Category Archives: Business

Types of Lawyers

If you’re trying to find a lawyer to solve your legal problems, you’ll likely realize that there are many types of lawyers. The range of Legal services can make it difficult to determine which one you need for your specific situation.

You won’t find a lawyer that can fix all problems because most lawyers will specialize in a specific area of law. The type of lawyer you need will depend on the legal problem you have.

Since there are so many types of lawyers this guide will cover the most common practices to help you choose the right lawyer for your legal needs.

Personal Injury Lawyer

An injury is defined by law as an injury to the body, mind, or emotions. The laws covered by this type of lawyer include Civil and Tort Law. Tort law involves cases that result in injury but is not considered to be a criminal offence.

Personal injury lawyers focus on obtaining compensation from damages caused by other parties. The range of injuries include professional malpractice, car accidents, workplace injuries, slip and fall accidents, dangerous products, and more.

Intellectual Property Lawyer

Intellectual property covers a range of creativity that comes from the mind. These include the inventions, artistic work (visual and literary), lawyer websites, symbols, images, designs, and names used for financial purposes.

Intellectual property lawyers work with these original creations to secure patents, trademarks, copyrights, and licensing agreements. Intellectual property lawyer require significant skill when drafting documents to protect the rights of creators.

Immigration Lawyer

One of the common tasks of an immigration lawyer is to assist immigrants in obtaining citizenship in a new country. In addition, these lawyers will protect immigrants and prevent them from being deported.

Immigration lawyers also provide legal advice and support regarding the appropriate visas required to work in different countries. For some countries, obtaining citizenship can obtain several years, having an immigration lawyer makes the process much more efficient.

Criminal Lawyer

Criminal lawyers, also known as criminal defense lawyers or public defenders, help individuals, companies, and other entities charged with a criminal offense. These offenses may include domestic violence, physical abuse, sex crimes, drug crimes, theft, fraud, and more.

Criminal lawyers can provide bail bond hearings, trial defense, plea bargains, revocation hearings, appeals, and post-conviction remediation. In addition to these legal services, the work required from criminal lawyers include investigating cases, interviewing witnesses, researching case law, building a defense strategy, negotiate for lesser charges, advocate for their defendant, and much more.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice lawyers are specialized in dealing with situations of malpractice. These may include a bad or wrong diagnosis, surgery gone wrong, doctor committing fraud, obtaining the wrong prescription, and doctors breaching patient confidentiality.

Medical malpractice lawyers are also able to protect medical professionals if they are being sued for malpractice.

Family & Divorce Lawyer

Family and divorce lawyers deal with many of the legal aspects of marriage. Whether you need a prenuptial agreement or planning for a divorce, these are the lawyers to go to.

In addition to dealing with divorce, these lawyers handle sensitive cases dealing with child custody. The decisions this type of lawyer has to make require incredible interpersonal and listening skills while dealing with these sensitive situations.

Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you’re struggling financially and considering filing for bankruptcy, having a consultation with a bankruptcy lawyers would be the first step. This type of lawyer provides advice and information regarding your eligibility for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy lawyers also provide information regarding alternatives for bankruptcy and types of bankruptcy.

Business Lawyer

A business lawyer, also known as a corporate lawyer, covers a range of legal services such as employment, intellectual property, tax compliance, mergers and acquisitions. These lawyers specialize in areas like startups, small businesses or large enterprises.

The duties required by some business lawyers include drafting legal documents or dealing with lawsuits filed against a business. These are transnational lawyers (dealing with negotiation and employment terms) and litigation lawyers (handling lawsuits when a company violates the terms in a contract).

Estate Planning Lawyer

This type of lawyer helps their clients with their estates, assets, and other important legal actions when someone passes away or becomes incapacitated. Estate planning lawyers draft legal documents like trusts, wills, and deeds.

In addition, estate planning lawyers focus on taxes and tax implications for their clients.

Civil Rights Lawyer

Civil rights lawyers protect the rights of citizens. Their purpose is to protect against discrimination and harassment based on physical or mental disability, religion, race, gender, nationality, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Civil rights lawyers also protect the rights and freedom of thought, conscience, speech, expression, the press, and religion. Whenever someone’s rights have been violated, this type of lawyer will recover damages in the court of law.

Entertainment Lawyers

While there are some overlaps with an intellectual property lawyer, this type of lawyer focuses solely on representing clients in the entertainment industry. Entertainment lawyers work with artists, employees, companies and solo entertainers in film, music, radio, television, theater, and video games.

An entertainment lawyer typically drafts contracts, negotiate deals, and handle any intellectual property issues.

