtual receptionists can handle any call volume and turn them into prospective clients at your law firm.

    Since Alert Communications is exclusive to the legal industry, their virtual receptionists are trained to use and understand legal terminology giving you that added edge of professional at your law office.

  • Hours of Operation: 24/7 services.
  • Pricing: Contact a sales representative to receive a quote for your law firm; requires a 1-month upfront refundable deposit.

Answer 1 – Offer a tech based virtual receptionist that can also provide web chat, text messaging, emails and more.

  • Answer 1 offers virtual receptionists for businesses of all kinds and every size. If you have a website for your law firm, their software system can be integrated to add additional intaking solutions. You don’t have to feel restricted to answering phone calls only and can include web chats and other virtual methods for prospective clients to contact your law firm.
  • Hour of operation: 24/7 services.
  • Pricing: $90 one-time setup fee; $239 per month (100 call minutes) to $749 per month (500 call minutes); provides a 21 day free trial.

Alternative Law Firm Solutions

Looking for more ways to make your law firm run more efficiently? Try these software solutions to reduce your workload and focus on providing quality legal services:

Lawyers On Demand: The Future of Legal Services?

Could this the future of legal services? A future of lawyers on demand which allows people to choose from a pool of legal talent, at affordable rates, whenever legal advice is needed.

Although the traditions in law run deep, there is a trending new opportunity for those pursuing a legal career. Instead of working at a law firm, working insane hours, and having a portion of your earnings going into the owners’ pockets, you can become a freelance lawyer, working on demand.

Will Lawyers Quit Working At Firms?

Law firms dedicate considerable time and resources training their associates toward full-fledged lawyers. The hours can be long and additional work may be completed outside of office hours.

Becoming a freelance lawyer offers an alternative lifestyle to the traditional hard working demands placed on lawyers at a firm. Freelance lawyers have the ability to decide their working hours. It allows more freedom and flexibility for scheduling, operating a side business, or spending more time with loved ones.

Some freelance lawyers may opt to take a few months off to travel and pursue other lifestyles. Creating a work-life balance is a lucrative choice for young adults seeking to enjoy their adulthood even while developing their career in law.

Are All Freelance Lawyers Qualified?

While it can be easy to distinguish the reputation of a law firm, some prospective clients may be hesitant to work with freelance lawyers. Not knowing whether a lawyer is fresh out of school or was let go from a firm for malpractice may defer people from choosing freelancers.

However, in most cases, freelance lawyers are those that have had experience working at a firm and choose to take their career in law down a different path. Experiences will certainly vary from lawyer to lawyer, however, there are certain standards that all lawyers must follow in order to practice law.

Freelancer lawyers have the opportunity to be more selective with the caseloads and time management. These lawyers can maintain a high level of quality for their services by focusing on providing exceptional client experiences in order to attain future work and referrals.

Benefits of Freelancing

Take a look at how both lawyers and clients can benefit from freelancing:

Lawyer Benefits:

  • More freedom
  • Flexible schedule
  • Higher earning potential
  • Offer higher value work
  • Work on more unique clients and cases
  • Build expertise in the desired niche

Client Benefits:

  • Access to lawyers on demand
  • Affordable rates
  • Reduce overhead costs
  • Cost-effective alternative to in-house lawyers
  • Ability to hire experts in a specific area

Freelancing lawyers have the ability to offer convenient services for short-term and occasional clients. It offers clients an alternative to expensive lawyer fees from a reputable law firm while maintaining the quality of service.

Many law firms are also recognizing the benefits of hiring freelance lawyers on a case-by-case scenario. Law firms can reduce their overhead costs by avoiding fees for health plans, holiday pay, and maternity leave.

