Category Archives: Business

Law Firm Partner Rank Overview

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

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

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

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

What Does “Making Partner” Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

Law Firm Partner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Law Firm Executive Partner

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

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

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

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

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

Law Firm Managing Partner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Do Lawyers Work?

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

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

Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

Average Salary for Federal Government Lawyers:  $110,720

Law Firm Attorneys

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

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

Average Salary for Lawyers:  $135,830

In-House Attorneys

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

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

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

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

Private Practice (Solo Practitioners)

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

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

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

Average Hourly Rate for Lawyers: $56.81

Public Interest Lawyers

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

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

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

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

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

Academia

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

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

Estimated Number of Lawyers (2016): 619,530

Judicial Clerkship

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

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

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

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

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.

Best Live Chat For Lawyer Websites

Choosing the best live chat for your law firm’s website may come down to pricing, support, and functionality. Before reviewing a few live chats you can use for your website, let’s look at a few key features to help in your decision making.

The first thing to understand is what you can do with live:

  • Pre-chat Message: provide a pop-up to a visitor to prompt them toward clicking the button and starting the live chat session.
  • Pre-chat script: provide a series of questions the visitor must answer before the live chat session begins.
  • Proactive Live Chat: offering a live chat session to a visitor upon arrival.
  • Reactive Chat: waiting for a visitor to initiate the live chat button.
  • Unavailable Chat: when live agents are not available, an optional form is sent to the visitor to provide their email.

Next, in the marketing world, turning a website visitor into a paying customer (or client) is known as a conversion. Live chats are a great tool to increase conversions if you know how to use them.

Quick Tips for Live Chat

Take into consideration the following when choosing and setting up a live chat solution on your law firmès website:

  1. Who Will Be Responding to Chat Requests? Will you be handling the chat notifications or an assistant? There is also the option of hiring a virtual receptionist and outsourcing. Are you aware of the ethical implications to answer legal related questions?
  2. How Are Chats Being Answered? If you understand the ABA’s ethics rules for lawyers, you’ll know what kind of information you can or cannot collect during a live chat. If you have chosen a live chat with outsourced assistance, will they be given a script? Are they proficient in English? How should they handle sensitive information?
  3. What Are Your Costs? There are many live chat solutions available and prices range from completely free to high hourly rates for active chat agents. You may also find the option to pay per lead or to pay per chat.

Now that you have an idea what to look for in a live chat software for your website, let’s look at a few options.

Live Chat for Lawyer Websites

Client Chat Live

Overview: Client Chat Live offers live chat solutions for small business, medical practices, and legal practices.

Installation: Their installation team provides you with the HTML to include on your website and simple steps to get started.

Features:

  • Proactive Pop-ups: invites visitors to start using the chat messenger
  • Branded chat boxes
  • Monthly chat reports (include all chats, summary of visitor details, and analytics)
  • Custom scripts for their operators
  • Live phone transfer
  • CRM Integration
  • 24/7 operator availability

Languages: Available in English and Spanish  

Pricing: Contact the company for a free quote. 

Legal Chat 24/7

Overview: Legal 24/7 is a live chat provider dedicated exclusively to lawyers. They offer a team of trained operators capable of using legal language. They can also assist in designing custom chat scripts that suit your law firm’s style.

Installation:  N/A

Features:

  • Legal training operators with focus on conversion
  • Live phone call transfer
  • Live chat 24/7/365
  • Branded chat boxes
  • Analytics
  • CRM integration
  • Lead notification (email, phone call, etc.)

Languages: Available in English and Spanish

Pricing: Pay per lead. Contact the company for more details.

Apex Chat

Overview: Apex Chat offers both live chat software and professional agents 24/7/365. They have agents specialized in personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, family law, immigration, estate planning, and other legal areas. Apex Chat is a leading provider of live chat solutions for lawyers.

