Category Archives: Ultimate Guides

Inside The Courtroom, Who’s Doing What?

There are a lot of different people who enter the courtroom for a trial or hearing. The common players are the lawyers, their clients, and the judges making the ultimate decision. Let’s take a look at all the people found in a courtroom.

The Parties

The people or entities (i.e. a business) who are involved in a lawsuit are known as “parties”. In civil cases, you’ll have plaintiffs (the suing party) and defendants (the party being sued). In criminal cases, there will only be the defendants involved with the crime. Particularly in criminal cases, defendants have a constitutional right to be present at their trials. The Sixth Amendment says, “the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted by the witnesses against him.” Whereas in civil cases, you can opt out of attending the trial.

The Lawyers

Inside the courtroom, lawyers represent their clients or state-appointed parties in the lawsuit. Lawyers provide the majority of the speaking while presenting their party’s side of the case. Lawyers must follow legal procedures while trying to prove a defendant’s innocence or verify they should be accused of their crime.

Criminal cases involve a defense lawyer which can be state-appointed or hired by the defendant and a prosecutor. The prosecutor attempts to prove guilt while the defense lawyers attempt to prove innocence. In some cases, a jury may be present.

Civil cases do not necessarily require a lawyer, however, if a representation is needed, each party must pay for their own.

Lawyers have certain duties to maintain in court, according to the American Bar association, which include:

  • Not seeking court sanctions
  • Not withholding or delaying the disclosure of information regarding discovery objections
  • Only ask questions appropriate for the prosecution or defense

For the complete list, please see ABA’s Lawyer’s Duties.

The Witnesses

In court, witnesses are those who provide a testimony which includes facts and perspective on the case. Witnesses are asked called to the witness stand where they make their statement and can be examined and cross-examined by both lawyers present. Both sides can have witnesses and the kinds of witnessed may be known as plaintiff’s witnesses, defendant’s witnesses, or government witnesses.

The Jury

In some court hearings, a selected group of people, known as the jury, may be present in the courtroom to determine the outcome of the trial. The jury is responsible for listening to and understanding the facts. Afterward, they must apply the law which has been instructed by the judge prior to the hearing. If the facts are conflicting or confusing, the jury must decide together the truth and reach a verdict. Court hearings can get very complicated and jurors have to decide who is telling the truth and make a decision that’ll have a dramatic effect on someone’s life.

A Judge

Playing the most important role in the courtroom is the judge. Judges are responsible for the following tasks:

  1. Presiding over the hearings and maintaining order;
  2. Ensuring that the evidence presented by the parties illegal or not;
  3. Educating jurors before a jury trial about the laws that apply to the case and the conditions they must follow to assist them in making a decision about the facts they hear in court;
  4. Listening to the facts during bench trials to determine what are the facts and decide the outcome of the case;
  5. Convicting defendants in criminal cases.

Courtroom Interpreter

In cases where one or both parties cannot speak or understand English, a courtroom interpreter may be required. Courtroom interpreters will assist with the translation of a testimony which will be included in the court’s records. This is a challenge position since details can be lost in translation. Therefore, interpreters must be precise and only interpret exactly what is said by the witness or defendant. This means, if someone is lying, they must continue with the translation and not make any alterations whatsoever. Doing so can lead to a mistrial and other consequences.

Courtroom Reporter

The courtroom reporter is responsible for recording everything that is said and the evidence that is introduced during the hearings. Reporters use a machine called a stenograph to type information or they can create a recording. After the trail, this recorded information becomes the official record. Courtroom reporters will be responsible for creating a written transcript if either of the parties seeks to appeal the decision made in court. Occasionally, reporters may visit lawyerès offices to record depositions and conferences for judges.

Note: Stenographs are more commonly used by courtroom reporters. This machine uses symbolic keystrokes based on the spoken word. These machines can record upwards of 300 words per minute. Electronic sound recordings will use a special microphone placed within the courtroom. Both recording methods require a written transcript of the hearings afterward.