Freelance Lawyers vs. Solo Practitioners

It would be wrong to assume that solo practitioners of law are the same as freelance lawyers. In most cases, the difference between the two includes the following:

  1. Clients. Solo practitioners often work from an office and offer legal advice to their clients. Often, freelance lawyers do not provide any form of legal advice unless working on cases with other lawyers, law firms or administrative legal departments.
  2. Hours. For a sole practitioner, working hours can be long and unforgiving. It is common for lawyers to send invoices for 40 to 50 hours worth of work even though they required an additional 5 to 15 hours after hours. Freelancers have much more freedom and can plan in advance which days to take off and enjoy for themselves.
  3. Type of Work. Since freelancer lawyers have the freedom and flexibility to define their services and choose their clients, they can find themselves working for unique and challenging clients. Since freelancers offer more of the time to companies and other law firms, there tend to be fewer worries about dealing with emotionally taxing non-lawyer clients. Lawyers seeking to work more directly with the law and reduce the amount of emotionally draining counseling-like experiences with clients would certainly prefer freelancing.
  4. Flexibility. Solo practitioner typically works from an office. This requires them to purchase office equipment, hire assistants or clerks, and maintain their office space. Freelance lawyers often don’t have this. Instead, freelance lawyers can use a range of locations and technologies to meet and connect with their clients.

Choosing to become either a freelance lawyer or a solo practitioner comes down to who you are as a lawyer. If you know how to manage your time and wish to have extra hours for yourself, freelancing is the way to go. In contrast, if you’re the type of person who enjoys a structured lifestyle that is motivated by a high-stress working style, focus on becoming a solo practitioner.

Freelance Platforms for Lawyers

There are a variety of online sources providing freelance lawyers access to prospective clients. Axiom, Vario, Lawyers on Demand provide unique matches for clients seeking flexible lawyers for their situations.

  • Axiom – The main feature that Axiom offers is a platform for freelance lawyers to create a profile and showcase their legal services to prospective clients. They offer temporary in-house services to clients who can hand-pick their own lawyers. Axiom currently has over 1200+ lawyers available provide services for real estate, litigation, intellectual property, employment and benefits, derivatives, finance and more. Axiom also offers global reach to assist with international businesses and clients.
  • Vario – This freelancing platform for lawyers offers flexible legal support for law firms, in-house companies, and individual clients seeking support. They focus on alleviating their client’s stress, reduce costs, and provide measurable results. Vario understands that the world is changing and remote work has become a staple in today’s working environments. They work directly with lawyers to uncover exactly what a lawyer wants to do and how to do it.
  • Lawyers on Demand – Here you’ll find services dedicated to those who want an in-house team or hired help at a law firm. All freelancers at Lawyers on Demand are carefully screened for quality and talent. They work with lawyers ranging in all areas of specialization to provide access to legal support for anyone looking for a lawyer. As of now, there are over 600 lawyers and consultants available to support prospective clients.

Starting Your Own Law Firm Checklist

Think of starting your own law firm? Here is a simple checklist to guide your toward setting up your office, deciding on the area of law you will practice, your legal responsibilities, staffing demands, and much more.

Name Your Law Firm

It all starts here: naming your law firm. This is going to be the most important decisions you will have to make for your law firm. Your name will identify who you are and what you do. Using your own surname is a traditional approach to naming a law firm, however, there may be some added benefits when you include the type of law you practice (i.e. Mathers & Son Divorce Lawyers Inc.).

Choose One Area of Law

This is important. You could provide a generic practice and try to assist anyone who comes in the front door. This is a rare approach for lawyers nowadays. Pick one or possibly two areas of law to specialize your practice exclusively. You won’t get good if you practice a little of this and a bit of that. You’ll build you confidence and credibility faster when you dedicate your time and efforts on a clearly defined area of law.

Choose A Location

 Opening a law firm, much like any startup, can be done from home. While this may serve as a financially viable solution in the beginning, in the long run, you’re going to want an office. Starting with an office in a key location (i.e. convenient and comfortable for clients to enter for consultations) is key. If you’re on a tight budget, consider sharing some office space or try virtual law offices to act as your front desk.

Legal Stuff

As a lawyer, the last thing you want to do is miss the fine print for the legal obligations you are under. Permits, licenses and identification numbers are likely required to start your own law firm. Check with your local laws to see what will be required from you.

