Setting Priorities

by Anna Hedgepeth

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, you might be a bit too busy to even think about resolutions for 2015, but now is the time to start thinking about what you want in the New Year.  As a law student, you are juggling multiple assignments, projects and trying to pace your preparation and studying for end of semester exams so everything isn’t left until the end.  Well, I have news for you – life doesn’t get less busy.  In the life after law school “real world” you will be juggling multiple clients, assignments and projects. In this first of my four part series, I will discuss the importance of planning to understand how you are spending your time so you can allocate it in line with your priorities.   I… Read More

Who’s The Boss?

by Jay Reeves

Who is the boss: you or your client? Answer quickly. Your initial, unfiltered response will speak volumes about how you view your job and its income-generating relationships. If you think you are the boss, you are probably focusing on the fact that you are the one with the law degree. You have knowledge, skills, resources and access that the client lacks. That is, after all, why they are coming to you. If, on the other hand, you say the client is the boss, it is likely because they are the ones who pay the bills. The truth – at least according to the rules of ethics – is that both answers are correct. In some areas, clients have the sole authority to make decisions and direct the action. In other areas, you get to call the shots. Scope of Repre… Read More

Why Have a Website?

by Camille Stell

Today I wanted to hire a lawyer. I looked up 13 lawyers by name and couldn’t find websites for 9 of them. How do you expect people to find you without a website? For most of the 9 lawyers, I did find a generic listing on a website such as yellowpages.com, lawyers.com or yelp.com, however, I didn’t take those lawyers seriously and many potential clients may not either. For one thing, I was looking for a lawyer with a specific skill set. I’m not sure the yelp review is the best way to determine that you have the skills I need. What holds lawyers back from creating websites?  The top 3 reasons are lack of technical knowledge, concern about the cost of the website and the time spent learning about the technology and then creating the content… 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

How A World War II Poster Can Improve Your Practice

by Jay Reeves

“Keep Calm and Carry On” wins my vote for best law office motto.             The phrase fits our profession perfectly. Amid the tumble and turmoil of a lawyer’s day, few attributes are more valuable than a cool head and steady nerves. And faced with an endless grind of title examinations, document revisions and photocopier jams, what better advice than to keep on trucking?             Most likely you’ve seen “Keep Calm and Carry On” adorning coffee mugs, bumper stickers and billboard ads. Usually the words appear under an image of the British crown. That’s because the slogan originated on UK propaganda posters … Read More

How to Get Law Work From Corporations

by Jay Reeves

Want to attract corporate clients? Get to know their in-house lawyers. Take them out to lunch. Show them why you would be the perfect candidate to handle some of their outside work. And while you have their attention, assure them you’ll be taking a hands-on approach to their work and won’t farm it out to an assistant or associate. Companies crave that personal touch. Those are some of the nuggets gleaned from a survey of 90 major US corporations that shelled out more than $16 billion in fees to outside counsel from 2007-2013. The survey, conducted by CEB-Datacert-Tymetrix, analyzed billing and invoice data from 5,600 law firms in the U.S. and internationally. The bottom line: corporations are increasingly calling the shots when it comes to hiring… Read More

Tips on Joining a Firm

by Jay Reeves

There are many benefits – social, financial, emotional and otherwise – to joining a firm. Starting off right is the key to a long and happy relationship. Here are some tips for doing just that:   Ask questions. One great benefit of practicing in a firm is having people around who know things you don’t. At one time or another they probably were in your position. So don’t be afraid to approach them for answers. Talk to other lawyers, secretaries and assistants. Even the firm messenger will have valuable information. Watch others. Take advantage of the wealth of experience around you. Too often firm members practice like tiny islands. Watch colleagues at work. Swap ideas back and forth. Attend important events together. Imitat… Read More

Be Careful Using Social Media For Jury Research

by Jay Reeves

Social media is a goldmine for digging up data on practically anyone in the world. You can find out about their friends, family and favorite foods. You can download cute pictures of their pets. You can learn what church they attend and what charities they contribute to. You might even be able to discover their views on issues like capital punishment and tort reform. All of which could come in handy when investigating and questioning potential jurors. Some legal professionals – judge and litigators alike – are all for online jury research. They believe the more you know about jurors, the more likely justice will be served. Here is what the judge in the Scooter Libby trial says about it:  “For years the practice of law has relied heavil… Read More

