Law Firms Should Look to Marketers as Rainmakers

Small and mid-sized law firms around the nation are faced with the proverbial question – what comes first the chicken or the egg? In the case of marketing, many firms are learning that marketing needs to come before client acquisition and investing in quality marketing is key. The competition among lawyers and law firms is too severe to view marketing as a luxury.

Small and mid-sized law firms need to invest in marketing and view their marketing firm as their primary rainmaker. The right marketing firm will bring clients into a firm through a multi-faceted approach.

Marketing for law firms should include: Internet marketing, local marketing including advertisements, networking, seminars and public relations among other forms of marketing. With a marketing firm focusing on their area expertise and the attorneys focusing on their area or areas of expertise success comes much easier.

Internet marketing for attorneys is vital. Many small and mid-sized law firms are realizing that they do not need websites with all the bells and whistles. A clean, professional website that is seen by their target audience is much more effective than a state-of-the-art website that is seen by no one. The best marketing firms are having law firms spend less on website development and more on Internet marketing.

Internet marketing is much more than search engine optimization and pay-per-click campaigns. The top marketing firms are also working with clients on webinars, optimized press releases, podcasts, social networking and more.

In addition to a comprehensive Internet marketing campaign, marketing firms are using an integrated approach that focus on branding and targeting specific markets and populations. While the lawyers focus on practicing law the marketing firms are researching local opportunities to bring clients into the firm ranging from local ads in publications and church bulletins, to opportunities to be interviewed on the latest legal news.

Optimized press releases and e-zine articles are a great way for lawyers to show expertise in a particular area, while the marketing firm stays on top of what the law firm can and can not say (for example, few marketing firms know they should not use the term “expert” to refer to lawyers in most areas of practice).

The best marketing firms, whether local or not, can also plan and execute highly effective seminars and social events to expand the firm’s client base. The key is the marketing firm maximizing the law firm’s return on investment – the measure of a truly great rainmaker.

The highly competitive legal industry requires firms to invest in high quality marketing that is specialized, diverse and integrated. The top marketing firms are offering this unique approach to small and mid-sized law firms around the nation.

What You Need to Know About Law School

Law school is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences a student can have. The popularity and demand on law schools has grown at a rapid pace. If you’ve ever seen the “Devil’s Advocate”, Al Pacino (during his dramatic closing monologue) says that there are more people in law school than there are actual lawyers. I’ve done some research and I haven’t been able to verify whether or not this is true, but it wouldn’t be a total shock if it was valid. Television programs like “Law & Order”, “Boston Legal” and “Shark” have glamorized the practice of law making it more attractive to young adults. Furthermore, the potential big salary one can obtain through a law career makes it even more enticing. In fact, the average starting salary for an associate at a mid-sized law firm is $93,000. But keep in mind, a career in law is usually not centered around high-drama court cases and big paychecks. In reality, it requires discipline, a lot of research, and strong written/oral skills. Let me explain…

This may shock you, but most lawyers never step foot in a courtroom. This is due to the fact that less than 10% of all motions and cases actually make it to trial. So, if you dream about being the new Denny Crane (Boston Legal) or Samantha Cabbot (Law & Order) you have to specifically focus on trial law during your tenture at law school. On the subject of salary, yes, a lawyer can make a lot of money. But keep in mind that the big-salary jobs are predominantly in the private sector working with corporate clients. Furthermore, associates and partners at law firms work, on average, 60 hours a week. So, you’ll earn that phat paycheck as a lawyer.

Here are some basic facts and guidelines that you’ll need to know if you’re serious about attending law school:

(1.) In order to get accepted to a quality law school, you must have a high GPA and a high LSAT score. Most law schools have a formula as to how they determine who they accept. Yes, your essay and letters of recommendation are important, but the combination of a high GPA and LSAT score are essential if you want applicant reviewers to even consider you. To get into a top 25 law school, you’ll need at least a 3.0 GPA (at least a 3.5 for top-10 schools) and an LSAT score of at least 152 out of 180, but much higher for a top-10, at least 165 out of 180.

(2.) Law school is expensive. Most law schools charge $20,000+ a year just in tuition and fees. Private law schools charge even more. For example, Harvard Law School charges $53,000 a year for tution…just tuition! That’s not including books, a laptop, housing, and miscellaneous expenses. So, if you’re serious about law school, you’ll probably need to obtain a good student loan. Or, try your hardest to win a scholarship or grant. Here’s a helpful resource for loans, scholarships, and grants…

(3.) Law School is 3-years in length and you’ll be working non-stop during that period. Law School is a time consuming and difficult endeavor, especially in the first year. Some law school graduates and professors have even said that the first year is specifically designed to be extremely challenging so those not truly committed will be weeded out. So, understand that if you attend law school it will not be a cakewalk. You’ll have to read hundreds of cases, write lengthy papers, do copious amounts of legal research, and argue in front of a judge in a mock trial. So if you don’t like to write or speak in public, law school is not for you.

