Lawyer WordPress Themes – How To Choose A WordPress Theme For Attorney Websites

I’m an advocate for small business owners, including attorneys and law firms, building multiple websites. This is why I love WordPress so much – it’s free (after you pay for hosting which is a nominal cost), simple, and fast to set up new websites.

However, not any WordPress theme is perfect for an attorney website. Lawyer websites must be professional-looking. In my view investing in a premium WordPress theme for an attorney website (or websites) is a good idea.

I like and recommend a large slider or slideshow feature located at the top of the home page. Usually this function is split into two parts – one for some text or navigation buttons – and the other displaying a large image or images.

Essence theme by iThemes is a theme with one of the nicest sliders I’ve seen.

I know for my offline business, when I switched my WordPress website to one using a very nice slide show, my conversion rates (percentage of website visitors who contacted me) more than doubled.

What if your next attorney website is your second or third or more websites?

This is just my opinion, but I would create more of a blog-style site for subsequent attorney websites. The reason I say this is you don’t want to confuse your clients and prospective clients with a bunch of different looking websites on numerous domains (unless each website targets a different clientele with a different practice area). I also wouldn’t use the exact same layout on numerous domains because it could be construed as mirror sites with Google, and possibly confuse your clients and prospective clients.

A blog style site is designed to inform. From your attorney blog sites, you can link to your main attorney website (whether in WordPress or not).

A great blog style theme is any type of magazine style theme. News or Magazine by StudioPress fits the bill nicely.

I know the news-concept might seem weird for an attorney website, but think about how you could create a newspaper or magazine blog for your firm. You could have all kinds of topics such as caselaw, events, news about your firm, etc. You can get creative, publish tons of content (which is great for search engine rankings), and have some fun publishing an attorney news site.

Let me recap about your attorney WordPress theme selection strategy:

If you’re building your first attorney firm website in WordPress, get a theme that has a traditional static home page – preferably one with a slider or slideshow at the top. If you’re building additional websites for your law firm, then go for a news-style or even a personal blog style theme.

Why build more than one attorney website in the first place?

Maybe you’re wondering why I would suggest building more than one website for your firm. Especially when your flagship site likely has a blog function to it already where you can publish as much content as you wish.

The reason for more than one attorney website is simple: with another site on a new domain, you can capture a lot more traffic in the long run. How? The keyword you use in your domain will have a good chance of ranking very well in the search engines. Therefore, the more websites with new domain names, the more keywords you can rank well with.

But, you can’t just go and build websites in any old way – and you especially don’t want to publish a bunch of copy-cat sites or mirror sites. You must build your fleet of sites in a particular method. I’ve actually experimented a lot (for over 1 year and with dozens of websites) using WordPress to build multiple websites for a small localized business (not unlike a law firm). After working out the kinks, the traffic for my small business is incredible – and that’s largely due to multiple websites with carefully selected domain names.

Another reason for building more than one website for your law firm is it’s very easy to build links with other lawyer websites you don’t compete with (i.e. in other cities and states/provinces).

If you have one website, the best you can offer is a reciprocal link exchange. Reciprocal linking isn’t that effective (it works, but you can do better). A better strategy is if you have 2 unique sites, you can link one site with your linking partner. Then your linking partner can link to your other site (the site you don’t link to your linking partner). This way every site receives a one-way link.

About choosing a domain name
Once you have a domain for your firm name, choose generic domain names such as duiattorney.com or floridapersonalinjuryattorney.com (of course finding ones available is another matter). The reasons for doing this are twofold:

You create an asset you can sell to any firm in the same practice area; and
You gain a search engine ranking advantage for the keyword(s) in the domain name.

Video Marketing For Lawyers – 9 Things You Must Ask Your Video Producer

Here are the 9 most important things you need to ask any video production company:

1. How long will my video shoot be?
2. How many actual video clips will I get for that length of video shoot?
3. How long will each video clip be?
4. Will you upload my video clip(s) to my website and blog?
5. Do you upload my videos to the video sharing sites?
6. Do you blog about my videos?
7. Do you put my videos on your own website and blog about the newest video you created?
8. Do you use your social networks to tell the world about my new video?
9. How much will you charge me to create another series of video clips?