Digital Media and Internet Lawyers

Focusing on internet law, these lawyers handle all kinds of legal issues from the digital world. Digital media and internet lawyers handle cases like ensuring compliance with internet laws, privacy complaints, and advising on the use of trafficking tools.

Public Interest Lawyer

Public interest lawyers work toward furthering the interest of the general public or significant segments of it. The work required from these lawyers include broad topics such as environmental protection, child welfare, illegal discrimination, and domestic violence.

Public interest lawyers work with the general public who may not be able to afford private legal support. This type of lawyer is known to have one of the lowest lawyer salaries and they often work for NPOs of government agencies.

Law Firm Management Software

If you want to improve the efficiency and operations of your law firm, having a good quality law firm management software can help. Whether you want to automate payments, increase security of client documents, or an easier client intake system, there are a range of management software available.

Here you can explore the features, benefits and prices of the best law firm management software available to guide you toward choosing the right system for your law firm.

Top Features of Law Practice Management Software

Not all law firm management software are the same. The following is a list of features you can find in certain software solutions.

  • Accounting – Manages your payroll, accounts, billing, receivables, and creates financial reports.
  • Billing and Time Tracking – Records your billable hours and transactions.
  • Case Management – Provides your with a central database that can check for statute of limitations and conflicts of interest. You can use this software solution for quick searching, task management, and phone messaging.
  • Customer Relation Management (CRM) – Track, store and relay e-mails and messages to clients. Create an automated messaging system to send reminders to clients and more.
  • Docketing and Calendaring – Allows you to schedule appointments, meetings, court appearances, deadlines, etc., by day, week, month and year.
  • Document Assembly – Creates automated templates for legal documents which can be simple letter heads to complex legal documents.
  • Document Management – Connects files and links to a word processing application and your attorney website.

Benefits of Having a Law Firm Management Software

There are numerous benefits for using a law firm management software. Here are a few:

  • Increased Efficiency. The tasks between lawyers and support staff can be coordinated, recorded, and managed with ease. You can set deadlines and delegate duties to staff appropriately.
  • Time Saving. By linking all contacts, tasks, appointments, important dates, and notes in an easy to access format for cases and scheduling.
  • Improved Organization. Instead of relying on cabinets of files and papers, you can securely store information in searchable archives. Retrieving important information about your clients and cases become quick and easy.

List of Law Firm Management Software

  • Clio. Clio is an all inclusive law firm management software with many practical tools to run your law firm. Clio provides tools for invoicing, billing, calendars, time tracking, reporting, accounting, and management for cases, clients, and documents. Their Starter Plan goes for $39 per user / month.
  • Bill4Time. Bill4Time is a dedicated time tracking software that allows you to track time accurately and efficiently. You can use your laptop, mobile phone, or tablet to track time with your clients and bill them accordingly. Getting started is as low as $25 per month.
  • Lexicata. If you’re looking for an easier solution for client intake, Lexicata is a Customer Relationship Management software. Lexicata allows you to keep track of prospective clients, send follow up messages, and increase your chances of obtaining new clients. Pricing is customized and based upon the size of your law firm.
  • MyCase. MyCase is a professional case management software that lets you manage your cases, track time, automate billing, and communicate with your clients. MyCase aims to improve efficiency between lawyers and their clients by providing an intuitive all-in-one platform to manage your law firm. MyCase is available for $39 per user / month.
  • Firm Central. Developed by Thomson Reuters, Firm Central is a powerful cloud based law firm management software. They boast strong security features to give you peace of mind with your confidential client information. You can use Firm Central to manage your documents, contacts, calendar, legal research, time tracking and billing. Their pricing starts at $40 per user / month for their basic package.
  • FilePro. If you’re looking for a powerful law firm management software, FilePro is packed with features to make your legal service run smoothly. With management tools for document assembly, activity based pricing, conflict checking, time tracking, trust and office accounting, and workflow processes, FilePro can be tailored to maximize your firm. FilePro offers a free trial or you can obtain a quote for your law firm.
  • SmartAdvocate. If you’re looking for a state-of-the-art Plaintiff’s personal injury case management software, SmartAdvocate would be your choice. This law firm management software was designed by active, practicing, personal injury lawyers and paralegals. You can use SmartAdvocate to manage all your cases, access them anywhere through the cloud, and improves productivity at your law firm.
  • Lawcus. Lawcus is a simple and legal practice management software that provides everything you need to run your law firm. From work automation to document assembly, Lawcus has a range of tools to improve the efficacy at your law firm’s office. Pricing starts at $34 per user / month.
  • App4Legal. App4Legal focuses on providing your law firm with an intuitive way to track your data, manage your processes, and access your data anywhere. This law firm management software operates on a secure cloud server and starts at a very affordable price. To get started with App4Legal it’ll cost you $10 per user / month.
  • Case Master Pro. Case Master Pro is a unique law firm management software because of it’s additional debt collection system. You’ll also have access to a series of tools for case management, billing, accounting, administration, custom reporting, document management, and an integrated payment dashboard. You’ll have to contact their sales team to receive a quote for your law firm.

