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All Our Practice Tips

♫ Just a short note
You’ll find the key inside…♫

Music, lyrics and recorded by Matt Finish.

twitter to evernote (1)

Having just returned from ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago my mind is buzzing with everything that I has seen and heard.  One of the more interesting sessions was on how to use Evernote (https://evernote.com).  Now I have been using Evernote for some time but it seems that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I became curious about how to use Evernote to not just capture web sites, recipes, legal research and such, but to try to capture the tweets that I was creating while at Techshow.

So with a little research, here is how to craft a note in Evernote that captures all your tweets going forward…without your having to do anything more.

I only wish I knew how to do this *before* Techshow ..that way my Tweets could be a record that I could easily use to write a column…the next step is to figure out how to capture all the tweets that use a certain hashtag like #ABATECHSHOW!

Here is how to create a note to log all your tweets going forward:

1.  Go to IFTTT to create an account.  IFTTT is a service that allows you to create chains of commands..it stands for IF This Then That.

2.  Once your account is created, go to: https://ifttt.com/recipes/114761-twitter-will-automatically-archive-to-evernote and install the ‘recipe’ that will automatically send your tweets to your Evernote account.

Voila!  Your tweets will now be logged into Evernote. Just a short note with a key inside!

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver BC.

 

I remember the time that a favourite client of mine gave me a schooling in the art of legal writing – and proofreading.

A retired lawyer (and the consummate gentleman), he had retained me to draft revisions to a fairly complex Last Will and Testament.

He was a bit of a stickler. And I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to have worked with him. Because even though my content was fine, he still had lots to say about the way my draft was set up.

Here, in a nutshell, is what I learned from him.

Precision and consistency in style, capitalization and formatting can be at least as important as content in the creation of legal documentation that meets the standards of our profession.

In other words:

  • Consistent Capitals, Please: If you are capitalizing Executor in one paragraph, you need to capitalize that word everywhere in the document. This holds true in pleadings as well. If Respondent reappears in your document, be consistent in whether you capitalize it;
  • Don’t mix and match your semicolons and periods: If you are working on a list, use semicolons throughout, except for the last paragraph of your list, which should end with a period;
  • Don’t mess with gender: “His/her” is probably never appropriate in a legal document, and certainly is not appropriate when dealing with a single person. Take the time to verify that your gender descriptions fit your document – especially when you are working from templates and precedents;
  • Paragraph numbering: To avoid errors in paragraph numbering, especially when editing, always use automatic formatting for paragraphs and lists;
  • Proofread once, twice and then proofread again. The same goes for spell checking – this should be done after every revision;
  • Use section titles:  These will make your document easier to read. Once again, consistency matters. If you are using titles, decide whether you will be underlining them, using bold font, or both, and stick to that same selection throughout your document;
  • Revisit your draft. Where possible, after you have finished your document, put it away for a few hours or a day before sending it out. Come back to it later to do a final check. You could be surprised at the number of obvious errors – in content and style – you may find when you have fresh eyes available.

Yes, it really does matter that you get it right.

As a lawyer, you are among other things, a professional writer. Your work product is your calling card, and it will go a long way, particularly when you’re starting out, toward establishing how your clients and colleagues assess you.

(As well, your supervising lawyer will probably not appreciate being called upon repeatedly to edit sloppiness, spelling mistakes, typos, formatting errors, and grammatical problems you could have found yourself in your draft).

So that’s a wrap on this week’s tip:  Take the time to get your writing right. It will make a difference.

Because it will demonstrate that you care.

 – Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)

 

♫  What’s left to lose?
I painted all these pictures but you couldn’t choose,
All of your company.
But is this distance, calling my name?
I think persistence is this price that we pay in the end…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by State Champs.

thanks Dan thanks Dan

This is an image taken from a YouTube marketing video created by a  Pittsburgh lawyer named Daniel Muessig.  This particular video has been described as “clever, effective, legally ethical and thoroughly despicable” by ethicsalarms.com.  They state:

Is this an ethical ad? According to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, it is within the conduct permitted by the state’s legal ethics rules. The ad isn’t misleading. It doesn’t make promises the lawyer cannot keep. It doesn’t represent dramatic recreations as fact, or use broad metaphors and exaggerations. (Lawyer ads are held to a standard of literalness that presumes the public has never see any other kinds of advertising in their entire lives.) Once upon a time the various state bar advertising regulations included prohibitions on “undignified” communications, or those that undermined public trust in the profession, but those days are long past: the standards were necessarily vague, and breached free speech principles.