In addition, you have to consider your taxes. Your choices include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation. Each has their own pros and cons and you’ll have to decide which will be best for your personal practice.

Office Furniture

If you’ve found a great location for your office, you’re going to need it furnished. Consider how you want the appearance and aesthetic of your office to be. Also, there are a few office necessities you don’t want to forget:

  • Photocopy machine
  • Personal computer
  • Telephone System and requisite service
  • Fax machine (if necessary)
  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Cabinets and book shelves
  • Trash cans and recycling bins
  • Magazines and magazine racks
  • Interior decorations
  • And, don’t forget the long list of office supplies (pencils, envelopes, etc.)

Get a Professional 1-800 Office Number

This is not a necessity but a great idea for branding purposes. Having a 1-800 of 1-855 number can be used to establish yourself as being professional and serious about practicing law. You can even use this number with call forwarding to your personal or direct phone line. Getting a number like this can be set up in less than a day. Try contacting your local telephone service providers for more information.

Library

Every lawyer needs a library to stay up to date as well as for fact checking and research. In your field, law is an ongoing, evolutionary process. Practice guides and case law are constantly being updated. If you choose a location near a law library, you can minimize the cost of your own. There are also a variety of online sources that can assist you with this as well.

Start A Blog To Find Your Clients

Starting a blog may be one of the best solutions for finding new clients. Sharing your knowledge and expertise online can help build your credibility and authority in your community. Also, websites allow people to search and choose lawyers and firms that best suit their needs. If your website is setup correctly, clients will be coming to you instead of you having to search for your clients.

Build a Referral Network

 Let everyone know that you are going to be starting a law firm. Meet with other practicing lawyers and ask how they found and received their cases. If they’re in a different field of law, you may be able to build some connections that pass off some clients in your direction. Or, they may be overwhelmed with work of their own and will refer clients to other lawyers they have a relationship with (i.e. you). This is a mutual exchange. If you’re a divorce lawyer and someone comes to you asking for criminal defense, you can refer them to someone in your network.

Another alternative is to set up a system where you can pay people you trust a referral fee. This can incentivise people to send work to you. There are certain laws in place that govern this so you should try to learn how it would be applied to you.

Join Local Organizations and Listservs

Aside from building a referral network, join local organizations like Southern State Criminal Law Association, to connect with fellow lawyers in a similar area of law to discuss cases. Joining this or a listserv, which is an email that gets sent to every single member on the list, is a great way to gain advice and other perspectives from lawyers in your practice. This is extremely useful for those just starting out and require a mentor who can answer questions.

Systems

Like any business, have a key outline of operating principles will help you manage and run your law firm more efficiently and effectively. Here are a few key systems you should consider:

  • Accounting: There are a variety of software programs that can easily manage your finances. Another alternative is to hire an accountant.
  • Time Tracking & Billing: Keep on top of how you track your time and the way you bill your clients will save you from a lot of headaches. Your billing system should issue invoices to clients regularly and in a timely manner for all work as it is completely.
  • Filing: There are going to be a lot of files to organize and storing away. Having easy access so you can find certain documents in the future will create a hassle free work environment.
  • Docketing and Calendar System: Every law firm should have a system in place that manages docketing and calendars. Lawyers are humans too and the chances of forgetting something can happen to them too.
  • Client Conflict: At some point in your career you are likely to experience a few clients unimpressed with your practice. Have a system in place that allows you to manage conflict and keep it in check is a must.

Get Insurance

This is the last thing you want to happen to you in your law firm. However, it is something that must be consider: getting sued for malpractice. There are malpractice insurance companies that can provide you with the protection you need for your practice. This is especially important for those starting a sole proprietorship.

Final Notes

Starting a law firm requires a lot of planning and preparation. You’ll need a budget to cover startup expenses, opening of new accounts, and much more. When the office is set up and you’re ready to work, the next thing to do is to start marketing your law firm.

