Category Archives: Business

Steps For Setting Up A Virtual Office At Your Law Firm

For a solo practitioner or a small law firm, setting up a virtual office at the office can make legal services run more effectively and efficiently.

A virtual office allows for lawyers to reduce their management and also their marketing efforts. This can help free up time to focus on client cases and other aspects of growing the firm.

If you’re thinking about setting up a virtual office, here are 5 steps to help you get started.

Step 1: Understand your needs

A virtual office can exist anywhere with the common belief that telephone operators from developing are taking calls and working the front desk.

In the legal world, having inexperienced and unprofessional telecommunication companies handle the intaking and scheduling of your prospective client’s can be both bad for your reputation and your business.

There are telecommunication services available that are dedicated to lawyers. They have trained staff that may even be specialized in your area of practice, such as criminal defense or family law.

Alternatives to using a telecommunication service are to add Live Chat to your law firm’s website. In this list of the best Live Chat services for lawyers, you can quickly and easily add a professional button to your website and interact any visitor.

Overall, there are various types of virtual office solutions. Here’s an overview of a few services virtual office service available to lawyers:

  • Customer Relation Management (CRMs)
  • Live Chat
  • Accounting Software
  • Virtual Receptionist

Virtual offices allow you to automate and improve the efficiency of your daily routines at your firm. In addition, with technology trending toward mobile interactions, you can expect to find various solutions you can manage with your smartphone.

Step 2: Consider the Pros and Cons

Establishing your law firm into a virtual office comes with both benefits and disadvantages. If you’re sure this is the right decision for your firm, there must be substantial reasoning and benefits to do so. Here are some of the benefits a virtual office can include:

  • Reduce costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Effective client intaking
  • Flexible employment
  • Operate your intaking 24/7/365

The disadvantages to a virtual office may be difficult to imagine. However, when considering the sensitive information that passes through a law firm, you may want to think twice before outsourcing work to those outside the office. Here are a few disadvantages to establishing a virtual office:

  • Reduce moral in current employees
  • Lack of support
  • Privacy liability
  • Bad for reputation (i.e. outsourcing calls)
  • Security risks

Using technology and outsourced solutions will always alleviate the workload at the office. However short-term benefits may have long-term consequences. Carefully evaluate which services are right for your legal practice.

Step 3: Measure costs

Cost reduction and savings are two major factors that influence the decision to establish a virtual office. Accounting software can provide invoices with the click of a button while tracking cash flow to make taxes easier. Virtual receptionists can handle inquiries at the office and schedule appointments for serious inquiries.

When selecting the services for your law firm, it’s best to shop around. The pricing and features offered with each will vary. There is a competitive market to provide solutions specifically for lawyers and each service will provide similar yet varying options.

If possible, you can start with a trial of their services which is usually free and does not require a credit card.

Step 4: Stick to your budget

When you sign up for virtual services you’ll be locked into a monthly or yearly billing cycle. You’ll have to determine your monthly costs accordingly and select the services that you feel will help your law firm yield the best returns.

There are services that stick to a monthly pricing plan and others that invoice you per client or lead they acquire. If you’re paying per lead, be sure that you are successfully converting those prospective leads into new clients. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your money.

Step 5: Analyze effectiveness

Even though you have spent a significant amount of time and money investing in potential virtual office solutions, it is best practice to analyze their effectiveness on a quarterly or yearly basis.

If you’re using a virtual receptionist, measure how many new clients they help you acquire per month. Determine whether their services are providing you an improvement to your legal services or simply using up your budget.

Here are a few points to analyze with your law firm’s virtual office services:

  • How many clients does it yield
  • How much time is being saved
  • How are much are costs being reduced
  • How many issues have occurred
  • How often is tech support needed

The ease of installation for more virtual office services may reduce the hassle of finding a talented staff to hire at your firm, taking the time to develop in-house employees can sometimes be worth the effort.