If the video company you’re choosing doesn’t do all of those things with an all-in-one, turn-key system, ask them “Why Not?”

AM I TOO EXPENSIVE?

You’ve decided to produce videos to market your law practice. You’re now looking for a video production company. Here are 3 reasons why you won’t hire me:

1. I’m too expensive
2. I’m an attorney with years of experience creating and producing educational videos
3. You don’t want the commitment of creating video over 6 or 12 months

There. I’ve said it. These are the main reasons why you will not hire me. Now, I’m going to address each one and by the end of this article, you decide who you need to hire.

Most video production companies charge anywhere from $500-$35,000 to create attorney video. At the low end of the spectrum, you can get the cookie-cutter video where they use a fixed template that you cannot change and get only one video clip for your money. At the other end of the spectrum, you get a custom video channel with 3 or 4 video clips.

In the Lawyers’ Video Studio I shoot one hour of video. From that one hour I am able to get about 4-5 usable video clips lasting 2-3 minutes each! I do not recommend having video clips less than one minute; that’s a waste of your time and money. That will not give you enough time to explain to your viewers the information that they need to know.

Most video studios only offer an a-la-carte menu, where you pick and choose your options. That’s not the way we work in the Lawyers’ Video Studio. Contrary to most video production studios, we create a turn-key system where all you have to do is show up and start talking. You do not need to know anything about how the video is created, edited, compressed, uploaded or distributed. It’s totally done for you.

WHO IS YOUR VIDEO PRODUCER?

Ask any of the video companies you are considering whether their video producers are practicing trial lawyers. Why is that important? It’s only important if you want someone to create video that online viewers want to watch. If you just want to create a video to ‘get your name out there’ and give the world a verbal resume of who you are, then you don’t need a producer who is also an attorney. That would be a waste of your time and money. There are plenty of good video producers out there who can create that type of video for you.

A video producer must have experience creating LAWYER video. Not wedding video. Not commercials. Not verbal resumes that do not help a viewer understand how you can solve THEIR legal problem. They may have won awards for work they did in TV or film, but you must ask any video producer these 3 IMPORTANT questions:

1. Do you know what a [fill in your specialty] lawyer (immigration, workers comp, DUI, personal injury, business transactions, etc.) does?
2. Do you know who my ideal client is?
3. Do you know what an online viewer looks for when searching for a lawyer in my specialty?

A producer who is a practicing attorney will know the answers to these questions. Other producers will likely not know the answers.

YOU DON’T WANT TO CREATE 24 to 60 VIDEO CLIPS THAT WILL GET VIEWERS TO CALL YOU

Ok, I understand. You’d rather stick with your very expensive (and useless) yellow pages ad that does not distinguish you from any other lawyer. Maybe you want to try some display ads in the newspaper again. Maybe you’ll try TV commercials or direct mail. Maybe even dabble in radio spots. That’s fine. One year from now I’d like you to come back to this article and objectively look at your stats to see how many calls you received from your other advertising; how many turned into actual clients; how much revenue you generated from that advertising and what your actual return on investment is.

One year from now, you will have lost the opportunity to create 6 months worth of videos. You might even have lost the opportunity to create 12 months of videos. Just think about how many viewers come to YouTube alone: Over 100 million people EACH MONTH! The goal of creating video is to greatly improve the likelihood that an online viewer will call you instead of your competitor. Anything you do to increase those chances will place you ahead and distinguish you from all of your colleagues.

By creating new video every month for six months, you create 4-5 video clips PER MONTH. That gives you 24 to 30 actual videos that will be online. For attorneys who realize how incredible that value is and the tremendous savings you receive, they will eagerly take advantage of the 12 month video incentive program and create 48 to 60 videos by the end of one year. That’s a huge number of videos.

Creating video is the best thing to have happened to me in my law practice. I receive calls from people across the country every day thanking me for educating them and asking me for legal help. Obviously not all callers have valid cases, but just think…if they hadn’t seen my videos, they would have never called.

So, are you willing to create useful video that will get viewers to raise their hands for more information and seek your counsel, or do you want to wait and let every other attorney get the opportunities you’re passing up? The choice, as always, is up to you. My goal is to make you an informed attorney and let you make an educated decision about which path you want to travel.