So we have this: a lawyer who appeals to his future criminal clients by saying that he thinks like a criminal, believes laws are arbitrary, that other lawyers will “blow them off” and that he visits jails frequently because that’s where his friends are. He attacks his own colleagues and profession, denigrates the rule of law he is sworn to uphold, and seeks the trust of criminals not because of his duty as a professional, but because he’s just like them. Muessig is willing to undermine the law-abiding public’s belief in the justice system and the reputation of his profession and his colleagues in order to acquire clients. I’m sure his strategy will work, too.

This YouTube video has received over 282,000 hits at the time of writing this column.

Daniel Muessig has no disciplinary history according to my colleague Nancy Carruthers, of the Law Society of Alberta, who incorporated this into her paper “Ethics and the Business of Law” and displayed the full video to The Business of Law conference by the Legal Education Society of Alberta where I am honoured to be a speaker.

What do you think?  Is is over the top and beyond the bounds of ethically allowed marketing by lawyers in Canada?  It is certainly creative and ‘in your face’ as Nancy has noted in her paper/presentation. Is it a sign of lawyers engaging in advertising that while  undoubtedly effective and distasteful to some, is too close (or perhaps even over) the ethical line? Or is it a sign of lawyers saying, when it comes to the legal battlefield, what’s left to lose?

 

I shoulda been in Jamaica, this week.

For a variety of scheduling reasons, mostly my significant other’s, that didn’t work out as planned. Which is not the end of the world, particularly with temperatures hitting 15 degrees in Toronto today.

(It’s 28 in Runaway Bay, Jamaica though, as we speak).

But today’s tip is not about the thermometer. Rather it’s about the “stay-cation.”

My week was booked off for vacation and I decided to keep it that way. The order of events for the week, I prognosticated, would be:

1. Catch up with my emails

2. Relax.

Four days later, I am still working on item number 1.

Now, my tips partner, David Bilinsky, has written previously about the quest for inbox zero, and I continue to pursue that elusive goal, with most of the week now behind us.

I am not complaining. Rather, my insight is that it might not be such a bad idea to book a week off here and there, as a matter of course, just to catch up.

A week with no meetings, no telephone discussions. No administrivia. No mediations, discoveries, or court attendances.

Just a week to address all those matters that have needed attention or otherwise have fallen between the cracks.

Give it some thought.

All I can say is that at the end of this stay-cation, with Easter and Passover holidays arriving, inbox zero is looking like a distinct possibility.

And that adds up to happy clients and happy lawyers.

(And happy insurers too, I should probably add).

So today’s tip: Consider booking the working stay-cation to deal with your backlog and to catch up on all that unfinished business. It works.

A good holiday to all.

 – Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)

 

♫ Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged…♫

Lyrics and music by Lennon–McCartney, recorded by The Beatles.

backup

Tuesday March 31, 2015 is World Backup Day. I think it is important to focus on this often neglected task as it is often lost in the hustle and bustle of getting the work out. But with the recent attacks of ransomware on all types of businesses, law firms included, having a proper back up that is not infected has assumed increasing, if not vital, importance.

Furthermore, having a proper backup is not just for your business. Consider all your digital photographs and personal files..how would you feel if they were lost?

So the focus of this article is to motivate you to implement backup solutions at your office and at your home.

Why back up?

  • Protection against malware, viruses and trojans including Cryptowall and other ransomware (1 in 10 computers infected with a virus each month, according to ICSA Labs/TruSecure, 2002)
  • Protection against disasters, either man-made (pipes bursting and the like) to natural disasters such as storms, lightening and such.
  • Preservation of precious memories that once gone, are gone.

What are the best practices when it comes to back ups?  Here is a list of some things to consider.

