Category Archives: Business

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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:

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.

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.

Should Lawyers Buy .law Domains?

If you are considering a website or a blog to showcase your legal services and expertise, there are many different Top Level Domains (TLD) to choose from:

  • .com
  • .gov
  • .org
  • .law

This article will examine whether lawyers should buy .law domain and briefly review a few methods to succeed online.

What are Top Level Domains (TLD)?

Without going too in depth about the concept of domain names, here’s a simplified version of what domain names are.

Domain names are the important piece of information that provides a readable internet address of your website. The ending of the domain name is what is known as a Top Level Domain with the most common being .com, .org, and .net.

Overall, there are more than 1000 TLDs available.

Is There Any Significance In Having A .law Domain Name?

Having a TLD can be useful in marketing, search engines, and website optimization. When you consider the most common TLDs like .com, .edu, and .gov, these are recognizable, popular, and rank well courtesy of their authority.

They is some speculation that having these TLDs do not provide measurable proof that you will get ranked higher (such as with .edu and .gov domains).

Also, according to Matt Cutts, new TLDs, like .law, might not receive a boost in the search rankings. Your .law domain will not be treated much differently than other domain names already available.

“Sorry, but that’s just not true, and as an engineer in the search quality team at Google, I feel the need to debunk this misconception. Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”

While Google may not rank a .law domain higher, from a personal point of view, there is significant value to be considered.

What Are The Benefits Of A .law Domain Name?

From a branding point of view, having a .law domain allows you to position yourself as a professional and a figure of authority.

Anyone who registers a new .law domain, must provide a phone number from the licensing of your agency or firm.

Having to go through this additional step during the registration process creates a trust factor for those searching for you.

Buying a .law domain name will provide an additional layer of credibility courtesy of the verification process required.

This is a summary of some the benefits you’ll receive when you buy a .law domain:

  • Brandable & Authority. Using this TLD allows you to create a strong and memorable brand. A .law domain can be descriptive and capture the core of your practice. When deciding on your domain name, consider using your own name, area of practice, or your target market.
    • Examples:law, NewYorkCity.law, StultzandBrinks.law, jones.law
  • Verified & Trusted. When you register your .law domain, you become verified and trusted by those seeking your services online. Only qualified lawyers can apply for this domain. Once approved, you will have a branded and trustworthy domain surrounding your legal profession.
  • Competitive & Professional. Your new .law domain will stand out amongst others. The .law is exclusive to lawyers and provides a distinct and official finish to your online presence.

If You Already Have Another Domain Name, Should You Transfer To A .law Domain?

As mentioned before, there may not be any considerable boost to your rankings in the search engines. If you already using a domain and it is working well, you may not want to transfer your website to the .law domain.

Consider .law as an investment in your practice but only if you don’t have a domain name already. When you transfer a website over to a new domain, you may lose traffic and potential clients.

Getting a new .law domain is an ideal choice for those starting a new website.

Aside From A .law Domain, How Can Lawyers Succeed Online?

A domain name is only one of many factors to consider when putting your law practice online.

One of the most critical areas of getting noticed and finding new clients comes from the content you provide.

Here’s a few things you may want to keep in mind:

  • Offer meaningful, relevant and original content. Most search engines approve of original content. However, they should be written in a way that’s natural and connects with your target audience.
  • Create backlinks on authority sites. When you have published quality content, try to get your site linked with .edu or .gov sites as these have authority. Read law firm SEO Tips hereNote: Never buy backlinks — you could be penalized.

As an authority on the web and a professional of law, you have a responsibility to provide quality content that is relevant and informative to your visitors.

This update from John Mueller on Google’s Webmaster Central makes it clear that content is crucial and the domain name is not given “artificial advantage in search.”

So, Should Lawyers Buy A .law Domain?

Getting a .law domain could be the strategic edge you need to have a competitive advantage online.

However, while a TLD like .law adds a professional touch your online service, providing good content that follows Google’s recommended practices will be much more powerful.

If you are preparing to settle on a .law domain name, remember to incorporate this into your website development:

  1. Publish high quality, original content on your site
  2. Provide relevant content to your potential clients and targeted audience
  3. Avoid SEO practices that could penalize your website (i.e. keyword stuffing, purchasing links, or other Google violations)

Achieving this will lead you to an authority site on the internet especially if you’re considering starting a blog.