Courtroom Clerks

Court clerks are responsible for administering the oaths made by witnesses, interpreters, and parties. In addition, these clerks work within the courtroom to take care of records, authenticate copies of court documents, keeps minutes of the hearings, as well as prepare judgment and verdict forms. Courtroom clerks are essentially the judge’s assistant throughout the trial.

Courtroom Officer

Inside most courtrooms will be an officer responsible for security. These are the law enforcement personnel in the case that a hearing gets out of hand and the must maintain order.

Who Works for the Court?

Of all the people inside the courtroom, only jurors, judges, reporters, clerks, and officers work for the court system. Lawyers will work for themselves or their law firm and require fees to receive support or legal advice.

Top 7 Law Firm Accounting Software For Lawyers

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

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

#1: Clio

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

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

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

Features:  

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

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

#2: Xero

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

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

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

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

Features: 

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

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

#3: Bill4Time

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

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

Features:

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

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

#4: Legal Files

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

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

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

Features:  

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

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

#5: QuickBooks

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

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

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

Features:  

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

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

#6: PCLaw by LexisNexis

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

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

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

Features:  

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

#7: ProLaw by Thomson Reuters

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

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

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

Features:  

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

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

Lawyers On Demand: The Future of Legal Services?

Could this the future of legal services? A future of lawyers on demand which allows people to choose from a pool of legal talent, at affordable rates, whenever legal advice is needed.

Although the traditions in law run deep, there is a trending new opportunity for those pursuing a legal career. Instead of working at a law firm, working insane hours, and having a portion of your earnings going into the owners’ pockets, you can become a freelance lawyer, working on demand.

Will Lawyers Quit Working At Firms?

Law firms dedicate considerable time and resources training their associates toward full-fledged lawyers. The hours can be long and additional work may be completed outside of office hours.

Becoming a freelance lawyer offers an alternative lifestyle to the traditional hard working demands placed on lawyers at a firm. Freelance lawyers have the ability to decide their working hours. It allows more freedom and flexibility for scheduling, operating a side business, or spending more time with loved ones.

Some freelance lawyers may opt to take a few months off to travel and pursue other lifestyles. Creating a work-life balance is a lucrative choice for young adults seeking to enjoy their adulthood even while developing their career in law.

Are All Freelance Lawyers Qualified?

While it can be easy to distinguish the reputation of a law firm, some prospective clients may be hesitant to work with freelance lawyers. Not knowing whether a lawyer is fresh out of school or was let go from a firm for malpractice may defer people from choosing freelancers.

However, in most cases, freelance lawyers are those that have had experience working at a firm and choose to take their career in law down a different path. Experiences will certainly vary from lawyer to lawyer, however, there are certain standards that all lawyers must follow in order to practice law.

Freelancer lawyers have the opportunity to be more selective with the caseloads and time management. These lawyers can maintain a high level of quality for their services by focusing on providing exceptional client experiences in order to attain future work and referrals.

Benefits of Freelancing

Take a look at how both lawyers and clients can benefit from freelancing:

Lawyer Benefits:

  • More freedom
  • Flexible schedule
  • Higher earning potential
  • Offer higher value work
  • Work on more unique clients and cases
  • Build expertise in the desired niche

Client Benefits:

  • Access to lawyers on demand
  • Affordable rates
  • Reduce overhead costs
  • Cost-effective alternative to in-house lawyers
  • Ability to hire experts in a specific area

Freelancing lawyers have the ability to offer convenient services for short-term and occasional clients. It offers clients an alternative to expensive lawyer fees from a reputable law firm while maintaining the quality of service.

Many law firms are also recognizing the benefits of hiring freelance lawyers on a case-by-case scenario. Law firms can reduce their overhead costs by avoiding fees for health plans, holiday pay, and maternity leave.