  1. Have a data retention plan
    1. Without a plan, you are left to haphazard backups.  The worst time to realize that you don’t have a current backup is precisely when you need it most.
  2. Plan for increasing amounts of data
    1. Your storage should be scalable since you will be generating increasing amounts of data in the future.
    2. Ensure that your current system can be scaled up to handle greater and greater amounts of data without any disruption in your office.
  3. Have a redundancy plan – backup your backup
    1. What if the same disaster hits your backup as well as your systems?
    2. Consider having both a physical backup in your office and a cloud based backup that is unaffected if your office is hit with a disaster.
  4. Have your data readily available
    1. Cloud backups are wonderful as a ‘last resort’ but they do take time to download.
    2. Consider having a local NAS or other device in the office just in case your servers fry and you need a fast locally accessible copy of your data.
  5. Data security and integrity are priorities
    1. Always consider physical security and data security.
    2. Follow best practices in data security.
  6. Consider backups and archival copies
    1. Backups are snapshots at any point in time
    2. Archives are historical records – unalterable and therefore important if you need to go back and show what happened when.

The important thing to consider is your risk management position. Have you considered the cost of restoring your data and the potential of losing vital data and having to explain that to your clients? You may perceive the incidence of loss to be low, but the cost of recovery can be very high indeed. In fact not having a proper backup may result in a significant disruption of your business or even its failure.

If you suffer such a loss, you certainly want to be able to go back to where you once belonged.

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver BC.

 

image

New York City’s embattled, progressive mayor, Bill de Blasio, has in rapid order acquired a bit of a reputation for failing to arrive on time. His tardy tendencies have even launched a new cottage industry in the press, the “De Blasio was Late Again” outrage-of-the-day story.

Late for a St. Patrick’s Day mass.  Late for a plane crash memorial service.  Late to a police officer’s wake. Late for an event in his own home. Gosh, even late in responding to a snowstorm.

Naturally, the most civic minded among the journalistic order have taken it upon themselves to be solution-oriented. Thus, we are not surprised at the inevitable spawning of a sub-genre of well-intentioned  suggestions for the Mayor, such as How Not to Be Late: A Self-Help Guide for Bill de Blasio.

There is even a Bill de Blasio “Lateness Excuse Generator” (pictured above), where technology meets tardy, and perpetually late landers can have appropriate mayoral excuses created for immediate use on virtually any occasion.

Now back home, here in the legal profession, lateness can be serious business, particularly in America.

A repeat-offending Texas lawyer was suspended this past January for being 30 minutes late in filing a death penalty stay petition. In 2008, a Los Angeles defense attorney was jailed for two days after arriving late for a sixth time at court.  Sanctions and fines were the fate of a “punctuality-challenged” Bronx defence lawyer in 2007.

The Canadian attitude toward tardy lawyers is, predictably, somewhat more measured.  As noted by Robert Bell and Caroline Abela in a 2009 paper for the Advocates Society, A Lawyer’s Duty to the Court:

Being late for court, although highly irritating and a waste of time, is generally not conduct that is considered egregious and neglectful of a lawyer’s obligation. However, in our view, tardiness is a breach of a lawyer’s duty to the courts because it, among other things, causes delay and disruption to the court process. Tardiness effects the administration of justice. For example, in LSUC v. Ducas, the Law Society hearing panel found, inter alia, that the lawyer had breached his duty to the court by appearing 25 minutes late for his own motion by which time the motion had been dismissed.

In fact, recent rulings in Ontario make it clear that even the bench must avoid precipitous action in the face of tardy counsel.

For example, note the 2014 case of Justice of the Peace Alfred “Bud” Johnston:

The Justices of the Peace Review Council upheld two complaints against the Old City Hall JP: that he was “arrogant and sarcastic” when courier Alexander Leaf appeared before him without a lawyer on Nov. 22, 2012 to fight a charge of driving with a handheld device; and that he abused his position by dismissing an afternoon session of 68 charges on Dec. 4, 2012 because the prosecutor was one minute and 10 seconds late.

Similarly, in 2012, Ontario Court Justice Howard Chisvin was reprimanded by an Ontario Judicial Council panel for summarily dismissing 33 charges for “want of prosecution” after a Crown was briefly late in returning from a recess:

The prosecutor, Brian McCallion, had been preparing for one of the cases by reading a psychiatric report on one of the accused people and didn’t hear several pages for him.

Court records show that after court had reconvened, the judge waited all of one minute and 27 seconds before throwing out the entire docket.

