Coming of Age (At Any Age)

Filed under: Editorials | |

I like children’s stories. It’s is hard to say this without a touch of embarrassment. After all, what does a man in his early 40s find to appreciate in stories aimed at readers a quarter his age?

For me, it is the notion that there is notion of possibility. That the future has not been written and there is still choice and the opportunity to do something amazing in it.

Check out this description from the back of “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate”:

The summer of 1899 is hot in Calpurnia’s sleepy Texas town, and there aren’t a lot of good ways to stay cool. Her mother has a new wind machine, but instead, Callie’s contemplating cutting off her hair, one sneaky inch at a time. She’s also spending a lot of time at the river with her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist. But just when Callie and her grandfather are about to make an amazing discovery, the reality of Callie’s situation catches up with her. She’s a girl at the turn of the century, expected to cook and clean and sew. What a waste of time! Will Callie ever find a way to take control of her own destiny?

Who doesn’t feel this way at times? Is this all there is? What about making something worthwhile?

It is expected that by a certain age we should know what we want.

  • Pick a practical major.
  • Get a real job.
  • Buy a house.
  • Save for retirement.

I know I am channeling a bit of the Vocational Wheel episode of Back to Work discussing the quarter life crisis and reinforced the notion that it is ok to not know what you want to do at 25 (or even at 40).

In children’s books, or Young Adult fiction (which sounds as odd to my ears as calling comic books “graphic novels” did about 10 years ago), this notion is accepted. It is ok that you don’t know what you want.

So, I still find value in “coming of age stories” and even though I am entering my fourth decade, I still feel that I am coming of age.


Powerful Law Firm Logos – The Face Of Your Business

Filed under: Marketing | Tags: , , , |

jack johnson:better together

Today’s guest article is written by freelance Graphic Designer Rick Campbell,

Think of your favorite beverage.

Is it a soda? Is it coffee?

Maybe your drink of choice is a brand of tea or an energy drink? When you think of it, do you picture it in a glass? Do you think of it on ice? Or do you picture the logo or packaging first, followed by the appearance and taste?

You come back to the same brand again and again because of the experience of drinking the product, but your mind may recognize the logo and packaging as part of that experience. At times, the taste is secondary to consumers, as they may recognize a company or brand solely by a logo.

A law firm’s logo can speak the same language, though the experience is based more around integrity and results rather than flavor or caffeine levels.

  • A logo serves as a face of your business and can highlight your business in a positive or negative light, depending on how effective it is.
  • A logo identifies what your firm stands for and can go so far as giving potential clients an idea of what you specialize in (whether it’s real estate, family law, copywriting, etc.) without having to “Google” you.
  • A logo identifies your core values. It can say that you are trustworthy, that you take pride in your work, or strive for excellence in your field.

Some of the more effective logos bypass using cookie cutter images, like gavels and columns, that are so often seen in law-related logos or combine them with new images related to their specialty to create a more memorable mark. Others may use familiar regional imagery, like a tree or a mountain range that is specific to that part of the world. Thinking outside the usual confines of law’s basic symbols can be a foundation for building brand awareness and brand loyalty in your clientele. [Check out the examples below the fold] Read the rest of this entry »


No Collaboration Allowed

Filed under: Editorials | Tags: |

Desert Leader

I’m reading Salon’s article on How Finland Became a Education Leader:

The second point is that [Finns] defined professionalism as working more collaboratively. They give their teachers time in the school day and in the school week to work with each other, to continuously improve their curriculum and their lessons. We have a 19th century level of professionalism here, or worse, it’s medieval. A teacher works alone all day, everyday, and isolation is the enemy of improvement and innovation, which is something the Finns figured out a long time ago. Get the teachers out of their isolated circumstances and give them time to work together.

Now just replace “teacher” and “school” with “lawyer” and “firm”. Yeah, this is what I go on about with lawyers, whether they are solos or in a law firm. There’s very little collaboration or mentoring. Just a bunch of individuals trying to reinvent the wheel. And it just doesn’t work well. It doesn’t work well for starting lawyers trying to learn the ropes. And it doesn’t work well for lawyers trying to figure out how to keep their business running well.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Hamed Saber


Macs in Law Offices 2011 Conference Coming Up!

Filed under: Conferences | Tags: |

MILOfest (Macs in Law Offices), the premier conference for lawyers and law firms who use Apple computers in their law practice has set a date for the 2011 conference:

November 10 though 12, 2011 at the Coronado Resort Hotel at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida

Each year (this will the be third) the conference has gotten better and better. It is an awesome chance to mingle and pick the brains of the best Mac legal technologists in the country. Past conferences hosted founders and developers from major Mac legal software companies such as Clio, Rocket Matter, Market Circle and others.

One of the best things about being a Mac using lawyer is that the community is so small and tightly integrated that everyone wants to help you when you are looking for solutions. MILOfest has been our annual chance to get together and learn from each other. If you want to learn more about it check out the MILOfest website and see my videos and posts from last year’s conference.


X-Prize for Lawyers?

Filed under: Podcasts | Tags: |

Capital Letter X on Glass (Silver Spring, MD)

I’m listening to Peter Diamandis discuss how prizes have spurred innovation from Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic, to private manned space flight, to improving education. This is part of the Reading, Rockets, and ‘Rithmetic episode of the Freakonomics podcast.

Could you apply this to law?

  • How about a prize for the best service in a law firm? Wouldn’t you want to know how top firms are keeping their clients happy?
  • Or, taking another tack, would you be interested in starting a practice are in a law firm incubator. The business elements are taken care of, but it is up to you to make a go of the practice area you begin?