Hesitant To Get Started?

If you’re hesitant to invest in these law firm management software, you can start by signing  up for a free trial. You can give each system a try and if you find it makes your law firm much more efficient and effective, you can make the investment and purchase it. The following legal management solutions offer a free trial: Clio, Bill4Time, MyCase, Firm Central, FilePro, App4Legal.

Law Firm Accounting Software

Whether you’re a solo practitioner, a small law firm, or a large legal enterprise, there is a law firm accounting software that’s right for you.

Accounting software for law firms allows you to record and process accounting transactions. Each software differs however you can find a range of services such as accounts payable, receivable, ledgers, payroll, balance sheets, invoicing, purchase orders, billing, and more.

Use the following list of law firm account software solutions to compare features, benefits and pricing to choose the best one for your law firm.

AbacusLaw

AbacusLaw is a leading technology solutions provider for both legal and accounting professionals. Some of the features you can enjoy with AbacusLaw are:

  • Billing
  • Invoicing
  • Payroll processing
  • Calendaring
  • Time tracking

You can customize one of AbacusLaw’s accounting software plans with case management and other professional solutions. One feature that makes this law firm accounting software unique is that they offer solutions by area of practice and type of law. If you’re a bankruptcy lawyer, employment lawyer, criminal defense lawyer, or practicing another area of law, AbacusLaw has a custom software for you.

You’ll have to contact AbacusLaw for pricing or you can sign up for a free demo.

Bill4Time

Bill4Time is used by thousands of legal practitioners accessing their end-to-end mobile-ready legal time billing software. Here are some of the exclusive features you can use with Bill4Time:

  • Time tracking
  • Online invoicing
  • Payment tracking
  • Matters management
  • Trust and IOLTA accounting
  • Document management

Bill4Time uses a secure, 256-bit data encryption to ensure your sensitive information remains protected. You can purchase a industry specific Bill4Time platform that incorporates the American Bar Association Task Codes, LEDES for exporting and conflict of interest checking.

You can use Bill4Time for 30 days and afterward you can choose one of their plans which start at $12 per month.

LegalFiles

Although not a dedicated law firm accounting software, LegalFiles is a comprehensive software solution to be used alongside any accounting software you choose to use. LegalFiles management features are superior when compared to other accounting software solutions on this list. Here’s a few of the things you can do with this:

  • Matter management
  • Phone messaging
  • Response tracking
  • Document and text searching
  • File notes and management
  • Automated task scheduling

LegalFiles is used by legal departments, law firms, insurance companies, university legal departments, and governmental agencies. They are a secure and effective legal software solution for all-in-one legal management. As well, they do have an optional e-billing and invoicing management solution.

You can try a demo or contact their sales team for a quote.

Clio

Clio was designed to allow lawyers to worry less about their administrative tasks and focus more on time with their clients. Clio provides all the you need to keep your law firm running and they have additional and powerful features beyond their accounting software:

  • Time tracking
  • Billing
  • Invoicing
  • Billing reports
  • Payment management
  • Matter management
  • Trust accounting
  • Lead tracking

Clio includes the option to choose law specific software which is tailored to your area of practice. It uses a cloud based accounting program to keep your information secure and accessible worldwide.

You can try Clio for free or start their entry package for only $39 per user / month.

PCLaw

Developed by LexisNexis, PCLaw is a scalable legal accounting software. The key feature that makes this law firm accounting software stand out is that your pricing is based upon the size of your firm. If you don’t have many clients to begin you can still use PCLaw at a very affordable price.

  • Contact management
  • Client management
  • Case management
  • Matter management
  • Trust accounting

PCLaw has a devoted team of customer service representatives to make the introduction to their accounting software seamless and simple. PCLaw allows you to accurate bill your clients and account for time which would have been lost without using this service.

You can start by contacting an agent to assist with setup, start a trial, or begin with their $39 per user / month package.

LeanLaw

LeanLaw is an accounting software designed by a lawyer. They use a simple user interface that makes timekeeping and invoicing quick and easy to do. Here’s a few of the features they provide:

  • Time tracking
  • Invoicing
  • Billing
  • Calendars
  • Trust accounting

With LeanLaw you can monitor your accounting on the go with their mobile app and dictate input data using their hands free, voice dictation. LeanLaw strives to give you a fully functional and practical accounting software to boost your law firm’s productivity.