Freelance Lawyers vs. Solo Practitioners

It would be wrong to assume that solo practitioners of law are the same as freelance lawyers. In most cases, the difference between the two includes the following:

  1. Clients. Solo practitioners often work from an office and offer legal advice to their clients. Often, freelance lawyers do not provide any form of legal advice unless working on cases with other lawyers, law firms or administrative legal departments.
  2. Hours. For a sole practitioner, working hours can be long and unforgiving. It is common for lawyers to send invoices for 40 to 50 hours worth of work even though they required an additional 5 to 15 hours after hours. Freelancers have much more freedom and can plan in advance which days to take off and enjoy for themselves.
  3. Type of Work. Since freelancer lawyers have the freedom and flexibility to define their services and choose their clients, they can find themselves working for unique and challenging clients. Since freelancers offer more of the time to companies and other law firms, there tend to be fewer worries about dealing with emotionally taxing non-lawyer clients. Lawyers seeking to work more directly with the law and reduce the amount of emotionally draining counseling-like experiences with clients would certainly prefer freelancing.
  4. Flexibility. Solo practitioner typically works from an office. This requires them to purchase office equipment, hire assistants or clerks, and maintain their office space. Freelance lawyers often don’t have this. Instead, freelance lawyers can use a range of locations and technologies to meet and connect with their clients.

Choosing to become either a freelance lawyer or a solo practitioner comes down to who you are as a lawyer. If you know how to manage your time and wish to have extra hours for yourself, freelancing is the way to go. In contrast, if you’re the type of person who enjoys a structured lifestyle that is motivated by a high-stress working style, focus on becoming a solo practitioner.

Freelance Platforms for Lawyers

There are a variety of online sources providing freelance lawyers access to prospective clients. Axiom, Vario, Lawyers on Demand provide unique matches for clients seeking flexible lawyers for their situations.

  • Axiom – The main feature that Axiom offers is a platform for freelance lawyers to create a profile and showcase their legal services to prospective clients. They offer temporary in-house services to clients who can hand-pick their own lawyers. Axiom currently has over 1200+ lawyers available provide services for real estate, litigation, intellectual property, employment and benefits, derivatives, finance and more. Axiom also offers global reach to assist with international businesses and clients.
  • Vario – This freelancing platform for lawyers offers flexible legal support for law firms, in-house companies, and individual clients seeking support. They focus on alleviating their client’s stress, reduce costs, and provide measurable results. Vario understands that the world is changing and remote work has become a staple in today’s working environments. They work directly with lawyers to uncover exactly what a lawyer wants to do and how to do it.
  • Lawyers on Demand – Here you’ll find services dedicated to those who want an in-house team or hired help at a law firm. All freelancers at Lawyers on Demand are carefully screened for quality and talent. They work with lawyers ranging in all areas of specialization to provide access to legal support for anyone looking for a lawyer. As of now, there are over 600 lawyers and consultants available to support prospective clients.

Life After Law School: What New Lawyer’s Need To Know

You’re one of many who have spent years in school studying the intricacies of law and spending thousands of dollars to get to the bar exam. Then, after all that hard work, what’s life like after law school?

You may have ambitions to become the best state lawyer or you may simply want to become a partner at a local firm. Whatever path you choose to go on, here you’ll get a glimpse of life after law school.

Competing for a Place in Law

There are only so many big law firm’s offering high paying positions. Often these firms are selecting the top of class from the world’s best law schools.

If you’re unfamiliar with these school, every year the National Law Journal (NLJ) publishes a report on which schools are sending their graduates to practice biglaw. Here is their list of the top 5 schools:

  1. Columbia Law School
  2. University Pennsylvania Law School
  3. University of Chicago Law School
  4. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  5. Duke Law School

To see the entire list from NLJ, go here.

If didn’t attend one of the top schools listed above, there are still many choices available in your career of law. Some graduates choose to become an intern or start a clerkship to gain the experience and expertise to practice law at a higher, more competitive level.

Some internships offer a paid position and clerkships are done alongside a judge. Taking this route after law school can provide you with insight into how the law is practiced within the courtroom and prepare you for other aspects of the law.

Other options include continuing to study law at a doctorate level and obtaining a degree such as:

  • Juris Master – M.S.
  • Master of Laws – L.L.M.
  • Doctor of Judicial Science – S.J.D.
  • Doctor of Comparative Law – D.C.L.

Each of these educational routes will add an additional year or two of study. However, the investment can be well worth the time and can lead to a better paying lawyer salary.

