Three Tips for New Law School Graduates

Three Tips for New Law School Graduates

Graduation from law school brings with it an odd combination of exhilaration and panic. The day-to-day grind of reading cases, preparing presentation briefs and mind-numbing examinations is finally over, and you have your degree. Before you can enjoy the moment for too long, you are hit with the reality of planning and starting a new career. If you are among those venturing into your own practice, here are three things you should not forget.

It’s a business

One of the biggest mistakes new attorneys make is giving away services. Lawyers make money by charging clients for their time and their legal expertise. Giving away advice or representing a friend for free might make you popular, but it won’t pay the rent on your office, cover your secretary’s salary or allow you to meet your other financial obligations.

Prepare a list of the services you provide and set prices for each of them. If you are unsure about what to charge, there are plenty of seasoned attorneys in your community willing to provide advice and guidance to a new lawyer.

Build your client base

Advertising and referrals are two methods for attracting new clients. Unfortunately, advertising costs money. Referrals, on the other hand, are free, but they require a bit of networking. Becoming active in community and business organizations and your local bar association provides opportunities for people get to know you and refer clients. It is also a good idea to take plenty of business cards with you when you attend meetings.

You don’t have to go it alone

Opening your own practice can be a lonely and overwhelming experience. The burden of making it a success is squarely on your shoulders, but there is help available for you. Speak to other attorneys about covering for each other when scheduling conflicts arise.

A common element in each of these tips has been taking the initiative to seek the help of  others when you need it. Your fellow attorneys were new and inexperienced at one stage in their careers, so they are  usually more than willing to become a resource of knowledge and guidance for a new lawyer.

-Dennis Masino

 

[Read More …]

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

Three Tips for New Law School Graduates

Graduation from law school brings with it an odd combination of exhilaration and panic. The day-to-day grind of reading cases, preparing presentation briefs and mind-numbing examinations is finally over, and you have your degree. Before you can enjoy the moment for too long, you are hit with the reality of planning and starting a new career. If you are among those venturing into your own practice, here are three things you should not forget.

It’s a business

One of the biggest mistakes new attorneys make is giving away services. Lawyers make money by charging clients for their time and their legal expertise. Giving away advice or representing a friend for free might make you popular, but it won’t pay the rent on your office, cover your secretary’s salary or allow you to meet your other financial obligations.

Prepare a list of the services you provide and set prices for each of them. If you are unsure about what to charge, there are plenty of seasoned attorneys in your community willing to provide advice and guidance to a new lawyer.

Build your client base

Advertising and referrals are two methods for attracting new clients. Unfortunately, advertising costs money. Referrals, on the other hand, are free, but they require a bit of networking. Becoming active in community and business organizations and your local bar association provides opportunities for people get to know you and refer clients. It is also a good idea to take plenty of business cards with you when you attend meetings.

You don’t have to go it alone

Opening your own practice can be a lonely and overwhelming experience. The burden of making it a success is squarely on your shoulders, but there is help available for you. Speak to other attorneys about covering for each other when scheduling conflicts arise.

A common element in each of these tips has been taking the initiative to seek the help of  others when you need it. Your fellow attorneys were new and inexperienced at one stage in their careers, so they are  usually more than willing to become a resource of knowledge and guidance for a new lawyer.

-Dennis Masino

 

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here

Five areas to focus on to deliver huge results in law firm SEO

Five areas to focus on to deliver huge results in law firm SEO

Most of the traditional strategies used for on-site law firm SEO at scale are simply not practicable. Due to the large scale nature of law firm sites, traditional SEO may be simply time consuming and tiresome to make a number one priority. In addition to time commitment that would be needed for traditional SEO, law firm sites tend to present a one of a kind set of difficulties that require addressing. For instance, average websites that have anything under a few thousand URLs, crawl budget would not be an issue since these sites will generally be crawled systematically. For websites that have millions of URLs, crawl budget becomes vital for SEO. Having impeccable optimized pages is much less fundamental than ensuring all areas of practice are crawled and indexed by search engines.

Here are five areas for law firm SEO that can lead to powerful organic traffic and revenue growth:

Site indexation:
It is important to consider crawl budget for large scale law firm websites. All of the on-site optimization in the world will not aid your site if Googlebot and other crawlers are not finding your content in the first place.
There are a few strategies one can use to improve site indexation. You can review the number of 5xx serve errors your site returns in Google search console. This is important because a huge number of server errors or connection timeouts shows poor site health.

Another feature to review is your sitemaps. One has to make sure that your sitemaps are actively updated to reflect the arrival of new areas of practice and the termination of the old ones. Finally, one should review their practice criterions. Most law firm websites will have  criterions that allow site visitors to taper, sort or otherwise refine their  searches.

On-page copy for category pages:
Listing areas of practice on a  category page provides almost no exhibition of what that page ought to rank for on Google. Crawlers prefer to see textual HTML content on a page to aid comprehend what search outcomes the page should appear in.
Using a two paragraph description of the  category provides crawlers with indexable content which in turn gives you a much better opportunity of ranking in search results. It does not really matter if the content is at the peak or bottom of the page, as long as it is visible to users and crawlers. This strategy is the most suitable because for most websites it falls into the realm of possibility.

Main menu navigation:
Although main menu navigation is vital for internal linking and SEO in general, it takes on a re-established level of urgency for law firm websites. The pages pinpointed in your menu are the ones most possibly to be indexed and ranked in search outcomes mainly because that menu will appear across thousands of pages. The worth of internal linking in main menu navigation is boosted for law firm websites.

URL structure:
When it comes to URL structure, the best solution is to keep your items as close to the root folder as possible. Although it may feel more sensible to have your items several directories deep, you are not going to need to adopt that system.

Having longer URLs means that searchers do not get to see your actual item name until the end of the URL. Almost all sites have their actual item listing pages in one or two folders away from the root directory. It is okay to include longer framework strings after the item folder but ensure that item name is visible in the URL for search outcomes.

Implementing these five strategies will show some noticeable SEO progress for law firm customers. Law firm SEO can have powerful effects on your revenue, and the tactics above are the greatest ways of jump starting on that SEO progress.

–END OF THE ARTICLE–

[Read More …]

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

Five areas to focus on to deliver huge results in law firm SEO

Most of the traditional strategies used for on-site law firm SEO at scale are simply not practicable. Due to the large scale nature of law firm sites, traditional SEO may be simply time consuming and tiresome to make a number one priority. In addition to time commitment that would be needed for traditional SEO, law firm sites tend to present a one of a kind set of difficulties that require addressing. For instance, average websites that have anything under a few thousand URLs, crawl budget would not be an issue since these sites will generally be crawled systematically. For websites that have millions of URLs, crawl budget becomes vital for SEO. Having impeccable optimized pages is much less fundamental than ensuring all areas of practice are crawled and indexed by search engines.

