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Save money, get more organized, and help the environment by going digital
When someone thinks of a law firm, they might often imagine a large, bustling office filled with tables stacked to the brim with paperwork– and until recently, they’d probably be right. However, in the last few years, more and more law firms have crossed the digital divide– mostly or completely sharing and creating all work documents electronically.
Getting rid of paper at the office seems to have a multitude of benefits for law firms both large and small. If you make the leap, it’s important to take a few precautions to ensure the safety and privacy of your documents during your transition to a new digital workplace.
How going paperless can save time– and money
Going paperless, more than anything else, has the potential to increase your law firm’s efficiency by a staggering amount. In fact, some studies have reported that making the switch can increase a firm’s efficiency by up to 50%. Attorneys often have to write off valuable billable hours when time is wasted looking for missing, damaged, or misplaced documents– something which happens far less often in a paperless firm. Client communication is also streamlined, allowing the quick transfer of important legal documents at a moment’s notice. Additionally, transitioning to a digital workspace can help lawyers save money on paper, printer ink and other traditional paper-based office supplies. While this might not seem significant at first, eliminating these expenses can potentially save a firm thousands of dollars per year– money that can be well spent increasing salaries, bonuses, or purchasing other valuable resources to increase the firm’s efficiency.
The environmental benefits of going paperless
While helping the earth might not be first on a stressed-out lawyer’s to-do list, it’s another great benefit of going paperless. Without using paper and the associated supplies, a firm reduces its contribution to global deforestation and global warming while simultaneously decreasing the amount of waste it’s producing– all boons to the environment. While these environmental benefits may not lead to a direct increase in profits for a firm, it could be good news for the firm’s PR and marketing efforts– especially if some of the firm’s potential or existing clients have a personal or corporate focus on supporting the environment.
Paperless law firms and security
Whether a law firm is filled with paper files or completely paperless, ensuring client privacy by securing sensitive documents is always a priority. Law firms that have not yet gone paperless run the risk of valuable or private documents being stolen or misplaced. Paperless law firms could also face risks like hacking if they don’t take the right steps to ensure that their digital information is secure. It is essential for firms to make sure that whatever online digital work system or project management software they use is highly protected. It’s also important to secure company email accounts, which are often linked to the firm’s online project management software.
Additionally, firms should create specific, concrete cyber-security policies for their employees to avoid risky behaviors that could compromise client data. These might include logging on to their work email or digital workspace on an unsecured or public wifi network, using unapproved drives to transfer files to or from a computer with sensitive legal data, doing work on personal computers that have not been properly secured with anti-viruses and other protective software, or accessing dangerous websites on a company computer.
Before going completely paperless, don’t forget to…
Your firm should have a game plan and a checklist before going paperless. Select and thoroughly test a document management, project management, or digital workspace software that fits well with your firm’s needs. Before removing or destroying any paper client files, your firm should offer them to the client. It’s also essential to make sure that your document management workspace is completely up and running so employees will have full access to important files. Finally, it’s a good practice to keep client files archived securely (digitally or hard copy) for 10 years after the date of last representation.
No matter how much paper is stacked on your law firm’s desks, it’s never too late to attempt a paperless office. Going paperless has the potential to improve communication both internally and with clients, save a firm money, allow lawyers and staff members to work faster, and to help the firm avoid losing sensitive client files — a potentially embarrassing and expensive setback.
To learn more about how going paperless may be able to benefit your law firm (and how to do it) contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Legal partnerships have many benefits, but choosing the right partner is essential
If you’re a solo practitioner, or you’re planning on becoming one soon, you might be wondering whether it would be better to enter a partnership with another attorney. As the old saying goes “two heads are better than one,” and law partners that work well together can share overhead costs, double their network ability, and often gain the ability to take on larger, more complicated, and potentially more profitable cases than solo practitioners.
However, choose the wrong law partner, and you could face a loss of profit, a damaged reputation, and even legal trouble down the line. So, is it better to stay solo or launch a legal firm with a partner? The answer: it depends.
When should you enter a law partnership?
Before making any serious decisions about entering a legal partnership, it’s important that you and your potential companion have similar expectations about your vision for the firm. For example, if one attorney wants to work 25 hours a week to take care of family, and the other is willing to work 80+ hour weeks to create a large and powerful law firm, it could lead to serious conflict down the road.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re on the same page about the kind of law you’re practicing— and while you don’t necessarily have to practice the exact same type of law for a partnership to work, your two practice areas should at least be complementary. For example, a corporate lawyer and a specialist in IP law may be able to form an effective partnership, but it may be more difficult (if not completely impossible) for a divorce lawyer and a patent lawyer to make a legal partnership work. While larger law firms can afford to be more diverse in their practice areas (due to the ability of hiring groups of new attorneys,) for smaller two or three person partnerships, it usually pays to be more specific so you can develop a base of clients with similar legal needs.