Life as an Associate

Traditional law firms use to function using a two-tier system for lawyers which included: associates and partners. An associate would be expected to work at the firm for almost a decade before being considered a partner. If you became a partner, you would be given equity and given a share of the firm’s profits.

Before the 1980s, many associates would stay with one law firm working hard to become a partner. However, when American Lawyer, a monthly magazine dedicated to lawyers, published a listing of the country’s profits per partner at the largest firms, the working world of law began to change.

Now, it is likely that both associates and partners will work at multiple firms, for both experience and profit, over the duration of their career. Life after law school can be extremely stressful for newly appointed associates that have high debt while dealing with a heavy workload.

However, as an associate, you will have the freedom to explore the area of law that interests you. As well, responsibilities like court appearances, client consultations, and depositions will gradually increase after the first year of practice. You may even be expected to continue educating yourself about your area of practice as you work at your firm. This is a part of the grooming process if you plan to stick around and become a partner.

Becoming A Partner

Although the path to partnership differs from firm to firm, most associates seek to become an equity partner and receive a portion of the profits.

Before becoming a partner, you may first become a senior associate and then a non-equity partner. Both advancements will receive a higher salary and significantly more responsibility. However, when becoming an equity partner, there is also an added level of liability which makes you responsible for keeping the law firm profitable for years to come.

You will likely not become a partner straight out of law school, however taking this big step in your career provides guaranteed employment and becoming a partial owner of the firm.

For more about becoming a partner, go here.

Alternative Paths to Law

Depending on your situation and your experiences out of law school, you may decide that working law firm as an employee is not fit for you. The years, dedication, and hard work may seem too far away to yield the career path you dreamed about while studying for the bar.

An alternative path to becoming an associate and waiting to become a partner may be starting your own law firm.

There are a few things to consider if starting your own law firm is the path for you:

  • Registering your business (i.e. LLC, Sole-proprietorship, etc.)
  • Establishing your presence in your community
  • Developing a website for your law firm
  • Marketing your legal services
  • Finding new clients
  • Avoiding malpractice

If you’re thinking about starting your own law firm, here are a few articles to guide you toward developing a successful legal career:

Getting Your Law firm Started

Having A Website For Your Lawfirm

Marketing Your Law firm

Understand Risk

Software to Improve Your Law Firm’s Efficiency:

What Are Career Advancement Opportunities for Lawyers?

Are you wondering how to fast track your career in law? While there may be numerous career advancement opportunities for lawyers, knowing which ones to take can define a satisfying and lasting career in law.

To guide your decision making along with your career as a lawyer, here are a few highlights and considerations to keep in mind.

Classic Career Path for Lawyers

The common path for lawyers finishing their graduate studies and search for a firm to get hired will typically start as an associate working with other experienced lawyers. After a few years, some lawyers may be offered to become a partner of the firm.

Becoming a partner entitled lawyers with partial ownership over the law firm, additional responsibilities, and greater liabilities. Depending on the amount of time with the firm, partners came receive further career advancements such as becoming an executive partner or a managing partner.

Depending on a lawyer’s area of specialization, there may be opportunities to take on greater roles and responsibilities.

With the increasing amount of students graduating from law school each year with limited number careers available, competition is fierce. Lawyers who can’t maintain their positions as a partner may experience the “up and out.” This is when partners are forced to leave the firm because they were not able to contribute to the profitability of the firm.

Overall, this makes high-paying legal positions at prestigious firms extremely competitive. The selection process for these firms will often be limited to experiences and students graduating from specific schools.

However, those who do not obtain their ideal career as an associate at their law firm of choice can opt for alternative law careers.

Alternative Opportunities for Lawyers

After studying law for so many years, becoming an associate at a law firm is not the only option. Instead, law students can continue their education and pursue masters and doctorate degrees in areas specific to an area of specialization.

Pursuing an academic legal career can lead to a full-time position as a faculty member at a law school. Administrative and other teaching opportunities can also be found.

In addition, some lawyers may choose an internship. Internships offer freshly graduated law students with a chance to receive real experience while working with judges and other professional legal workers.

