Category Archives: Ultimate Guides

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.

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.

5 Tech Tools For Lawyers

Trending everywhere is an increase of technology being used at the workplace. These changes occur swiftly and are meant to make jobs easier or more efficient.

In the world of law, there’s no exception. Even lawyers are gaining access to more clever tech tools to make their lives better. However, you won’t have to worry about upgrading your phone or downloading hundreds of new features and struggle to try to figure things out.

If you’re like most lawyers, technology has a few standard features and that’s all you need. Well, wouldn’t you like to discover the true potential that technology can provide you and your legal services?

Let’s take a look at a few of the best tech tools for lawyers which will help your legal practice in the 21st century.

1. Research Tools

If you’re spending endless hours researching the old way (i.e. in a law library), you may want to try these advanced research tools. If you want to try powerful but affordable research, check out Ravel Law or Casetext:

  • Ravel Law is a resourceful legal search tool that allows lawyers to search legal data, analyze results, and create understandable visualizations. Ravel Law obtains all their data from Harvard Law Library. Use Ravel Law to put new information into practice.
  • Casetext is another provider of legal information and offers free services to law students and pro bono lawyers only, otherwise, it’s a subscription-based service. Casetext’s unique contextual legal research technology, CARA AI, automates key legal research, arming lawyers with the highest quality research possible, ultimately allowing firms to spend time on higher-value, billable work — and avoid missing key precedents or decisions. Consider CARA as you’re very own, digital assistant.  

Ravel Law is best for gathering information for a litigation while Casetext serves to find relevant data and information for legal briefs, memos, letters and other legal documents.

2. Live Chat for Websites

Lawyers with a website can really benefit by implementing a live chat system on their websites. This useful tech development is becoming increasingly popular as it allows owners of a website to engage directly with visitors.

If you’re thinking about putting together a powerful Facebook Ads campaign, having live chat ready to go can potentially boost client intake.

One thing to keep in mind with using this technology on a lawyer’s website is the American Bar Association’s Ethics and Regulations regarding online marketing.

3. Accounting Software

Accounting software is a great tech choice for lawyers. There is a wide range of service providers available and they’re focused on providing solutions for lawyers. Here are a few of the things your accounting software can do for you and your firm:

  • Legal calendaring
  • Time tracking
  • Invoicing and billing
  • Document management

Many solo, small and medium-sized law firms use accounting software to automate some of the work responsibilities at the office. Some of the top software provides include Clio, Abacus Law, Bill4Time, Legal Files, and PC Law.

This accounting software provider typically provides a free trial which allows you to test out their features. For a comprehensive review of these this lawyer tech tool, see best accounting software for lawyers.

4. Cloud Storage

Although some accounting software programs offer additional storage, you may want a dedicated cloud provider to store your data. Cloud storage allows for data to be stored on servers away from your computer.

This can provide you access to important files and information while you’re on the go and even on your cell phone. Dropbox and Google Drive are two common and easy to use save files and documents.

However, you may be concerned about the security of your client’s data. One thing to consider is that as a lawyer, putting all your sensitive information on cloud storage could lead to it getting hacked. It is a lawyer’s responsibility to safeguard their client’s personal and sensitive information.

If you do decide to use a cloud storage to save your legal documents off your computer, try setting up two-step authentication.

5. Virtual Office

While this may be not a dedicate tech tool for lawyers, it has become a go-to solution for many solo and small-sized law firms. Setting up a virtual office allows lawyers to save time and focus more on the success of their firm.

Virtual offices function by outsourcing phone calls to trained professionals who can schedule consultations and assist with intaking. The benefits of a virtual office include:

  • More time for clients
  • More time to market legal services
  • Reduced operations costs
  • Increase productivity
  • Flexible employment
  • Operate 24/7/365

Getting a virtual office for your law firm is an effective use of technology for your practice. Depending on the area you specialize, you can receive a team of dedicated receptionists who can understand and use appropriate legal language.

Learn more about setting up a virtual office at your law office.

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.

Office Supplies Every Lawyer Should Have

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

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

Furniture Set First Impressions

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

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

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

Lawyer Office Supplies: Quick Checklist

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

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

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

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

Lead Generation Ideas For Lawyers

You might think the purpose of your lawyer website is to provide information about your law firm’s legal services or a place where people can request a consultation. While these may be the primary objectives, there are a few things you must do before the phones start ringing.

From a digital marketing point of view, lead generation is a popular term you should understand. When you’re looking for potential clients for your firm, driving the right traffic to your website is the first step then turning those visitors into clients is the next.

If you’ve been wondering how to get more leads at your law firm, perhaps this will help you out.

What is Lead Generation?

Perhaps you’re new to owning a website and you’re just getting into all the technical language that comes along. Here’s a quick overview of common words used in online marketing:

  • Traffic refers to the number of visitors to your website which can either be real people or bots. You can see this if your website connected to a tool like Google Analytics. Once installed, you’ll be able to track both web visitors and the number of page visits.
  • Lead Generation is the process of curating or collecting prospective client’s contact information and taking them as clients.
  • Landing/Squeeze Page can be used to send web traffic to a specific web page to offer valuable content in exchange for their contact information. Alternatively, you can offer a special promotion (i.e. free consultation) which can only be found on this page.
  • Sales Funnel is a series of steps that takes leads through the process of becoming a new client at your firm. From a lawyer’s perspective, you use various strategies to market and bring in new clients (i.e. drip marketing).
  • Conversion Optimization is a process of increasing the percentage of visitors to your website and converting them into a new client.