Finally, it’s important to make sure your work ethic, morals, and personal habits match together well. Even things like working hours can cause major conflict if they’re not properly addressed in the early stages of a partnership (or as part of the decision process.) Even if both lawyers work 50 hours each week, if one sleeps in late and works through the night, while another is an extreme early bird, it may be quite difficult for them to effectively collaborate at work.
The benefits of entering a law partnership
A good partnership, much like a marriage, allows both parties to save money by putting their funds together—allowing attorneys to save money on office space, marketing and advertising expenses, staff and employee costs, and other expenditures.
With two partners, each brings into the partnership their own network of contacts—and by combining the two networks, the practice may be able to attract a variety of new clients and bring in significantly more profits.
Finally, a partnership can be rewarding for psychological reasons—going at it alone can be challenging, and having a partner gives lawyers someone to commiserate with, ask for advice, and work with through challenges, problems, and tough situations.
The risks of partnerships
Much in the same way that a good partnership is like a marriage, a bad partnership can be like an acrimonious divorce. If one attorney has committed illegal acts, or committed serious ethical violations in the partnership, the other lawyer may be blamed for some of his actions—potentially tarnishing both attorneys’ reputations, and even leading to lawsuits or sanctions from the state bar association.
It’s not uncommon for lawyers dissolving a long-term partnership to engage in heated disputes over clients—and if clients have been contacted by both lawyers, it could have the unintended effect of the client finding an entirely new attorney. Logistically, a legal breakup can also be difficult and time consuming—as any remaining assets, such as offices, furniture, and employees, need to be split between the two attorneys.
Finding the right partner is essential to a successful legal partnership
With the right partnership, two lawyers can help each other skyrocket to professional success. With the wrong partner, careers can be ruined, clients can be lost, and lawyers can face serious professional consequences. So, if you’re an attorney thinking of partnering up—it pays to think long and hard before making a choice.
To learn more about law firm management and other tips for your legal practice, contact Boss Reporting today for a free quote.
Before you send out cards to clients, consider these tips
‘Tis the season for fruitcakes, mistletoe, bad Secret Santa gifts, and of course, holiday cards! If you’re like most people, you probably have a stack of them somewhere that feature the smiling faces of friends and family members, and surely tons of children.
While holiday cards can be a nice way to spread some cheer, they can also be beneficial to your law firm. But don’t just think about just scrawling “Merry Christmas” on the back of your business cards and putting a stamp on it. To show your clients that you care, it’s worth the time and effort to put some thought into your cards. Be sure to follow these tips:
Do: Know who you’re sending to
When looking for cards, you may just grab ones that look cute or are colorful, but it’s important to take a closer look. For example, if you just represented someone in a difficult divorce, you definitely do not want the card to show a family happily opening presents. You may want to get a variety of different cards or just go with one that has a simple design or message.
Don’t: Get too specific
Unless you know that all of your clients celebrate the holiday featuring the big guy with the white beard, you should take the safe route and refrain from purchasing cards that mention Christmas. Ones that say Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, or feature a picture of a snowy cottage are the much better choice.
Do: Send a personal message
If you’re doing your job well, you know some little details about your clients. Even if you just include the name of their dog, this shows that you pay attention and have a sense of humor.
Don’t: Talk business
It may be tempting to want to push your business (or perhaps bring up an outstanding bill), but a holiday card is not the place to do it. Keep your message in line with the good ‘ole traditional outline: address the recipient, wish them the merriest or merry, and wrap up the card with well wishes heading into the New Year.
Do: Have everyone sign them
If you work for a very big firm, this probably won’t work, but otherwise, everybody should sign your holiday cards. Not just the lawyers either; be sure that the paralegals and receptionists in your office sign them too. And, unless you want to come off as cold as Scrooge, don’t use pre-printed name stamps.
Don’t: Send e-cards
While most of the communication you have with clients probably involves electronic messages, this is something you will want to avoid for holiday cards. Just like a stamp, an email blast is very impersonal and may come off as lazy. If you have the time and capability, a paper, personalized sentiment is much more effective.
When paper cards are out of the question and an email will have to suffice, don’t stress! However, if you are able to, personalize the subject line, greeting, or content of the email to the recipient that it is being sent to.
We hope these tips will help both you and your clients have a very happy holiday season! And to make 2017 the best year yet for your firm, Boss Reporting can lend a hand. We employ over 40 exceptional court reporters who precisely record trials, mediations, and other court proceedings. When you want to schedule a reporter, give us a call at 954-467-6867 or fill out our online form.
