Category Archives: Business

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.

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.

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.

Top 7 Benefits of Being A Solo Practitioner

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

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

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

1. Complete Control

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

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

2. Diverse Clients

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

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

3. Cost Effective

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

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

4. Benefits for Clients

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

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

5. Work Environment

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

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

6. Custom Work Hours

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

By gaining more flexibility over your legal services, you can choose just how much, or how little, you want to work. If you want to take time off for vacationing or to attend a conference to further your professional development, you can. For those who have a family, being a solo practitioner allows for more time at home.

Having more time to focus on your legal services can also lead to better quality work. You can create strong marketing campaigns to find prospective clients that need your service. Or, if you have a website you can dedicate any extra time toward developing a blog and sharing your legal expertise to more people (see lawyer’s with a blog).

7. Higher ROI

 

The choice of becoming a solo practitioner may have a greater risk but it also involves greater reward. To emphasize the importance of having strong business skills, solo practitioners can work harder and see a high net gain.

If you’re working at a law firm, you may take on more client cases yet your salary stays the same. As a solo practitioner, the profitability of your legal practice will be based on your ability to find clients and handle their legal needs successfully.

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.

Can Lawyers Really Work From Home?

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

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

Solo Practitioners

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

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

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

Telecommuting Attorney Jobs

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Writers

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

Here are a few places legal writers are needed:

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

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

In-House Lawyers

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

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

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

Freelance Lawyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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!

Schedule a Demo Today

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.