Installation: N/A

Features:

  • Multiple chat agents available 24/7
  • Live phone call transfer
  • Practice area trained operators
  • Pre-defined scripts
  • Customizable messenger (for branding)
  • CRM Integration
  • Geo-mapping and routing
  • Detailed reporting

Language: Available in English and Spanish

Pricing: Pay per lead, with the ability to cap billing. For more information, contact their sales team.

The following live chat providers are not specific for legal services.

Chat.io

Overview: Chat.io offers a highly functional live chat messenger for your website. You’ll see a simple chat messenger in the bottom right corner of your website with the option to add the chat agent’s image and personalized message. They also offer 14-day free trial.

Installation: After you sign up for your account, you’ll receive an HTML code to place on your attorney website. They offer easy-to-understand instructions for this task.

Features:

  • Create canned messages
  • Check chat status
  • Share files
  • Create smart or manual chat (for offline)
  • Use on multiple websites and integrate into Facebook
  • Receive chat ratings
  • Access to agent profiles and transparency
  • Only $10 per teammate/month

Please note, this chat service only offers access to their live chat software. If you need agents, you may have to outsource.

Other live chat software similar to Chat.io include:

These live chat services offer manual live chat solutions. If you don’t have the staff to manage your live chats, you can outsource and provide scripts or set up an autoresponder requesting contact information.

Overall, the benefits of using non-legal focused live chats would be their affordability. However, the inability to hire staff available 24/7 can lead to missed leads and prospective clients.

In contrast, the live chat services devoted to the legal industry include operators who can speak both Spanish and English. In addition, with pricing being pay-per-lead from talented operators focused on conversions, you’ll get exactly what you pay for.

Top 7 Law Firm Accounting Software For Lawyers

Accounting programs for lawyers make your legal services run more effectively and efficiently. There are many accounting programs available and most are designed to improve time management, billing, accounting, and case management.

To save you time, here is a review of the top 7 law firm accounting software designed specifically for lawyers. Hopefully, you will find the best software program that is the right fit for your legal services.

#1: Clio

Clio’s focus is to reduce the number of time lawyers spend on administrative tasks. The best part about Clio is that you only need to pay for the monthly subscription. After you subscribe, you won’t need a network administrator to maintain the software and you can run it on your PC or mobile device.

In regards to security, Clio’s cloud-based allows you to store sensitive information on your computer while being accessible to you anywhere.

Clio is one of the most simple accounting software programs for lawyers by handling all your basic administrative tasks while on the go.

Features:  

  • Matter Management
  • Time Tracking
  • Billing
  • Client Payments
  • Legal Accounting
  • Calendar
  • Lead Tracking
  • Document Management

Pricing starts at $39 per month and you can get started with a trial using just your email.

#2: Xero

Xero has been rising in popularity in recent years and has been in competition with QuickBooks (#5 on this list).

Xero features an easy-to-use software service because it is entirely web hosted. There is no downloads or installations required. You can access your accounting information from any device and all browsers (Google, Firefox, Windows, etc.).

With a subscription to Xero, you can add unlimited users to manage your accounting. There is no additional fee for users which is common in other accounting software services on this list.

The highlighting feature of Xero is that is most useful for small law firms and includes comprehensive user guides as well as responsible customer support.

Features: 

  • Payroll Management
  • Unlimited Users
  • Expense Tracking
  • Invoicing and Billing
  • Customizable Reports
  • W2’s and 1099’s
  • Direct Deposit

Xero’s starter plan limits you to 5 bills and 20 bank transactions. However, you can try their software free for 30 days.

#3: Bill4Time

Bill4Time is a dedicated billing software solution for lawyers. They focus on providing law firms with the ability to create professional invoices quickly and easily.

Clients will have the option to pay online which will be tracked and recorded on the dashboard. Bill4Time accepts Paypal, Stripe, and all major credit cards. From a billing perspective, Bill4Time makes client billing seamless.

Features:

  • Client Billing
  • Time Tracking
  • Invoice Templates
  • Client and Account Management
  • Reporting
  • Online Payments
  • Expense Tracking
  • Mobile Apps

Bill4Time’s starting price is focused on solo law practitioners with more options for those running a law firm with multiple partners. You can also sign up to try Bill4Time for 30 days.

