Archive for 2008

Happy New Year!

Posted on December 31, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

See you next year!

In the meantime, from us to you-Happy New Year!

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The Future is Now

Posted on December 30, 2008. Filed under: Networking, Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “The Future is Now.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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The future is now

It’s time for the legal profession to pull its collective head out of the sand when it comes to technology, the Internet and Web 2.0.

Technology is here to stay and ignoring it no longer is an option.

Law firms and lawyers who turn a blind eye to technology do so to their own detriment, and their failure to acclimate to rapid technological change is going to catch up with them in 2009.

Like it or not, technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of life. All kinds of information, including the very latest news, is available online. Phone numbers, addresses and contact information for of every type of business is readily accessible on the Internet. Shopping can be accomplished quickly and securely with the click of a button. Music can be downloaded from iTunes. Movies and television shows can be instantaneously streamed through Netflix or Hulu.com directly to a high-definition television via a laptop.

Likewise, technology has infiltrated the legal profession and leveled the playing field in ways never before seen. Small offices now can compete on even footing with large law firms.

Entire offices can be operated remotely using reasonably priced Web-based tools and applications. Documents can be stored securely on remote servers. Law offices can use Web-based practice management and time and billing applications such as Rocket Matter in lieu of the complicated and expensive software traditionally used by the legal profession.

Virtual law offices now are a reality and the value of online real estate has increased exponentially in recent years. With just a little effort, and minimal expense, solo practitioners can create a strong online presence that competes with that of larger firms.

A well-written law blog and polished profiles and content at JDSupra, Avvo, LinkedIn, and Facebook can do wonders for a lawyer’s search engine ranking. Online networking with lawyers and other professionals through Twitter and other online networks can lead to a steady stream of business.

By way of example, over the last six months I’ve received referrals from other lawyers across the country as a result of networking on Facebook and Twitter.

Potential clients from across New York State have contacted me through my blogs, Twitter and Avvo. I’ve also had former clients call me after locating me via Internet search engines.

I’ve been preaching about technological change for years now, as have many other cutting edge, influential lawyers from whom I’ve learned a great deal: Carolyn Elefant (www.myshingle.com), Susan Cartier Liebel (www.solopracticeuniversity.com), Grant Griffiths (www.homeofficewarrior.com) and Kevin O’Keefe (www.lexblog.com), to name just a few.

It seems the legal field is finally starting to sit up and take notice. Facebook has become mainstream. Law blogs are all the rage.

When I began blogging in 2005, no one knew what a blog was. Now law firms, big and small, are launching blogs at an unprecedented rate.

The legal profession is just beginning to acknowledge the power of technology and the Internet. That’s a start, but reluctant acceptance simply is not good enough.

The legal profession must learn to embrace, not fear, the changing landscape. There is still a demand for legal services, and there always will be – technology has not changed that fact. Technology has altered the playing field and the rules of the game by changing the ways in which legal services are marketed, sold and purchased.

The change is not temporary, but permanent. Lawyers who accept and embrace that fact and position themselves for the future – rather than denying its reality – will prosper and profit in 2009 and beyond.

Will you be one of those lawyers?

-Nicole Black

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Happy Holidays!

Posted on December 24, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Gift_box_1 We’ll be on a brief hiatus until the weekend.

In the meantime-Happy Holidays!

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21st Century Practice?

Posted on December 12, 2008. Filed under: Practice Management, The times they are a'changin' |

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Referred to in this video: Build a Solo Practice LLC- When Pricing Your Legal Services, Understand Your Clients

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Fellow lawyers, tweet this!

Posted on December 5, 2008. Filed under: Networking, New Media 101, Social Media, Web 2.0 |

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Can Lawyers Afford to Ignore Social Media?

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Can Lawyers Afford to Ignore Social Media?”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Can Lawyers Afford to Ignore Social Media?

Social media is radically altering our world.

People of all ages are increasingly relying on the Internet and mobile-based tools to share, discuss, and disseminate information.

Lawyers cannot afford to be left out of the loop. Attorneys who successfully leverage social media tools to communicate, collaborate and network have a distinct advantage over those who don’t.

It is not necessary for each and every lawyer in a firm to learn the ins and outs of social media. But at least one person, or group of persons, depending on the size the firm, should be familiar with emerging Web 2.0 technologies and the ways in which those technologies can help and harm their bottom line. Other lawyers in the firm likewise should be receptive and listen to their recommendations regarding social media.

