12 Tricky Grammar Traps

by Jay Reeves

Is this the party to whom I am speaking? Back in the 70s, that question was asked in a distinctively nasal whine by Ernestine the Telephone Lady on the television comedy show Laugh-In. It was a funny line partly because actress Lily Tomlin was great as the goofy Ernestine. But it was also funny because the sentence sounds stilted and pretentious – although grammatically correct. Ernestine and her trademark “to whom” inquiry came to mind recently when a friend asked my advice on whether “who” or “whom” should be used in a sentence she was writing. I wasn’t sure, so we looked up the rule. Here is what we found: “Who” is a subjective pronoun like “he,” “she,” “it,” … Read More

Get Online, or Get Lost

by Monisha Yowell

Last month the NWSidebar posted a great blog entitled “The Evolution of Online Marketing for Lawyers: Don’t Get Left Behind.”  The post talked about the importance of lawyers implementing online marketing tools to grow their business. The blog post offered a few tips to help attorneys get started with their personal online presence, I’d like to add these online marketing tips to the list: Before going online Develop a plan. Prior to setting up a LinkedIn profile or sending a Tweet, think about the big picture. What is it that you want to accomplish? You may want to look around and see what other firms are doing with their online marketing as well. Brand consistency is key. While your social media presence does not have to be as … Read More

5 tips for Crafting “The Client Experience”

by Monisha Yowell

Does this sound like your morning routine? You stepped off the elevator and headed to your office where you dropped your bags and went off to make your first (but certainly not your last) cup of coffee for the day. Upon returning to your office, you sat down to read emails and listened to messages, all while thinking about how to fit in a client meeting before heading to court. Our interactions with colleagues and clients seem scripted at times because we fall into certain habitual communication patterns. Falling into such a routine can make us less personable and create an unfavorable client experience. Do you think of your daily interactions with your clients as simply a part of your work routine? Here’s an idea—think less about your routine an… Read More

Act Like a Law Student, Think Like a Boss

by Monisha Yowell

Here you are, your first year of law school. Whether it’s everything you dreamed it would be or you find yourself constantly asking “what was I thinking?”, you’re here and soon you’ll be able to proudly declare that you survived your first semester of law school. Between contract law, torts and study groups--you’re always in law student mode. You may have answered these questions over and over (or perhaps never really considered them), but it’s always a great idea to keep these questions in mind and re-visit them throughout your law school journey. 1)      What type of lawyer do you want to be?  No, I don’t mean your preferred area of practice. Think about the qualities you admire in… Read More

20 Surefire Signs of Super Clients

by Jay Reeves

There is no admonition more important than “choose your clients wisely.  Good clients make good law practices. Bad clients will bring you down – both literally and figuratively. Typically we are lectured – by our malpractice carriers and others – on what sorts of clients to avoid. We are given a profile of high-risk clients and red flags that signal their approach. Less often are we given positive instruction on what types of clients will bring a smile to our face. Following, these are some indicators of clients you would love to represent.   They show up for their appointment. Even better, they arrive ten minutes early and have time to complete your Client Intake Form and other preliminary paperwork. They call if they ca… Read More

Land a Law Job by Volunteering

by Jay Reeves

Got a law degree but no job? Consider volunteering. It could be just the ticket to a rewarding career. And it doesn’t even matter so much where you volunteer, as long as you show up with open mind and a good attitude. One study showed that volunteering increases your odds of getting a job by 27 percent. It worked for Sonia Bonsu of New York. After law school Bonsu volunteered as a student mentor at the Calhoun School in Manhattan, her alma mater. Those efforts led to a full-time job as the school’s Director of Annual Giving. It also helped that she had volunteered in political campaigns, which gave her hands-on experience in fundraising. No, she’s not practicing law. But she’s tapping into her interests in finance and education ̵… Read More

To Edit or Not To Edit Your Blog – That is the Question

by Jay Reeves

If you have a blog for your law practice, you probably spend some time drafting, revising and editing what goes on it. You might even pay someone to do this for you. Bad move, says one blogging expert. Posts should be informal, accessible and unscripted. Think friendly chat, not law review abstract. “Law firms regularly ask me who should edit their lawyer’s blogs,” writes Kevin O’Keefe. “My answer is no one. A blog represents the unedited voice of a person.” O’Keefe says it is okay to have someone proofread your work for typos, misspellings, split infinitives and such – in other words, copy-editing. Beyond that: hands off. “The substance of a post, like the words in a face to face conversation, ought not… Read More

Is An Alternative Legal Career for You?

by Camille Stell

The landscape of the legal profession has drastically changed in recent years. Instead of asking students what area of practice they plan to pursue, the question may become “what do you plan to do with your law degree”? Wednesday, October 15th, the North Carolina Bar Association through its Center for Practice Management hosted their first Alt JD Conference. Branding expert Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You, was the keynote speaker. After talking with a few law students who were attending the conference, it seems more students are thinking about alternative careers while they are attending law school. Here is a list of non-traditional careers where a law degree may be helpful: Law firm administration – marketing, recruiting, librarian,… Read More

