Sunday, December 21, 2008

Around the Blogosphere the Week of 12/14/08-12/20/08:Part II- Law Office Management

Continuing my trip around the blogosphere with you, we move on to the Second Part of our Journey Law Office Management and Tech posts.

1. Cornell Univ. Legal Information Institute is a really great service providing case law and statutory law for no cost (but you should donate)to users. LII has a new beta program for attorneys to get referrals from other LII users. Go to the NYS General Practice Section Blog for more information. Oh by the way, did I mention that it is free?

2. Susan Cartier-Liebel's Build a Solo Practice Blogis one of the most popular blogs in the legal world. Susan is the founder of the Solo Practice University a great resource for CLE, "bridge the gap" and "develop a new practice area" learning.

In this blog post she shares a new service that can help a solo (or anyone else) organize the business cards they get, loose receipts, as well as other information. Really it is a scanning operation for your stuff, but if you don't have the time to do it yourself, or you just are not going to do it (or you don't own a scanner) then this service is cost effective. It is called Shoeboxed and it looks pretty interesting. I will be checking out myself before the year is out. You may want to do the same.

3. Susan also has a second post that is very important as money for legal services begins to dry up. In her post "When Pricing Your Legal Services, Remember Your Client" Susan suggests that we might want to start understanding what our potential clients are going through financially, and start to think about how we can help them through this difficult stage in their lives. I think if we are just looking at this problem now, we may be too late, but while not answering any questions, Susan raises the issues that are on our clients pricing minds and makes us think about these issues too. Which leads me too our next post:

4. The Dirty Thirteen, or as the post writer (the modestly named Greatest American Lawyer) calls it, the Thirteen Worst Things About Hourly Billing.

As a long time fan of "Value" billing I see the last two posts going hand in hand. I will have my own Value billing post up in a couple of days (weeks?) and will discuss it further, but I want to say one thing now: In a time of economic uncertainty, the two things a client wants most is a fee certain, and a fair shake. Value billing provides both.

5.Allison Shields is the President of Legal Ease Consulting and is a business consultant for law firms. She also writes another really great legal business blog by the name Legal Ease Blog.(What else would you call it if you were she?)

In her recent post she talks about "When E-mail Isn't Appropriate."

I have to say that I disagree to an extent with Allison. In a day and age where time is money, and money is scarce; where clients complain that lawyers do not communicate enough, I think E-mail, text messaging, and now Twitter Direct messaging, can really reduce client anxiety. I will agree with her on one point however, if you will be bringing important information to a client by electronic medium, it is only fair to the client to make yourself or another in your office available to answer any questions your client may have thereafter.

I find the best way to do this is to send the e-mail late in the day so that the client will get it in the morning (if it is more urgent than that, I pick up the phone.) I then ask that they respond with questions which I can peruse while waiting in court; answer from my blackberry; or call my secretary or associate to help me respond. Then I return calls at the end of the day, or at least I try to. I am not perfect but I am improving.

6.Your best source of new business is your present client. If you are in a practice area that doesn't lend itself to clients who have other legal matters you could work on (like Criminal law for example)then you need to constantly look for new work or referral sources. This post on the Rainmaker Blog gives some excellent suggestions and ideas. It is worth the read.

Well that is two posts down but I have a few more to go. I will have more for you in a little while.
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