Now, to be clear, your faithful writer has perhaps also had the “occasional” tardy moment.  This is by no means a point of pride.  It might, however, inform the interest with which I view these developments in mayoral, lawyerly and judicial timeliness.

For late-at-heart lawyers, I am glad to note there remains hope when confronted with the challenge of improving time management in an era of of Too Little Time.  Via Good Housekeeping writer Frances Lefkowitz:

WHY YOU’RE IN THIS FIX: “There are so many misconceptions about lateness,” says time-management consultant [Diana] DeLonzor. Top false assumptions: People who are late are inconsiderate, selfish, controlling, lazy, or looking for attention. In fact, many people who run late have trouble accurately judging time and thus underestimate how long things will take. Psychologists call this the planning fallacy — and it’s part of being human. “We have an idealized version of how things go,” explains Steel, “and we edit out how much time things actually require.” Chronically late people fall prey to the planning fallacy in spades, misjudging the time needed even for things they do regularly, like fixing breakfast or driving to work. Call her optimistic, idealistic, or unrealistic, but if a person who tends to run late once got to work in 19 minutes — on a good traffic morning, catching all green lights — she assumes she can bank on this swift journey every day. “Late people time things exactly, according to the best-case scenario — but of course the world doesn’t work that way,” says DeLonzor…

SIMPLE WAYS OUT: First, confront your magical thinking with cold, hard facts: Spend a week timing your daily tasks — what DeLonzor calls “relearning to tell time.” Once you know how long it really takes to shower, get the kids dressed, and feed the dog, you can adjust your schedule accordingly. Second, always plan to arrive early, factoring 15 extra minutes into every trip. Chances are you’ll end up on time; in the worst-case scenario, you’ll have a few minutes to relax, get a drink of water, and fix your hair. Like Hall, late people often view time spent waiting as time wasted. But if you carry a book, knitting, or your cell phone, you can use a few extra minutes productively. Finally, have a strategy for each day. “A lot of people with time-management issues don’t have a clear sense of how their day is going to pan out,” says DeLonzor. So make a list, with your revamped time estimates written next to each item. Then you’ll be able to tell if you’ve scheduled 30 hours’ worth of activity into a 24-hour day.

Today’s tip logically follows.  Address any tendencies toward lateness by taking a hard look at your time management.  In particular, assess the accuracy of your estimates about the time required to complete tasks and to get from point A to B.

That is worth thinking about.

As they say, better late than never.

Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)

 

♫  How can i go forward when I
don’t know which way to turn?
 How can i go forward into
something
 I’m not sure of? oh no, oh no…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by John Lennon.

2014 ssf guide

2015 ABA book Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide  has just been published.

John Heckman, a long-standing and highly acclaimed legal technologist,  has published a review of the book.  I felt the review was a good one and here it is with his consent:

Does It Compute?

John Heckman’s Take on Practice and Document Management, and Other Legal Technology

February 23, 2015

Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide

This is the eighth yearly edition for the Solo and Small Firm Technology Guide by Sharon Nelson, John Simek and Michael Maschke. There are also very useful chapters by Jennifer Ellis on social media and in particular security, privacy and ethics considerations in using them and on the “iPad for Litigators” by Tom Mighell and Paul Unger.

Why should you read this book? There are two reasons. Obviously if you are starting up a small firm or considering upgrades it provides invaluable advice. There is a second reason, perhaps even more important. As Jim Calloway notes in his introduction, the ABA revised its Model Rules to require that lawyers be competent with the technology tools they must use today. If you sometimes wonder whether the technology you use is actually productive for your firm or if you are losing ground to competing firms, reading this book will bring you up to speed and give you a pretty good idea of where your firm stands from a technology point of view, even if you choose not to make changes. Once, when I was working a law firm I proposed to one of the name partners that the firm adopt a particular program. He thought about it, and then said, “no, I don’t think we can do that at this time, but keep the suggestions coming because every program I don’t use represents a potential competitive advantage for competing firms.” Good advice.

Sharon Nelson sums it up even more harshly:

“The raw choice is that lawyers must choose between adaption and extinction. They will no doubt choose the former en masse, but reluctantly. The slower lawyers are to adapt to the digital age, the harder it may be for them to survive as events overtake them.”

This is particularly important in the rapidly-changing area of social media and dealing with the implications of the fact that there is no privacy any more (the combination of Google, Facebook and the NSA has effectively eliminated privacy). Be sure to read Jennifer Ellis’ chapter attentively.

