Top Resources for Solo Lawyers – Whether you’re looking for information on setting up your office, researching your legal software and technology options, there is a vast array of information designed to get you on the right track.
I came across a blog post where a colleague was talking about an issue she was having with a client who wanted to do something in a certain way that she knew wasn’t the best way, and would actually cause the client more problems. Instead of guiding this client, as an expert should, way from …
Over just a few years, the idea of paperless depositions has essentially become a reality – thanks to some of these mobile apps. There may be no more clear example of when a lawyer truly needs to be mobile than a deposition. If you’re taking the deposition, you’re likely in hostile territory (opposing counsel’s office), asking questions of a party or witness who’s likely not on your side. Moreover, these days, cases are tried in deposition as opposed to a courtroom, so this isn’t something you can go into half-assed. You need to be ready.
When I started working in the virtual assistant industry I had worked as an in-house legal assistant for a very long time and had never even heard of a virtual assistant. One day while home on unpaid maternity leave I had to find a solution to bringing in some kind of income to help my husband take care of our now even larger family. I was searching for at home jobs on the internet and ran across so many things that were or seemed to be scam type jobs. In just a general search for work from home jobs I found virtual assistant and that’s where it all began.
There was so much information on virtual assistants that it actually became rather overwhelming but I was so determined to make this thing happen and so I researched, watched various training, determined my niche, set up my business and was ready to be a Virtual Assistant. What I did not understand was that being a virtual assistant is what I do, how I operate my business. It is not who I am.
Well who am I, you ask? I am a small business owner who just happens to be a Professional Legal Assistant and Administrative Consultant. I operate my business from a virtual “remote” location and that puts me in the virtual assistant industry. According to The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) virtual assistants are independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services.
I have clients in other states but the bulk of most virtual assistant’s clients just happen to be local. Actually both of my first clients were from other states and not local because I could not get around to local networking events since I had just had my 7th child. Let me tell you this, the transition from working at a brick and mortar to working from home is no cake walk. It is definitely a change that is unforgettable. You no longer have co-workers in the office that you chat with and move your day along in fact, you don’t even have human interaction on a daily basis unless you have people in your home. Lucky for me I have a husband and seven children which means there is never a dull moment. However, your computer becomes that co-worker that you tell about your weekend and have lunch with. For me, work was really my social life, the only people that I really dealt with outside of my family so it was a huge readjustment. Working from home is very challenging but it is definitely rewarding in the end.
I remember my first experience trying to obtain a local client. I will never forget how he looked at me when he asked me what a virtual assistant was. This was the topic of discussion because virtual assistant is not a common term just flown around as what someone does as a profession and I used virtual assistant as my title on business flyers, business cards and any type of advertising material for my business. So I spent the most part of my time to market myself and my business explaining what a virtual assistant was and we both laughed because he thought I was something like a computer tech. I laughed because it was funny but what wasn’t funny was the fact that I never got the chance to explain to him how my business works, how I could help him and save him money. It didn’t surprise me though because truth is before I actually did some searching on the internet I had never even heard of a virtual assistant myself. He wasn’t the only one in fact, I found myself explaining what a virtual assistant was so much that I sounded like a spokesperson for a company called virtual assistant and never really getting to introduce this new innovative way to operate business or the opportunity to explain what I do and how I could benefit their business.
Bottom line, I no longer go by virtual assistant. I use my title Professional Legal Assistant or Administrative Consultant depending on the industry I am targeting. This opened me up to the opportunity to market myself with a different approach. Fact is, I am known locally in my field as being one of the best of the best and so my name precedes me. So, when I am speaking with an attorney and I am marketing myself they hear what I am saying and not trying to figure out what I am talking about. Not giving myself the title virtual assistant and using my proper title gives me more time to tell potential clients and colleagues what I do and how I can help their business and then when the time arises tell them how I operate on a virtual basis. By all means, I am proud to be a part of the virtual industry, my business is new and innovative and has brought me much satisfaction. However, it is what I do, it is not who I am.
Too many lawyers are missing opportunities to increase their visibility and reduce the time they need to spend on marketing because they’re not doing anything to get more mileage out of their content.