How strategy makes your practice even more successful
The world’s most successful companies not only understand the value of collaboration, they foster it through every aspect of their culture. From open workspaces to think tanks and more, nurturing the exchange of ideas and solutions is how many organizations manage their teams—and succeed. Law firms, comprised of young and seasoned attorneys as well as an array of legal professionals, can also benefit from the advantages of collaboration. But in order to really maximize the effort, a certain amount of planning is necessary:
Start by building a collaborative culture
If your firm operates in a business-as-usual environment, collaboration will take some effort. It’s not uncommon for attorneys to exist in survival mode, simply because the job itself requires you to consistently compete against an adversary. But when it comes to working together with your fellow attorneys, it’s necessary to let go of that competitive spirit and realize that you’re all on the same team. There are numerous ways to build a collaborative culture, including:
Create a team communication schedule
Implement a morning or afternoon huddle where everyone in the firm gets together to give a quick update on what they’re working on, if they need support on anything, and to give a shout out to anyone on the team that’s achieved something or provided support to their coworkers. Increasing communication among team members can help the entire staff feel more a part of a team, rather than an individual with their own goals.
Encourage peer-to-peer brainstorming
When more experienced lawyers can offer their expertise to new attorneys, these interactions help create a culture of teamwork and collaboration. Encourage all of your attorneys to seek guidance from each other, to brainstorm on complex cases, and to offer up solutions and new ways of handling particularly difficult litigation.
Establish firm goals
Establishing goals for the firm is much the same as determining how your lawyers are going to manage their caseloads, work together, and work with clients. When you create a set of goals, a mission statement, and core values that set your firm apart from others, you should also make sure that each and every member of your team buys into them and understands their role. By doing this, lawyers both new and experiences feel a sense of purpose in all that they do to help the firm achieve its aspirations.
Plan team building activities
Although it may seem hokey, team building activities can help build relationships among your attorneys and foster a collaborative environment. There are numerous ways to do this (and no, you don’t have to do the trust fall thing), but the key is that you get all of your team together to participate, including attorneys, legal secretaries, and administrative assistants.
All work and no play—you know the rest. And while lawyering is serious business, it’s important to encourage your firm’s employees to get to know each other and to build a certain sense of cohesiveness. Some firms create a committee or team that’s in charge of planning out special company lunches, happy hours, birthday celebrations, and the like. The important thing is not so much what you do, but that you get everyone together to relax, mingle and relate on a more personal (rather than business) level.
Although it is not a new concept, it seems the world’s most progressive companies are the ones with the highest level of collaboration going on. For many law firms, creating a culture that fosters this type of environment is challenging, especially since lawyers often focused on their own individual clients and cases. But collaboration is possible and can only serve to strengthen your firm..
For more valuable resources and information on improving your law practice, check our blog often.
If you need a real-time court reporter for your next deposition, trial, mediation or conference, get in touch with us today.
These toxic individuals must be defused. Here’s how:
There are difficult people everywhere. You know – the ones who challenge your patience, insist on having things their way, and are constantly annoying, pushy, and controlling. In life, it’s nearly impossible to avoid encounters with folks who are tough to get along with. But when it comes to your law firm, you must be able to identify these individuals and keep them from wreaking havoc on your practice. Here’s a run-down of our favorite difficult people and how you can counteract them:
The Drama Queen
Despite the feminine connotation of the term, the drama queen can be male or female. This is the person who always has some emergency, major issue, or problem taking over their life (and it’s usually never their fault). They are always making mistakes and blaming others; always claiming to be the victim of someone else’s error; and blowing issues out of proportion. The drama queen often spends a lot of time rushing around in a panic, calling you, and badgering your inbox with an elaborate tale to weasel their way out of a missing deadline.
Handling the drama queen takes a lot of perseverance. You need to begin to hold this person accountable for his or her own mistakes. It may seem easier to beat around the bush, and it probably is, in the short term, but it’s crucial to stress the importance of personal responsibility. Implement a system of consequences when an error occurs or a deadline is missed. If necessary, keep a progress record and even consider putting them on probation if things don’t improve.
The Smarty Pants
Everyone has met a know-it-all and it’s not surprising that most law firms have at least one of these types amongst them. And although the smarty pants people are typically smart and usually well-equipped to excel at their jobs, their giant egos and seemingly superlative intelligence tend to get in the way quite often. Nobody really likes a know-it-all, and having an attorney in your midst who cuts others off when they’re trying to get a point across can be a total hazard. It’s time to take action.