Another option may be to work for a corporation. While this is not a common path, some of the bigger corporations require a team of lawyers and legal support to keep their operations running smoothly.

Here is a suggestive list of alternative careers for lawyers:

  • In-house counsel for corporations/companies
  • Paralegal workers
  • Government lawyer
  • NPO / NGO lawyer
  • Real estate broker
  • Freelance attorney
  • Legal recruiter
  • Journalist
  • Politics
  • Insurance

Self-Employed Lawyers

Lawyers account for almost 800,000 jobs in America. The following is where those lawyers are employed:

Legal services (i.e. law firms) 48%
Self-employed lawyers 20%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 7%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6%
Federal government 5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Some lawyers who have worked with professional law firms and choose not to become a partner may pursue to form their own law firm. As seen in the chart above, 20% of all lawyers are self-employed.

Those who choose this career path can succeed by establishing a strong marketing plan and business strategy. Seeing their legal services as a business is a vital understanding of how to survive when competing against other self-established and long-lasting law firms.

Self-employed lawyers may place a heavy burden on solo lawyers who can’t afford to hire an assistant or secretary. However, some software products have been made available to handle various tasks such as accounting, invoicing, and other matter.

Other ways for self-employed lawyers to survive their first year as a lawyer would be to get a website, start a blog, and use paid advertisements.

Career Prospects for Lawyers

According to MyFuture, employment rates for lawyers are expected to grow 6% from 2014 to 2024. This prediction is based on the anticipated growth of other occupations in the United States which will increase demands for legal services. Individuals, businesses, and various levels of government will need legal assistance to support this growth and new demands.

Due to this increase in demand, the cost for legal services may consequently increase as well. This may cause law firms to reevaluate their staffing requirements and opting for law management software may prove to become a cost-effective solution.

Other methods to reduce costs while remaining competitive may lead to lawyers outsourcing their staffing to low-cost agencies. In addition, routine work can now be automated with various document programs dedicated to lawyers.

Picking The Best Domain Name For Your Law Practice

In order to run a successful law practice, you’re going to need a website. Your website is the place for potential clients to discover your legal services, get to know you, and  schedule a consultation.

However, before you or hired help creates your website, you’ll want to pick the best domain name for your law firm.

A website and a domain name are not the same, although they are closely connected. The website contains all your content, information, and images. Whereas the domain name is the address that people type in their browsers that bring them to your website.

There are many types of domain names available and there’s a few important guidelines to follow when choosing the best one for your law firm:

Top Level Domain for Lawyers

 Top Level Domains (TLDs) are the little part of the domain name found after the DOT. These include, .COM, .ORG, .NET, and .GOV. There is even a specially created TLD for lawyers called .LAW.

The kind of TLD you decide will play a role in your ability to being found online. The universal TLDs are those listed above. There are also country specific TLDs such as .CA (Canada), .CN (China), .EU (European Union). Using these domains are restricted to those residing in that country and may not have as large a global reach as a .COM.

Most domains can be registered by anyone, however, the .LAW specific TLD requires proof of license before it can be issued.

Is a .LAW the best domain for you?

What Are Lawyer Keywords?

 Consider your domain name as a very important keyword that aides in your website getting found. People looking for a lawyer may search the following in Google: Florida Divorce Lawyers.

 Those words, are considered keywords and they play an important part in how your website is found online.

One thing to keep in mind is that keyword stuffing your domain name could lead to penalties by search engines and prevent your site from ever being noticed.

For example,

“childcustodydivorcelawyers.com”

While a name like this appears to be congruent with your services, there are a variety of reasons to not use this kind of name.

Best Domain Names For Lawyers

 Creating a domain name that is memorable and brandable is the best approach to take. This is important. Your domain name will serve as a banner that not only catches people’s attention but prepares people for what they’ll find on your website.

So, consider the following: what is the overall message you’re trying to say? Can people remember it easily? Can they type it into their browser without difficulty? Are there other websites with domain names similar to yours?