#4: Legal Files

Legal Files provides case management and matter management solutions to improve a law firm’s legal management needs.

Legal Files is commonly used by corporate legal departments, law firms, university legal departments, insurance companies, and various levels of government.

Its features allow lawyers to manage their cases, emails, documents and contracts, contact information, e-billing, and invoicing. Legal Files’ key feature is that it allows lawyers to automate their office workflow to free up time for lawyer’s to dedicate to their clients.

Features:  

  • Corporate Matter Management
  • Government Case Management
  • University Matter Management
  • Insurance Litigation Management
  • Contract Management
  • Law Firm Case Management
  • Investigation Management
  • Legal Aid Case Management

Legal Files offers pricing licensing packages with a one-time payment. You’ll have to contact the company for more information on a package that suits your firm.

#5: QuickBooks

QuickBooks made the list because it provides a powerful accounting software solution for every industry. It has detailed reporting metrics allowing you to capture the costs of all your firm’s activities. From gas mileage to expenses to payroll, QuickBooks does it all.

QuickBooks for its well-rounded accounting solutions and robust set of features. They have an as strong reputation and have been in operations since 1983.

While the capabilities of using QuickBooks and all its add-ons may seem overwhelming, their user interface and customer support make integration into your law firm’s accounting needs simple and straightforward.

Features:  

  • Cash Flow Control
  • Expense Organization
  • Spending Automation
  • Custom Invoicing
  • Easy Payment Solutions
  • One-click Reporting
  • Multiple-user Access
  • Payroll Solutions
  • Taxing

QuickBooks has some of the most affordable pricing plans for their accounting software. You can save 50% by purchasing right away or start with a trial for 30 days. There are also additional add-ons such as Enhanced Payroll ($19/month) and Full-Service Payroll ($49/month) available for the Simple Start, Essentials and Plus plans.

#6: PCLaw by LexisNexis

PCLaw by LexisNexis is a trusted software management solution used by over 15 000 law firms. It offers complete control over your billing and lets you charge for the time effectively.

PCLaw is a robust accounting software for lawyers and is streamlined toward accurate billing through their Time Entry Advisor.

Installing PCLaw just takes minutes and all upgrades are managed within your maintenance plan. For a worry-free, lawyerfocused accounting software, PCLaw would be a great choice.

Features:  

  • Accurate Time Tracking
  • User-Friendly Interface
  • Billable Hours Tracking
  • Accounts Payable, Receivable, and Banking
  • Financial Reporting
  • Trust Accounting
  • Advanced Security Settings
  • Visual Analytics

#7: ProLaw by Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is a dedicated and trusted intelligence technology company that has developed ProLaw specifically for lawyer’s accounting needs.

This accounting software is suitable for mid- to large sized law firms. Their suite of accounting solutions provides expense management along with mobile tracking for lawyers who spend time working on cases remotely.

Like other law firm accounting software on this list, ProLaw offers custom invoicing, accurate tracking, and document management. The program is more sophisticated than others here but their training modules and both online and email support provide you with the help you need to get set up.

Features:  

  • Case and Matter Management
  • Secured Data Storage
  • Financial Reporting (1099s, Budget, Billing, etc.)
  • Cost Recovery
  • Expense Tracking
  • Calendaring & Docking
  • General Ledger
  • Online Bill Payments
  • Billing and Invoicing
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Accounts Billable and Receivable

To start using ProLaw, you’ll have to contact their sales team for a quote.

10 Tips To Avoid Legal Malpractice For Lawyers

Although lawyers fight to protect their client’s interests,  it is equally important to protect themselves from legal malpractice. Lawyer-client communication is one of the biggest factors that lead to situations where clients turn on their lawyers. Others include time management and not meeting deadlines.

Regardless of the reasons behind the claim, there are a few things lawyers can do to avoid legal malpractice.

