The kind of education you’ll never get in a classroom (online or otherwise).
After law school or paralegal and court reporting education, most legal professionals engage in on-going training programs. The legal field, like many industries, continuously evolves, and you need to keep up with complex developments to be successful. But while continuing education programs and seminars will keep you up-to-date, there’s a certain amount of informal training that should be taking place at all times to foster the skills and knowledge that no official course can deliver.
Trial and error
We’re all familiar with the adage that sometimes the best lessons are the ones we learn when we make mistakes. This applies to training legal professionals, but with actual cases on the line, it’s often better to teach these lessons from experience rather than let young professionals learn them the hard way. Consider the wisdom you can impart to junior attorneys by asking simple questions after a trial, deposition, conference call, or even a new client meeting.
“What are your observations?”
“Do you have any questions about the way this was handled?”
“What can we improve upon the next time?”
Asking them for feedback is a great way to spur conversations that lead to valuable learning experiences.
Remember when you learned to ride a bike? It’s highly unlikely that your parents drew you a picture or tried to explain how to pedal and steer without actually putting you on the seat. Learning by doing is one of the best methods for mastering anything, including practicing law. Despite the massive volume of material that you memorized in school, it’s likely that you don’t remember a lot of it. In contrast, most lawyers will tell you that they never forget their first case or what they learned during marathon workdays when they first started out.
As a young attorney, you may have had to submit your work to a more senior member of the firm to ensure that it was accurate and well written. And if you were given the chance to see the revisions, you learned how to improve your writing and what to do differently the next time. If you’re in a position to offer this kind of constructive criticism to junior attorneys or other legal staff, you’re actually offering them informal, practical training—the kind of education they won’t get in any other setting.
While continuing legal education is a requirement in most law firms and remains pivotal to developing a successful legal career, there’s no substitute to hands-on learning through trial and error and constructive feedback. Law firms that foster an environment of continuous growth will reap the rewards with personnel who are well equipped to handle the ever-changing legal arena.
At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we promote a culture of constructive feedback and ongoing professional development. With more than a decade of experience and over 40 reporters on staff, we’re ready to meet your court reporting needs. Fill out our online form to request a quote or schedule a job today.
Ensure the accuracy of your transcripts and the success of your case by hiring the right person.
Choosing a court reporter is a task that should not be taken lightly. As you know, a precise and accurate transcription can be the key to your case and without a highly-qualified reporter, you may not get what you need. Additionally, because you are often dealing with confidential or sensitive information, you want to make sure that a court reporter is reputable. And you want to choose a reporting firm that will become a trusted partner, supplying you with top notch personnel that meet all of your requirements. With that in mind, here are some important considerations and key questions to ask when you’re hiring a court reporter.
1. Is your reporter a member of the NCRA?
It’s a smart idea to enlist the services of a professional who is a member of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). This internationally-recognized association is the premier educational and informational resource for its professional members and for the public. Court reporting agencies that belong to the NCRA are committed to adhering to the highest standards and ethical best practices in the industry.
2. Are they a full-service agency?
Whether you’re in need of a court reporter for a mediation, deposition, trial, conference, or arbitration, your goal should be to choose a firm that has full-service capabilities. The agency should have conference rooms, videoconferencing, interpreters, Wi-Fi, and various locations to serve you. Hiring a partner that offers all of these services (instead of having to hire multiple people to do each) makes scheduling and managing all of your needs easier and faster.
3. What kind of litigation support do they offer?
There’s no question about the importance of finding a court reporting firm that offers crucial litigation support, including: real-time reporting, the choice of rough disks and/or transcripts, overnight, daily and/or condensed transcripts, word indexing, and audio-transcription.
4. How much experience do they have?
It probably goes without saying that you want a firm that has a respected reputation in the industry and a long record of happy clients. Always ask for referrals from current or former clients and do your research online to learn more about potential hires.
5. How many court reporters are onboard?
While you may likely only need one court reporter at a time, it helps to choose an agency that has a team of experienced professionals to ensure that you can always get service when you need it.
6. Do they have insurance?
Hiring a court reporter who is not insured is a risk you don’t want to take. A top court reporting firm will have liability insurance—this shows that they take their commitment to accuracy and their reputation seriously.
7. How well-versed are they in the rules and regulations of the industry?
It’s important that the firm you choose has reporters who are not only experienced and qualified, but who are also well-versed in the field of litigation and court reporting procedures, and have knowledge of the complex legal, medical, and technical terms that are often used in proceedings.
When selecting a court reporting firm, it’s important to ask these questions. Check on each potential agency’s record, reputation, and range of services. Boss Reporting has more than a decade of experience and over 40 court reporters on staff. We use the latest technology for every job and provide full service to our clients—many of whom have been with us since we first opened our doors in 1995. Get in touch with today to find out how we can serve you.
10 rules of etiquette to make the most of a court reporter’s expertise.