Give LeanLaw a try or get started as low as $28 per user / month.

NuLaw

If you’re focused on improving the profitability of your law firm, NuLaw is an accounting software service backed by SalesForce. If you’re unfamiliar, SalesForce is a powerful cloud-based CRM provider dedicated toward increasing sales and revenue. Here’s what you can expect from NuLaw:

  • Intake management
  • Matters management
  • Case milestones
  • Checklists
  • Advanced calendaring
  • Billable hour tracking
  • Invoicing
  • Payment processing

NuLaw also comes with integrated research tools and aggregate data points to create an intuitive dashboards with detailed reports. You can use your dashboard to make real-time decisions to respond to clients accurately and quickly.

You’ll have to contact NuLaw for pricing and a free trial.

Coyote Accounting

If you’re a solo, small or mid-size law firm, Coyote Accounting has a law firm accounting software that might be right for you. Check out their features:

  • Time management and billing
  • Calendaring
  • Financial management
  • Contact Management
  • Document management
  • Business intelligence
  • Custom reporting

Coyote Accounting offers a simple, easy to use solution to enter, track, and manage all the critical data at your law firm.

You’ll have to contact the for a quote and demo.

Advantage Law

Advantage Law has been providing nationwide legal software since 1979. Their desktop software comes bundled with numerous features to assist law firms of any size.

  • Time integration
  • Cost tracking
  • Billing
  • Trust accounting
  • Financial reporting
  • Budgeting
  • Case management

With their expertise and experience, Advantage Law has an easy-to-use accounting software that can be picked up and implemented into your law firm quickly.

Purchasing Advantage Law is a one time licensing fee depending on the product you require. You can also receive full money back guarantee within 60 days if you are unsatisfied with the product.

How To Get Clients As An Attorney

If you’re fresh out of law school, you might consider starting your own law firm. In order to succeed, having the ability to find new clients will become the foundation of your success.

One of the first things you can do to spread the word of your career is by simply talking about it. Whenever you meet new people, let them know you’re a lawyer.

What you shouldn’t be doing is giving away free advice but instead discuss what it is your law firm can do and how they can get in touch with you.

If you want a few more ideas on how an attorney can get clients, here’s a list of ideas to help you grow your firm.

Friends and Family

Your friends and family will be one of the best referrals to help you find new clients as an attorney.

Since they know you best, you’ll become the first person they’ll mention if one of their friends or someone they know needs a lawyer.

If you’re opening a new firm, be sure to send an announcement via letter or e-mail to let everyone know.

Join the Bar Association in Your Community

If you have absolutely no connections, the first thing you should do is join any bar associations of committees in your community. Making connections and building relationships with other attorneys will give others a chance to get to know you and what you do.

Eventually, this can lead to mutual exchanges of clients back and forth. If one of your new connections has a client they can’t help (i.e. your connection is a divorce lawyer looking for legal advice for a car accident) they may refer that client to you.

In exchange, when you get clients at your law firm seeking services you don’t provide, you can refer them to someone in your list of connections.

Develop Your Online Presence

Social media and online browsers are great places to start finding clients as an attorney.

Get started with a website. Having a website allows you to showcase your previous cases, give information about your law firm, and most importantly, let’s visitors know how you can help.

Once thing to consider when setting up a website to find new clients is your domain name. The domain name you choose for your law firm’s online identity should stand out and briefly highlight your area of expertise. Make sure you choose the right domain name for your law firm before going live.

With your newly made law firm website, you can begin to share your knowledge on a blog. Blogging allows you to share content about your law firm in a way that connects with prospective clients dealing with legal problems.

Articles like, “What to do if you want a divorce” or “Steps to take after a car accident” provide information people may be searching. Of course, within articles like those will include “contact a lawyer to start a consultation.” If you’re content marketing is done well, you can use blogs to attract visitors to your website, get them to contact your firm, and potentially increase the number of clients you get.

Social Media

With a blog for your law firm’s website you can begin sharing content on places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. Sharing on these platforms allow you to make direct connections with those who may need your legal services.

As your social media channels grow in size, you can occasionally share promotional posts such as “Get a free consultation” or “You pay if we win!”

Posting frequently on social media is how you’ll stand out online. While this may seem like an added amount of work, your posts have the ability to get new clients organically. An alternative to this would be advertising.

Advertising

Two methods of online advertising for lawyers is by hiring a Google Adwords agency or a Facebook Ads agency / Instagram Marketing Agency.