As the authors note, since the book comes out at the beginning of every year many chapters remain current, other items are only a few months behind (although it seems longer than that in Internet time).

The thing I have always appreciated about this book is that the authors actually have opinions and are not afraid to express them. Of course, it also helps that by and large I agree with them, although with the occasional caveat. In addition, they cover what is necessary for a complete office starting from scratch – hardware, operating systems, peripherals, printers, scanners, monitors, etc. If you follow their recommendations you may not make the best decision possible, but you won’t make a bad one. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

The only point I have a serious problem with this year is their recommendation of Kaspersky internet security. I switched to Kaspersky last year and when it came to upgrade to the 2015 version it was a disaster. It regularly choked on downloading Outlook messages (I am not using Exchange) and would not release the memory. As a result I had to reboot my computer two or three times a day. A call to the paid Kaspersky support (which was very good) wound up with their saying “nothing we can do about it.” So I had to switch to a different program.

A friend of mine used to say “every year I know 10% more and fall 15% further behind.” Reviewing software is like that. The book simply cannot provide detailed reviews of software, so the authors stress the need to get trial versions of anything you are planning to use and “kick the tires” a bit.

The book rightly pays a lot of attention to security issues, especially for mobile devices. They quote the rather amazing statistic that 12,000 laptops were stolen in U.S. airports every week in 2011 (with Chicago in the lead). At the same time, they are realistic (“we know so many lawyers will ignore our advice…”) and offer fall-back options that may at least deter casual hackers or simple thieves who grab your laptop or smartphone. They strongly recommend against using iPhones based on its woefully inadequate security provisions. They rightly insist that the main way to protect your data is to encrypt your entire hard drive. If you do any substantial traveling not to do this is like never locking your door. You should definitely change passwords periodically (they refer to a judge who has had the same password for 10 years!!) or use a password manager or program such as eWallet. I just bought eWallet based on their recommendation and so far have been very happy with it.

I thought the section on Time & Billing applications was somewhat weak (although I certainly agree that QuickBooks is not a good choice for lawfirms). You might want to consult the “Buyer’s Guide to Legal Billing Software” published by Technolawyer for more choices (you need to subscribe to Technolawyer to get it, but subscriptions are free). I agree with their assessment of the decline of LexisNexis products, first and foremost Time Matters. They note that they have not done a single new installation in about 10 years.

Lastly, the book contains a chapter on “favorite utilities” which can be useful. Note however some more industrial strength programs may include functionality provided by single-function utilities. Thus for example, the using Worldox document management system would eliminate the need for a separate indexer or viewer.

The book is available from the ABA store. If you are starting an office, are at a point where you need to make a decision about where to go next, or just to want to keep up to date on what is currently available, this will be an invaluable primer.

Thanks John for a great review!  Full disclosure: I wrote the chapter on Going Paperless.

This is a great book for anyone looking at upgrading their current office technology and are not quite sure which way to turn.

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver, BC.

 

What data can be harvested from the typical smartphone? How can litigators utilize forensics to obtain this data for use in legal proceedings?

Two recent articles from Law Pro’s Tim Lemieux and Rob Lekowski of ABA’s Law Technology Today have looked at these questions and offer quite a bit of need-to-know information.

The typical mobile device retains information on the locations of all calls, all wifi-networks joined, photos taken, and apps that utilize location services.  Text messages – even those deleted – will remain on the device until overwritten, as will browsing histories. Even encrypted data may be accessible.

And of course, there will also be all the usual email, documents and other app data that will be readily available from the device, without any forensic voodoo.

Four-digit passcodes present virtually no obstacle to forensics experts seeking access to mobile devices, according the the Lekowski article.  Even a rudimentary Google search will yield an avalanche of results as to forensic software suites that are available to assist in data harvesting from mobile devices and the cloud-based mail and data storage applications they are connected to.