In-house staff can reduce headaches of spending hours on a phone with support teams that may or may not be able to resolve your problems right away. Also, training staff can establish to long-term employees which understand the process of how your law firm functions and can lead to better performance than outsourced solutions.

These 5 steps are just a guideline if you’re thinking about turning your law firm into a virtual office. For solo-practitioners, reducing the number of administrative tasks may be the best option to improve efficiency and effectiveness of your legal services. If you’re looking for the best virtual solutions, check out these law firm management software.

7 Simple Steps To Become A Freelance Lawyer

If you’re looking for a change in your law career that provides more freedom and flexibility, becoming a freelance lawyer could be it.

Life at a law firm isn’t for everyone. The working hours are long, the caseloads are stressful, and the working environments may not meet your ideals. Becoming a freelance lawyer allows you to choose which client projects to work on and who are your colleagues.

There’s no doubt that being a freelance lawyer has benefits. If this is the direction you want your legal career to take, keep reading to learn a few simple steps to get started.

Step 01: Decide Your Legal Services

The first thing freelance lawyers should do is decide what legal services they are going to provide their clients. At a law firm, associates and fellow lawyers must choose a single area to focus their practice. For a freelance lawyer, there’s a bit more flexibility.

When shifting your legal career toward freelance, it’s best to do some research before taking the plunge. If you decide to provide legal services in an area that is uncommon in your region, you can expect to go out of business pretty quickly.

Choosing the right area that has a steady demand will keep you in business longer as well as provide you with stimulating cases on the job.

Step 02: Register Your Services

Depending on your personal goals, you have complete control over the destiny of your legal profession. Once you have an idea of what you want to practice, the next step is to begin the legal steps to register your service.

Will you be a sole proprietorship? A limited liability company? Or, a corporation?

Understanding the differences between the three can help determine how you wish to operate your freelance legal services.

Step 03: Administrative Tasks

With your legal services registered, you’ll need other important elements to organize and maintain your administrative responsibilities. You may need a separate bank account for billing and tax-related purposes.

If you plan on working completely on your own and without the support of any legal assistants, consider using lawyer accounting software. Not only do these program help automate repetitive administrative tasks, they can also be used for the following:

  • Calendaring
  • Document management
  • Invoicing
  • Billing
  • Payroll
  • Time tracking

See a complete review of the best accounting software for lawyers.

Step 04: Network

Once you have laid the foundation for your freelance legal services, you can share your new service with your network.

Traditional lawyers working at a law firm tend to target individuals and other businesses for work. The clients you’ll often find as a freelance lawyer will typically come from other lawyers and law firms.

If you have a large list of contacts, this is the best place to start searching for business.

Alternatively, you can set up accounts on social networking websites to begin expanding your personal network. If you don’t have one already, LinkedIn is one of the leading social networking websites for all professionals. Other sites to network with lawyers and in-house job opportunities can be found here:

If you want to join a social networking website rising in popularity check out Foxwordy. At Foxwordy, you can reach out and connect with other lawyers and contribute toward various projects in the legal industry.

Finally, if you haven’t done so already, you should join your local bar association and participate in as many local events as possible.

Step 05: Get a Website

Freelance lawyers with a website can offer a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Lawyer websites are a great way to showcase your services and allow for prospective clients to discover what you do.

Your website can feature some of your past legal projects and highlight your area of expertise.

If you decide to get a website, it is also important to understand how to use it in a way to benefit your business. If you’re on a tight budget, performing these local SEO methods can help more people find your services.

Or, if you some money to spend, you can try advertising your services using Google PPC or Facebook Ads. Both advertising choices have their own set of benefits and features.

Step 06: Start a Blog

Are you an expert in a particular area of law and want to share your knowledge with others? Starting a blog is a great way for freelance lawyers to make more connections with prospective clients.

If you’re unsure about the benefits of blogging about law, here are a few:

  • Free service promotion
  • Improves your website’s SEO
  • Make connections with prospective clients
  • Build a credible reputation online

It will take a bit of time and commitment for a blog to become a successful marketing tool. However, with these tips for lawyers who blog, you can get ahead of your competition.