Here are five areas for law firm SEO that can lead to powerful organic traffic and revenue growth:

Site indexation:
It is important to consider crawl budget for large scale law firm websites. All of the on-site optimization in the world will not aid your site if Googlebot and other crawlers are not finding your content in the first place.
There are a few strategies one can use to improve site indexation. You can review the number of 5xx serve errors your site returns in Google search console. This is important because a huge number of server errors or connection timeouts shows poor site health.

Another feature to review is your sitemaps. One has to make sure that your sitemaps are actively updated to reflect the arrival of new areas of practice and the termination of the old ones. Finally, one should review their practice criterions. Most law firm websites will have  criterions that allow site visitors to taper, sort or otherwise refine their  searches.

On-page copy for category pages:
Listing areas of practice on a  category page provides almost no exhibition of what that page ought to rank for on Google. Crawlers prefer to see textual HTML content on a page to aid comprehend what search outcomes the page should appear in.
Using a two paragraph description of the  category provides crawlers with indexable content which in turn gives you a much better opportunity of ranking in search results. It does not really matter if the content is at the peak or bottom of the page, as long as it is visible to users and crawlers. This strategy is the most suitable because for most websites it falls into the realm of possibility.

Main menu navigation:
Although main menu navigation is vital for internal linking and SEO in general, it takes on a re-established level of urgency for law firm websites. The pages pinpointed in your menu are the ones most possibly to be indexed and ranked in search outcomes mainly because that menu will appear across thousands of pages. The worth of internal linking in main menu navigation is boosted for law firm websites.

URL structure:
When it comes to URL structure, the best solution is to keep your items as close to the root folder as possible. Although it may feel more sensible to have your items several directories deep, you are not going to need to adopt that system.

Having longer URLs means that searchers do not get to see your actual item name until the end of the URL. Almost all sites have their actual item listing pages in one or two folders away from the root directory. It is okay to include longer framework strings after the item folder but ensure that item name is visible in the URL for search outcomes.

Implementing these five strategies will show some noticeable SEO progress for law firm customers. Law firm SEO can have powerful effects on your revenue, and the tactics above are the greatest ways of jump starting on that SEO progress.

–END OF THE ARTICLE–

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here

4 simple ways to increase your productivity as a lawyer

If you’re like most lawyers I know, life is coming at you faster than you can manage it. You feel busy but not necessarily productive. You’re thinking too much, juggling too much, and doing too much.

Before I became a law professor, I was a lawyer myself. A few years in the trenches left me overwhelmed and burnt out. I gave up my hobbies and began to think of my life in six-minute increments. After entering academia, I became a productivity nerd, devouring every resource imaginable on how to construct a healthier, happier, and more effective work life. I started a coaching program, Effective Lawyer, to share these resources with overwhelmed attorneys and save them up 20+ hours per month.

Here are four strategies you can implement right away to get started.

1. Calendar everything

A typical day in my life as an attorney went something like this:

  1. I get to the office determined to do work. I start writing a brief that’s due later in the week. This feels good. I’m getting real, actual work done.
  2. 20 minutes into my productive session, I get a phone call from a partner with a question. She asks me to pop into her office for a chat. I oblige, and we spend the next hour talking.
  3. I return to my office only to see the massive onslaught of email notifications. I decide to tackle my inbox instead of returning to that brief. While I’m diligently eliminating one email after another, a colleague pops into my office and asks, “Up for lunch?” “Sure,” I say. The day is long, and I can take care of the brief in the afternoon.
  4. The afternoon comes, and two meeting notices pop up in my schedule. I attend them, ignoring my inner disciplined voice that tells me that the brief is far more important than these meetings.
  5. It’s 5 pm. I’ve written only one page.

Looking back on this experience, I realize that I wasn’t being proactive enough to protect my time. When you’re in defensive mode, you’re reacting to other people’s agendas. You’re attending their meetings, tackling their to-do lists, and answering their questions.

You must protect your time. How? Calendar it. Do you have an important contract to draft? Carve out a 4-hour block on your calendar. And treat that time like a hearing date or a deposition. If someone asks you whether you’re free for a meeting during that block, the answer is a firm no. You’re unavailable.

Only the active protection of your time can yield the extraordinary progress you’re seeking.

2. Stop moving your pianos

Frank Sinatra’s tour schedule brought a new definition to the term “crazy.” Yet he managed to maintain his sanity and put out work that stood the test of time. He had one simple trick: He didn’t move his own pianos. He focused on his one unique ability: Singing. Everything else, he left to others.

Could Sinatra have become truly great if he were moving his own pianos, handling the lighting and staging, and hustling to sell his concert tickets? No. He focused on the essentials so he could bring out the best of himself.

Most lawyers that I work with move their own pianos. They’re so busy handling the minutiae of day-to-day life that they don’t have time to focus on the essentials and figure out the song that only they can play.

If something can be done 80 percent as well by someone else, delegate it. I use a virtual assistant on a daily basis, and I couldn’t be happier.

3. Batch similar tasks together

If you’re anything like me when I was in practice, you switch from writing to email to a phone call, back to writing, back to email…all in a span of 20 minutes. You can’t afford these constant interruptions. Depending on the research, each hit of distraction costs you anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes to completely regain your focus. This squirrel mode of working leaves you distracted, unfocused, and exhausted.

Instead, try batching similar tasks together. Write down the calls you need to make, and do them all at once. Where possible, schedule meetings back to back so that you’re not interrupted when you’re in deep work mode.

The idea of batch processing applies to email as well. There is no need to check email at 2:03 pm and again at 2:14 pm and again at 2:23 pm. You will survive and so will others who depend on you.

4. Eliminate distractions

Silicon Valley is spending billions of dollars to distract you and get you hooked on the latest technology. You can take small steps to resist these distractions.

Begin by disabling all email notifications. I’m still surprised to see how many lawyers haven’t switched off the default setting on their email program that notifies them of each incoming message. Even if you don’t respond to these emails, the email notification will linger in your brain and distract you from the far more important task you’re working on.

Do the same for your phone by disabling all notifications. It’s hard to get work done when Facebook, Twitter, and CNN news alerts are screaming their 100-decibel sirens for attention.

If you need help managing distractions, try the Freedom app, which works on your computer and mobile devices. Freedom allows you to block the entire Internet or only certain websites that are particularly distracting for you.

[Read More …]

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

If you’re like most lawyers I know, life is coming at you faster than you can manage it. You feel busy but not necessarily productive. You’re thinking too much, juggling too much, and doing too much.

Before I became a law professor, I was a lawyer myself. A few years in the trenches left me overwhelmed and burnt out. I gave up my hobbies and began to think of my life in six-minute increments. After entering academia, I became a productivity nerd, devouring every resource imaginable on how to construct a healthier, happier, and more effective work life. I started a coaching program, Effective Lawyer, to share these resources with overwhelmed attorneys and save them up 20+ hours per month.

Here are four strategies you can implement right away to get started.