Creative Commons License photo credit: takomabibelot


Dammit! I’m a Lawyer, Not a Soothsayer!

Filed under: Editorials, Practice Tips | |

Problem solving fortune cookie

It is an axiom in the practice of law that lawyers cannot promise a particular result.

It is also axiomatic that as soon as an individual requires the services of a lawyer, they will forget this. So, any question like…

If I do A, what will happen?

Falls into the realm of promising a result, if one tries to answer it. The same goes for the following:

If I do A, will B happen?
How do I stop B from happening?

This is a variation on promising a result, in the sense that it is a protection racket. “We can help you avoid B[ad thing], if you do the following, and pay us money.” The often unspoken part of these questions is…

I know what I want to do, and I want you to tell me that it is going to be ok.

Or, put another way, “I want you to ratify my action and indemnify me against bad consequences.” Now, do lawyers do this? Sure. Absolutely. Lawyers often provide advice on prospective courses of action to protect their clients. However, there has to be the understanding that:

  1. The lawyer cannot guarantee a result.
  2. If things go tits up, the lawyer will effectively go, “Huh? What do you know about that?”

Unfortunately, this tends to not go over well. Which often results in the client either being angry, or suing the lawyer, for not having a good enough crystal ball. Simply put, I hate these questions.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Tomasz Stasiuk


Death on Facebook

Filed under: Editorials | Tags: , , |

Usability

I am writing this one day after learning that a friend from high school took his life. I am tabling this post for a bit to let emotions settle. You see, “Jeff’s” (not his real name) death broke on social media.

The word quickly spread among his friends. I heard about it on Twitter and then through messages on Facebook. People started posting pictures they had of Jeff on his page. I did it too. They started telling stories, the things they loved about him, and their favorite memories. There were songs, and tributes posted. Friends of friends expressed their sorrow for our loss. Jeff’s favorite songs and music from 80s when we were all in high school.

The problem was it was all happening so fast, that Jeff’s family had not even been notified that he was dead.

Then the backlash started: Read the rest of this entry »


Using a Bluetooth Headset with Google Voice

Filed under: Mac Tips | Tags: , , , , |

Skype and Google Voice are great ways to stay in touch. However, sometimes you don’t want to sound like you are talking on a speakerphone, nor do you want to deal with the headset wires. The big problem is that, unlike in Skype, Google Voice does not let you send the phone ring to one device (the computer speakers), and the call to the second device (a headset). So, if you have a headset plugged in, but are not wearing it, you may miss a call because you don’t hear the ring in the headset speakers.

Of course, you could just start the call in speakerphone mode (using the computer speakers and mic) and then plug in. However, in practice, this does not really work: dealing with a headset is an unnecessary distraction while taking notes or looking up case information.

Why not go wireless with your VOIP?

You probably already have a Bluetooth headset for your mobile phone and are used to wearing it. Why not use you Bluetooth headset with your VOIP system (Skype or Google Voice)?

The headset I’m using is a Plantronics Voyager Pro+ based on Don McAllister’s ScreenCastsOnline episode on Dragon Dictate with a Bluetooth headset.

I remember reading a few years ago that Macs were terrible, to the point of being unusable, at Bluetooth audio. So, I was prepared for a simple pairing not to work and downloaded the programs Don McAllister recommended for getting a Bluetooth headset to work with Dragon Dictate: SoundFlower and LineIn.

However, I thought I should give the simple method a try first. And, what do you know? Pairing went off without a hitch. A Skype test call worked just fine! Instructions for pairing a Bluetooth headset with your Mac below the fold: Read the rest of this entry »


Communication and Connections

Filed under: Podcasts | Tags: , , , , |

Open

I’m listening to Episode 43 of The Pipeline where Mike Monteiro of Mule Design talks about starting his web design house and what it takes to succeed.

What does this have to do with running a solo or small law practice?

Frankly, I find that web and tech startup and a lot in common with small law practices:

  • From figuring out marketing,
  • To deciding on what roles to fill,
  • To deciding whether to bring people together or work remotely,
  • To keeping clients happy and knowing when to tell a client what they need to hear (even if it may mean losing that client).
  • And last, how you cannot be a success if you can’t sell yourself to a prospect.

One thing I found particularly interesting was the notion of the morning meeting. We’ve all heard the new reasoning that an hour meeting with 7 people is 7 hours of lost productivity. However, the idea of starting each day by pulling together and outlining the goals for the day and everyone’s responsibilities in the big picture is compelling stuff.

I think it is applicable in law firms, and I wonder how much farther it can go. Read the rest of this entry »


Ignore the Analytics

Filed under: Blogging | Tags: |

Google Analytics Hacks

When you first start blogging, you will want to see how many people (other than you mom and your spouse) are looking at your site.

DON’T

Analytics are the beauty magazines of blogging. They will just make you feel ugly and make you want to go back to bed with a pint of ice cream. You won’t know what you are doing and that’s ok. When you are starting out is a great time to make mistakes. It’s the perfect time, in fact: fewer people are looking at your site!

  • Websites need time to grow.
  • Bloggers need time to grow, too.

It will take time to find your voice and figure out the things you want to cover. At first, you will feel like you are shouting into the howling wilderness. And in many ways you will be. However, you need that ego to keep you going to the keyboard to keep creating content. And analytics are worse for your self confidence that striking out at a single’s bar. Analytics prove statistically that no one likes you, and that is something no one needs to hear during the fragile starting months.

Keep telling yourself that you are awesome and that it will just take some for everyone else to see that too. Yeah, just like your mom said. Now, go give her a call! She’d love to hear from you.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Search Engine People Blog