  1. Require a retainer. To avoid losing funds request money in advance for your services (you can set up an automated accounting system to remind you when your trust fund is running low). Whenever a client fails to replenish the retainer, stop working. Your services are based on the hours you put in for the client which they have to pay for. By establishing this strict guideline, it holds you accountable for your services and reduces problems with collecting payments later on.
  2. Have a written contract. When you’re consulting a new client, be sure to provide them with your core services in writing. Include in this document information about your retainer, terms of service, and clearly define what you are obligated to do under the retainment.
  3. Document diligently. While it will be impossible to document every detail regarding your matter, putting a consistent effort toward documenting your interactions with clients can reduce legal consequences should your client sue. Letters may be effective, however having emails, notes, and documents with time-entries can be most effective. If you’re providing advice regarding serious issues due to drastic situations, you may want to consider recording this information. If for any reasons a client confuses your words and questions what you said, you can look back on your documentation to provide clarity and avoid malpractice.
  4. Get to know your client. This point should be number 1: know who your clients are. If you’ve established your law firm as a limited liability company (LLC) you’ll have to clearly distinguish between your responsibilities, your interactions with your client, and the relationship with the firm. You may have to state in clear terms that you are only a representative of the firm and what that means between you and your client.
  5. Never miss a deadline. For new lawyers, they can be most challenging if you underestimate your workflow and time management. Setting realistic deadlines and completing tasks ahead of schedule can avoid conflicts with your clients. Remember, when you deliver earlier than the client expects, the results tend to lead to a satisfied client.
  6. Avoid suing your clients for fees. Although you may have the documentation and support to provide a claim against your client, pushing a lawsuit on a client to collect fees can backfire. If you sure your client, they’ll likely review their own documentation and experience then find a way to countersue for malpractice (i.e. implying that was the reason they stopped paying in the first place). Even if you are insured, some insurance policies are exempted from protecting you from malpractice claims if you are suing your clients for missed fees.
  7. Refer clients to others. It can be tempting to take on clients in an area you are not familiar with if you are experiencing financial pressures. The best thing to do is to build your network and refer such clients to close connections to avoid misrepresenting a case that may be too much to handle. In the long run, building relations with other lawyers and firms can lead to referred clients coming back to you.
  8. Understand the ethical rules. This applies especially to conducting online marketing and other web related tasks. The ABA has ethical rules that all lawyers are expected to follow. While the rules themselves may not be black and white, understanding what you can and cannot do online can help you avoid problems should sensitive information be leaked or clients have a bad experience with some of your outsourced legal staff.
  9. Connect with your client. It is important to know your client, especially when detailing the contract for your services, but it is just as important to build rapport. Are you operating a profession or running a business? While it can be enticing to provide legal services to earn a salary, there comes a line between working for money and working for people. If your clients are just a means of making money to enjoy your lavish, rich lifestyle, it shouldn’t be a surprise that malpractice lawsuits continue to come in.
  10. Get malpractice insurance. In the worst case scenario, having malpractice insurance can protect you. Malpractice insurance policies vary from provider to provide so you should review carefully the terms and protective benefits before choosing the right policy. Here’s more information about malpractice insurance for lawyers.

These are just 10 points to avoid malpractice at your law firm. If your focus is providing exceptional legal services, build connected relationships with your clients, while providing fair fees, getting sued should be the least of your worries.

Legal Document Software for Lawyers

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

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

What is Legal Document Software

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

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

Functions of Legal Document Software

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

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

Legal Document Software Precautions

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

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

Storage Options

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

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

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

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

Examples of Legal Document Software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Note

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

Office Supplies Every Lawyer Should Have

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

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

Furniture Set First Impressions

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

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

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

Lawyer Office Supplies: Quick Checklist

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

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

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

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

Google Ads For Lawyers

Google Adwords is an effective way to turn online web browsers into prospective clients for your law firm.

Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising system uses keyword phrases and displays your ads to those searching for your legal services.