If you’ve been an attorney for some time, you may be familiar with some of the unwritten rules of etiquette that govern working with court reporters. But for lawyers without a lot of experience, this guide outlines exactly what you need to know to get the most out of a deposition. Take a look:
1. Make sure your court reporter is close to the action.
It may seem obvious, but make sure that your witness is seated close to the court reporter. This will ensure that even the most soft-spoken witness is audible and the reporter doesn’t have to strain to capture every word accurately.
2. Is this on or off the record?
Always be clear as to whether you’re saying something that is on or off the record. The best way to make sure that your deposition goes perfectly is to clearly state out loud the nature of your speech.
3. No speeding!
When you’re speaking during a deposition, remember to maintain a moderate pace. If you go too fast, your court reporter can miss something, forcing her ask you to slow down or repeat a crucial point. Make sure that you speak at a speed that is comfortable for the reporter to easily record every word.
4. You have the right to remain silent!
If you’ve asked your court reporter to mark an exhibit during the deposition, remain silent and refrain from questioning until he has finished. If you don’t, the reporter will be unable record what you say because it’s not possible to do both things at the same time.
5. Voice your objections.
In the midst of a deposition, you or other attorneys may have several objections. And while it may seem natural to use hand motions or body language to communicate one objection after another, be sure to verbalize every single one. It’s all too easy for your court reporter to miss an objection if you’re using non-verbal cues.
6. Spell it out in plain English.
While your court reporter may be very experienced, it’s possible that some of the terms of your case will be unfamiliar to her, especially you’re using industry jargon. To ensure that she knows how to properly spell everything, you should provide a list of terms (and the spelling of the names of all the witnesses as well) beforehand.
7. Stick to the facts!
Never ask your court reporter for an opinion about your case. It’s unprofessional and it puts the reporter in an uncomfortable position. The court reporter is always considered a neutral party and he is only there to accurately and efficiently record the deposition.
8. Slow down!
Although court reporters can record hundreds of words per minute, most of us speak even faster than that. So if you’re reading documents out loud, be sure to read slower than you normally would to ensure nothing is missed.
9. Want wings on that transcript to make it fly?
Rush transcripts are not uncommon in the industry and your court reporter should be able to accommodate you, providing you let him know in advance. The earlier the better, of course. But at the very least, provide notification before the deposition begins.
10. Break it down.
Depositions can sometimes take several hours. In long cases, make sure that you and your court reporter take regular breaks. Even a small, ten-minute break will give both of you time to regroup and prevent exhaustion, which ultimately ensures that a deposition will be as accurate as possible.
Court reporters are professionals dedicated to providing the highest quality recordings to their clients. To make the most of their talents and expertise, be sure to follow these simple rules of etiquette while working with them on a deposition.
It’s an important decision that you’ll need to get right.
Undoubtedly, the cloud has revolutionized the way we store, share, and backup files. To many business owners, it presents benefits never before experienced and advanced technology that improves the way they run their companies and serve their customers. But while all of us realize how useful the cloud is, as a lawyer your business has a unique set of regulations and ethics and requires you to store a large amount of confidential information. Using the cloud means that your files will be living on a server in remote location and not within the walls of your business. So the question is, is it ethical for you to use the cloud?
In most cases, yes
While there is a lot of conversation about the cloud within the industry, using this type of computing is becoming more and more popular. The American Bar Association has researched the topic among the bar associations in the United States and many of them agree that when used with “reasonable care”, the cloud is ethical. Depending on which state you practice law in, the ABA suggests that before transitioning to the cloud for your firm, you consider several factors. Let’s take a look.
Choosing a vendor
As you can imagine, more and more cloud service providers are popping up everyday. And for anyone, lawyer or not, who isn’t familiar with the cloud, it may be daunting to choose a vendor. The decision is not to be taken lightly of course, so it’s best to do your homework and read any reviews of each provider. Ask for recommendations and go over the service agreement with a fine tooth comb. Some of the key considerations you’ll want to take into account are security and protection from loss or damage. Also you’ll want to choose a provider that specifies just where the files are stored, how often they are backed up, and that you explicitly own your data.
Following new industry standards
Although there is mixed opinion about cloud computing among different bar associations in the US, the Legal Cloud Computing Association has established standards and guidelines for lawyers to follow to ensure their ethical and legal obligations.
If you’re considering using the cloud for your practice, take some time to review their set of standards, it can only help you. Their published guide discusses the use of the cloud in depth and covers everything from the location and redundancy of data to authentication protocols, limitations of third-party access, ownership of data, the handling of data breaches, disaster recovery, and additional details needed to choose the right vendor and level of service.
Some state bar associations have said that it’s not necessary for an attorney to tell their clients that they are storing data in the cloud. This is something that, depending on your jurisdiction, is left up to your discretion. If you think about it, do businesses you use tell you where your data, whether it’s orders from Amazon or something else, are stored? For the most part, it’s recommended only when you feel it is necessary.
There’s no doubt as to the efficiency and benefits of the cloud, and as our world continues to evolve digitally, these and other technological advances will become more prevalent and available. As attorneys, the key thing to be cognizant of is safeguarding your client’s confidential files. Consider these tips before enlisting the services of a vendor.
Maybe it should be.
