Taking Charge 2018

 

I’m just back from Atlanta and speaking for the GA State Bar on productivity and the web.  Wanted to post a few pix and say thanks to Natalie Kelly – the Law Practice Management advisor for the GA Bar who asked me to travel down and experience a little Southern hospitality while helping her members figure out ways to do things better, faster …. even be stronger given the awesome wellness track. Bravo to Natalie and her team for putting together such a fabulous event to help GA lawyers (and their staff)!

Fellow headliners included Brett Burney, ediscovery expert and all around geeky Mac guy and Rochelle Washington, a practice management advisor for the Washington DC Bar.  Both brought a lot of energy and a ton of practical information to the event.


Seriously, if you work at a law firm and/or are a solo and are at/in/around Atlanta – get yourself to next year’s GA State Bar Solo and Small Firm Institute (Sept 27-28, 2019) and if you are a service or person who helps law firms – you want to be a part of this dynamic and growing event so get in touch with Natalie and let her know you’re in for 2019!

Least disruptive billing software question

Sometimes I draft a response to a question or item on Solosez for which I believe I will get booted if I post. In the past, I have simply deleted – opting in favor to remain in the good graces of COTE.

Today, however, I decided that I’m going to stop wasting such content and will post here instead and can direct those from Solosez if they wish to see my response. What I will NOT do is post the identity of the person asking the question. If you are on Solosez, you already know who it is (or can easily figure it out) and if you are not, you should join.*

Today’s question is about billing software:

Q: “I am revisiting my billing software. Specifically, I am looking for what is least disruptive to your workflow. I hate the transition from working on a motion or writing an email, and then using my software to enter time. Is there some AI that integrates with email, one that uses verbal commands or other software that you have found less disruptive for capturing time?”

A: Clients of LegalTypist use their voice to capture time. It is entered where it needs to go based on each client’s workflow. All workflows these days are custom.

FWIW, most clients experience a jump in billables when they start to track contemporaneously via voice. I always recommend billing and other notes be taken immediately after every event – call, meeting, court date… anything significant happening on a case should have a note (although not all notes are billing entries).  When you have a human being on the other end that knows what you need to have done simply because you say something, it’s like AI, only add on  the ability to THINK and ACT upon your words vs. just decipher them.  #analogAI LOL

My preferred billing program for “legal” is Time59. Pricing is right and I do my best to support the other small business owners, like Tracy Griffith (of LawCharge fame) who not only offer  great products, but who know their shit as well as I do mine.

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*What’s Solosez?  An email list of about 3,000 legal peeps (mostly attorneys) who banter back and forth.  It is an active list so I recommend you NOT clog up your domain email but rather sign up using a gmail or other public/free option.  To learn more and join, click here

All About the Flow

Below is an excerpt from a book that Emily, my 17 year old daughter, picked up titled: The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie:

Letting Go of Fear

Picture yourself swimming — floating — peacefully down a gentle stream.  All you need to do is breathe, relax and go with the flow.

Suddenly you become conscious of your situation. Frightened, overwhelmed with “what if’s?” your body tenses. You begin to thrash around, frantically looking for something to grab on to.

You panic so hard you start to go under. Then you remember — you’re working too hard at this. You don’t need to panic. All you need to do is breathe, relax, and go with the flow.  You won’t drown.

Panic is our greatest enemy.

We don’t need to become desperate. If overwhelming problems appear in our life, we need to stop struggling.  We can tread water for a bit, until our equilibrium returns.  Then we can go back to floating peacefully down the gentle stream.  It is our stream. It is a safe stream. Our course has been charted. All is well.

Today, I will relax, breathe, and go with the flow.

I am having the above printed and will be mounting it on the wall by my desk – in direct line of site  — just above and behind my monitor.

I have long called the craziness of modern day digital life not a battle to gain balance, but to control the flow.

I am also constantly reminding myself, clients and colleagues to breathe.

We all get so caught up in the flow, we forget that  there are tools to help.

Just as floats, boats and scuba gear help swimmers control a river, DAFT and other tools are available to help service professionals control the flow of work.

Mostly, however, we forget that we are absolutely in control of how much we allow the digital to invade our lives. All. The. Time.

You can turn it all off (and not miss out on a thing).

In fact, rather than missing out on some digital tidbit of some far away “friend” on Facebook, perhaps you’ll seize that moment to sit with your daughter and ask: “Hey!  What cha reading?” … and, in that ever so beautiful voice, be rewarded with the words above.

Pick a day and turn off the digital. You (and those around you) deserve it.

