5 Benefits of Face-to-Face Interaction

It’s easy to see how advancements in technology have streamlined communication for all businesses in the 21st century. From smartphones and social media to intranets and email, contacting others has never been easier. However, while technology has made communication more convenient, face-to-face interaction still has a prominent place at your law firm. There will always be situations and circumstances that warrant an in-person conversation as opposed to the standard message or email. Here are five benefits of face-to-face interaction and why they are important in your firm’s daily communication. 

BUILD PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

Networking has become a frequently used buzzword in recent years. We’ve all heard the advice that building relationships with other professionals is essential for career growth. Despite the presence of social networking sites like LinkedIn, there’s no better way to foster professional relationships than old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Remember that strong relationships help build strong reputations and a strong reputation makes others more inclined to work with you for mutual growth.

If you get an email or call from a salesperson you do not know, chances are you won’t be receptive to the offer and may even ignore it altogether. An in-person sales pitch is harder to discount because it feels more authentic and personal. Networking is no different. Of course, you can still form a connection with a client or potential client online, but meeting someone and having a conversation is much more likely to help build a truly professional relationship. There’s no substitute for a handshake, and face-to-face interaction will allow you to showcase your personality and more easily read another’s a reaction and body language. 

5 Benefits of Face-to-Face Interaction - Ghidotti Communications

Face-to-face interaction isn’t just for developing relationships outside of your law firm. It can also be beneficial for improving internal communication and encouraging collaboration from everyone on your team. The business will no doubt improve when all of your lawyers are sharing ideas and working together. Our agency utilizes brainstorming sessions to generate plans for both our clients and ourselves. We get together in one room and discuss the various ideas that each of us has for the objective at hand. Without fail, talking about these plans in person leads to a better understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish and concrete solutions to get it done. 

ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND COLLABORATION

Sometimes, all it takes is hearing another person share their thoughts to get those creative juices flowing, build on it and establish a plan to put into action. Trying to develop these plans alone or even through the use of technology can be difficult. Encourage in-person teamwork or brainstorming sessions at your law firm and watch employee engagement and collaboration soar.  

ESTABLISH CLEAR AND CONCISE COMMUNICATION

According to DMR, the average office worker receives 121 emails each day. When sorting through that many messages, it’s safe to assume at least a handful of them could be misconstrued by the recipient. Enter face-to-face interaction. When a conversation is had in person, there’s less opportunity for a message to be misunderstood. Through the interpretation of body language and tone of voice, we are much more likely to understand the intent and remain on the same page than we are through the use of email or other electronic messaging. 

This can also be effective for constructive criticism. We can all remember a time in school when a teacher handed us a test or assignment that was covered in red marks. Without an explanation, this can be very discouraging and lead to increased frustration and potential confusion when working on future projects. It’s no different for your law firm. Rather than just listing out your corrections in a message to an attorney or other team member, sit down with them and talk through your feedback. Having an open discussion about what you are looking for will lead to a better understanding on their part without discouraging them. Chances are you’ll see more positive results on the next assignment. GENERATE QUALITY LEADS

Client research is where you gain valuable insight into who your target audience is and how to reach them. Our team is experienced in developing the right strategies to effectively reach your target audience. Schedule your free 1-hour consultation

EFFECTIVE USE OF TIME AND RESOURCES

For all of its convenience, technology still has its issues. A quick glance at your email inbox and you’ll likely find a thread of multiple messages between you and a client, particularly when it comes to scheduling or establishing plans. Oftentimes, a simple face-to-face interaction could have accomplished this goal in a fraction of the time. An in-person conversation allows you to get to the point quickly and establish plans, possibly even within just a few moments. 

Consider this practice the next time you need to collaborate with a fellow attorney or even with someone outside of your law firm. As we’ve already established, the sheer number of emails that the average person is receiving daily increases the likelihood that your message will be overlooked or potentially ignored. Sitting down with the recipient instead will accomplish your goal more quickly, saving time and energy for both parties. 

Why Face-to-Face Interaction and Communication are so Important -  brianthomas.me

APPROPRIATE DELIVERY OF PERSONAL MESSAGES

Regardless of the size of a law firm, everyone will be faced with situations that require delivering bad news to someone. From reprimanding a team member to severing a legal partnership, there are countless examples of these situations. While nobody likes to be the one delivering this news, it warrants a face-to-face interaction rather than a message. In the professional world, the recipient of bad news often deserves to hear it with grace and compassion. As hard as it may seem, it’s essential that you share bad news within a face-to-face interaction to maintain professionalism at your law firm. 

This practice should also be utilized when delivering the good news. A promotion, raise, or even just positive reinforcement for a job well done will prevail with face-to-face interaction. Let’s use Facebook and birthdays as an example. Sure, we all feel good when someone writes on our wall or sends us a message to wish us a happy birthday, but hearing it in person feels more authentic and generates a more positive response. The good news in law firms works the same way. The next time you want to congratulate someone at your office, do it in person and you’ll guarantee the recipient will experience a genuine reaction. We all love a good pat on the back.

