4 local SEO hacks lawyers can use to rank #1 in Google My Business

Local SEO should be a focus for attorneys because most of the time people don’t look for legal services outside of their geographic location. Unfortunately, this often results in many firms fighting for visibility within a limited amount of online real estate.

You can be sure that your competition is constantly working to outrank you in search, so here are 4 essential tactics you can use to help increase your rankings.

1. Get a GMB (Google My Business profile)

Google dominates location-based search (mostly because they dominate search in general). If you haven’t claimed your GMB profile, which stands for Google My Business – also known as the local 3 pack – then you’re working at a major disadvantage. GMB profiles are some of the first organic listings people see when searching for law firms.

By default, many firms already have a GMB profile created by Google. Walk through the following process to claim it:

  1. Search for your firm in Google
  2. When you see the Knowledge Graph card for your firm, click on the ‘Are you the owner?’ link near the bottom.
  3. Start the process of verifying the firm’s ownership.

Note that Google will want you to verify ownership in one of two ways – either by phone or through regular mail. Typically, firms that have had a physical address for a long time and/or a more robust web presence will choose the phone option.

Once you’ve verified ownership, you can edit your GMB profile.

2. Add images to your GMB profile

Above all else, make sure your GMB profile is complete and contains accurate and consistent contact information. Beyond that, adding as many images as possible of your firm can help it rank far better in the local 3 pack.

In many cases, we’ve seen a correlation between higher rankings and having a significant number of photos in a GMB profile. By significant, we mean 20, 30, 40 photos or more. That may seem challenging for a law firm, but it’s okay to get creative.

Here are some image ideas to get you started:

  • show your offices (both inside and out)
  • show your team, partners, and yourself
  • describe the areas of law that you practice
  • show your logo
  • include tag lines, quotes, or other marketing messages

It doesn’t matter what the images are, as long as they are somewhat relevant to your firm or the areas of law you practice.

3. Onsite optimization: Adjusting website elements

Onsite SEO (the things done to your website structure to make it rank well) is one of the most meaningful tasks you can do to achieve good local rankings.

Start with a location-based page: Create a location-based page for the keyword phrases you want to rank for. An example could be ‘personal injury lawyer Philadelphia’ or ‘Detroit car accident attorney.’ Here are some tips:

  • Include the location in the copy of the page
  • Include the keyword phrase in the title, the headings, meta description and URL of the page
  • Include the keyword as an image file name of any images on the page
  • Include the keyword in any alt attributes of images on the page

Add NAP (name, address, phone number) to the header: Your firm’s name, address and phone number should be on the header of every page, but especially on location-based pages or pages that link to your GMB profile. This should also be the same information used in other listings around the web. Make sure it’s all consistent.

Improve page load time: If the page doesn’t load in less than a few seconds, improve the page speed. Leveraging technologies like AMP pages can significantly improve page-load time.

Substantial content: Include a lot of useful content on your pages. There’s no rule of thumb, but articles longer than 500 words is a good start. Do a search using the keyword phrase you want to rank for and look at what your competition is doing. See how much and what kind of content is on their pages and how it’s framed.

4. Citation signals: Mentions of your firm name across the internet

Along with the other tactics mentioned in this article, building citations is one of the most influential strategies for ranking well in local search. Citations are just mentions of your firm’s name on other websites such as directories, social media profiles, business listing websites, and data aggregators.

You can fill out profiles on your own or use a tool like Yext, which is a powerful citation-building tool. A subscription costs about $399 for a year; in return, Yext will disseminate your firm’s name, address, phone number and other information across hundreds of prominent websites.

Best of all, any changes you need to make can be done once, through one interface. The changes will be pushed to all the other sites online via Yext.

In addition to Yext, attorneys should seek out legal industry-specific directory listings. One of the most influential profiles to claim is your Avvo profile. These listings carry a lot of authority in search and often rank first for various practice area keyword phrases.

Building citations like this help create a consistent online presence for your firm. And according to Moz’s annual study of local search ranking factors, consistency is a huge ranking factor in local search.

Many attorneys serve local markets, so performing tasks like these on your web presence can help you rank on page one for relevant keyword phrases. The more you increase your visibility in local search, the more client leads you will obtain.

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Local SEO should be a focus for attorneys because most of the time people don’t look for legal services outside of their geographic location. Unfortunately, this often results in many firms fighting for visibility within a limited amount of online real estate.

You can be sure that your competition is constantly working to outrank you in search, so here are 4 essential tactics you can use to help increase your rankings.

1. Get a GMB (Google My Business profile)

Google dominates location-based search (mostly because they dominate search in general). If you haven’t claimed your GMB profile, which stands for Google My Business – also known as the local 3 pack – then you’re working at a major disadvantage. GMB profiles are some of the first organic listings people see when searching for law firms.

By default, many firms already have a GMB profile created by Google. Walk through the following process to claim it:

  1. Search for your firm in Google
  2. When you see the Knowledge Graph card for your firm, click on the ‘Are you the owner?’ link near the bottom.
  3. Start the process of verifying the firm’s ownership.

Note that Google will want you to verify ownership in one of two ways – either by phone or through regular mail. Typically, firms that have had a physical address for a long time and/or a more robust web presence will choose the phone option.

Once you’ve verified ownership, you can edit your GMB profile.

2. Add images to your GMB profile

Above all else, make sure your GMB profile is complete and contains accurate and consistent contact information. Beyond that, adding as many images as possible of your firm can help it rank far better in the local 3 pack.