In addition, here are a few points to help you pick the best domain:

  1. Keep it short and simple (KISS). Shorter names are easier to remember and simpler to type into the browser. Just imagine, if your name was Bernie, you could have this: bernietheattorney.com!
  2. Be consistent. Your domain name should be a reflection of the services being offered and/or the location you provide them. Having a name like nyccourtconsultations.com (implying that you offer court consultations in NYC) would be more powerful than worldoflaw.com (potentially implying this site is about a world of flaws?).
  3. Don’t use unpopular TLDs. There are many different domain names available that may seem ideal for branding purposes but have less effect as a common TLD like .COM. Many people are familiar with .COM as a domain name.
  4. Avoid using hyphens. Search engines sometimes consider websites using hyphens as spammy and trying to stuff too many keywords. For example, best-lawyers-in-san-francisco.com may signal to search engines that this website is spam. While hyphens can be used without receiving penalties.

Lawyers Starting A Blog

 Having a website allows your to showcase your practice, services, past clients, and contact information to the entire world. As well, another useful thing to do on your website is starting a blog.

As mentioned before, keywords play an important part in getting your site noticed online. While the domain name plays a significant roles in directing people to the website, the content is the most valuable.

The best way to make your website stand out online is by providing expert advice and quality content. Blogs allow you to build your reputation online as well as discover new, potential clients.

Domain Name Overview:

Do Don’t
 

●        Do use your personal or business name(s). Remember to keep it short and simple. Use a domain name like, smithlawassociates.com, instead of smithandtullylawassociates.com
●        Do use your area of practice. If you’re a divorce lawyer, legal advisor, or criminal lawyer, feature that (i.e. smithdivorcelawyers.com)
●        Do use something memorable. Especially for blogs, having a domain like, fortheloveoflaw.com or leagueoflawyers.com could serve as a great platform to express your legal work as well as for branding purposes.
●        Do use a common TLD (such as .COM or even .LAW).
●        Do consider the ethical code. Making claims that cannot be proven, or misleading (i.e. always-win-lawyers.com) may be a violation of your local jurisdiction’s ethical rules.

 

●        Don’t use names that may change in the future (i.e. if an associate leaves your law firm)
●        Don’t use abbreviations of your legal service that could create a negative reputation (i.e. Austin, Stevens, and Smith Lawyers Group: asslawyers.com)
●        Don’t use spammy words like, best, top, greatest, etc. While you may feel that your law firm is #1 in your area, the search engines may flag your site as spam.
●        Don’t make it too personal. Whatever you are interested in and passionate about should not be used for your domain name, unless, it is relevant to your area of law.
●        Don’t use hard to remember or difficult to spell words.
●        Don’t copy another domain name. If serveandprotect.com is taken, avoid taking serveandprotect.net (or any other TLD). This can confuse your potential clients.

Choosing the best domain name for your law practice is not going to be easy. Remember that search engines like Google do provide benefits when a keyword is matched in your domain name. However, try to avoid coming off as spammy and use a name that is broad but to the point. For branding purposes, short and catchy would be the better approach.

10 Tips To Avoid Legal Malpractice For Lawyers

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

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

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

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

Dress Code For Lawyers

Lawyers are traditionally known to wear tailored suits to look professional for their daily responsibilities. However, recent trends in fashion have seen some lawyers working in their offices wearing casual attire.

If you’re unsure what to wear to the firm or you’re looking for a change of appearance, here’s a brief overview of dress codes for lawyers.

Dress Code for Male Lawyers

Lawyers spend a significant amount of time in office with occasional appearances in court and other public locations (i.e. interviews with clients, research at a library, etc.). There are two dress codes for lawyers which call for either a formal business attire or something more casual.

  • Formal Business Dress Code: Lawyers should wear a white dress shirt which a neutral collared tie beneath their tailored suit. Common suit colors include gray or navy (note: wearing black is known to represent funerals which are advised to avoid in the courtroom environment). This lawyer’s dress code is meant for court appearances, interviews, meetings with clients, and other business-related activities.
  • Casual Business Dress Code: Here, lawyers can skip the tie and discard the suit to wear something less formal. Wearing a golf shirt or attractive sports shirt with casual trousers or khakis is acceptable. Having a sports jacket, cotton sweater, or a vest can also be a suitable addition. These outfits are common for less formal events and gatherings.

