Category Archives: Business

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.

Can Lawyers Really Work From Home?

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

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

Solo Practitioners

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

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

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

Telecommuting Attorney Jobs

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Writers

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

Here are a few places legal writers are needed:

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

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

In-House Lawyers

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

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

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

Freelance Lawyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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:

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.

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.

3 Easy Ways To Gain Clients Using Your Phone Number

We already know that if your law practice isn’t present online, you’re depriving yourself and your potential clients from finding you. A good website is one of the best ways for a broad range of clients to find your services, learn about what you do, and most importantly, get in contact with you. This is essential when considering that even way back in 2013, 76 percent of consumers used online resources when looking for an attorney.

Once your site has convinced a visitor that you can handle their needs, they’ll want to contact you. The methods and devices people use to access the Internet have changed significantly according to iLawyerMarketing’s study. They asked participants what devices they’re most likely to use when searching the internet for law firms, and overwhelmingly, the most common answer was smartphones, followed by a combination of smartphones and a desktop or laptop computer—this means making sure that your website works just as well from a mobile device as it does from a personal computer.

The value of traffic from phone calls can’t be understated: A Google-commissioned survey performed by Ipsos asked which phase of decision-making is most likely to involve a phone call to a business. Findings here are critical to how your law firm designs an online experience: 65 percent of respondents said they’re most likely to call during the research phase, and 68 percent said they’re most likely to call once they’re ready to purchase. Lucky for you—we’ve compiled 3 easy ways to use the phone to your advantage.

Make Your Contact Information Impossible to Miss

According to the 2014 U.S Consumer Legal Needs Survey, 74 percent of those who begin a search for an attorney online end up contacting via phone, so making your phone number clearly accessible is everything. Therefore, it’s a good practice to add a phone number at the bottom of every page on your website, as well as at the end of certain passages of text. When a visitor is finished reading, they’re immediately faced with a phone number they can easily call. This Tallahassee law firm’s website does a good job:

The office’s address and phone number immediately follows the text, which itself includes a link to their contact form.

Images: pelhamlaw.com

They also feature their phone number at the bottom and top of every webpage, in addition to a separate “Contact Us” tab. With even a quick scroll through their site, you know the information you’d need to contact them is available with just about zero effort required to find it.

Enable Click-to-Call

The same Google survey referenced above found that 72 percent of those who search for local professional services are “extremely likely” or “very likely” to call a business if a phone number is accessible directly from search engine results. This means ensuring that your website works smoothly from a mobile device is paramount—especially since they’ll likely be contacting you from the same device they used to find your website.

These local firms, as well as a button that places a call to them, are available immediately from a search of “Tallahassee law firms”. This feature will also allow your site visitors to tap your number and automatically initiate a call. The ability to call a firm immediately after searching greatly increases the likelihood of an interested party giving you a call—if there’s one thing you make sure of when it comes to your firm’s Web presence, it’s this. (Your trusty website provider can help you with this)

Choose a Phone System to Back You Up

Now they’ve looked through your site, found your contact information, and they’re ready to call—there’s even a decent chance they’re ready to do business. Do you have a telephone system in place that can make sure every caller’s voice is heard? Any attorney knows they spend a lot of time fielding phone calls; they might even have a receptionist or someone else do it for them. But what about when you’re out of the office?

You can’t exactly answer a potential client’s call from a courtroom or an appointment, which is why the right phone system is so important in converting interested leads into trusted clients. Cloud-based phone solutions are affordable and integrate easily into an existing desk phone system. They allow you to route calls to the proper destination using an auto attendant. (Press 1 for Billing, Press 2 for Dave) They can also be easily configured to route calls from one phone number (say, your office phone) to any other device (a personal mobile phone, house phone, or even an answering service) through Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, software. This means business calls are accessible from any device, regardless of where you are.

Additionally, they often feature other useful tools like voicemail and call recordings sent straight to your email and the option of local or toll-free phone numbers to fit the size of the market you’re looking to reach.

As Sam Glover of Lawyerist put it, your website is your business card. Except, of course, that it can hold a great deal more information and is far less likely to end up in the trash can outside of a Starbucks. The fact is, the majority of incoming clients will find you online, and creating an informative and effortless experience on your website puts you in the best possible position to gain new clients. All that’s left is to make sure you answer.

Julian de Sevilla is a Marketing Specialist at Tresta, a cloud-based phone system for businesses. He manages the company’s social media accounts and writes about a range of topics regarding communication and technology on Tresta’s blog.

