Archive for the ‘Legal practice tips’ Category

Juror Facing Facebook Profile Probe

October 23, 2010

This article discusses an investigation into a jury forewoman’s Facebook posts because the defendant’s attorney believe she knew about the case before she served on the jury.

Facebook as Stalling Tactic?

Is Facebook going to be used by attorneys as a way to throw additional roadblocks into legal process?  If I were representing a plaintiff or defendant, I would review social media profiles by all parties to a case – judges, other attorneys, witnesses, plaintiffs, defendants, family members etc.  There maybe fodder for all kinds of motions lurking out there on the Internet!

Facebook and Jury Selection

October 14, 2010

Facebook and its kind are constantly changing the legal landscape. The latest example is this article which briefly discusses how attorneys are now using Facebook to research and vet potential jurors and witnesses.  Things attorneys are looking for – does a potential juror enjoy partying?  What clues are there about their parenting?  Do they talk lovingly about their home?  The opportunity to get into the mind of a person is so much greater with Facebook.

What about Privacy Standards for Jury Selection?

If we apply the recently developed New York State and City standards, it would appear that attorneys can look at the public-facing information a potential juror includes on their profile but wouldn’t be able to “friend” them under false pretenses but are their reasons that the privacy standards change when an attorney is investigating a potential juror rather than a party?

Reveal Your LinkedIn Connections – Or Not?

October 7, 2010

When I talk to attorneys about LinkedIn, I point out the issue of whether to make connections public.  Unfortunately, there are currently only two settings available for LinkedIn – make all your connections public or private.  Here are three approaches:

  • Share all your non-client connections but tell clients you won’t make your connection with them public
  • Don’t share any of your connections whether clients or not
  • Share all your connections including clients

Larry Bodine talked with Lisa DiMonte, a legal marketing consultant who points to Brian Burt, a partner at Snell & Wilmer.  I agree that he uses Linkedin very effectively and I recommend attorneys look at his profiles for ideas.  Its interesting that Lisa mentions his more than 500 contacts but not that he doesn’t share any of them.

Best Use of LinkedIn?

LinkedIn began as a form of referral marketing which requires sharing contacts so you can reference who you know to potential prospects or potential referral partners.  If you lockdown your contacts, then you and your sphere lose out on this critical feature of the service.  What Mr. Burt’s approach suggests is that LinkedIn can still be extremely powerful even when you don’t share contacts.  Would I recommend his approach?  It would depend on the attorney, the nature of the practice and whether they worked for a firm that had an existing policy regarding revealing contacts.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Snell & Wilmer had a policy for its attorneys about revealing contacts on LinkedIn profiles.

Interestingly, you can see some of Mr. Burt’s recommendations from clients so perhaps Snell  also has a rule that if they get written consent from a specific client, these recommendations can be made public.

Lawyers – Have a Person Answer Your Phones!

October 4, 2010

This post from Kevin O’Keefe is a cautionary tale for attorneys.  One of the biggest complaints about lawyers is that you can never get them on the phone and may wait days for a return call.  Now the ABA is touting a technology that will allow clients to automate scheduling an appointment.

Voice mail hell

Clients get the fun experience of entering their client number and a password in order get the joy of listening to automated prompts to schedule their – possibly – urgent meeting.  This is not good client service.  Typically, legal clients aren’t particularly happy campers, they are dealing with a lawyer because something is not working and they desperately need help.  Hence they are stressed out and need a human voice to make them feel better.  A calm, professional receptionist who can field their call appropriately is a big plus – for them and for the lawyer.

Don’t have the resources to hire a dedicated receptionist?

I’ve never made a service recommendation in my blog but I’m making an exception here because I so strongly believe in this company. Reliable Receptionist offers an off-site receptionist that will know your business, talk directly with your clients and prospective clients and appropriately field the incoming calls.  If all the client needs is to schedule an appointment, Reliable Receptionist can do that.  If a client or prospective client is in dire need of talking with you, they can make sure you as the attorney know this and can answer call immediately if that’s what’s required.

I have been to their offices and watch their receptionists work, seen how they capture vital information both about an attorney’s practice but also about their clients and prospective clients.  They do not just answer the phone and take a message – they are a proactive, professional staff that make clients and prospective client feel heard and cared for.

So instead of investing in a new automated phone scheduling system, do yourself a favor and give Reliable Receptionist a call and check out a much better alternative.