The flow will still be here when you’re ready to dive on back in <-I’ll even save the Swan float for ya!  Oh. Unless it’s a Sunday – then you can save it for me (I’ll be back Monday morning).

Stop the Marketing Madness

Websites, Social Media, Pay Per Click, SEO, Facebook and more!

You want to improve your law firm’s marketing this year and so you start with some google searches on law firm marketing. If you are like many of the attorneys we talk with at legal conferences, or when doing consultation calls, you quickly become paralyzed with all the different marketing tactics and advice on what you should be doing.

The first article says to take advantage of the free exposure you get by being active on social media every day; the next talks about how you need to focus on sponsoring events in your community to drum up word-of-mouth business; and yet another says Google pay per click is getting too expensive so law firms should be focused on Facebook. Of course, that may be what you will see if you are able to wade through the countless articles about websites, SEO, and blogging.

With all of this information it is no wonder some lawyers wish they could go back to the once a year decision about how big the yellow page ad needs to be.

Unfortunately, marketers spend a lot of time writing in detail about how to take advantage of the latest and greatest marketing tactics, but often forget to put it into perspective. I am here to try to help you stop worrying about the marketing madness.

There is one guaranteed way to cut through the marketing madness — you must start with your firm and marketing goals.

When it comes to your marketing efforts, I like to reference the Pareto principle which states that 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of the input. This is often called the 80/20 rule. What this means is that when looking to improve your marketing, you can get rid of 80% of the tools, tactics, and strategies by first spending the time needed to understand what you want to accomplish.  Don’t be paralyzed with fear that you need to master Hootsuite or start blogging every day, you don’t need to worry about the majority of tactics, tools, and tricks when you know exactly where you are and where you want to go.

For example, I talk to some law firms who say they feel that their referral business is starting to weaken. They want to shore referrals up and begin work driving new, quality leads that are not from referrals. With just a little investigation we can dig into the underlying cause of the referral business weakening and decide on the groundwork needed to drive new leads outside of referrals. Then we come up with just a handful of tactics — these would be your final four tactics that will move the ball forward specific to those goals.

Here are just a few questions to get you thinking about your firm’s strategy:

Where does majority of our clients and cases come from?
Are we spending time on the cases we enjoy?
Has our clientele shifted in recent years?
What is our most profitable practice area and do like doing that work?

Spend time with a pad of paper and start answering some of these questions and you may uncover the specific areas to improve. Then once you know that, you can formulate the specific things you need to focus on and find the best marketing tactics for that need.

Stop the marketing madness, stop just googling “law firm marketing” and getting enamored or confused with the latest marketing shiny object. Start with a good understanding of where you want to take your firm in the coming years and your marketing strategy will fall in place a lot faster and have a much better chance to be a winner.

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Mark H is Virtual Bar Association Literati specializing in marketing. He is also the CEO over at GNGF  http://gngf.com and you can find his LinkedIn profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markhomer/

Happy Birthday to me….

Today is my birthday and it is a day that I usually have at least one good, solid cry. I do so not because I’m getting older (although the number is starting to cause pause) … I do so because my father, God rest him, passed on my birthday – now 25 years ago.  No matter how much time elapses, that fact alone makes it a hard day for me to be happy, let alone jubilant.

So I try to focus on what makes me happy today and I find when I help others, I feel much better about myself and more positive in general.

I have tried my best as a Virtual Assistant to help people understand how to keep themselves and their information safe, while on line, for a very long time.

In fact, on my VBA bio page are a ton of links available to presentations, articles, reports and such that I have created over the years.  No email address is necessary to review most of it.

Specifically new to that page in honor of my birthday today is a presentation I gave in 2009 for the OIVAC on Digital Security which I just did my best to cut down to under 20 minutes (but ended up leaving it at 53 minutes).  That’s because it was all such good info!

A little back story: The OIVAC hosts a 3 day virtual convention each May and in 2009 mine was the LAST presentation.  To say that our attendees were exhausted/overwhelmed would be an understatement!  Given I am on the Steering Committee, I knew I had to make my talk relevant and easy to understand.

I pondered … how was I going to make “Digital Security” something 100’s of worldwide Virtual Assistants would be able to stay awake and digest … and it hit me — what else?!  FOOD! <g>

So head over to my VBA Bio page click to play or right click to download and have a listen to Digital Security 101.

It’s been a long time since I reviewed this particular talk, and it’s FULL of practical, useful information that may just stop you from doing something that compromises your equipment or the security of the files and information entrusted to you.

If you work at a law firm, while you’re at the  Virtual Bar Association – join! It’s free and that can be your bday gift to me! 😉

P.S. {hugs} to @carolynelefant cuz today is her anniversay