You need look no further than the recent historic presidential election to see evidence of the far-reaching effects of social media. President-elect Obama’s campaign used many forms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter and text messaging, to interact with and motivate supporters.

President-elect Obama has continued to connect with the public by harnessing the power of social media. A Web site designed to ease his transition into office was established within days of the election. The Web site incorporates a blog, which provides information regarding the transition process and invites input from its readers.

A corresponding YouTube channel, has been created, and includes videos of the weekly presidential address, as well as other events, such as the recent meeting of the Energy and Environment Policy Transition Team.

By using the latest technologies —readily available and affordable social media platform—President-elect Obama, an attorney who will soon hold the highest office in the country, will connect and interact with millions of his constituents in a way never before seen.

The superiority of Internet technologies over many traditional methods was exemplified just last week Google announced that it was working with the Center for Disease Control to track flu trends.

Google’s Web site explained methodology behind the unique and unprecedented collaboration:

Certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity in your state up to two weeks faster than traditional flu surveillance systems.

Such emerging social media trends are extremely important to lawyers, and lawyers who ignore them do so to the detriment of their practice.

Just ask Dallas attorney Dale Markland, a seasoned practitioner who received a crash course in the power of social media when a letter that was critical of him was widely circulated and discussed online.

Shortly after that abrupt and awkward introduction to the viral effect of social media, Markland established an online presence of his own in a last ditch effort to control the potential damage to his reputation.

As he explained on the Web site, its primary purpose was to refute the allegations contained in the original letter:

On Sept. 26, 2008, a Houston attorney, Jeff Murphrey, sent a letter to me [Markland] related to his cancellation of a deposition in an on-going lawsuit that he and I were involved in. Someone sent that letter to internet blog sites and distributed it through mass emailings such that basically the entire world has had a chance to read Mr. Murphrey’s letter, and apparently many have. … This is my statement regarding the events and the contents of the letter.

Markland learned the hard way. Lawyers hoping to avoid his predicament would be well advised to stay abreast of the changing landscape of social media.

Knowledge is power. Smart practitioners will choose to learn about and appreciate the effect of emerging and affordable technologies upon the practice of law. Lawyers who fail to do so most certainly will pay the price.

–Nicole Black

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The Great Twitter Debate

Posted on November 21, 2008. Filed under: About this Blog, New Media 101, New Resources, Privacy Rights, Uncategorized |

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Legal blogosphere posts discussing Twitter and lawyers:

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Gen Y, the Recession and Obama-Changing the Legal Landscape

Posted on November 14, 2008. Filed under: Networking, Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

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Twitter 101 for Lawyers

Posted on November 4, 2008. Filed under: Networking, Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 | Tags: , |

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Twitter 101 for Lawyers.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

On Twitter I am @nikiblack.  You can follow me here.

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Twitter 101 for Lawyers

While I’ve often repeated my recommendation that lawyers ought to take advantage of the networking and micro-blogging service, Twitter, I’ve yet to explain how to do so.

Not surprisingly, it is the “how” that matters because, at first glance, Twitter seems like anything but the wonderful tool that it is.

First things first —what is Twitter? Twitter is a free, Web-based communications platform that allows users to share information with others who have similar personal and professional interests. Users communicate using text-based posts (“tweets”) of up to 140 characters in length.

Twitter currently has more than 3.2 million accounts registered, and its user base is expanding quickly. Companies and individuals use Twitter in a variety of unique ways, which are constantly evolving.

For example, large businesses, including Jet Blue and Wegmans, use Twitter to provide information and, occasionally, personalized customer service. Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign uses Twitter to connect with and update supporters. News outlets such as the BBC use Twitter to rapidly disseminate breaking news.

In some cases, news breaks on Twitter before the major news outlets report on it, which happened during the recent earthquake in California. California-based Twitter users were the first to “tweet” about the earthquake as they experienced it.

Of course, you’re probably wondering whether Twitter has any value to you as a lawyer. It does. With Twitter you can network with other lawyers across the country and the world; promote your practice and its Web site or other online presence; receive news updates relevant to your area of practice and connect with potential clients or referral sources.

Twitter is an invaluable resource, as long as you know how to use it. The first step is to create an account at Twitter.com. Make sure to choose a user name that is easily recognizable and promotes your practice.

The next step is to locate people and organizations you’d like to follow, including people you already know, those who practice in the same area of law, potential clients and users with similar personal interests. There are a number of ways to do this.