Every law office has a manager: the go-to person for all things administrative, including everything from making sure the coffee station is stocked and everyone’s computer is up and running to keeping track of client payments and much, much more. And while any well-run firm knows the immense value of an efficient office manager, there’s something to be said for the firms that breed a management culture.
All hail the delegator
No one person can do everything. And while your office manager keeps your firm running like a well-oiled machine, those managers who are able to delegate will ultimately achieve a higher level of success. Delegating certain tasks and training others to help out when needed ensures that everyone knows how to handle things when the manager is unable to be there or is having to deal with something more pressing. It also allows your manager to focus his/her efforts on assisting with other company efforts, like expanding your firm’s reach.
They’ll be in a management state of mind
Encouraging a sense of common responsibility among your team will also deepen your team’s connection to the company and increase their level of engagement. When everyone begins to think as a manager, they can contribute fresh ideas which gives the management team a new perspective on ways to improve the firm’s operations.
A team that can wear many hats
Everyone has their specialty, and your law firm is no exception. But instilling a management culture among all your team members exposes them to the responsibilities of their co-workers. If you’ve ever worked your way up in a company, you know the value of understanding what it takes to perform the duties of other positions. It gives you a multifaceted skill set, making you that much more equipped to do your job. Which in turn means they’ll be even more qualified to serve your clients and help build the firm. Allowing everyone to take on some of the management duties, however big or small they may be, will also enable them to broaden their horizons, gain a deeper appreciation for what others do and foster a greater sense of camaraderie.
Those law firms that wish to maximize their potential and the potential of their entire team understand the value of delegating management tasks and bringing everyone onboard toward a common goal. The results? A highly efficient team of experts who are engaged, enthusiastic, and effective.
But don’t dismay—this doesn’t have to be you.
The news is not new, but it is cause for concern, especially if you’re an attorney. According to a recent study by PsychSafe principal consultant Dr. Rebecca Michalak, lawyers, because of their long hours, high levels of stress, toxic work environments, and strenuous workloads, have the worst health and well-being of any white-collar professionals.
And, as if that news isn’t bad enough, the study also showed that many lawyers resort to drugs and alcohol to combat the stress. There’s also research that shows the suicide rate among attorneys is higher than many other professionals. Perhaps it’s the adversity they face day in and day out or the fact that their working conditions have caused them to slump into a depression.
If you’re an attorney, you’re likely shaking your head thinking, “Tell me something I didn’t know”. And while the reality is what it is, that doesn’t mean you can’t change your fate.
Walk it off
One of the top ways to combat stress is exercise, but for a busy attorney who may be spending 14+ hours a day at the office, exercise may seem like an unrealistic goal. So instead, take one to two 10- minute walks, either around the office or around the block. And if possible, go alone or if you bring along an associate make it clear that you won’t discuss work or anything related to it during the walk. It may not seem like much, but that small amount of time spent away from your desk and the firm can boost your mood, clear your head, and give you an increased level of energy to tackle the rest of the day.
Mediation is not for everyone, but everyone should do it. If that doesn’t make sense, that’s ok. The truth is, it’s something that takes practice, but once you get good at it, you’ll find that you don’t want to do without it. If you’re able and have an open mind, daily mediation can eliminate stress, give you a renewed sense of calm and help you get to a better, more peaceful place. Experts say that you don’t even have to make it a formal thing. Just close your eyes, do some deep cleansing breaths, and clear your mind for a few minutes.
Eat to win
And by win, we’re not talking about your next case. What you’re eating plays a big part in your wellbeing as you are likely aware. But when you’re stuck at the office, in traffic, or running back and forth to the courthouse, you may find yourself consuming the quickest and most convenient eats most of which are just not good for you. If you can, plan ahead and pack some healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, or veggie sticks. Bring a lunch when you can and make eating healthy a priority when you’re home, too. Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and obesity plague those who are stressed especially when they have a diet that consists of fast food, energy drinks, and processed foods.
Many lawyers spend their nights working or pacing around contemplating cases. It’s not uncommon for an attorney to give up hours of sleep every night. Some even report as little as two hours a night during big trials. But sleep is the key way your body and your mind heal and refresh. Without it, you’re headed for serious mental and physical health issues. Sleep deprivation causes reduced productivity, forgetfulness, careless errors, and a host of problems for your body. The answer? Increase your slumber hours. If you need to start slowly, add an hour or two every night and then build back up to at least 7 hours. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about natural remedies. Narcotics will just add insult to injury in the long run.
Talk to someone
Anxiety and depression are real and sometimes they require professional help. Just like your clients seek you out for your legal expertise, there’s no shame in turning to a therapist who is trained to guide people on ways to cope with stress. Remember, sometimes you just need to talk and have someone totally objective to listen to you. Therapy is an ideal way to get things off your chest and clear your mind.
Let the music play
Bring your headphones and your IPod and enjoy listening to your favorite tunes while you’re working. Music can transport you to a different realm, and it’s a scientific fact that listening to music releases endorphins in the body, elevating your mood. It also helps tune out any distracting chatter that’s going on in the office. So rock on!