Referral Fees Between Realtors and Lawyers in Ontario

Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. As always, my observations are based on current Ontario laws; you are cautioned not to rely on the information provided herein and that you should do your own due diligent on present and applicable Ontario laws.

Ever wonder about the legality and ethics of referral fees between Ontario realtors (note: I use the term “realtors” throughout this blog to mean real estate sales representatives) and lawyers? Say, for example, your realtor recommends a lawyer to close your deal. If you end up going with that lawyer, is it legal and ethical for the lawyer to pay a referral fee to the realtor?

Conclusion:
The bottom line is that referral fees are prohibited as between a realtor and a lawyer. While the issue of whether a realtor can make a referral fee may be somewhat unclear, the Real Estate Council of Ontario has made a strong case that such fees are prohibited. A realtor is, however, capable of receiving a referral fee from a third party provided that such fees are first disclosed by the third party to the client and the client agrees (preferably in writing). In such a case, the third party would pay the referral fee to the realtor’s employer (i.e. the broker), who would in turn pay the realtor. Much like a realtor, however, a lawyer is not capable of making a referral fee to non-lawyers, but is capable of receiving such fees under the same conditions as would a realtor. Therefore, since neither a realtor nor a lawyer are capable of making referral fees (notwithstanding that they’re capable of receiving them) to one another, referral fees are prohibited as between them. Breach of this rule is both illegal and unethical.

The following analysis shows how I came to these conclusions.

Realtors and so-called “Bird-Dog” or Referral Fees
The combined effects of ss. 30(b) and (c) of the Real Estate Business and Brokers Act, 2002 provide that a broker shall not “pay any commission or other remuneration” to “employ or engage an unregistered person to trade in real estate”.

Here, a number of terms require further clarification.

Section 1 defines a broker as “a person who, for another or others, for compensation, gain or reward or hope or promise thereof, either alone or through one or more officials or salespersons, trades in real estate, or a person who holds himself, herself or itself out as such”.

Moreover, s. 1 defines a salesperson as “a person employed, appointed or authorized by a broker to trade in real estate”. Here, the word “employ” means “to employ, appoint, authorize or otherwise arrange to have another person act on one’s behalf, including as an independent contractor”.

Finally, s. 1 defines a trade as including “a disposition or acquisition of or transaction in real estate by sale, purchase, agreement for sale, exchange, option, lease, rental or otherwise and any offer or attempt to list real estate for the purpose of such a disposition or transaction, and any act, advertisement, conduct or negotiation, directly or indirectly, in furtherance of any disposition, acquisition, transaction, offer or attempt, and the verb ‘trade’ has a corresponding meaning”.

Clearly, while no broker may pay any form of compensation to unregistered persons in furtherance of a trade in real estate, it is somewhat unclear whether salespersons (i.e. realtors) are also prohibited from doing so (because salespersons are not mentioned in s. 30). As Allan Johnson, Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario, mentioned in a now expired Registrar’s Bulletin: “A question posed recently dealt with the salesperson and his or her right to pay some form of compensation in gratitude for leads provided. This issue may not be as clear.” Interestingly, RECO’s new Registrar’s Bulletin on Bird-Dog fees states that, “where a brokerage is aware of, or more obviously where the brokerage were to use an employee/salesperson as a conduit to pay some form of compensation, in an attempt to avoid the appropriate sanctions of the Act, this activity would be construed to be a violation”. So if a salesperson acted alone without the knowledge of the brokerage, would the latter be immune from liability? In the expired Registrar’s Bulletin, Mr. Johnson suggested two caveats which would seem to prohibit salespersons from providing referral fees:

“1. In light of the fact that salespersons are registered and employed by a specific broker and in fact act with the expressed authority of their broker employer, it may be argued that a salesperson’s action in paying compensation with either before or after tax dollars, may in fact be tantamount to the broker breaching section [30(b)] and/or

2. Payment of this type of compensation to an unregistered person, for what could likely be defined as ‘in furtherance of a trade’, may very well put the salesperson in the position of ‘counseling to commit an offence’ wherein the person receiving the compensation is determined to be in contravention of the Act, by virtue of trading in real estate without benefit of registration.”

Mr. Johnson also went on to write that the form of the referral fee (e.g. a bottle of wine, a cash payment, etc.) would not matter: “As far as the type of compensation, it would not appear to matter the ‘coin of the realm.'”

