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Complete Law Firm Start Up Guide

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					Start, Grow and Run Your Practice

ABACUSLAW

THE COMPLETE START-UP GUIDE

This guide will provide a checklist of everything you need to consider to successfully start, grow and run a modern law practice.

The Complete Start-Up Guide
for Starting, Growing and Running a Modern Practice

Contents
Preface ............................................................................................................. 4 Start-up Essentials ............................................................................................ 4
Should I Start? ................................................................................................................................................... 4 Selecting a Practice Area ................................................................................................................................... 6 Business name .................................................................................................................................................. 7 Develop Business Plan....................................................................................................................................... 7 Office Space ...................................................................................................................................................... 9 Formation & Registration ................................................................................................................................ 10 Insurance ........................................................................................................................................................ 11 Accounting ...................................................................................................................................................... 12 Banking ........................................................................................................................................................... 13 Setting Fees ..................................................................................................................................................... 15 Phones ............................................................................................................................................................ 16 Office Policies .................................................................................................................................................. 17 Office Procedures............................................................................................................................................ 18 Bar Associations .............................................................................................................................................. 19 Staffing ............................................................................................................................................................ 20 Library ............................................................................................................................................................. 21

Technology ..................................................................................................... 22
Computer Hardware ....................................................................................................................................... 22 Network ...................................................................................................................................................... 22 Server .......................................................................................................................................................... 24 Scanner ....................................................................................................................................................... 24 Computers .................................................................................................................................................. 25 Handhelds ................................................................................................................................................... 26 Printers........................................................................................................................................................ 27 Software .......................................................................................................................................................... 28 Practice Management Software .................................................................................................................. 28 Calendaring ................................................................................................................................................. 29 Contact Management ................................................................................................................................. 29 Case Management ...................................................................................................................................... 30 Document Management ............................................................................................................................. 30

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Document and Form ................................................................................................................................... 30 Document Assembly ................................................................................................................................... 30 Conflict Checks ............................................................................................................................................ 30 Phone Messaging ........................................................................................................................................ 31 Time Entry ................................................................................................................................................... 31 Billing .......................................................................................................................................................... 31 Accounting .................................................................................................................................................. 31 Word Processing Software .......................................................................................................................... 31 Email ........................................................................................................................................................... 33 Backup Software ......................................................................................................................................... 33 Remote Access Software ............................................................................................................................. 34 Antivirus & Firewall ..................................................................................................................................... 36 Internet Access ............................................................................................................................................... 37 E-commerce .................................................................................................................................................... 38

Marketing ...................................................................................................... 39
Branding .......................................................................................................................................................... 39 Ideal Client Profile ........................................................................................................................................... 40 Website Marketing ......................................................................................................................................... 41 Set-up .......................................................................................................................................................... 41 Client Portal ................................................................................................................................................ 42 E-business ................................................................................................................................................... 43 Internet Marketing .......................................................................................................................................... 45 Web 2.0 (Social Networking) ....................................................................................................................... 46 Business Networking ................................................................................................................................... 47 Blogs and Podcasts ...................................................................................................................................... 48 e-Conferencing ............................................................................................................................................ 50 USP (Unique Selling Proposition) .................................................................................................................... 51 Traditional Marketing ..................................................................................................................................... 52 Media Advertising ........................................................................................................................................... 53 Personal Marketing ......................................................................................................................................... 54 Prospect Management .................................................................................................................................... 55 Press Release .................................................................................................................................................. 56

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Preface
This won’t be your grandfather’s law practice. Building a successful law practice in today’s competitive market requires a solid business plan, a modern infrastructure and a polished marketing strategy. Startups that thrive do so by focusing on efficiency, flexibility, customer service, risk management, and marketing knowhow. Law firm technology that was widespread just 10 to 15 years ago is now dangerously out of date, restricting efficiency and puts firms at serious risk. Clients, insurers, bar associations, vendors and courts are now demanding stricter compliance with current technology standards. Malpractice insurers have stiffened penalties for inadequate technology adoption. This guide provides a checklist of everything you need to consider to start, build and run a successful, modern law practice.

Start-up Essentials
Should I Start?
You may have a number of reasons to consider starting you own law practice, but the most important distinction to think about is whether you want to be an employee or an entrepreneur. Starting your own practice places you in the unique position of being both the generator of a business and its chief source of revenues. As such, you’ll need to give proper energy and attention to the art of growing a business as well as the art of practicing law. The good news is you probably already know a lot about practicing law and probably have expertise in one or more practice areas that will continue to produce demand for legal services. The bad news is you may not be used to the burden of growing a business and generating the revenues for that business. Many lawyers have successfully transferred from employee to business owner and are now enjoying some of the many benefits of successful business ownership. You can join their ranks and carve out your own valuable niche in the ever growing legal services market. Just be sure you truly want to master the art of running a business. Key Points: You need to determine whether you want to spend the time and energy necessary to both run a business and practice law or whether you’d like to remain in an employee position. Action Steps: 1) Talk to attorneys you know who have started a practice 2) Consider some of the responsibilities you will be taking on, including finding office space, purchase or lease of equipment and furniture, hiring a capable assistant, setting up a legal business entity and developing tactics and strategies for gaining new business 3) Think about whether you will have immediate business from clients you have or can bring with you; if not, or if you only have a few, remember that you will need 4|P age

to put plenty of time and energy into marketing and business development for a few months to build up a reliable cash flow Resources: http://wiselaw.blogspot.com/2007/02/starting-law-firm.html In-depth blog post about starting a practice, including aspects related to planning, choosing practice area, initial expenses, technology issues, administrative issues and more http://www.icle.org/contentfiles/partners/seminarmaterials/2005CI3860/20052E3860.pd f Extensive resource guide from the Michigan Bar on how to start a practice with $5,000, includes in-depth treatment of technology needs and issues http://www.myshingle.com/ Blog of noted small practice and solo expert Carol Elefant includes articles on virtually every aspect of starting and running a solo or small firm practice http://www.expertlaw.com/library/practice_management/starting_practice.html Article listing ten issues lawyers must confront when considering starting their own practice http://www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/bar_bult/2003/april03/solo. htm Ten questions to ask when starting a law firm, from the Maryland State Bar http://www.okbar.org/members/map/practice.htm Many articles from the Oklahoma State Bar on starting a law practice, featuring Jim Calloway More Resources for Solos and Small Firm Start-ups Balancing Life and Practice - lexisOne(sm) Blawg - Solos Collaborating with Clients Counsel.Net - SOLO PRACTICE CHATBOARD Flying Solo, 4th Edition GPSOLO Magazine Home Office Lawyer Jennifer Rose's Ten Suggestions for Solo Practice Launching a Small Law Firm or Solo Practice Marshall-Wythe Law Library: Solo Practice Missouri Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference My Shingle: Great things come in small practices. My Shingle.com: the Online Guide to Starting a Law Firm Opening a Solo Practice Solo & Small Practice Information at Business.com Solo Article Solo Law Practice The Ten Commandments of Solo Practice To Tech or Not to Tech?

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Selecting a Practice Area
Choosing a practice area is an exercise in finding intersections. The intersection you’ll be seeking is the market space where your talent, your passion and consumer demand come together. It sounds simple enough but there are nuances to be explored. One nuance to contemplate is whether the type of person or business you feel most suited to represent is actually used to being serviced by a large, full-service law firm. If you practice in a large multioffice firm and work on Fortune 500 client matters, you may feel competent to represent these clients on your own. But they may not be prepared to be serviced by a solo practitioner. You may have to overcome significant concerns over whether you can truly meet their needs. On the other hand, if you have a specialty in process oriented practice where several people, including non-lawyers, participate in servicing the client, you may desire to create such a practice on your own, but lack the resources to hire the necessary staff “out of the chute” to continue to service clients. Another nuance to consider is the scope of your potential client base when you start a practice with limited resources for marketing. If you practice in a firm with a large marketing budget and trappings such as beautiful, glossy marketing brochures, paid travel to events and conventions and extensive Internet presence, you may have to scale back expectations for generating new business until you can bring some resources to your marketing efforts. Finally, you may find that you have a passion for a particular type of work, such as real estate law, that is impacted by cyclical market conditions. If you leap out on your own during a down cycle period, you may find less work for a while. Still, as a general proposition, look for this intersection between what you enjoy, what you are good at and where there is demand in the market and you can make the jump to your own practice with confidence. Key Points: Find the intersection between what you like to do, what you are good at (and efficient at doing) and where demand exists in the market you plan to serve Timeframe: 10-20 hours How to Save Time: If you have difficulty finding the intersection between your likes, your skills and the marketplace, ask some lawyers you know and have worked with to tell you honestly what they think you’re really good at (and maybe even what you’re not so good at) Action Steps: 1) Think about what aspects of practicing law you most enjoy 2) Consider what things you are very good at and that you can do efficiently 3) Study, read, research and ask around to get a feel for where demand lies in the market place Resources: http://www.lawcrossing.com/article/index.php?id=76 Article from Law Crossing on how to select a practice area http://www.abanet.org/genpractice/magazine/2005/jul-aug/eggs.html Article from the ABA on choosing a practice area for a boutique law practice

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Business name
Many new firms opt to name the firm after the surname of the partner or partners. However, you might consider a little creativity here than can make your business name a calling card for the type of practice you plan to have. A descriptive name is memorable, maps to your area of practice and usually enjoys a unique place in the market. If you plan to use Internet-based marketing such as joining attorney search websites you might think about a firm name beginning with a letter early in the alphabet—but only if the name you choose otherwise makes sense. For example, if you focus a practice in arbitration perhaps you might call it the Arbitration Law Firm; or if your practice is focused on a general business and transactional practice you might call the firm the Business & Contracts Law Firm. The only limit to your creativity in selecting a business name is whether someone else in the same or a very similar market space is already using the name you want to use. Generally, you can search your state government’s business name database online to see if anyone is using your desired name. Whatever you name the firm, see if you can derive a fairly brief url for the firm’s website and for emails. These are easier to remember and might help drive more traffic to your site. Make it easy and more people may check you out! For example, using the Business & Contracts Law Firm example from above, perhaps you can get the url www.bc-law.com. Key Points: Decide whether you’ll brand your surname or what you do (a descriptive name) and if you choose a descriptive name, be sure another law firm or similar business isn’t already using that name in your state Timeframe: 2-5 hours to decide on a name and search your state’s database of businesses to be sure the name you want to use is available How to Save Time: Unless you have a very common surname just choose your name as the name for your business and you’ll be done with this step Action Steps: 1) Decide between your surname or a descriptive or creative name for your business 2) Check your state’s database of available business names 3) Consider whether your chosen business name converts to a reasonably short url for your website address and email address Resources: http://thenonbillablehour.typepad.com/nonbillable_hour/2004/02/naming_law_firm.html How to name a law firm from the non-Billable Hour Blog

Develop Business Plan
A business plan is a roadmap to a specific place. That place is profitable operation of a scaled business. To get there it is wise to plan for how the business will respond to the points along the road. While things

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such as competitive analysis, marketing and sales plan and start-up needs are important, perhaps the most important elements of a plan for a new law firm are related to market positioning and cash flow. In any market space there are services providers at the top, middle and bottom of the market from a pricing perspective. Examine any industry or profession and you will see this. When starting a new practice an early consideration is where you want to position your services offer in the space. At the high end of the market you need fewer clients to generate equivalent revenue as compared to the middle or low end of the market. However, you’ll have to provide a high level of service that people paying top dollar expect. At the low end of the market you may enjoy a larger potential base of clients in a given region, but you’ll be more likely to deal with unpaid fees, haggling over fee rates and collections expenses. Beyond positioning, you need to have a clear understanding of the factors involved in productivity. For a billable hour practice it has everything to do with the percentage of billed time that ends up as paid time. Factors such as non-billed time, slow-pay clients, re-negotiation of fees and forgetting to bill for something or billing less than the time you actually worked all influence productivity. While there are many ways to increase productivity, the point here is that you should not create your revenue model based on the assumption of 100% productivity, or even 90% productivity. It is better to create a model based on 75% productivity and then over-achieve! Key Points: Put considerable thought into where you plan to position your firm in the market—this can depend on many factors including your current client roster, the specific area you plan to serve and the dollars you can put into marketing and the look and feel of your office, website and other things Estimated Budget: Up to $15,000 How to Save Money: Use the business plan template provided on the web to get you started; conduct your own market research; use our financial and budget templates to create a financial section; then consider paying a professional plan writer to review and polish the document. This could save you as much as $10,000-$12,000 dollars. How to Save Time: Hire a professional to write the entire plan or use web templates to save time in organizing initial thoughts and ideas; find quality research online (there are several legal industry consultants with excellent data) and consider paying for studies that detail the practice areas and geographic and other demographic groups you plan to serve Timeframe: 20-50 hours Action Steps: 1) Review web templates to get you started and organize your thoughts 2) Think carefully about your market positioning strategy 3) Review our materials about cash flow and productivity so you can create a realistic and useful income, expense and profit projection 4) Conduct or purchase relevant research on the market for the services you plan to provide Resources: http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html Resources from the Small Business Administration to help write a business plan http://www.bplans.com/sample_business_plans/Professional_Services_Business_Plans/