Perhaps you can start to see that there are various angles you can take when it comes to marketing your law firm’s website. The essentials include web traffic to generate leads and a landing page to collect them. As well, you’ll have to perform ongoing site analysis to find new ways to turn more visitors into clients at your firm (maybe changing some of the colors on your website will work).

This will likely be an ongoing process for your online marketing strategy. In the meantime, let’s explore how you can improve you lead generation at your law firm.

More Leads. More Clients.

When you’re considering a lead generation strategy for your law firm, you want to ask yourself these kinds of questions:

  • What kind of clients do I want?
  • Where can I find these clients on the web?
  • How can I attract these clients to my firm?

By addressing these questions, you can start to develop your own methods to finding clients that you prefer to work with. Remember, this is your business which means you ultimately decide which types of clients you choose to work with or not.

What Kind of Clients Do You Want?

Let’s start here. Do you even know what kind of clients you prefer working with?

You probably don’t enjoy taking on clients that add more stress and more work than is needed. Perhaps if you’re in a desperate situation, you may accept these clients because you need the cash. But, you know if you continue doing so, you’re going to burn out.

Instead, take a moment to determine who you enjoy working with and what specific cases you handle best.

If you’re depending on the internet to find almost all of your clients, you have to be prepared that people are going to be “shopping around” for the lowest rates. Nonetheless, that’s not to say you can’t find quality clients online, it’ll just take a bit of effort and testing to find.

Now, before you keep reading, ask yourself this: was there ever a client you would rather not work with?

Where Will You Find Your Clients?

Your prospective clients are likely a few clicks away from stepping into your office to get their legal struggles solved.

You should be aware that search engines receive a lot of queries from people looking for solutions to their legal problems. Some common search entries may be:

  • [Lawyer Type] + [Location]
  • [Lawyer Type] + Fees
  • Cheap/Affordable Lawyers + [Location]

Often, you can design your website in a way to attract these searcher to your website. This is the process of SEO and you can find more information about that kind of strategy for your law firm here.

Knowing where your clients are spending much of their time online can be difficult if you’re not familiar with the web. However, social media (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn), are great places to start targeting specific groups of people who may be in need of your legal expertise.

Ideally, you should have your website listed on as many local directories as possible as well as search around to find niche locations where people may be search for a lawyer.

For the solo lawyer doing all the marketing yourself, you may want to consider these marketing ideas coming next (these ideas also apply to lawyers and law firms of any size).

How Will You Attract Those Clients?

Are you familiar with the term bounce rate? It wasn’t defined above however it refers to the amount of people who visit your website then leave right away.

This happens because the content or information on your website and landing pages aren’t fulfilling the need that people were looking for.

In order to attract more clients to your firm, you’ll have to test a few different strategies to see what works and discard what doesn’t work from your marketing methods. Here’s a few strategies you can consider to start generating more leads:

Strategy #1: Compelling Landing Pages

If you’re running a PPC campaign, you’ll want to make sure your marketing dollars are getting you the biggest return possible.

The best way to ensure you don’t waste all your money is making sure the keywords you use in your ads is congruent with the message on your landing page.

If you think of your website in terms of a sales funnel, consider offering a free consultation. As you run your ads, target the immediate needs of people thinking about divorce, those recently in a car accident, or a new business in need of copyright protection.

You should understand the fundamentals of keyword research to know which words people are using to serve better ads. As well, you should create ads that not only look good but remain consistent to the overall message.

Then, when people start are arriving to your landing page, use a strong and compelling message that gets them to sign up to an email list, send a message to your firm, or to call you right away.

Strategy #2: Helpful Videos

Are you Camera Shy? Hopefully, not.

Offering a helpful video, especially with your expertise in your area of practice, can allow you to make stronger connections and build better trust online.

Let’s face it, a few words on a screen may not be the icing on the cake when it comes to choosing a person who’s going to help a dire situation or prevent someone from going to jail.

Instead, videos allow you to reveal your personality and send a direct message to those considering a lawyer in their community. Take a look at this lawyer who takes a camera to his office and capturing his entire day:

Strategy #3: Offer Free Information

You’ll see this strategy used a lot of online services. They create a free piece of valuable content, host it on their website, then give it away for free in exchange for someone’s contact information.
As a lawyer, you know there’s all kind of questions people have about their legal situations. For example:

  • Those going through divorce want to know what rights they have, the risks involved, and the possible outcomes to their situation if they and their spouse can’t come to an agreement.
  • In the business world, copyright infringement can ruin a business. People want to know how they can protect their creative intelligence and what kind of legal action they can take if their ideas are stolen.
  • Some people experiencing a traumatic event may not know what actions to take in their situation.

This list can go on and on, however, the point here is to create some valuable content that addresses these common concerns. Consider creating a short ebook that addresses them and creating a dedicated landing page to make the exchange.

You can then follow the same idea from above where you use the emails collected to send more content, offers, and information about your legal services.

Quick Warning About Lead Generation

If you ever consider hiring someone to help with your lead generation, there are a few things you should consider before you do. These services may offer pay-per-lead or pay-per-click vendors. However, you have to watch out because you can get a lot of leads (i.e. emails, phone numbers, etc.) but they may not be interested in your business.

In case you want to go ahead and use these services, consider these lawyer specific pay-per-lead services:

Please do your own due diligence before using any of these services. We do not endorse nor receive payment from these services. These are just a few of the available PPC and PPL services you can use for your firm. Results will very and should always be measured for cost effectiveness.