Legal Malpractice Insurance For Attorneys

Whether you’re a solo practitioner of law or working with partners at a firm, having legal malpractice insurance will protect you from any unfortunate situations when a claim is made against you or your firm.

Mistakes are bound to happen and lawyers are liable for the decisions they make which have a direct impact on their clients personal lives and well-being. While some states may require legal malpractice insurance for attorneys, if you’re thinking about going without, understand the the consequences of being at the losing end of a claim against you can be devastating for your career.

This article will guide you through some of the benefits, considerations and examples of policies you can get to protect your legal services.

Why Purchase Legal Malpractice Insurance?

First and foremost, purchasing malpractice insurance protects you from any liability issues that can occur while performing legal services.

The cost of malpractice insurance for attorneys can come with a high annual premium. Depending on where you practice law, the area you practice, the years of experience you have, and the size of your firm, these are all factored into the annual insurance price.

Areas of practice such as real-estate lawyers and personal injury lawyers tend to pay higher premiums because these are seen as “high-risk” fields. Also, when a city has a higher number of malpractice claims, you can be sure to experience higher rates.

While he premiums may be extreme, especially if you’re a solo-practitioner or small law firm, malpractice insurance protects your reputation and personal indemnity.

For more detailed FAQs, please see the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability 

What to Consider When Purchasing Legal Malpractice Insurance

Legal malpractice insurance for attorneys can cover many situations while leaving you liable for claims you may not see coming. When your considering which legal malpractice insurance to purchase, here is a few things you want to have in your insurance policy:

  • If you’re outsourcing or using a virtual receptionist, can your policy provide protection against outsourcing risks?
  • Does the policy protect all your staff and associates?
  • Will the policy give you peace of mind and confidence to practice law?
  • Does the policy legitimize your practice and build client trust?
  • Will you be protected against claims of professional negligence?
  • Does the policy cover the expense of hiring an independent legal counsel to represent you in the case of a complaint?

Another important consideration when choosing legal malpractice insurance would be the types of coverage you can receive. Each claim can have limitations of liability ranging from a few thousand dollars up to millions.

If a claim is made against your law firm, you may want to know if you’ll receive an increase in policy charges in future years.

Rates for Legal Malpractice Insurance  

The actual rates of your legal malpractice insurance will depend upon factors listed above as well as the answers to some questions you’ll have to provide.

Here’s an example of some of the questions you’ll be asked which will be used to calculate the cost of your insurance coverage:

  1. How many claims or incidents have you had per lawyer per year?
  2. What was the nature of the claims (i.e. frivolous, ordinary negligence, gross negligence, criminal conduct)?
  3. What was the degree of fault by the lawyer, (i.e. clear malpractice, statute of limitations, vicarious liability [when a lawyer leaves the firm])?
  4. Have you been rejected from other insurance carriers or was renewal refused previous insurance provider?
  5. What is the nature of your practice (i.e. family law, personal injury, etc.)
  6. What was your attitude / conduct with the client in resolving claims (i.e. attitude toward client)?

Insurance companies will examine your firm carefully to determine your eligibility and insurance premium rates.

Be prepared to share some of the intimate details of your law firm or solo-practice. You’ll have to share information like your attorneys professional conduct, history of previous claims, list of attorneys, their roles, hours worked, and more. Applications will vary from insurance company to insurance company.

Insurance Company Red Flags

Some of the major factors contributing to increased insurance premiums come from the following list of “red flags” which insurance companies are looking for.

  1. 2 or more claims from the past year
  2. 3 or more claims from the past 10 years (depending on the size of your firm)
  3. Type of claim
  4. Pattern of claims
  5. Being uninsured the previous 5 years
  6. Not paying a deductible
  7. Not cooperating with client suing
  8. Any bar disciplinary incidences
  9. Continued business relationship with clients that previous sued
  10. Possession of other professional licenses.

Researching the Best Legal Malpractice Insurance

The list above determining the rates of your insurance policy can seem daunting, you have complete power to research and find the best policy provider for your firm.