Step 07: Be Patient

Becoming a successful freelance lawyer is not going to occur overnight If you decide to take this path in your legal career remember that it is going to require strategic planning, time, dedication, and most importantly patience.

Keep in mind that your legal services are much like a business and like all business, there is a chance of failing. The beginning will be some of the toughest moments until the momentum builds and your reputation spreads amongst your community.

Thinking about starting your own law firm instead of being a freelancer? Give this a read.

Top 7 Benefits of Being A Solo Practitioner

Whether practice big law and you’re looking for a break or you’re junior associate searching for your career path, becoming a solo practitioner comes with some unique perks.

Solo practitioners are considered to be private lawyers who work for them self at their own office or remotely. Typically, these lawyers handle almost all of the responsibilities required for their legal services and may occasionally hire legal assistance (i.e. clerks) for support.

If you’re considering your career path in law, here are 7 benefits of being a solo practitioner.

1. Complete Control

Since solo practitioners work for themselves, they’ll have more control over the direction of their service as a business. Not only should a solo practitioner be a great lawyer, but they should also have a strong sense of business as well.

Having control over the destiny of your legal services allows you to decide which client cases you take on and which ones you don’t. There will no longer be a need to seek approval before making a decision that affects a law firm. Instead, every decision you make will have a direct impact on your legal services as a business.

2. Diverse Clients

Working as a solo practitioner can allow for a greater diversity of client experiences. For example, lawyers who work at a firm and have been told to focus on criminal cases associated with violent crimes may not be able to specialize also in property crimes. In some cases, violent crimes and property crimes can overlap. Solo practitioners can have a greater flexibility in the areas which they practice.

If you’re the kind of person that enjoys new challenges in their work, being a solo practitioner offers just that. You can gain experience discovering which cases and legal situations you are more interested in and can later tailor your legal services to areas you are more interested and dedicated.

3. Cost Effective

There is a significant difference in cost of operations between big law firms and solo practitioners. Big law firms tend to have higher bills which cover rental expenses, staff, benefits, and more. Solo practitioners on the other hand usually operate out of a small office and may have few to no staff at all.

In regards to staffing, if you’re a solo practitioner that really wants to save, there are various lawyer software which makes operating your legal business more efficient and cost-effective. If you want to improve your intaking, you can hire a virtual receptionist or place some live chat on your website. Or, if you need something to manage your taxes and ensure invoices are sent out there are accounting software programs specifically for lawyers.

4. Benefits for Clients

Not only are there great benefits for being a solo practitioner but also for their clients. By reducing the overhead costs, solo practitioners can cut the total costs of their legal fees. In situations where a client may have to hire their lawyer for a longer amount of time can allow for more time and resources to be dedicated to a case.

One of the biggest influencing factors which affect someone’s decision to hire a lawyer is a price. If you’re able to cut your operating cost while providing legal services at a competitive price, you may be able to take on more clients. This can be very strategic for new lawyers searching for their first clients to get their name out there.

5. Work Environment

When you have the ability to design your work environment it can lead to a happier and more productive work environment. Solo practitioners have complete control over their working conditions. From the office space to the office supplies, everything is decided and designed by the lawyer in charge.

Creating the perfect office environment may come out of your own budget, but this will be the foundation of your legal services. Working from a place that suits your style and quality of service can set a strong first impression with your clients.

6. Custom Work Hours

Custom hours if often one of the most rewarding benefits for solo practitioners. Working at a firm, big or small, can create a high demand for a lawyer’s time both after hours and in the off-season.

By gaining more flexibility over your legal services, you can choose just how much, or how little, you want to work. If you want to take time off for vacationing or to attend a conference to further your professional development, you can. For those who have a family, being a solo practitioner allows for more time at home. Moreover, as a solo practitioner, you have the freedom to manage your workload and schedule, enabling you to balance your professional and personal life more effectively, whether it’s spending time with your family or deciding when to buy a term paper for a legal research assignment.

