10 Ways to Market Your Practice in the New Year

Get 2010 off to a great start with a fresh, new marketing plan.  Here are 10 great ideas shared by Carolyn Elefant at our Solo by Choice CLE:

  • You must allow time for marketing on a consistent basis to keep cases flowing in.  Add a weekly “marketing morning” to your schedule and use it to blog, make calls, or find time for events.
  • Each quarter come up with a list of people you want to meet.  Establish contact and schedule meetings.
  • Create a Facebook fan page to market your practice.
  • Sign up for AVVO to get free referrals.  Complete your profile to increase your Web presence. 
  • Set up a blog or create a Web site with blogging capability.
  • Use Twitter to increase traffic to your blog or Web site, establish social media connections, and monitor trending topics.
  • Write articles.  Want an easy shortcut?  Interview someone – the article almost writes itself.  Issue a press release about your article.  Call colleagues about it, and offer to e-mail the article to them.  Reprint snippets of your article on your blog.  Upload your content to Docstoc, a community where people find and share professional documents, then link to the article on your blog or Web site.  You can also upload articles to JD Supra, a document-sharing site dedicated to legal professionals.  Articles can also be displayed in print form in your reception area.
  • Multi-purpose for maximum effect.  If you give a speech, record it, and then turn it into a podcast or e-book.  Consider uploading video content to You Tube or hold a Webinar based on your speech.
  • Network and host events on Biznik.  Find the Portland, Oregon Biznik community here.
  • Consider submitting source material to HARO (Help a Reporter Out).

My Bonus Tip

If you weren’t able to attend our Solo by Choice CLE, consider ordering a copy of Carolyn’s presentation and book.  It’s a bargain at $30.  Visit the PLF Web site, then select Programs on Audio or Programs on Video.

Copyright 2010 Beverly Michaelis

Getting Paid and Maximizing Revenue

This is the third in a series of posts featuring tips and insight from Carolyn Elefant of MyShingle.com.  Carolyn was the featured speaker at our November Solo by Choice CLE.  The overflow audience came away with some great advice. including how to get paid and how to maximize revenue:

Seven Tips for Getting Paid Now

  • Make payment easy by accepting credit cards.  (But read my blog post first.)
  • Use “evergreen” retainers requiring the client to replenish the trust account.
  • Keep rates affordable.  Don’t price yourself out of the market, but don’t charge too little either or you won’t be in business long.  Know your client’s budget and research fees through sources like AVVO  and PACER.  Use tools like Freelance Switch’s hourly rate calculator to gauge your costs in relation to your fees.  (My two cents:  the best source for data on hourly rates charged by Oregon lawyers are the Oregon State Bar Economic Surveys.)
  • Offer flat fees whenever possible.  Flat fees give clients the ability to plan and set funds aside.  (See my blog post.) 
  • Leverage efficiencies to make flat fees work. 
  • Value bill for your time when you have a rush job or complicated issue.
  • Always research alternate sources for paying your fees.  Does the case or claim qualify for a statutory or contractual fee award?  Will the client’s insurer pay?

Increasing Your Revenue Stream

  • Unbundle.  Sell a piece of your service.  Educate yourself on ethical constraints  and potential malpractice issues first.
  • Consider offering “toll bridge” agreements.  For a flat fee, the client receives ongoing “legal checkups.”
  • Turn your knowledge into a product you can repurpose and sell, including eBooks, training packets, and Webinars.
  • Earn quick cash by working on law-related activities, doing contract work, court-appointed work, or teaching.  As a part-time adjunct professor you can build new contacts.  You may also get access to resources you would otherwise not be able to afford.

Carolyn’s presentation is available now on the PLF Web site for $30.  Select Programs on Audio or Programs on Video.  When you order the program, you will receive a copy of Carolyn’s book, Solo by Choice, along with her slides and CD/DVD.  A nice stocking stuffer perhaps?