Here are simple ways you can use your blog content in other areas of marketing to get more clients:
Legal research is a very important aspect of the practice of law. Google Scholar is an online, freely accessible search engine that provides a simple way to broadly search for professional articles, journals and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts and legal documents. Its database includes full-text copies of nearly every court opinion published on state and federal circuits.
Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of US state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and US Supreme Court cases since 1791. It includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases which are not yet online or publicly available. Cases are cited in Bluebook format, including internal page numbers, and are cross-lined within the database. Google Scholar provides links to secondary sources such as law reviews and journals.
On Google Scholar, legal documents can be searched for by keywords, title, or the name of a legal institution. You can also search and filter case law based on the jurisdiction and/or year in which it was published.
If you are seeking ways to reduce research costs, Google Scholar is a good option. Goggle Scholar is a great place to conduct preliminary research, or to review new cases that have not yet been affected by precedent and is extremely effective when used in combination with free and fee based primary law sources.
Some Advantages of Using Google Scholar
- Easy search capabilities
- Provides some basic and advanced search options like a database
- Provides direct access to full text of articles if they are available for free online.
- Better Citation System – wherever a document cites other case law a hyperlink will instantly retrieve the cited document for you. Google Scholar also indexes cited sources in order of importance alongside every legal document.
- Frequent Updates – Google Scholar normally adds new papers several times a week.
- Alerts – Google Scholar will periodically email you newly published papers that match your search criteria.
- Google Scholar unlike Westlaw or LexisNexis uses natural language instead of Boolean language for searches.
Some Disadvantages to Using Google Scholar
- Google Scholar has a limited library so older legal documents might not be available.
- Google Scholar does not have Headnotes, Shepardizing, or secondary sources like LexisNexis and Westlaw.
- Google Scholar ranks a document’s relevance based on a search engine algorithm so the order in which cases appear in your search may not accurately reflect the relative legal importance of the case.
Google Scholar makes it free and easy to locate a vast number of legal documents giving you the opportunity to save money because you use a paid research service a lot less frequently. Google Scholar can’t replace Westlaw of LexisNexis but it certainly provides an advantage to any lawyer or law firm when combined with them.
Want to learn more about Google Scholar https://scholar.google.com
PS – If you appreciate these tools, please join our mailing list to receive monthly insight on tools like Google Scholar. You’re the best!
Keeping clients happy is essential to running a successful solo practice. These great tips can help ensure you’re providing the best customer service in your law firm.
There are dozens of applications and other technology solutions available to help make every aspect of running a law practice easy and efficient. Selecting the right ones does require a little research, but luckily our survey participants also provided specific technology they use in their law firms.
We surveyed attorneys about the technology that makes their law practice successful. Check out our infographic to see their responses.
I have used Microsoft Publisher for a while to create brochures and different materials for my online business. Recently, I ran across an online tool that I absolutely love called Canva so I thought I would share.
What is Canva? Canva is a free, online tool that you can use to create graphic designs for your blogs, informational documents, e-books, social media covers, etc. Canva makes graphic design amazingly simple for everyone by bringing together a drag and drop design tool with a library of more than 1 million stock photographs, graphic elements and fonts.
This year I experienced a life changing moment, the moment when I decided that I was tired of punching a time clock and working for someone else. That moment when I decided that I wanted to be in business for myself and have more flexibility to be a mom and a wife. I decided to for the first time in my life do something for myself and so my journey began in January when I started my virtual business.
Starting a virtual business was not as easy as I thought it would be but because there is so much information and training on the internet to help guide you it was really just a matter of figuring out what skills I possessed that I could use for my business and which tools were a right fit for me. I watched all the webinars and read all kinds of articles and followed all the breadcrumbs. I started my virtual business, have my website up and running; I am on all the social media sites for networking; I have all the tools to succeed and I am ready for business. There is just one problem though, NO CLIENTS! Having the website, having a profile on social media sites and all the available tools setup and ready to use are just not enough. You have to market your business in order for it to grow. Marketing your business is as important as the air that you breathe.