Performing your own due diligence and criticizing the fine details of the policy will be in your best insurance. Insurance policy providers is a business and the advertisements you receive in your inbox are simply trying to sell you on their premiums while not providing you the right coverage for your firm.

 In the case that you are rejected from an insurance provider, you can make any requested changes to the practices at your firm and reapply. There are plenty of insurance companies to choose from and comparative shipping will allow you to find the best price at the best coverage.

Insurance Updates & Renewals

Once you have selected the best legal malpractice insurance for you and your attorneys, you’ll have to continue to send any information to your insurer regarding changes to your practice.

If you hire on more attorneys or take on different kinds of clients, you may have to make changes to your policy.

When your insurance policy expires, you are responsible to make any necessary updates to avoid defrauding the insurance provider which can lead to legal consequences.

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.

What’s Better, In-Person Or Phone Consultations?

In today’s tech driven world, there is significant comfort and convenience using instant messaging. Since legal advice is not likely to be delivered in this way, what’s better, in-person or phone consultations?

There’s no denying that in-person consultations lead to stronger rapport, deeper connections, and easier conflict resolution. However, some people are just too busy to put aside a few hours to receive a consultation on the far end of town.

Which method will you use?

Ease of hiring an attorney

Almost everyone is looking for the quickest and safest route that answers their problems. Having access to your services can likely be best achieved by providing a place to find you online.

Your website may be the key place where you find new clients. Knowing precisely what you can offer (in-person or phone consultations) will make the ease of hiring an attorney that much simpler.

Also, if you have started a blog, you have likely already built a relationship with your prospective client and their phone call or message to schedule a consultation is the next step forward.

Overview Of Phone Consultations

There is a clear convenience for both you and your client when it comes to phone consultations. Whether you have a website scheduling appointments or a staff member taking your calls, providing this style of consultation may free up more of your time which you can devote to more prospective clients.

Consider the following:

  1. Will providing phone consultations affect the number of clients you receive compared to meeting in-person?
  2. Will providing phone consultations allow you to help more people?
  3. Will providing phone consultations led to more successful outcomes?

Phone consultations have the ability to start a relationship. There is some commitment to both your service and their legal needs that will be discussed over the phone.

Whether in-person consultations build stronger rapport or not, people seeking a phone consultations are looking for a solution to their problems and are likely unwilling to wait any longer to get that.

Features & Benefits:

  • Flexibility in scheduling for both you and your client
  • Provide urgent solutions for some clients
  • Attract more clients who don’t want to/can’t meet in-person
  • Convenient for clients with busy schedules
  • Expand your reach for legal services

Overview Of In-Person Consultations

There are somethings that can never be replaced by technology and that’s the level of intimacy that comes from face-to-face human connections.

Regardless of whether you decide to offer phone consultations or not, there will always be some people seeking to speak with you in person.

Perhaps this is your selling feature. You have established yourself as a respectable and impressive performing firm and clients are eager to walk in to sit in your offices to get your advice.

It could be the handshake, the assurance of your character, or simply the process of entering into your office that makes things “feel official.”

In-person consultations are irreplaceable.

In person consultations can give your clients the opportunity to engage in high stakes conversations. If you are addressing sensitive topics, providing this style of consultation is advised.

In general, there are simply some topics that should not be addressed over the phone. Any cases involved emotional situations like divorces, children, and death requires that human element to be handled well.

Features & Benefits:

  • Comfort in disclosing sensitive information (i.e. emotional cases involving children)
  • Access to traditional styles of consultations
  • Generally, more practical for elders (may have problems hearing over the phone)
  • More security and privacy for corporate clients

Consider Whether An In-Person Or Phone Consultation Is Right For You

If you are marketing your legal services well, you may be getting 20 to 50 requests for consultations per month. Perhaps you’re getting more and screening hundreds of calls and concerns.

Depending on the size of your law firm (i.e. individual practice vs. group of associates) you may or may not be able to handle the amount of consultations requests.

