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Commentary

Coach’s Corner: What does it take to go national?

In 1960, fewer than 40 law firms in this country had 50 or more lawyers. In the latest listing of the 250 largest U.S. firms - even after two years of declines in total employment - No. 250 on the list still employed 160 attorneys. Many of these firms began to practice in a single city or small region before their growth took them to a national level. Often such law firms followed their corporate clients, which for decades have lived by the philosophy that bigger was better.

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Law Tech Talk: Social media for women lawyers

Social media can be a powerful rainmaking tool for women lawyers because social media plays to their professional strengths. Studies have shown that women lawyers are reluctant to promote their accomplishments and for that reason, social media is a great fit for women attorneys. It allows them to demonstrate their substantive knowledge without having to brazenly promote themselves. Women also excel at communicating and collaborating, traits that social networking facilitates and rewards.

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Coach’s Corner: Politicians, lawyers and ‘protecting the public’

Lawyers nationwide increasingly face state and federal government actions to implement a whole new regulatory structure aimed at what is in fact a growing problem: companies that charge consumers an upfront fee to modify the terms of a mortgage or deed of trust they can no longer afford, then either fail to deliver results or actually abscond with the fee itself. In an early effort, New York banned upfront mortgage-modification fees but explicitly exempted retainers to lawyers. Later, reports that mortgage companies were using relationships with lawyers to get around the fee ban led to passage of another law, this time banning retainer and escrow collections by lawyers unless the fee is collected as part of ongoing, regular legal counsel.

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Coach’s Corner: When does a prospect become a client?

When does someone visiting your website, blog or LinkedIn page become a prospective client? This does not seem to be a difficult issue. Everyone that a lawyer meets, including in cyberspace, is a prospective client! To think otherwise is to say you don't believe you have something of value that can help the person reading your material or who is standing in front of you. Of course, if your target audience is not focused on using the Internet and searching the Web on a regular basis, then you likely will not get many new prospects and clients that way.

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Tried & Proven: Five ways to reconnect with disgruntled clients

The best way to make clients happy isn't rocket science. We learned the answer back in kindergarten ... be kind to others, unselfish, helpful and respectful. In the legal profession, this translates into: showing compassion to all clients big and small; charging fair, reasonable and clearly explained fees; offering clear, legally sound and carefully analyzed advice; and showing plain, old fashion respect for others. Some attorneys tend to forget one or more of these simple basics of excellent client service, causing many of their clients to become frustrated, confused and often beyond angry. To change such feelings is not easy. In fact, turning a fed-up client into a satisfied

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What I’ve Learned About Life On The Way To The Courthouse: What I learned from the dog and the skunk

One of the most valuable lessons I learned about being a lawyer I learned before I started law school. I worked as a runner for a law firm in college. The firm was a prominent, old-line firm with a good book of business, and it had some high-powered lawyers to take care of that business. One of the lawyers was particularly bright, and well regarded for his intellect. He had graduated No. 1 in his class at a top 10 law school. And he had the ego to go along with it.

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Coach’s Corner: Fixed-fee billing in health care – Will alternative legal fees be far behind?

Insurance companies hire lawyers as in-house counsel at reduced (wholesale) rates, pay lawyers in accordance with insurance policies for their insureds and otherwise have a dramatic influence over the billing practices in the legal community. Wasn't it insurance companies in or about the 1960s that demanded lawyers submit bills that showed the time expended in matters for which they pay? And then, as a consequence, lawyers began using time increments as a basis for pricing, not just as a management tool.

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Cuisine Bourgeoise: Toward a new nativism

If voting for everyone becomes the norm in a hundred years, or a thousand, or whenever, people will look back at things we said today and say we were intolerant. Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation told WTVD that allowing city of Durham officials and police to accept the Matrícula Consular card as legal identification was a backdoor way of letting illegal immigrants vote. Why can't illegal immigrants vote? Why can't noncitizens and foreigners vote?

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Coach’s Corner: Leaders are made – even in law firms

When it comes to management, law firms, particularly large firms serving major corporations, are not trendsetters. They follow their clients. The much-criticized billable hour is an example. Until well into the post-World War II era, legal fees were based not only on time spent, but also the nature of the service, the result achieved and the amount at stake. Charging an appropriate legal fee was a matter of professional judgment.

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