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All Our Practice Tips

Clio has just announced a $1 million COVID-19 legal relief initiative in order “to help create business continuity and peace of mind for you, your law firm or your legal organization. Open to the entire legal industry, funding can be used towards financial assistance for legal technology, getting educational support from industry leaders, and onboarding support as you move to the cloud.”

Learn more and apply for help at https://www.clio.com/covid-relief/

 

A very quick tip today: Bob Ambrogi has assembled a webpage that lists “products and services offered by companies for free to support the work of legal professionals during the coronavirus crisis.”

LawSites: Coronavirus Resources

If you have something to add to the list, email Bob (ambrogi-at-gmail.com) or tweet him (@bobambrogi).

Hat tip to Jordan Furlong for the heads-up.

 

Like fashion, communication methods evolve, change, and sometimes come back again. During the twentieth century, telephones became ubiquitous, largely replacing the need for written telegrams and letters. Today, that trend has reversed, with text messages and e-mail the dominant and preferred method of communication in many contexts, especially with younger generations.

But effective telephone communication is a skill that can atrophy as we use it less in our daily lives. As such, here are six things to consider before picking up that antiquated telephone contraption.

1. Prepare
Preparing for a call ensures that key points and issues will be discussed and will keep the conversation on track. Preparing might mean thinking about the call for a couple minutes, jotting down an outline, or thinking of specific language for sensitive topics.

2. Protect
Before taking a confidential call on your cell phone, find a private place to have the conversation or, if possible, wait until returning to the office.

3. Listen
Active listening cues, such as vocal acknowledgements or positive affirmations of understanding, can help keep conversations positive and effective.

4. Control
Excessive volume (see: yelling) is always a potential problem when contentious matters are at issue. If the other side lets their passions inform their volume, it’s okay to calmly inform them that they are yelling and ask them to stop (especially if it’s not a client).

5. Articulate
If your call is sent to voicemail, it’s a good idea to hang-up, compose the message you want to leave, and then call back. Clearly state the reason for the call, whether you will call back, give and spell your name, and provide a number at which you can be reached (and then repeat it for good measure).

6. Memorialize
Always make a written record of a phone conversation with clients or opposing counsel, either in a personal memo or follow-up email. Habitually doing so can prevent serious headaches and malpractice claims down the road.

Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.

 

How long have you been on LinkedIn? A few years? More? Have you added or changed anything since that time? Your headshot? Your profile? The type of content you post?

If it’s been more than a few years and not much has changed, now is the time to do just that! Even if you start with a single, small step.

Choose something easy…                                      

  • How about updating your headshot, so that it is current and engaging?
  • Simpler? You can change your title, so it’s not just accurate… it’s interesting.
  • Too much? Simply install the LinkedIn app on your smart phone and check your feed once a week. You can read what your connections post and jump into a conversation when you see something that matters to you.

Yes, it will take more than this first step to become a LinkedIn warrior. But once you start seeing the results of your efforts, you may find that you are surprised at just how motivated you are to keep going!

For more related reading, see these past articles on Slaw:

Also, see the following related articles by Sandra Bekhor at Toronto Marketing Blog:

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

CPLED is now hosting a Student Resume Directory on its website to assist students who are seeking articles. Students can create profiles here, indicating the type of position they are looking for, the location where they would like to work (Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan), and upload a copy of their resume. Employers can browse the student profiles and reach out to suitable candidates for opportunities in their organization using the Contact Form with each student’s profile. The Directory is free and available to law students seeking summer or articling positions.

[This tip originally appeared on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog.]

 

The holidays are just around the corner. Everyone looks forward to the cards, lunches, gifts, parties and general good cheer this time of the year. Maybe in some small way, it makes up for the cold!

So, here’s a thought to take all that goodwill up a notch. Why not use your holiday events as a platform to celebrate success? Whether it’s with your partners, your staff or your clients.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about this:

  • Have you made new connections this year? Can you get specific about that eg how many connections, how were the connections made or how did these connections add value to your practice…
  • Have any of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) improved this year? Profit, revenue or volume?  
  • Have you changed something about your services? Do you have any feedback or data about how well this change was received by your clients or staff?
  • Have you adopted a new process or technology that resulted in greater efficiency?
  • Have you made any new hires recently? Did they benefit from your onboarding process? Or did you not even need to hire because your retention is so solid? Celebrate that.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating how motivating discussions about a job well done can be. They can create opportunity to acknowledge others for their work and dedication.

And if having a positive experience using concrete data about your firm’s performance leads to an appetite for greater insight about how well the practice is running… even better!