While Mr. Johnson’s suggested caveats were discussed in a now expired Registrar’s Bulletin (and the new bulletin does not explicitly reiterate these views), these caveats nevertheless seem sensible given the purpose of the Real Estate Business and Brokers Act, 2002 (namely, to prevent unregistered persons from trading in real estate) and the doctrine of vicarious liability.

Accordingly, a realtor that makes a referral fee could get fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to imprisonment for up to one year. The broker may also be found vicariously liable and subject to the same penalties for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the brokerage – through the actions of the salesperson – from contravening theReal Estate Business and Brokers Act, 2002. Worth noting here is that s. 40(4) of the Real Estate Business and Brokers Act, 2002 precludes any action being commenced by the Director against a salesperson or broker after two years from the date on which the offence was first known to the Director.

Can a Realtor accept a referral fee from a third party? Yes
Prima facie, nothing in the Real Estate Business and Brokers Act, 2002, the associated regulations, or the Real Estate Council of Ontario’s interpretation bulletin on referral fees seem to preclude a lawyer or any other third party from providing a referral fee to a salesperson. Presumably, so long as no ethical obligations are being violated either by the lawyer or the salesperson, referral fees from the former to the latter would be permissible.

As had at one point been noted in Jim Marhsall’s (a broker) Parry Sound Real Estate Blog: “Referral fees are only acceptable when being paid to a registrant, through their brokerage” . This statement was confirmed via a telephone conversation with Charles (a compliance officer with the Real Estate Council of Ontario – phone number: 416-207-4850) on April 20th, 2007: so long as the salesperson previously disclosed to their client that they would be paid a referral fee from a lawyer by recommending their client to that lawyer, and the client agreed (recommended to be writing) and subsequently retained that lawyer, then the lawyer would make payment to the brokerage, which would in turn make payment to the salesperson. This would coincide with the brokerage/salesperson’s obligation under s. 25 of the Code of Ethics to disclose to a potential buyer/seller the existence and details relating to a commission or other remuneration that may affect whether an offer to buy/offer to sell is accepted at the earliest practicable opportunity and before any offer is accepted.

Can a Lawyer provide a referral fee to a Realtor? No
With a few exceptions, a lawyer cannot provide a referral fee to a non-lawyer such as a realtor. Rule 2.08(8) of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Rules of Professional Conduct provide that a lawyer shall not:

(a) directly or indirectly share, split, or divide his or her fees with any person who is not a lawyer, or

(b) give any financial or other reward to any person who is not a lawyer for the referral of clients or client matters.

Moreover, pursuant to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Practice Management Guidelines, a lawyer may only pay a referral fee if, among other things, such a fee “is given to a person who is a lawyer” .

Can a Lawyer accept a referral fee from a third party? Yes
Pursuant to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Practice Management Guidelines, a lawyer can receive a referral fee if certain conditions are met: a lawyer can only take “fees, reward, costs, commission, interest, rebate, agency or forwarding allowance, or other compensation related to employment from…someone other than the client, but only with full disclosure to and with the consent of the client”. Here, the consent of the client, other person or agency shall be either in writing or reduced to writing. Moreover, a lawyer may only generally accept a referral fee if various conditions are met.

Blogging For Lawyers – Five Basic Tips

The Legal profession can often give you a very uptight image. Your clients, employees or future employers will seldom see you without a suit. So how do you convey you true personality to them? Simple: a blog!

Your blog is a great way to show your potential clients and colleagues your relaxed, casual side. But more than just an online diary of sorts, by creating a blog, you can cement your place as a legal expert and drive tons of new clients to your firm. How? I’ll tell you!

First of all, even though it is supposed to be your “personal” blog, I would recommend that you keep from airing the ‘really’ dirty laundry on it. You want your blog to be personal, yet maintain a sense of order about it. This means limiting the number of self-destructive negative posts.

Secondly, you want your blog to focus on your profession. You should ideally aim to be the trustable expert in your field, and you can achieve this by giving valuable advice through your blog posts. But don’t make it sound dull and too full of legalese; spice it up with a more casual, personal stance.

Ideally, your blog should have around 60% professional posts, and 40% personal posts.