Creating a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign with Google will put your law firm’s website at the top of the search engines. Instead of worrying whether your website is ranking high in the search engines organically, you can use a PPC campaign to put you at the top.

Google AdWords uses keywords to match your ads with someone searching for it. For example, if someone was searching for, “attorneys in New York,” having an ad using that phrase will increase the likelihood of it being clicked. However, depending on where you live and what area of practice you are in, Google AdWords can be very expensive.

Facebook Ads is another way for an attorney to get new clients. You can modify your ads to target specific groups of people and create a distinct purpose. Facebook ads can be used to grow your social media page or directed toward a contact page or get in touch with your firm.

You can also create ads for LinkedIn and Instagram depending on your practice and how detailed you know your prospective client types.

When using online advertising to push clients to your website, be sure to send traffic to pages that convert. You could end up paying a lot of money if you’re web pages are not created to turn a curious visitor into your next client.

Attorney Lead Generation Services

If you’re not good with technology, social media, or websites, you can use an attorney lead generation service to find new clients.

Total Attorneys and AttorneyBoost are services which allows you access to a pool of people looking for a lawyer. Total Attorney handles your marketing and sends traffic to your website.

Online attorney solutions vary in quality of clients and conversions on your website. Use these with caution.

As an attorney, getting clients is the key to a successful legal practice. How you find clients will require a combination of the above ideas in addition to the methods you discover and learn.

8 Shady Tactics Vendors Use To Trap Small Firms (and How To Fight Back!)

When Katie (my wife) started her law firm a few years ago, we were excited. It was going to be an adventure! As she walked out of her big firm job that last day, it seemed like the possibilities were endless.

And then the calls started. And the emails. And the tricks. It was like someone had put an ad on Craigslist saying “Easy mark! Hock your wares with abandon!”

With each step she took to start her firm, filing corporate docs, purchasing a domain name, signing up for phone service, setting up IOLTA accounts, it got worse.

I’m sure you’ve experienced the routine (and if you’re thinking about starting your firm, just wait.)

Phone calls at all hours. Because hey, we wouldn’t want to cold call a potential prospect during their working hours like everyone else, we need to stand out! 7am it is! Putting your kids to bed? Nuh-uh, it’s time to talk document management!

A constant barrage of cold emails with generic pie in the sky offers about this and that. None of any substance, just begging you to get on a phone call so they can see how much budget they can extract from an unsuspecting new business owner.

And the junk mail! Oh the junk mail! Not just “hey you should know about this service” junkmail, but downright fraudulent junkmail. Junkmail saying you’re in violation of some law if you don’t talk to them, or that someone’s going to steal your domain name or your trademark in China. Each looking more official than the last.

It’s exhausting. And we’d had enough. There HAD to be some good actors around. But the more I searched, the more shadiness I came across.

I’d had enough. And it was time to do something about it. So when I started AmazeLaw, I vowed to be honest with my clients, to treat them fairly, to empathize with the fact that they’re not an entity to extract money from, they’re small business owners, just like me, struggling and working their tails off for a better life.

I’ll leave it to my customers and to you to determine if I’ve succeeded, but in an effort to combat the shadiness, here are * tactics vendors are using right now to try and screw over small firms under the guise of being helpful.

Red flags in abusive vendor relationships

These are the tactics that should immediately set off red flags. Now not all vendors who use these tactics are bad by default, but they should act as leading indicators for abusive relationships so proceed with caution.

Being secretive about pricing

What they’re thinking: Their goal with this tactic is to get you to call to figure out whether it’s even in your budget. They don’t trust that you’ll be able to see the value of the product on their own, so they want you to contact a script-reading junior sales rep to convince you that it’s worth shelling out your precious cash, and then pass you off to a closer (account executive.)

Also, it means they don’t have any pricing structure to adhere to. They’re free to tell you any price (often after learning how large your budget is.) So they’ll start high, and work down so you feel like you’re getting a deal, often with steep discounts that magically appear when you tell them you’re all set.

How you can take advantage: This is the first step in some aggressive sales BS. But, if you really think the product works well (maybe you’ve had a colleague recommend it), you have a bit of an advantage if you’re willing to play hardball.

Make frequent price objections, threaten to walk away. Then actually walk away. Hang up the phone and tell them you’re just not sure about the price. I promise you they’ll call back. And there’ll probably be a discount in it for you.

Requiring annual or multi-year contracts

What they’re thinking: We don’t trust that you’ll stick around long-term, so rather than giving you 12 chances per year to consider whether that line in your bank account is worth it, they’ll only give you one option, and they’ll put a customer retention specialist in touch with you to promise big things for the next year.