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

Smartphones provide lawyers with constant availability and the convenience of responding to queries and communications from any location at any time. But our devices can also be a source of distraction and addiction that discourage productivity and negatively impact our mental health.

A recent survey by Deloitte found that the average person checks their smartphone 52 times a day, while another study found the average person spends more than 3 hours on their phone daily. My own phone tells me that I receive an average of 78 notifications each day, causing a daily average of 73 “pickups”—each one interrupting workflow and concentration.

Making an active effort to reinforce self-control and limit our smartphone use can go a long way to ensuring we control our devices and our devices don’t control us. Dr. Gabrielle Golding, a lecturer with the University of Adelaide Law School, recommends lawyers pursue “digital detox” by scheduling predictable time away from smartphones and computers each week, slowly acclimatizing oneself to feeling “disconnected”, refraining from using any digital devices in bed, and taking up a non-technological hobby.

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with applications such as iPhone’s Screen Time and Android’s Digital Wellbeing functions, which allow users to set limits on when and how they use their smartphone. Blocks of phone-free time can be set in advance, or limits can be placed on certain applications. These applications also provide daily summaries of just how much time a user spends on individual applications—the results of which may surprise you.

Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.

 

Making it happen is not always easy.

Chris Riley of Lexology has some helpful suggestions for increasing lawyer engagement in what he calls ‘content marketing’:

  • write about topics your clients tell you they’ve been worrying about
    • describe the issue and propose a solution
  • don’t simply parrot news items
    • add your own perspective to the story or legal issue
  • keep it short!
    • Lexology’s readers overwhelmingly prefer to read something between 600 and 1,000 words in length
  • use analytical data available through Lexology (and your own firm’s marketing department)
    • identify articles and topics that have worked in the past
  • consult Lexology’s ‘popular articles’ list to see what readers are interested in
    •  write something on these topics (or avoid them if you want to be original)
  • ask a more senior lawyer for an idea or outline and flesh it out
  • get your library or knowledge management peeps (if you are fortunate enough to have them) to look out for novel topics and breaking developments
  • read the Lexology daily newsfeed to see what’s current
    • this may inspire you (or make you realise you could do a better job than your competitors)

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

 

Administrator’s note: thanks to Erin Cowling for this week’s tip.

We all know that taking a real vacation makes us less stressed, more focused, and in return, better lawyers, better employees, and better bosses. Even though I love my job, I still need a break from it. I need to unplug and unwind. I need to think about something other than the law. When I do, I return to my practice with more energy and commitment.

When I worked for someone else, I always took all my allotted vacation. I felt I was working hard and I rightly deserved the time off. Now that I have my own practice and business and can, in theory, take as much vacation time that I want, I take even less. I need to change that.

So, here is what I have learned, and what may help to ensure that you and I take our important vacations:

  1. Book the vacation time into your calendar in advance. Block off your 2020 vacation days now. Not nailing down the time off makes it easier to push back that much needed break.
  2. Take at least two weeks off. For me, one week is not enough to get the “law” out of my system and to unwind.
  3. Plan financially, especially for those of us who are sole practitioners or have our own businesses. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Factor your vacation time into your financial plan for the year. (In other words, don’t let money be an excuse to not take time off).
  4. Have someone cover your practice so you aren’t working on your vacation.
  5. Fiercely protect your time. Practice saying “No”. Say “No” to that meeting they want to schedule on your day off. Say “No” to that “quick” conference call while you are on vacation. And then provide an alternative date for when you are back in the office, relaxed and ready to work!

The bottom line: We need to give ourselves permission to take a break and forget about law for a while. We will be better lawyers if we do. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

[This tip was adapted with permission from Erin Cowling’s post, “My Biggest Mistake this Year…“]

 

Today’s practice tip is to get more mileage from your writing with CanLII Connects.

If you write commentary on caselaw for a personal or firm blog, client publications, or any other publication, you can upload it to CanLII Connects, where it can be discovered by anyone who searches for that particular case, both on CanLII Connects AND on CanLII.org.

CanLII cases that have corresponding CanLII Connects commentary will display this info just under the case name:

Not only is CanLII Connects commentary discoverable via individual cases, the full-text is integrated in search results within CanLII, too. Per the recent announcement on the CanLII Blog:

“When you conduct a search on CanLII, you are now able to get results of content from CanLII Connects. For example, doing a document search for “promise doctrine” will provide results that link to CanLII Connects entries. Clicking on the title of the entry will direct you to the full document on CanLII Connects.”

Setting up a profile and adding your legal commentary to CanLII Connects is a simple way to increase your online footprint and the reach of your work.