Do some soul searching
If your lifelong dream was to become an attorney and you’re suffering at the hands of a toxic work environment, it’s time to take a good hard look at where you’re working. Not all law firms are created equal and if you’re having a negative experience because of mistreatment, bad management, or abusive situations, consider pursuing other opportunities.
There is stress in nearly every profession. For an attorney, who is consistently fighting to win against an opponent, the level of stress, anxiety, and depression is considerably higher than most other white-color professions. If you’re an attorney who is feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to review these tips on ways to manage your stress and remember, if you feel like you cannot handle it, it’s best to seek help from a professional therapist.
Transform toxic and turbulent to inspiring and inclusive!
What would your employees say if they were asked about the culture of your law firm? If you’re cringing at the thought of their feedback, perhaps it’s time to examine what life is like for your team. Lawyers everywhere, especially those who are just starting out, will tell you that between the endless hours at the office, the drudgery and an adverse ambiance, their firm is not only unpleasant, it’s downright soul-sucking.
If it comes as any comfort to you to know that yours isn’t the only company with this issue, great! Admitting there’s a problem is the first step to solving it. And if you’d like to come up with ways to elevate the mood among your crew and to transform your company culture, then read on!
“What am I doing here?” is one of those questions that creeps into everyone’s mind time and again. Employees who don’t have a clearly defined purpose are less engaged, less happy, and less productive. As management, it’s your job to define the missions and goals of the firm and to communicate these to your team. But it goes even a step further when you’re faced with a culture clash and that’s ensuring that employees understand their part in the mission and why what they do every day is important. Without this, there’s no purpose and without purpose, there’s no passion.
Recognition and reward
Employees who are recognized for a job well done feel happier and more appreciated which always translates into the motivation to work harder. It’s common sense really, but sometimes people get so busy and distracted with the daily grind that they forget that a little appreciation goes a long way. Law firms that implement an employee recognition and reward program see immediate improvement in their culture. Not only are team members inspired to work harder to earn rewards, they’re more likely to appreciate and recognize their co-workers. These are also key elements that go back to how valued they feel and why their role is an important part of your overall mission.
Room to grow
We can all agree that stagnancy stinks. Nobody likes immobility, especially when it comes to their career. Law firms that offer learning and development opportunities for their staff reap the rewards in various ways. First, they have team members that are learning new skills and advancing their knowledge that they can apply to their job and second, these people feel happier and more empowered to perform. Workshops, webinars, industry events, and other similar activities are key ways to provide growth opportunities to your team. Remember, the more they know, the better they can do their jobs all of which has a direct and positive reflection on your firm.
Positive company culture doesn’t always occur naturally. Consider your turnover rate. If you have employees consistently strategizing their exit, it’s time to take a new approach. At a time where companies like Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook set the standard for a progressive, innovative, and open-approach to culture, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you’ve got to keep up. Follow these tips to get started in a new, more positive direction.
A brief history of Boss Certified Realtime Reporting and the positive impact on South Florida.
She was a business major. Like many, life started to happen for Donna Kadosh and she changed her area of study and it wasn’t easy. “More than half of my class didn’t graduate, as the curriculum was extremely demanding.” But Donna did graduate. She also went on to build one of the largest court reporting firms in the south Florida area.
Started in 1995, Boss Reporting began in a rented office and secured two steady clients. Fast forward to 2015 and they have grown significantly. Currently, the firm has grown to over 40 court reporters. Some have been with Boss for over a decade. “I’ve worked for Boss for more than ten years,” stated Diana Hall Chalk, a dedicated employee.
They’ve also been recognized by the community. In 2011 the growing firm was nominated for “Small Business of the Year” by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. This honor was in recognition of Boss’s successful management, integrity, and continuing contributions to the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and local area businesses.
During the same year, Boss Reporting also took part in an event hosted in part by the local Women’s Council. Suits and other gently used business attire were donated for victims of domestic violence. Taking part in activities such as this combined with recognition awards show the commitment this organization has to the surrounding area.
When it comes to their clients, Boss Certified Realtime Reporting has always provided outstanding service. It’s important to note that they have also led the way in educating the field on the strengths of stenographic reporting versus digital court reporting. In a recent blog, Boss stated that court room reporters spend time “in courtrooms and understand the various terms and jargon that are thrown around. He or she can stop to ask questions if there is an issue with the quality of audio or if someone’s verbal statement was not heard.” This type of flexibility and attention to detail is a quality that digital recording cannot provide due to the limitations of the technology. This also shows Boss Reporting’s commitment to stenographic court reporters and educating peers in the field regarding this important issue.
Their educational efforts don’t end there. New employees have to spend at least a month working with seasoned reporters to learn the basic firm procedures before heading into the courtroom on their own. Training practices like this combined with a twenty-year history of excellence ensuring that Boss will be on the reporting scene for many years to come.
You might not be ready yet if any of the descriptions below apply to you.