The 15 Minute Blog Post

July 29, 2010

Social Media Examiner does it again with a great post about how to create short and powerful blog posts.

The best tip is how to break down a topic into its component parts and create individual blog posts on each of these aspects.  For example, if you are going to write about the five steps to getting your business on Twitter, they show you how to stretch those steps over the course of five posts.

Another great tip is creating a bank of eye catching headlines so that you can focus on the writing and focus your writing on the kind of thing blogs do best.  I have heard attorneys say that no one will read my blog.  And that is probably true if you have a four line headline followed by two thousands words arranged into three paragraph.  This might be great content to re-purpose for an article but as a blog post, it won’t get read.

Having your cake and eat too

One approach is to write the catchy headline and a couple lines of teaser text and have a “click more” link.  That way people have a chance to engage with your blog and can engage further on topics that matter to them.  But make sure your headline and initial text is attention grabbing or just post the entire article because you will create more work for the user who just wants your meaty content.

New HIPAA rules – greater business impact?

July 12, 2010

I follow the folks at Information Law Group as they do a great job keeping on top of developments in the IT legal arena.  They posted about new proposed rule changes to HIPAA could mean more responsibility falling on HIPAA business associates.  I’ll keep watching this one…

Message from FL Bar: beware your Facebook past

July 3, 2010

According to this article, the Florida Bar is looking to investigate each new Bar applicant’s social networking history to check for any inappropriate behavior before allowing them to practice law in the state.

Lawyers need to understand that social networking is about communication.  And if you are communicating a business message it needs to be consistent with all the other professional standards that apply to your oral and written communications.  And when it comes to the legal process, much seemingly “private” communications becomes public during the litigation process so as you preach to your clients – proceed with caution.

Ethical use of LinkedIn – really?

June 22, 2010

This article is entitled, “How Lawyers can use LinkedIn for ethical marketing purposes.” One of its key recommendations is for attorneys to invite new or prospective clients to connect with them on LinkedIn. The article doesn’t mention any of the ethical risks involved in such an effort.  So here are thing I think you should consider if/when sending out such invitations:

1. Do you practice law in a sensitive area like bankruptcy, divorce, taxes? If so, your clients might not want it known that they are “connected” with you even if its not clear they are your clients.

2.  Safely connecting with clients. If you want to reach out and connect with your clients but you want them to be confident that no one will know they know you, then you can tell them that you lock-down your contacts’ identities so no one will see who you know.  This begs the question however, exactly what is the benefit for either your client or you to connect in this way on LinkedIn.  The service is primarily a referral network platform.  If contacts aren’t shared, this aspect of the service loses a significant portion of  its value.

3.  What if you have a policy where you don’t connect with client on LinkedIn and a client send you an invitation? Then you need to have a polite and positive response which outlines how its important to you to safeguard your clients privacy and you simply don’t believe connecting on LinkedIn is worth the risk.

Bottom line: I don’t believe in hard and fast rules about inviting clients to connect through LinkedIn.  There are plenty of benefits and if both you and your client are comfortable with publicizing the connection, then go for it.  However, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to client relationships and confidentiality.  Its important that attorneys understand the risks and act responsibly in tackling them.

Attorney websites – more than driving traffic

June 18, 2010

I posted recently about the growing trend for lawyers to employ armies of digital workers to improve their Internet visibility and attract new clients.  I’ve had successful attorneys who get plenty of referrals say that they don’t need a website because they don’t want strangers knocking on their Internet door.

What about the poor potential client?

Here’s the thing: when your client comes to you for a divorce, bankruptcy or nasty slip and fall, they are unfamiliar with the legal process and what’s going to happen next, what their lawyer needs to know, how they will be charge etc.  Use your website to give them this information – include a page on your website entitled: “for our 1st meeting” or “What to expect” etc.  That way when a potential client corners you at a party or calls you while you are in the middle of a filing, you can point them to your website and let them read about what they need to know about engaging with you.

Post a video

Video is increasingly popular on the web and the ability to walk a client through that first meeting visually is extremely powerful.

Maybe you don’t want clients from the Internet but your website can ease your clients’ anxiety and make them better informed which will in turn save you time and therefore money.

More small law firm growth

June 16, 2010

Adding to the trend of attorneys spinning off from large firms, Zwillinger Genetski, a brand new Internet boutique practice founded by former Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal partners Marc Zwillinger and Christian Genetski, is nearly doubling its size from three attorneys to seven.

Here is a link to their already content rich website.