And of course they’ll probably have a notice clause in the contract requiring more than 30 or 60 days notice of cancellation before it automatically rolls over. So when you contact them to cancel a few weeks before it rolls over, you’re told you’re already locked up for another year and if you want to cancel, you’ll have to pay an exorbitant cancellation fee (if they even let you).

There also appears to be a trend in the marketing services space (SEO, PPC Ads, Content Generation, Lead Generators, Directories) to require a 3 or 6 month commitment (often at $1k+/mo.)

While not as costly as annual contracts, they’re inherently higher risk. As an excuse, the sales rep will tell you that it takes time to see results from a new marketing channel. And that’s true, to a point.

But any person worth working with, any person you trust, will be able to give you an honest assessment along the way and let you know whether it makes sense to keep moving forward. They’re just trying to force the decision rather than letting their service speak for itself.

If they don’t trust that you won’t leave after a month or two, it says something (everything?) about how much they trust their product.

Note – These scenarios are different from annual prepay/billing. Annual prepay (often with a discount) can make a lot of sense for you and for the vendor. It helps them with cashflow and it provides you with a) a discount and b) the ability to play with your tax burden a little bit. If you have a strong year and you’re not sure the next year will be so fruitful, paying for the next-year’s services in December will reduce your tax burden this year (assuming you’re using cash accounting.)

Obviously, I’m not an accountant, so that’s not financial advice. But I would advise setting up a standing meeting with your accountant every fall to go over your accounting and help make decisions like this while you still have time before the end of the year.

Now before you sign up for annual prepay, you should ensure that you’re not locked in. For example, we offer 2 months free for our clients that sign up for annual billing, but if they get six months in, we’ll send them a pro-rated refund.  They’re not locked in.

So be sure to ask what happens if you cancel half-way through your annual contract so you can correctly weigh your options.

How you should handle thisExcept in circumstances where the value is clear and you’ll clearly need it long term, I would run, not walk, away from these terms. Cash is king for a small business so don’t lock yourself up unless you’re absolutely sure it’s worth it. And make sure you ask if they have…

Early cancellation fees

What they’re thinking: This is usually paired with those big annual contracts. It’s nothing more than a way to make you question your decision to cancel and extract a little more cash on your way out the door. It’s extortion, pure and simple.

AmazeLaw is actually a rare business where a customer leaving actually costs us time and money. It takes a lot of time and effort to move a website. And even we don’t have cancellation fees. We’ll lose money. That’s our punishment for not meeting our clients’ needs, and our incentive to do better. Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often.

What you can do: Honestly, not much. You can try to negotiate your contract at the beginning, but that’s about all you can ask for. But before you do that, you should probably question why they need that clause in the first place and if that’s someone you want to work with or trust a part of your business to.

Owning your domain

This is specific to website providers but it’s egregious enough that I need to call it out. Some providers insist that they control the domain name for your website. Claiming that it’s easier if they register it. That they’ll make sure it’s always renewed.

What they’re thinking: If they own your domain name, you can’t go anywhere. In order to move your website, you’ll need a new domain name and you’ll give up all of the SEO you’ve built up. What’s more, you’ll need to update all of your business cards, potentially your email address, etc. It’s just another form of extortion to keep you from canceling.

What you should do: DO NOT DO IT. Register your domain under an account you (and only you) control. Make sure you sign up for auto-renewal. I usually recommend Namecheap or Dynadot (GoDaddy is ok too because they’re ubiquitous, but they have some questionable tactics of their own I recommend my clients avoid.) If they insist, run away.

Controlling your phone number

This is just like controlling your domain name. And with the rise in importance of local search and its reliance on consistent Name-Address-Phone Number (NAP) for rankings, it’s gotten even worse. Having a different phone number on your website than the one you have on your business cards, or in the phone book is a big no no.

What you should do: There should only be one phone number for your business, and it should reside with your telephone service provider.

Acting as the middleman between you and your clients

That phone number control is often used as part of a feature called call-tracking, an attempt to funnel all website leads through a proprietary system. Of course that assumes that your leads want to call you. Some vendors even go so far as to not put an email address on your website, forcing the visitor to either pick up the phone or fill out a generic form that connects to their system and their system only.

In addition to being yet another lock-in tactic so that you don’t lose your contacts, it kills conversions and virtually guarantees that your prospect moves on to the attorney that allows contact via whatever means the prospect is most comfortable with.

What you should demand: You need to own your communication with your clients. Any barrier that’s put between you and your clients is not worth whatever low-volume metrics you might be able to pull out of your marketing vendor.