If you’re a small law firm, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Do you have the extra hours (100+) to provide all these consultations this month?
  2. Does your staff have the additional hours to handle the logistics (i.e. scheduling consultations, following up with those who don’t show up, etc.)?
  3. If needed, are you willing to put in the extra hours — working into the evening and weekends?
  4. How successful are you in these consultations? How often do they lead to your legal support?

If you have a high number of requests for in-person consultation, this can take up a significant amount of your time. If you have a website set up and it is capable of making bookings, you can save yourself a lot of personal struggles.

Investing in a lawyer website may be an ideal choice as it can alleviate the weight of calls coming in to request in-person consultations and direct prospective clients to book a phone consultation at their convenience.

Contrasting Consultation Styles

What if phone consultations led to a lower no-show rate? Convenience is key when people are seeking answers to their problems. Being able to get an answer over the phone rather than wait for an uncertain amount of time is what many people are looking for. People don’t want to wait.

This demand for immediacy can eliminate the need to “build rapport” for a relationship to build between client and attorney. The urgency some people are facing leads to people making faster decisions based on other sources (i.e. your website, reviews, etc.).

Imagine this, your legal office is empty. Can you be trusted to take on their case if you don’t have any clients that keep you busy? Your perspectives may not commit to you because you don’t appear to be very busy. And, if you aren’t busy, perhaps they may think that you are not very good.

However, if you are offering more phone consultations than in-person, it would be easy to believe that previous presumption.

So how should you value your time?

Phone consultations should be limited to lower-stake cases. These are great for clients who don’t want or need an in person conversation and they are much more flexible with their time.

What Does Research Say About Using In-Person Or Phone Consultations

Research by Heather Hewitt, Joseph Gafaranga, and Brian McKinstry examined the differences in consulting methods used by doctors: in-person or phone consultations.

They interviewed 18 professional medical practitioners and 65 of their patients.

Their results showed that phone consultations are capable of dealing with smaller, single issues and concerns. Whereas in-person consultations led to many more problems to deal with and discuss.

The phone consultations tended to be shorter while in-person consultations led to periods of silence. This research article suggests that it is during those moments of silence that new topics and problems are introduced.

One final point that was discovered, in-person consultations tend to elicit more concerns and questions from the doctor and phone consultations were more direct and focused at solving the problem at hand.

Their conclusion: Phone consultations take less time and focus on a single problem. In-person consultations involved more problem disclosure.

Knowing Your Consultation Style

So what’s going to be your style: in-person or phone consultations? There’s no right answer to this question and your decision should be based on the kinds of legal services you provide.

There are certainly some situations, such as bankruptcy and criminal defense, where providing phone consultations is the quick and easy solution for your clients.

Providing phone consultation can even give you the freedom and flexibility to work remotely.

However, the traditional in-person style is a standard in the legal world, especially for emotionally charged situations.

Whatever you decide, defining your consultation style allows you to provide legal services in a way that suits your client’s need, scheduling, and personal preference.

Law Firm Partner Rank Overview

What is the difference between a “Partner”, “Executive Partner”, and “Managing Partner” in a law firm?

Law firms can be organized in a variety of ways. You can be a solo-practitioner and work alone or you can have a team of lawyers working as partners.

If you’re thinking about creating a partnership, there are many types of partnerships to choose from.

In this article, let’s examine the benefits and ky features of a law firm partner, law firm executive partner and a law firm managing partner.

What Does “Making Partner” Mean?

First, let’s take a look at the meaning of “making partner.”

If you haven’t started your own law firm and you are not already a partner, you may likely be considered as an employee or associate for a law firm. In this position, you wouldn’t have ownership of the law firm but you would be permitted to practice law.

Starting as an associate or an employee of a law firm is a great way for fresh graduates and inexperienced lawyers to learn the ropes and become acquainted with the world of law. Your time will be spent training and you won’t be providing any “billable” hours.