In many cases, we’ve seen a correlation between higher rankings and having a significant number of photos in a GMB profile. By significant, we mean 20, 30, 40 photos or more. That may seem challenging for a law firm, but it’s okay to get creative.

Here are some image ideas to get you started:

  • show your offices (both inside and out)
  • show your team, partners, and yourself
  • describe the areas of law that you practice
  • show your logo
  • include tag lines, quotes, or other marketing messages

It doesn’t matter what the images are, as long as they are somewhat relevant to your firm or the areas of law you practice.

3. Onsite optimization: Adjusting website elements

Onsite SEO (the things done to your website structure to make it rank well) is one of the most meaningful tasks you can do to achieve good local rankings.

Start with a location-based page: Create a location-based page for the keyword phrases you want to rank for. An example could be ‘personal injury lawyer Philadelphia’ or ‘Detroit car accident attorney.’ Here are some tips:

  • Include the location in the copy of the page
  • Include the keyword phrase in the title, the headings, meta description and URL of the page
  • Include the keyword as an image file name of any images on the page
  • Include the keyword in any alt attributes of images on the page

Add NAP (name, address, phone number) to the header: Your firm’s name, address and phone number should be on the header of every page, but especially on location-based pages or pages that link to your GMB profile. This should also be the same information used in other listings around the web. Make sure it’s all consistent.

Improve page load time: If the page doesn’t load in less than a few seconds, improve the page speed. Leveraging technologies like AMP pages can significantly improve page-load time.

Substantial content: Include a lot of useful content on your pages. There’s no rule of thumb, but articles longer than 500 words is a good start. Do a search using the keyword phrase you want to rank for and look at what your competition is doing. See how much and what kind of content is on their pages and how it’s framed.

4. Citation signals: Mentions of your firm name across the internet

Along with the other tactics mentioned in this article, building citations is one of the most influential strategies for ranking well in local search. Citations are just mentions of your firm’s name on other websites such as directories, social media profiles, business listing websites, and data aggregators.

You can fill out profiles on your own or use a tool like Yext, which is a powerful citation-building tool. A subscription costs about $399 for a year; in return, Yext will disseminate your firm’s name, address, phone number and other information across hundreds of prominent websites.

Best of all, any changes you need to make can be done once, through one interface. The changes will be pushed to all the other sites online via Yext.

In addition to Yext, attorneys should seek out legal industry-specific directory listings. One of the most influential profiles to claim is your Avvo profile. These listings carry a lot of authority in search and often rank first for various practice area keyword phrases.

Building citations like this help create a consistent online presence for your firm. And according to Moz’s annual study of local search ranking factors, consistency is a huge ranking factor in local search.

Many attorneys serve local markets, so performing tasks like these on your web presence can help you rank on page one for relevant keyword phrases. The more you increase your visibility in local search, the more client leads you will obtain.

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here

Lawyernomics 2017 Day 2 recap: How to be an entrepreneur, a lawyer, and a therapist for stressed out clients

In today’s online, demand-driven economy, understanding how to place the right bets on yourself and your practice is an important tool to have in your toolkit. The second day of Lawyernomics 2017 focused on what it means to be an entrepreneur in a changing industry, how to position your brand across platforms, and how to best support clients who are in a stressful legal situation.

Betting big in business

Las Vegas is about a lot of things, from hospitality, gambling, to entertainment, but at the heart of it, the city is really about people aspiring for a better tomorrow. And part of achieving that success, according to Tom Breitling, serial entrepreneur and author, is about taking risk and placing bets on yourself and your business. Here are a few ways you can leverage the Breitling mindset:

  1. Listen to customers. If you listen to your customers, they will give you the answers you need to build a successful business. Listen to what they want; don’t tell them what you think they need.
  2. Trust your partners – and your lawyers. Surround yourself with people you trust to help build your business. Without trust, success becomes much more challenging to achieve.
  3. Not every bet pays off, but don’t be afraid of failure. Losses can feel like a punch to the gut. But failure is a fact of life, and experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted – and that experience is important.

The future of law in 30 minutes: three dynamic speakers share their vision for our profession in 6 minutes each

In six minutes and exactly 20 slides each, three speakers presented their argument for why what they contribute to the legal industry will help shape law in a positive way. Dan Lear, Director of Industry Relations at Avvo, encouraged attendees to take off their lawyer hats and listen to these visions of the future.

  1. Andrew Arruda on Artificial Intelligence. While many might think that AI is new, it’s actually been around for decades – and it’s not about robots. It’s software that is built to help human perform tasks more efficiently (in other words, your career is safe).
  2. Vanessa Vasquez de Lara on working to live, not living to work. You can design your firm to work for you if you are intentional about your life and work goals. If you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail. “My priorities are my family and vacations,” said Vanessa. “I take the time to plan and create the firm to allow me the time to do those things.” And make sure you hire the right people to help you – don’t spend your time on non-lawyer work.
  3. Nicole Abboud on how Millennials think. Growing you network online is a matter of deciding which neighborhoods you want to live in: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then, you can become a great neighbor by posting useful content to those who live next door.

In the hot seat: understanding how client stress can help grow your business

People with legal problems are stressed out. And stress makes people behave in ways they normally don’t, impairing their ability to think clearly. While this isn’t exactly new news for lawyers, the fact that you can help mitigate stress for your clients might be. Here are a few tips from Nika Kabiri, Director of Strategic Insights at Avvo:

  1. Communicate with your clients in a way that reduces stress. Provide them with clear information about what to expect from you and the legal process – and explain how you will help them resolve their legal issue.
  2. Understand that your clients may not remember things. Stress makes people forgetful. Repeat what you’ve told them both in-person, via email, and over the phone.
  3. Tell your clients what the final bill will be when possible. Seventy-seven percent of legal consumers worry about the price. Offering unbundled services or flat-rate billing can help alleviate this stress.