Locate people you already know by running your Web-hosted e-mail address through Twitter’s system. (You’ll be prompted to do so when you first sign up.) Once you’ve connected with people you know, check their follower lists and “follow” anyone who interests you.

Online directories, such as Twellow, conveniently categorize Twitter users for you. Review the directory to locate people with whom you’d like to connect.

Recently, two really useful lists were published by JD Supra (an online platform that allows lawyers, law firms and legal professionals to publish and distribute work online to a wide audience) at their blog, JD Scoop.

Both lists were created by Adrian Lurssen. The first is a list of “145 Lawyers (and Legal Professionals) to Follow on Twitter.”

The second is a list of “Legal News Feeds on Twitter.”

You also can search Twitter using Summize to locate people who are discussing topics that interest you. For example, if you’re interested in wine, you can run a search for “wine” and other wine-related terms to locate other oenophiles.

After you’ve located people and companies, consider using a Web application such as Tweetdeck or Twhirl, which make the interface far more user-friendly by allowing you to organize and keep track of your conversations on Twitter.

Once you’ve set up an account and connected with a few people, start Tweeting about your day-to-day law practice, your firm’s blog or other online presence, news of interest to you and your followers and any other topics that interests you.

Engage in conversations with other users by responding to their Tweets. Simply type “@username,” then add your comment.

It only takes a short amount of time to set up an account and familiarize yourself with Twitter. Once you do, you may wonder how you ever practiced law without this amazing resource.

-Nicole Black

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Promote your practice through social media

Posted on October 28, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Promote Your Practice Through Social Media

Drlogo11

This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Promote Your Practice Through Social Media.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Promote Your Practice Through Social Media

Online identities are becoming increasingly important in the Web 2.0 world in which we live, along with the need to understand how to use social media to promote a law practice and manage online identities.

The Internet no longer is a quaint phenomenon, but rather an integral part of our daily lives, and the lives of our clients. People turn to the Internet for information, advice and social connections.

Career counselors were among the first to recognize the importance of responsibly utilizing social media and social networking to further one’s career. They continue to be at the forefront of the movement.

The Rochester Institute of Technology’s Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services, for example, recently hosted a program for alumni that focused on social networking and managing online identities. At that presentation, I served as moderator for a technologically astute panel of knowledgeable local professionals: Juli Klie, president of Veritor LLC and co-founder of Digital Rochester; Greg Taylor, the managing partner of Excelsior Search Partners, a recruiting firm;
and Steven Tylock, author of “The LinkedIn Personal Trainer.”

A number of the panelists said they believed a LinkedIn presence is the cornerstone of a professional online identity. Others, myself included, recommended the use of other types of online social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. All participants agreed each platform has unique benefits, depending on a user’s goal —obtain a job, promote a business or network with other professionals.

The legal profession slowly, but surely, is beginning to realize the importance of an effective online presence. When I began my first legal blog, “Sui Generis,” in 2005, only one other Rochester-based law blog existed. Since that time, a number of Rochester lawyers now blog. Two local law firms entered the blogging scene within the last year. Attorney Alexander Korotkin publishes the “Rochester Family Lawyer,”which discusses recent state family law decisions and provides practical advice for clients and lawyers alike.

The newly established law firm Easton, Thompson Kasperek LLC recently joined the blogosphere as well. Its “New York Criminal Defense” blog provides insightful commentary and analysis regarding New York appellate criminal law decisions from some of the most experienced criminal defense attorneys in Rochester.

Another lawyer, Elizabeth Randisi, who is associated with the Rochester law firm WeinsteinMurphy, posts regularly at “Sui Generis”  regarding trusts and estates and elder law issues.

Local lawyer Gregory Bell, an editor at Thomson Reuters, blogs about law and technology at “Practicing Law in the 21st Century” and also about blogs and another passion of his, the local Rochester jazz scene, at “Jazz@Rochester.”

Blogs are not the only way to create an online presence, but maintaining an online identity, in one form or another, should be the crux of any law practice’s marketing plan. People no longer reach for the Yellow Pages when they need an attorney. Instead, they ask friends for advice and seek information on the Internet. If your firm does not have an online presence that is easily located, without a doubt you are losing potential clients left and right.

Promoting a law practice online is a no-brainer. It’s easy to create and manage an online presence using any one of the many free or low cost online platforms I’ve discussed. I assure you, the minimal monetary and time investment will be well worth the effort in the end.

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