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40 sample business plans for a professional services company from bplans.com http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/mtt08041.html Advice from Ed Poll and the ABA on maintaining positive cash flow in a small practice http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/fin05041.html How to create and maintain efficiency in a small law practice, from the ABA and Pat Yevics http://startingalawfirm.blogspot.com/2008/08/starting-law-firm-drafting-business.html Advice from the Starting a Law Firm Blog on how to write a law firm business plan http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/publications/costrecovery1.html Using cost recovery tools to get paid, from the ABA

Office Space
Most new law firms have a “brick and mortar” address. While some lawyers may practice remotely and rely on remote access to the firm’s systems, the need for meeting space, workspace for staff and a place to receive mail remains. While it is possible to completely out-office your practice, it is sensible to invest in office space. Three options are available. The lowest cost option is through one of many corporate office centers around the country that provide meeting space, phone service and mail collection. This minimal level of office services could work for some types of lawyers, but most will need a step-up. Another choice is to share office space with an existing firm or group of solo practitioners. This option usually requires you to share costs for all common functions, including staff, but provides a more full-service office. A problem can occur, however, if your systems and network are incompatible with those already in use by the others in your chosen space. So, this may force you to adopt and pay for new systems and habits. Of course the third option is to lease your own space, hire employees and set up your firm-wide systems. You might end up being the one who leases an office to another lawyer to defray costs! Key Points: Determine which of the three options for office space most fit your needs and budget. If you desire a virtual office carefully consider whether this approach is actually conducive to the type of practice you want to run—think in terms of whether you need regular space for meetings, the ability to add staff and whether remote staff can competently manage the practice and serve clients Estimated Budget: $500-$10,000 per month depending on location, space needs and expected growth How to Save Money: Start your practice with a corporate suite or an office sharing arrangement until your revenues and cash flow have grown to a point where monthly rent would be 15% or less of your gross average monthly income; or start your practice out of your home if the space, location and technology hook-ups are adequate Timeframe: 5-30 hours to research, visit sites and find the right fit

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How to Save Time: Put an ad on Craig’s List or publish one in your local or state bar journal seeking office sharing space. This way potential opportunities may come to you rather than you having to do a lot of leg-work Action Steps: 1) Determine whether you desire and can actually create and manage a virtual office, perhaps with a home office base 2) If you need physical office space beyond your own home, consider and choose among the three options of corporate suites, office sharing or leasing your own office 3) Once you know what you’re seeking, if it is an office share or office space lease consider placing ads on Craig’s List or with your local or state bar journal to see what opportunities come your way (consider doing this a month before you actually plan to start your practice) Resources: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5243/is_/ai_n20086403 Nuts and bolts of finding and leasing office space from B-net (requires free subscription) http://www.thestartuplawyer.com/startup-issues/leasing-office-space How to lease office space from Ryan Roberts and the Startup Lawyer site http://www.officelease.com/pubs/2375_001.pdf Five things to consider before leasing office space (for lawyers), from the Puget Sound Business Journal http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/2005/12/keeping_pace_while_keeping_you.html Article from Dennis Kennedy on saving money by leasing technology

Formation & Registration
To start a law practice, you’ll need to incorporate a business. Your state may have specific rules about the specific legal form a law firm can take—such as a limited legal partnership or a professional corporation. You’ll need to check with your state bar association to determine available business structures. Then, allocate at least $300 for purchasing forms and filing your incorporation. Be aware that in some places business must pay local taxes or fees annually to maintain a business license. Generally, in such places even a sole practitioner operating a sole proprietorship has to pay these fees. Finally, allow four to eight weeks to have your paperwork filed with the state and be officially in business. Some states allow for rapid filing of incorporation documents for an extra fee. To ramp up quickly consider paying for rapid filing, generally for a fee of about $200. Key Points: You’ll need to check with your state bar association to determine available business structures. Then, allocate at least $300 for purchasing forms and filing your incorporation.

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Estimated Budget: $500-$1,000 How to Save Money: As a lawyer you can save money on the set-up of your corporate form by completing and filing the documents yourself. Timeframe: Six to Eight weeks How to Save Time: In some states you can save time by requesting immediate attention from the state. This generally costs a few hundred dollars but can get your paper work filed within a week or less. Action Steps: 1) Check with your state bar association to determine available business structures. 2) Allocate at least $300 for purchasing forms and filing your incorporation. 3) File Paperwork, allowing four to eight weeks to have your paperwork filed Resources: http://www.lawtechnews.com/r5/showkiosk.asp?listing_id=1271491&pub_id=5173&c ategory_id=27902 Issues relating to corporate formation for law firms (requires free registration)

Insurance
Research indicates that most lawyers who practice for at least ten years will face a malpractice claim. This sobering data reflects the need for a good malpractice policy and this is even more important when you start your own practice. In a small firm, one successful claim can wipe out a firm that is uninsured. Even if a claim is ultimately unsuccessful, the time and resources needed to fight the claim can be more than a small firm can bear without insurance. Beyond malpractice insurance, however, you should have a general business casualty and liability policy. It protects the firm in the event of injury on its premises, loss of property from flood, fire or other damage and even theft in some cases. While you will need to budget a few thousand dollars per year for casualty, liability and malpractice coverage, without it you will be open to large losses that the firm may not be able to bear. Key Points: You’ll need to purchase both malpractice coverage and a general business casualty and liability policy Estimated Budget: $500-$1,000 per month combined (insurance costs vary widely by state and region within states and malpractice insurance rates can vary depending on your experience, practice area and past history) How to Save Money: Check your state bar to see if they sponsor a mutual insurance company and can offer discounts to members; seek out an agent and ask whether their company provides both malpractice and general business insurance and whether they offer a discounted package

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Timeframe: 5-10 hours to find a good insurer, check on discounts and review coverage with your agent + 1-3 weeks to have the policies issued How to Save Time: When you meet with an agent have as much personal and professional data with you as you can—ask the agent in advance what he or she will need to complete an application with you—get it all done in one meeting Action Steps: 1) Contact your state bar to ask about mutual insurance or other sponsored insurance and how to get a discount 2) Meet with an agent but first speak by phone to get a quote and to ask for all the information they’ll need in order to complete an application 3) If you are already insured with your current firm, ask your agent whether you can transfer the coverage without a new application or whether you can apply for short-term coverage until a new policy is in place Resources: http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/lpl/purchasersmaterials.html In-depth article from the American Bar Association on how to purchase malpractice insurance http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/lpl/downloads/checklist.pdf Checklist from the ABA on selecting malpractice insurance http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/lpl/downloads/preventinggaps.pdf How to prevent gaps in malpractice coverage from the ABA http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/lpl/downloads/shopping.pdf Looking beyond just cost when selecting malpractice coverage http://www.nationwide.com/attorneys-office-business-insurance.jsp Tips on selecting business insurance for law firms from Nationwide

Accounting
One of the first things you need to do when starting a new law firm is plan for managing money. Money is the life blood of your practice and its proper management can make the difference between success and failure. Unless you plan to hire an in-house accounting or finance specialist you need to plan for selfmanagement of accounting. The best way to accomplish this is to use automated time, billing and accounting software. This allows you to set up a chart of accounts, billing mechanisms, time-keeping automation and eventually seamless integration of systems from tracking time to sending out bills. This software also let’s you track productivity firm-wide or for specific people or client matters, manage expenses and non-billable costs and track all activities in your Trust Account. Without an automated system to handle and manage all of these activities you really can’t run a modern law firm.

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Key Points: Determine whether you’ll hire a CPA or other expert to manage the finance of your firm or whether it will be done in-house; either way research law practice management software suites to find the best fit for your needs Estimated Budget: $1,500 per user for law practice management software; $5,000 per month if you plan to hire a dedicated financial professional; $2,500 for a part-time financial professional hired on a contract basis How to Save Money: Hire an experienced law firm staffer with billing and accounting experience who can also handle phones and other administrative work; train this person on the use of the law practice management suites you purchase (your vendor will have excellent training in most cases) Timeframe: 5-10 hours to research and compare law practice management software suites; 5-20 hours to set-up the software, test it and enter initial data fields and data How to Save Time: Buy practice management software at the very beginning of your practice to minimize the time and staff cost for setting it up and entering data Action Steps: 1) Determine whether you’ll manage the finances of your practice with a full-time professional manager, a part-time professional manager or an in-house administrative assistant 2) Research, select and train staff on the selected practice management suite 3) Set-up the system, input data and create database fields Resources: http://www.abanet.org/lpm/magazine/articles/v33/is1/an18.shtml Financial checklist for starting a solo practice, from the ABA http://www.lawyerbillingtips.com/k_law-firm-accounting.html Basic tips on law firm accounting from LawyerBillingTips.com http://www.lawyerbillingtips.com/law_firm_budgeting_basics.html Law firm budgeting basics from LawyerBillingTips.com http://litireviews.lexbe.com/index.aspx?Query=Accounting Product reviews for legal accounting from Lexbe

Banking
A good banking relationship can pay dividends for your law firm. One possibility is to receive a start-up loan or line of credit. However, generally banks will require full collateralization for any lending to a startup. Beyond loans, however, your banker can sometimes be a source of new clients. If you have relationships with bankers it may be wise to open your firm accounts with bankers you know to be avid networkers. You will need at least three accounts: a Trust Account, an expense account and a general deposits account. Remember that each state may have unique rules for opening and maintaining trust

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accounts. Check with your state bar to understand the specific trust account requirements in your state before setting up this account. Since some states now allow law firms to bill via credit card for general fees on an installment or revolving basis, you may need to ensure that your bank has merchant services. If you anticipate that credit card transactions may be a significant part of your business it may be worthwhile too interview several banks to get a competitive rate for merchant services. Be prepared to pay credit card fees. Key Points: A good banking relationship can be important as a source for clients and if you require a loan to begin your practice. You’ll probably need to have three accounts for your practice, a trust account, an expense account and a general deposits account. If you plan to bill clients via credit card remember you will also need a merchant account to process those transactions Estimated Budget: No cost to set up an account, though you may need an initial deposit of $250 or more; 3-8% for credit card processing; 2-4% for merchant bank fees How to Save Money: In lieu of a merchant bank relationship you could use PayPal to process credit card and debit card transactions. You may be able to negotiate a discount on a combined checking, savings and merchant banking relationship with a single bank Timeframe: 5-10 hours (1-2 if you already have a good banking relationship) How to Save Time: When setting up accounts gather all the basic personal information you’ll need including the tax ID number for the business, its address and perhaps the articles of incorporation or organization so you can set up all accounts in one meeting. You may be able to set up all the accounts online to further save time Action Steps: 1. Ask around or stop in and meet with some bankers to find the right fit for you 2. Determine whether you’ll need only basic accounts or also want merchant banking and perhaps a business line of credit or loan 3. Gather all relevant data together so you can set all accounts up online or with a single meeting—ask your banker for a list of all information they’ll need Resources: http://www.texasbar.com/lomp/trust.htm How to set up a trust account from the Texas Bar http://www.wsba.org/media/publications/pamphlets/managing.htm Managing Client Trust accounts from the Washington Bar http://www.lectlaw.com/files/att12.htm What lawyers need to know about client trust accounts from “Lectric Law Library” http://www.allbusiness.com/banking-finance/banking-lending-credit-servicespayment/7129539-1.html Setting up merchant banking accounts from All Business http://www.affiniscapemerchantsolutions.com/associations/7037/files/LFM/index.html Information on merchant banking for law firms (from a provider’s website)

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Setting Fees
Setting fees is obviously a key area for planning when starting a new law firm. How do you know what rate to charge if you plan to bill by the hour? Will you consider flat-rate work? If you plan to focus your practice in areas where contingent fees are the rule, what rate or percentage of an award will you command as your fee? To begin the process of setting fees you need to have some understanding of prevailing rates in your area and for your type of practice. You will also need to do some of the work we discuss later in this guide related to market positioning, because your market position will to some degree help you set billing rates. To get basic information about what lawyers in your area and practice type charge, start by asking peers. Unless you are a newly minted lawyer, you will also have some experience in billing rates from your previous practice experience. Good data exists to help you learn what lawyers in your area earn (see our resources links below) and you can use that data to determine in a broad sense what they probably charge for services. Keep in mind that people often will pay for demonstrated experience and for prestige. If your practice offers both, you can probably charge top dollar. If you provide neither, you may have to set lower rates. Remember, your cash-flow will rely on the number of hours you bill monthly, an average billable rate, an average percentage of billed time actually collected and your average monthly expenses. Therefore, you will have to come up with good estimates to put a business plan together. Key Points: Determining what to charge clients is a core element of planning for the startup of your firm. To get data about what others charge for similar work you may need to draw upon past experience, asking peers, or data available online. Remember that your market positioning strategy also may to some degree determine the fees you charge. Estimated Budget: No cost to access data from websites and articles, or to ask peers for information about how they charge for services. Timeframe: 5-10 hours for a few conversations and research How to Save Time: Set a rate you feel is reasonable and attractive to the client base you want to serve, test it and see how your client portfolio grows. If new clients are lagging try adjusting rates downward somewhat, but keep your cash flow needs in mind. Action Steps: 1) Ask around among peers to determine what they charge for similar work (and ask those of a similar experience level) 2) Visit the links below for demographic data that may help you establish rates 3) Gather all relevant data together and, with your cash flow needs in mind and expected client base at the outset of your practice, set a reasonable and attractive rate Resources: http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/fin09044.html Discusses alternative billing strategies for small firms and solos http://www.texasbar.com/lomp/billrate.htm

