Lawyer With A Blog? Here Are Some Tips To Make It Easier.

For a long time, lawyers with the urge to blog were stymied in their efforts by technology. You had to fire up a text editor to draft the posts, remember some HTML to position links and images properly, and get it posted properly. Spell checking, proper research, it quickly turned from a labor of love to a major headache.

But now, thankfully, there’s Firefox. If you’re a blogger and use Firefox you don’t need to open any other programs to draft blog posts. The beauty of Firefox is that there are so many extensions it can do much more than any other browser, and tools to help bloggers abound. For example:

Save Text Area: This allows you to save the contents of any text box; even better.

Spell Checker: Firefox has one built in, so more more spelling “blog” as “bolg” (OK, who can catch the reference?)

There are a ton of other add-ons specifically for bloggers; one of them is ScribeFire, which allows you to draft blog posts by hitting Cntrl-F8 from any Firefox window. I’ve already spoken about Zotero for research, and many use Google Notebook for down thoughts and blog drafts – kind of a modern-day Moleskine. If you use Google Notebook, remember you can use an add-on to open it in the Firefox sidebar menu.

For even more tips, check out 40+ Firefox Add-ons for High Speed Blogging and 12 Firefox Addons that Make Blogging Easy.

The upshot it this – if you sniff around long enough, you’ll find that there are a ton of tools to make it easier than ever to blog effectively and (relatively) effortlessly.

The argument AGAINST blogging to prospective clients.

Well, perhaps it’s not THE argument, but here’s a twist. Recently, a client stumbled upon my Florida probate law blog, WeProbateFlorida.com which was recently transformed from a standard, ho-hum static website to a dynamic, blog based site.

After roaming around the site for a moment, I got an email through the contact form which essentially said (paraphrased), “Not sure if your site is just informational, but do you have a normal site with information about your practice?”

This took me back a bit. Instantly, I pulled up the site and browsed around to see if there was anything about the site that was perhaps disorienting or otherwise confusing to the “average” web surfer.

Was I on the verge of a legitimate argument AGAINST blogging? [Read more...]

Positioning Your Law Firm

It’s no secret that competition is fiercer now than ever before. You’ve got other lawyers jockeying for your clients like always, but now there are all the paralegal services nipping at your heels like angry dogs in search of a new chew toy.

That’s why the smart money is on positioning your firm properly. Positioning is the way in which your firm is differentiated from the competition. Most consumer bankruptcy lawyers don’t realize the power of positioning, and how it can boost your bottom line.

An integral part of the consulting work is helping my law firm clients determine who they are, and what they stand for. From there, we can work on how the firm may be able to differentiate itself from the competition.

Positioning is different from picking out pretty colors and a snappy logo for the letterhead and sign in front of the office. It requires you to dig deep down and pull out the answer to, “Why should someone hire me?”

Proper positioning requires you to emphasize benefits, rather than features, of your product. Let’s go back to one of my favorites, the humble drill. If I go to a hardware store for a drill, what I’m really buying is a hole in the wall. The machine is just the tool, not the benefit. I want the benefit, a nice hole in the wall into which I can screw a hook.

So, too, with bankruptcy lawyers.

Should someone hire you because you offer a free consultation, day and evening appointments, and free parking? Probably not, because chances are pretty good that some other firm in your area provides these features of their service offering.

Consider the following two statements:

“Experienced bankruptcy lawyer. We offer a free consultation. Evening and weekend appointments available.”

– and –

“Our experienced bankruptcy lawyers will review your situation at no charge, giving you the right advice for your situation. And you don’t even need to take off a day from work because evening and weekend appointments are available.”

See how the second option puts the benefits right in front of the consumer? Don’t just tell them what you have, but let them know in no uncertain terms why it’s good.

How Did I Miss This?

I must have been living under a rock. I confess, it was a stupid oversight on my part. I’m talking about Pandora, a terrific service of the Music Genome Project. The GMP has analyzed an absurd amount of music, capturing the details of 400 attributes of each song. Pandora takes advantage of this indexing by asking you to enter the name of a favorite artist or song, then matching your tastes to create a customized music station. You get to rate each song that plays, and Pandora adapts to your likes and dislikes over time.

For example, I’m a big Dar Williams fan. I also happen to like Oingo Boingo. Totally unrelated artists, but Pandora came through like a champ for me. I’ve not only heard “The Babysitter’s Here” and “Elevator Man,” but also a number of other great artists with similar musical styles.

It’s totally free, and your stations are saved in your account so you can access the system from any computer.

Check it out – you’ll be glad you did!

Switch To Mac? Keep Windows? Well, It Depends.

I’ve been thinking about a Mac PowerBook Pro laptop. My Dell is on the way out, and I need a new laptop. But do I need a Mac?

Well, it depends. Mitch Matorin, a solo from Massachusetts, weighed in on the debate a few days ago. He says:

The question, for me, is whether the benefit that I get from learning the new system is worth the hassle of unlearning the old system,which, despite its frustrations, works reasonably well. I am nothing if not a technology whore, and I have been wanting to get a Mac for a while because of their reputation and my desire to have new toys. Parallels gave me the excuse to do it, since I wouldn’t have to ditch all my preexisting software. What I discovered is that the transition would be more difficult than I had expected because the PC methods are so firmly ingrained . . . Truly, I was frustrated that I could not see a clear benefit. I wanted to. I was sheepish that I didn’t. But I ultimately came to terms with the fact that I didn’t . . . If I were starting from scratch, I might very well think that the Mac was the greatest thing since sliced bread and I might very well be much happier for it. But that wasn’t my starting point.

But in all the hype over the greatness of the Mac, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that, love it or hate it, the PC is familiar and we have adapted to its faults. I just don’t think that people who are already running their law offices on PCs should blithely decide to switch to Macs simply because Parallels is available. It isn’t the same. There will be a steep learning curve. You will have to unlearn old things and learn new things. It will not be as smooth a transition as one might be led to believe. There will be technical problems, whether it is software that does not run under Parallels well for some reason, or, as I experienced, Parallels crashes. If you are considering moving to the Mac because of Parallels, you have to ask yourself why that matters. If you’re going to run Windows programs, get a PC. It makes no sense to get a Mac if you’re going to spend your time in the Windows OS. If you’re going to work on the Mac side and get new software, then Parallels is not relevant.

All I’m suggesting is that potential switchers pause and consider what they are expecting and why they are switching. And be prepared to devote a good deal of time to learning the Mac and getting comfortable with it during the 14-day return window because if you don’t and you decide later that it is too frustrating and the benefits are not clear enough, you’ll have just dumped a lot of money on something that is going to be at least as frustrating for you as a PC.

It’s an interesting take on the problem, and one that I hadn’t considered until reading Mitch’s comments. What will I do? Stay tuned.