General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Solo, Fall 1995

  • Marketing Your Practice on the Internet and On-line Networks: What's It All About?
  • On-line Basics
    You can't go on-line unless you have a modem, a piece of hardware that allows your computer to talk to other computers over a telephone line. Then, once you get your modem going, you can buy an account on a public "provider," such as Delphi, Netcom, Panix, or the Pipeline. There are several. You also can access the Internet through commercial on-line networks such as America Online, Lexis Counsel Connect, and others.

    There are many reasons to go on-line, including:
    E-mail. Most people use on-line networks to send and receive electronic mail messages. E-mail allows you to send messages (text only) to individuals or groups. It's faster than conventional mail--messages can arrive in as little as a few seconds or, at most, a few hours--and less expensive.

    List Serves. A List Serve is an electronic mailing list on a particular topic. Every time someone "posts" a message to the List Serve, it is distributed to all of the people who subscribe to the list. There are thousands of List Serves, including several related to the law. "Subscriptions" are free.

    Newsgroups. There is a wide variety of topical newsgroups (also known as discussion groups or bulletin boards) on every on-line network and the Internet. Essentially, newsgroups are virtual conference centers, places you can drop by and "talk" with people who have interests similar to yours. Some are recreational; some are work-related. There are several law-related groups, including more than 300 on Lexis Counsel Connect.

    Source: Excerpted from "A Guide to Online Networks and the Internet" by Lexis Counsel Connect

  • A Few Hints on Marketing On-line
    1. Share. Don't think of the people who ask you legal questions on-line as trying to squeeze free advice out of you. Think of them as potential clients, potential co-counsel, and referral sources, who want to find out what you know. If you help them today, they'll remember you tomorrow.

    2. Try to write the way you talk. On-line communications work when you feel like you really know the people you correspond with, whether by private e-mail or in public discussion groups. Loosen up. Lighten up. Realize that the freer, more honest, more conversational you are, the more you will come across as a person it would be nice to have dinner with, rather than a stuffed shirt in whose office no one would want to kick off his or her shoes.

    3. Take the time to absorb the atmosphere of an on-line community before jumping in with your own postings. You want to understand who is out there, what they talk about, and how people react to certain kinds of comments.

    Source: Erika Penzer

  • Know Your Netiquette
  • Hankering for a Homepage? Here Are Some Things to Keep in Mind
  • One Way to Make a Homepage Happen
    If you're like a lot of solos, you wouldn't mind having a homepage, but you can't imagine finding the time--not to mention the expertise--to put one together.

    Lawyer Kevin Lee Thomason of San Francisco, a 1994 graduate of the University of California Hastings School of Law, figured you'd feel that way. Soon after graduating from law school, Thomason founded TSW Ltd. (The Seamless Website), a service with which he intends to bridge the gap between what lawyers and legal service providers would like to do on-line and what they actually can do.

    For a fee, TSW creates and maintains homepages for lawyers. You supply the content, TSW will supply the expertise. The service also will do a fair bit more to make sure your homepage gets seen: In addition to placing it on the TSW site, it will list it in the appropriate USENET newsgroups and submit information about it to more than 20 of the top Internet directories.

    The creation of a multipage homepage is charged hourly; a variety of smaller homepage "package" plans also are available.

    To draw more visitors to the TSW site--and to meet the growing competition--Thomason is continually adding new features. Besides lawyer homepages, visitors will find a free listing of experts, links to statutes in every state, and many other law-related materials of interest to lawyers and nonlawyers alike.

    For more information about TSW, you can call: 415/732-5600; fax: 415/732-5606; or e-mail: TSWadmin@aol.com. You can visit TSW on the Internet via http://seamless.com.

  • A Little Help for Lawyers Lost on the Internet
    A new book by G. Burgess Allison, The Lawyer's Guide to the Internet (ABA Section of Law Practice Management), will show you not only what's accessible on the Internet, but also how you can find it. In addition to providing legal reference listings, the book covers basic Internet services, such as e-mail, telnet, and World Wide Web as well as tips on how to "browse with an attitude" and "Netiquette." You'll also get the basics on choosing a service provider and getting connected.

    The cost of the book is $29.95. To order, call 312/988-5522 or fax to 312/988-5568.

  • Okay, So I Was Wrong...
  • Lexis Counsel Connect
    Lexis Counsel Connect (LCC) is the largest on-line network exclusively for lawyers and other legal professionals. It provides:

    -Access to e-mail
    -Access to more than 300 discussion groups on legal topics, each moderated by experts in a particular area of the law
    -Access to the LCC on-line library of more than 10,000 legal memos, briefs, forms, and court opinions and transcripts--material that is not available from any other single source
    -Access to the Internet, including user-friendly access to legal materials through "LawLinks," LCC's homepage on the World Wide Web
    -Access to the latest legal, business, and government news from Reuters Newswire, Lexis-Nexis newsfeeds, and the American Lawyer Media publications
    -To learn more about what LCC has to offer, or to sign up for a free one-month trial membership, call 800/455-4354.

  • Does Having a Homepage Violate Professional Ethics? The Jury's Still Out