Thirdly, keep your blog updated regularly. No one likes a blog that is updated once every 6 months. Regular posts will regularly build up your audience.

Fourthly, respond to and keep an eye on the comments. What your readers are saying will give you valuable insight into the future problems of your clients, but also your own knowledge.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to share some ‘trade secrets’ or advice you would usually charge for. Many lawyer blogs I’ve seen online seem to generic and dull because their authors are hesitant to share actual advice online thinking that would eliminate the need for their services. This is completely the wrong thinking. Anybody who actually needs a lawyer will trust you all the more if you share actual tips with him online than give some vague suggestions.

Blogging for lawyers is not too different from blogging for anybody else. The specific and technical nature of your profession sets you apart from the traditional blogging crowd. The aim with which you set up the blog will also dictate the kind of content it will have. If you want a place where you can share thoughts with friends and family, none of these tips would apply to you. But if, like most lawyers, you want to have a space that works not just as a place to share thoughts, but also as a marketing tool, then these tips will point you in just the right direction.

Lawyer Marketing – How to Leverage Social Media to Get Exposure For Your Blog

If a lawyer asks me how to use Facebook, Twitter, and other services to generate more clients, one of the first things I ask is if they have a blog. Even though social media can be very powerful promotional tools, having a blog gives you something to promote.

Advertising for lawyers with your blog: How fast can I get results?

I think all of us would prefer the shorter easier path if given the option. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best route to take for lawyer marketing with social networks. Even though posting an update on Twitter or Facebook can share your thoughts with others, it doesn’t provide the depth that writing a good blog post does. One of the best uses of social media is sharing your blog posts with other Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn users.

If your lawyer marketing efforts are simply status updates on Twitter and Facebook, without any longer, thought out content of your own, then you will be making comments about many things, but adding nothing of substance to the conversation.

When you are active in social media, publishing frequent blog posts offers two important advantages:

1. The ability to share your blog with the community. By offering your ideas and thoughts, people will learn more about what you have to offer. This will drive traffic to your blog where they will be more likely to inquire about your services.

2. You will become a thought leader in your field. Commenting on social networks can’t compete with the substance and depth you can produce through a blog.

One thing to think about is that you still have to put forth an effort to produce great content with your blog. If you write thought provoking material, you will see success in the promotion of this content through social media outlets.

Lawyer Blogs: More Powerful for Attorneys Than Websites

If you are an attorney who is trying to think of new ways to gain clients, make contacts, and otherwise make more money, then one aspect of Internet marketing that you may not have considered is to start your own blog. You have probably thought that it isn’t necessary to create a blog, particularly if you already have your own website. You may have thought that a blog and a website are the same thing. However, this isn’t the case. There are some distinct advantages that a blog can bring you that a website cannot. Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that it differs from a website and how they can help you better achieve your goals of gaining more clients.

The most important difference between a blog and a website is that a blog is typically much more dynamic. Your website probably provides some basic information about you and your practice. You probably have an About page, where you detail your credentials, your specialties, and how long you have been practicing law. You probably have another page where you list the services you provide and how much you charge for each service. Finally, you probably have a page where you let your potential clients know how they can contact you if they need representation in court. This website is definitely crucial to your online presence, and its importance shouldn’t be underestimated. However, it probably doesn’t get much traffic from the search engines on a regular basis. This is where a blog can be very powerful. The major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo typically don’t favor static web pages that don’t ever get updated. Unless your educational background or your specialty changes, then there is little reason to update your website. Your blog, on the other hand, will be constantly updated. You can share different posts that put your expertise on display. Your blog is where your personality will really get to shine through. If you create a new post even once per month, then the search engines will take notice. They will see that yours gets regularly updated, so you will probably see a flood of traffic that you have heretofore never experienced. If you connect your blog to your website, then the two will complement each other. The contacts that you send to your website will be able to see your blog, and the free Internet traffic that you get from the search engines will be redirected to your website. You’ll instantly be able to notice a boost in the number of leads and new clients that you are able to acquire.