There has been much jurisprudence in a criminal law context as to the necessity of obtaining warrants prior to police searches of mobile devices.  In R. v. Manley, a 2011 decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal, Mr. Justice Sharpe noted:

Cell phones and other similar handheld communication devices in common use have the capacity to store vast amounts of highly sensitive personal, private and confidential information – all manner of private voice, text and e-mail communications, detailed personal contact lists, agendas, diaries and personal photographs. An open-ended power to search without a warrant all the stored data in any cell phone found in the possession of any arrested person clearly raises the spectre of a serious and significant invasion of the Charter-protected privacy interests of arrested persons. If the police have reasonable grounds to believe that the search of a cell phone seized upon arrest would yield evidence of the offence, the prudent course is for them to obtain a warrant authorizing the search.

In a civil context, orders may be obtained for production of cell phones and hard drives for forensic analysis (see: Comisso v. York Regional Police, 2010 ONSC 3620), subject to assessments of relevance and proportionality that may significantly narrow or limit the scope of such analysis (see: Warman v. National Post Company, 2010 ONSC 3670). Further, the ease with which electronic evidence may be destroyed has been cited as a factor in considering the appropriateness of granting an Anton Pillar order for the seizure of computers and mobile devices (see: Irving Shipbuilding Inc. v. Schmidt, 2014 ONSC 1474).

While forensic analysis of mobile phones and their data will clearly not be appropriate on a routine basis in every case, counsel should consider whether such evidence is relevant and whether production for forensic analysis would be proportionate to the claims advanced. Further, bear in mind that such evidence can be exculpatory, and is not always damning. Consider whether your own clients’ mobile data could be of assistance in advancing their claims.

Our courts continue their attempts to find a balance between the protection of privacy and the temptation to litigants of the voluminous, potentially-relevant data on mobile and other electronic devices.  As a result, determining whether mobile data is necessary and potentially discoverable must be included on the litigator’s to-do list  in prosecuting a civil action.

So today’s tip:  Know that smartphone – it might be litigation a game-changer.

Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)

 

The world of marketing remains a bit of a mystery for many legal professionals.  We know enough about it that many of us become do-it-ourselfers for our websites, blogs and even our branding.

Nonetheless, there is much we can learn from true marketing professionals.

To that end, I have the pleasure today of introducing the first in a series of videos on Marketing for Lawyers and Legal Professionals I’ve done with Sandra Bekhor of Bekhor Management and Toronto Marketing Blog. Sandra’s firm provides marketing and practice management services nationwide to lawyers and other professional practitioners.

In this installment, Sandra discusses marketing for lawyers and provides 5 tips on taking your firm’s marketing endeavours to the next level:

Here are Sandra’s key tips from the video:

1. Track where your client enquiries are coming from.

  • Generate data on what’s working for your firm today by asking your intake staff to ask new clients how they became aware of your firm and by including a question on your intake questionnaire that asks this same question. And, of course, remember to thank your referral sources.

2. Analyze your marketing budget (and spend wisely)  

  • Be aware of how much you are investing in each of your marketing initiatives over the course of the year, and determine which of those initiatives are delivering a good return.  If an initiative isn’t working, discontinue it.   If you are seeing success, consider how to extend and build on that success.

3.  Decide what you want your marketing to generate for you, and use marketing to shape the practice you intend to build.

  • Consider the “80/ 20 rule:” 20% of your practice drives 80% of revenue.  Decide what you want more of, and direct your marketing efforts toward those outcomes. Develop a sense of who your “ideal” target client is, and target those clients.
  • This applies to each individual lawyer.  Take a look at your practice – the kind of work you are doing and the kind of work you’d like to be doing.  Focus your marketing efforts on reshaping your practice to align with your professional aspirations and goals.

4.  Develop a plan

  • After analyzing what has already been working, deciding where you want to get to and establishing your budget, you will have compiled much necessary information to feed and direct your law firm’s marketing plan.
  • While there are many steps to getting there, ultimately your marketing plan is an action plan.  It tells you what projects you should be working on – develop a logo or tagline, expand your engagement on social media, arrange speaking engagements, or update your website, as examples.
  • It will likely include marketing activity that the entire firm will participate in, as well as personal level activities that are customized to each lawyer’s strengths and interests.
  • If a stated goal is to open x new files in a preferred area of practice or to drive y dollars in revenue by end of year, your plan will also help you determine how many of these marketing activities will need to happen (and at what frequency they must happen) to make your goals a reality.

5.  Implement your plan before the ink dries

In fact, start implementing even before you finish the plan.

