I’m acutely aware that opening a new law practice is challenging these days, especially for those intrepid souls opening a practice immediately after obtaining a law license. There are many available online resources that can help. But first let me note that not all of the resources are online.Opening a law practice means connecting with people. Lawyers will have advisors as well as clients. Those opening a practice in a new city are well advised to get involved in local bar activities and meetings so they can meet other local lawyers. In my home state, many new lawyers become involved in the Young Lawyers Division of the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA). Lawyers who are new to a particular location should not hesitate to introduce themselves around the local courthouse before they have a pending matter. So I want to stress that people connections should come before Internet connections.
Building a Practice Management Newsfeed“A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade” is the often-repeated quote about law practice from Abraham Lincoln. Even with all of today’s labor-saving devices and the huge amount of information available within seconds on the Internet, we all still find that time is our most precious and finite resource. So if you are going to benefit from the wealth of information flowing online, you need to (1) figure out what information is valuable to you and (2) set up a system where your desired information comes to you effortlessly—ideally on a mobile device—so you can make use of unexpected opportunities to read it.There has been a lot of information written about RSS newsfeeds, but the concept often seems too technical for busy lawyers to embrace. Most are now familiar with the concept of “streaming news services” of different sources selected by the user. Two of the most popular streaming news services are Twitter and Facebook. These two services look very different when you log in via a computer, but when accessed by a smartphone, they look remarkably similar.Anyone who has looked at Facebook or Twitter with a mobile app can appreciate that you can scan/read a lot of items quickly that way. So that is the best way to take advantage of the resources noted below that offer RSS feeds, in my opinion. Set up a way to pull them all together into one “feed” that you can check from your phone or other device when you have the time. Many use the magazine-style news readers such as Zite (zite.com), Flipboard (flipboard.com), or Pulse News (www.pulse.me).My advice is to use Google Reader (www.google.com/reader) and then couple that with a phone app that displays the feeds well on your mobile device of choice. Based on the advice of Tom Mighell (ipad4lawyers.squarespace.com), I direct you to Reeder (reederapp.com) for the iPhone and Mr. Reader for the iPad (www.curioustimes.de/mrreader). For Android users, I’d follow the advice of “Droid Lawyer” Jeffrey Taylor (thedroidlawyer.com) and try the free Google Reader app (goo.gl/g1UvC) or gReader (goo.gl/4yZDk), which is an unofficial Google Reader client. Taylor also reminds us to organize the specific resources in Google Reader by folders (Feed settings > New folder). This saves time locating items as Google Reader will organize them by the topic (folder) selected.
Online Magazines, Blogs, and EzinesNow that you have set up a way to stream online content about starting a practice, exactly what content should you stream? The ABA Law Practice Management Section’s free webzine Law Practice Today (www.lawpracticetoday.com) leads my “must subscribe” list. You can sign up to subscribe via e-mail, which actually works a little better than the RSS feed for many because subscribers receive the entire issue when it is published online at mid-month.
Law Practice Today’ssister publication is Law Practice magazine (www.lawpractice.org/magazine). You can subscribe to the print/online magazine for $64 if you are not an ABA member; if you are a member, it’s a better value to join the Section ($50). This magazine now has a nifty phone app that is free to Section members and print subscribers. The app also may be purchased separately (iOS: tinyurl.com/8es4boc; Android: tinyurl.com/8gdvxfz). At $19.99 per year or $4.99 for a single issue, this is a real value.Also from the ABA, the “Legal Technology Resource Center” (www.lawtechnology.org) brings us the recently relaunched blog Law Technology Today (www.lawtechnologytoday.org).My fellow practice management advisors (PMAs) working at other state bars and Canadian law societies are great sources of law practice management information. We aggregate all of their posts online at the OKNEWSBAR feature, the PMA Alert (tinyurl.com/9xvzxgr). These folks are my go-to team when I need advice, and they should be your go-to online team. To allow you to visit each blog and subscribe, I have included the individual blog names and addresses below so readers can easily locate them and incorporate them into Google Reader. The individuals below work for U.S. state bar associations and Canadian law societies (and in one case a professional liability carrier) to provide lawyers with resources and advice on practice management and law office technology. The URLs link to the feed pages, and there should be a link near the top to allow you to subscribe in Google Reader or other RSS newsreaders. If you wish to visit their respective blogs, click on the title of the blog at the top of the feed page:
- David J. Bilinsky: thoughtfullaw.com/feed
- Sheila Blackford: justoregonlawyers.wordpress.com/feed
- Jim Calloway: feeds.feedburner.com/LawPracticeTipsBlog
- Laura A. Calloway: asblastword.wordpress.com/feed
- Ellen Freedman: www.pa-lawpracticemanagement.com/?feed=rss2
- Courtney Kennaday: www.scsmallfirm.com/wordpress/feed
- Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program: masslomap.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
- Erik Mazzone: feeds.feedburner.com/LawPracticeMatters
- Beverly Michaelis: oregonlawpracticemanagement.wordpress.com/feed
- Nerino Petro Jr.’s Compujurist: compujurist.com/feed
- Dan Pinnington: lawyersuccesstips.com/?feed=rss2
- Dan Pinnington’s posts on Slaw.ca: feeds2.feedburner.com/slaw/IkMK
- PMATips: pmatips.com/wordpress/?feed=rss2
- PracticePro: feeds.feedburner.com/avoidaclaim
- Catherine Sanders Reach: feeds.feedburner.com/LawPracticeManagementAndTechnology-TheChicagoBarAssociation
- Reid Trautz: feeds.feedburner.com/ReidMyBlog
3 Geeks and a Law Blog(www.geeklawblog.com) covers issues about the future of law and law librarians. One of the 3 Geeks is Greg Lambert, who was with OSCN.Net during its early days.Robert Ambrogi has been blogging at LawSites (www.lawsitesblog.com) for about ten years now, and he covers a lot more than just law websites.Jordan Furlong writes deep thoughts on the future of law practice in the blog Law21 (www.law21.ca).