Is Entrepreneurship Dead In Schools?

Filed under: Editorials | |

Will you buy my popcorn?

I should probably preface this post by saying this is a RANT. Ok, you have been warned.

My kids are in elementary school. That means scouting and fund-raisers. My boys just brought home order packets for baked goods proudly  touting “40% of every purchase supports your school!” Exclamation in the original. Last month we were standing in front of a local supermarket shilling popcorn for the local boy scout troop. Now, when I say “we” I really mean my wife and the boys since I was working that Saturday and find the entire practice ridiculous for the following reasons.

It isn’t sales, it is charity. I do not need popcorn, nor do I need cakes, cookies or pastries. Neither my waistline, nor my pocketbook will thank me for it. And I unless I am trapped on a 16 hour fight to Asia, a $14 bag of popcorn just isn’t something I will willingly shell out money for.

What’s wrong with it being charity? People give to all sorts of charities. What’s wrong with making a donation to a school to student group? I see nothing wrong with it. I completely support donations. Then 100% of your money goes to support the school or student group.

These sales are a bad deal for the school or group. Note: I do not have the percentage split in scouting fundraisers. I am using the disclosed percentage of a school fundraiser as a guestimate of the split for other fundraisers. Assuming 40% goes to the school or troop, you need to collect $250 for every $100 the school or group gets. In other words, the school or group is better off if you donate $10 than if you buy a $14 bag of popcorn. They get an additional $4.40!

Let’s compare this 40/60 split to administrative and other expenses in real charities Read the rest of this entry »


Going VOIP

Filed under: Software | Tags: , , , |

Meeting in Progress

It is about 45 days after moving my law office. The physical move was the easy part. All the furniture was transferred in a morning. Even moving all the furniture from one one side of the office to the other (flipping the office 180 degrees) took only an evening’s hard work.

Mail, on the other hand, took about 21 days to begin forwarding.

You may recall my prior post concerning porting my telephone number. Well, 45 days later and still no luck. Quite early on I decided I never wanted to deal with this problem again. I never again wanted to deal with the antiquated systems set up by the telephone companies for moving a telephone number.

The question became: how am I going to run my business without a phone?

Read the rest of this entry »


Permit, Recognize, And Reward Change

Filed under: Editorials, Practice Tips | Tags: , , , |

Torn & Cut One Dollar Note Floating Away in Small $ PiecesThe Japanese have a concept called Kaizen – or “continuous improvement.” The idea is that you continually make little changes which improve your overall product. Over time these changes add up and add to the quality of your product. My personal take on Kaizen is the string of pearls metaphor: keep adding features to your practice and improving on the ones you have.

These can be big or small changes:

  • Update your logo.
  • Add color printing.
  • Add SMS reminders for your clients’ appointments.
  • Revise the copy in your brochures and website.
  • Revise your letters.
  • Update your letter format: freshen the style, change the font, increase the white space.
  • Call up 5 contacts you have not spoken to in half a year.

Why polish when it is not rewarded?

The problem in many law offices is that the firm culture actively fights change. Even if it is the stated goal at the office to “empower” workers, completing assigned tasks or maintaining billable hours rules the day. Read the rest of this entry »


So You Want To Be A Freelance Lawyer?

Filed under: Freelance | Outsourcing | Tags: , |

Freelance attorney Celeste Boyd writes today’s post on what you need to know if you want to be a contract lawyer / freelance attorney:

In the past couple of years since my business cards started proclaiming me a “Freelance Attorney,” I’ve encountered a lot of curiosity from other lawyers who have the impression that freelancing (taking overflow legal work from other attorneys) offers an easy way out of the generally hectic life of most traditional attorney jobs. Of course, I think some of this is my fault: the way I tend to describe my day-to-day life (“I work in my pajamas, don’t have a daily commute, and get to hit the gym at down times instead of during the pre- or post-work rush”) does make life as a freelancer sound pretty luxurious.

The truth is, freelancing can be a great option for some attorneys (provided your career plans don’t include someday being a Supreme Court Justice or the managing partner at a mega-firm), but as with most career decisions, people tend to gloss over some of the less appealing aspects of the path while dreaming of life without a boss, a commute, or client drama. In the interest of helping other people avoid some of the misconceptions I had when I started full-time freelancing, let me point out some of the, well, less-than-green grass on the other side. Read the rest of this entry »


Hurray For Crap!