The Best of Solo by Choice Nothing Beats Cheap or Free

This is the second in a series of posts featuring the advice and insight of Carolyn Elefant of MyShingle.com.  Carolyn graciously agreed to speak at our recent Solo by Choice program.  Those in attendance came away with a copy of Carolyn’s book and a lot of great ideas, including these tips on cheap or free tools for a solo practice:

My two cents?  Also check out:

  • Dban – Hard drive disk wipe and data cleaning.  Meets DOD standards.  (Free)
  • PCDecrapifer – Uninstall unwanted programs and delete temporary or downloaded files you don’t need.  (Free)
  • CCCleaner – An aggressive clean up/disk defragmenter tool.  Used in lieu of operating system tools.  (Free)
  • LastPass – Online password manager and form filler. (Free)
  • ExchangeMyMail – For anyone who wants the functionality of running Microsoft Exchange Server without the hassle or big price tag.  (Starts at $12.99 per month.)
  • Acrobat.com - Unlimited file downloads, online office applications, 3-person Web conferencing, and 5 PDF conversions.  (Free. Enhanced services start at $14.99 per month.)
  • GOOG-411 – Call 1-800-GOOG-411 for voice-activated 411 service connecting you to businesses in the US and Canada.  (Free)
  • ABA Legal Technology Resource Center – Online technology advice, articles, posts, and weekly roundup of practice management blogs.  My favorite part of this site is the FYIs: Technology Overviews.  (Online content is free.  Services available only to ABA members.)
  • Survey Monkey – Online client surveys (Basic services are free.)
  • Fastcase – Legal research (Free with your Orego State Bar membership.)
  • In Brief – 10 years of archived newsletters published by the Professional Liability Fund (PLF).  A great place to start when researching an issue.  Use the site’s Search link or peruse the Subject Matter Index of past articles.  (Free)
  • Practice Aids and Forms - Over 270 forms in 40 areas from the PLF.  (Free)
  • CLE – 17 Online/downloadable CLEs.  More than 40 on CD/DVD.  All from the PLF.  (All online CLE is free.  Most programs on CD/DVD are free.) 

Carolyn’s presentation and book, Solo by Choice, are available now on the PLF Web site for $30.  Select Programs on Audio or Programs on Video.  I have a few more tips to blog, but if you missed the live program, order the CD/DVD and get Carolyn’s book and handout material from this terrific CLE.

The Best of Solo by Choice Busting Myths and Setting Up a Practice

On November 20 we hosted Solo by Choice in the Current Economy, featuring Carolyn Elefant of MyShingle.com.  Lucky attendees received a copy of Carolyn’s book along with other materials.

Carolyn shared her insight and advice across a wide array of areas.  Along the way, she busted the myths of practicing solo and shared useful tips.  Here is some of what she had to say:

Busting the Myths of Starting a Solo Practice

  • Working for yourself is not a “dead end,” it can be a way to find a second chance in your career. 
  • You are in control.  This is the best part of being a solo, because you call the shots.  You can reduce overhead, adapt your practice areas, or change your business plan on a dime. 
  • Solo practice need not be isolating:  seek out opportunities to work with others.
  • Going solo doesn’t mean you won’t be intellectually challenged.  A solo practice can be rich and varied, with complex legal issues. 
  • Remember: you’re a lawyer like everybody else.  Why can’t you start your own law firm?

Setting Up a Practice On the Cheap

  • Keep overhead low.  Learn from the trends:  Big Law is sending business overseas to cut costs and clients are becoming less and less tolerant of lawyers passing on overhead.
  • Grow your practice economically by outsourcing in lieu of hiring full or part-time employees.  Options include virtual assistants, contract lawyers, law clerks, or bookkeeping services.
  • Think of meeting with a client in their home as a convenience for them.  You don’t necessarily need to rent office space.
  • Mobile technology gives you the freedom and flexibility to run a home-based practice.  Any cash you spend on a laptop, Smartphone or MiFi card will be a terrific return-on-investment.  If your budget won’t allow for mobile technology up front, repurpose what you already have.

Carolyn’s presentation and book, Solo by Choice are available now on the PLF Web site for $30 – a steal if you ask me.  Select Programs on Audio or Programs on Video.  If you missed the live program, order the CD/DVD from this terrific CLE.  I will feature more tips in future blog posts.