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Looks at setting billing rates for a solo practice by assessing costs and expected salary for the lawyer, very helpful and simple way to assess the rate you need to charge and still earn a profit http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/fin08081.shtml In-depth article from ABA on financial planning that discusses five factors that influence profit http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/fin06071.shtml Assessment of flat fees and contingency fee structures, from Ed Poll and the ABA http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/fin04081.shtml Article discussing how write-downs and uncollected fees impact cash flow and profit http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=7&A rticleID=703 From Christine Filip and the Law Marketing Portal, an article on how to negotiate fees with clients

Phones
Even if you habitually run your life from a cell phone, your firm still needs a phone system. At a minimum the system must have inputs for your incoming and outgoing lines, fax and data and of course high-speed Internet (you can’t really operate without high-speed, at least DSL level Internet). Your system should also be scalable. Some lawyers choose to buy a phone system, figuring that the capital investment will last for years and the level of service will be higher than a leased system provides. However, a leased system is more flexible and a far lower cost to cash flow. Operationally, you’ll need to be at least minimally trained to use your phone system, because even if you have a full-time staff, at times you will be the only person able to receive an incoming call. You’ll need to be competent at making conference calls. Some businesses choose to buy a used existing system from another business. This may work, but you must be sure the service contract is in force and that the system itself is not outmoded or incompatible with your needs. Have at least one dedicated fax line (two may be preferable if you have a high transaction practice such as real estate law) and make sure that your system allows for at least DSL Internet connection if the system is provided by an ISP. Even if you have a good phone system, consider trying a web-based phone system like Skype. This can be a convenient way to communicate internationally and at a low cost. The sound quality is generally excellent and video conferencing is possible. But remember, you’ll need at least DSL level Internet to make it work! Key Points: You need a phone system even if you personally use a cell phone for most of your calls. Buying a new system may ensure that you have the latest technology and best service contract, but a leased system can help with initial cash flow. Be sure to have at least one dedicated FAX line and at least DSL Internet 16 | P a g e

Estimated Budget: $2,500 to $10,000 to purchase a system; $200-$1,000 per month to lease a system How to Save Money: Buy a used system but make sure the support contract hasn’t expired; consider using Skype for many of your calls, especially long-distance and international calls Timeframe: 5-10 hours (plus 3-5 hours for set-up in the firm and testing) How to Save Time: Consider an office sharing arrangement or corporate suite for the first few months and the phone system will already be in place Action Steps: 1) Determine whether to lease or buy a system (mainly an expense decision) 2) Research and compare systems or consider a used system 3) Get the system in place before you actually open your doors and begin your practice and make sure you and staff are fully trained and able to take calls, transfer calls and receive messages Resources: http://gdgrifflaw.typepad.com/home_office_lawyer/2006/12/the_connected_l_2.html Setting up a virtual phone system for home officing from the Home Office Lawyer Blog

Office Policies
To run a productive office, hire competent people, pay them as well as you are able and to what the market requires, and have clear policies regarding email, Internet usage, time worked and billed (for billing employees) and conditions of employment. You may need to consult with books and guides for employers to find template forms for creating good policies, but make sure they comport to the requirements of your state. Make sure employees read the policies and sign or initial key provisions. Finally, remember that while you may employ people “at will” once you utilize policies regarding conditions leading to suspension or termination, you must abide by those policies closely or they may not be enforceable. Key Points: Source good templates for policies covering email, Internet usage, time worked and billed and conditions of employment. Be sure to apply the policies consistently. Make sure to find templates for policies that comport with your own state’s laws Estimated Budget: $200 to purchase books with forms or templates; $1,500-$2,500 for professional review How to Save Money: Consult an HR professional or knowledgeable attorney and determine whether you can trade services Timeframe: 10-20 hours for sourcing, creation and review; 1-2 hours with each staff person to review How to Save Time: Hire an HR consultant to create the entire package and review it with employees 17 | P a g e

Action Steps: 1) Source good templates 2) Draft policies and consider having them reviewed by an HR consultant or an attorney with experience in this field 3) Meet with staff, go through policies, make sure they are understood, initialed and signed Resources: http://www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/bar_bult/2003/sept03/patsc olumn.htm Article from the Maryland Bar on how and why to set up your own office policies and procedures http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/publications/documentretention.html Article from the ABA on the importance of document retention policies

Office Procedures
Office procedures govern how work gets done. For a law firm that includes detailed procedures for client intake, client communication, billing and work product creation. At a minimum you will need a clear client services agreement. The agreement must comport to the practice rules and regulations of your state. Check to see if your state bar has approved client services agreements. The agreement should speak not only to the services to be provided but also your communication policy and any services to be excluded from the representation. Your firm will need a reliable conflicts system. You’ll also need a plan and procedures for scheduling meetings and appearances, and a plan for billing and collections. Automating your practice with a law practice management suite can streamline many of these activities and provide a centralized system for managing the substantial amount of data the firm will produce. Key Points: You will need clear policies that comport with the rules of your state bar for client intake (including conflicts check), client communication, billing and client services. It is also wise to have internal policies on meetings, billing planning and collections procedures Estimated Budget: $200-$500 to acquire templates and craft them into policies for your own firm How to Save Money: Check with your state bar to see if it has an approved publication that includes standard forms or suggested language for these policies Timeframe: 10-20 hours to find good templates or other resources and create policies How to Save Time: Create these policies at the same time to ease the process of crossreferencing them

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Action Steps: 1) Create a list of the necessary policies you will need (consult books and other resources to determine what you need) 2) Craft policies 3) Consider having your policies reviewed by an attorney experienced in creating such materials for other law firms Resources: http://www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/bar_bult/2003/sept03/patsc olumn.htm Article from the Maryland Bar on how and why to set up your own office policies and procedures

Bar Associations
Bar Associations can be a great resource for new firms. The American Bar Association has many resources for new firms. Your own state bar may also have dedicated resources, counseling and special education for new firms. You may also find discounts on products like insurance and software arranged by your state bar. Beyond all of these resources, however, you may find that your state bar organization or the American Bar Association provide opportunities to network with peers and potential clients. Moreover, there are many special bar associations, with focuses on specific practice areas such as international law or intellectual property law. Such bar associations may have very tailored information that is especially useful for developing a practice within their area of focus. Key Points: Remember that you will need to be a licensed member of each state bar in which you want to practice and are qualified to practice. Your state bar can be a good resource for information on how to start a practice and should have state-specific materials for you. The bar can also be an excellent source for networking opportunities that can bring in business Estimated Budget: $100-$500 per year for membership dues How to Save Money: Seek out services from the bar based on discounts the bar has negotiated with service providers Timeframe: 1-2 hours to ensure your membership is paid up and the bar has a new listing for you with your new firm and all contact information How to Save Time: Consider joining a section of your state bar that deals directly with your practice area. Networking and business opportunities as well as educational opportunities will be more focused on things of direct relevance to your practice Action Steps: 1) Contact your state bar with your new business information. Make sure your dues are paid up currently 2) If applicable, assess your continuing education requirements and make sure you

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know when new credit requirements must be fulfilled 3) Determine whether your bar has any sections or committees dealing directly with your practice area Resources: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2003/06/09/focus2.html How local bar associations can help grow a small firm or solo practice, from the Business Journal http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/publications/loc_barwebsites200212.html How to get the most out of your bar association, from ABA & Law Office Computing

Staffing
Most law firms require at least one staff person to help manage the flow of the practice and at a minimum answer telephones and assist in billing. An old adage is that you get what you pay for, so consider paying a competitive rate for this person who will often be your lifeline and your trusted partner in getting work product out the door, communicating with clients and managing your back office. You may also hire a paralegal to handle a wide array of functions in the firm. Paralegals are highly trained in technology systems such as law practice management suites. As such, your paralegal can double as an office manager at times. Of course, you’ll want to bill time against client files through your paralegal as well. But remember, all states have rules pertaining to what a paralegal can and cannot do on behalf of a client. Key Points: Your first staff person can be a huge asset to you as you begin a new practice. If you can find an experienced person it may be worth paying more than for an entry level staff person. It may also be wise to hire an experienced paralegal. Experienced staff can make a big difference in making it possible to ramp up your practice quickly. Estimated Budget: $30-$50,000 annually for an experienced administrative assistant who can also provide business management skills including billing; $30,000 to $60,000 for an experienced paralegal How to Save Money: You may be able to hire one person with enough skills, experience and credentials to handle all administrative and some research and other paralegal-type skills. You may also be able to use researchers, law clerks and contract attorneys on an hourly basis only when needed and thus reduce full-time staff. Timeframe: 2-4 weeks to place ads, talk with people, interview candidates and select employees How to Save Time: Consider using a reputable legal placement company that will do much of the background and qualifying work and present you with good candidates to interview

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Action Steps: 1) Determine your initial staff needs based on what your practice area dictates and on how much time and effort you can spend on managing the business of the practice 2) Determine a reasonable budget for initial staff hiring 3) Place ads or hire a legal search firm to get qualified candidates Resources: http://www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/bar_bult/2004/apr04/solo. htm Using your staff to build a law practice, from the Maryland State Bar http://startingalawfirm.blogspot.com/2008/06/starting-law-firm-what-will-yourwork.html How to create a work environment that encourages productivity from the How to Start a Law firm Blog

Library
Many firms conduct most of their legal research online, utilizing one of the major legal search providers such as Lexis or Westlaw. Nevertheless, most firms still find it advisable to purchase sets of their own state statutes annotated and their own state reporter series along with Shepards. Firms with specialty practices, such as employment law, may also need to acquire subscriptions to case and administrative law updates from companies like BNA or CCH. While many resources are available online, remember that sometimes having the hard cover volume you need right in your office can actually save research time when you have specific cases or indexed materials to find. Courts have specific rules about using unpublished resources and also requirements to share materials with opposing counsel in many cases. You can save money by purchasing books second hand, such as from a firm or lawyer going out of business or retiring. Also, the online search companies have a wide range of subscriptions that you can choose from to limit your costs. Key Points: Online research is generally necessary for any practice that involves litigation. Hard cover books and updates can sometimes save research time. Many practices will need subscriptions to online or hard cover resources that are practice specific. Estimated Budget: $2,500 to $10,000 depending on the type of online research subscription and the extent of hard cover volumes needed and whether you can acquire quality used volumes How to Save Money: Buy a set of used statue or case reporters and take over the subscription for updates. Contact Lexis or Westlaw and ask about product discounts for new firms or solo practitioners. See whether your state bar has a discount program for purchasing books or for online research

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Timeframe: 10-20 hours How to Save Time: Based on your determinations of what you need, have a staff person handle the details of acquiring the needed resources and subscriptions Action Steps: 1) Determine what resources you need based on your practice area 2) To save money contact online providers and your state bar to determine whether any promotions or discounts apply to your new practice 3) Acquire hard cover books based on your practice needs and consider buying used materials to save money Resources: http://www.law.harvard.edu/library/services/research/guides/grfs/strategies/law_firm. php Article on legal research in the law firm environment from Harvard Law School http://practicesource.com/house-of-butter/making-the-law-firm-library-a-successfulbusiness.html From Practice Source, article on how to make your law library a business generator http://www.cba.org/cba/Practicelink/Bsky/greeningyourfirm.aspx Article on how to “go green” with your law firm including the firm library

Technology
Computer Hardware
To ramp up a modern law practice, there’s no getting around the need for a set of vital hardware products. Below we’ve listed the major components most firms will need to buy or lease.

Network
Networked computers drive virtually all businesses today. Even if you start a solo practice you’ll probably have at least one administrative assistant. To work efficiently with him or her you have to be connected via computers. If you run law practice management software (highly recommended) but don’t link the computers in your firm, the application will have little efficiency power. Most computers today come “network ready” though you may need a technician to set up your system and assure everyone is connected. Some businesses opt for a wireless network, which frees them from the need to rely on desktop computer alone and allows the incorporation of laptops that come and go from home to office to meetings. However, wireless networks can be less stable than hardwired networks and we do not recommend a wireless network as your only source of networking for that reason.

