First tip for starting your own law firm: Don’t all crowd around one computer.
My series on starting your own law firm is now live!
This site is devoted to the practice of law, but the companion site — YourOwnLawFirm.com — deals primarily with law firm marketing. This series is in response to all of you who wrote to say, “You know, Aaron, that law firm marketing stuff is all fine and good, but I need to know how to start the law firm in the first place.” (You were all actually far more articulate.)
The series is still a work in progress, but there is already a lot of information you should find useful, even if your law firm is already up an running. I’m pretty good about thinking outside the box, but in looking back on some of my foibles, I realize I sometimes took action based on nothing beyond the fact that I thought everyone else was doing it that way. Getting a look into how someone else runs their office can often lead to improvements in your own procedures.
Ultimately, I’m going to package all of these articles into a book, but you’ll get it all here first. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.
To start the series, go to the right sidebar on this page, and look for the Starting Your Own Law Firm Series. I suggest beginning at the beginning, but of course you are free to go to whatever article interests you. If you’re on a mobile device, the sidebar may not be visible, so just click on this link to go to the first article in the series.
I hope you enjoy what you read, and that you are able to apply it to your own practice, old or new.
I love e-books, and manage to go through four or five per week, mostly nonfiction. How do I go through so many books in a week? As I explain in more detail here, I use my Kindle’s text-to-speech function, cranked up to two or three times the normal speed (no, there is no chipmunk quality), and listen to books whenever I am commuting, showering, dressing, etc.
The truth is, especially when you read multiple books on the same topic, even a really good book may offer only ten or twenty really good, new to you takeaways. As I’m listening to an e-book at warp speed, I can easily absorb the broad concepts, and if a really good takeaway pops up, I can slow it down and repeat, or have Siri send whatever I want to remember to Evernote.
(Did you know you can have Siri on your iPhone add notes to your Evernote account? Here’s how. Of course you can dictate directly into Evernote, but the Siri method allows you to do it hands free. No distracted driving for you! The next version of iOS will make this even better, because Siri will obey your commands without you even having to push that one button to get her attention. And if you’ve seen that episode of The Big Bang Theory, you know that Siri is a real woman answering your questions in real time.)
But feeding my brain is not without cost. Even though we live in wonderful times where e-books can be had for a fraction of the price of their printed brethren, going through four or five books per week can still be a costly addiction. Continue reading
So you’ve received a PDF document by email that you need to sign and return, or you’ve sent one to your client to sign. How do you accomplish that task?
Do you print the PDF, sign the document, scan the document, and then email it? If you do, you are being unnecessarily inefficient. There is an easy way to open and sign that document without ever printing and scanning, and it’s probably already on your computer.
The free Adobe Reader includes multiple ways to get your signature on a document. It will create a signature for you just from text, but if you want your real signature on the document but just can’t navigate turning your signature into a digital image that you can drop into the document, Adobe Reader even lets you hold your signature up to your computer’s webcam.
Go here for a detailed article on how to use Adobe Reader to sign a PDF.
I might be the only one who does this, but I was very excited to learn this shortcut.
When using Chrome (this also works for Internet Explorer and Firefox), I soon accumulate so many tabs across the top of the browser that I can’t tell what’s what. I then start closing tabs and occasionally realize that I just closed the tab with the case I found after a long search session. To bring back a closed tab, just hit Ctrl-Shift-T and voilà, it’s back.
Not the one in question, but can you name the country this flag represents?
A “potential client” called this morning to discuss the case she has going in a foreign country. In order not to offend any of the residents of that country by repeating what she said, I won’t identify the country except to say that it is a small, non-English speaking country that I had to run through Wikipedia to confirm that it is in fact a real country.
She called to ask a question about a very specific procedural issue in her case. Picture getting a call from someone in Transnistria, asking you the deadline for opposing an application for a writ of attainment, and whether the opposition can be served by yak. That was the nature and specificity of the procedural question.
As I always do when I get a call from someone about a case that has nothing to do with California, I asked why she called me.
“Because all the attorneys are crooks here, and you can’t trust anything they say”, she said.
So the next time you hear someone say something disparaging about attorneys, just remember that our reputation is far better than that of the attorneys in this unidentified country.
In case you missed it, there was a video posted on YouTube a few years back, consisting of a music video entitled “United Breaks Guitars“. Singer, songwriter Dave Carroll was sitting in a United Airlines plane while his beloved Taylor guitar was being loaded in the luggage compartment. He looked out and saw the baggage handlers throwing his guitar case, and upon landing, he discovered that they had broken his guitar.
The moment he saw his flying guitar, he reported the incident to the flight crew, but he did not report the broken guitar to the right person at United within 24 hours, so when he finally managed to navigate to said right person, his claim was denied.
Carroll used the best weapon at his disposal to express his frustration with United. He wrote a really catchy tune and created a music video about the incident, which at last count has been viewed by just shy of 14,000,000 people. He followed with a second and third video, but those have been viewed a paltry 2,000,000 and 600,000 times. Here is the first video, and I bet you’ll find your foot tapping:
The way United handled this disgruntled customer was a object lesson on the dangers of hubris, and that reminded me of my case against Bank of America. Continue reading
The Rainmaker Institute, headed by Stephen Fairley, is a law firm marketing “school” of sorts, where you can learn how to promote your firm primarily with Internet marketing. I’ve never attended one of the paid “Retreats” offered by The Rainmaker Institute, but on two occasions I have attended MCLE functions such as the California Solo and Small Firm Summit, put on by the State Bar, where Fairley was acting as the moderator. At one of those conferences I won a CD set from one of the retreats, and listened to that, so I also have that indirect experience as well.
The Summits I attended started with a breakfast where Fairley spoke, then we went off to one of the many offered classes, then we’d return to lunch and hear Fairley speak some more, and so it would go. I found the information imparted by Fairley to be very (dare I say fairly?) useful. I credit him at the very least with introducing me to the full power of Internet marketing. I took what I learned from Fairley, added my own spin and techniques, and truly took my firm to the next level.
Fairley and The Rainmaker Institute are currently in the news because one of their clients – the Michigan law firm of Seikaly & Stewart – is suing them under a RICO claim, alleging that the firm paid Fairley and company $49,000 for Internet marketing services that turned out to be worthless. The law firm does not go so far as to say that it was hurt by the services performed, but claims that defendants should have known that “their schemes would have no positive effect and might have a detrimental effect on the [Plaintiff’s] webpages.” Continue reading
As reported elsewhere, we received a very satisfying verdict of more than $1.5 million resulting from a defamatory email sent by a defendant, concerning our client. The defendant did not go silently into the good night, and appealed the verdict, claiming that there was insufficient evidence to support an award of that size.
That’s all fine and good, but in appealing the verdict, the defense attorney completely misstated the record. On an appeal based on insufficient evidence, the appellant is required to set forth all the evidence that would tend to support that verdict. Indeed, if the appellant fails to do so, the Court of Appeal can deem the issue waived.
I devoted a full two-thirds of my responsive brief on appeal just setting the record straight by pointing out all the misstatements made by defense counsel. Continue reading
I genuinely thought I was part of some long-term punking. I get so many calls from people wanting to hire me who use the same lines to try to get me to take the case. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I have a slam-dunk case that is going to make some attorney wealthy, but I need an attorney who can understand this case and won’t be intimidated by the other side.”
There’s one guy out there — I have no idea how I ended up on his distribution list — who sends me weekly flyers like you might get from a real estate agent trying to sell you a business, but they are all for HIS own personal cases. They are on impressive pre-printed forms, and the client just fills in the blanks. They look something like this: Continue reading