1. Calendar everything

A typical day in my life as an attorney went something like this:

  1. I get to the office determined to do work. I start writing a brief that’s due later in the week. This feels good. I’m getting real, actual work done.
  2. 20 minutes into my productive session, I get a phone call from a partner with a question. She asks me to pop into her office for a chat. I oblige, and we spend the next hour talking.
  3. I return to my office only to see the massive onslaught of email notifications. I decide to tackle my inbox instead of returning to that brief. While I’m diligently eliminating one email after another, a colleague pops into my office and asks, “Up for lunch?” “Sure,” I say. The day is long, and I can take care of the brief in the afternoon.
  4. The afternoon comes, and two meeting notices pop up in my schedule. I attend them, ignoring my inner disciplined voice that tells me that the brief is far more important than these meetings.
  5. It’s 5 pm. I’ve written only one page.

Looking back on this experience, I realize that I wasn’t being proactive enough to protect my time. When you’re in defensive mode, you’re reacting to other people’s agendas. You’re attending their meetings, tackling their to-do lists, and answering their questions.

You must protect your time. How? Calendar it. Do you have an important contract to draft? Carve out a 4-hour block on your calendar. And treat that time like a hearing date or a deposition. If someone asks you whether you’re free for a meeting during that block, the answer is a firm no. You’re unavailable.

Only the active protection of your time can yield the extraordinary progress you’re seeking.

2. Stop moving your pianos

Frank Sinatra’s tour schedule brought a new definition to the term “crazy.” Yet he managed to maintain his sanity and put out work that stood the test of time. He had one simple trick: He didn’t move his own pianos. He focused on his one unique ability: Singing. Everything else, he left to others.

Could Sinatra have become truly great if he were moving his own pianos, handling the lighting and staging, and hustling to sell his concert tickets? No. He focused on the essentials so he could bring out the best of himself.

Most lawyers that I work with move their own pianos. They’re so busy handling the minutiae of day-to-day life that they don’t have time to focus on the essentials and figure out the song that only they can play.

If something can be done 80 percent as well by someone else, delegate it. I use a virtual assistant on a daily basis, and I couldn’t be happier.

3. Batch similar tasks together

If you’re anything like me when I was in practice, you switch from writing to email to a phone call, back to writing, back to email…all in a span of 20 minutes. You can’t afford these constant interruptions. Depending on the research, each hit of distraction costs you anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes to completely regain your focus. This squirrel mode of working leaves you distracted, unfocused, and exhausted.

Instead, try batching similar tasks together. Write down the calls you need to make, and do them all at once. Where possible, schedule meetings back to back so that you’re not interrupted when you’re in deep work mode.

The idea of batch processing applies to email as well. There is no need to check email at 2:03 pm and again at 2:14 pm and again at 2:23 pm. You will survive and so will others who depend on you.

4. Eliminate distractions

Silicon Valley is spending billions of dollars to distract you and get you hooked on the latest technology. You can take small steps to resist these distractions.

Begin by disabling all email notifications. I’m still surprised to see how many lawyers haven’t switched off the default setting on their email program that notifies them of each incoming message. Even if you don’t respond to these emails, the email notification will linger in your brain and distract you from the far more important task you’re working on.

Do the same for your phone by disabling all notifications. It’s hard to get work done when Facebook, Twitter, and CNN news alerts are screaming their 100-decibel sirens for attention.

If you need help managing distractions, try the Freedom app, which works on your computer and mobile devices. Freedom allows you to block the entire Internet or only certain websites that are particularly distracting for you.

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here

Negative SEO for lawyers: How to know if you’re a victim and how to fix It

Negative SEO is the act of performing spammy, unethical, or otherwise malicious optimization tactics on another person’s website. It consists of off-site tactics because the party doing it most likely does not have access to your website.

Negative SEO can be a major problem, especially in hyper-competitive industries like the legal vertical. Successful lawyers at some point or another have probably encountered negative SEO or know someone who has.

Ultimately, there is no foolproof way to stop someone who is intent on doing harm to your brand, but there are steps lawyers can take to be prepared.

Are you a target of negative SEO?

If you think you’ve been a victim of negative SEO – or just worried that you might be – it helps to understand why some lawyers get hit and others may not. This can also help you decide if it’s worth the time, energy, and cost to prepare.

Here are some of the top reasons why firms become victims of negative SEO:

  1. The firm is extremely successful: This is no surprise. Any time a firm becomes successful, it paints a target on its back (which is pretty much true for success in general).
  2. The firm has made an enemy: Think back to your past business dealings. Are any organizations or people who are angry with you? For some practice areas (criminal, personal injury, etc.), there may be too many to count.
  3. The firm is in a competitive practice area: Firms in personal injury law, criminal law, immigration and perhaps bankruptcy tend to face a lot of cutthroat competition, especially in major metropolitan areas. For attorneys in rural areas or those in practice areas like family law, contract law, estate law, etc., negative SEO may not be as prevalent a threat (and therefore not worth your time to monitor).

How can I tell if I’ve been hit?

Unfortunately, no Google tool or third-party alert system will tell you when someone is deploying negative SEO on your site.

Typically, this sort of behavior manifests itself in an eventual loss of rankings or, in more serious scenarios, a complete de-indexation of your site (a.k.a., removal of your domain from Google search).

It can take a trained eye to uncover a pattern of malicious behavior, but here are some red flags:

  • A rise in referring domains that you or your SEO company do not recognize or did not build.
  • A rise in very low-quality referring domains (spam sites, foreign sites, pornographic sites, and sites with low DR in general, are all red flags).
  • Negative reviews on GMB profiles or other web properties from people who were never clients.
  • Excessively duplicated content on other domains.
  • Attempts to gain access to your hosting provider’s server or your website files.

If you see one or more of these things, it does not automatically mean it’s negative SEO, but you should initiate further investigation.

Protect yourself from negative SEO

As we mentioned, there is no way to completely block people from doing bad things to your site, But you can always be prepared.

Set up Google webmaster tools

Google won’t send alerts that say “Negative SEO is happening”, but configuring your site on Google’s Search Console (which is free) can give you early warning of things like referring domains, manual penalties that may result from an excessive number of spammy links, and other issues with your site. Google will let you know if malicious files have been placed on your site, too.

Use Ahrefs to monitor your backlink profile

Ahrefs is a tool that lets you monitor the quantity and quality of inbound links pointed at your site. It’s not a real-time tool, but you will be able to tell day by day and week by week if someone is building bad links to your site. Ahrefs also offer a tool that makes preparing and submitting a disavow links request super-easy. A basic account costs a couple of hundred dollars a month.

Remove links ASAP

Spammy links are one of the most common forms of negative SEO, and also one of the most damaging. They can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove manually. You can, however, submit a file to Google with all of the bad links on your site, and ask Google to ignore those links in its ranking algorithm.

This request should be submitted as soon as the bad links are discovered. Of course, having site owners remove bad links manually is the best possible strategy for fixing the damage.  Also, keep in mind that the scope of the bad links should be large enough to warrant submitting a disavow links request.  Google is now more adept at devaluing bad links so the file submission may not always be necessary.