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Networked computers allow you to share data, common applications such as email and calendars and if you choose, applications for things like word processing. A solo practitioner can’t be in the office all the time. You need the power of remote access to data. You also need the convenience of having a staff person empowered to access information when you need it remotely, or when a client asks for it. And, you need the convenience of networked printers. For more intensive connectivity you may also need a network server—a computer that has the sole function of coordinating and connecting the others computers in the business. Key Points: You need a network to get the true power from all the hardware and software the firm will use. You may be able to use a wireless network when starting out, but probably will need a server-based network within a short time. Without a networked office the power of printers, office automation and practice management tools are limited Estimated Budget: $1,000 per year for DSL or better Internet and wireless network capability; $1,500 for server and software + support to have a hard-wired network How to Save Money: Initially, go with a dedicated machine if your practice is very small(1-3 people) Timeframe: 10-20 hours for selection and set-up (though only 3-5 of your personal time) How to Save Time: Have a staff member source and set-up the network Action Steps: 1) Based on the size and layout of your initial office and staff, determine whether a dedicated machine is sufficient or whether you need a serverbased network 2) Select law practice management software and consult with the provider to assess the optimal network characteristics you need 3) Source and select the proper hardware and software and schedule installation Resources: http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/2005/12/the_fully_connected_law_firm_a.htm l Article from Dennis Kennedy on the fully networked law firm http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/2005/10/making_the_right_choices_when.htm l Article from Dennis Kennedy on making the right technology choices when starting a new firm http://www.lacba.org/showpage.cfm?pageid=1669 Article from the Los Angeles County Bar on saving money by setting up a LAN in a small firm http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac123/iqmagazine/archives/q3_2005/strong_ope ning.html Article from Cisco on setting up a small firm network

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Server
A server is a computer that plays the function of connecting and managing all of the other computers in the business. Servers are not as expensive as fully loaded computers, and play the vital role of managing information flows between all networked computers and printers in your business. For most law firms a server will be needed, since expansion is inevitable and the data load produced by the firm can be substantial. Servers typically stay “on” 24/7/365 and can sometimes be used for backup of the entire law firm’s data. The server may also manage your firm website and any data-transferdependent applications such as taking credit or debit cards as a part of your billing, or processing sales from your website. Key Points: The server is a computer that manages the flow of information and systems across the practice. It enables the software that manages a practice and provides for productivity to communicate across different computers and it also allows for different people in the firm to access tools like printers and databases from any desktop. Estimated Budget: $1,500-$2,500 including IT support How to Save Money: You may be able to purchase a used server for a discount from specialty retailers or from a firm or business, but it must be configurable for the needs you have Timeframe: 2-5 hours to source products How to Save Time: Hire an IT consultant to source products and install servers Action Steps: 1) Source servers (IT consultant may be helpful here) 2) Purchase and install server and configure for your needs (requires IT support) 3) Add network software, printers and practice management tools Resources: http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=1202424395613 Article from Ross Kodner on how to choose a server for a small law firm http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=476877 For Mac users, thread from a Mac Group on servers for a small law firm

Scanner
Scanners are networked devices a business uses for several purposes. At the minimal end of the spectrum, a scanner can be used to copy a paper-based document and convert it to a digital document that resides on your desktop or within the firm’s networked database. It allows you to create a digital replica of all important documents and information. Many law firms are “going paperless” - meaning that as a routine practice ALL documents and other data is scanned, converted to digital form, stored in databases and then the paper-based document is destroyed or archived off-site. Whether you use a scanner as a tool of convenience to

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convert occasional material to digital form, or as a powerful paperless office tool, you’ll want to have at least one of these devices networked into your system. Key Points: A scanner is a valuable tool for occasional use to create digital data from paper-based data. However, many firms now use scanners to create digital versions of all paper-based materials, which are then stored in databases and accessed through the firm’s network Estimated Budget: $500 to $2,500 How to Save Money: You may be able save money by purchasing a good used scanner or by purchasing a scanner combined with copier or fax. Timeframe: 2-5 hours to source and purchase How to Save Time: Hire an IT consultant to source and install a scanner along with all of the other hardware needed for the firm Action Steps: 1) Determine whether you will be an occasional user of a scanner or whether you plan to create a digital copy of all paper-based materials 2) Source and compare scanners and consider a combined printer, scanner, copier or have an IT consultant source one for you 3) Install and network the scanner Resources: http://soholawoffice.com/scanners.htm Article on selecting the right scanner for a small law firm from small Office/Home Office http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/fyidocs/scannerocrfyi.html Guide to selecting a scanner from the ABA

Computers
Advancements in storage and processing capability make even moderate computers powerful tools. At the same time, prices continue to fall so that most business people can afford to buy ten times or more of the computing power for the same price and they could just a few years ago. Most lawyers need to be mobile, so laptop computers have become a must-have item. Data ports and pocket-sized data drives and storage devices make remote computer easier than ever. Plan a flexible approach to computing by having networked desktop computers, laptop computers (networked in through a wireless router if possible) for all time-keepers in the firm, a network server and/or a data back-up computer or server. In addition, we encourage you to purchase portable storage or network drives so you can shuttle work projects back and forth, from office to office, from office to home and to any remote location. The most advanced tools and systems also allow you to “synch” all of these devices together so that your main terminal—such as your desktop computer—contains the latest data for all of your projects. We recommend Vista Business or XP-Pro as good operating systems for a new law practice.

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Key Points: You will probably want to have a combination of desktop and laptop computers for your firm. The key thing will be to purchase units that are compatible with one another and the network you plan to use. Ideally, you will have the ability to synch all computers so that you can work from a laptop or hand held device and update files and other data on your desk top or another desktop in the firm Estimated Budget: $1,000 per desktop and $1,500 per laptop +$1,500-$2,500 for an IT consultant How to Save Money: Consider buying used computers from a reputable dealer. To save on cash flow open an account with a vendor like Best Buy and pay for units over time Timeframe: 5-10 hours to source and purchase (possibly with an IT consultant to help) How to Save Time: Hire an IT consultant to build your computer network and ensure you have the right mix of computers Action Steps: 1) Determine your budget and needs for desktops and laptops 2) Source the needed combination of computers and either purchase or lease them 3) Install your network and link all computers (probably with assistance from an IT consultant) Resources: http://www.ehow.com/how_108470_choose-desktop-computer.html How to choose a desktop computer from e-How

Handhelds
Lawyers have grown to love hand-held devices such as Blackberries because they provide computing power, storage for data, web access, email and phone. Hand held devices can be programmed to “synch” with remote applications in your office. If you spend much of your day at out-of-office appointments, appearances and other activities, a hand held device can be a major productivity tool. Key Points: Hand held devices can provide you with computing and communication power when you are away from your office. Also, you can connect the device with your desktop or laptop to update files and other data on those computers each day Estimated Budget: $250-1,500 How to Save Money: Buy an older version of a product or one without some of the capabilities that you just don’t need. Consider whether you really need such a tool or whether web-based email and other applications such as Google tools could suffice Timeframe: 2-5 hours to source and purchase + 2-5 hours to install, configure, load data and learn to use the product

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How to Save Time: Hire a consultant to complete all configuration and set-up Action Steps: 1) Determine based on your practice and the way you operate your daily affairs whether you actually need such a tool or whether web-based tools you can use from your laptop will suffice 2) Source different products and assess product capabilities against the uses you really need 3) Set-up, load data and learn to use the tool Resources: http://na.blackberry.com/eng/solutions/industry/professional/ Resources and information for lawyers from Blackberry http://www.lawofficecomputing.com/EDC/articles/article.u.php?year=2003&month=f eb-mar&article_file=1&article_title=Secure+Your+PDA Article from Law Office Computing on how to secure your PDA’s http://www.okbar.org/members/map/articles/handheld.htm Overview of handheld devices uses for lawyers from the Oklahoma Bar & Jim Calloway http://www.pdajd.com/features/goingwireless.xml Article and some product comparisons from Pdajd Blog & Joseph Kornowski

Printers
For a profession that produces documents as its stock-in-trade, printers are mandatory office tools. While courts continue to advance e-filing capabilities, this in no way reduces the need for a good printer that is networked into your office’s computers. Today, many printers play the triple role of printer, fax machine and copier. It may be wise to invest in a higher end printer that fulfills all of these functions, as opposed to buying separate products for each of these functions. The benefits of a networked computer cannot be overstated. Without network capabilities your business will require a printer dedicated to every computer in the office—and you may need a similar number of fax machines as well. The money you spend on a network and on a high end printer with fax and copy functions will far outpace the cost of adding dedicated machines to each new desktop as you grow. Another question about printers is whether you need a color printer. This probably depends on the type of documents you routinely produce. If you contemplate producing business documents such as plans, private placement documents, real estate development plans or anything that normally contains charts, graphs and photos you should pay the extra money needed for color printing. A color printer will also allow you to create marketing brochures in-house. Without a color printer you may spend a lot of money at Kinko’s every month. Key Points: a networked printer is a must-have tool for any law firm. Buy from a reputable company with a good service plan. Consider a combined fax, copier, printer product. If you plan to create professional business or marketing documents in-house buy a color printer 27 | P a g e

Estimated Budget: $500 to $2,500 How to Save Money: Buy a quality used printer; avoid a color printer unless you really need to produce color documents; consider purchasing a combined fax, copier, printer Timeframe: 2-5 hours to source product; 2-5 hours to install and configure How to Save Time: Have staff manage sourcing, purchasing and configuration Action Steps: 1) Determine need and budget, considering whether you need a color printer and whether you need more than one printer given volume 2) Source and compare products—ensure you buy from a reputable company with a good service plan 3) Install, configure and network the device Resources: http://whitepapers.silicon.com/0,39024759,60123379p,00.htm Downloadable article from Silicon.com on printers for small law firms

Software
If computers power the modern law firm, software provides the intelligence. Below are some of the vitally important software applications you’ll need.

Practice Management Software
The complexity of both practicing law and running a law firm requires an automated approach to time, billing, accounting and calendaring. Without an automated system for each of these operations you risk making serious errors, losing valuable billing time, lagging in your billing and collections, failing to account for all of your valuable time and operating without knowing your productivity rates and the gaps you need to cover to be profitable. All practice management software requires at least some initial data input and database set-up. But, most vendors have both qualified consultants and excellent training to ease this process. Either way, consider that the time to implement a modern solution to the challenge of managing a law firm is at the very beginning, before you have reams of data to input, unproductive habits to overcome and mistakes to recover from. Research demonstrates that more and more malpractice suits come from common mistakes that occur as breakdowns in common practice activities like missing appearances or deadlines. Practice management software can shield you from most of these mistakes IF you set it up correctly, install it at the outset of your practice and use it consistently. Beyond the ability to minimize mistakes, consider the benefit of having your firm “run itself” in many ways that automated practice management software allows. When you consider the gains in productivity that can add thousands of dollars to your bottom line every year AND the minimization of mistakes that can damage or kill your practice, the choice to invest in a good practice management suite is an easy one to make.

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Key Points: Practice management software is a must-have technology tool for any law firm in the modern age. A good practice management suite will not only improve productivity but also reduce the chances for costly errors in your practice. To be truly effective, you need to have the suite networked into each desktop in the firm and populate the databases with relevant information on a consistent basis. Estimated Budget: $1,000 to $1,500 per desktop How to Save Money: Find a software vendor that can provide an integrated solution and that may provide either discounts on additional licenses or financing packages that allow you to ramp up the entire firm without a large up-front expenditure Timeframe: 5-10 hours to compare products and select a vendor; 10-20 hours for training and initial input of relevant data How to Save Time: install a practice management suite at the very beginning of your practice; there will be less data to input and you can launch with best practices for using the system without having to change activities and behaviors in mid-practice Action Steps: 1) Source vendors with products that are scaled to your firm’s needs 2) Compare prices, attributes and financing packages 3) Select a product, install, train staff and input relevant Resources: http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/publications/sfbpracmangement.html Guide from the ABA on selecting practice management software Practice Management Software Vendors: AbacusLaw www.abacuslaw.com Amicus www.amicusattorney.com Time Matters www.lexisnexis.com/timematters Tabs3 www.tabs3.com ProLaw www.elite.com

Calendaring
Accurate calendaring is crucial to every law firm. Firms can no longer rely on old-fashioned paper calendars alone because the lack of coordinated up-to-date entries create the grounds for costly mistakes—even malpractice! Automated practice management software allows a firm to rapidly and accurately update calendar entries and immediately transfer the data to everyone in the firm, or to everyone to whom the data is critical.

Contact Management
A pile of business cards and phone numbers written on stickies no longer works for modern networking and new business development. Today, you must have data that is organized, accessible in intelligent ways and convertible to various marketing and business development projects. Without automated practice management this is simply not possible, unless you plan to use an expensive application such as SalesForce.com, or just rely on Outlook.

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The power of law practice management technology can actually partially or completely replace the need to dedicate a person in the firm to handle marketing communications. Data is grouped intelligently, accessed by keywords and capable of being converted to email or print applications along with your intended communications. It saves time and money and gives you a window to the fast-paced world of marketing in the modern era.

Case Management
Case management tools are an absolute necessity in today’s legal practice environment. With the increasing amounts of data, the faster time deadlines, the new discovery rules and the need to connect data meaningfully, a non-automated system of files simply won’t cut it. Practice management suites provide you with powerful tools to store, connect and access data relevant to a client, case or other matter. Your data can be accessed quickly and best of all, the technology remembers where everything is and how it fits together so you don’t have to!

Document Management
Document management can be a nightmare without automated, database driven tools to help. With e-filing, multi-party cases and matters, the need for speed in processing and communications and the immense amount of data involved in some matters, an automated case management system is an absolute necessity. When you need to prepare complex documents, compile data, print, store electronically, email, e-file and save copies of all relevant data, you must have an automated system that handles most of those chores.

Document and Form
Lawyers face a much stiffer challenge in billing for document preparation and forms work than they have in the past. Simply put, clients expect that you have automated systems to quickly prepare forms and documents and they won’t pay for 15 hours of time on a project that could be done in an automated manner in half the time! Forms stored in a database save you precious time when you have to quickly produce them and disseminate them. Documents that don’t have to be “built from scratch” each time also save you precious time.

