Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : April 2008

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 SOLO/SMALL FIRM PRACTITIONER

  

As is my usual custom, below are some tidbits from articles that I have read in some of publications that I receive. I have cut back dramatically on publications to which I actually subscribe. In fact, the only remaining subscription that I have is Lawyer’s Weekly. The other publications come to me as a result of being a member of some organizations.

  • From “Power Passwords” by Dennis Kennedy, ABA Journal (December 2007):
    1. Most commonly-used password is still “password”, followed by your name, “123456” and “qwerty”.
    2. Issues to consider:
      1. Excellent passwords are hard to remember.
      2. Using just one strong password for all accounts is dangerous.
      3. Using different strong passwords for all accounts makes it impossible to remember.
      4. Writing down your passwords defeats the purpose.
    3. Tips for creating passwords:
      1. Weed out weak passwords. Eliminate those with names of children, pets, teams.
      2. Develop a system for creating strong passwords.
      3. Have a base password such as “p#6SE” which you will use as a base (hence, your password for The Washington Post would be “p#6SE_wash”).
      4. Use pass phrases, but make them strong, like Wash_Post_is_Great_#_15.
  • From “ABA Journal Blawg 100”, ABA Journal (December 2007). In this issue, the Journal listed its choice for the top 100 Legal Blawgs (http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/aba_journal_blawg_100/). More topics and comments than you can imagine make the list worth viewing.
  • From ABA GPSOLO (January/February 2008; www.abanet. org/genpractice/magazine/2008/jan-feb/):
    • “The Client Matters” by Robert A. Kraft, Esq. Showing clients they matter can happen four times: before the client contacts you, during the initial contact, during representation and after representation.
      • Before contact can come through a brochure, an e-mail, a website, a blog or other communication.
      • Reply to e-mails quickly and always start with a “Thank you for your request.”
      • Do more than take information; show an interest in the problem or issue.
      • If you do not take the case, and if appropriate, suggest an alternative.
      • Following a representation, thank the client either in person or by a note and let them know of other services you provide.
    • “Customer Service Essentials” by Nina L. Kaufman, Esq. “Customer services involves more than just doing legal work. It includes choosing clients who are the right fit for your firm’s size and expertise. It includes keeping current, not just on law but also on trends affecting your clients’ issues. It includes clear and timely communication.” Some suggested ways to keep current: Attend CLE courses, write articles, speak in public, start a blog, take part in bar association activities, use the Internet, attend conferences, network with other lawyers and talk to your clients.
    • “Yikes! How to Deliver Bad News and Disclose Mistakes” by Maurice Grant, Esq., and Eileen M. Letts, Esq. Define your relationship with the client. Establish realistic expectations. Do not over-promise. Explain the entire procedure and communicate regularly. Ask clients how they wish to receive information. Listen to your clients and correct any misunderstandings immediately.

      Deliver bad news personally – never by e-mail or voicemail. Make certain the client is in the position to listen to the news. Offer alternatives or options. Be understanding without giving false hopes or expectations.

      If you discover you or your firm has made an error, tell the client immediately. Do not attempt to hide the error. Again, offer options if needed.

  •  “Lessons Learned from Folks in Control of Their Lives”, Lawyer’s Weekly (February 25, 2008). This article, written by former lawyer and current management consultant Nancy Byerly Jones, lists qualities and characteristics of successful firms and practitioners. According to her article, here are the top ten characteristics of a successful firm.
    • There is an agreement on the firm’s objectives and information is shared with staff.
    • The firm has a simple, detailed plan to keep the firm on course.
    • The firm makes and adheres to budgets.
    • Employees know that they are valued.
    • The firm is promoted in both traditional and non-traditional ways, and staff members know they are part of the marketing process. 
    • The firm seeks client feedback.
    • Firm leaders set good examples regarding professionalism, civility, work habits and client relationships.
    • Employees are given adequate training and the proper tools to get the work done.
    • Systems and personnel are evaluated regularly.
    • When needed, changes are made timely.
  • From ABA Law Practice, ABA Law Practice Management Section, January/February, 2008 (www.abanet.org/lpm/magazine/mag_about.shtml):
    • “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” by Robert W. Denney. This is the 19th year for this report for the legal profession. Keep in mind that this article was written about six months earlier.
      • Hot Practice Areas:  Intellectual Property, Immigration, Labor and Employment, Corporate Investigations, Complex Litigation, Global Warming, Domestic Relations/Family Law, Pro Bono, Estate and Trust Administration, Elder Law, Animal Law
      • Getting-Hot Practice Areas:  Mediation, Libel, Foreclosures, Art Theft and Fraud,  Bankruptcy, Insurance Coverage, Post-Arbitration Litigation
      • Cooling-Off Practice Areas:  Structured Finance/Securitization, Mergers and Acquisition
      • Cold Practice Areas:  Med Mal, Workers’ Compensation
      • Hot Geographic Markets:  Phoenix, China, United Arab Emirates, Spain
      • To receive copies of this report including periodic updates, go to www.robertdenney.com.

Unfortunately, I have run out of space for this article before running out of information. For more tidbits and bytes including some links to some new websites, go to www.msba.org/departments/loma/index.htm and click on Tidbits and Bytes, April, 2008.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: April 2008

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