When you’re ready to make the transition into a partnership, this is when you’ll earn a higher salary, become a partial owner of the firm, take on greater responsibilities and liabilities, and also receive a portion of the firm’s profits.

The structure of any partnership will vary depending on how it is incorporated and you can learn more about that in Starting A Law Firm.

Law Firm Partner

Joining a starting your own law firm or joining as a partner will immediately place more work, responsibility and liability on your career. The skills and experiences you acquired as an associate can now be put into practice at a high frequency and a much greater pay bracket.

In regards to compensation, partners can be paid in a variety of ways. You may receive a salary or receive a more common method of withdrawal from a pool of profits. Other methods can include earnings that are based entirely on the clients you secured and provided legal services for yourself.

When becoming a partner for a law firm you will receive a well-written contractual agreement outlining all the terms and conditions of your partnership. Inside this contract may be things like:

  • Required capital contributions
  • Amount of profit a partner can draw and how often each receive it
  • Salary and payment schedule
  • Penalties for leaving the partnership
  • Partnership authority
  • Clauses defining death and disability
  • Procedures to resolve disputes between partners
  • Descriptions of roles, responsibilities, and accounting information

Law firm partnerships requires delicate consideration, strategic negotiations, and careful decision making. Think of joining a partnership as getting married for a certain period of time. You’ll want to know exactly who you are going to be partnered with, how they operate, what they believe in and most importantly the “marriage” rules that will influence your practice for years to come.

If joining a partnership is in your best interest, you may want to consider becoming an executive partner or a managing partner at a law firm.

Law Firm Executive Partner

As an executive partner at a law firm, you’ll take on many a distinct role in leadership and take on many of the major decisions that affect the fate and future or a law firm.

Executive partner’s require extensive insight which will support the growth of the law firm’s objectives and goals.

The responsibilities of an executive director include the overall management strategy, financial management, social accountability, workplace compliance, etc. The executive partner will be dedicated toward preserving and promoting the way the firm practices law and makes critical decisions regarding. The scope of work focuses primarily on short and long term operational decision. In comparison, a managing partner will be dedicated  toward high level management decisions and strategic issues.

Executive partners take on most of the administrative duties in the firm to ensure that operations run smoothly. They also perform functions in accordance to the principles and rules the firm has in place. The executive partner will often be elected from a committee managing partners and other high positioned investors in the law firm.

If you’re being considered as an executive partner of a law firm or seeking this position, the overall success of the firm will be entirely up to you.

Law Firm Managing Partner

Before becoming an executive partner at a law firm, it may be in your best interest to become a managing partner.

Managing partners for a law firm are responsible for the overall operations of the firm. This includes delegating responsibilities to attorneys, secretaries, firm executives, paralegals and other employees at the firm.

Managing partners, much like executive partners, can be responsible for developing the strategies and defining the goals for the long-term success of the law firm.

Decisions regarding the cases the law firm will take on and which clients the firm will represent is one of the roles of a managing partner. They will also be required to ensure compliance with professional standards while following government laws and regulations.

Here’s a detailed list of skills required from a managing partner:

  • Financial planning and strategy
  • Legal compliance
  • Client relations
  • Decision making
  • Strong verbal communication
  • Strong written communication
  • Delegating tasks
  • Improving operations and processes
  • Legal website design
  • Profitability management

Becoming a managing partner takes you away from the legal caseloads and into the back-end operations of the law firm. The workload is significantly greater and the responsibilities differ than a partner at a law firm.

To summarize the job description of a managing partner, they focus on the relationship side of the law firm and how to effective serve their clients.

Where Do Lawyers Work?

If you enter a finely furnished office or go inside a courtroom, these are the typical places where lawyers work. However, aside from the actual places that lawyers perform their legal services, where do lawyers work?

Let’s explore a few of the places where lawyers can get hired after graduating law school.