Reboot your law practice – you can learn to have a successful law practice

The legal industry is evolving and changing every day, making it challenging to be sure you’re staying in front of your target audience. Scott Limmer, lawyer and host of Reboot Your Law Practice podcast, explained how attorneys can stay relevant and thrive.

  1. Do a market evaluation. Understand how many potential clients there are versus how many lawyers are in your practice area and geography. This will help you pinpoint your market opportunity and business objectives.
  2. Learn how to be more efficient and productive. Evaluate your daily work and prioritize it by what tools you have available to do that work (do you have some down time in court and can write a quick blog post?), time available (is 30 minutes enough?), and energy reserves to complete the task. Check out The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It and Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business for additional tips and tricks.
  3. Make sure you are acting as the CEO of your business. Create a business plan so that you have a clear vision of where you are going. Understand where you acquire your clients, where your time is being spent, and evaluate your income and expenses. You can and should hire help if you need it, just make sure you are in charge. It’s your business.

Betting on your brand

As a frequent legal commentator on local and national news stations including Fox News and CNN, and a regular contributor to Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog and industry publications, Jennifer Brandt, Co-Chair Family Law Department at Cozen O’Connor, has honed a successful brand as a thought leader and family law expert. She discussed the importance of building a brand as part of your overall marketing plan, and offered a few starting tips to help frame your personal and practice brand (s):

  1. Branding works best when we stay true to our authentic selves. Think about your best qualities and develop them. Understand the competition bud don’t feel compelled to copy. Clearly define your goals – where do you want to go?
  2. The relationships between brands and people needs to be made and remade. Reinforce what established the relationship in the first place, what attracted people to your brand, and make sure you stay true to that and your audience. You are often your business.
  3. Don’t let your bio get stale. Everything that you do, update your bio, your profile, your blog. Link your social profiles together when you have something to share – an event you’re attending, a speaking engagement, a new case – and give your clients and community a holistic view of what you offer at all times, from whatever platform they find you on.

Refine your LinkedIn message; communicate your personal and firm’s brand

As clients, lawyers, and other professionals all use LinkedIn to connect with other business-minded professionals, leveraging this social networking platform can have excellent benefits for your business growth. Marc W. Halpert, LinkedIn Trainer and Evangelist, shared tips for how to best optimize and manage their personal profile page whilst keeping branding and professional networking in mind:

  1. You are never a finished product. Always be evolving, learning, and innovating. There are always new ideas to adopt into your law practice, and you never know where these new things will take you.
  2. Know why you do what you do, and how your qualifications help your clients hire you. Your past determines your present, and your present determines your future. The skillset and value proposition you offer today will follow you into the future. You are in command of your future – it will offer you new opportunities when you tell why you and the skills and values you possess propel you.
  3. Be mindful of the words and headshot you use on your profile. Mix it up. Say what you need to say in your summaries on profiles, and make sure your photo communicates what you want your clients to think of you. Change up your language every once in a while. Share the why of what you do – convey your experience, passion, and what you’ll do for them.

Pro tip for LinkedIn – turn off your notification settings. You may not want all of your updates to be captured.

The report cards you never see

With an increasingly competitive market, it’s essential for lawyers to understand how their clients assess their performance so that they can maximize the generation of new business. Rob Thomas, VP Sales at Latitude Connect, walked us through actionable steps to ensure that you successfully serve and retain your clients:

  1. Adopt a satisfaction strategy. Send updates, minimize surprises. Provide status on a regular basis to reinforce value-adds. Discuss evaluation process. Understand rating system and ask for feedback.
  2. Keep correspondence simple for your clients. Be clear and concise in your communications with clients, whether it’s over email, on the phone, etc. Keep the contents down to tasks, meetings, decisions, and documents.
  3. Set realistic expectations. If you’re being judged on the criterion, make sure you’re a part of the process. Clarify value added. Explain challenges, quantify outcomes, share lessons learned.

Thank you for a fantastic Lawyernomics 2017! We enjoyed the past couple of days with all of the amazing attorney and sponsors who were able to make it to Las Vegas this year. Mark your calendars now for May 21 – 23, 2018, when Lawyernomics will take place at the Venetian Las Vegas.

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

In today’s online, demand-driven economy, understanding how to place the right bets on yourself and your practice is an important tool to have in your toolkit. The second day of Lawyernomics 2017 focused on what it means to be an entrepreneur in a changing industry, how to position your brand across platforms, and how to best support clients who are in a stressful legal situation.

Betting big in business

Las Vegas is about a lot of things, from hospitality, gambling, to entertainment, but at the heart of it, the city is really about people aspiring for a better tomorrow. And part of achieving that success, according to Tom Breitling, serial entrepreneur and author, is about taking risk and placing bets on yourself and your business. Here are a few ways you can leverage the Breitling mindset:

  1. Listen to customers. If you listen to your customers, they will give you the answers you need to build a successful business. Listen to what they want; don’t tell them what you think they need.
  2. Trust your partners – and your lawyers. Surround yourself with people you trust to help build your business. Without trust, success becomes much more challenging to achieve.
  3. Not every bet pays off, but don’t be afraid of failure. Losses can feel like a punch to the gut. But failure is a fact of life, and experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted – and that experience is important.