Point positive links at your site

Some say the best defense is a good offense. The more positive links you have pointing at your site – and the stronger your SEO – the harder it is for someone to knock it off the first page.

Conclusion

It’s important to point out that negative SEO is not something attorneys need to constantly worry about. It does happen, however, and it never hurts to keep an eye on things. But it is not a frequent occurrence. Knowing what to look for and catching violations early are the best ways to combat bad SEO behavior.

[Read More …]

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

Negative SEO is the act of performing spammy, unethical, or otherwise malicious optimization tactics on another person’s website. It consists of off-site tactics because the party doing it most likely does not have access to your website.

Negative SEO can be a major problem, especially in hyper-competitive industries like the legal vertical. Successful lawyers at some point or another have probably encountered negative SEO or know someone who has.

Ultimately, there is no foolproof way to stop someone who is intent on doing harm to your brand, but there are steps lawyers can take to be prepared.

Are you a target of negative SEO?

If you think you’ve been a victim of negative SEO – or just worried that you might be – it helps to understand why some lawyers get hit and others may not. This can also help you decide if it’s worth the time, energy, and cost to prepare.

Here are some of the top reasons why firms become victims of negative SEO:

  1. The firm is extremely successful: This is no surprise. Any time a firm becomes successful, it paints a target on its back (which is pretty much true for success in general).
  2. The firm has made an enemy: Think back to your past business dealings. Are any organizations or people who are angry with you? For some practice areas (criminal, personal injury, etc.), there may be too many to count.
  3. The firm is in a competitive practice area: Firms in personal injury law, criminal law, immigration and perhaps bankruptcy tend to face a lot of cutthroat competition, especially in major metropolitan areas. For attorneys in rural areas or those in practice areas like family law, contract law, estate law, etc., negative SEO may not be as prevalent a threat (and therefore not worth your time to monitor).

How can I tell if I’ve been hit?

Unfortunately, no Google tool or third-party alert system will tell you when someone is deploying negative SEO on your site.

Typically, this sort of behavior manifests itself in an eventual loss of rankings or, in more serious scenarios, a complete de-indexation of your site (a.k.a., removal of your domain from Google search).

It can take a trained eye to uncover a pattern of malicious behavior, but here are some red flags:

  • A rise in referring domains that you or your SEO company do not recognize or did not build.
  • A rise in very low-quality referring domains (spam sites, foreign sites, pornographic sites, and sites with low DR in general, are all red flags).
  • Negative reviews on GMB profiles or other web properties from people who were never clients.
  • Excessively duplicated content on other domains.
  • Attempts to gain access to your hosting provider’s server or your website files.

If you see one or more of these things, it does not automatically mean it’s negative SEO, but you should initiate further investigation.

Protect yourself from negative SEO

As we mentioned, there is no way to completely block people from doing bad things to your site, But you can always be prepared.

Set up Google webmaster tools

Google won’t send alerts that say “Negative SEO is happening”, but configuring your site on Google’s Search Console (which is free) can give you early warning of things like referring domains, manual penalties that may result from an excessive number of spammy links, and other issues with your site. Google will let you know if malicious files have been placed on your site, too.

Use Ahrefs to monitor your backlink profile

Ahrefs is a tool that lets you monitor the quantity and quality of inbound links pointed at your site. It’s not a real-time tool, but you will be able to tell day by day and week by week if someone is building bad links to your site. Ahrefs also offer a tool that makes preparing and submitting a disavow links request super-easy. A basic account costs a couple of hundred dollars a month.

Remove links ASAP

Spammy links are one of the most common forms of negative SEO, and also one of the most damaging. They can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove manually. You can, however, submit a file to Google with all of the bad links on your site, and ask Google to ignore those links in its ranking algorithm.

This request should be submitted as soon as the bad links are discovered. Of course, having site owners remove bad links manually is the best possible strategy for fixing the damage.  Also, keep in mind that the scope of the bad links should be large enough to warrant submitting a disavow links request.  Google is now more adept at devaluing bad links so the file submission may not always be necessary.

Point positive links at your site

Some say the best defense is a good offense. The more positive links you have pointing at your site – and the stronger your SEO – the harder it is for someone to knock it off the first page.

Conclusion

It’s important to point out that negative SEO is not something attorneys need to constantly worry about. It does happen, however, and it never hurts to keep an eye on things. But it is not a frequent occurrence. Knowing what to look for and catching violations early are the best ways to combat bad SEO behavior.

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here

Video: Designing your Law Firm to Work for You [Lawyernomics 2018]

attorney shaking hands with client

As a criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, Erin Gerstenzang knows that lawyers don’t always have control over the facts of the case, or even the results. But what every lawyer can control is the experience every client has with their firm. By shifting the focus to the client experience and embracing technology to streamline day-to-day office functions, lawyers can still deliver for their clients and bring in new business without necessarily winning every single case.

Watch Erin’s full presentation, Designing your Law Firm to Work For You, here:

Gerstenzang discovered this when she decided to leave a large, established law firm and venture out on her own. She knew she didn’t have time for the standard practices of old. She had to embrace new technology, and make every part of the client-lawyer relationship as simple and stress-free as possible for everyone involved.

“What I can control is the experience you have with my firm,” Gerstenzang says. “Consumers have changed, they know what a good experience is and are willing to pay for it.”

For lawyers in all practice areas, lacking established client experience processes is no longer an option. From the receptionist’s greeting, to whether a client was on hold for an extended period, every interaction between an individual and the law firm contributes to the client experience whether it was designed or not. Failing to make the most of these interactions can lead to lost business, unsatisfied clients, and harmful negative reviews online.

The first step in improving the client experience is developing mobile device-friendly practices that let clients interact with the firm at every step with their smartphone. In many cases, it’s not the best doctor or the best dentist or the best lawyer who books the most clients, but the one who lets individuals schedule appointments and fill out paperwork from their mobile device.

Gerstenzang has developed a system of interconnected applications that allow clients to receive electronic fee agreements by merely texting her their name and email address. From there, they can fill out and sign the form on their phone and send it back.

“I run a paperless office,” she says.

Embracing technology and designing your law firm around the client experience also lets lawyers better collaborate with clients. By allowing clients to fill out forms and attach paperwork through email, lawyers not only make clients feel part of the process but also ensure that correct name spelling and other small but vital information is always correct.

Simple changes, like implementing new technology, can be a substantial competitive advantage for lawyers—especially as consumers begin to expect these practices.

Ultimately, lawyers should design their firms to reduce friction for the client and make it as easy as possible for all parties to communicate. People don’t want to talk with a live person any longer to accomplish small, simple tasks.

Nowhere is this more important than scheduling. To succeed, lawyers need to let clients schedule appointments online. Gerstenzang also allowed clients to schedule calls with her online during a two-hour window every day. Along with online scheduling, lawyers can also use Stripe or other technology to accept online credit card payments that make it easy for clients and easier for attorneys to get paid.

