Archive for December, 2009
The Bar examination is the exam all practicing lawyers must take before they are eligible to practice law in a particular county or state. However completing the bar exam on its own is not enough to guarantee employment, and in the current economic climate it’s more difficult than usual to secure a job. One of the best ways around the current job shortage however, as many people are finding, is to go it alone and set up your own business. In law this might mean starting your own solo practice, and there are many benefits to doing so; so much so that even if you are currently a practicing attorney or otherwise employed, you may still be tempted by the idea of flying solo.
For a little bit of money up front, starting a solo practice can give you the satisfaction of working closer to the case, choosing your working environment and taking more profit as a result. It can also give you the flexibility to hone in on a niche area, gain business experience and choose your cases.
Fortunately if you have the determination to go for it then it’s actual not that hard or expensive even to set up your practice. First of all you will need to register with the government that you are going self employed and that will involve setting up tax. You will most likely want to register yourself as a sole trader, but should the need arise you can develop later into a limited company. The equipment you’ll need is fairly basic and setting up your home office won’t need to cost that much. First of all you need a computer and a printer, and most people already have both. Laptops are advisable as they’re far more practical and means you can have all your documents on you at any time and can have a ‘paperless law office’. Make sure that you have the necessary software for managing contacts such as Outlook and for managing your money such as GnuCash. Likewise ensure that your printer has scanning and faxing capabilities.
If you currently don’t have much experience as an attorney then it can pay to shadow a company that do something similar to what you want to do for a month or so. You won’t get paid for this but if you volunteer your services for free for a month a lot of places will be eager to have you. In return ask to be sent to their meetings and involved in their privy discussions.
Now that you have the experience and the to
I was shifting my home from one city to another in the UK. While commuting, my birth certificate got misplaced. I couldn’t remember the exact carton that had all my essential documents. On opening all of them, I found all the vital papers, but the British Birth Certificate was missing. My mother always used to tell me to keep my important documents safe and secure, but I ridiculed her talks. When the certificate got misplaced, I understood the significance of it. I was browsing online and visited various blogs that discussed about the lost of certificates. I also got a few comments that revolved around the solutions applied. One of the comments mentioned about an access to a replacement birth certificate. However, the source to purchase the same wasn’t mentioned. Therefore, I started surfing the web. One of the results on the search engines redirected me to a site that provides a copy of a lost certificate to the UK citizens. Without missing on the opportunity, I clicked on the ‘order a certificate online now’. After making the payment, I was entitled to keep a track of my order. In just 15 days, the copy of my mislaid certificate was at my doorstep. It is truly a great service to eliminate our fears.
Is the Threat of a Lawsuit a Real Fear?
As a small business owner, you may be one of the 48% concerned about frivolous or unfair lawsuits. According to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, actual lawsuits and the fear of lawsuits cost U.S. small businesses $98 million in 2005. That figure may seem large because it includes money spent on damage awards, settlements, legal costs, liability insurance premiums, and costs incurred by insurance companies on behalf of policyholders. Is the fear of lawsuits a real fear? Unfortunately, yes. Anybody can sue anybody over anything at any time. In reality, 46% of small business owners have been threatened with a lawsuit, 34% have been sued in the past 10 years, and 62% have made business decisions to avoid lawsuits. Indeed, small businesses bear 69% of the total cost of the tort system to all U.S. businesses.
What is the Best Course of Action?
What’s a small business owner to do? For starters, realize that the best defense is a great offense. While most small business owners fear the law, it is much wiser to use the law as a protective shield. There are many business and legal components that contribute to creating the strongest shield possible – business entities (the type of structure that governs your business), insurance, and intellectual property (copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secrets) to name a few.
As a former full-time practicing attorney and now a small business owner, I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to the legal issues a business owner may face. It is imperative that entrepreneurs understand the basics of the legal side of running a business, and how to use the law as a shield to protect yourself and your business.
Creating a Shield Through Business Structure
The first item a small business owner should consider is the structure of the business. There are 4 basic types of business entities: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company. A common misconception of small business owners is that the business entity itself always creates a legal shield. In some instances (a corporation, or limited liability company, for example), this is generally true. However, if you are a sole proprietor (and, if so, you are not alone, as 78% of all small businesses in the U.S. are sole proprietorships), then you essentially have no shield. As a sole proprietor, you are personally liable for all business debts and other obligations. Fortunately, the law is not the only means to create a shield to protect your business. If the business entity itself does not provide a shield, then you can create one by acquiring appropriate and adequate insurance coverage. Thus, a sole proprietorship that is adequately protected by insurance may have an effective shield.
With a law firms seemingly on every corner, it becomes important to set the best apart from the rest. Law firm internet marketing plans are key to brining in new business and assisting with retainment and referrals. A marketing professional that is an expert in the field will be able to make this happen.
There are several components to successful law firm internet marketing. The website is the main ingredient, rich in SEO keywords. Most potential clients will use the web in searching for the right firm, and if they can’t find it, they won’t contact it. The firm needs to be represented in a sophisticated manner, while not being too ostentatious. Images of the partners, their specialties, and an easy to navigate style are all important elements that capture the potential client. Just as important as being able to find the site, is keeping the viewer on it and making them want to contact the firm. The firm needs to be represented in a positive and friendly light, and charming the client without being over the top.
The use of blogs and social media will appeal to a broad spectrum, and help portray the firm as the most knowledgeable professionals in their field. Facebook and Twitter will be more appealing to a younger crowd, while informative articles will captivate an audience looking for specific answers. The use of video is also recommended by law firm internet marketing professionals. A simple minute-long video will convey more about the attorneys in the firm than a simple photograph, and will personalize the experience. The power of voice is often more compelling, and will lead the potential client to contact the firm.
A successful internet marketing plan is not without the use of email. Newsletter updates that contain new information, promotions, and attorney bios are powerful tools that help retain clients. They continue promoting the positive image of the firm, and are potentially forwarded to friends, coworkers, or neighbors for new referrals.
All of these elements together provide a comprehensive campaign for the law firm. Including a law firm internet marketing professional will ensure that the right combination is created to best promote the firm. It will drive traffic to the law firm’s site, and create an overall trusting image that keeps the clients returning.