The future of law in 30 minutes: three dynamic speakers share their vision for our profession in 6 minutes each

In six minutes and exactly 20 slides each, three speakers presented their argument for why what they contribute to the legal industry will help shape law in a positive way. Dan Lear, Director of Industry Relations at Avvo, encouraged attendees to take off their lawyer hats and listen to these visions of the future.

  1. Andrew Arruda on Artificial Intelligence. While many might think that AI is new, it’s actually been around for decades – and it’s not about robots. It’s software that is built to help human perform tasks more efficiently (in other words, your career is safe).
  2. Vanessa Vasquez de Lara on working to live, not living to work. You can design your firm to work for you if you are intentional about your life and work goals. If you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail. “My priorities are my family and vacations,” said Vanessa. “I take the time to plan and create the firm to allow me the time to do those things.” And make sure you hire the right people to help you – don’t spend your time on non-lawyer work.
  3. Nicole Abboud on how Millennials think. Growing you network online is a matter of deciding which neighborhoods you want to live in: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then, you can become a great neighbor by posting useful content to those who live next door.

In the hot seat: understanding how client stress can help grow your business

People with legal problems are stressed out. And stress makes people behave in ways they normally don’t, impairing their ability to think clearly. While this isn’t exactly new news for lawyers, the fact that you can help mitigate stress for your clients might be. Here are a few tips from Nika Kabiri, Director of Strategic Insights at Avvo:

  1. Communicate with your clients in a way that reduces stress. Provide them with clear information about what to expect from you and the legal process – and explain how you will help them resolve their legal issue.
  2. Understand that your clients may not remember things. Stress makes people forgetful. Repeat what you’ve told them both in-person, via email, and over the phone.
  3. Tell your clients what the final bill will be when possible. Seventy-seven percent of legal consumers worry about the price. Offering unbundled services or flat-rate billing can help alleviate this stress.

Reboot your law practice – you can learn to have a successful law practice

The legal industry is evolving and changing every day, making it challenging to be sure you’re staying in front of your target audience. Scott Limmer, lawyer and host of Reboot Your Law Practice podcast, explained how attorneys can stay relevant and thrive.

  1. Do a market evaluation. Understand how many potential clients there are versus how many lawyers are in your practice area and geography. This will help you pinpoint your market opportunity and business objectives.
  2. Learn how to be more efficient and productive. Evaluate your daily work and prioritize it by what tools you have available to do that work (do you have some down time in court and can write a quick blog post?), time available (is 30 minutes enough?), and energy reserves to complete the task. Check out The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It and Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business for additional tips and tricks.
  3. Make sure you are acting as the CEO of your business. Create a business plan so that you have a clear vision of where you are going. Understand where you acquire your clients, where your time is being spent, and evaluate your income and expenses. You can and should hire help if you need it, just make sure you are in charge. It’s your business.

Betting on your brand

As a frequent legal commentator on local and national news stations including Fox News and CNN, and a regular contributor to Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog and industry publications, Jennifer Brandt, Co-Chair Family Law Department at Cozen O’Connor, has honed a successful brand as a thought leader and family law expert. She discussed the importance of building a brand as part of your overall marketing plan, and offered a few starting tips to help frame your personal and practice brand (s):

  1. Branding works best when we stay true to our authentic selves. Think about your best qualities and develop them. Understand the competition bud don’t feel compelled to copy. Clearly define your goals – where do you want to go?
  2. The relationships between brands and people needs to be made and remade. Reinforce what established the relationship in the first place, what attracted people to your brand, and make sure you stay true to that and your audience. You are often your business.
  3. Don’t let your bio get stale. Everything that you do, update your bio, your profile, your blog. Link your social profiles together when you have something to share – an event you’re attending, a speaking engagement, a new case – and give your clients and community a holistic view of what you offer at all times, from whatever platform they find you on.

Refine your LinkedIn message; communicate your personal and firm’s brand

As clients, lawyers, and other professionals all use LinkedIn to connect with other business-minded professionals, leveraging this social networking platform can have excellent benefits for your business growth. Marc W. Halpert, LinkedIn Trainer and Evangelist, shared tips for how to best optimize and manage their personal profile page whilst keeping branding and professional networking in mind:

  1. You are never a finished product. Always be evolving, learning, and innovating. There are always new ideas to adopt into your law practice, and you never know where these new things will take you.
  2. Know why you do what you do, and how your qualifications help your clients hire you. Your past determines your present, and your present determines your future. The skillset and value proposition you offer today will follow you into the future. You are in command of your future – it will offer you new opportunities when you tell why you and the skills and values you possess propel you.
  3. Be mindful of the words and headshot you use on your profile. Mix it up. Say what you need to say in your summaries on profiles, and make sure your photo communicates what you want your clients to think of you. Change up your language every once in a while. Share the why of what you do – convey your experience, passion, and what you’ll do for them.

Pro tip for LinkedIn – turn off your notification settings. You may not want all of your updates to be captured.

The report cards you never see

With an increasingly competitive market, it’s essential for lawyers to understand how their clients assess their performance so that they can maximize the generation of new business. Rob Thomas, VP Sales at Latitude Connect, walked us through actionable steps to ensure that you successfully serve and retain your clients:

  1. Adopt a satisfaction strategy. Send updates, minimize surprises. Provide status on a regular basis to reinforce value-adds. Discuss evaluation process. Understand rating system and ask for feedback.
  2. Keep correspondence simple for your clients. Be clear and concise in your communications with clients, whether it’s over email, on the phone, etc. Keep the contents down to tasks, meetings, decisions, and documents.
  3. Set realistic expectations. If you’re being judged on the criterion, make sure you’re a part of the process. Clarify value added. Explain challenges, quantify outcomes, share lessons learned.

