Ditching the Disclaimer

What goes in your professional email? What if your email server occasionally marks something as “read” which in fact has not been read? How do you respond to that? Should you include your email signature every single time or only the first time you respond? What belongs and does not belong in an email signature? What about typos? When does an email become too long and you’d be better off just writing a proper letter? What about graphics in email signatures? Or funny quotations?

And what about that long list of disclaimers many of us lawyers append to every single email signature?

It’s My File, Not Yours!

You’ve just been through some very intense contract negotiations for a new client and now that things are wrapping up, this client thought the time was right to let you know that once your work is complete, you are to turn over everything in your file. In short, you’ve just been informed you are not to retain anything relating to this matter. As a risk guy, I now have serious concerns. If you comply, how in the world could you defend yourself in a subsequent malpractice claim? Remember, the client will have complete control of the file. Admittedly, this kind of situation doesn’t happen often; but it does happen. So, let’s talk about your options if you ever find yourself in a similar pickle.

The Memo Every Woman Lawyer Keeps in Her Desk

I heard a story on NPR this morning about a 1993 Harvard Business Review Article entitled “The Memo Every Woman Keeps in Her Desk.” I remembered the article. It made some waves, back in the day. In the article, author Kathleen Reardon asks several influential business people whether a female executive should send a memo regarding sexism in the workplace to the company’s CEO. The memo details the struggles of women to be heard and treated equally by their male peers. Then it asks several prominent professionals whether she should give the memo to the CEO or let it sit in her desk drawer. Find out …..

Do You Know The Million Dollar Law Firm Formula?

Some of us grew up in the 70s, captivated by the heroic adventures of The Six Million Dollar Man, when a million dollars was an amazingly large amount of money – unattainable for most. Now we scoff at a million, knowing it’s not enough for retirement and successful attorneys don’t pull in a million dollars over their lifetime; they pull in a million dollars in one year. Even solo and small firm practitioners are generating a million dollars of revenue.

If you’re thinking, “BS! Only big firms make over a million dollars,” you’re mistaken. It’s completely doable. It’s a lot easier these days and you don’t create a million by yourself. It takes knowing your numbers, a team, a guide, the proper mindset, and the million dollar law firm formula.

Shouting Into the Wind – How Not to Market Your Solo/Small Firm

Marketing is job #1 for small firm attorneys and solos. It’s a simple equation: no marketing = no clients, and no clients = no firm. But, quite frankly, marketing can really suck.

There’s a cacophony of BigLaw websites, advertising, and social media drowning out small firm voices. And then there are about a million new small firm sites every single day. Not to mention that referrals from other lawyers and professionals can be tough to come by when everyone knows an attorney or ten who do what you do. And don’t forget the do-it-yourself options like LegalZoom and Findlaw.

How do you make yourself heard amongst all that noise? There’s no point shouting into the wind. You can’t make yourself louder than everyone else, so don’t bother trying.

Can Text Messaging Bring You More Clients?

I have no personal experience with this, but there are studies that have found that text message advertising is more effective than email campaigns. I hear that it works better because it is simple, fast, and won’t break the bank. However, the question lawyers must ask is whether text messaging to potential clients violates the ethics rules that govern lawyer advertising.

Do Prospective Waivers of Malpractice Work?

As I often like to do, let me share two brief stories. The first involves a criminal defense lawyer. This lawyer represented a client who staunchly refused to allow the lawyer to call his girlfriend to testify at trial. There may have been other witness who the lawyer could have called as well; however, the client simply refused to ever discuss the matter. Here’s the problem, this client has somehow always managed to find his way out of trouble; but this time was going to be different and the lawyer knew it. This time the client was likely to spend a serious amount of time behind bars unless she could find a way to convince her client to work with her……

Beware the Joy Stealers

As you think about rezooming your legal career beware of the joy-stealers. Who and what is a joy- stealer? They are the people who, when you speak about your dream or positive events that have unfolded in your favor on this journey to rezoom, pour cold water on your moment. As you reflect on the law you would like to practice they tell you its too competitive or worse, “Well, no one would want to practice in that field so it should be wide open.”

When Responding to a Malpractice Claim, Please Try Not to Make It Worse.

For the past 20 years, I have worked for an insurance company that insures lawyers for their malpractice. Trust me when I say I get it. There are going to be times when an insured doesn’t necessarily agree with every decision the company must make in trying to resolve his or her claim. That’s going to happen. What I don’t get is when an insured makes a decision to prevent us from helping at all.

What Do You Do When Your Client Thinks They Can Do Better?

There may be a time when a client wants to speak directly with the other side simply hoping to move the process forward. Truth be told, I’ve been there as a client. It felt as if my legal matter wasn’t progressing as fast as I thought it should and it seemed to me that the attorneys were the ones getting in the way. I started to wonder if I couldn’t move things along by just having a one on one with the other side. So, what does a good attorney do?

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