Like Uber, Netflix, and Amazon, lawyers who want to be successful have to embrace disruption and address common pain points that other firms may ignore.

“Practicing law is a business,” Gerstenzang says. “Make working with your firm easy, and don’t introduce those friction points where they don’t have to exist.”

[Read More …]

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

attorney shaking hands with client

As a criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, Erin Gerstenzang knows that lawyers don’t always have control over the facts of the case, or even the results. But what every lawyer can control is the experience every client has with their firm. By shifting the focus to the client experience and embracing technology to streamline day-to-day office functions, lawyers can still deliver for their clients and bring in new business without necessarily winning every single case.

Watch Erin’s full presentation, Designing your Law Firm to Work For You, here:

Gerstenzang discovered this when she decided to leave a large, established law firm and venture out on her own. She knew she didn’t have time for the standard practices of old. She had to embrace new technology, and make every part of the client-lawyer relationship as simple and stress-free as possible for everyone involved.

“What I can control is the experience you have with my firm,” Gerstenzang says. “Consumers have changed, they know what a good experience is and are willing to pay for it.”

For lawyers in all practice areas, lacking established client experience processes is no longer an option. From the receptionist’s greeting, to whether a client was on hold for an extended period, every interaction between an individual and the law firm contributes to the client experience whether it was designed or not. Failing to make the most of these interactions can lead to lost business, unsatisfied clients, and harmful negative reviews online.

The first step in improving the client experience is developing mobile device-friendly practices that let clients interact with the firm at every step with their smartphone. In many cases, it’s not the best doctor or the best dentist or the best lawyer who books the most clients, but the one who lets individuals schedule appointments and fill out paperwork from their mobile device.

Gerstenzang has developed a system of interconnected applications that allow clients to receive electronic fee agreements by merely texting her their name and email address. From there, they can fill out and sign the form on their phone and send it back.

“I run a paperless office,” she says.

Embracing technology and designing your law firm around the client experience also lets lawyers better collaborate with clients. By allowing clients to fill out forms and attach paperwork through email, lawyers not only make clients feel part of the process but also ensure that correct name spelling and other small but vital information is always correct.

Simple changes, like implementing new technology, can be a substantial competitive advantage for lawyers—especially as consumers begin to expect these practices.

Ultimately, lawyers should design their firms to reduce friction for the client and make it as easy as possible for all parties to communicate. People don’t want to talk with a live person any longer to accomplish small, simple tasks.

Nowhere is this more important than scheduling. To succeed, lawyers need to let clients schedule appointments online. Gerstenzang also allowed clients to schedule calls with her online during a two-hour window every day. Along with online scheduling, lawyers can also use Stripe or other technology to accept online credit card payments that make it easy for clients and easier for attorneys to get paid.

Like Uber, Netflix, and Amazon, lawyers who want to be successful have to embrace disruption and address common pain points that other firms may ignore.

“Practicing law is a business,” Gerstenzang says. “Make working with your firm easy, and don’t introduce those friction points where they don’t have to exist.”

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here

10 Law Firm Management Blogs You Should Check Out

Top 10 Law Firm Management Blogs

Blogs. It seems everyone has one for good or bad. They can be good to generate business or, just to get the unsaid said, i.e., It can be a cathartic process for an attorney to get it on paper so to speak. But, we all want to know how to run our firms better or to simply be better attorneys. The list of the Top 10 Law Firm blogs is below to help you in this process. We hope this saves you some time in the search yourself and you will learn something for each, or, just pick one and become a regular reader (yes we are partial to regular readers… )

  1. My Shingle

Launched in the year 2002 to help answer questions on solos and small law firms, and also inspire and guide those who want to start. It was the first blog that is aimed at addressing the needs and demands of solos and small law firms. It is good because it provides resources for solos and small law firms as well as celebrates their accomplishments, so as to inspire others.

  1. Attorney at Work

Indeed with Attorney at work you are guaranteed “One really good idea every day for enterprising lawyers”. They aim at giving any lawyer and intending lawyer everything needed in order to create a law practice they would love and live the life they love. They provide you with daily law practice tips, helping you get ahead of your game.

  1. Future Lawyer

Provides lawyers with legal techs and how they can use it to improve their legal practices. This blog has a new tech review that gives tips that can be used to get more from commonly used apps, and guides on maintain non compromising standards.

  1. Legal Office Guru

This is where professionalism meets with experience, educating legal practitioners all over the world on to work efficiently while reducing stress and making your legal life quite easier. It helps legal practitioners develop a high computer aptitude. This blog keeps lawyer abreast with recent software in their field and how to use them.

  1. Lawyerist

This blog started in 2007 as SoloSmallTech aimed at providing better tech tools for legal practices. It is the largest online community of lawyers operating solo and small legal firms. Its current goal is to create a community of innovative legal practitioners where ideas that can improve the practice of law can be shared.

  1. Lawyernomics

This is aimed at making legal practice easier and helping people find lawyers. It provides people with legal hep, when you need it, how you need it and how you can get it. The blog is very informative for both lawyers and those needing their services. They help lawyers grow their practice.

  1. Business of Law blog

This is a blog managed by the LexisNexis software division headquarter in Raleigh. It provides legal professionals with technology and software solutions. It dishes out regular useful information discussed topically.

  1. Solo Practice University

This is a blog for both the experienced and new lawyers. It is one of the blogs that is concerned with small law firms and solo law firms. It discusses trending issues in the legal industry and advice lawyers on how to solve the challenges they are facing in the industry.

  1. Corcoran’s Business of Law Blog

This is one blog that provides law firm leaders and in-house counsel guides on legal project improvement and business development, legal technology and legal marketing. It will help lawyers develop a great market entry strategy and design a good financial metrics.

  1. Legal Productivity

This is one blog that is focused on making the lives of busy, mobile attorneys easier than they could have imagined. This blog gives lawyers a guide on how to use legal billing and law practice management software.

-END OF ARTICLE-

[Read More …]

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

Top 10 Law Firm Management Blogs

Blogs. It seems everyone has one for good or bad. They can be good to generate business or, just to get the unsaid said, i.e., It can be a cathartic process for an attorney to get it on paper so to speak. But, we all want to know how to run our firms better or to simply be better attorneys. The list of the Top 10 Law Firm blogs is below to help you in this process. We hope this saves you some time in the search yourself and you will learn something for each, or, just pick one and become a regular reader (yes we are partial to regular readers… )

  1. My Shingle

Launched in the year 2002 to help answer questions on solos and small law firms, and also inspire and guide those who want to start. It was the first blog that is aimed at addressing the needs and demands of solos and small law firms. It is good because it provides resources for solos and small law firms as well as celebrates their accomplishments, so as to inspire others.

  1. Attorney at Work

Indeed with Attorney at work you are guaranteed “One really good idea every day for enterprising lawyers”. They aim at giving any lawyer and intending lawyer everything needed in order to create a law practice they would love and live the life they love. They provide you with daily law practice tips, helping you get ahead of your game.