Thank you for a fantastic Lawyernomics 2017! We enjoyed the past couple of days with all of the amazing attorney and sponsors who were able to make it to Las Vegas this year. Mark your calendars now for May 21 – 23, 2018, when Lawyernomics will take place at the Venetian Las Vegas.

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here

Shannon McNulty – Clifford Law Offices

Shannon McNulty - Clifford Law Offices
Shannon McNulty is a Partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois. She handles many complex litigation cases, in particular, class action lawsuits.

Learn more about Clifford Law Offices at http://www.cliffordlaw.com

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Shannon McNulty - Clifford Law Offices
Shannon McNulty is a Partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois. She handles many complex litigation cases, in particular, class action lawsuits.

Learn more about Clifford Law Offices at http://www.cliffordlaw.com

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here

Susan Capra – Medical Malpractice Lawyer and Partner at Clifford Law Offices

Susan Capra - Medical Malpractice Lawyer and Partner at Clifford Law Offices
Susan Capra is a Partner at Clifford Law Offices on the Medical Malpractice Legal Team at Clifford Law Offices. She is also a registered nurse. She has been a medical malpractice lawyer for 25 years, working with Bob Clifford.

Get the answers and justice you deserve. Contact Clifford Law Offices at http://www.cliffordlawoffices.com

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Susan Capra - Medical Malpractice Lawyer and Partner at Clifford Law Offices
Susan Capra is a Partner at Clifford Law Offices on the Medical Malpractice Legal Team at Clifford Law Offices. She is also a registered nurse. She has been a medical malpractice lawyer for 25 years, working with Bob Clifford.

Get the answers and justice you deserve. Contact Clifford Law Offices at http://www.cliffordlawoffices.com

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here

Robert Clifford – Founder and Senior Partner at Clifford Law Offices

Robert Clifford - Founder and Senior Partner at Clifford Law Offices
Bob Clifford is the Founder and Senior Partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois. http://www.cliffordlawoffices.com. He marked his 40th year as a personal injury attorney. He talks about the care, dedication, and expertise his firm brings to all cases to support the families and individuals they serve.

Contact Clifford Law Offices for representation on complex cases including aviation, medical malpractice and product liability.

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Robert Clifford - Founder and Senior Partner at Clifford Law Offices
Bob Clifford is the Founder and Senior Partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois. http://www.cliffordlawoffices.com. He marked his 40th year as a personal injury attorney. He talks about the care, dedication, and expertise his firm brings to all cases to support the families and individuals they serve.

Contact Clifford Law Offices for representation on complex cases including aviation, medical malpractice and product liability.

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here

FutureLaw 2017: Attention, emotion, and disintermediation

By far my favorite moment at Stanford Law School’s FutureLaw event was during the Dan Katz panel titled The Perils and Promise of Predictive Analytics in Law. Part of the reason that this write-up is so tardy is that I waited for CodeX to release the video of the panel so I could review it, react to it, and utilize all the juicy tidbits.

The panel focused on how data analytics and predictive technologies are shaping and will continue to shape the future of legal. It featured Dan Katz from Chicago Kent IIT Law School, Josh Becker CEO of Lex Machina, Gipsy Escobar from Measures for Justice, John Nay from Scopos Labs and Dera Nevin eDiscovery counsel at Proskauer Rose.

All the panelists were great (it’s no secret that I’ve long been a Dan Katz fanboy) but Dera Nevin blew me away. Using the themes of attention, emotion, and disintermediation, she gave specific and provocative examples of the legal system in the age of data.

Attention

Data analytics is bringing society’s collective attention and much-needed transparency to the algorithmic nature of law. As Dera put it:

Law is an algorithm, it’s an analog algorithm that is full of bugs and holes, but it is an algorithm. The opportunity in digitizing the legal system is to make our assumptions transparent and add bandwidth to generate more legal outcomes. We are in the dial-up era of our legal infrastructure. With greater bandwidth we can generate not only better but more legal outcomes.

The idea that the legal system can be represented in mathematical or programming terms is not new. The application of analytics to law will reduce what is otherwise perceived to be a complex unpredictable system with many possible outcomes to a more predictable one in which outcomes are mathematically represented. This reductive analysis will, in turn, expose the assumptions – good, bad, and arbitrary – that underpin our legal system.

Just as Dera suggested, knowledge of the underlying assumptions will not only improve our legal decision-making but also enable legal systems to scale in order to serve more people.

Emotion

Emotion also plays a central role in the legal system and legal decision-making whether cool, logic-driven lawyers want to admit it or not.

Lawyers play a critical role in the assisting clients in the legal decision-making process. Dera expertly explained that while law is an algorithm, law is experienced and perceived by the consuming public as a storytelling machine. The lawyer’s role is to assess the client need in light of the legal storytelling machine and determine what in the client’s situation needs enforcing and to what ends it should be enforced. A lawyer should help the client make that enforcement decision based on logical factors, not emotional ones. If for example, a client’s reason for wanting a divorce is a momentary frustration, not based upon a breakdown of trust and respect, then divorce may not be the client’s best option. The lawyer’s job is to use the transparency that data and analytics are creating so that individuals in the legal system understand when they are making a logic-based decision or an emotional-based decision. Emotional-based decisions don’t need to be deflected entirely. Instead, emotional-based decisions become inflection points for us as a society to make judgments about whether and how the legal system needs to change.