Something to keep in mind, it takes time and money to see a measurable ROI with Google Adwords. You’ll see that considerable planning and research is involved.

As an alternative, Google also offers Adwords Express which a simple solution to setting up advertisements without any worries.

With this article, you’ll learn how to get started on Google Adwords and launch your first lawyer PPC campaign. Once you get the hang of it, you can grow your law firm and provide your services precisely to those who need it.

Understanding Google’s Ad Types

Google Adwords has 4 kinds of ads  you can use to attract clients to your law firm. Those are: Display Ads; Video Ads; Search Ads; and, App Ads.

  1. Display Ads. Google has a network of websites where your ad will be featured. These are the banner ads you see at the top and side of websites.
  2. Video Ads. If you’ve made a promotional video for your law firm, you can use video ads which can attract new clients from YouTube.
  3. Search Ads. These are the ads found at the top and bottom of every Google search.
  4. App Ads. You probably won’t use App Ads since they are focused on promoting an App.

Getting Started on Google Adwords 

If you’re completely new to Google Adwords, you can contact one of Google’s support team and they’ll walk you through the set up, free. Or, you can continue reading this article to see a step-by-step tutorial to getting started and running your first PPC campaign.

After clicking START NOW you’ll be taken to a signup page. Enter your email address and lawyer website then click next.

If you don’t have a website for your law firm and want one, go here for more information.

After you have signed in to your new Google Adwords account, you’ll be taken to a dashboard displaying an overview of your account.

To set up your first PPC campaign, click on Campaigns then the “+” or “+ NEW CAMPAIGN.

Once you have selected NEW CAMPAIGN, you will be taken to a page to choose the type of ads you want to display.

You’ll notice an additional ad choice for shipping products, this will be irrelevant to you.

For the sake of this tutorial, display ads will be selected.

There are 3 choices of Display Ads: Sales, Leads, Website Traffic.

Depending on the purpose of your campaign, you may want to choose Sales / Leads and create a goal like “Get Phone Calls.”

After you click CONTINUE, there are 3 steps to complete before your PPC campaign goes live.

SELECT CAMPAIGN SETTINGS

Step 1 takes you through the campaign settings such as Campaign Name, Networks, Locations, Languages, Bidding, Budget, Start and End Dates, and Ad Schedule.

Two important sections are the location and bidding.

Setting the location will determine who narrow or wide you want your ads to reach.

As well, bidding determines how much of your budget will be used toward keywords being searched. More information on bidding is provided later in this article.

Bidding for Lawyers

There are different bidding strategies to consider when it comes to targeting prospective clients using Adwords.

Google provides a comprehensive chart detailing all the different bidding strategies here.

If you’re looking to get the most phone calls to your law firm, choose Maximize Conversions (be sure to set the goal on the previous page to “Get Phone Calls”

You should use the Enhanced CPC if you want Google to automatically increase your bidding when it will improve conversions or decrease your bids if it is less likely to convert.

NOTICE: The search terms Lawyer and Attorney are the most expensive search words for Lawyers. Bids can range up to $100 for a single click.

As you gain more experience with Google Adwords, you can experiment with the different options to see which settings give you the best ROI.

When you are finished selecting your campaign, click SAVE AND CONTINUE.

SET UP AD GROUPS

When you are setting up an Ad Group, focus on one purpose. In this example, we choose NYC Lawyer as the Ad Group with a range or related keywords:

If you put keywords without “ ” (i.e. NYC Lawyer) your ads will be displayed to less specific searches (e.g. Is Bernie Sanders a NYC Lawyer?).

If you put “ “ around a keyword (i.e. “NYC Lawyer”) your ads will be featured to those using that keyword in their search (e.g. Most affordable NYC Lawyer).

If you use [ ] around a keyword (i.e. [Affordable NYC Lawyer]) your ads will be displayed only to those who search the exact same keyword, (i.e. Affordable NYC lawyers).

CREATE ADS

If you’re unsure which keywords to use, try Google’s Keyword Planner.

