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.
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.
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
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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.
LinkedIn is currently one of the fastest growing social media platforms. If you think your ideal client isn’t using LinkedIn, then you are certainly wrong.
Professionals are signing up for an account at a rate of more than 2 members per second. It is more than likely that there are quite a few people out of the millions on LinkedIn who could be a potential client or referral source.
As more and more people create profiles every day, lawyers have an unprecedented opportunity to connect online with people in their target market.
Solo attorneys work harder to gain the clientele, respect and reputation as that of an established law firm or an associate of that established firm. Balancing clients and family while keeping their business running smoothly can be overwhelming and stressful. Common mistakes that most solo attorneys have that are often overlooked but ultimately cost them money are properly tracking time, maintaining their reputation and networking using social media. Here are some tips that will help you deal with some common mistakes made as a solo attorney.
Properly Tracking Time. When working for a firm it is required that you track your time on a weekly basis and it becomes habit that you track your time after you deal with each client as a general practice. As a solo, you are so overwhelmed with wearing the many hats needed to operate a law practice like tasks associated with that of being a paralegal, secretary, runner, receptionist and attorney that you tend to wait until you have time to write down what work you did on each case. Without tracking time properly you are likely losing money. Your time is how you bill clients and how you get paid. Your bread and butter. There are programs that allow you to develop a timekeeping system that are ultimately free tools like Google Calendar and iTimeKeep. There are also programs like Freshbooks that will allow you to track time, bill and invoice clients as well as keep up with business expenses.
Reputation. As a solo attorney trying to make your mark in this big world, your reputation is very important. How you are viewed in the legal community can either make you or break you. Reputation although very important seems like something minor for a solo attorney since it is the last thing on their mind; being overwhelmed and stressed by wearing many hats trying to be successful with their practice. It is important that solo attorneys be mindful of how they present themselves and how they treat others. Word of mouth is a good marketing tool and could determine if you get a referral or if you get smashed by competition. This same word of mouth can reach potential client who in turn chooses another attorney. Don’t forget the importance of reputation. If you could get on top of all the tasks associated with running the business you can focus more time and energy on being an attorney and handling your clients needs as well as being the best you that you can be.
Social Media/Online Presence. Social media has become a vital part of networking and building a business. Use it to market your practice, make connections and gain potential clients. People are relying on social media to make decisions. Same is true when deciding which attorney or law firm to use. The first step most people do is to go to the internet and search for that attorney. They want to find out about that attorney like what are their interests, what articles have they posted, what types of groups do they belong to, how much information they know (blogs), how professional are they (online presence) and what are people saying about them (reviews). Having an online presence also gives clients a platform to brag and give feedback about you which helps build reputation. It is time-consuming to juggle social media sites, post blogs and interact with potential clients and colleagues. 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. There are programs like Hootsuite and Every Post that manage social media sites in that it allows you to post to all your social media sites from one place, as well as write blogs and schedule when you want them to post.
Running a business takes a lot of hard work and dedication; add trying to practice law and be the best attorney in your field which requires just as much hard work and dedication, and that’s where the problem arises. Two major careers and only one YOU! The solution is simple, outsource! Outsourcing for attorneys has become as common as hiring an in-house secretary. The fact is that every solo attorney needs someone to handle the everyday things like screening calls, scheduling meetings with new clients, tracking time, billing clients, typing letters, scheduling court reporters, drafting pleadings and making sure that those pleadings are free of errors and filed with the courts upon your approval and social media management. All the tasks that are overwhelming to a solo attorney or a law firm for that matter that require a big chunk of time and as a end result contributes to being overwhelmed and ultimately losing money!