(4.) Even after you graduate law school, you’ll still not a lawyer! That’s right, even after 3 years of hard work, you’re still not technically a lawyer. You must pass the bar exam and obtain your license in order to legally be a lawyer (nice play on words, ey).

Summation: I don’t want this article to sound pessimistic about the law school experience. It can be one of the most fulfilling ventures of your life. You’ll be learning, and mastering, something that is involved in all aspects of our lives: the law. Once you graduate, people will look to you for advice and counsel on important matters. And the possibility of handling a high-profile case and/or making boatloads of cash is certainly possible. But just remember, you must have a genuine interest in law, or have the inherent skills to handle the workload in order to succeed in law school.

Affordable Health Insurance – How New Laws Will Affect Us Soon

In the near future, one will have to wonder if we really have affordable health insurance. Recently, the United States Congress passed a new healthcare law that will supposedly provide “healthcare coverage for all.” The question in many American’s minds is: “Is it really what they say it will be?”

Under current estimates, over 30 million Americans will get, or need to buy some form of healthcare insurance plan coverage and this will need to happen by the year 2014. Experts studying the situation are coming out with strong opinions that within 10 years there will not be enough doctors to take care of all the new influx of people that have come into the system. Where will all these new doctors come from?

Only a few years ago the American College of Physicians came out with a strong reminder that we are going to see a shortage of doctors merely because of the population explosion from the baby-boom era of the 1950s. This will be compounded by the fact that the new insurance laws regarding healthcare will soon drop into place raising the question of whether we will really have affordable health insurance or not, as so eloquently put by President Barack Obama in his bid for the US presidential race in 2008.

Since the mid-90s to the mid-2000s, the number of people graduating dropped by half that were going to go into practices to treat patients. This is quite contradictory to the rules (or intent) placed down by the passing of the new healthcare law. Another thing to question is, traditionally, those people who currently have insurance for healthcare have been avoiding getting the treatment that they need because they couldn’t pay for it in the first place. Statistics show that people who have gone without healthcare are sick more often and tend not to live as long.

It is the opinion of a large share of US citizens that the medical community is raking in huge profits from their endeavors. Experts in the field claim the opposite; that the medical field has a very slim profit margin. It is another opinion that the health insurance companies are making huge profits by simply picking and choosing who they want to insure. In other words, the insurance companies will deny coverage of those with pre-existing conditions and block them from getting insurance or switching companies to get better coverage or rates.

There is concern that the new health care laws will have a detrimental effect on the pay scale of existing and new doctors in the medical field. Their fears are that the government will have enough power and control of the system and that they will literally dictate their pay. There are also those who say that the insurance companies are already doing that. Some say that the government is already pulling money from the Medicare system to start covering the costs of the new laws. Sort of a “rob Peter to pay Paul” syndrome.

At the time of the writing of this article, over 60 percent of the United States citizens feel that the healthcare reform laws were put in writing way too prematurely. They also feel that the laws were enacted under duress. Those states disapproving of the laws are now forming together is have the law repealed. They are banding together to form a huge lawsuit against the United States government in a declaration that the law is unconstitutional.

It is likely that the lawsuits will end up in the Supreme Courts and may take years to make a final and concise decision. At that time, it is likely to take years to find out if the government has truly created an affordable health insurance system that will work without breaking “America’s bank.”

Tidbits in the Law February 2011

The following are items that we thought might interest you:

The new tax law, called The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, provided a number of changes to deductions for small business owners, college students and teachers. As a result, it may be mid to late February for the IRS to be able to accept and process income tax returns for filers taking deductions based upon the new law. The Schedule A for itemized deductions will be affected.

A new Illinois law was signed by Governor Quinn mid-2010, which is effective January 1, 2011, which eliminates the requirement of filing at the county level many corporation documents that were filed with the Illinois Secretary of State, which created a certain amount of redundancy. Some of the documents that once filed with the Illinois Secretary of State will no longer be required to file with the county of the corporation’s residence are:

• Copy of application for an assumed name;
• Copy of certificate of administrative dissolution issued by Secretary of State;
• A certified copy of a court order of dissolution;
• A certified copy of the change of address for a registered agent, which changes the registered agent from one county to another.

The 2010 Health Care Reconcilation Act, the health care reform bill, imposes a new tax of 3.8% on the sale of real estate for certain individuals, as it imposes a Medicare tax on individuals, estates and trusts for unearned income other than pension distributions. If Congress does not change this act, this tax applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012.