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

You oughta know: 10 things Millennials want their Boomer bosses to know

by Monisha Yowell

Millennials are the fastest growing segment of workers today, and their numbers are increasing. Traditionalists and Boomers are working longer and the dynamics of the workplace are changing. Boomer bosses who are married to tradition are managing ambitious Millennials who are out to change and conquer the world. How do we make this work? Well, since I’m talking about my generation, I thought I could provide some insight into what Millennials would like their Boomer bosses to know. 1)      We’re not lazy.  There are countless articles and opinions published which paint Millennials as being spoiled by DVR and smartphones. Many Boomers believe Millennials want things their way and in their own time, but without having to… Read More

Solos’ Secret Weapon: Personal Branding

by Monisha Yowell

Although being a solo practitioner comes with many challenges; one of the greatest advantages lies in being able to establish your firm’s culture. Building your brand is going to be an important part of growing your clientele. Here are some tips for solos on how to successfully build your personal brand: Get a website: Having a website is essential to establishing your brand. Your website will provide a snapshot of your practice to potential clients. It’s important to consider the messaging on your website. What do you want people to know about you and your practice? Blog: Blogging is a great way to establish yourself as an industry expert. In blogging you are able to show your expertise on a wide range of topics or a specific area of practice. Gr… Read More

Are You Giving Clients a Triple Fee Discount?

by Jay Reeves

Our ethics rules require us to be fair and honest when charging for professional services. But practice management experts say it is often the attorney – not the client – who gets the short end of the fee-billing stick. This happens for lots of reasons. We don’t charge enough at the outset. We don’t use written agreements. We don’t keep track of our time. We don’t bill regularly. And sometimes we give clients whopping discounts without even knowing it. Three Fee Strikes and You’re Out Consider this from law blogger and practice consultant Monica Goyal (My Legal Briefcase) on the dreaded Triple Discount: “1. The discount of omission. The first discount happens when lawyers don’t document their time prope… Read More

Don’t Choke: Tips for a successful business dining experience

by Camille Stell

Your resume was flawless, so you didn’t find it at all surprising when you received a call requesting an interview. However, you may not have been expecting the interview to be conducted over lunch or dinner. If the thought of toggling your brain between salad forks and selling yourself as the best candidate for the job stresses you out; have no fear. Here are a few business dining tips to get you through that dinner interview. Dress for success Let’s start with professional dress as this seems to be a concept people struggle with. Keep in mind that you are not going out to a casual dinner with a friend; it’s an interview. You should dress as if you’re going into the firm to sit in an office or board room for the interview. A suit is al… Read More

How to Protect Yourself From A “Settle and Sue” Claim

by Jay Reeves

It’s said that a good settlement is one that leaves everyone unhappy – and like all clichés, this one contains a grain of truth. But it also carries an unstated warning: be careful that your client is not too unhappy post-settlement. Otherwise, you might find yourself on the receiving end of a malpractice claim. Settle, Sign, Sue Usually we breathe a sigh of relief when a case settles. Another file closed. One less problem to worry about. And when the deal is sealed with the client’s written consent, that erases any future risk of  liability, right? Actually, no. A recent post in Professional Liability Matters addressed the issue of “settle and sue” malpractice claims. “Whether it be buyer’s remorse… Read More

Does the Bell Toll At Long Last for the Billable Hour?

by Jay Reeves

For years we have been reading obituaries about the presumed death of the billable hour. Could it now be actually happening? For the first time, a number of chief legal officers at big companies – the main drivers of time-billing – are saying they expect a sharp rise in alternative fee arrangements in coming years. Only a dwindling few say the time-billing model will survive. “We are extremely close to the tipping point on this issue,” said Amar Sarwal, a vice president with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) in a Washington Post article. “The billable hour’s day has passed. It’ll still be a part of the market but it won’t be a leading part of it.” Spinning Wheels and Churning Time Here are some… Read More

Law Degree Fills Food and Beverage Niche

by Jay Reeves

What to do if your first law job doesn’t work out as planned - and your first love outside the law doesn’t either? One option: combine the two and take off. That’s what attorney Laura Collier of Raleigh did. When her biglaw career stalled, she shifted gears and started The Spirited Lawyer – a Wake County law practice that provides legal services for food and beverage businesses. There, she uses her law degree to fulfill her dream of working in the wine and cheese industry. “[I]t’s incredibly satisfying,” Collier says in a News and Observer business profile. A Spirit for the Law Collier’s law journey started the usual way: as a 1L. After graduating from Georgetown Law School, she went to work at a large interna… Read More