  1. Future Lawyer

Provides lawyers with legal techs and how they can use it to improve their legal practices. This blog has a new tech review that gives tips that can be used to get more from commonly used apps, and guides on maintain non compromising standards.

  1. Legal Office Guru

This is where professionalism meets with experience, educating legal practitioners all over the world on to work efficiently while reducing stress and making your legal life quite easier. It helps legal practitioners develop a high computer aptitude. This blog keeps lawyer abreast with recent software in their field and how to use them.

  1. Lawyerist

This blog started in 2007 as SoloSmallTech aimed at providing better tech tools for legal practices. It is the largest online community of lawyers operating solo and small legal firms. Its current goal is to create a community of innovative legal practitioners where ideas that can improve the practice of law can be shared.

  1. Lawyernomics

This is aimed at making legal practice easier and helping people find lawyers. It provides people with legal hep, when you need it, how you need it and how you can get it. The blog is very informative for both lawyers and those needing their services. They help lawyers grow their practice.

  1. Business of Law blog

This is a blog managed by the LexisNexis software division headquarter in Raleigh. It provides legal professionals with technology and software solutions. It dishes out regular useful information discussed topically.

  1. Solo Practice University

This is a blog for both the experienced and new lawyers. It is one of the blogs that is concerned with small law firms and solo law firms. It discusses trending issues in the legal industry and advice lawyers on how to solve the challenges they are facing in the industry.

  1. Corcoran’s Business of Law Blog

This is one blog that provides law firm leaders and in-house counsel guides on legal project improvement and business development, legal technology and legal marketing. It will help lawyers develop a great market entry strategy and design a good financial metrics.

  1. Legal Productivity

This is one blog that is focused on making the lives of busy, mobile attorneys easier than they could have imagined. This blog gives lawyers a guide on how to use legal billing and law practice management software.

-END OF ARTICLE-

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here

Video: 8 Ways to Create Compelling Content [Lawyernomics 2018]

For a company operating in today’s landscape, content is king. But when every business is writing blogs, and producing podcasts, and adding to the 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, lawyers need a compelling content strategy to realize a return on the investment.

Nicole Abboud, a former lawyer turned influential podcaster who now owns Abboud Media, and Alycia Kinchloe, the owner of Kinchloe Law and host of The Growth Goal podcast, want lawyers to become thought leaders and put the “social” back in social media through compelling and shareable content across every medium.

Watch the full presentation, 8 Ways to Create Compelling Content, here:

It starts with what they call the First Commandment of Content: make it about the clients. Many lawyers make the mistake of producing content about themselves. But potential clients want to read blog posts, watch videos, and listen to podcasts where they envision themselves and connect with the message. That’s what makes people pick up the phone and call a lawyer.

Creating an experience for the audience, and engaging with them through a platform that others want to be part of, is essential. One example is hosting workshops or seminars that don’t focus on marketing, but instead let clients talk about themselves and their lives.

“I didn’t expect anything in return, but the very first [seminar] I did had 100 percent return on that investment,” Kinchloe said. “Every gentleman came in for a paid consultation or hired me.”

For many lawyers, the biggest hurdle to creating compelling content is strategizing and scheduling. Abboud and Kinchloe stress the importance of thinking about what you want to achieve and taking time to plan it out.

Taking time to plan and schedule content releases ahead of time ensures your marketing is purposeful, not rushed and random. Tools like Google Keyword Planner and CoSchedule can help you generate topic ideas and schedule every piece of content you create.

Attorneys should also be timely with content, and not shy away from sparking controversy or conversation. While planning content is essential, now and then, something will happen in the news or pop culture that you can comment on and become part of the discussion. For many lawyers, it may be difficult to step out of their lane and comment on potentially controversial topics, but these are the moments that make lawyers more approachable and more human to clients and referral sources.

So whether it’s a topic you’re passionate about, or an issue you’re interested in but not necessarily related to your practice, lawyers should be bold and go for it.

Going for it also extends to not so serious topics as well. Whether it is a blog, video, podcast, or seminar, the content that resonates most with an audience is content that tells a story. If you want to be approachable and for clients to trust you, Abboud says you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously.

“Don’t be afraid to show your human side because that will attract clients,” Abboud said. “They want to see that side of you.”

It’s especially important for lawyers to understand this and to produce content, not clogged with case studies and citations, which relates to shared human experience and love of storytelling. By doing so, attorneys and legal marketers can create something their clients or potential clients can’t help but share across social media.

[Read More …]

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

For a company operating in today’s landscape, content is king. But when every business is writing blogs, and producing podcasts, and adding to the 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, lawyers need a compelling content strategy to realize a return on the investment.

Nicole Abboud, a former lawyer turned influential podcaster who now owns Abboud Media, and Alycia Kinchloe, the owner of Kinchloe Law and host of The Growth Goal podcast, want lawyers to become thought leaders and put the “social” back in social media through compelling and shareable content across every medium.

Watch the full presentation, 8 Ways to Create Compelling Content, here:

It starts with what they call the First Commandment of Content: make it about the clients. Many lawyers make the mistake of producing content about themselves. But potential clients want to read blog posts, watch videos, and listen to podcasts where they envision themselves and connect with the message. That’s what makes people pick up the phone and call a lawyer.

Creating an experience for the audience, and engaging with them through a platform that others want to be part of, is essential. One example is hosting workshops or seminars that don’t focus on marketing, but instead let clients talk about themselves and their lives.

“I didn’t expect anything in return, but the very first [seminar] I did had 100 percent return on that investment,” Kinchloe said. “Every gentleman came in for a paid consultation or hired me.”

For many lawyers, the biggest hurdle to creating compelling content is strategizing and scheduling. Abboud and Kinchloe stress the importance of thinking about what you want to achieve and taking time to plan it out.

Taking time to plan and schedule content releases ahead of time ensures your marketing is purposeful, not rushed and random. Tools like Google Keyword Planner and CoSchedule can help you generate topic ideas and schedule every piece of content you create.

Attorneys should also be timely with content, and not shy away from sparking controversy or conversation. While planning content is essential, now and then, something will happen in the news or pop culture that you can comment on and become part of the discussion. For many lawyers, it may be difficult to step out of their lane and comment on potentially controversial topics, but these are the moments that make lawyers more approachable and more human to clients and referral sources.

So whether it’s a topic you’re passionate about, or an issue you’re interested in but not necessarily related to your practice, lawyers should be bold and go for it.

Going for it also extends to not so serious topics as well. Whether it is a blog, video, podcast, or seminar, the content that resonates most with an audience is content that tells a story. If you want to be approachable and for clients to trust you, Abboud says you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously.

“Don’t be afraid to show your human side because that will attract clients,” Abboud said. “They want to see that side of you.”

It’s especially important for lawyers to understand this and to produce content, not clogged with case studies and citations, which relates to shared human experience and love of storytelling. By doing so, attorneys and legal marketers can create something their clients or potential clients can’t help but share across social media.