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.

Solo Lawyer’s Guide To Websites

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

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

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

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

Reasons Solo Lawyers Need A Website

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

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

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

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

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

Website Design for Solo Lawyers

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

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

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

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

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

Blogging About Law

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

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

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

Promoting Your Legal Services

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

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

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

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

Improving Your Website’s Performance 

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

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

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

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

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

A Lawyer’s Working Conditions

Lawyers tend to enjoy a well-earned career after law school accredited investing years in continuing legal education and training as an associate. While the path from law student to a successful lawyer will be different for each person pursuing law, there are numerous similarities in lawyer’s working conditions.

Working Hours

Successful criminal lawyers will work hard and put in long hours at the office. It can be expected that most lawyers will sacrifice their evenings and weekends to work with clients. This is due to many clients being preoccupied with their own 9 to 5 day jobs and cannot get time off work to visit a lawyer for legal aid.

Salaried trial lawyers and associates may work according to a structured schedule. They may follow a strict 8 hour work day and only offer more when demands at the office grow.

Private lawyers and solo practitioner typically have irregular working hours. If they have their own practices or started their own law firm, they will spend more time implementing marketing strategies, writing a blog, conducting research, consulting clients, and preparing documents.

Overall, lawyers may be billing clients 40 to 50 hours per week when they are actually working 55 to 70 hours a week (or more).

“Seasonal” Lawyers

Seasonal lawyers can be considered as those specialized lawyers who provide specialized legal services at particular periods throughout the year. One example of a seasonal lawyer would be tax lawyers.

However, the work a lawyer provides is not exactly seasonal. Instead, they may experience spikes in the intake of clients and increasing caseloads. During this time, these lawyers may experience greater levels of stress, longer work hours, and higher pay. 

Freelance / Remote Lawyers

Instead of working as a salaried lawyer at a corporate law firm, there is the possibility of becoming a freelance or remote lawyer. These kinds of lawyers find various contracts by working with established firms and government agencies.

Freelance lawyers have much more flexibility with their time and client caseloads. They can have their own office or they can work from the comfort of their own home.

The range of opportunities is greater for freelance lawyers which allows them to work in various jurisdictions. Since they will be working with attorneys at an establish firm, they are the ones who sign off and the duties lawyers finalize legal documents which the freelance lawyer assisted on.

24/7 Access 

In some cases, lawyers may have to provide 24/7 on-call access. Depending on the demands of the case, clients may require contact with their lawyers to help handle legal obligations in their particular situation. Offering 24/7 access to a lawyer is common for high-profile civil and criminal cases, and not typically provided by most firms.

However, in order for some law firms to remain competitive, there are 24/7 services that provides access to lawyers at any time of the day. This is particularly useful property for law students and for intaking new clients who may call an office for information when it is urgent for them to find an answer. There is a list of outsourcing solutions for lawyers that allows law firms to have round the clock access.

Relationship Demands

Lawyers are expected to have strong interpersonal skills since they will be working with clients dealing with a wide range of emotional and legal issues and personal situations.

Clients coming into an office may be angry, unhappy, or emotional upset because of their legal situation. Depending on how a lawyer communicates with their clients, it could make the difference between another successful case in civil law or an unfortunate pursuit of malpractice.

Having the social skills are critical for a lawyer to maintain their private legal practice as well. Lawyers will spend a significant amount of time communicating with their clients. They will use the telephone, e-mail, memos, letters, and other forms of communications to rely on information to their clients and other legal professionals.

Expectations and Responsibilities

Lawyers have demanding working conditions requiring attention to details, precision with communications and writing skills, and attentive decision making. If there’s an error in a lawyers judgment or action, it could result in delays and improper rulings in the courtroom.