Dera concluded that the transparency of data analytics will make sorting logical and emotional decisions easier. Legal professionals of all types will be able to focus on changing the system in order to remedy injustices inherent in the system and scaling it to serve more people more effectively.

Disintermediation

Finally, disintermediation. Disintermediation, which means a reduction of use of intermediaries in given transaction of interaction, is frequently a scary term for lawyers. A disintermediated legal system means consumers interacting directly or more directly with the legal system without going through a lawyer. While data analytics has the potential to disintermediate the legal space by providing clients with information that may make the client less likely to hire a lawyer, it also presents an opportunity. While lawyers might be disintermediated by data, data presents new opportunities for lawyers to add value in new ways. One way is in being a counselor. Paraphrasing Dera:

Lawyers can counsel their clients about the prudence or likelihood of success of a given approach using data analytics because, as the old adage suggests, clients can be smart or they can be right and one is going to them more. There are situations, such a social justice, or areas in which a society is trying to stretch the law, when being right is important or the cost of not being right can be life-altering. In these cases the law should make a change despite the odds. There are cases where pursuing an expensive unlikely outcome due to an emotional reason, a business reason, a social reason, or even a process reason – a legitimate process reason – is the right thing to do. The availability of data analytics will help inform better decisions in these types of situations which will ultimately contribute to a better allocation of resources.

Another opportunity for lawyers in the age of data analytics will be asking questions. Again, paraphrasing Dera:

Law school trains law students to ask better questions. That will be a key skill in the future because while a computer may be able to “run” the legal algorithm it must first be asked a question. And, at least for the foreseeable future, computers will not have the ability to ask questions of clients in order to determine what the clients’ interest really is and whether what the client is saying is what they actually want. The risk of being a lawyer is that you implement exactly what the client says and it turns out that that’s not what the client wants. That’s why it’s both important for lawyers to hone the skill of asking questions and for algorithms to be built to be challenged (as noted above) so that clients can divert out in the event of a miscommunication between lawyer and client about what the client wants.

Finally, separate from the three themes Dera emphasized, the panel also responded to a question from the audience about how the legal system can create the same confidence in decisions driven by data analytics that judicial decisions enjoy. Again, Dera was spot on:

Humans will grow to accept data driven judicial decisions in the same way that humans have evolved to accept a judge. If you think about it, when you’re having a dispute with somebody why on earth would you go and have a man or woman and 12 random people you’ve never met to help you resolve it? It makes no sense but in the context of our society we have grown to accept it because those people – a jury of our peers and to a lesser extent the judge – reflect back to us stories about society that we believe to be true. And they accept our notion of social order the way we as a society understand it. The history of our law has consistently included a conversation – sometimes starting from the outside, sometimes from the inside – about why we believe those stories to be true. The data analytics revolution will be another example. Our society will have a new way of creating stories and because I believe in the plasticity of human imagination to adapt I believe we ultimately will accept this new way of telling societal stories.

Dera’s analysis was so compelling because it applied the emerging data analytics field to specific situations in the life of a practicing lawyer or client. And, while the work that all of the other panelists are doing is interesting and really important, whether and how data analytics plays out at the level of the everyday lawyer and everyday client may ultimately determine how the discipline is adopted in the legal sector more broadly.

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

By far my favorite moment at Stanford Law School’s FutureLaw event was during the Dan Katz panel titled The Perils and Promise of Predictive Analytics in Law. Part of the reason that this write-up is so tardy is that I waited for CodeX to release the video of the panel so I could review it, react to it, and utilize all the juicy tidbits.

The panel focused on how data analytics and predictive technologies are shaping and will continue to shape the future of legal. It featured Dan Katz from Chicago Kent IIT Law School, Josh Becker CEO of Lex Machina, Gipsy Escobar from Measures for Justice, John Nay from Scopos Labs and Dera Nevin eDiscovery counsel at Proskauer Rose.

All the panelists were great (it’s no secret that I’ve long been a Dan Katz fanboy) but Dera Nevin blew me away. Using the themes of attention, emotion, and disintermediation, she gave specific and provocative examples of the legal system in the age of data.

Attention

Data analytics is bringing society’s collective attention and much-needed transparency to the algorithmic nature of law. As Dera put it:

Law is an algorithm, it’s an analog algorithm that is full of bugs and holes, but it is an algorithm. The opportunity in digitizing the legal system is to make our assumptions transparent and add bandwidth to generate more legal outcomes. We are in the dial-up era of our legal infrastructure. With greater bandwidth we can generate not only better but more legal outcomes.

The idea that the legal system can be represented in mathematical or programming terms is not new. The application of analytics to law will reduce what is otherwise perceived to be a complex unpredictable system with many possible outcomes to a more predictable one in which outcomes are mathematically represented. This reductive analysis will, in turn, expose the assumptions – good, bad, and arbitrary – that underpin our legal system.

Just as Dera suggested, knowledge of the underlying assumptions will not only improve our legal decision-making but also enable legal systems to scale in order to serve more people.

Emotion

Emotion also plays a central role in the legal system and legal decision-making whether cool, logic-driven lawyers want to admit it or not.

Lawyers play a critical role in the assisting clients in the legal decision-making process. Dera expertly explained that while law is an algorithm, law is experienced and perceived by the consuming public as a storytelling machine. The lawyer’s role is to assess the client need in light of the legal storytelling machine and determine what in the client’s situation needs enforcing and to what ends it should be enforced. A lawyer should help the client make that enforcement decision based on logical factors, not emotional ones. If for example, a client’s reason for wanting a divorce is a momentary frustration, not based upon a breakdown of trust and respect, then divorce may not be the client’s best option. The lawyer’s job is to use the transparency that data and analytics are creating so that individuals in the legal system understand when they are making a logic-based decision or an emotional-based decision. Emotional-based decisions don’t need to be deflected entirely. Instead, emotional-based decisions become inflection points for us as a society to make judgments about whether and how the legal system needs to change.