Promising the moon

This is pretty straightforward. An over-eager salesperson making empty promises to hit their monthly quota. Sometimes it’s subtle, but when you start to think maybe they’re being a little too generous with their predictions here’s a tip…

How can you use this? If you’re wondering if they’re pulling the wool over your eyes, then a surefire way to tell is by using a trap question.

Take the vendor’s pitch to the extreme, ask them if that’s a typical result. For example, for a company building a website or an SEO firm, ask them if this product will get you on the first page of Google. For a lead gen product, ask if you’ll get at least 5 qualified, high-quality leads every month.

Of course, if they say yes, ask for the names of two or three clients that have had those outcomes so that you can speak to them about their experience. And then watch the excuses fly. They’ll say that they don’t disclose client information.

You can even ask for a guarantee. That you can request a refund if those results aren’t met. That’s almost always a no-go on their part, but at this point the deal’s probably over so have some fun and watch them try to justify why they can’t 🙂

If they say no, that those results might be possible but that they aren’t typical, that’s actually a positive sign. Ask them under what circumstances you could expect to see those results. Ask them what the typical results actually are. If they’re honest about the conditions where the solution works and where it doesn’t, they believe in what they’re selling and it might be worth trying as well.

But again, ask for two or three references that would be willing to back that experience up.

Not being willing to provide references

Here’s what they’re thinking: A lot of the legal marketing vendors out there are entirely based on pump’n’dump schemes, where they sell all of the attorneys in a given area on a product, then move on, like locusts. They know after their initial contract term, 90% of the clients that remember to check their billing statements will cancel, but they don’t care. Their job is to get folks signed up as quickly as possible, on the longest terms possible.

In those scenarios, it’s really hard to find a long-term customer that’s willing to speak with prospects. And if there’s only a handful of them and they’re selling at scale, they just can’t afford to send hundreds of reference requests to each attorney that offers.

Here’s the cold hard truth. If a vendor doesn’t have at least a few attorneys literally raving about their experience, then it’s probably a no-go. After all, by the law of large numbers alone, there should be outliers that are having success. Even if they can’t give you a phone number, they should be able to send you case studies of successful clients. And often from there, you can do some basic Googling to find  the subject’s contact information if you need to verify their story.

What about you?

Have you seen these tricks in the wild? How have you dealt with them? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!

Tired of being played?

If you need help with your marketing, but were really hoping to avoid all of those tactics, let’s chat and we’ll help you get off to a great start!

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

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

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

Which method will you use?

Ease of hiring an attorney

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

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

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

Overview Of Phone Consultations

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

Consider the following:

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

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

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

Features & Benefits:

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

Overview Of In-Person Consultations

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

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

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

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

In-person consultations are irreplaceable.

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

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

Features & Benefits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contrasting Consultation Styles

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

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

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

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

So how should you value your time?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing Your Consultation Style

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

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

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

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

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

Should Lawyers Buy .law Domains?

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

  • .com
  • .gov
  • .org
  • .law

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

What are Top Level Domains (TLD)?

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

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

Overall, there are more than 1000 TLDs available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are The Benefits Of A .law Domain Name?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, Should Lawyers Buy A .law Domain?

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

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

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

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

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

Starting A Law Firm

Like any business, there’s risk involved. Starting a law firm, whether fresh out of college or years into a career, requires careful planning, some financial resources, and a marketing plan to succeed.

If you’re serious about starting a law firm, you may find it a little more difficult than passing the bar. Luckily, this is a good place to help you get started.

Before Starting A Law Firm

There are a few things you should consider before going ahead and registering a law firm. The most important place to start is by creating a plan.

Consider these:

The beginning of any new business will be tough and first year startups often struggle before they succeed. Having a little patience and determination will see returns to your personal investments and the only way to get there is with a plan.

Have Enough Cash To Get Started

You need a plan to succeed but you will also need a bit of money. The amount of money you need to invest in the startup of a law firm will vary from person to person. There are many expenses you will have to cover that cannot be avoided. Here’s a list of many of the costs you can expect to pay to get your law firm started:

  • Accounting
  • Answering Service
  • Bank Fees
  • Bar fees and other organizational fees
  • Couriers
  • Insurance (for malpractice claims)
  • Employees
  • Employment Benefits
  • Entertainment Costs
  • Office Lease/Rent
  • Office Supplies
  • Office Furniture
  • Ongoing Legal Education
  • Telephone
  • Unemployment Tax
  • Website for Law Firm

The best way to tackle these necessary costs when starting a law firm is by creating a budget. Look at the bigger picture and develop a budget detailing the next few years. Break down your costs into initial start up (i.e. office supplies, marketing, furniture, etc.) and operating costs (i.e. office lease/rent, staff salaries, etc.).