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here

Video: 5 Simple Ways to Build Client Trust [Lawyernomics 2018]

a couple talks with a lawyer

If lawyers can gain their client’s trust, they can win their business. Luckily, thanks to technology and a swath of online tools, earning trust and providing a better overall client experience is as simple as ever. All it takes is a little effort, and for lawyers to think of clients like any other consumer.

Avvo Corporate Counsel Esther Sirotnik’s full presentation is available here:

“The attorney-client relationship embodies a level of trust,” Sirotnik says. “This is about providing information and transparency to consumers so that they become your clients, and then it’s about taking that relationship and continuing to foster it and leverage it moving forward.”

As Sirotnik puts it, there are five ways lawyers gain their client’s trust, and it begins the moment a potential client sits down at a computer or pulls out their phone. Lawyers have to be proactive in managing their online presence and meet the consumer’s expectations for information. And in a world where consumers know the origin of the bean before ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks, they’re certain to be researching lawyers and reading reviews online.

In fact, before even picking up the phone and calling a single attorney, a typical consumer will check at least seven different sources of information about the lawyer to get an idea of who they are and how they practice.

“In order to trust you, and have the confidence to even reach out to you, they need to feel like they understand who you are and how you practice,” Sirotnik says.

This means getting out of the cul-de-sac and establishing an online presence where consumers can easily see you from the comfort of their cellphone. From having a user-friendly website with professional photography to being active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, lawyers need to tell consumers who they are and what they do.

Being accessible online doesn’t help if the lawyer doesn’t respond when a consumer reaches out. This is the first chance for a lawyer to prove they will be there for the client, and even waiting a couple of hours to respond to a call or email can erode any amount of trust they established with their online profiles. One way lawyers can eliminate communication issues is through online tools like autoresponders, virtual assistants, and live chat.

Once lawyers make that connection with a potential client, they have to be transparent from the very first meeting and communicate information in a way that consumers easily understand, especially when it comes to pricing and the engagement letter.

One of the biggest obstacles to client trust is misunderstanding—when lawyers aren’t upfront with fees, or can’t communicate well through an engagement letter, they won’t be trustworthy.

Open communication shouldn’t end after the client signs the engagement letter, either. It has to continue throughout the relationship. Lawyers today cannot work on a case and expect the client to simply wait for an outcome without receiving any updates.

“Give them a channel and tell them ‘I’m going to be responsive to you,” Sirotnik says. “This isn’t just about proactive communication and keeping them in the loop. It’s about listening to them.”

The number one cause of disciplinary actions for lawyers isn’t stealing money or fee splitting. It’s failing to respond, and failing to keep clients informed about what’s happening with their cases.

By having open lines of communication when something does go wrong, the client will go straight to the lawyer instead of turning to Twitter and other social media platforms to complain or leave negative reviews.

The final piece of the puzzle is what Sirotnik calls “closing the loop.” Lawyers can bring the cycle back to the beginning by leveraging the trust they earned with clients by requesting reviews, sending out surveys, and even communicating through quarterly newsletters.

“The relationship comes back together to the very beginning, because it’s the foundation on which your next consumer will stand when they look at whether or not to hire you.”

You may download the slides from this presentation here.

[Read More …]

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

a couple talks with a lawyer

If lawyers can gain their client’s trust, they can win their business. Luckily, thanks to technology and a swath of online tools, earning trust and providing a better overall client experience is as simple as ever. All it takes is a little effort, and for lawyers to think of clients like any other consumer.

Avvo Corporate Counsel Esther Sirotnik’s full presentation is available here:

“The attorney-client relationship embodies a level of trust,” Sirotnik says. “This is about providing information and transparency to consumers so that they become your clients, and then it’s about taking that relationship and continuing to foster it and leverage it moving forward.”

As Sirotnik puts it, there are five ways lawyers gain their client’s trust, and it begins the moment a potential client sits down at a computer or pulls out their phone. Lawyers have to be proactive in managing their online presence and meet the consumer’s expectations for information. And in a world where consumers know the origin of the bean before ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks, they’re certain to be researching lawyers and reading reviews online.

In fact, before even picking up the phone and calling a single attorney, a typical consumer will check at least seven different sources of information about the lawyer to get an idea of who they are and how they practice.

“In order to trust you, and have the confidence to even reach out to you, they need to feel like they understand who you are and how you practice,” Sirotnik says.

This means getting out of the cul-de-sac and establishing an online presence where consumers can easily see you from the comfort of their cellphone. From having a user-friendly website with professional photography to being active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, lawyers need to tell consumers who they are and what they do.

Being accessible online doesn’t help if the lawyer doesn’t respond when a consumer reaches out. This is the first chance for a lawyer to prove they will be there for the client, and even waiting a couple of hours to respond to a call or email can erode any amount of trust they established with their online profiles. One way lawyers can eliminate communication issues is through online tools like autoresponders, virtual assistants, and live chat.

Once lawyers make that connection with a potential client, they have to be transparent from the very first meeting and communicate information in a way that consumers easily understand, especially when it comes to pricing and the engagement letter.

One of the biggest obstacles to client trust is misunderstanding—when lawyers aren’t upfront with fees, or can’t communicate well through an engagement letter, they won’t be trustworthy.

Open communication shouldn’t end after the client signs the engagement letter, either. It has to continue throughout the relationship. Lawyers today cannot work on a case and expect the client to simply wait for an outcome without receiving any updates.

“Give them a channel and tell them ‘I’m going to be responsive to you,” Sirotnik says. “This isn’t just about proactive communication and keeping them in the loop. It’s about listening to them.”

The number one cause of disciplinary actions for lawyers isn’t stealing money or fee splitting. It’s failing to respond, and failing to keep clients informed about what’s happening with their cases.

By having open lines of communication when something does go wrong, the client will go straight to the lawyer instead of turning to Twitter and other social media platforms to complain or leave negative reviews.

The final piece of the puzzle is what Sirotnik calls “closing the loop.” Lawyers can bring the cycle back to the beginning by leveraging the trust they earned with clients by requesting reviews, sending out surveys, and even communicating through quarterly newsletters.

“The relationship comes back together to the very beginning, because it’s the foundation on which your next consumer will stand when they look at whether or not to hire you.”

You may download the slides from this presentation here.

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here

Video: Alternative Revenue Streams Panel [Lawyernomics 2018]

professionals exchange money

Managing a successful law firm is like running any other successful business. It takes talent, hard work, a steady stream of clients, and—most importantly—the willingness and ability to adapt and change with consumer trends. And while many people might say legal innovation and new ideas are in short supply, or perhaps not even necessary, many forward-thinking attorneys believe differently.

The traditional lawyer is a character most people know well. They are intelligent, quick on their feet, good at arguing, and charge you by the hour for an undetermined amount of time. That’s not how this panel of attorneys operates.