If you are like me, the thought of marketing makes me cringe mainly because (1) I don’t have a lot of money to invest in marketing my business, and (2) I didn’t know where to begin my expertise is not in marketing. First and foremost your mindset has almost everything to do with how you succeed so both of these thoughts could have caused me to give up, be defeated and ultimately fail. Fact is that there are marketing strategies online that don’t cost anything just your time. There are tons of people doing what you do so you have to stand out which is why marketing yourself or your business is so important.
I have learned a few tricks on marketing that I thought I would share and guess what, I didn’t have to pay a dime, just my time and commitment.
Using Social Media
First off, make sure you profile page is on point meaning it reflects the professional image that you want to portray. Remember, your online presence is a reflection of you and your business. It is as much a part of your professional image as the clothes you wear.
However, It’s not enough to just have a professional social media profile, you have to engage with the people that you connect with to engage with current clients and colleges and to gain new clients. Social media is a great networking tool. The key is to stand out from the competition and become everyone’s “go to” person. The people that I connect with are what I call my potential clients. I don’t know half of the people I connect with but I know for sure that they are people that I could help with the services that I offer. With that, I read their posts, see their concerns or problems, and I offer solutions to their problems for “free.”
I know you are probably thinking you don’t want to offer anything for “free” but think of it this way, anything they need they can find on the internet so whether you help them or not they will more than likely get the information for “free” anyway. Use what you know to offer a solution that a potential client could use and apply themselves. Give those potential clients the missing pieces to their puzzle to complete that task that they are having such a hard time with. Once you have a rapport with your connections you will be the “go to” person because you have all the answers. At that point, you can turn those potential clients into paying clients because you have gained their trust.
When I first started this business I had never blogged before. I watched all the tutorials and read as many articles as I could about blogging and after all that I just did not see the point in blogging. Part of gaining the trust of potential clients and being the “go to” person can be established by blogging. I now use my blog to do just that: I give information to my potential clients. Blogging for a business is different from just maintaining a personal blog.
Blogging for a business is indirectly giving potential clients helpful information or resources that they can use anytime they need it. In fact, they can share it with other people which builds your reach to other potential clients. For instance, I saw that some of my potential clients were having issues with wanting to know the importance of using blogging to market their business. So, I posted a blog “To Blog or Not to Blog – That is the Question?” In that blog I addressed the issues of not wanting to blog and why you should blog to market your business. Blogging keeps your potential clients informed, it provides consistent useful content and helps ensure your potential clients or current clients will choose your services over the competition.
Start an Email Marketing Campaign
Email marketing by far was the hardest thing for me but once I got past the initial trials and error, it is has been one of the least expensive marketing tools to I use. There are platforms you can use like Aweber and Mailchimp that offer free versions and have tutorials on using the tools and software to build your email campaign.
Email marketing is when a company sends a commercial message to a group of people by use of electronic email through advertisements, requests for business, or sales that helps to build customer loyalty, trust in a product or company or brand recognition. It is an efficient way to stay connected with your clients while also promoting your business.
Building a successful email campaign takes planning and effort. You will have to build an email list. One way you can do this is by offering something in return for their email address. An issue I had was what can I offer for free? The answer is create something using software like Canva that you can download in PDF such as tips or ways to do something that would appeal to your target market and then give this information away for free in exchange for their email address.
Manage your expectations with follow up. If you promise them a free training series, information or ebook then make sure that after they give you their email address that they receive the information that you promised.
The actual email itself is very important. What makes an effective email is the subject line, the body of the text, a call to action and your signature. Your subject should be direct and clear. In the body of the text try to avoid long paragraphs, use shorter sentences, bold, underline and highlight important words. If you are like me I wasn’t sure what a call to action was. Well call to action is letting the person reading the email know what to do next. If you are giving them an ebook then the call of action would be click the link to download the ebook. Last but not least, your signature line should include your name and contact information so that the potential client can get in touch with you.
Marketing yourself and your business is important to make money in any business not just a virtual business. There are so many ways to market your business but I know for sure that using social media, blogging and email marketing are cheap and fairly easy ways to start.