Filed under: Editorials | |

Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place.  But there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.  ~E.L. Konigsburg

CC photo credit: thephotographymuse

I was sitting thinking about my brother reading this site. I could just imaging how the conversation would go.

You have another site? Cool! What’s the url?

No, don’t read it.

Why not?

Because it’s crap!

Oh, come on.

And so on.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really think this site is crap. At least I certainly hope it isn’t. Although, if you disagree, feel free to tell me in the comments. I just do not think it is good enough for my brother. However, it is the best I can do at the moment. I am used to writing about Social Security topics. However, every subject is different and I am still cutting my teeth on writing technology and law practice posts on a regular basis.

This made me think about a conversation I was having with my wife about the dangerous myth of innate talent. Generally in this society, we believe that people are naturally good at things.

Wow, he’s a good football player.
She’s such a talented violinist.
They really know how to deal with problem kids.

The problem with this it totally discounts the value of the hard work that goes into making a person a success. What we call talent is usually just a starting point. It may make things initially easier. However, how far you go depends on the effort put in. Of course, effort alone does not guarantee success, but it is a good predictor of how far a person will go. You may never play in the NBA if you are only 5 foot nothing even if you practice 50 hours a week. However, you may well become the will be the best 5 foot tall player. Yes, I am talking obliquely about Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule.

What does this have to do with blogging? I write to become a better writer. I realize that I may not be creating the best content on the internet. I also know I will never create better content without writing what I am currently capable of.

So, hurray for crap! Because I know I cannot become a better at anything with first being lousy at it!


MILOfest 2010 Ron Elkins on Using iPad in Trial

Filed under: Conferences | Tags: , |

Ron Elkins gave a terrific presentation at MILOfest (Macs in Law Offices) 2010 on how he uses iPads to create a slam dunk trial presentation and cut costs for his office.

Planet10tech caught up with Ron after the presentation for quick run down.


MILOfest 2010 Victor Medina Conference Organizer

Filed under: Conferences | Tags: |

If you are wondering what all this “MILOfest” stuff is, Planet10tech got a interview with the Macs in Law Offices conference organizer, Victor Medina:


MILOfest 2010 Amin Rahmani on Daylite

Filed under: Conferences, Software | Tags: , |

World's Favorite Sport
Amin is a mac lawyer’s best friend.

In case you don’t know, MarketCircle, the company Amin works for, are the developers of Daylite and Billings – two native Apple project management and billing software solutions for both the Mac and iPhone. For many Mac using lawyers, Amin is the face of MarketCircle: active on the Macs in Law Office’s listserve and the MarketCircle representative at the last two MILOfest conferences (which MarketCircle has sponsored).

Amin talked to Planet10tech at MILOfest 2010 to share recent developments with Daylite and what we can expect from the iPad version of Daylite (coming soon!).

CC image credit: vramak


MILOfest 2010 Mark Merenda on Hiring Strategies for Law Firms

Filed under: Conferences, Practice Tips | Tags: , |

Diagonal
Mark Merenda‘s other presentation at MILOfest 2010 (Macs in Law Offices) covered mistakes lawyers make when hiring.

Mark was gracious enough to shares just some of the tips covered including the proper approach to hiring and what traits to look for in job applicants.

Mark Merenda consults on the business of running law firms and crafting law firms into a compelling experience for clients at SmartMarketing. You can read his blog at LawFirmHelp.com.

CC image credit: Simon Blackley


MILOfest 2010 Influence and Legal Marketing

Filed under: Conferences, Marketing | Tags: |

Mark Merenda and Victor Medina presented on how the principles from Robert Cialdini’s seminal book, “Influence” apply to law firm marketing. Here is a summary and comments:

Reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity is if you do something for someone, they are more likely to do something for you. This runs the gammut from free samples to bringing someone glass of water, to hosting conferences and dinners. Even if the person know they are being manipulated, it still works.

In a legal firm environment, reciprocity can be invoked with something as simple a sending information packets, giving people at your office a hot drink, or hosting a seminar and a meal.

Social Proof

People go where other people are. If you see one person looking up, you will pass him by. On the other hand, if you see four people standing around looking up, you are likely to stop and look as well. That is the principle of social proof.

The easiest way to implement social proof in your practice is through testimonial.

WATCH OUT: Read the rest of this entry »