If you’ve started out the new year thinking about going out on your own. You’re not alone. Many attorneys (and other professionals for that matter) dream of being their own boss. But before you jump ship from your current firm, there’s much to consider including ensuring that you’re completely ready. If any of the points on this checklist describe you, you may want to put off your solo mission.
You lack self-motivation
Owning your own law firm is an entrepreneurial endeavor and if there’s one trait successful entrepreneurs share, it’s the ability to work on their own. If you’re one who consistently finds themselves searching for direction and guidance from others, take a step back before heading out on your own. You not only need the confidence to make your own decisions, you also have to be driven to act with conviction to get things done. And if you can’t imagine working alone, you’re better off staying put for the time being.
You can’t handle pressure
Anyone who’s ever run their own business will tell you it’s stressful. As an attorney, when the well-being and future of your client rests in your hands, that responsibility can be overwhelming. If you’ve ever had trouble handling pressure before, it’s probably not worth putting yourself under that kind of strain.
You haven’t done your homework
You may be an awesome, sharp, and highly experienced lawyer but if you don’t know anything about running a business, think twice before becoming a lone ranger. Running your own practice involves more than being an attorney. For example, managing overhead costs, marketing, technology concerns, and record keeping are all very time consuming. If you haven’t researched how these aspects of ownership impact business, don’t take another step until you do. Of course, there are a ton of resources available and it’s likely you have some peers that can give you good advice.
You lack commitment
Don’t confuse enthusiasm with commitment and don’t even think about flying solo if you aren’t passionate about running a firm on your own. When push comes to shove, and it always does when you’re running your own show, you need to have that internal, unwavering commitment to your mission and goals because there won’t be anyone standing behind you to push you forward. Those that run their own firm understand that it’s not just a job, it’s a calling, a true passion, and the one thing they are willing to work hard for day after day.
You’re not an original
Standing out among the rest is key to running a successful business, especially when you consider how many attorneys are out there vying for clients. So it stands to reason that your firm should be a reflection of who you are, what your talents are, and what makes you different. If you find yourself looking to others to mimic their methods, your lack of originality could be a detriment to your success. Think twice about venturing out on your own if you don’t have a clear vision that’s uniquely yours. And remember, you may not have it today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop it in the future.
Running your own law firm can be a rewarding, life-changing experience but not until you are good and ready. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be completely honest with yourself and address all the key aspects to be successful. Take your time, do your homework, be prepared, and think deeply about your goals, your ability to handle stress, and the kind of commitment it takes.
When working with clients, honesty is the best policy. Tell them what they need to know—not what they want to hear.
When it comes to building and maintaining healthy client relationships, there’s nothing more important than satisfying their expectations. In fact, a client’s anticipation of how their experience should be is key and can be the deciding factor between continuing or terminating their relationship with you. And since most of us cannot accurately measure a client’s expectations 100 percent of the time, putting a process into place to identify and manage their expectations is a practical and proven method to ensuring satisfaction. Here’s some tips to get a handle on and continually exceed client’s expectations:
Communication is always a critical component to any relationship and in this case, it’s the first step to ensuring client satisfaction. To determine their expectations, a meeting to discuss exactly what your client expects from you and your firm during the course of their case is in order. During this meeting it’s important to ask your client not only what they expect of you as their counsel but also what they want to see happen in their case. Other key questions to be posed are how they expect the process to go, how will you communicate with each other going forward (in person, on the phone, email), how often they expect updates, what their anticipation is as far as budget for the case (unless already specified), and if they are ok with receiving information from other staff members. Be sure to write down all their responses and pose any concerns upfront on their desired outcome, if relevant.
Provide clarification and realistic goals
Once you’ve listened intently and recorded all your client’s input on their expectations, the next step is to be clear about their anticipations and whether or not their goals are realistic. You are the attorney and therefore the expert when it comes to the law. Of course, you never want to diminish your client’s expectations, but it’s important to advise them when their goals are unrealistic or unattainable. If there are risks, or any potential obstacles, this is the time to address them openly and honestly and to give your client alternative options if possible. If what they expect from you and/or the case is right on target, all the better.
It’s also important to note that telling a client what they want to hear may be tempting, but unless you can deliver on their expectations, you’re doing them a disservice and setting them and yourself up for disappointment. Being straight, even if it means telling them something they don’t like, is always the best way to operate.
Lay it all out in writing
Creating a basic document that outlines your process for dealing with clients and their case is an effective way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. In fact, clients always appreciate having something tangible that states exactly how their case will be handled, how and when communication will take place and what is to be expected every step of the way. Implementing a process guide, or whatever you would like to title it, can be useful in every single case.
Provide answers to common questions
Whether you create a list of FAQ’s that you give to each client after you take on their case or have it handy during meetings with clients, it’s a good idea to be ready to address common questions.
Follow-through and be consistent
Nothing is more important than keeping your word and following through with all that you’ve promised to your clients. Even when their case isn’t won, if you’ve delivered on all their expectations, your client will feel satisfied in the service you’ve given them. And since you can’t win them all, satisfaction is key to maintaining your relationships.
To foster long-term relationships with your clients, establishing and managing expectations is key. Following these tips will help you determine exactly what each of your clients expects from you and your law firm and allows you to exceed their expectations, which ultimately leads to satisfaction.
