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Wanna Get Paid?

Every little bit counts!

In reading: Keeping the Cash Flowing: A Dozen Tips for Getting Clients to Pay More Promptly by Lawyer turned Coach Debra Bruce

I noticed the number one thing I tell attorneys to do in order to keep the cash flowing was not listed.

My number one rule to getting paid regularly is to bill regularly.  Set a deadline (mine is the 7th of each month) and no matter what else is exploding around you – get the bills out by that date.

This does two things:

  1. cements with clients that when you say you’re going to do something, you do (in a way that is not directly involved in their matter); and
  2. gets each client in the habit of accepting, reviewing and paying your invoices on a schedule.

You can facilitate payment by accepting credit cards, so long as you play by the rules re: your trust account. This is why I recommend http://www.lawcharge.com.  Long-standing player in the “legal” world, LawCharge is owned by an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the merchant account world the way you do a courtroom or the law library.

I understand just how hard it is to be solo – to have to do it all and how being solo makes some routine tasks infinitely more difficult.  A standard “where’s my payment” call can easily turn into an hour long discussion about everything when all you wanted to know was when you would be paid.

This is why my second tip would be to find and build a relationship with a bookkeeper or virtual assistant, then routine billing and follow up payment reminder calls can be competently performed by someone else –  freeing up your time and removing potential stress on the attorney-client relationship should the money not be flowing as quickly as you would like.

FYI, this is not a commercial for LegalTypist as she does not offer bookkeeping nor collection (or any other) calls.  If I had a good contact in legal to recommend for the bookkeeping, I would.  Unfortunately, the best virtual bookkeeper I know – @CandyTX at http://www.offassist.com – prefers not to work with attorneys … something about how they can be difficult.  Who … what…  attorneys?!

Original post date: August 20, 2011

 

WHY LEGALZOOM SUCKS

Lawyers are not known for brevity, but LegalZoom can be summed up in two words: It sucks.

LegalZoom purports to help its unwitting customers avoid paying for lawyers by allowing users to prepare their own documents. While LegalZoom clearly warns that it is not offering legal services, it creates the misconception that for important matters like wills and incorporations attorneys aren’t necessary. Per LegalZoom, a client doesn’t need estate planning, it simply needs a will, which LegalZoom reduces to a glorified MadLib. Granted, a testamentary document replete with mentions of sexual organs, dirty words, and excretory references will probably lighten the mood at the reading. It’s also highly inappropriate, and not just because the decedent should not be allowed to bequeath his testicles to Aunt Betty.

For new businesses, LegalZoom treats incorporating not as a tool for owners but as an end itself. There’s no lawyer to explain why one might want a corporation or what entity ownership entails. Because new entrepreneurs often confuse the act of incorporating with the process of starting a business (unaware that the former is merely one small step in the latter), they generally don’t recognize and can’t use the entity as a tool for mitigating risks. By suggesting that a lawyer isn’t necessary to start a business, LegalZoom reinforces the misconception that incorporating by itself is enough.

In sum, LegalZoom encourages people to think of attorneys as glorified meter maids: Functionaries whose sole job is to complete paperwork that needlessly costs money. It feeds off the notion that all attorneys are nitpicky, word-twisting, morally compromised, overdressed, bottom-feeding sleazewads who defend killers like O.J. Simpson (which is ironic considering that ‘Dream Team’ alumnus Robert Shapiro is one of its founders). LegalZoom is to legal services what McDonald’s is to cuisine. Both are inexpensive and quickly satisfy a perceived need. They also do tremendous damage that often goes unseen until it’s way too late. If you eat enough fast food, you start to look like Grimace, the obnoxious, eggplant-shaped, morbidly obese purple blob that used to appear in McDonald’s commercials until he died either of a massive coronary or an allergic reaction to whatever it is in McDonald’s French fries that preserves them like petrified wood. LegalZoom erroneously suggests that the value in legal services is in the documents themselves. They provide their business customers with pages of useless garbage that look nice and official sitting on a bookshelf. However, if you get into an argument with a cofounder, have a dispute with a vendor, are trying to raise investment capital, or need something other than a pretty binder with a bunch of printed pages, you almost never have the resources required to proceed. Like a McDonald’s customer who gobbled down one too many Big Macs, someone must open everything up to clean the mess, and it’s expensive, time-consuming, unpleasant, completely unnecessary if you’d just gotten something better in the first place . . . and known to cause explosive diarrhea.