Wrangle your smarty pants attorneys by giving them complex and difficult cases to work. Doing this will not only keep them occupied and engaged, it may also make them less inclined to impart unnecessary wisdom on the cases of others.
The “woe is me” person can really have a detrimental effect on your team. Identify this crybaby by their inclination to complain and find the negative in every situation. Although they’re mostly talk, it’s precisely this type of attitude that can bring the team down and cause morale to slump. While they usually don’t mean any harm, dealing with the bellyacher is crucial to ensuring that their mindset doesn’t impact your firm’s culture or productivity.
Helping your bellyacher understand that it’s important to have boundaries and to stick to facts could be a bit of a challenge. Take some time to explain that you are willing to listen, but they must respect the firm’s goal to remain a positive environment.
We’ve all had to deal with a co-worker who is self-centered, has temper tantrums, and refuses to see other’s points of view. This person is manipulative and does whatever it takes to get his or her way. The baby can cause major upset in your firm if not handled properly because they don’t often consider other’s feelings. Unfortunately, the baby is usually ok with stepping on toes, doing things behind people’s back, and solely having their own interests at heart.
Putting the baby in his or her place is essential to your firm’s survival. In fact, if you can’t get this person back down to earth, you may consider getting rid of them promptly. Having an egocentric employee on your team can compel quality attorneys to seek employment elsewhere – the last thing you need or want to happen.
Having difficult people in your firm can adversely affect your team, your level of productivity, and your success. Follow these tips on identifying and mitigating them, and if all else fails, take the appropriate action to protect your practice.
Check out our blog for more helpful ways to improve your law firm. Remember to turn to us when you need experienced, real-time court reporters. We lead the industry and have been the preferred partner of law firms throughout South Florida for more than two decades. Schedule your court reporter online or give us a call at 954-467-6867.
How well are you communicating?
As an attorney, you are constantly communicating. Whether it’s writing emails or briefs, in person, or on the phone, every interaction you have requires you to do it effectively. You need to engage with a variety of different audiences, including clients, witnesses, judges, attorneys, and juries, so having the skill to adapt and deliver your message correctly is key to your success. But while it may seem like a pretty straightforward thing, many attorneys aren’t masters at the art of communication. With that in mind, here are some tips on improving these skills:
Follow the golden rule
Remember when you were a kid and your mother told you to treat others as you would want to be treated? Well, the same goes for communication. How does it make you feel when someone interrupts you, talks over you, or appears as if they aren’t listening when you speak to them? Remember to allow others to finish speaking before you respond and to not raise your voice (unless you’re doing so for dramatic appeal during your opening or closing arguments). Although you may feel passionate about the case or the subject matter, it’s important to be mindful of how your communication is going to be perceived.
Consider your audience
Before you speak or write, think about who your audience is. For example, a brief intended for a judge should provide the right information to achieve the result you’re looking for. A motion to compel, for example, will likely include a lot more background and information than if you were shooting off an email to a client to update him or her on the case.
It’s not uncommon for attorneys to give too much or too little information, or be scattered in their communication rather than focusing on the most necessary points to accomplish, whatever the goal may be. A good practice is to ask yourself these questions: Who am I talking to? What do I want this person to do, say, think, or feel?
Give your ego a rest
It’s not always easy to let go of vanity or insecurities. But when you’re attempting to get a point across, no matter the audience, communication should be about them and what you hope to impart while interacting with them. Thoughtfulness (that golden rule again), creativity, and intelligence are always a good bet.
Keep it short and sweet
‘As short as possible, as long as necessary’ is a great rule to follow when you’re creating any sort of communication. Overwhelming your audience with too much information will just ensure that they stop listening or stop reading. If you want to grab someone’s attention and keep it, it’s best to make it as concise and to the point as possible. Some attorneys become verbose and their communication becomes ineffective.
Listen, listen, listen
One of the biggest complaints people have when dealing with doctors, lawyers, and other highly-skilled professionals is that these folks just don’t listen to them. It’s tempting to rush a client or a junior attorney out of your office when you have about a million other important things to take care of. But listening is a skill you need to master in order to communicate effectively. Lend an attentive ear to everyone you’re engaging with and you’ll find that you not only gain respect and attention back from them, but that every encounter you have will be more productive.
Being an effective communicator does not come naturally to everyone. But if you follow these tips and remember the golden rule, you’ll find you can improve your skills and make the most of every interaction.
If you’re looking for more ways to improve your practice, keep checking our blog. And if you need a real-time court reporter, get in touch with us today. We have the most experienced and highly skilled team in the industry. Fill out our online form to request a quote or give us a call at 954-467-6867.
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.
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.