Committee Highlight/Member Spotlight/Tips for New Members

Vol. 3, No. 1

 

Committee Highlight

Law Student Committee

The GPSolo Law Student Committee Understands the Importance of Financial Literacy

The GPSolo Law Student Committee is gearing up for the Financial Literary Project to be held during the 8th Solo and Small Firm Conference on Oct. 3– 5, 2013 in Lexington, KY. The idea for this public service project started about three months ago. It is an ideal way to help others and connect with fellow members of GPSolo.

Three of GPSolo’s Committees are working together on this project. The Law Student, Young Lawyers, and Public Service Committees will foster awareness of budgeting, credit cards, and school loans, and will have members available to answer questions of the high school students. The financial services project will raise financial awareness and propose solutions for students to prevent financial hardship.

The average undergraduate carries $3,173 in credit card debt, according to according to www.DebtSlapped.org. We previously reported that the ABA and GPSolo are highly involved in this proactive prevention project to help students avoid high debt and make more information available to those students who otherwise may not have understood the great risk of debt and variable interest rates. As an example, the ABA Journal published the article “Know Your Dough: Division Lends Support to Financial Literacy Project for High School Kids” (Jan. 2013) as part of raising financial awareness and proposing solutions for students.

GPSolo magazine worked with Anthony Leahy, executive director of Consumer Education and Training Services (CENTS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people make informed financial and legal choices in recent months on this initiative. The article is titled “GIVING BACK: Teaching Financial Literacy” and is highlighted in Jan./Feb. 2013 issue. CENTS was cofounded by the Honorable Karen A. Overstreet, a US bankruptcy judge in the Western District of Washington, and members of the bankruptcy bar to focus more attention and effort on financial literacy in King County, WA. The rapidly growing student loan crisis was noted when there were higher numbers of bankruptcy debtors attempting to discharge student loan debt.

If you are interested in working on this project and plan to attend the Fall 2013 meeting, consider working with the Law Student Committee to help foster financial literacy among students. For more information, contact Law Student Committee co-chairs Samantha Williams, Samantha.C.Williams@asu.edu, or Sarah Moulder, Sarah.m.moulder@gmail.com, to sign up to for this project. Incoming law student chair, Christopher Schmidt, will be joining the project on Sept 1. and can be reached at sch01025@gmail.com.

 

Member Spotlight

 

 

Chris Schmidt

 

 

 

  1. Where do you live?
    Vermillion, South Dakota
  2. What group do you practice with as an attorney?
    I worked for a small prosecutor’s office in Idaho the last two summers, but as I take more classes I find that I am becoming increasingly interested in business and corporate law.
  3. When I was young, I wanted . . .
    To be a professional baseball or football player, to own a big house, and a Lamborghini. I also wanted to travel to areas of the country suffering from severe poverty and help them with their needs.
  4. What is your favorite part of your role as a law student up to this point?
    I like that I am able to ask lots of questions and continually learn new things.
  5. What in your profession are you most passionate about as a law student?
    I am passionate about helping the economy recover either through law reform or by helping start-up businesses with their legal obligations.
  6. What is the most interesting experience you have had in the legal profession?
    The summer between my first and second year of law school, while working at a prosecutor’s office in a small county in Idaho, we were assigned a special prosecution on an attempted murder case. We ended up entering a plea agreement with the defendant, but the facts of the case and the small county where it was charged made it an experience that I will never forget.
  7. How long have you been a member of the ABA?
    I joined when I started law school, so for about two years.
  8. What ABA sections or groups do you belong to?
    Business Law Section
    Forum Committee on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law
    Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division
    Law Practice Management Section
    Section of Dispute Resolution
    Section of International Law
    Section of Labor and Employment Law
    Section of Taxation
    Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division
  9. What do you find most valuable about the ABA?
    The opportunity available for law students to become involved at a national level.
  10. How has ABA benefitted you personally or professionally?
    The ABA has benefited me personally by keeping me informed of emerging areas of law, and you can’t beat the Brooks Brothers discount. Professionally, I have been able to network with various people around the country with different backgrounds and experience. I hope that I am able to make friendships through the ABA that will last a lifetime.
  11. Do you belong to any other professional organizations?
    J. Reuben Clark Law Society
  12. Other awards or honors?
    In addition to my appointment as the Law Student Liaison to the Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division (GPSolo), I have been appointed as the 2013–2014 Chair of the Finance Committee for the Student Chapter Board of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. I am also an Eagle Scout.
  13. Contact info:
    Christopher Schmidt
    Law Student Liaison
    Solo, Small Firm and General Practice) GPSolo
    christopher.schmidt@coyotes.usd.edu
    970-556-1426

Tips for New Members

 

Marketing Tips for Solos, Small Firms and General Practices

One of the best ways to ways to expand your marketing efforts is to develop an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan for your firm. For some attorneys, this is a way of life and they have it down to a science. Others shake their heads, and state “My clients know what I do and my areas of practice.”

Whatever side you are on, it’s a good idea to create an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan to be prepared and hit the major points and neutralize or manage any objections. It is highly beneficial to run your practice like a business, and in order to do so you need to deliberately define what your prime marketing efforts shall be in the next year.

Today, an integrated communications plan is preferred because there are many elements that can be used to fulfill it. Conferences, workshops, company spots at meetings, news releases, articles, public service work, videos, advertising, social media, blogs, white papers, webinars, or webcasts are just some of the numerous options.

Before throwing in the towel or arguing that your caseload is too much of a burden, focus on where you want your practice to grow and ask how potential clients obtain their information about you. Do they like to attend workshops? Do they obtain referrals from professional associations? Do they prefer to attend webinars? The answers can show you how to communicate with your clients and to develop ways to share your insights demonstrate your value.

Carefully think about what you are willing to do for the next 12 months. Remember to consider time, money, and resources when making these calculations. This is the first step in making an implementation plan for your integrated marketing communications plan—outline what you will do month-by-month or quarterly.

As an example, here is an option to consider:

  • Conferences—Define and make two presentations to the designated group of your choice.
  • News releases—Promote the presentation before the event and after the event.
  • E-blasts—Share the fine points of the presentation and attach a simple brief (postevent).
  • Social media—Offer your insight on the topic (before and after the event) and link it to your profile.

Ahh . . . now you see. It can be as simple or complex as you want it to be for the next 12 months. It’s only four channels. If conferences are not your forte, then conduct a webinar or workshop. It eliminates the immediate stage fright, and you can still make a positive impression. Your marketing efforts will pay off if you focus on one or two areas of expertise, designate the client groups, and build the case for it.

Want to dial it up? Send programmed, structured invites prior to the workshop to the preferred audience: electronic and/or postcards. Want still more? Send a survey before or after presentation and ask if specific areas need more or less attention. Obtaining feedback engages people, and you can learn much from it. If desired, you can develop this into a fully, integrated marketing communications campaign. The important point is to start with a proposed plan as it maintains the focus and maximizes results.

Your brand and messaging are important. To take your practice to the next level, follow the tips discussed here. You will be on your way to marketing success and to capturing the attention of clients, companies, families, and others. You will also be helping others to make good decisions or to work through challenging times. Start by defining your position, and then live it.

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