The value in legal services is in the advice and guidance that an attorney provides. The documents are almost an afterthought; they only codify the decisions clients have made in conjunction with counsel. Provided properly, business lawyers are a value-added service. Whether by protecting a company from lawsuits and regulatory actions, prescribing an easy remedy for ownership disputes, or just letting a founder sleep better at night knowing that his investment is protected to the extent possible, good counsel is not just a cost of doing business. LegalZoom is . . . and it is often a steep price to pay.

The Legal Trade Show Survival Guide

This podcast originally published in 2012, will help you make the most of your next legal trade show experience as Senior Law Practice Advisor with Mass. LOMAP, Jared Correia chats with Andrea Cannavina CEO of LegalTypist, Inc. about how the events have evolvoed through the years.  Topics covered include:

  • how to decide which events to attend,
  • how to network,
  • the benefits of getting involved in conference planning
  • tweeting, and much more!
Podcast: AC and JC re: conferences

2012 Podcast regarding legal tech show/conference with Jared Correia and Andrea Cannavina

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60 Sites in 60 Minutes 2008-2015 #ABATECHSHOW

Definitely one of the most popular presentations of TechShow is the last presentation held Saturday morning, entitled 60 Sites in 60 Minutes.  I had a link to the ABA website page which linked to all the 60 Sites in 60 Minutes presentations going back to 2000, but unfortunately, that link now returns an error 🙁  Being a resourceful type, I scoured the interwebs and found new links for 2000-2005 – but they, too, are now dead.

So below are links I found listing the 60 Sites in 60 Minutes – now from 2008-2016:

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Rural Lawyer: Not Quite Mad Yet

March brings the first of spring’s gentle caresses to the little law office on the prairie and with them comes that mild madness that draws us out of our winter dens and onto the thawing landscape far earlier than prudence would dictate. Now, the heart becomes a bit lighter, lifted out of winter’s gloom; buoyed by the hope that we will be able to get an early jump on all that must be done once summer comes. For it must be a madness that possess us to venture out; March is nothing if not uncertainty – for what was a snowbank yesterday may be mud today and ice tomorrow and a balmy morning breeze can be either a harbinger of an evening’s icy blast or the handmaiden to a sun-drenched afternoon. While this madness may tempt us to greet Ostara sky clad, the prairie March teaches us to approach this turning point in the year systematically and to keep both winter’s outerwear and spring’s gum boots at hand.

Transitions seem beckon protocol and celebration – new years, birthdays, weddings, the seasons are noted and marked in a variety of ways. And yet, too often, the more mundane transitions that are a common place to a law practice go without a trace of pomp (to say nothing of the lack of circumstance) or protocol. Now, it would be madness to suggest that we provide cake and cookies each time we set up a new client file, receive a retainer, complete our monthly accounting, or close out a matter (though I will admit that completing one’s income tax does seem to call for chocolate and single malt) but these events, and the myriad of other transitions that abound in our practices, do call out for some type of protocol; some system to guide us as we mark their occurrence.

Perhaps it is the influence of my pilot training, but here at the little law office at the prairie checklists are the de facto protocol for common transitions. I like checklists for a number of reasons – they are simple (all you need is pen and paper to create a template) they are flexible (changes can be easily made), they are visual (I can see where I am and where I’m going at a glance), they can help prevent that nagging feeling you forgot something, and they are supported by my practice management software (supported, heck, they are built in and can be automated).

The only downside to checklists is that there will be a point when you start to think you might have a few too many and that it is somewhat ridiculous to keep filling them out now that you’ve been in practice for umpteen years now. First, let me go on record as saying there is no such thing as too many checklists (I have 13 pages of checklists for the single engine Cessna I fly and 24 pages for the twin engine Beechcraft and that’s just for the non-emergency stuff) but if it makes you feel better, simply stuff your checklists into a 3 ring binder, call it your risk management manual and send a copy to your malpractice insurance provider; they’ll love you for it and who knows, you might even get a discount on your premium. As for the assumption that experience trumps the checklist – let me point out that the pilots who safely landed their plane in the Hudson credit their success not to their 1000’s of hours of experience, but to their training and to their checklists. They flew their plane by “the book” not by experience.

ChecklistBC