Kimberly Bennet, Gabriel Cheong, and Brooke Moore are here to challenge your assumptions on how a lawyer can run his or her business, and more importantly, how one may adapt to meet the needs of the next generation of clients who need legal services. Instead of charging clients by the hour, this group bills up front and offers both on-demand and subscription legal fees.

For Bennet, who owns a virtual general counsel practice that focuses on trademark business and employment law, she was tired of chasing after clients for invoices and instead charges a flat fee up-front.

Additionally, she also offers a subscription service based on individual projects or needs that’s a lot like a legal-services version of Amazon Prime or Netflix. Unlike a retainer model, where a lawyer bills for future legal services, a subscription model means Bennet is actively working for the money she collects.

“There are quarterly reviews; there are included contracts reviews, there are as many calls as they want,” says Bennet. “And they’re actually on the project; we’re actually doing some type of work, so that could be an audit or a contract, or drafting a contract.”

Cheong, who runs a family law practice in Boston, MA, knows it’s unusual for lawyers in her practice area to not charge by the hour. She saw an opportunity to change this fee arrangement and implemented a subscription model based on purchasing four-month blocks. That’s because four months out is typically when discovery is done, and the client can decide whether or not to settle or purchase another four-month block of time.

For family law specifically, Cheong noticed her clients were sometimes hesitant to call and talk to her about any developments, or to merely vent, because they knew they were being billed hourly.

This was in direct contrast with her philosophy of having clients give her more information than not enough.

“I put it in terms of the unit that clients understand—which is on average, a four-month chunk of time—but really, it’s tied to something real in the background which is sort of the track assignment for the courts,” Cheong says.

Moore owns MyVirtual.Lawyer, a law firm run entirely online, and offers both flat-fee and subscription models as well. Whatever they choose, clients can pay upfront or make payments on a payment plan through auto-draft, so she never has to chase down an invoice.

Another way she harnesses the convenience and power of technology for a better client experience is through a client portal where most communications occur between lawyers and clients.

“They get faster responses that way,” Moore says. “They can be having some kind of crisis at midnight, and they know that there is a direct link to the attorney or staff member that they’re working with. It’s about time management.”

For lawyers looking to adopt some of these changes and find new revenue streams, there’s no substitute for staying curious. Cheong encourages attorneys always to check what’s new and what’s available, technology-wise, whether that means staying up to date with online communities or attending conferences at least once a year.

“I think there is a knee-jerk reaction for a lot of people, when their time is filled up, is to start looking into hiring people to do that work,” she says. “Your first reaction should be: how can I automate this, and how can I use technology to solve that problem before I start paying somebody 60, 80, $100,000 a year to do something that technology can probably do for maybe $1,000?”

Bennet echoes, “I tell businesses: tech before labor. Labor is a huge cost, so figure out a way to automate process technology.”

After adapting technology to automate some areas of the business to increase efficiency, lawyers can also use technology to bring in more clients. Whether that’s hosting webinars, virtual or in-person talks, or spending time interacting with people on social media, meeting people where they are can help lawyer market themselves and draw in more clients in the future.

“I think what sets you apart is you know that legal consumers are driving changes,” Moore says. “We don’t really have control so if we can meet them where they are and figure out your client, that’s what sets us apart.”

[Read More …]

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

professionals exchange money

Managing a successful law firm is like running any other successful business. It takes talent, hard work, a steady stream of clients, and—most importantly—the willingness and ability to adapt and change with consumer trends. And while many people might say legal innovation and new ideas are in short supply, or perhaps not even necessary, many forward-thinking attorneys believe differently.

The traditional lawyer is a character most people know well. They are intelligent, quick on their feet, good at arguing, and charge you by the hour for an undetermined amount of time. That’s not how this panel of attorneys operates.

Kimberly Bennet, Gabriel Cheong, and Brooke Moore are here to challenge your assumptions on how a lawyer can run his or her business, and more importantly, how one may adapt to meet the needs of the next generation of clients who need legal services. Instead of charging clients by the hour, this group bills up front and offers both on-demand and subscription legal fees.

For Bennet, who owns a virtual general counsel practice that focuses on trademark business and employment law, she was tired of chasing after clients for invoices and instead charges a flat fee up-front.

Additionally, she also offers a subscription service based on individual projects or needs that’s a lot like a legal-services version of Amazon Prime or Netflix. Unlike a retainer model, where a lawyer bills for future legal services, a subscription model means Bennet is actively working for the money she collects.

“There are quarterly reviews; there are included contracts reviews, there are as many calls as they want,” says Bennet. “And they’re actually on the project; we’re actually doing some type of work, so that could be an audit or a contract, or drafting a contract.”

Cheong, who runs a family law practice in Boston, MA, knows it’s unusual for lawyers in her practice area to not charge by the hour. She saw an opportunity to change this fee arrangement and implemented a subscription model based on purchasing four-month blocks. That’s because four months out is typically when discovery is done, and the client can decide whether or not to settle or purchase another four-month block of time.

For family law specifically, Cheong noticed her clients were sometimes hesitant to call and talk to her about any developments, or to merely vent, because they knew they were being billed hourly.

This was in direct contrast with her philosophy of having clients give her more information than not enough.

“I put it in terms of the unit that clients understand—which is on average, a four-month chunk of time—but really, it’s tied to something real in the background which is sort of the track assignment for the courts,” Cheong says.

Moore owns MyVirtual.Lawyer, a law firm run entirely online, and offers both flat-fee and subscription models as well. Whatever they choose, clients can pay upfront or make payments on a payment plan through auto-draft, so she never has to chase down an invoice.

Another way she harnesses the convenience and power of technology for a better client experience is through a client portal where most communications occur between lawyers and clients.

“They get faster responses that way,” Moore says. “They can be having some kind of crisis at midnight, and they know that there is a direct link to the attorney or staff member that they’re working with. It’s about time management.”

For lawyers looking to adopt some of these changes and find new revenue streams, there’s no substitute for staying curious. Cheong encourages attorneys always to check what’s new and what’s available, technology-wise, whether that means staying up to date with online communities or attending conferences at least once a year.

“I think there is a knee-jerk reaction for a lot of people, when their time is filled up, is to start looking into hiring people to do that work,” she says. “Your first reaction should be: how can I automate this, and how can I use technology to solve that problem before I start paying somebody 60, 80, $100,000 a year to do something that technology can probably do for maybe $1,000?”

Bennet echoes, “I tell businesses: tech before labor. Labor is a huge cost, so figure out a way to automate process technology.”

After adapting technology to automate some areas of the business to increase efficiency, lawyers can also use technology to bring in more clients. Whether that’s hosting webinars, virtual or in-person talks, or spending time interacting with people on social media, meeting people where they are can help lawyer market themselves and draw in more clients in the future.

“I think what sets you apart is you know that legal consumers are driving changes,” Moore says. “We don’t really have control so if we can meet them where they are and figure out your client, that’s what sets us apart.”

[Read More …]

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

Originally seen here