Lawyers are greatly responsible for the outcome of their client’s case, which ultimately affects their lives and reputations. In some cases, lawyers are solely responsible for the decisions they make which can have an overall impact on a whole constitutional law firm. If firm’s don’t agree with their lawyer’s decision making or if it jeopardizes the profitability and ethics of environmental lawyers in a firm, lawyer’s can lose their jobs.

The workload for lawyers requires intensive research legal writing and investigation. Lawyers are expected to perform the same mental tasks in and out of the office. They may also have to follow a dress code.

 

In The Courtroom

When a lawyer goes to court, they serve as the representative of federal government for their client; they provide advice to other lawyers advise their clients; they explain the legal rights, obligations, and appropriate actions; they are an advocate of law and assert their client’s position; they negotiate terms and ensure an honest outcome; they evaluate evidence and structure compelling arguments; they write reports and summaries of the outcomes of their client’s legal affairs.

Lawyers going to court must act professionally and provide prompt support to their clients. In these situations, tensions can be high because rulings in criminal law and civil cases can completely alter a client’s life. While a lawyer may serve as a beacon of hope for their clients, they must also adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct outlined by the American Bar Association (ABA) and protect themselves from being sued from malpractice.

Competition

Lawyers experience a significant amount of competition throughout their career. It begins with they attend law school, competing to enter some of the best law schools in the country. Those who get into those many law schools have a greater chance of landing a job at a high-paying firm.

If a lawyer does get hired as an associate in patent law alone, they must learn their trade while also proving useful to the firm. If an associate is offered to become a partner, they not only receive more legal work which provides more money, but they also hold greater responsibility regarding the profitability of lawyers work for the firm.

Law firms are constantly competing for clients in their district and legal offices. Having the right marketing strategy can make all the difference for those lawyers that succeed and those that close office after a year or two of practice.

How to restore balance to your work-life as a lawyer

It may be easier to manage legal hours and be well-balanced, but it make a lawyer’s working conditions more difficult. Here are several ways legal professionals may benefit from longer employment hours.

As a lawyer, it can be challenging to maintain a balance between work and personal life, but it is essential for your overall well-being and long-term success. Here are some tips to restore balance to your work-life as a lawyer:

  1. Set Boundaries: It’s essential to set clear boundaries between your work and personal life. Create a schedule that allows you to have dedicated time for work, as well as personal activities such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with family and friends.
  2. Prioritize: Make a list of your priorities, both professional and personal. Focus on the most critical tasks and delegate or outsource some of the less critical ones to free up your time.
  3. Learn to Say No: Don’t feel guilty about saying no to additional work or commitments that may interfere with your work-life balance. It’s essential to learn to prioritize and protect your time.
  4. Take Breaks: It’s essential to take breaks throughout the day to recharge and avoid burnout. Take a walk, grab lunch with a friend, or engage in another activity that helps you relax and recharge.
  5. Unplug: Make a conscious effort to disconnect from work-related communication when you’re not working. Turn off email notifications, and set aside specific times for checking and responding to emails and messages.
  6. Seek Support: It’s essential to have a support system, whether it’s family, friends, or a mentor. Share your concerns and challenges with them, and seek their advice and support.

By following these tips, you can restore balance to your work-life as a lawyer and maintain your overall well-being and long-term success practice law yourself.

Is being a lawyer a stressful job?

Yes, being a lawyer can be a stressful job. Lawyers often have to deal with high-pressure situations, strict deadlines, long hours, and heavy workloads, which can contribute to stress and burnout.

In addition, the nature of legal work often involves dealing with conflicts over legal ethics, making difficult decisions, and representing clients in challenging situations, which can also be emotionally draining.

Furthermore, the legal profession can be highly competitive, and lawyers are often under pressure to meet billable hour targets and deliver results for clients, which can add to the stress.

However, there are ways to manage stress in the legal profession, such as setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, seeking support from colleagues, and practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques. It’s important to recognize the potential for stress in the legal profession and take proactive steps to manage it.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.