Increase productivity and get everyone on the same page with a few clicks.
Any lawyer worth his or her weight will tell you that a key aspect to productivity and success is staying organized. It makes sense, especially since we live and work in an information overload world. So those attorneys who have a firm grip on their practice, including client and case information, deposition schedules, serve deadlines, and much more, are naturally going to be more prepared and ultimately more successful. And luckily there’s a plethora of tools out there that are free and easy to use. Let’s take a look.
For those who are using Microsoft Office 365, Groups is an awesome way to get everyone who’s working on cases together to be on the same page. It allows you to set up a team inbox in Outlook and a group calendar for case deadlines to create a document repository and more. This is tremendously helpful when you have multiple counsel or staff members working on cases together, and when new team members are added to the case they can simply scroll through the conversations that are available to get up to speed. There’s no need to spend hours forwarding information.
Perhaps one of the greatest collaboration programs out there, Microsoft’s OneNote (which is a part of the Groups capability), allows you to take notes and share them with everyone on the team at the same time. Think of it as a digital notebook, where you can layout your opening statements and closing arguments, sketch out demonstrations you plan to make and make outlines of steps you’re planning on taking during the course of the case.
Rolled out in the end of last year, this new legal document management system, which is also a part of Microsoft 365, is an add-on for Word and Outlook and gives you the ability to create new cases and save files directly to those cases. It’s extremely helpful because it allows you to organize files by matter, find documents, and securely collaborate with team members without having to log out of one program and into another. This organization method means less time searching for files and relevant information because it’s all stored together in one easily accessible place. With Matter Center, many attorneys find they are more productive because they have reduced the amount of time they need to spend on administrative functions and increase they’re time spent working on their cases.
Planner could possibly be the best collaboration tool you can get. With it you can organize your team for every case and have an easy way to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, share files, and update everyone on what’s happening in the case. Planner gives you a visual view of each plan, with a Board that keeps track of everything from due dates, all documents and attachments, conversations and more. And every time something new is added to the plan, all team members are notified via email.
Working with Microsoft Office 365, using Groups, OneNote, Matter Center, and Planner gives you powerful ways to stay organized and to collaborate with everyone on every case. There’s no better way to stay on top of all details and tasks that need to get done to ensure you’re as productive as possible.
Big case with lots of detail? Make this one thing a part of your preparation and improve your performance every time.
Picture this: You’re in the midst of a trial and the judge begins to fire away questions at you. You know the case well, but since you don’t possess an identic memory (not many folks do) and the case may have many key aspects and authorities, you’re flustered and unable to give a quick, coherent response. For many attorneys, preparation for every case includes creating a “cheat sheet” that can provide all the information needed at a glance.
This document, which many lawyers make an important part of preparing for the physical realities of the courtroom, can mean the difference between stumbling and subsequently dropping the ball, or being able to intelligently answer any questions directed at you.
Courtroom Cheat Sheet: Instant access to information
Time is always of the essence when you’re arguing your case in court. As a great lawyer, you know this. So it only makes sense that you won’t want to have to take any extra time to access information that is pertinent to the case when asked to cite authorities or any other facts. A cheat sheet can eliminate any hesitation or need to thumb through your notes.
Keep in mind: short, sweet and to the point
While many of your documents require a lot of details and need to be presented in a certain manner, your cheat sheet is for your eyes only (and your co-attorney on the case if you have one). So it’s more important that it’s readable, well organized and is not too verbose.
When organizing it, putting facts and notes in the same order as you will present your case is highly advisable, that way you can know exactly where to look at the sheet if and when the need arises.
Simple, straightforward notes that outline pertinent facts are key. It’s also advisable to use a font that is big enough to read when you are a few feet away from your counsel table. Some attorneys use a tablet, while others prefer paper, use whatever you are most comfortable with and make sure you’ve reviewed it before walking into the courtroom.
Do it yourself or train assistants well
You’re busy, but you are also the one who is most familiar with the cases you try. So if it’s possible, you should try to be the one to create your cheat sheets for each case. Doing this also allows you to make notes using your own understandable abbreviations since you are the only one who needs to be able to understand it. However, if you find it difficult to find the time, training an assistant is a viable option. Just keep in mind that he/she needs to know the case well and be directed on what information is key and how the cheat sheet should be organized. Spending some time going over what you require and how you would like the document to look will ensure that you’re not making matters worse (having to struggle to understand someone else’s notes) when called upon or questioned.
Being prepared for your physical presence in the courtroom is as important as having a strong case and knowing exactly how you’re going to present it. By creating a cheat sheet for every case, you’ll be giving yourself an added resource of information and ensuring that you’re always on your toes.
For more useful industry information, check out the resources on our site or to find out about our certified real-time reporting services, get in touch with us today.
When a potential client is on the fence, your bio can help you win their custom
Every attorney should update their professional bio on a regular basis in order to connect better with their potential clients. It is an important marketing tool to use and so it is worthy of returning to on a regular basis. Your bio should be to the point, brief, well-written, and should easily demonstrate the benefits of working with you. Follow these tips in order to maximize the benefits associated with your legal biography.