Document Assembly
Document assembly can be a major time-waster if you are cutting and pasting data into forms and documents with cut-copy-paste and other manual techniques. Sometimes, errors occur, such as sending to one client a document with another client's information still in it. This is dangerously out-of-date. Smart law firms use practice management software to automatically generate their documents, filling in client, case, court and event data correctly in the document. Most software packages provide a forms library and allow you to use Word, WordPerfect, and PDF templates to generate your documents quickly and accurately.

Conflict Checks
How will you check for conflicts in your new law firm? This can be especially tricky once you’ve worked for perhaps hundreds of clients. In your new firm you must have a fast, reliable and errorfree system for checking conflicts. Today, smart firms rely on advanced law practice management software to manage conflict checks. This allows firms to waste less time determining whether they can take a case and avoid working on cases only to find that a conflict exists.

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Phone Messaging
Leaving messages on stickies and paper forms is not only a time-waster, but also a good way to lose valuable information! Phone messaging today must be automated and connected to other relevant data in your client matter file. Automated practice management software does the job by allowing those who take messages to: 1) send data to the specific place it needs to go for the recipient; 2) tag messages in specific ways to alert the recipient to urgency; 3) send calls by instant message if urgency calls for it; and 4) ensure that no message goes unreturned. This keeps clients happy and helps the firm to avoid mistakes related to messages being un-received.

Time Entry
If you rely on manual time entry to keep tabs on billable hours you are not only decreasing productivity as you juggle from one matter to another during the day, you are also failing to bill literally tens of thousands of hours of billable time every year. No small practice can afford this. If you “forget” or “under-estimate” just 12 minutes per day you are losing one hour per week in billed time. Over a year that could be more than 50 hours lost. If you bill at $300 you’ve lost $15,000! Can you afford this? To resolve the problem smart lawyers use automated billing that is built into practice management suites. This allows you to bill every minute and easily switch between matters without losing a second.

Billing
Using automated systems, you will probably be able to efficiently bill twice monthly—a technique proven to increase the fees you collect and decrease the uncollected fees that are more than 60 days old. With an automated system, you may not even need to hire a staffer (even parttime) to handle your monthly billing. Bills are also clear and concise—again something proven to increase your likelihood of being paid in full!

Accounting
Most lawyers have little interest in managing the accounting aspects of a firm. Without any management of these vital processes it is likely that your firm will be far less profitable. You won’t even know where your money is going and what you could do to increase profits, except maybe work more hours. With automated practice management suites that have accounting built-in, you can keep track of income, expenses and costs. You can create productivity reports that show where you are losing money. You can track invoices and payments and see where to make changes in how you bill or how you collect late bills.

Word Processing Software
Word processing software is so ubiquitous that it is hard to imagine a law firm operating without it. Of course, most computers now come loaded with software (generally Microsoft Word) for word processing. However, there can still be important distinctions. As the vendors continue to issue new versions of software and operating systems there are inevitable glitches for users. For example, if you have used Microsoft Word 2003 and receive a

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Microsoft Word 2007 file as an attachment in email you won’t be able to open it (unless you download add-on patch). Fortunately, the cost of upgrading to the latest versions of word processing software is generally less than $300. On the downside, you’ll need to buy separate licenses for each user in your office and for all laptops as well. You will probably need to count on an upgrade cost of a few thousand dollars every two to three years as vendors continue to issue new versions of their products. On the positive side, most vendors upgrade their products based on user preferences. If you have used an older version of Word you may be pleasantly surprised at the functionality of Word 2007 and the flexibility for inserting photos, graphs, charts and templates into documents. One change beginning to sweep the legal profession involves Word-based documents with rapid form-fill functionality. In fact, some law practice management suites come loaded with thousands of form-fill documents. This trend significantly reduces the time you have to spend on setting up templates, completing forms and making edits to documents. Key Points: Word processing software is a must-have product. Most firms now use Microsoft Word and it is important to: 1) update to a current version so you are compatible with new file formats; and 2) buy a license for each desktop in the firm Estimated Budget: $300 per desktop for Microsoft Office How to Save Money: Before buying new licenses see if you can upgrade current licenses of older products you may be using. The upgrades cost less than new licenses; also buy just a word processing application as opposed to an entire suite if you do not anticipate using spreadsheets and publishing tools Timeframe: 2-5 hours How to Save Time: Have a staff person source and arrange for purchase and installation of the products; or have an IT consultant install your desktop software when you buy computers for the firm Action Steps: 1) Determine what versions of existing software you have 2) Upgrade to latest version (you can often do this online) 3) If you are buying all new computers consider having an IT consultant manage the process and do any installations necessary Resources: http://whitepapers.techrepublic.com.com/abstract.aspx?scname=Word+Processing&d ocid=256934 Article for creating efficiency with macros in WordPerfect for Microsoft Office http://whitepapers.techrepublic.com.com/abstract.aspx?kw=microsoft+word&docid=2 83390 How to open Word 2007 documents in older versions of Word from Tech Republic http://whitepapers.techrepublic.com.com/abstract.aspx?kw=microsoft+word&docid=2 82264 Troubleshooting for Word 2007, 2003 from Tech Republic

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Email
Email is a primary communication tool for any law firm. The key points to remember about email are that: 1) you want to avoid sending sensitive information out via email unless you have encrypted email; 2) you want to include disclaimers on all firm emails that explain that the email is intended only for the recipient and should be destroyed if received by anyone else; and 3) you want to have an email policy as a part of your overall communication policy that sets expectations for clients about your review and response to emails. Key Points: Email is another must-have communication tool. Before engaging in email discussions with clients, be sure to have a communication policy to set expectations about your review and response times. Also, make sure you have encrypted email id you plan to send email with client and other sensitive information. Estimated Budget: $200 per desktop for Outlook (usually included with new computer bundle) How to Save Money: Purchase computers bundled with Outlook; or consider using web mail such as Yahoo or Google mail that is free. Timeframe: 1-2 hours How to Save Time: have staff configure email so that you have separate files for different clients and matters; incorporate your email into your practice management suite so notes, documents and other information associated to a client or matter is also tied to emails relating to that client or matter Action Steps: 1) Select an email application such as Outlook or choose free web mail 2) Install and set up the application 3) Install encryption software for your email Resources: http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Feature/EMAIL-in-law-firms-a-case-inpoint-35775.aspx Article from KM World detailing email issues for law firms, using case study of a small firm http://www.llrx.com/extras/ir31.htm Roundtable discussion about email marketing for lawyers from LLRX.com http://www.netlawtools.com/security/mailsec_encryption.html Detailed summary of email security tools for law firms from Internet for Lawyers

Backup Software
Back-up software has always been important to businesses as a part of disaster or malfunction preparedness. If you have ever worked on a document for hours, forgotten to save it and lost hours of 33 | P a g e

work, you can imagine the impact on a business of losing all of its historical and mission critical data. However, today with broad new discovery and recordkeeping requirements that affect virtually all of your clients and certainly your own practice, data back-up is absolutely required. Without it, your firm could lose valuable data, face sanctions and even lawsuits and malpractice risk. Software and servers that store, manage and back-up all your firm data daily must be implemented from the start of your practice. Your firm also needs to store all back-up tapes or files remotely. There are companies who provide so-called “co-location” in warehouses with vast networks of servers. Your firm can co-locate its data so that in the event of a natural disaster or other breakdown that destroys your back-up system your data will be safe. If you retain critical data in paper files you should also make copies and store the data off site. Key Points: It is vital to back-up the firm’s information daily. Today, servers are most often used to back-up and store data on your firm network. However, some firms also use a co-location back-up system where the data is also stored off-premises. Estimated Budget: $1,500 for server and software How to Save Money: You can save money by buying computer s with back-up software bundled in to the package. Also, if you purchase Windows as an operating system it is often pre-loaded with back-up software. Timeframe: 5-10 hours for set up How to Save Time: Hire an IT consultant to install and configure the back-up server Action Steps: 1) Source back-up server products 2) Install back-up server and configure to run daily 3) Consider a co-location back-up to store data off-site Resources: http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=1202425814934 Backup, Replication& Disaster Recovery for law firms from Law.com http://www.microlaw.com/Articles/Kodner%20%20Backup%20Article%20for%20Law%20Office%20Computing%208-05.pdf Article from Ross Kodner of MicroLaw, detailed discussion of importance of data backup http://www.microlaw.com/cle/ethics/safe1.pdf Data backup article from Ross Kodner & Micro Law

Remote Access Software
For both small and large firms, accessing and working on your office data outside the office is no longer just a convenience, but rather it has become a necessity in most cases. Remote access software will give you the ability to access your office calendar, contacts, cases, and documents when you are at home, on the road, at court or another office. Small firms have a couple of options. One is Remote Desktop, an application built into both Windows XP and Vista (except for home editions), that will allow you to remotely access your office 34 | P a g e

computer from any computer outside the office. This option generally requires an IT person to set up the initial connection. The other option is using remote access software such as PCAnywhere or GotoMyPC. While Remote Desktop usually requires hiring an IT specialist for the set-up it may be less expensive in the long run since there are no annual fees. Another option for firms with more users is Terminal Services, a remote access application that runs on your server and allows for remote access through the server rather than a workstation. You will need a DSL or faster connection to the internet. Dial-ups are not recommended. To ensure the security of your connection make sure you have a good password that is a combination of both letters and numbers as well as uppercase and lowercase letters. You may also consult with an IT person about limiting the connection to specific IP addresses. There is one more option to consider. Some practice management software applications will enable you to synchronize calendar, case and contact data to a laptop and take it home with you or on the road. This is often a good option if you have a laptop that travels with you and you don’t always have access to an internet connection. Key Points: Remote access to data has become a mission-critical element to modern law practice. Small firms can use Remote Desktop an application built into Windows Vista and XP; or they can use remote access software off the shelf such as GoToMyPC or PCAnywhere. Larger firms may want to try Terminal Services. Remember you will need at least DSL connection speed and you must have a secure system that is password protected. Estimated Budget: $200 for PCAnywhere; $160 a year for GoToMyPC, $100 or $200 for IT person to set-up a Remote Desktop connection. Please consult with your IT specialist about set-up costs for Terminal Services How to Save Money: In the long term, a Remote Desktop connection will probably save you money. Timeframe: 1 to 2 hours for installation and setup How to Save Time: find an experienced IT person to help Action Steps: 1) Determine your access needs, where you need remote access, speed of your internet connection, and whether leaving on your office computer on in the evening is feasible 2) Contact an IP person to assist in the setup for Remote Desktop connections or purchase software for PCAnywhere or GotoMyPC connections 3) Install the software or have an IT do the set-up for you Resources: https://www.gotomypc.com/pr/pressRelease.tmpl?SessionInfo=98958708:F62374C16A BD1AA&FileID=013006&SourceTemplate=entry.tmpl Case study from vendor on how a law firm uses GoToMyPC remote access software http://www.networkalternatives.com/docs/The%20Benefits%20of%20Remote%20Access%20Legal%20Intel %201_17_07_P.pdf Article from the Legal Intelligencer on the benefits of using remote access software in

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law firms Vendor Links PC Anywhere www.symantec.com/norton/symantec-pcanywhere Go to My PC www.gotomypc.com Remote Desktop http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/mobility/getstarted/remoteintro.mspx Terminal Services http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_Services

Antivirus & Firewall
Protecting your communications and data and the tools with which you produce it is vitally important both to protect the integrity of your data and to abide by the rules of practice in most states. Antivirus software runs in the background while you operate your computer. It senses incoming threats from your email, browser and other applications and alerts you. Some systems can be set to alert you of each breech, while others simply quarantine threats without interrupting you. These systems usually are set to run a thorough check of your desktop daily or weekly. It is important to update your antivirus software when prompted. While this can be distracting and even annoying, the updates contain the latest protections against new viruses. Without these updates your system lacks security. Often you have to restart your computer after installing updates, so as a practice be sure to save and close all open files before running the update. Firewall software protects your entire system against remote hacking attempts. Your firewall can impact the way you receive data from others. For example, some files, called Active X Controls, may not load automatically and you’ll have to allow them to load. A common example is when you want to install and run a web conferencing application such as WebEx. Key Points: Antivirus software protects your firm’s computers and network against viruses that can come in through the web, email and file attachments in email. Firewall protection secures email and web browsing against adware, spyware and malware that can damage the system and breech security. Both are vital to protect the firm’s data against loss or destruction. Estimated Budget: $300 per year How to Save Money: Get new computers bundled with antivirus software so you won’t have to pay for a year until you need to renew subscriptions. Activate the antivirus protections your browser and email clients have Timeframe: 1-2 hours How to Save Time: Buy these products with your new computers and have an IT consultant configure them with computer and network set-up Action Steps: 1) Source a firewall and antivirus product 2) Install products on each desktop in the office and on the server 3) Run upgrades frequently for the antivirus software 36 | P a g e

Resources: http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/publications/ltn_security200204.html Article from the ABA on various issues surrounding antivirus & firewall with always-on Internet connections http://www.bmcnetworks.ca/publications/Technological_FoundationsTLABC_Feb_2007.pdf Article from BMC Networks on setting up a reliable and efficient network, includes issues relating to antivirus and firewall http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/presentations/networksecurity/netsec/frame.htm Power Point from the ABA on securing the law firm technology infrastructure