Once you have chosen all the right keywords related to your law firm or goal, you can start creating ads.

Here you can test a range of different copy. If you clicked the “Enhanced CPC” Google will soon use the ad getting the most clicks and conversions.

When you’re satisfied with your ads, click SAVE & CONTINUE to review everything.

Landing Pages for Your Google Adwords

The “Verification URL” is used to send people who click your ad to a contact page or location on your website with your phone number and any additional contact information.

If you don’t have the ability or budget to change your website to send traffic onto a specific webpage, you don’t have to.

There are landing page softwares provided by companies like LeadsPages and ClickFunnels which allow you to easily design a place for visitors to go after clicking your ads.

Getting started with Google Adwords can be a little overwhelming. If you keep reading, you can learn about Google Adwords Express which makes the setting up advertisements easy and worry free.

Google Adwords Express

Google Adwords Express (AWE) is a simplified version of Google Adwords that automatically manages your online ads. All you have to is set up a campaign and your ads will be featured for a month.

Before you can use, you must first register your law firm on Google My Business Listing (GMB).

With GMB, you can create a free marketable tool for your law firm. Start by submitting your law firm’s location and other business information. Once your account if verified (you’ll receive a verification code in the mail) you can help potential clients find your business and learn more about your services.

Now that you have a GMB listing, you can create a new AWE campaign.

After selecting your GMB listing, there are 3 easy steps to get your ads up and running:

Start by picking a goal.

  1. Do you want prospective customers to call your law firm?
  2. Visit your law firm?
  3. Take a specific action on your website?

After choosing one, you’ll be requested to “Pick Goal”

The next step allows you to choose your location and the range around it to target your ads. If you’re law firm operates in various locations, you can select “In specific cities, states or countries.”

After you have chosen your location and range, you can define your service using keywords prospective clients may be searching for.

Example. Law firm, Defense lawyer; etc.

The next step requires you to write the ad.

Once you have crafted your ad, you’ll have to confirm your phone number:

The last step requires you to determine your budget. You determine your daily budget which will be calculated into a per month maximum.

You will only pay when your ad has been clicked on and when your budget is spent your ads won’t display until the next day.

You can set up a budget as low as $1.64 USD per day up to $76.32 USD per day.

Clicking next will take you to a review page where you can check the detail of your ad before it goes live.

If you haven’t set up a payment method, you’ll have to submit your credit card information to finalize your ad.

GOOGLE ADWORDS VS. GOOGLE ADWORDS EXPRESS

If you’re unsure about the differences between Google Adwords and Google Adwords Express, here’s side-by-side comparison:

Google Adwords Google Adwords Express
BENEFITS Pay only when your ads are clicked Pay only when your ads are clicked
SETUP Advanced features requiring: keyword selection, bid pricing, and account structuring Minimal management: simply setup your ads and let them run
EASE-OF-USE Can be difficult for new users Easy to use
REQUIREMENTS Adwords account + Credit card Adwords express account + Google My Listing + Credit card
KEYWORDS You choose all your keywords + phrases You choose some of your keywords + phrases; Google will come up with more related to your ad
AD FORMATS Search Network, Display Network, Shopping Ads, Video Ads, Universal App Ads Search Network on via Google, Google Maps, & Partner Sites
REACH Reach potential clients in any geographic location Reach potential clients in any geographic location
MIN. BUDGET $0.01 per Day $1.63 USD per Day
MAX BUDGET N/A $76.32 USD per Day

SUMMER OF GOOGLE ADS

Google Ads has incredible potential to drive prospective clients to your law firm’s website. If you’re looking for something quick and simple to gets ads running online, try Google Ads Express.

Whether your goal is to drive readership to your blog, a following to your social accounts, or phone calls to your office Google Ads is a budget friendly solution for your business.

As an alternative, Facebook Ads allows you to tap into social media to drive more referrals and clients to your law firm. Read Facebook Ads for Lawyers.

In this eBook is packed you get sample ads, advertising resources, and other marketing strategies you can use to boost your law firm.