1. Write with your ideal client in mind
Include benefits woven throughout your legal biography that would ignite the interest of an audience that are interested in hiring you. Having this in mind while writing your biography from start to finish can increase the chances that you’ll easily connect with someone who is already your ideal client.
Once you have completed the bio, you could benefit from reading it out loud. Do you feel passionate about what you wrote? Does it accurately convey who you are? This is a great way to establish yourself as a solid editor of your own work, and to tweak things that might increase the chances that you hear from your ideal clients.
2. Use personality
Your abilities as well as your personality should be subtly reflected in your legal biography. Of course you want to capitalize on your education and your experience, but you also want to include some elements that show that you are also a human being. Individuals want to hire a lawyer who is knowledgeable and professional but also someone with whom they can easily relate. This is why it is imperative to include some personality in your legal biography, even if it seems like a great opportunity to keep things business only.
You don’t need to delve into all the private details of your life, but it can be very helpful to show your potential clients that you have interests and hobbies outside the office, too. Even though professionalism is such an important component of hiring the right lawyer, people also love seeing that you can connect with them on other levels. Provide room for that in your biography, even if it’s only briefly.
3. Include examples
Including types of transactions or cases that you have handled can illustrate even further that your ideal client should decide to retain your services as soon as possible. Never name the client, but you can reference various outcomes or situations that are unique to your own background. Showing how you have used your talents to succeed
4. Make it brief
Too many attorneys provide a long rendered biography that does not give any opportunity to clearly make a point to the intended reader. While it might seem tempting to include all of your accomplishments and many different details, it can actually overwhelm the reader and make them miss out on critical information that could have caused them to hire you. Make sure that you edit your biography a couple of times so that it is clear, concise and compelling.
5. Include important keywords
Because the vast majority of people conduct research of any type online—including their search for legal counsel—you’ll want to make sure you’re using the terms people use to search for attorneys with your experience so your profile appears in on the results pages for relevant queries.
When you’re able to strike a balance between your background, accomplishments, and personality in your bio, you’re more likely to attract your ideal clients.
Even though search tech dominates conversations surrounding marketing, word-of-mouth is still the best way to attract your ideal clients
There are three different types of referrals that law firms can use in order to cut out some of the work from their own marketing process. Using referrals often leads ideal clients directly to your doorstep because one satisfied client will likely bring in another client very similar to him or her.
The benefits of referral clients
When a referral client comes your way, it is easier to initiate a relationship because you already have something in common that you can use as a touch point to initiate working together. The three types of referrals that law firms can use are:
1. Expertise based referrals: Someone recommends your firm as a result of their awareness of your expertise within a particular field.
2. Experience based referrals: These are likely the referrals you’re actively pursuing because they are the direct result of your experience working with an individual or organization.
3. Reputation based referrals: Individuals come to you because they are familiar with your reputation in your community, even if they haven’t worked with you in the past.
Make sure your message matches your mission
One of the most common reasons that individuals do not choose to work with a law firm is because they are not familiar with how a particular firm could help them. Being able to demonstrate this on your website is one way to increase the chances of referrals. You may also wish to use an incentive program to encourage prospective clients who are already working with you to pass business your way.
Clients who already know and love your work are likely to give a solid seal of approval when they encounter someone who is a good fit for you. Letting your existing clients know just how much you appreciate this, though, is something you can incorporate across your firm in order to increase the chances of success. Make sure you have a plan to communicate with your current clients on an ongoing basis.
Touch base with existing clients
Sending a simple thank you note as well as other touch points throughout the year, like newsletters and holiday cards, can also remind your existing clients of the relationship they have with you and keep your name fresh in their mind when they are interacting with others.
Following up with all of your clients after you have concluded a case is another way to indicate to them that they are more than just a one-time interaction for you. Building a relationship with your clients makes it that much easier for them to refer other business your way when they meet a potential ideal client for you.
Boss Reporting is dedicated to helping law firms improve their service while keeping costs low. Check out the rest of our blog for more useful information, or give us a call at 954-467-6867 and learn how partnering with us for certified realtime court reporting can benefit you.
You can’t do it alone—period.
It’s empowering, almost spellbinding, when you think about how you singlehandedly help so many people. Whether you’re defending the innocent, getting justice for the victimized, or putting away bad guys, being an attorney is your remarkable superpower. But those who take on all of the responsibilities that encompass every case, or running a firm, find themselves hitting a very hard, very painful brick wall in the form of burnout. You simply can’t do it all, all of the time, and that’s why every lawyer needs to learn the art of delegation. Here are more reasons why.
Delivering a higher quality of work and attention
Your clients come first but if you’re operating as an island, you can’t possibly deliver the kind of attention to every single client all of the time. It’s not humanly possible. So instead of being the lone ranger, delegate simple tasks like responding to emails or phone calls, returning messages and setting up meetings. Whether you get yourself a trusted assistant or turn to one of the staff members, allowing others to manage some of the easier tasks will free you up to give that attention and focus to each case.