Internet Access
Internet access is of course required for a modern law practice. Without it, you just can’t function effectively—you’ll be without online research, email and web-browsing. Most small business connect via a local Internet Service Provider. However, if you have the extra budget and the need, you can consider a virtual private network as well. This is a more or less direct Internet connection that can be highly protected for security purposes. Remember that your Internet connection alone generally doesn’t provide security, antivirus or encrypted data capabilities. So, it is important to set up those functions when you set up your network access and connections. It may be wise to install both a “hard” connection to the Internet (one that plugs in to computers and walls) as well as a wireless modem or at least understand how to configure your own computer for wireless access. If your ISP experiences a breakdown, you can still access the Internet through the wireless network. Key Points: You will need at least a DSL speed Internet connection for your firm. This will enable the firm to engage in online communications, conferencing, data exchange and other activities without being hampered by insufficient data flow speeds. You may consider a virtual private network in addition to a main Internet connection if you wish to have a special network for communications and data exchange, for example for secure data exchange between the firm and clients. Estimated Budget: $100 per month How to Save Money: See whether your phone service provider has a business services package including Internet that will save you money Timeframe: 2-5 hours How to Save Time: Select a business suite for offices with Internet already connected and configured; have staff manage set-up and installation of Internet and consider using an IT consultant to install and configure a VPN Action Steps: 1) Determine whether your office space will allow for DSL or higher Internet

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connection 2) Select an ISP or check with your phone service provider 3) Install, configure and test your connection Resources: http://www.lawofficecomputing.com/EDC/articles/article.u.php?year=2005&month=fe b-mar&article_file=FM05_VPN&article_title=Virtual%20Private%20Networks Detailed article from Law Office Computing on setting up virtual private networks http://ltn-archive.hotresponse.com/november00/litigation_support_p34.html Good overview from Law Technology News on VPN’s in a broader article on extranets

E-commerce
Most banks now encourage online banking. Generally banks provide a high level of security and encryption of data with their online banking services. If you use online banking you can often save valuable time in making transfers of funds between accounts, paying bills online and reviewing balances and statements at your leisure. Remember, however, that most banks preserve only about 6 months of transactions in their online systems. The older data is generally preserved (though copies of older checks may not be) but difficult to access. So, make it a practice to download monthly statements each month and store them as paper files or as .pdf files. This is especially important for any of your Trust Account transactions, but of course is also important for tax and recordkeeping as well as for tracking expenses and spending trends over time. If you set up a merchant account for processing credit card and debit card transactions, most banks provide online services for these functions as well. Transactions are generally available in batches and you may need to download and preserve those batch transactions as well. Key Points: Online banking can be a convenient and time-saving way to conduct basic transactions. Law firms may also want to set up merchant banking accounts to process credit and debit cards for both payment of fees and online transactions if they swell products. You will want to use a company like Verisign to manage online transactions with secure and encrypted features. Estimated Budget: 2-4% of transaction amount for merchant banking How to Save Money: Negotiate fees with your bank by bringing all of your banking business to one bank; you can get rates for merchant banking as low as 1% Timeframe: 2-5 hours How to Save Time: Train staff to manage accounts and conduct transfers and billing through online banking Action Steps: 1) Discuss merchant banking needs with your bank 2) Set up accounts for merchant banking and online banking 3) Set up a system for ensuring privacy and encryption of online transactions

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Resources: http://www.affiniscapemerchantsolutions.com/associations/7037/files/LFM/index.html Vendor site explaining many details of law firm merchant accounts http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/fin07061.shtml Article from Ed Poll and ABA on law firm banking issues http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-635715/Should-your-firm-be-accepting.html Article from the Florida Bar published at Goliath assesses whether your firm should accept payments by credit card

Marketing
Branding
Many lawyers never have to personally think much about branding. A branding campaign involves at least three major factors. First, you define what you do well. Second, you define who you want to work for. Third, you define and refine your messages to those groups of people and businesses. The exercises of ideal client profiling and market positioning involve development of your brand, because the results of those exercises tell you who you want to work for with great clarity. Once you’ve put some work into defining what you do well (and what you want to do) and what type of person or business you want to do that work for, it can be valuable to engage a public relations or marketing firm to help you develop the look and feel of your marketing materials, your specific messages and the strategies and tactics for reaching your ideal clients. If your goal is to represent corporations in securities transactions you won’t do a lot of messaging and marketing to start-up companies that are unfunded—instead you may network with venture capital firms, investment bankers and attend trade shows where established companies pitch their wares. In addition, you will want to exude a particular air in your messaging, the look and feel of your marketing materials and even the way your office is styled (and where it is located) based on what you think clients will be impressed with or influenced by. Again, this is an area where an experienced professional can be invaluable. Key Points: Branding involves three major factors: defining what you do well, defining your customer, and defining and refining your message. Then you will seek to consistently use the messaging you have developed. Use a common look and feel for all messaging and “touch” clients and prospects regularly in proper channels. Estimated Budget: $5,000 to $20,000 for professional brand development consulting from a public relations or marketing firm

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How to Save Money: Spend the time needed to determine what you do well and for whom, then develop your own messaging and use in-house resources and technology to manage your marketing development Timeframe: 5-10 hours if using a professional consultant; 25-50 hours if you develop a branding campaign in-house How to Save Time: Use a professional marketing or P.R. firm; if you lack the budget for this, develop messaging and marketing materials in-house using software such as Microsoft Publisher Action Steps: 1) Determine what you do well and who your ideal client is 2) Develop messaging for each discrete client or prospect group 3) Put messaging into channels consistently with a common look and feel Resources: http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/mkt06041.html Nine marketing keys for lawyers from the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section http://www.legalmarketingblog.com/ Tom Kane’s in-depth legal marketing blog with many tips and resources for small firms http://marketing-expert.blogspot.com/2008/10/focus-on-renewals-after-sale.html How to maximize the value of each client from the Marketing Expert Blog

Ideal Client Profile
Client profiling is a valuable process to work through for several reasons. First, by defining your ideal client you are to some degree defining your intended market position (top, middle or low end). Second, you will identify specific factors that help you determine the size of your ideal market. For example, there may be a lot of work in the field of patent law in your locale. But if your ideal client is a biotech company, at the start-up phase, with patentable, but unpatented processes and adequate funding, you may find a far smaller potential market size. Third, profiling your ideal client can make the non-ideal client become very obvious to you. This, in turn, can empower you to say “no” to types of work or clients that simply won’t fit the profile. Finally, when you can tie an ideal client profile to your marketing and networking activities, you’ll find that your messages and referral requests are tighter, more efficient and clearer to others. Key Points: Client profiling can help your firm to define its market positioning strategy, determine the overall size of the market you will serve, help to avoid wasting time on non-ideal client work and tie your client profile to your client messaging to build your brand around the ideal client you wish to serve. Estimated Budget: $5,000 to $10,000 for a professional marketing firm How to Save Money: You can save money by profiling your ideal client in-house

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Timeframe: 5-10 hours to profile clients in- house How to Save Time: Save time by hiring a professional consultant or by having staff compile a list of current clients, then determine who among those clients makes up the core of your desired practice and develop a profile around this core Action Steps: 1) Determine whether you have the budget to hire a marketing or P.R. firm to assist 2) Define the ideal client by assessing what you do well, what work you most enjoy and what type of person or business needs that work 3) Apply the above factors to your local area to determine the potential of your local market and begin to develop messaging and marketing plans Resources: http://www.msba.org/departments/loma/articles/marketing/writemktgplan.htm How to write your own marketing plan from the Maryland State Bar http://www.msba.org/departments/loma/articles/marketing/writemktgplanpt2.htm Implementing and monitoring your marketing plan from the Maryland State Bar http://www.legalmarketingblog.com/cat-marketing-tips.html More marketing tips from Tom Kane’s blog http://www.articlesbase.com/marketing-articles/law-firm-marketing-action-steps-toidentify-your-ideal-target-audience-569282.html Article written by Stephen Fairly from the Articles Base Directory on how to identify your ideal target market for a solo law practice

Website Marketing
Set-up
Your web site is now much more than simply a placeholder with basic information about the firm. Modern firms use web sites for client communication, brand development and product sales. A web site may be the first place many prospective clients will learn about your firm as most people now search for lawyers and firms online as opposed to the Yellow Pages. The web site must thus provide: 1) a common look and feel to your other marketing materials and 2) a place where you provide valuable information that goes beyond firm resumes and driving directions. A sophisticated web site may also provide 3) a portal for clients to receive information from the firm; 4) a tool used to broadcast information such as webcasts, podcasts, and a blog; and 5) perhaps an e-commerce portal where you sell legal information products. To set up such a website most firms require a site developer with a variety of skills. The site developer can create the look and feel, functionality and design of the site. Together, you can work with the developer to write good content for the site. The developer must be proficient in creating an e-commerce connection and integrating it to your credit card processing company if you plan to sell products online.

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Key Points: You need a fully functional website in this day and age. That means at a minimum the site provides excellent information with “stand alone” value to people who see the site. A sophisticated web site today also contains a client area and the ability to process e-commerce transactions. Estimated Budget: $1,500 to $5,000 How to Save Money: For initial ramp-up of the firm you can build a site with Yahoo or Go Daddy or have a professional create your site with the ability to expand into a deeper site later, but with minimum informational functionality Timeframe: 20-40 hours How to Save Time: Consult with a web developer and engage staff in writing content for the site Action Steps: 1) Determine whether you can budget for a professional site developer and if so at what level of site capability 2) Determine whether you will need an e-commerce portal and a client portal 3) Write content for the site and launch Resources: http://www.law.com/jsp/law/sfb/lawArticleSFB.jsp?id=1094073195735 Advice from lawyers and IT professionals about setting up a law firm website from Law.com http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1048518257102 Planning a law firm website with “punch” from the National Law Journal http://www.lexisone.com/balancing/articles/lw090003e.html Tracking websites to improve marketing, from Lexis http://www.whitehatfirm.com/seo-marketing-resources/naming-law-firm-websites.html How to name your law firm Website from White Hot Marketing http://www.attorneysonlineinc.com/sem.html How to set up a law firm from the Attorneys Online website

Client Portal
For the modern law firm a client portal off the firm web site is a primary communication tool with clients. A secure, password protected area off the website provides the firm with the ability to update clients, send materials for review, schedule events and provide information about services offered. This not only provides communication from the firm to the client, but takes some communication burden away from attorneys. The portal is used by many firms as a marketing tool as well. The firm can send information about new services or other matters of interest to clients, then notify them by email that information is waiting for them. A client portal can also be used to exchange documents being 42 | P a g e

worked on by the lawyer and the client, so that back and forth revision and editing can be done without phone calls or email. Key Points: A client portal can help the firm communicate and interact with clients and lessen direct contact by phone or email at the same time. The portal can also be used to disseminate marketing information and other forms of client updates. Estimated Budget: $1,500-$2,500 for web development How to Save Money: There are web applications that mirror client portal functionality, such as Base Camp, but they may not be as secure and the information resides outside the firm’s network Timeframe: 5-10 hours for set-up; several hours to add data and train clients to use the portal How to Save Time: Assign client training to a staff member and have a staff member be responsible for updating the portal for clients Action Steps: 1) Consult with an IT professional or web developer to outline the capabilities of a client portal and your intended uses 2) Have the IT or web consultant develop the portal 3) Populate the portal with data, assign client passwords, communicate to clients about the portal and incorporate this into the firm’s client communications policy Resources: http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/tch09071.shtml Article on how to use tools like Basecamp for online collaboration with peers and clients http://greatestamericanlawyer.typepad.com/greatest_american_lawyer/2006/12/proj ect_managem.html Article from the Greatest American Lawyer Blog on using Basecamp as a collaboration tool http://www.intrack.com/intranet/extraarticle2.cfm Article on developing a client extranet from Stephan A. Roussan and Allison Manning http://www.denniskennedy.com/archives/2005_10.html#a000898 Article from Dennis Kennedy on using extranets for a client-centered practice

E-business
Today many law firms are adding revenue by selling legal information products over the Internet. While there are a number of ethics and other practice rules that can impact how and what attorneys and firms sell information, in general it is something a firm can do. The public is increasingly looking for quality legal information online and many non-lawyer businesses are now providing everything from forms to incorporations to divorce materials online. 43 | P a g e