Another major benefit of a blog in comparison to a standard web site is that you will be able to interact much more intimately with your Internet visitors. Blogs are typically characterized by a comments section, where visitors to your blog can post their reaction to your blog post and usually they will pose a question to you. You will then have the opportunity to answer these questions by posting in the comments section yourself. This gives a blog a much more homely feeling compared to the rigid structure of a static web page. By regularly responding to the comments left by your visitors, you will be able to show everyone how knowledgeable and responsive you are. Your visitors will rightly draw the conclusion that this is representative of the type of service they could expect if they hire you as their attorney. You’ll probably also notice an up tick in the number of potential clients and fellow lawyers who contact you directly. Simply make sure that your email address is clearly visible on your blog so that your visitors will know how to contact you. The fellow lawyers who contact you may have blogs and websites of their own, and they will probably want to work out an arrangement with you which will be mutually beneficial to you both. For example, you can send each other traffic, or he may want to advertise his related service on your site.

You may be thinking that this will all be a tremendous amount of work in comparison to maintaining a website. It’s true that it does require a bit more time and effort, but it’s important to realize that it doesn’t necessarily need to be you who slaves away at the computer screen all day. There are many services available that can get your blog up and running in a snap. When you want a new post published, you can often hire a writer or a blog service to outsource the writing to. You can just give them the topic of the blog post, and they’ll take care of the rest.

SEO for Lawyers: Know What Is There for You?

You must have heard how lawyers in US are deliberately promoting themselves online. It’s not that they want to avoid pouring chunk of money into offline advertisement. The reason is different. Legal service is all about establishing reputation and relationships with clients. Eventually, most of them are found on web.

So, how do you reach them with the most neutral but convincing voice? How do you make most of your online presence felt among target audiences?

The Browsing pattern indicates some important findings for lawyers in US. It shows you can’t avoid the gateway to web information – Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, etc) to make things happen. Yes, optimizing your business website in major search engines can do wonders for your online reputation management. And, there are professionals to do it for you.

Let us see how a Law firm SEO initiates the optimization process for your website. A complete search engine optimization service includes several underlying services. Here are the briefs on those.

Primary analysis of your website:

The organic SEO service starts with analyzing your target keywords/ key phrase against practice areas. Followed by extensive keyword research, the website pages are aligned to make on-page improvements.

On-page recommendations:

It includes Meta data and content optimization, proper internal linking of pages, use of appropriate keyword and their distribution, ALT tag changes, site map creation, Robots.txt configuration everything to make your website search engine crawler- friendly.

Quality link development:

One way, three-way link-building from relevant legal resources, directory submission and other contextual link building comes in this plethora of link development job. The idea is to earn maximum and quality votes/recommendations from external website.

Site performance monitoring: A continuous process that includes sending monthly rank report for each keyword, monitoring link quality, sites debug problems etc.

Blog designing and optimization:

Blog creation is an important way to promote lawyer’s domain experience. Attorney marketing firms can gift you an optimized blog. They will update it with regular posts, write original and quality content and thus drive maximum attention from potential clients.

They will earn quality in-bound links from diverse domains and ensure the blog pages get indexed very soon.

Google place listing: Law firm SEO companies can ensure local people and communities will find your firm in Google local results. It is possible to list firm’s address and road directions in Google places and Google maps. Thus prospective visitors can easily locate your office easily.

Social Media marketing:

The most happening and cost-effective online marketing solution lawyers can look for. Reputed SEO professionals can devise proper social media marketing strategies through Facebook, twitter and other major social bookmarking websites. It includes community building, content creation, updating video, image and text for maximum attention.

If you haven’t tried SEO for your website, you are sure to miss the big bang.

Internet Marketing Tips For Lawyers and Legal Professionals

Create an Avvo.com profile
Avvo is a Web 2.0 property completely dedicated to lawyers, law advice, and lawyer reviews. This is a great place to strut your stuff and show others how much you know about the law. Answer questions, review other’s advice, and make a free profile for yourself and your practice.

Maintain a blog
Writing-and most importantly, maintaining-a blog is a great way to both give helpful advice and generate high quality customer opportunities. You can either put an actual blog on your site, or sign up for a free blog service such as Blogger.com. However, once you start the blog, it is important to make sure you do not forget it and post at least one entry every week.

Create social community profiles
Having a profile on social communities such as MySpace, FaceBook, or LinkedIn will help you connect with both other lawyers and potential clients. Keep the page professional though, and be sure to have all of your contact and business information on the pages.