Dera concluded that the transparency of data analytics will make sorting logical and emotional decisions easier. Legal professionals of all types will be able to focus on changing the system in order to remedy injustices inherent in the system and scaling it to serve more people more effectively.

Disintermediation

Finally, disintermediation. Disintermediation, which means a reduction of use of intermediaries in given transaction of interaction, is frequently a scary term for lawyers. A disintermediated legal system means consumers interacting directly or more directly with the legal system without going through a lawyer. While data analytics has the potential to disintermediate the legal space by providing clients with information that may make the client less likely to hire a lawyer, it also presents an opportunity. While lawyers might be disintermediated by data, data presents new opportunities for lawyers to add value in new ways. One way is in being a counselor. Paraphrasing Dera:

Lawyers can counsel their clients about the prudence or likelihood of success of a given approach using data analytics because, as the old adage suggests, clients can be smart or they can be right and one is going to them more. There are situations, such a social justice, or areas in which a society is trying to stretch the law, when being right is important or the cost of not being right can be life-altering. In these cases the law should make a change despite the odds. There are cases where pursuing an expensive unlikely outcome due to an emotional reason, a business reason, a social reason, or even a process reason – a legitimate process reason – is the right thing to do. The availability of data analytics will help inform better decisions in these types of situations which will ultimately contribute to a better allocation of resources.

Another opportunity for lawyers in the age of data analytics will be asking questions. Again, paraphrasing Dera:

Law school trains law students to ask better questions. That will be a key skill in the future because while a computer may be able to “run” the legal algorithm it must first be asked a question. And, at least for the foreseeable future, computers will not have the ability to ask questions of clients in order to determine what the clients’ interest really is and whether what the client is saying is what they actually want. The risk of being a lawyer is that you implement exactly what the client says and it turns out that that’s not what the client wants. That’s why it’s both important for lawyers to hone the skill of asking questions and for algorithms to be built to be challenged (as noted above) so that clients can divert out in the event of a miscommunication between lawyer and client about what the client wants.

Finally, separate from the three themes Dera emphasized, the panel also responded to a question from the audience about how the legal system can create the same confidence in decisions driven by data analytics that judicial decisions enjoy. Again, Dera was spot on:

Humans will grow to accept data driven judicial decisions in the same way that humans have evolved to accept a judge. If you think about it, when you’re having a dispute with somebody why on earth would you go and have a man or woman and 12 random people you’ve never met to help you resolve it? It makes no sense but in the context of our society we have grown to accept it because those people – a jury of our peers and to a lesser extent the judge – reflect back to us stories about society that we believe to be true. And they accept our notion of social order the way we as a society understand it. The history of our law has consistently included a conversation – sometimes starting from the outside, sometimes from the inside – about why we believe those stories to be true. The data analytics revolution will be another example. Our society will have a new way of creating stories and because I believe in the plasticity of human imagination to adapt I believe we ultimately will accept this new way of telling societal stories.

Dera’s analysis was so compelling because it applied the emerging data analytics field to specific situations in the life of a practicing lawyer or client. And, while the work that all of the other panelists are doing is interesting and really important, whether and how data analytics plays out at the level of the everyday lawyer and everyday client may ultimately determine how the discipline is adopted in the legal sector more broadly.

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyer Kevin Durkin

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyer Kevin Durkin
Kevin P. Durkin is a Partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois. He has been practicing personal injury and wrongful death law for over 25 years. Learn more about Kevin Durkin at: http://bit.ly/2qvntv3

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyer Kevin Durkin
Kevin P. Durkin is a Partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois. He has been practicing personal injury and wrongful death law for over 25 years. Learn more about Kevin Durkin at: http://bit.ly/2qvntv3

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here

How lawyers can help in response to Hurricane Harvey and DACA

Last week we saw devastation hit Houston due to Hurricane Harvey and this week the country is hit with news that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, is being terminated. Both of these events have left many people in need of legal assistance to rebuild and protect their lives as they know it. As lawyers, here is how you can help:

Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Last Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order that allows out-of-state lawyers to practice Pro Bono services in Texas temporarily for six months to assist with victims.

Lawyers can volunteer here: www.texasbar/attorneyvolunteer

If you can’t physically volunteer, consider donating to Texas Lone Star Legal Aid. During Hurricane Harvey, their Houston office caught fire and was greatly affected, yet they remain to work round the clock to help victims. Their work is needed now more than ever and will be for the months to come.

Lawyers can donate here: https://www.networkforgood.org/donation

End of DACA

On Tuesday, the President terminated DACA, providing Congress a 6-month window to enact legislation before enforcing the termination of Dreamers. To date, nearly 800,000 people have benefited from the DACA program that gives eligible immigrants a renewable two-year period of protection from deportation and a work permit.

This order has left many DACA program recipients with questions about what this means for them and legal steps they can and should take at this time. At Avvo, we created a free hotline to offer immediate, personalized guidance to those in need. Lawyers can help on Avvo by contributing answers to questions from DACA recipients in our Q&A and or donate to the pro-immigrant organizations below:

National Immigration Law Center: https://nilc.z2systems.com/np/clients/nilc/donation.jsp

Northwest Immigration Rights Project: https://www.nwirp.org/donate/

Know of other ways lawyers can get involved? Comment below and we’ll update the article as additional resources are made available.