Lawyers need not passively accept this competition, but rather can enter markets with quality materials and can sometimes also offer add-on services such as legal review that non-lawyers cannot provide. It is a good idea to set up a separate website to sell legal information products online; and it is vital to properly disclaim the information pieces as well as the entire website as not being legal advice for a particular person, entity or factual or legal situation. It is also best to sell only on your own controlled website, since other sites might edit materials or fail to properly disclaim them. Provide basic but useful information, without crossing the line of forming a client relationship (unless it is desired and permissible). One way to emphasize this on a website is to disclaim, disclaim, disclaim, then provide a clear, concise pathway to become a client of the firm. Firms may have a wealth of useful information that could be “productized” and made available on a website. This can be a valuable revenue stream and also lead to new client relationships. Key Points: Many firms now sell legal information products online that are severed from a formal client relationship. You must clearly disclaim particular uses of the information and disclaim any de facto client relationship. It is best to sell via your own controlled website, but it is best to set up a separate site for this and not do it directly from the main law firm site (unless you sell only to current clients). Remember that your own state may have a host of specific rules or interpretations of rules that apply to Internet activities. Therefore, it is wise to check with your state bar about what is permissible prior to engaging in this. Estimated Budget: $1,500-$2,500 for a website with e-commerce capability How to Save Money: Consider using a Go Daddy, Yahoo! Or Google commerce site that comes with e-commerce capabilities at a competitive price; consider using a service like PayPal which is less expensive than merchant banking Timeframe: 10-20 hours to plan, set-up and populate the site with some content; 10-20 hours of website development How to Save Time: Consider having a second site set-up when you create your law firm homepage; have a website developer create both at the same time, even if you don’t use the e-commerce site right away Action Steps: 1) Determine what assets your firm has that could be “productized” 2) Plan an e-commerce website and set-up the site with professional assistance 3) Vette the idea with your state bar to ensure it is permissible to sell legal information products online; and be sure to properly disclaim the site and each document or other information piece you sell Resources: http://www.kuesterlaw.com/netethics/abawill.htm Article from Will Hornsby on the ethics issues related to selling legal services online http://www.netlawtools.com/nettools/extranets_legaltech.html Detailed article with many other resources and links from Jerry Lawson & Internet Tools for Lawyers that discusses a wide range of matters on selling legal services online http://www.lawyercasting.com/

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Entire blog dedicated to issues about online law practice and marketing, edited by Joshua Fruchter

Internet Marketing
Internet marketing is an increasingly effective way to reach potential clients. Remember that all of the traditional rules of ethics and marketing apply at least as strenuously in the online world as they do in the traditional marketing world. Many areas of Internet marketing are not clearly covered in most state’s ethics and marketing rules. Many venues are now available for you to reach people through, including blogs, podcasts, webcasts and social and business networks. Most of these venues are inexpensive to participate within, but they do come with a cost: the need to participate consistently. So, while Internet marketing won’t heavily tax your pocket book, it will tax your time to some degree. For example, an effective blog requires frequent posts and commentary, active linking to other blogs, requests from other blogs to link back and editing work. Podcasts are fun and tend to hold people’s attention longer than written text, but require some familiarity with the production tools and some time to link them to appropriate venues. Social networking provides a major networking environment, but each social network has its own mores and customs and in general you must establish yourself on a personal level to develop affinity and trust. The beauty of Internet marketing is that many vertical communication portals and channels exist— meaning you can target your participation to sites and groups where there is likely to be interest and affinity in what you have to offer. The down side is that it takes concerted effort over time to establish yourself and your message. Key Points: Internet marketing is fast, effective and less expensive than many traditional marketing projects. But remember that the practice rules can be hazy in this area and your state may have specific rules and prohibitions about certain forms of online marketing. Blogs, podcasts and e-learning, as well as message boards, social and business networking sites all provide potential to reach people with your messages. Many of the networking sites are vertically oriented around specific interests and industries, thus providing your firm with an opportunity to reach affinity groups related to your practice area or personal interests Estimated Budget: $500 for blog, podcast and e-learning software How to Save Money: There are free or very low cost blog software applications; you can often get 1-3 months of free Internet conferencing services as a new client; there are integrated website, blog, podcast suites available than can reduce costs Timeframe: 3-5 hours per week to create blog posts and podcasts; 10-20 hours to create an educational program; 3-5 hours per week to actively participate in social and business networks How to Save Time: Hire a good writer for $20-$30 per hour who can write blog posts, monitor your blog, create podcasts and even create webcasts and e-learning materials for your firm Action Steps: 1) Review your state’s rules about Internet marketing for lawyers and consult with the 45 | P a g e

bar if necessary 2) Set up a blog and learn to insert podcasts into the blog 3) Write blog posts, visit other blogs and comment, create networks, visit social and business network sites and create new relationships with people Resources: http://www.the-attorneys-atm.com/attorney-marketing-blog/ Tom O’Leary’s legal marketing blog with a distinct focus on technology issues and Internet marketing http://bgbg.blogspot.com/ Denise Howell’s Bag & Baggage blog with a huge number of articles about everything related to lawyers and Internet technology http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=7&Articl eID=267 10 tips for solos for marketing from Larry Bodine and the Law Marketing Portal

Web 2.0 (Social Networking)
Web 2.0 was coined several years ago and generally relates to Internet sites that encourage user participation with profiles, widgets, instant messaging, bookmarks, links, chat and message boards. Web 2.0 is about collaboration and sites encourage people to share information about who they are, what they do and what they’re interested in. Increasingly, web 2.0 sites are vertically integrated around specific issues, interests or industries. For lawyers this means that you can tap into these networks (sometimes with tens or hundreds of thousands of people) that might have an affinity to your practice areas or your interests. Simply putting up a profile will not do much for you in the Web 2.0 world. You have to spend some time interacting, getting to know people and developing relationships. Also, as a lawyer you have to be careful not to provide legal advice unless you create a client relationship. However, you can provide opinion, information and even materials of a general nature. Key Points: Web 2.0 sites provide a great marketing opportunity for law firms and lawyers because the sites are often focused around specific interests, industries or issues. You must participate in conversations and get to know people to create quality relationships on these networks in order to get value from them. Avoid giving legal advice to anyone on such networks unless you actual create a formal client relationship. However, you can provide information, opinion and even material of a general nature Estimated Budget: Most sites are free to users; some may require membership in an organization. $250 is most probably per year. How to Save Money: Focus on sites that are free to members Timeframe: 2-5 hours per week to establish and maintain relationships in each Web 2.0 network you participate in

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How to Save Time: Assign a staff member the role of reading blog, message board and other sources on Web 2.0 sites that are in the same branch of information where you’ve placed a post of some kind. Create responses at your leisure and have a staffer post to the appropriate place. Action Steps: 1) Make a list of your practice areas, industries served and interests 2) Search the Web for social and business networking sites relating to those areas 3) Join, participate regularly and develop quality relationships Resources: http://www.law.com/jsp/law/sfb/lawArticleSFB.jsp?id=1202425231602 From Law.com, how to safely use social networking to build a law practice http://thevirtuallawyer.blogspot.com/2007/03/building-law-firm-20.html From the Virtual Lawyer Blog, how to build a Web 2.0 law firm http://www.lawyersguidetocollaboration.com/ The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration, book and blog from Dennis Kennedy & Tom Mighell http://collaborationtools.pbwiki.com/ A wiki from Dennis Kennedy on all things related to the collaborative networking environment

Business Networking
There are many Web 2.0 sites that cater specifically to business networking. For lawyers these include legal oriented sites that people visit, industry sites and business networking sites such as Linked In and Face Book. Legal oriented sites draw consumers interested in issues or information and your presence in discussions on those sites can lead to work. Examples of such sites are Law.com and Legal Talk Network. Industry sites draw people involved in an industry who want to discuss issues and expand their relationships. Business networking sites often have hundreds of thousands of people. They can see your profile and interests and connect with you when they need something. Also, of course, there are attorney search networks such as those on many state bar websites and such as LawInfo.com. These can be a valuable source of business as well, as some sites have monthly traffic of millions of people seeking legal assistance or information. Key Points: Three types of online business networks can assist law firm marketing: legal oriented sites, industry sites and networking sites. You must join (usually free) and post profiles, then participate in conversations to get to know people, or in the case of legal search sites, wait for people to contact you. Estimated Budget: $250 or less (possibly free) How to Save Money: Focus on sites with no membership fees Timeframe: 2-5 hours per week for each site to participate and create relationships

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How to Save Time: Assign a staff member to monitor the sites where you network and identify leads Action Steps: 1) Explore legal search networks like LawInfo.com to determine how they can best meet your needs 2) Explore business networking sites like Linked In and join, create a profile and dialogue with others 3) Explore legal information sites such as Legal Talk Network and participate in online dialogues—link your blog into these sites where possible Resources: http://startingalawfirm.blogspot.com/2008/10/starting-law-firm-networking-to-get.html In-depth blog post about how to network to build a small law practice from the How to Start a Law Firm Blog http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=13 &ArticleID=787 Article from Larry Bodine and the Law Marketing Portal on business and social networking for lawyers, including business development and many interesting trends and statistics

Blogs and Podcasts
Blogs and podcasts have become major marketing tools for business over the past few years. Blogs are distributed commentaries, usually topical or issue oriented, that can be placed on a website or as a standalone website. Podcasts bring audio and video to blogs and also function as stand alone marketing pieces that can be distributed on video sharing sites. Blogs and podcasts provide law firms with a terrific opportunity to build brand awareness through distributed commentary and linking with other blogs and websites. Distribution happen as a form of online word-of-mouth as visitors comment, link to and send links to others about a blog post or entire blog. Podcasts can spread in the same manner, either by embedding into a blog or by distribution to other sites. Many lawyers have found that widespread attention and opportunities have come from blogging and podcasting, both on legal related issues and on issues of personal interest. Blogs and podcasts are truly a way to create quality relationship with many people from around the world, which can lead to expanded brand awareness, business opportunities and direct client relationships. Blogs and podcasts also provide a way for lawyers to speak about their expertise—and demonstrate it—without violating rules against marketing oneself as an expert. Key Points: Blogs and podcasts are a great emerging marketing tool. To be effective a lawyer or firm must put time into creating posts and responding to those who comment; one must also seek relationships with other blogs to create wider spread of one’s own blog. Remember not to provide legal advice to people when responding to blog posts, but keep in mind that thoughtful commentary can truly lead to new client opportunities over time.

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Estimated Budget: $100 or so to purchase comprehensive blog software How to Save Money: there are free blog applications available that can be built into a website Timeframe: 5-10 hours for initial set-up and 2-5 hours per week to add new material and respond to comments How to Save Time: have a staff person manage the blog, especially editing comments and adding your new material Action Steps: 1) Think about a topic or topics you would like to write about (or do audio or video podcasts) 2) Source and purchase blog software or choose free applications 3) Write 5-10 topical posts and release them every few days while responding to any commentary you receive 4) Link to other blogs and visit them and ask them to link your blog to theirs Resources: http://www.abanet.org/media/youraba/200808/article12.html Introductory guide from the ABA on blog technology http://www.blawg.com/ Resource site and networking site for legal bloggers http://meetings.abanet.org/ltrc/index.cfm?data=20080623#B6FB0C3D-FE38-7685C7AC2FC984C8EAA1 Article and resources from ABA on “Twitter” a hot new micro-blogging tool http://www.lexblog.com/ Site detailing a blog product designed especially for lawyers and firms http://marketing.justia.com/content-lawyer-blogs.html Site detailing a blog product designed especially for lawyers and firms http://www.g2webmedia.com/ Site detailing a blog product designed especially for lawyers and firms http://www.abanet.org/barserv/bridge/archive/article2.html Article from ABA on how podcasts can build business http://www.elawmarketing.com/elawmarketing/law_firm_podcast_service.html Information and resources from a company that develops podcasts for law firms http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Podcasting_Legal_Guide Guide from Creative Commons on legal issues for podcasts http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/tch09071.shtml Roundtable discussion on podcasting for lawyers

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e-Conferencing
E-conferencing (also known as webcast) is a great tool for creating comprehensive marketing and educational materials that you can invite clients and prospects to view. Web conferences can be created and launched from your own computer desktop, but you can invite dozens, even hundreds of people to attend. You can also record a webcast and allow people to access it from your website at any time. A webcast can be used to provide certain clients with updates or information about topics you believe will be of interest to them or as a tool to reach out to prospects with a general program about an area of law your firm handles. Many applications cost less than $100 per month, though others come licensed with a long-term, unlimited use agreement. Your clients have probably become well-accustomed to online learning and other programs and most will understand how to attend your program with a simple email with a link. Many conferencing applications can auto-send emails to a predefined group of people. A firm can also create continuing education programming for peers and sell it from their website or at a host of legal education websites such as West Law and Law.com. Key Points: Web conferencing is a relatively inexpensive way to reach specific audiences of clients, prospects or peers with targeted materials designed to generate new business, expand relationships or educate people. With a little practice the applications are fairly easy to use and you can record a program, save it to your website and allow people to access it at any time. Estimated Budget: $1,000 per year (but you can pay-as-you-go with many providers) How to Save Money: New customers can often receive 1-3 months free conferencing Timeframe: 5-10 hours to learn and master the software; 10-20 hours to prepare materials for each conference How to Save Time: Hire a professional writer or consultant to assist in creating programs; find other attorneys to partner with—or even non-attorneys who can add value to a program and share the work of creating it Action Steps: 1) Think about programs you might wish to do for three specific groups: existing clients, prospects and peers 2) Source, test and select a conferencing application 3) Download and play with the tool until you have mastered it 4) Schedule a conference and create materials Resources: http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2008/09/24/the-telephone-doesnt-use-anygas/ Article discussing the benefits of using online conferencing, from the Duct Tape Marketing Blog http://collaborationtools.pbwiki.com/Online-Meetings 50 | P a g e