Answer questions on advice sites
Becoming a notable legal expert is just a click away. By answering questions of potential clients looking for guidance, you are becoming regarded as a trustworthy expert in your field. There are tons of advice sites out there, but I would suggest starting off with Yahoo Answers, LawGuru.com, and Avvo’s advice section.

Send out e-newsletters
Sending out an e-newsletter is a great way to let clients, potential clients, and business colleagues know what you are currently offering. It is also a great way to monitor what people find the most intriguing. By adding a few tracking parameters to any hyperlink in your email, you will know which articles are the real attention grabbers.

Network, network, network
There are plenty of great ways to network with other professionals to get the word out about your services. One very helpful and easy way to network is to join your local chamber of commerce. If you do not have time for an extra monthly meeting, there are always more networking events available, do not pass too many of them up! When you do go to a networking event, bring a pocketful of business cards, a well-practiced pitch, and a friendly smile.

Google yourself
Do you ever “Google” a person or a business to see what kind of life or business they run? Well, do not hesitate to think others will do the same with your name and business. Make a habit of routinely “googling” yourself and your business, and see what comes up.

Refresh your website
In order to get online visitors to become clients, your site needs to be fresh and modern. If your site design is more then two years old, then you should probably consider having it redesigned. Web design is constantly evolving and you want to make sure your site’s design stays current. Additionally, you will also want to keep your site updated with blog entries, news, pictures, advice, etc. so that users know you are making a strong effort to be active online.

6 Alternative Jobs For Lawyers

The author Lawrence Sanders created a fictional character whose stint at Yale law school ended somewhat prematurely. Not surprising given his streaking prank, but luckily his daddy had a law firm and appointed him a kind of private eye. This got me thinking about the possible paths that failed law students, law students like Mike, disgruntled lawyers or lawyers who migrate might consider in their search for an alternative.

* Politician

Many of our Politicians are lawyers. In fact 25 US presidents have been trained lawyers. Some consider the training and talents of those who choose law are a natural match for the world of politics so we will let that be the first option. Some of you may wonder how you can enter this field. It means as a start getting involved in your communities, networking with established politicians, joining the youth wing of political organizations, joining ongoing political campaigns, letting your voices be heard through the press about problems in your community and putting forward your recommendations for solutions.

* Trust Officer

This position could be perfect for the lawyer who craves a less aggressive and competitive atmosphere than the typical law firm. If you work in estates or trusts but are seeking to leave the bar, this could be ideal for you. Trust officers typically manage assets which are held in banks or act as executors in the estates of deceased persons. If you are one of those lawyers who have a knack for detail but find the life inside the firm too demanding then you could think about this.

* Actor

My friend who blogs under the name Law Student Hot Mama gave me this idea. She reminded me that like lawyers actors supposedly have high levels of testosterone. So how about it you lawyers battling over in the real life courtroom? Why not show those guys over at Law and Order how it’s really done. Can you imagine even making more money and getting better perks without the real life hassle of brown nosing with clients you really despise.

* Writer

You write enough on a daily basis, whether it’s briefs, contracts, wills, trust deeds or legal opinions a lawyer’s life truly involves a lot of writing, so why not think about writing your own books instead. If you think you are not the creative type remember they say that truth is stranger than fiction so write about something you know, like Martha Kimes did in her Ivy Briefs. If you do believe that there is a writer inside of you, you have lots of success stories of lawyers turned writers like Scott Turow, John Grisham and Neeraja Viswanathan so don’t dismiss it. If you aren’t into fiction think about writing fact based articles as a journalist or legal writer. You could end up as a blogger on a blawg (law blog) even, who knows?

* Editor

If you really aren’t convinced that writing is your thing but you enjoy the world of books and law, then maybe you should contemplate entering the field of legal editing. I have heard of law firms hiring full time legal editors to edit law firm articles, briefs, motions and so on. Legal editors are also required to interpret, analyze, organize legal information for the purpose of case law publication. Sometimes they are hired by quasi legal magazines or journals to research, edit and analyze articles or even to contribute towards columns involving legal issues.