The Biggest Mistakes Lawyers Make With Advertisements

Lawyers depend on advertisements to build an awareness of their legal services and attract new clients to their firm. While traditional methods are still in use, online marketing (via hiring the best Facebook Ads agency and the best Google Adwords marketing agency) are becoming the common trend for advertising.

If you’re considering to use advertisements for your law firm, here are some of the biggest mistakes lawyers make and what you can do to avoid them.

Unfocused Marketing Campaigns

You may have a large budget to spend on marketing your law firm, but if you don’t have a focal point you’ll be spending your money on nothing. You can create a generic “contact for a free consultation” marketing message and take anything that comes in the door.

Or, you can segment your marketing message and target the specific legal services you offer. Invest your time and money creating marketing messages related to the specific cases your law firm handles.

Once you concentrate your marketing efforts you can find the right prospects for your firm.

Poorly Written Content

The content you publish on your website is a representation of you and your law firm. The internet is filled with spammy websites and people know when they’re being sold to.

Your content should be informative, error-free, and relatable to the people you think will read it.

Also, to improve the effectiveness of your content, add logical and emotional reasons to hire you. People are searching for someone who can truly help them with their problems.

Use your content to tell people you understand what they are dealing with and that your legal services are here to help.

Asking For Too Much

Your advertising efforts may be effective and delivering high traffic to your website. However, you may find that no one is contacting you for more information or to start a consultation.

If you’re asking prospective clients too much information in your contact boxes, many prospects are likely to turn away. People are constantly concerned about their privacy and with the rise of identity theft, there is a hesitancy to sharing personal information online.

Nonetheless, lawyers require some information to begin evaluating their case and being able to respond to it. Only ask for as much as you need and after receiving their contact information you can begin to ask the questions needed to get their case started.

Complex Web Design

There’s nothing more frustrating for a visitor to a website than a complex and confusing web design. This is known as your bounce rate, which is the number of visitors that come to your website then leave right away.

When you’re putting your legal services online, consider your visitors. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the most useful information my visitors need?
  • Does my law firm web design have a clear call to action (i.e. call for a free consultation)?
  • Is my contact information easy to access or will a visitor have difficulty finding it?
  • Does my website invite visitors to join my social?
  • Would adding a pop-up lead capture improve my conversions from visitors to clients?

If you’re struggling to come up with an effective web design for your law firm, consider these best law firm websites from 2017.

Also, if you have analytics set up on your website (i.e. to monitor where visitors are coming from and where they are frequently visiting) find your best content and feature them in the sidebar of your content pages.

Spending Your Entire Marketing Budget

Whether you’re using Facebook Ads, Google Adwords or and Instagram advertising agency, you have complete control over the duration and style of your marketing campaign. If you spend your entire budget without testing different ideas, you may end up with a lower return than you hoped for.

Start by setting your budget low and creating a series of tests to see which messages make the most impact on your target audience. The analytics offered in Facebook Ads and your Google account can help you determine which campaign is effective and could use more of your marketing budget.

Incongruent Landing Pages

In the world of advertising, having a congruent message is crucial. You’re marketing message and your landing pages should live up to the promise you’re making.

Advertising something like, “Steps to take after getting in a car accident,” then sending them to a landing page with a promotion to your service may not deliver the best results.

The purpose of proving valuable content online is to establish yourself as an authority in law as well as trustworthy.

Use your landing pages to capture leads in exchange for content that people are looking for.

Not Focused On Converting Visitors

You can spend thousands of dollars on advertising to get traffic to your website. However, if your website is not developed to turn those visitors into clients, you’ll be wasting your marketing budget.

The purpose of any website, especially a lawyer’s website, is to convert visitors into clients. There are many ways to do this. You can send visitors clicking on your Facebook Ads to a landing page requesting their email in exchange for valuable content.

Or, perhaps the most effective method of converting traffic, is by adding live chat to your website. Having the ability to communicate with visitors while they are live on your site allows you to address any questions they may have and arrange a consultation immediately.

The alternative would be to hope they find your contact page and send you an inquiry.

Not Having A Unique Selling Point

Having a distinct call to action is an important feature for any lawyer’s website. In addition to that, your website should have a unique selling point which differentiates your legal services from others online.

What makes you different from other law firms? How can you help more than other law firms with the same legal services?

Having case studies and client referrals on your homepage are one way of showcasing your legal abilities to prospective clients. However, you should take a moment and ask yourself what can you offer that differentiates you from your competitors.

Now that you know some of the mistakes lawyers are making with their advertisements, you may want to review advertising regulations from the State Bar.

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.