A chance for others to grow
If you’ve been an attorney for some time, you likely had a more senior lawyer throw you a bone once in a while. And when you delegate to a lower level attorney or staff members at your firm, you’re paying it forward. If you take the time to train them, there’s no reason that these team members can’t handle many of the tasks that are taking up a lot of your time. Giving people a chance to learn and to further develop their skills is not only good for them, it’s good for your firm.
Frees up time for more important pursuits
Imagine how much more effective you’ll be when you’re not spending hours a day on mundane, repetitive tasks that could easily be handled by someone else. When you delegate, you open up time in your schedule to focus on things like client development, building your firm, and the more complex responsibilities that really can only be accomplished by you.
Gives you a real break
When you’re not operating as an island you can actually go to one or anywhere else you want for that matter. When was the last time you had a real vacation? If you spend 16 hours a day managing your cases, working with clients, filing motions and doing everything for every case, you may never ride that awesome wave or gaze out at the mountains in Montana or do whatever you’re dreaming of doing when you don’t have to work. In a nutshell, all work and no play makes you a dull, dull boy or girl. So delegate today and start sipping that piña colada tomorrow!
Give your clients better peace of mind
It’s unnerving enough for people to be involved in a lawsuit or any legal situation, but what happens when you’re simply unavailable for your client? If you’re the only one they ever talk to or deal with, it’s likely they will feel underserved and that something pressing has to wait. If you truly want to give your clients the best possible legal representation, they need to know there’s another person who’s capable, knowledgeable and understanding of their needs.
After reading this quick overview, it should be clear why becoming a master at delegating will not only help you, it will ultimately help your entire firm and improve your business. Start as soon as possible and reap the many benefits that sharing the load with others will bring. For more helpful information and tips, check our blog often. We hope you enjoyed The Art of Delegation: Why Every Lawyer Needs to Become a Master.
They take on important tasks outside your specialty so you can focus on what your practice does best
No law firm cannot exist and succeed on its own. Law firms frequently rely on a complex network of vendors and partners who help them to accomplish their various goals. Doing this allows you to capitalize on the experience and expertise of individuals in their respective fields while still staying focused on delivering high levels of client care. Read on to learn more about some of the key vendor partners you should consider working with in order to make your law firm as successful as possible.
There are numerous reasons you may wish to use a videographer, but this is especially important as it relates to depositions. Having a knowledgeable videographer you can trust to turn video around quickly is extremely valuable.
Exhibit filing and transcript filing experts
As you likely already know there are special nuances and formal rules associated with filing various documents in court. Having people who can help organize and present these materials in the most effective manner can be extremely beneficial so that you can focus on the legal issues in the case.
There are many different occasions for which you might need to have an interpreter on hand to help with a language barrier between you and other individuals. Having an interpreter in the room can be extremely beneficial when you need real time explanations of what is being said. This allows you and your potential clients to make informed decisions in the moment without any confusion. Offering this service can also ensure your clients feel understood and put them at ease.
Stenographic court reporters
Of course, there is no way that you could do your job as successfully without a stenographic court reporter. You may need to have one on hand to keep track of various issues happening with your clients, especially as it relates to depositions. Not only can they give you an immediate record of exactly what was said, they can give you peace of mind knowing that their case-winning statements are always on the record.
Work with certified realtime reporters who care about keeping your costs down. Make Boss Reporting your top partner for certified realtime court reporting.
You want to know what clients are saying, even if it’s not as positive as you would like
As a busy member of a law firm, it can be very easy to overlook the benefits of using a customer survey to learn more about how you are doing. There are many benefits associated with using a customer survey and evaluating the answers from such a survey can go a long way towards improving your practice and your relationships with your existing clients. Read on to learn more about some of the key ways that a customer survey can help you.
Better strategic planning
When you receive a customer survey, it can inform you more about the areas of the law that your customers and clients feel you are most effective with. This allows you to zero in and focus on a particular sector of your practice and use the lessons from individuals working in that sector to inform other departments. Perhaps this encourages you to focus specifically on that type of practice or you can see what is working in that particular department and think about how you can broaden it to other departments.
Better client relationships with existing clients
A customer survey may reveal issues that you weren’t aware that you had and the customer survey results can help you determine the best way to handle this. Identifying problems at this grassroots level with an anonymous survey gives you insight into where you could be doing better as well as where you are already doing well. Your existing customers will benefit from your renewed interest to serving them in a high level way.
Better relationships with new clients
Sometimes you might not realize the challenges associated with a certain part of your practice until the client has already been entrenched in a relationship with you for many years. You may learn about some of the things that you could do better in the onboarding process to make them feel more valued and special as a client. Looking at how your existing clients have rated your services and what they think you can do better will allow you to take a holistic approach towards improving things with both your current and your future clients.
As you can see, there are many benefits to using a customer survey. Implementing one today can give you anonymous feedback about what you are doing well and also show where there is room for improvement. Implementing a customer survey can help you improve a thriving practice and close gaps where there are issues.