Friday, August 31, 2012

You Can’t Do Everything, So Why Even Try

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." 
--Theodore Roosevelt

It is extremely important to learn early on that there are going to be certain tasks that you just cannot do on your own if at all.  Designing a website and creating one that is not only user friendly but possesses the correct effective “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) is one of those tasks that you just have to source out, either in-house or to a well reputable company.  But it certainly is not one that you want to try and take on yourself.  This little known fact was extremely elusive in the begin for Taylor and I, at first we were of the mindset that we just needed to get one up, but then we quickly realized we didn’t want a run of the mill template website we could build over night.  We did not want people’s first impression of us to be negative based on our website, so we held off until we could afford a professional version that would better represent who we are and what we want people to remember about our firm.

You hear it time and time again, first impressions are everything and I cannot stress it enough that your website is no different.  You don’t want it to look too cheesy or people will not take you seriously, you don’t want it to look too stuffy or people will get the wrong impression and look elsewhere.  It is extremely difficult finding the happy medium between professional and approachable, but it is absolutely necessary.  As I searched hundreds of websites for ideas I found myself judging people and their firms without really even realizing it, but once it hit me I couldn’t help but think if I was a client looking for a potential lawyer that I wouldn’t even call some of the lawyers I found purely based on my perception of them from their website.  It isn’t until you find yourself in the same situation as your potential clients that you realize that every little thing, picture, slogan, color scheme, and layout counts.  It could be the difference between running a successful law firm and just getting by.

So by now you’re thinking, wonderful I’ll hire someone to do my website because it isn’t worth the headache, but what you’re forgetting is that even if you have an experienced web designer working for you, you still have to come up with the content, concept and design and help steer the way into production.  Your website is a time consuming task, but if done correctly it will be worth it, but if done incorrectly you’ve wasted not only time but money and that is never good.  So start thinking early and often about your website because it is not an overnight task and even once you’ve hired someone to take the lead, your input is crucial.  Remember, first impressions are everything and your website will often be the first glimpse into what your firm can do for potential clients. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Websites I Love

Nolo –

Nolo is probably my favorite website for quick information on different areas of law.  It is also an excellent resource for law books.  If you are a new lawyer or just a person looking for some quick and free legal advice, this is definitely the place to stop.

Rocket Lawyer –

Rocket Lawyer is not only a great place to market your firm, but also to learn some basic information on various legal topics.  This website is great for finding a lawyer or just asking some advice.  Also, you can be a member of Rocket Lawyer and have access to the legal forms and can make calls to an attorney for some free advice. 

Avvo –

Along the same lines, Avvo is an excellent place for quick advice.  It is also a website for advice from other professionals.  You can ask quick questions at and have a lawyer respond.  It is also another excellent place to look for reputable attorneys.

Lawyerist –

This website has information on technology for lawyers, tips on starting a law firm, various practice management tips, and other great advice.  I love reading the articles when I have some down time at court or between meetings.  Bristol, Haynes & Associates has used this website in determining what practice management tools to use and what technology to purchase.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Make A Difference

-Make A Difference-

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
-         Mother Theresa

            “Why did you start your own practice right out of law school?” is a question I often get asked by friends, family, and even clients.  There are some obvious answers people are looking to hear, but I believe they are pleasantly surprised when they hear my first answer.  I started my own practice right out of law school because I want to help people and make a difference in my community.  It may sound like a cliché answer, but it the honest truth.  I am a lawyer, but that doesn’t mean that I am above people, it means that I have attained the knowledge that is necessary to help people in their times of need. 

            I was lucky enough to find a partner that believes in this same philosophy.  When we first sat down together to start putting together our business plan, one of the first things that we discussed was what type of law firm we wanted to be and what type we didn’t.  We first started talking about the experiences we both had had working for other lawyers and discussing what we wanted to take away from those experiences and what we did not.  We both agreed that we didn’t like firms that treated clients like case numbers, we wanted to actually care about our clients and advocate on their behalf with the necessary information.  We wanted them to feel comfortable coming to us with any of their legal needs.  We wanted to build a community law firm, a one stop shop in essence, we wanted to be able to assist them with whatever need that may arise.  And if we personally could not help them, again going back to the importance of networking and building a strong and reliable network, we wanted to be able to point them in the right direction to someone who would treat them in the same manner.

            From the inception of our law firm and now in practice with a heavy case load of clients, we still know our clients first and last names, the name of their children and the gist of their case.  We don’t have to refer to the case file for basic information.  It is a wonderful feeling knowing that we’ve taken a personal interest in their lives and that we are doing everything in our power to help them out.  So, so far so good on living out the first mantra of our firm and as long as we continue to stick to it, I believe we will continue to reach our goals and remain successful.

            I think it is really important to establish from the beginning what is most important to you and what you want to be known for in the industry, because it is the beginning stages of your career and business stature that will stick with you for a lifetime.  If you come out guns ablaze with no regard for human nature, you will not crawl out of the hole you’ve dug for yourself for a long time, if ever.  Your reputation and your word are what will determine your success, especially if you’ve decided to go out on your own, so from the very beginning you’ve got to decide what will propel you and hope that the world views it positively.  I’m lucky enough to know that each and every day, the work that Taylor and I, and soon our new hires, produce and put out into the world commands respect, as does each appearance, meeting, and filing that our firm does. 

Whether you decide to go out on your own or not, remember either way to make a difference.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Worth of a Smile

The other day I was at the Norwalk Courthouse filing a Motion. It was about 95 degrees outside and there was no air conditioning in the tiny little filing room.  It was unbelievably hot and ridiculously crowded. 

I probably waited 40 minutes just to get up to the window.  And… of course, I forgot a local form!  For those non-lawyers out there, some counties have specific pieces of paper that you need to have with whatever you are filing with the court and for some reason, I always forget to add that form.

The filing clerk was really rude… probably because she was hot and had been dealing with really frustrated people all day.

I was so frustrated because she told me that I would have to go get the form from another window and stand in the line ALL OVER AGAIN.  I wanted to die.  But, instead of getting really frustrated, I just stayed really calm, kept smiling, asked her a few questions {to make sure I never made the same mistake again}, and thanked her a couple times. 

Right before I walked away from the window, she said, “You know what, you don’t need to wait.  Once you are done filling out the form, just come straight back to my window.  I can help you.” 

And, so, I did not have to wait in the hot and smelly room again!  I filled out the form as quickly as possible and went back up to the window.  She helped me immediately and I was out of there!

Keeping a smile on my face saved me almost an hour.