Choosing a Business Structure for Your Law Firm

Now that you have considered the costs, your area of expertise, and finished all the items on the law firm checklist, it’s time to set up your business.

This part of setting up your law firm requires the legal structure of your business. Choose carefully as to which type you use for your law firm as it will affect various aspects of how you can operate as a business.

Here are the options available to your:

Types of Legal Structures

1. Sole Proprietorship

Starting a sole proprietorship is the most simple option available. In this legal structure, the business is owned and operated by one person (you) and they are liable for any of the business’ obligations.

  • You won’t have to file forms with the state, however they will be needed to obtain licenses and permits.
  • Owners are personally liable for the outcome of the business (i.e. debts)
  • Any income earned is reported on your personal income tax return.

This legal structure is ideal for it’s low cost and basic tax structures, however the unlimited liability and requirement to pay self-employment tax can become a burden. Take for example a client suing you for malpractice. You would be held accountable for any damages.

2. Partnership

A partnership requires two or more people who run and own the law firm. You can create a partnership as either general or limited and is typically governed by an agreed upon contract detailing the partners’ responsibilities

  • Each partner is personally responsible for the partnership’s obligations (for general partnerships).
  • Partners owe fiduciary duties to each other.
  • Taxes are reported and paid by each individual partner’s tax returns.

 Forming a partnership is a low cost and profitable solution for each partner. However, there as joint and several liabilities, sharing profits, and possible disputes between partners that can affect your law firm’s trajectory. If for any reason your partner is sued for malpractice or refuses to participate in some other contractual obligation, your can be held personally liable. The best way to protect yourself from this situation is to consider the next option.

3. Limited Liability Company (LLC)

 A limited liability company (llc) provides members with with protection from personal liability for debts and actions performed by the business, just like a corporation. The difference is that you can choose to be taxed as a partnership.

  • You will be required to file paperwork to your government
  • You will need an operating agreement outlining rights and responsibilities of the members and how the law firm will run
  • Taxes can be dealt with as either a partnership or a corporation

LLCs have the benefits of limited liability and the bookkeeping is less that a corporation. You may not be able to operate as an LLC and it will require research depending on where you live.

4. Corporation

A corporation is a unique, business entity that has limited liability and is owned by shareholders.

  • You will be required to file paperwork to your government
  • You must create bylaws that govern the entire operation of the corporation
  • You will be taxed when the corporation earns profit.

Corporations are taxed twice. First when the corporation earns profits and again when the dividends are distributed to the shareholders.

There are many variations in legal structure to choose from. Whether you are deciding to start your own solo law firm or joining with a partner, choose the right one that suits how you want to run your business and the local laws in your area. You could always start as a sole-proprietorship then upgrade later when your business picks up.

Marketing Your Law Firm

 At this point, you’re cash flow might be depleted but your law firm is ready to go. The next thing you will need to do to start your own law firm is: find clients.

Finding clients will come down to how effective your marketing strategy is, but also, how strong your connections and relationships are with those that know you. Getting a referral from someone who knows your potential makes for easy client acquisition. However, for those that are seeking for legal advice for the first time, they may not have a trusted friend to vouch for you.

Here’s some marketing ideas to help you turn cold connections into your new clients.

1. Announce Your Opening

At the start of your new law firm, send out high-quality announcements to everyone you know (close and distant). If you’ve chosen a niche practice, send it out to those in your local bar association. Don’t forget to send personalized letters to your friends and relatives too. This can be useful for obtaining your first few referred clients.

2. Join a Business Networking Group

There are somethings you can do, and some things you can’t. If you join a business networking group, there are all kinds of opportunities to be found. If there’s lawyers in your group from other areas of specialization, you can create a referral list for them in exchange for a referral list for your specialised legal practice.

3. Become a Public Speaker

If there’s a topic you’re passionate about or a legal issue you want to eliminate, arranging public speeches is a great way to become known in your community. Public speaking allows you to make direct connections with people from the knowledge you have. This type of community outreach lets you display your expertise and build trust in your profession.

4. Start A Blog

Similar to public speaking, consider this public writing. Starting a blog for your law firm is an ideal way to find new clients online. Web sites can receive a lot of traffic depending on how your website is set up and the quality of the content involved.

5. Provide Quality Work

It might sound strange, but you should be providing exceptional “customer” experience. You’re dealing with people and, people talk. Their experience with you, good or bad, has a good chance of being spread on social media and within personal groups. You should always provide your best work to develop a strong referral base and a list or long-term clients.

Struggling to start a law firm? Check out the Starting Your Own Law Firm Checklist.