Page on Dennis Kennedy & Tom Mighell’s Collaboration Wiki that lists links to many online conferencing providers

USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
A unique selling proposition is something you can do, or a way you can provide service, that few if any others can match. Unique does not have to mean you are the only person who can provide a particular service. But, it does mean that you have a way of doing things or a particular expertise or level of experience in some area that sets you or your firm apart from others. When you’ve defined a unique selling proposition you can tailor your marketing and brand messages around it. It may apply across the board to your entire practice. Or, it may be something limited to a particular practice area. A few examples might include foreign language proficiency if that could be important to a set of clients or prospects; membership in a specialty practice area recognized in your state, such as Admiralty or Patent law; proficiency in a special skill or experience in an area such as government contracting or U.S. trade and tariff law. The point is to determine where your talent, experience and special designations can set you or your firm apart from others. You may also have a special way of billing that differs from others in your field, such as flat fee billing. Or you may have a special way of preparing legal materials for clients. Whatever you can truly differentiate between yourself and your firm and all the others, can be a part of your unique selling proposition. Key Points: Whatever sets you or your firm apart from “all the others” is a unique selling proposition. To identify USP’s in your practice think about what you are specially qualified to do, what your firm provides that others may not, or what types of processes your firm engages clients with that most firms do not. Then, begin to write these unique selling points into your marketing materials. Estimated Budget: No cost unless you engage a marketing consultant, then $2,500 to $5,000 How to Save Money: Create and develop your USP in house through dialogue with employees, partners, associates, clients and peers Timeframe: 5-10 hours How to Save Time: Engage a consultant to develop your USP’s into your firm’s marketing materials Action Steps: 1) Identify things you excel in or do differently from others 2) Begin to write these differences out in sentences that explain why your difference has value to clients—and perhaps break this out by different USP’s that have particular value to specific subsets of clients or prospects 3) Develop those sentences into your marketing materials, website and related material Resources: http://www.hg.org/attorney-selling-proposition.html Brief article explaining the USP for lawyers from HG.org

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http://www.rocw.raifoundation.org/masscommunication/MACM/advertisinginsights/lecturenotes/lecture-22.pdf Comprehensive presentation on developing a USP for law firms from the RAI Foundation http://www.attorneymarketing.com/2008/07/15/attorneys-can-benefit-from-a-uniqueselling-proposition/ Blog post from The Attorney Marketing Center on why law firms benefit from a defined USP

Traditional Marketing
Law firm marketing has evolved rapidly from a “no no” decades ago, to a major component of most firm’s business development plans. Many firms hire full-time marketing professionals or public relations firms to craft a message, define market position and build brand awareness. If you have the resources for this kind of commitment to marketing we advise investing in it. However, you can accomplish a lot on your own and with minimal expenditures. At a minimum, you’ll need business cards and a firm brochure (remember this is one reason we suggest a color printer!). Software tools now exist to help you create very professional brochures and to print them in-house. Buy heavy gloss paper to print these materials. Remember not to write marketing material in such a way as to give the impression that any particular result you’ve gotten for a client can be repeated. Many marketing professionals now advise firms to focus on the industry they serve as opposed to targeting a specific type of work. You may want to consider creating a brochure tailored to your practice area, but also create one or more focused on how you can serve a particular type of business or industry. Review your state rules about the disclaimers that must be printed clearly on such materials as they vary from state to state. Beyond brochures and cards, consider hosting a reception at your office for current clients and encourage them to bring someone. Keep away from too much shop-talk and do not give casual legal advice to people in social situations. Another strategy is to schedule online web conference briefings on areas of law or business that might appeal to clients—again invite them to share the material with others. Consider an email newsletter but remember to provide a clear opt-out function and do not send a mass mailing to people. Key Points: Law firm marketing has gone from a “no no” to a must-do part of growing a practice. At a minimum you will need good business cards, a firm brochure with a professional look and feel and a website. Some firms create brochures for each practice area. In-person marketing is still the most powerful way to grow a practice. While some lawyers resist this kind of marketing, it can be vital to ramping up and gaining momentum. In short, the people in your life—friends, family, clients and colleagues—have to be aware of what you are doing and understand how they can help you succeed. Estimated Budget: $1,500 for cards and a quality brochure professionally printed. $500 for a reception at your offices for friends, family, colleagues and clients How to Save Money: Create firm brochures in-house with a tool such as Microsoft Publisher that may be bundled with Microsoft Office; print brochures with your color printer in-house

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Timeframe: 20-30 hours to create materials and host a reception How to Save Time: :Pay a consultant or marketing firm to create your firm brochure if you can afford $2,500 to $5,000 Action Steps: 1) Create some copy for a brochure based on the services you plan to offer and the industries or client groups you plan to serve 2) Source and purchase software such as Microsoft Publisher to create your own brochures or hire a marketing firm to design them 3) Have business cards made 4) Host a reception for clients, friends, family and peers at your office Resources: http://www.law.com/jsp/law/sfb/lawArticleSFB.jsp?id=1094073195817 Promoting a small firm or solo practice from Law.com http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/mkt07042.html Advice from the ABA on 4 steps to building great client relationships http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/ftr05041.html How to get referrals and clients from other lawyers from Jay Foonberg

Media Advertising
Depending on the practice area(s) your firm will focus on you may want to explore different types of media advertising. Law firms have advertised on television, radio, in magazines and in newspapers for some time now. However, for the most part the cost of television and radio advertising and the demographics involved has limited such promotion to firms that are seeking potentially high-recovery injury cases or products liability and other class-action cases. Business, real estate and other transaction-oriented lawyers may find that magazine or newspaper advertising is a better bet, because one can find specific periodicals or sections of periodicals that appeal to specific types of people or businesses. For example, a personal injury lawyer might want to advertise on television because out of the 500,000 people who see her advertisement, perhaps 20 or more may have a current need for services. Perhaps one or two of those cases would be excellent for the firm and return a large fee. On the other hand, a business transactions lawyer might find that advertising in business magazines or the business section of the newspaper might provide a large number of prospective clients. Key Points: Law firms can use media advertising to generate new clients and increase brand awareness. For litigation firms seeking plaintiff’s cases television and radio provide broad access to large markets of prospective clients. Transactional lawyers may be better off finding newspapers and magazines that cater to businesses and advertise in sections catering to specific issues or industries. Estimated Budget: $1,500-$5,000 for a television commercial, plus up to $5,000 for creation of a 30 second spot (this could be as high as $50,000 or more); $250-$1,000 for radio advertising; $250-$1,500 for newspaper and magazine advertising (depends on size of ad,

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frequency and location) How to Save Money: Write timely articles for newspapers and magazines where you can mention your firm in the story or article. This is particularly good for trade magazines targeting specific industries that are usually looking for good content. Timeframe: 5-10 hours to source television or radio options and price; 20-30 hours to create advertisements for TV or radio; 10-20 hours to write a good article for newspaper or magazines How to Save Time: :Pay a consultant or marketing firm to source and buy air time for TV or radio; hire a professional ghost-writer to create print articles Action Steps: 1) Determine what media outlets to target based on your practice area and budget 2) Source and buy air time for TV or radio, or source good potential news and magazine outlets for an article or ad 3) Produce advertisement 4) Track response rate and determine next purchase strategy based on results Resources: http://www.cepac.com/ Vendor site for company that produces television and other media types for law firms http://josephmediagroup.com/attorneytv.shtml Vendor site for company that produces law firm television commercials http://www.lawyer-advertising-blog.com/ Blog focused on law firm advertising issues http://blog.larrybodine.com/articles/advertising/ Article from Larry Bodine & Law Marketing Portal discussing Web-based and Television-based advertising

Personal Marketing
Research studies show that many lawyers resist personal networking, but that those who engage in this activity regularly have far more successful practices. If you are a natural networker then you’ll shine in environments where people gather to talk and do business. Attend civic events, trade shows, conventions and social events and let people know what you’re up to. Bring your business cards! Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals directly from people who know you well. And, when you get a referral through your social or business networking, be sure to send a thank you or call the person with your regards. Remember that in all referral situations you cannot share fees with non-lawyers and you can only split fees with other lawyers in limited circumstances and with full disclosure to the client. If you aren’t a natural people person consider some of the Internet marketing tips we’ve included in this guide. And, at least network with your closest friends and associates.

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Key Points: Personal networking pays big dividends if you put some time into it. Bar association meetings, industry group trade shows, civic events and social events are all opportunities to market your firm—be sure to have plenty of cards and a few copies of your firm brochure with you! Estimated Budget: $1,000 for meals and travel How to Save Money: Look for local events that require little travel Timeframe: 50 hours per year How to Save Time: Look at opportunities to attend multiple events at the same time—such as a bar association meeting that has optional social functions, or that is in a city where an industry conference or trade show is also being held at the same time Action Steps: 1) Make a list of all the civic groups, legal associations, industry groups and alumni groups you are or could be a member of—and that would be helpful to growing your practice 2) Join several new groups and plan for participation by calendaring events 3) Be prepared to attend events with cards and brochures Resources: http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=6&ArticleID =219 From the Law Marketing Portal and Jeffrey Horn on how to “work a room” at a networking event http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=7&ArticleID =730 From Douglas Levy and the Law Marketing Portal, an article on how to get your name “out there” when starting a new firm

Prospect Management
To maximize the return on investment from all your marketing activities it is important to manage the prospects that come to your firm from all channels. Firms that do not automate the prospect management process tend to lose quality data, fail to contact prospects in a timely and efficient manner, and cannot enjoy the benefits of grouping prospects together for follow-up communications. Automated practice management software, as well as off-the-shelf sales and CRM applications can help a firm efficiently track, communicate with and close on prospects. While off-the-shelf applications certainly provide value, using the prospect management features of automated practice management software is the most-efficient way to keep track of prospects because the data you collect for all clients and prospects is stored in databases that can be accessed for a wide variety of marketing uses without the need for additional products. We recommend using integrated practice management software that allows you to capture prospect data using online or internal intake forms, manage prospects separately from active client data, selectively generate promotional materials based on targeted marketing campaigns, and run reports on prospects and prospect conversion ratios.

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Key Points: Using automated prospect management tools will help your firm retain and manage quality data from clients and prospects, systematize your follow-up and group prospects together in meaningful data sets for later marketing activities. Most lawyers don’t realize that their automated law practice management suite has these powerful benefits built in to its systems. Estimated Budget: If your law practice management suite is bundled with prospect management capabilities you won’t have to spend more money on these tools. If not, software to manage contacts and group data for marketing purposes can range from as low as $50 per month for online applications to several thousand dollars for high-end CRM software. How to Save Money: Buy a comprehensive practice management software suite with prospect management capabilities. Timeframe: 5-10 hours to compare and price alternatives; 10-20 hours to load existing data into the system (much less if you buy the application at the very beginning of your practice) How to Save Time: Buy prospect management software early on so there is less existing data to load. Have a staff member work with the software provider to be trained on the system and to load initial data and manage new data. Action Steps: 1) Source and purchase software—either stand alone applications or a comprehensive practice management suite that has CRM functionality built in. 2) Load initial data into the application and set up data fields for meaningful grouping of the data later. 3) Make it a practice to load new data into the system (many comprehensive law practice management suites will do this automatically once properly set up). Resources: http://crm.ittoolbox.com/groups/select/crm-select/need-crm-help-for-law-firm-110021 Threaded discussion—look through the answers for links and descriptions of many CRM options for a law firm seeking a budget-friendly CRM application http://www.microsoft.com/industry/professionalservices/products/exploringmicrosoftcrmar ticle.mspx Detailed discussion from Microsoft on their Dynamics CRM product for use by law firms http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=900005491259 Article on Law.com by Arthur Jones of LawFirmInc that discusses the benefits of relationship management technology for law firms

Press Release
Press releases can sometimes be useful marketing tools for attorneys. State bar ethics rules generally limit the type of statements you can make in any form of marketing. The challenge with a press release

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relating to a particular piece of work you’ve done, such as winning a major case, is that you must communicate in a way that does not give the impression that you can achieve similar results for others. Avoid sending a marketing communication, which many press releases can be considered, that targets a person or group that you know or should know needs a particular service. Press releases can be a great way to launch your practice in the community. A general release saying you have started a firm, listing the areas in which you’ll practice, how to contact you and a biographical statement should be within the bounds of ethics and marketing rules. You can send those releases to local newspapers, your state bar journal and to websites or publications of industry groups you wish to serve. You can send similar releases to these channels if you hire new staff. Of course, many bar journals and law school magazines publish this kind of information in a short form as opposed to a full news release format. Include a photo as well! Key Points: Use press releases to announce the opening of your office, hiring of key staff and other mile stones in your practice. However, it is not a good idea to publish press releases about particular cases. Disseminate press releases to local and regional papers, industry magazines and bar association publications. Estimated Budget: Little or no cost Timeframe: 1-2 hours for drafting each press release How to Save Time: Hire a professional press release writer Action Steps: 1) Make a short list of possible press release events 2) Make a list of papers, journals, trade magazines and other publications to which you want to disseminate press releases 3) Have a staff member contact each and find out how to submit releases so you are prepared in advance Resources: http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=6&ArticleID =178 Article from Larry Bodine and the Law Marketing Portal on how to influence the press

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Description: Complete Law Firm Start up Guide