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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving - Goble, Goble

So we're off to Skandia, Michigan (the U.P.) for five days of Thanksgiving festivities. It's nice...they actually get snow up there unlike the Chicago area. And it's QUIET! Plus, since there are only three television channels and dial-up Internet access I'll be doing some reading. Here's what I'm bringing:

The Marine Corps Way: Using Maneuver Warfare to Lead a Winning Organization.

Blogging for Business: Everything you need to know and why you should care.

Richard Nixon: A Life in Full.

Don't Hesitate: Get the Agreed Order entered...

Well, this was a recent bad experience that I had. Really I had to do what I did but maybe I "push" the client a bit more the next time we have this scenario...

The case was some post-divorce stuff...Petition for Rule (unpaid school/medical), 513 College Expense Petition and a Motion to Modify Child Support. There was not going to be agreement on some issues but there appeared to be agreement on reimbursement for the unpaid 50% of the school/medical. So we'd started a hearing, then had a pretrial with the judge in chambers and it's 415pm on the 19th floor at Daley. We have an agreement essentially so that my client gets paid approx. 5k. Then my client raises an issues, no change in dollars have you, just shifting part of the orthodontia payment TO THE DOCTOR and less to her.

Long story short, the judge leaves at 430pm and we agreed to have the order entered the next morning and lo and behold. The next day the opposing party backs out! So nothing gets resolved and likely thousands of dollars of additional fees will get expended.

The Flat-Fee Debate Continues...

Here's Law.com's recent contribution to the discussion. The article's point of view is that of big, corporate general counsel's who are requiring flat fee arrangements from the law firms they utilize. I've been amazed at the negative reaction of many small firm lawyers on some of the list serves that I'm on to the article.

We're doing flat fee quit a bit...even in some family law areas. I think if you can play it right the marketing advantage of this offering can potentially bring in enough new business that it will off-set the occasional case where you under-price your services. Of course I can think of one case right now where the opposing attorney is the biggest jerk I've ever dealt with as a lawyer and I wouldn't like to have a flat fee in that case!

ABA's Law Practice Management November Issue:

Here's a link to the November issue. I found the piece entitled, "Network Your Way to an International Practice" quite good. The blogging piece seems to be written by someone who doesn't blog.

Small Business 101

A good how-to piece from the NYTimes about small business resources. Funny this blog didn't make the list.

Personal Assistants...Just Not in the Office Next Store

An unoriginal but interesting piece about various off-shore service providers for day-to-day assistant tasks. I'm sure there's an application to the small firm lawyer in there somewhere. I know on any of the eLance projects that we've posted nearly all of the respondents are non-U.S. companies...sort of cool.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Legal resumes and the Chicago area job market

A couple thoughts on job searches and the tightness of the Chicago area attorney market...

First, so our firm has had a job posted for the last few weeks just looking for some general assistance and court coverage. It's amazing how many resumes that I've been sent for a part time job...nearing 100. Just a thought on resumes, I find that way too many of them are too narrowly "legal" focused. A person's life doesn't start with law school and summer associate positions. I want to know about undergraduate majors and previous work positions...this gives me a much broader picture of an individual and his/her talents. And even hobby stuff...I think at some level people are more attracted to others where they share things in common. Talk to me about your love of triathlons and Richard Nixon!

Second, I just continue to be amazed at the calls and e-mails about new graduates struggling to find work. I've had 4 lunches in the last week with persons in this category. I don't have a silver bullet but I thought this was an informative post.

Welcome to another "solo in Chicago"...and he's a blogger too

Here's another one of my growing list of "blog friends" who's just started a solo practice and he's got a nice family law blog too.

How does your firm mesure-up digitally?

Here's ABA's 10 question survey to evaluate your firms "digitalness." Not quite comprehensive but maybe a little helpful.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Seven steps to...

better referral sources.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Maywood Courthouse

I had one of my fairly irregular appearances out at Suburban District 4 today. I enjoy the Maywood Courthouse. It's very quiet and not jammed like many of the facilities. Once you know that as an attorney you just need to show your Cook County employee card to park in the back parking lot you're fine. For non-employees the parking is horrible. I got my car towed the first time I went to court there. I think it's second best in the Cook County system behind Skokie.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The "secondary" meaning of Plagerism...

Alright this is a bit off topic but it's too funny to ignore and indeed very lawyerly and tangentially related to me personally. So, the President of SIU, former Congressman Glen Poshard, has been getting heat for not properly attributing parts of his PHD dissertation. I think the conclusion has been reached that the Board of Trustees is going to allow him to remain as President he'll just have to revise the dissertation. Nonetheless, he's still been taking some heat, particularly from the SIU faculty.

Here's a Letter to the Editor published in the Trib. by my first year torts professor Patrick J. Kelley in support of Poshard. Kelley's a great guy and very bright. That said, who but a law school professor would base his argument on the "secondary" mean of plagiarism. Go Pat Go!

What kind of client file system is best for your firm?

Illinois Bar Journal recently had a nice mix of attorneys respond to this question. An interesting range of responses...we concur with the "I don't use file numbers" answer...ooops didn't realize the piece was password protected. It's in the August 2007 issue if you can get your hands on a copy.

To Summarize:

Not to oversimplify but essentially most people either filed alphabetically or numerically. Within those two classification types some people suggested using file colors for particular types of cases. A number of people said certain case management software packages sort of create the numbering system for you.

I think if you're solo it's simple...when you start having multiple attorneys with certain clients being "owned" by a certain lawyer then it gets more difficult.

Beating the 10 Problems of Working From Home

Here's the top 10 from the Home Office Warrior. I think the only one of ten I really struggle with is self-discipline...turning off C-Span's Washington Journal and my "Washington Dreams" in the morning and heading into lawyer mode.

It's okay to sue your clients...

Here's a recent 1st District holding whereby it held that a trial court was wrong from disqualifying a law firm from representing itself in a lawsuit against former clients for unpaid attorneys fees and costs.

Home-Based 100

Start-Up Nation's 100 top home-based businesses were announced here. No lawyers surprise, surprise.

Legal education...not exactly progressive

Read this interesting piece about some changes being considered at some of the nation's elite law schools. It also mentions a recent Carnegie Foundation study on legal education.

It's humorous how little change has occurred in legal education over time. Here's a quote:

“When you haven’t changed your curriculum in 150 years, at some point you look around,” said Elena Kagan, the dean of Harvard Law.

The piece talks about the use of greater clinical education and changes to first year curriculum to include statutory interpretation. My $.02 are maybe some of the elite "name" schools aren't the place to be for the best and most relevant legal education.