Cyber-Threats Open New Law Doors

by Jay Reeves

Here’s one from the Department of Silver Linings: the spike in hacks and cyber-attacks is giving rise to a host of new practice niches. Firms are stumbling over themselves to set up cybersecurity groups. Some are marketing their expertise in privacy and intellectual property issues. Others tout their cyber-litigation skills. Right now, most of the activity is happening inside big law firms, and much of that work draws on an existing client base of banks, tech companies, telecoms and insurers. But the market is expanding. The future is wide open. After all, anyone with a computer and an online account is a potential client. New Risks, New Rewards Even in traditional practice areas - employment law, for example – new opportunities are emerging. No… Read More

5 Tips For Completing Your To-Do List

by Jay Reeves

For years the first thing I did every morning at work was to make out my daily to-do list. Then at the end of the day, before heading home, I would look at my list and weep. Not only were most of the original items still there, but several new ones had been added. Imagine Sisyphus rolling that rock up the hill, only each day the rock gets bigger. And then my youngest son Rudy – a college junior in Oregon – showed me the light. It happened during a phone conversation that he cut short by saying he had an important appointment. Now Rudy is a fine young man, but he is not an appointments kind of guy. When I asked for details he said the appointment was with himself, to work on a physics project. It seems his professor encourages students to formally… Read More

10 Calendar Training Topics

by Jay Reeves

Need a timely topic for your next staff meeting?             Following are 10 discussion points on calendar and docket control:             * Appoint a docket czar. Identify one staff member as the supervisor of the office docket system. Name a backup as well.             * Statutes of limitation. A new client cannot be accepted and a new file cannot be opened until a statute of limitations date has been ascertained and entered into the system. The new matter/client intake sheet should contain a line for the statute of limitations date, with a signature line next to it. Each date entered on the sh… Read More

Saying Thanks Can Boost Your Practice

by Jay Reeves

Two little words – Thank You – can make a big difference in your law practice. Just ask Vinny Gambini. In the cinematic classic “My Cousin Vinny,” the defense lawyer played by Joe Pesci gave a rambling, ludicrous and incoherent opening statement. The judge ordered the entire statement struck from the record, with the exception of two words. Thank you. Now comes scientific research that shows saying “thank you” not only makes people feel good – it can get them to act the way we want them to. According to the Harvard Gazette: “Receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other peo… Read More

Multitasking Can Mess You Up

by Jay Reeves

Millennials are master multi-taskers. It’s not uncommon to walk into your school’s library and see other law students listening to music on their headphones, flipping through a textbook—all while tweeting about it. Perhaps you are multitasking while reading this post. We are told that multitasking is a necessary skill in an increasingly complex world. We might be getting bum advice. Research suggests multitasking does not increase one’s productivity – in fact, it wastes time. Perhaps more importantly, it erodes our ability to concentrate, analyze and even empathize. The late Stanford psychologist Clifford Nass spent much of his career studying people juggling computers, phones and other activities. “[M]ultitaskers are te… Read More

Cultivating a Career

by Jay Reeves

Practicing law is not your life – it’s a part of your life. Following are some tips on building a healthy and effective career:   Focus on the big picture. Strive for balance. Maintain your physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional health. You will be more successful if your life is varied. Be professional. Lawyers today are under public attack. The best way to rebut criticism is by demonstrating professionalism. This is more than just a good idea. It’s action. It’s how you dress, how you approach your work, and how you communicate with judges, clients and colleagues. Everything counts. Be a student. Receiving your law degree was not the end of your legal education, it was the beginning. The education truly start… Read More

How To Capture a Screenshot of the Clerk’s Office Computer

by Troy Crawford

In our October newsletter, we published an article on “Searching Errors and the County Clerk’s Office.” We included a tip for preventing malpractice claims based on missed judgments by taking a screenshot showing a clean update. One reader asked how to capture a screenshot, so we thought we’d share that information with others who may need to know. Access in Your Office Your computer should allow for screen shots using function keys, which will vary from computer to computer.  The following information is based on general Windows information, without special capture programming. Hit the “Print Screen” button. This is generally near the number pad of a keyboard. Don’t worry if it appears as if nothing has happe… Read More