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Solo In Chicago

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

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blogs 'essential' to a good career

Saw a decent piece in The Boston Globe recently promoting blogs as a career development tool. These were its eight reasons blogging helps your career:

1. Blogging creates a network. I'd say this is self-explanatory and true.

2. Blogging can get you a job. The piece quotes someone who did. I haven't gotten my dream job quite yet.

3. Blogging is great training. Depending on your blogs' topic, it sure does require you to know your subject-matter.

4. Blogging helps you move up quickly.

5. Blogging makes self-employment easier. This one is a good point. It mentions the simple fact that you can't make it on your own unless you're good at selling yourself and one of the most cost-effective ways to do this is with a blog.

6. Blogging provides more opportunities. I totally agree with this. I've definately gotten a fair amount of free publicity solely related to my blogs. I certainly see the day in the very near future where I'm on a panel or asked to speak and my title will be Peter Olson, blogging @...

7. Blogging could be your big break.

8. Blogging makes the world a better place.

Okay, number eight is a bit pie-in-the-sky but blog away I say!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

CBA Law Practice Management

I thought I'd post an e-mail I got from CBA about their planned Law Practice Management Institute...it sounds promising. I don't see anything up on their Website yet.


The Chicago Bar Association, as part of its continuing commitment to meet the needs of its members, is getting closer to providing a practice management assistance program - the Law Practice Management Institute. We have prepared a summary of the project for your review and a very short questionnaire, which will take approximately 1 1/2 minutes to complete. Please help us learn how to serve you better by submitting your answers today.

Here is a link to a short summary of the project followed by the survey:

Thank you,
Bob Moss
Chair, Institute Planning Committee

I've seen a few announcements about it and it looks promising!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Further "alternative" billing options

Adam Smith, Esq. has an interesting post here about McKinsey's billing model and possible application to law firms.

Here's the gist of their model:

When a client asks McKinsey for help on something, McKinsey assesses the challenge and responds (hypothetically): "Great; that will take a small team four months, so expect it to cost $880,000." The client decides whether that's a valuable economic proposition, and assuming they give the green light, McKinsey goes to work.

One of three things now happens:

1. It indeed takes a small team four months, and the analysis/report/recommendation is delivered as promised.

2. It turns out to be simpler than McKinsey thought, so they report after two months, "We think we're done; we'd like to show you what we have, and if you agree, we've stopped the clock."

3. It turns out to be more complex than McKinsey thought, so they report after (say) two months, "There's more to this than first appeared (if we're to deal with it in a fashion commensurate with our standards), and we now think it will take the team eight months. Would you like us to proceed, or to call it off?"

Are you giving clients an upfront estimate? Are you capping fees? To me even the billable hour with some upfront guidance or fee-capping isn't bad because the client has an idea of the costs up front.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Web design

allinthehead.com blog has a useful analysis of the five most important considerations when planning a Website here.

Five questions to raise:

1. Who is the site for?
2. What are visitors trying to achieve when they visit the site?
3. What do YOU want visitors to achieve when they visit the site?
4. How frequently do you expect people to use the site?
5. How will you measure the success of the site?

Good questions for me to ask myself. Due to some increasing publicity that I've been receiving my site has been getting a lot more hits of late and I really don't think it's adequate!

Solos first steps

Law.com has a nice piece regarding converting contacts into clients for the new sole practitioner here. It includes the personal stories of some 4-5 young sole practitioners.

A couple new ideas to me:

Do pro bono work to get leads to other work. There needs to be some careful thought on pro bono work and how it can lead to future business. Clearly there's a side of pro bono that is altruistic and this is great. But there are many pro bono programs, particularly for seniors, where future business can also result. The thing about seniors is that often they're retired and they have low incomes and thus they qualify for various types of pro bono legal work. However, they're also typically fairly asset wealthy and have extended families that are very much middle or upper-middle class...potential clients! Seek this type of pro bono work out!!

General counsel (pro bono). Okay, same theme slightly different niche. A young lawyer was quoted above being general counsel to a smallish hockey league. As a jock myself, doesn't that sound sort of fun and you're probably doing a great service AND people are getting to know you as a person AND there are many people with legal service needs.


Take a look at Wiki-Law...whose goal is to become the Wikipedia of the legal world. Here's a blurb from one of its founders:

I am one of the co-founders of Wiki-Law, http://www.wiki-law.org/, and thought you and/or your readers would enjoy our site. Wiki-Law's mission is to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable world-wide legal guide and resource. In other words, our mission is to become the Wikipedia of the legal world. Attorney's can contribute to Wiki-Law in a variety of ways. They can:* submit a profile of their Law Firm* submit a profile of a Law School* Add to our growing legal dictionary* Add case briefs* Add legal forms* Write and set up their own blogs Wiki-Law can also help you promote your blog. We designed a system that will filter the best legal content. Here's how it works: If you follow this link, you can submit your article to our site. Other users can vote and comment on the link you submitted. Those articles with the most votes and the most comments are sorted to the front page of the website, meaning that more people will read these articles and go to your blog.

It's in its infancy but looks like it has potential. I didn't see any Illinois forms on the site as yet.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Do you blawg and how?

A very brief mention in the May ISBA Journal regarding a blogging article.

How to build your practice: ethically & effectively

Went to a pretty decent CLE at the CBA yesterday on practice building. I actually had to leave a bit early but it was still pretty useful. They had a three different panels with Nancy Roberts Linder, Nancy Roberts Linder Consulting moderating.

These were my takeaway points:

1. Leverage Client Relationships. They gave us a breakdown of where clients come from as follows: 40% referred from former clients; 30% bankers/accountants/other lawyers; 15% direct marketing; 15% lawyers social world. I have recognized the critical importance of referrals from current and former clients. But these stats are eye-opening if you're overspending on perhaps general marketing. I'm still not where I want to be on "end of representation marketing."

2. Client Advisory/Alert! This is just some sort of legal update to clients when say the law changes in an area or something. The further point that my firm doesn't do well is just to have client groups in a mailing list or database so a certain subject's Alert goes out to family clients only, or whatever.

3. Big questions to be asking. What do you want your practice to look like? How will you get there?

4. Non-legal activity involvement. Some discussion was had about joining service organizations, ect. Nothing new there. But one further item suggested was to join or chair the membership committee of your Rotary club or whatever group. That's a step I need to consider. Then you're sort of the mentor to every new person coming into the group.

5. Attend Referrer events. I haven't decided how to play this angle quite. But the gist of it is to attend say an accountants conference if you're an estate planning attorney. Or maybe a National Association of Realtors event if you do real estate. I think I can trade in one of the many legal CLEs for this type of thing.

6. You've got to be Googleable! Try it. If you put your name or firm into Google what comes up? Here's Peter Olson Illinois Attorney: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Peter+Olson+Illinois+Attorney. Better than I thought!