6.  Bonus Tip (from me):  Involve Marketing Professionals

  • Marketing professionals bring objectivity, understanding of the marketplace and an assortment of strategic and creative skills to any law firm marketing initiative.
  • But perhaps most importantly, marketing professionals can help law firms to identify and clearly articulate their authentic identities and strengths.  They then can work with us to translate these articulated strengths into marketing initiatives aimed at building the kinds of practices we all genuinely aspire toward.

It’s not quite as simple as “if you build it they will come,” perhaps.

But if you build it and market it appropriately and professionally – and your firm delivers the quality of service it promises to deliver – you are likely to have a very successful career in the practice of law.

For the professional practice of today, I’d suggest, marketing has become one of the necessary – and unavoidable – components of such success.

Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)

 

♫  Look at that sky, life’s begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby

Golden years, gold, whop whop whop
Golden years, gold, whop whop whop…♫

Lyrics, Music and recorded by David Bowie.

retirement-to-sunSo many  articles on retirement all deal with the issue of finances and how to plan so you are not caught off guard on the money side.  Since that aspect has been explored in detail, this article is going to take us in a totally different direction. As lawyers, we get so much of our personal identity from simply being lawyers that the idea of hanging up our robes and walking out the office wearing the title “Retired Lawyer” causes us panic and a sense of dread.  Just *what* would we do with all that….time?

Furthermore there is the fact that as a lawyer, you are accustomed to spending large amounts of time at the office. After retirement, you are now faced with spending the rest of your life with someone that you may have only been seeing on a limited basis for the last while. You now need to start living life together and not in parallel.

Not surprisingly, according to A Satisfying Retirement Blog “[F]or married people over 50, the divorce rate has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Some lawyers report up to 25% of their clients are men and women over 65.”

Accordingly, I think that a good place to start is by asking ourselves “What is the vision that we (you and your spouse or loved one) have for our retirement?”  Do you see lots of travel ahead?  Spending time with family and grandchildren?  Playing sports and being active? Getting to know one another…again?

Another aspect to think about (and sorry for the dark undertones): What would you want people to say at your funeral about you?  Have you spent time on the activities for which you wish to be remembered? Now is the best time to start working on the legacy that you wish to leave.

Start a list of all the things that you (and your spouse or loved one) would like to do with the rest of your lives together.  Use that to start a conversation on how to plan to check off as many of these as you can together.  It is much better knowing that both of you are working in the right direction than to find yourselves at cross-purposes and disappointed about the turn of events in your ‘golden years’.

Retirement can have a very stressful effect on a relationship and when you add in possible health-related issues related to aging and the diminishment of income, you can see that you have the potential for a perfect storm. Like most challenges, dialogue and preparation can help you deal with complications if, and when, they arise.  You want to craft a life together that meets each partner’s physical, emotional and other needs and that allows you to take each partner’s feelings, desires and dreams into account.

The other factor to consider is the activities that you plan on enjoying in retirement.  You don’t just start doing them on day 1. You need to ease into them by taking the time ..now..to build a base and look forward to getting better at them in retirement. Whether it is golf, tennis, playing a musical instrument, pursuing photography, travel – you need to start enjoying them while you are working in order to really get the benefits of them in retirement.  After all you don’t want to look forward to playing the guitar only to find out that your hands are just not working the way you wished at this point in your life.

You also need to establish boundaries – there are still activities that you will want to enjoy with a group of friends that may not include your spouse….and visa versa.  Respecting that each of you need and desire this ‘apart’ time makes the situations more bearable when one person goes off to have lunch with the girls or a golf game with the guys.

One final issue for this column (but certainly not the final issue you will face in retirement) is the readjustment of tasks around the home.  If one spouse has been working full-time and the other perhaps has been taking a bigger share of the home chores to accommodate, this allotment of chores needs to be adjusted after retirement.  Set up ‘blue jobs’ and ‘pink jobs’ (our designation around our home) with expectations of how and when these will be done.  To keep the magic happening, if you are the one who does the ‘blue’ jobs, do a pink job occasionally in addition.  Believe me, it will be noticed..and appreciated in your golden years. Of further note, “blue” and “pink” jobs depend on your individual circumstance, background and understandings. The underlying understanding is that we support our spouse in whatever ways we can when we are looking up at the sky and saying life has begun.

-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver, BC.