* Business

So many of you corporate law practitioners enjoy the thrill of the deal coming to fruition; but the drudgery it entails such ad the dotting of the I’s and the crossing of the T’s and the need to anticipate every eventuality in the contracts just contribute to your boredom and general dissatisfaction with your job. So use the talents developed in your area of specialization and either start your own business, buy into an existing business or seek work in a business environment like investment banking.

When considering a change of career you may or may not have to retool or go back to school. Remember that many lawyers especially those qualified in the States acquired a degree prior to law school so you have skills and knowledge of areas outside the law. In any event try to think of the skills that you already possess and where you can apply them in a way that gives you more satisfaction than in your current job and you will agree that you do indeed have the power to leave the bar.

Ashley is an Attorney/Mom who strives to achieve a balance between work and family. She is not shy about sharing her views as she hopes to encourage others to reach a similar goal.

The Meaning of Communication For Lawyers

For lawyers, communication is the keystone for delivery of effective services. From the time a law student enrolls in school, they are taught methods of effective communication. Communication for lawyers is about much more than verbal discussion. It impacts all areas for attorneys, from marketing initiatives through all matters covered under attorney-client privilege.

Most clients do not consult an attorney for pleasant reasons. More often it’s because they have time sensitive problems that create stress and cloud their thinking. It’s up to the lawyer to introduce a note of calm and reason through effective communication.

American Bar Association Rules require attorneys to communicate with their clients in an effective, timely way. In fact, violating this rule is the leading cause for ABA discipline. The reality is that communication is essential for the attorney-client relationship to work.

Lawyers have to be able to plainly and succinctly express themselves in print and in conversation. This is the subject of endless hours of study and drill throughout law school. But in the real world when it comes to marketing communications, what does a lawyer say after “Hello”?

One of the most important sales closing skills that any professional can bring to the table is the ability to listen carefully to what prospects and clients say. This directly relates to the importance of understanding their needs. It also is the single most important factor in being able to respond to them when it comes to winning contracts, and it directly translates to the firm’s bottom line. In order to communicate in any meaningful way, a lawyer has to be able to listen.

Listening goes beyond simply hearing words or understanding the letter of the client’s statements. As we’ve established, most clients are under at least a little bit of pressure or they wouldn’t be consulting an attorney at all. Listening requires that ineffable quality of empathy balanced with pure reason. A good attorney understands what the client is saying when they’re not saying a word, through the context of their communication. The art of listening is developed through experience and practice, and it means moderating content with context.

How to Make Bad News Good For Your Bottom Line

Whether your preferred morning reading is the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post or a local paper, you’re probably reading plenty of bleak economic news. The Dow Jones average is up, then it’s down. First the end of the recession is in sight – but then, no, wait, maybe not. However you aren’t the only one reading the news. Your customers, competition, prospective clients and future employees scan the same business and legal articles you do.

So what are you doing with this information? Are you using it to pass the time over your morning cup of coffee? Or are you using this information as context for your clients? You can leverage the news of the day as an effective business tool in routine conversations to provide perspective and expertise for your clients. Chatting up the news of the day is certainly acceptable in polite society. But it also creates the opportunity for a foot in the door to clients and prospects when the news is relevant to your area of expertise.

Taking this concept one step further, lawyers can use the daily news to create a platform for establishing their own expertise within the media. Writing is often an attorney’s greatest gift. It makes sense then to take advantage of the burgeoning writing opportunities that modern technology presents to all professionals, not just attorneys, and generate new business for the firm.

Online publishing opportunities abound through blogs, guest blogging, article directories and news websites. The shrinking print newspaper business, coupled with a tight economy, and a growing online presence, all create a rich opportunity for lawyers to offer themselves as a credible resource for issues that affect their areas of expertise. In fact, now is a great time not just for lawyers but also for small and mid-sized firms, companies and consultancies to use communication as a primary business development tool.

But if writing for the Wall Street Journal seems out of your league, you may opt to be the big fish in the small pond. Try contacting reporters at your local newspapers and industry publications and offering them an interview. Become their “go-to person,” and your name will appear in more and more of their feature articles as trust is established. Building your reputation as an expert in print will go a long way toward closing the sale before you ever communicate with your prospect.

The meaning of communication for lawyers isn’t just about delivering a one-way discussion to a single client. It embraces the totality of the profession, and it creates a rich opportunity for service.