Lawyers should remember to wear appropriate shoes. Leather dress shoes are the legal industry’s standard that can be paired with black, brown, dark gray, or navy socks depending on the suit color. Loafers may also be acceptable in casual days. Here you can read more about shoes for lawyers.

Dress Code for Female Lawyers

The dress code for female lawyers is a bit more complex. In the history of legal work, women were predominantly providing legal support and not working on legal cases. However, recent years has seen an increase in female lawyers which has led to some controversy over what a woman should and should not be wearing.

Regardless of the situation, whether it is a casual event or a formal court hearing, there are some articles of clothing that female lawyers should never wear. These garments are often forbidden by a law firm’s dress code and they include:

  • Tight fitting and low cut tops of any kind
  • Shirts with straps, open backs, halter tops, etc.
  • Stretch pants, yoga style pants, etc.
  • Miniskirts and capris that end above the knee

As a general rule of thumb, female lawyers should avoid showing any cleavage and revealing too much leg.

To keep things simple, females should follow similar guidelines that define male lawyer’s dress codes. Expect to wear suits in similar styles and made to fit in a similar fashion as men. However, as an alternative, some law firms allow for skirts to be worn so long as they are not too short.

Lawyer’s Fashion Worldwide: In Pakistan, the dress code for lawyers is dependent on the seasons. In the summer, lawyers wear a white shirt with a white neck band and trousers. This dress code is strictly enforced in the country.

Overview of Unacceptable Clothing

To help distinguish what can vs. should not be worn, here’s a quick list of unacceptable clothing choices that would breach a lawyer’s dress code:

  • Tight fitting clothing
  • Shorts or jeans
  • Casual, non-collared shirts
  • Sweatshirts, sweat suits, or gym clothes
  • T-shirts
  • Cargo pants
  • Golf shirts emblazoned with logos and images
  • Crazy colors or leopard print
  • Novelty items (i.e. ties, clips, etc.)

General Appearance

Lawyers are expected to be well-groomed when arriving at the office or the courtroom.

In regards to hairstyle, men are expected to maintain shorter hairstyles that are neat and conservative in style. Facial hair is acceptable as long as it is well groomed. Arriving to work with wild long hair or rugged facial hair would be inappropriate.
For women, both long and short hairstyles are acceptable. As long as the style is neat and professional, there won’t be a problem. Arriving with untamed, messy styles or brightly colored hair may cause alarm. Also, some limitations may include having hair longer than their waist and child-like hairstyles.

Accessories

Perhaps this may apply more to women than men, but there are a few dress codes considerations regarding accessories.

For women, jewelry and accessories are acceptable if they are not in excess or too extravagant. Alternatively, wearing cheap jewelry may be frowned upon. Wearing strong perfumes, too much makeup, revealing bra straps or tattoos, and long nails should be avoided.

For men, having professional looking tie clips and pins may be suitable for their attire. Wearing a professional watch would be acceptable. Wearing too much jewelry, excessive cologne, or revealing tattoos should be avoided.

Briefcases

While this is not necessarily lawyer’s attire, briefcases play an important part of a lawyer’s job. Having the right briefcase to carry legal documents and office supplies while working on the go should also follow along with the dress code for lawyers.

Imagine arriving into the courtroom with a briefcase showcasing an image of your favorite superhero fighting crime. For advice on briefcases for lawyers, try this.

Law Firm’s Dress Codes

If you work at a law firm, the dress code detailed may be different from what you read above. Every firm reserves the right to create a dress code for their lawyers to maintain the image and professionalism of the firm. This article is meant to provide a general overview of what lawyers should wear and what to avoid.

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.

Legal Document Software for Lawyers

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

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

What is Legal Document Software

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

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

Functions of Legal Document Software

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

  1. Document Scanner Tools. If you have to scan your documents, you can easily upload into the program and convert them into PDFs and images to send to clients.

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

Legal Document Software Precautions

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

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

Storage Options

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

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

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

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

Examples of Legal Document Software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Note

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