 

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Last week we saw devastation hit Houston due to Hurricane Harvey and this week the country is hit with news that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, is being terminated. Both of these events have left many people in need of legal assistance to rebuild and protect their lives as they know it. As lawyers, here is how you can help:

Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Last Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order that allows out-of-state lawyers to practice Pro Bono services in Texas temporarily for six months to assist with victims.

Lawyers can volunteer here: www.texasbar/attorneyvolunteer

If you can’t physically volunteer, consider donating to Texas Lone Star Legal Aid. During Hurricane Harvey, their Houston office caught fire and was greatly affected, yet they remain to work round the clock to help victims. Their work is needed now more than ever and will be for the months to come.

Lawyers can donate here: https://www.networkforgood.org/donation

End of DACA

On Tuesday, the President terminated DACA, providing Congress a 6-month window to enact legislation before enforcing the termination of Dreamers. To date, nearly 800,000 people have benefited from the DACA program that gives eligible immigrants a renewable two-year period of protection from deportation and a work permit.

This order has left many DACA program recipients with questions about what this means for them and legal steps they can and should take at this time. At Avvo, we created a free hotline to offer immediate, personalized guidance to those in need. Lawyers can help on Avvo by contributing answers to questions from DACA recipients in our Q&A and or donate to the pro-immigrant organizations below:

National Immigration Law Center: https://nilc.z2systems.com/np/clients/nilc/donation.jsp

Northwest Immigration Rights Project: https://www.nwirp.org/donate/

Know of other ways lawyers can get involved? Comment below and we’ll update the article as additional resources are made available.

 

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here

Find Your Law Firm Niche

The first piece of advice you will find online about making money for your firm blogging, vlogging, etc to infinity is “Find Your Law firm niche.”

If you were anything like me, you thought, “I don’t have a law firm niche! I am a person. I have so many interests. How could I ever possibility narrow it down.”

Good news is: Once you find your particular style and brand, you don’t have to “limit yourself”. If an established marketing blogger wants to share an experience, then the experience will be shared.  Just with the flare or twist expected by readers.

Bad news is: you have to find your particular style and brand, aka “law firm niche”.

So, what is a law firm niche?

A law firm niche is your “thing”…your passion…your interest…as delivered in the persona that you develop toward the targeted audience you want to reach.

Step One: Decide Your Passion
If you want to run a successful blog/vlog/facebook/pinterest/etc, you need to be passionate about the topic.  You need to decide what topic you could easily talk about all day every day and still have more to say.  You need to be interested and excited about the topic!

I suggest writing down your expertise.  Then, decide if you are able or willing to write hundreds of words on the topic.  This may limit what you are willing to blog about.

Step Two: Determine Your Audience
Although anyone can access your blog, it is important to target your intended audience.  Who do you want reading your blog? Who do you want to connect with? What is your overall goal? Decide which demographics you want to reach and then determine if your topic will interest them.  Be honest about who you want to reach.

Step Three: Do Your Homework
Once you have determined your audience, you can start your blog.  It is recommended that you determine a posting schedule (*cough* something I clearly did not do *cough*) and create 3-5 blog posts to get started with before you even create your blog.  This will ensure that you hit the ground running.  You will get more subscribers and readers if you have regularly posted content.

Step Four: Review Your Goals, Content, Persona, and Audience
Before launching your blog or endeavor, take a step back and make sure your message and audience is targeted to reflect your persona.  Make adjustments as necessary.

That’s it.  You have found your law firm niche AND you have started your journey on the road to a successful law blog that helps your successful practice.

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

The first piece of advice you will find online about making money for your firm blogging, vlogging, etc to infinity is “Find Your Law firm niche.”

If you were anything like me, you thought, “I don’t have a law firm niche! I am a person. I have so many interests. How could I ever possibility narrow it down.”

Good news is: Once you find your particular style and brand, you don’t have to “limit yourself”. If an established marketing blogger wants to share an experience, then the experience will be shared.  Just with the flare or twist expected by readers.

Bad news is: you have to find your particular style and brand, aka “law firm niche”.

So, what is a law firm niche?

A law firm niche is your “thing”…your passion…your interest…as delivered in the persona that you develop toward the targeted audience you want to reach.

Step One: Decide Your Passion
If you want to run a successful blog/vlog/facebook/pinterest/etc, you need to be passionate about the topic.  You need to decide what topic you could easily talk about all day every day and still have more to say.  You need to be interested and excited about the topic!

I suggest writing down your expertise.  Then, decide if you are able or willing to write hundreds of words on the topic.  This may limit what you are willing to blog about.

Step Two: Determine Your Audience
Although anyone can access your blog, it is important to target your intended audience.  Who do you want reading your blog? Who do you want to connect with? What is your overall goal? Decide which demographics you want to reach and then determine if your topic will interest them.  Be honest about who you want to reach.

Step Three: Do Your Homework
Once you have determined your audience, you can start your blog.  It is recommended that you determine a posting schedule (*cough* something I clearly did not do *cough*) and create 3-5 blog posts to get started with before you even create your blog.  This will ensure that you hit the ground running.  You will get more subscribers and readers if you have regularly posted content.

Step Four: Review Your Goals, Content, Persona, and Audience
Before launching your blog or endeavor, take a step back and make sure your message and audience is targeted to reflect your persona.  Make adjustments as necessary.

That’s it.  You have found your law firm niche AND you have started your journey on the road to a successful law blog that helps your successful practice.

[Read More …]

Thank you for reading our blog here at Smith Kendall Law Firm

Originally seen here