Government

Lawyers can work at one of the following three levels of government:

  1. Local government
  2. State government
  3. Federal government

Depending on where the lawyer works, there will be varying roles and responsibilities. Government lawyers may be one of the following:

  • Prosecutors
  • District attorneys
  • State attorney generals
  • Public defenders

Lawyers working for the government can work for almost every government agency that exists. From Homeland Security to the Environmental Protection Agency to the IRS, lawyers have plenty of career opportunities with the government.

In some situations, lawyers may be required to assist with legal research to pass laws or create government policies.

Average Salary for Federal Government Lawyers:  $110,720

Law Firm Attorneys

Many lawyers pursue careers with established law firms. They’ll start as an associate to develop their legal skills by working with expert attorneys that have been practicing for years. Law firms will choose their attorneys depending on the school candidates attend and the experiences they have.

After working at the firm for a number of years, an associate may be considered for partnership. Becoming a partner comes with considerable more responsibility while becoming a partial owner of the firm.

Average Salary for Lawyers:  $135,830

In-House Attorneys

In-house attorneys are those that are employed by a single client. The clients are typically large corporations requiring a go-to lawyer to be available for various in-house legal requirements. Many companies have their own legal department handling various legal situations the company faces. These in-house lawyers may be responsible for the following:

  • Addressing any of the company’s employment issues
  • Handling litigations with another law firm if the company is sued
  • Acting as a lobbyist to influence legislation in favor of the company

Working for a company or large corporation typically offers a higher salary and more flexibility with their time than other lawyers who work for themselves or at a firm. Find an in-house lawyer position may occur when a company continues to hire a lawyer from a firm and after building a relationship they offer a permanent position.

Average Salary for Legal Services in the Alcohol Industry: $179,950

Private Practice (Solo Practitioners)

Some lawyers may choose to start their own business after obtaining a few years of experience. Instead of becoming a partner at a firm, they start their own or become a solo practitioner.

Private practice is where many lawyers work and those who become solo practitioners tend to have significantly greater job responsibilities. In order for a solo lawyer to survive, they must perform their own marketing of their legal services. To find clients, some lawyers may get a website, start a blog, or use paid advertising methods.

Lawyers often bill their clients at an hourly rate or in increments of minutes (i.e. 10 minutes at a time). It is the lawyer’s responsibility to accurately track the time they provide to their clients in order to invoice them correctly.

Average Hourly Rate for Lawyers: $56.81

Public Interest Lawyers

Legal-aid groups, which tend to be private, nonprofit agencies, offer legal services to disadvantaged people. Lawyers found here aim to help poor people and other minorities with limited access to legal services.

The cases public interest lawyers (PBLs) focus on include:

  • Illegal discrimination
  • Environmental protection
  • Child welfare
  • Domestic violence

Occasionally, these lawyers may seek to change laws to improve society as a whole. While public interest lawyers are a vital resource to help people, the salary for these lawyers is minimal. Nonprofit organizations often struggle to maintain funding to assist people in need. This is why these organizations provide internships to students and those who recently graduated law school to offer hands-on legal experiences.

Median Entry-level Salaries for PBLs: less than $43,000

Academia

Not all lawyers licensed to practice law will pursue a career as a lawyer. You can find some lawyers who continue their studies and pursue higher education in various topics of law.

These lawyers (and also experienced lawyers seeking a break from their profession) can teach at law schools, colleges, and other educational institutions. Alternatively, lawyers who are practicing can pick up a side job as a teacher and publish their own personal research related to law.

Estimated Number of Lawyers (2016): 619,530

Judicial Clerkship

Here’s another common place you’ll find fresh graduates from law school. Judicial clerkships provide aspiring lawyers with a 1- or 2-year experience working with a judge. Each judge can have up to 4 clerks working with them. A clerk’s core responsibilities include:

  • Legal research
  • Document drafting
  • Developing opinions
  • Attend hearings and trials
  • Prepare trial memoranda
  • And many more legal tasks

Judicial clerkships provide law graduates with a chance to receive valuable experience which can help them find a position at a higher-paying firm. In some places, permanent positions may be available for clerks.

Reference for Lawyer’s Average Salaries: Bureau of Labor Statistics