Do You Have a Hacker on Your Payroll?

by Jay Reeves

The biggest threat to your firm’s computer security is probably not some shadowy hacker on the other side of the globe. It is more likely a trusted employee just across the hall. “The single biggest threat is people inadvertently bringing down a virus from outside or through a phishing scheme,” says one law firm cyber-specialist. “You can never tell your workforce enough ‘don’t do this’ or ‘don’t do that.’” It’s probably not terribly reassuring to consider the fact that your worst cyber-nightmare might well be on your payroll. But it should be. That’s because it is easier to combat local, identifiable threats than distant, anonymous ones. Take a look at the main areas of law firm v… Read More

What Do You Tell Your Clients About Facebook?

by Jay Reeves

When it comes to taming that rampaging beast known as social media, the brave souls on the State Bar’s ethics committee don’t stand a chance. They are doomed to forever play catch-up. That is because technology evolves at light speed while the law moves at a more deliberate – i.e. snail-like – pace. This is not a bad thing. After all, we don’t want ethics rulings that are frantic, rushed or half-baked. But it means that by the time the State Bar receives an ethics inquiry, researches it, discusses it in committee, solicits public comments and eventually approves a Formal Ethics Opinion, the social media landscape has most likely shifted. The original beast may well have vanished over the horizon. New and different beasts have ta… Read More

4 Steps to Successful Rainmaking

by Jay Reeves

When it comes to business development, are you a grinder, binder or finder? Chances are if you’re in a solo or small practice, you’re all three. Grinders crank out the law work. Binders cement lasting bonds with clients. Finders go out and reel in new business. Each step is essential to effective marketing. This three-legged approach to rainmaking was a hot topic at a meeting of the Legal Marketing Association – Southern California Chapter. Among the talking points: top rainmakers at big firms should plan on devoting about 700 hours each year exclusively to bringing in new business. “It has to be as important as what you’re billing,” attorney Michael Flynn told Law.com. Holy salesmanship! Carving out the equivalent of 90… Read More

Networking as a Young Lawyer- 5 Tips to Make a Great Impression

by Joyce Brafford

Just a few years ago, I was a young almost-lawyer looking for job.  It was May of my third year of law school, and I was deep into the job hunt. I’d spoken to the folks in the career center, I’d recently revised my resume, and I was looking all over the state for a job that seemed interesting. As you may have heard, jobs were in short supply. I decided it was time to call in my support team, and I reached out to the network I’ve cultivated since I was a senior at William Peace University (It was just Peace College back then). Fortunately for me, one of my connections had a job opening, and asked me to interview. I landed the job and I’ve been at the NC Bar Association ever since. Since then, I’ve taken several hard looks at m… Read More

Top 10 Ways to Protect your Legal Reputation

by Jay Reeves

“A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.” Joseph Hall The best risk management advice is usually the simplest. Return phone calls. Finish your work on time. Stick to what you know. The same is true of course with life in general. The very best advice has no expiration date, which is what makes it so valuable. Exercise. Eat right. Get a good night’s sleep. For these reasons, a recent risk management article stood out among the tidal wave of feeds, blawgs and news blasts that wash up in my in-box daily. It came from Illinois attorney Allison Wood, who runs Legal Ethics Consulting in Chicago. I liked it because it was simple, straightforward and timeless. &… Read More

Haircuts and Hemlines in the Law Office

by Jay Reeves

Does your law office have a dress code? Is it informal or written down? Do you have hemline inspectors and open-toed sandals supervisors? Are body piercings and visible tattoos allowed? I am old enough to remember a time before Casual Friday. Back then we wrote our writs on stone tablets using crude hacking tools. Not true. We used IBM Selectric typewriters and carbon paper. In those days I was told to dress professionally when appearing in public. Always. Who knows who might be watching? Though now I question that advice. What kind of freak wears business attire to the Piggly Wiggly to purchase toilet paper and asparagus? Ward Cleaver might mow his lawn in a necktie and June might fix dinner in high heels and pearls, but no well-balanced individual would th… Read More

What Makes a Good Nomination?

by Camille Stell

“40 Under 40”, “Best Triangle Workplace”, “Leaders in the Law.” If you read any business publication or belong to any association or business Chamber, you know the awards business is big. Here are a few tips for submitting a winning nomination. Why nominate? Writing good nominations is a time consuming task. Why bother? A large field of nominations should ensure that the best candidates win. Being recognized as a nominee will help to build profile for you and your law firm as well as showcase your expertise to clients and potential clients. What makes a good nomination? First, consider that the judges are viewing dozens of nominations. For a more popular event that has been around a long time, there may be hundreds of nomina… Read More