The Secrets to Building a Good Relationship with Your Lawyer

Although most people don’t want to use lawyers, most will need one at some point. To improve your overall experience, follow these important rules for building a solid client-attorney relationship:

How to Create a Good Attorney-Client Relationship | Paul M. Graziano

Choose the Right Lawyer

No lawyer is thoroughly knowledgeable about every type of law. Think through what you need a lawyer to do and invest some time finding the right one to solve your problem, whether it’s European data privacy or collecting child support payments. By using the right lawyer, you will avoid paying someone to learn a new area of law on your dime. For example, if you need help with a commercial office lease, do not rely on an attorney who primarily does immigration law. You will regret it.

Lawyers in Utah are not allowed to say they are an “expert” in an area of law, so you may need to ask others for recommendations, research their profiles on their websites, or quiz a potential lawyer about their experience with the specific type of work you need to be done. Spend five to 10 minutes talking with the lawyer to see if there is rapport. If you do not feel comfortable talking with him or her, then move on to another prospect. A good relationship helps create good results.

Prepare Yourself

Don't Minimize The Importance Of Managing Your Side Of the Attorney-Client Relationship - ALPS Blog

Think about what you want your lawyer to accomplish. What are your goals? What would be the best result and what would be an acceptable result? What can you give up? What are your biggest concerns?

Gather up the details you would expect a lawyer to need, such as copies of contracts and notes about phone calls, names, and addresses. By helping your lawyer be efficient, you can lower your bill, set the performance standard higher, and most likely see a better end result.

Set Expectations

Whether starting a relationship with a new lawyer or resetting an existing relationship, work together to set agreed-upon expectations. How often do you expect an update? What method of communication do you prefer (phone, email, letters)? How quickly will calls or emails be returned?

To keep money issues at a minimum, find out the lawyer’s hourly rate at the start. Ask how often invoices are sent as well as payment terms and methods. Ask whether a retainer will be required and what is billed in addition to time (telephone calls, emails, postage, etc.). Inquire about an expected total fee
for your project, which will make it harder for the attorney to significantly exceed the estimate without a good reason. For some matters, you can ask for flat-fee billing. These may be uncomfortable questions, but asking upfront can avoid real discomfort when the invoices arrive.

Don’t Waste Time

Lawyers basically sell their time. To keep invoices in line, be concise with requests and avoid chitchat unless you expect to pay for the privilege. Avoid rambling emails and long phone calls repeating what you have already communicated. If you are concise and polite, you increase the chances of regular and effective communication within your budget.

Accept Advice, but Understand the Attorney Role

A lawyer has a duty to represent you as his client as well as a duty to the court system and various professional ethical rules. Your lawyer will have the right to decide how some legal procedures are carried out, but generally, the role is to advise you of legal risks and describe strategies or options to accomplish your goals within the law. Most lawyers will lay out choices, but expect you to make an informed decision based on your business goals, risk tolerance, the projected costs, and other factors important to you. Your lawyer will often make a recommendation, but will not make a decision for you because how you choose to balance the factors involved will determine whether you will consider the outcome a success.

At the same time, if you consistently ignore your attorney’s advice, it will undermine the relationship and the attorney may suggest you find a different lawyer better suited to your goals or temperament.

Pay Your Bill

Amenities Of The Attorney-Client Relationship, Part One - California Desert Trial Academy College of Law

Lawyers are often pressed for time. They fear running out of work, so they may take on more work than they can comfortably manage. Other things being equal, your lawyer will most likely choose to work on matters for clients who pay their bills on time. Abraham Lincoln recommended always collecting payment in advance so it was clear the lawyer knew he had a client and the client knew he had a lawyer. It is still good advice.

Contact us for more information.

Lawyer-Client Relationship Tips

As a lawyer, you’re 100 percent committed to helping your clients. But do your clients know this?

Strong client relationships are key for building a successful, client-centered law firm. You might be working late nights and 12-hour days for your clients, but if you’re not consciously building strong lawyer-client relationships, your clients could feel neglected. Remember: While you may have many clients, most of your clients will only have one lawyer. You’ll need to account for that mismatch.

How to Create a Good Attorney-Client Relationship | Paul M. Graziano

Building strong lawyer-client relationships is key to the success of your law firm. Why? If your clients don’t feel that they’re getting instant, diligent representation, they may not refer future business, and they may even post negative feedback publicly.

Phrases like, “[insert lawyer’s name] didn’t fight for me” litter malpractice grievances and negative Yelp reviews across the web.

Here are a few tips for creating a strong lawyer-client relationship:

1. Be diligent

First and foremost, you have an obligation to be diligent on behalf of your clients. Rule 1.3 in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct states, “[a] lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”

A number of items fall under the umbrella of diligence—arriving for appointments on time and managing a reasonable workload, for starters. On top of that, you’ll need to communicate with your clients promptly, whether it’s convenient for you or not.

Beyond your day-to-day commitments, there can be some heavy demands on lawyers in terms of diligence. For example, Comment 1 on Rule 1.3 states, “A lawyer should pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer.”

What might this look like? For one lawyer, it meant abandoning a $200,000 Ferrari in Toronto floodwaters to make it to his hearing on time.

That’s an extreme example, but lawyers can face personal risk to themselves or their property as a result of being diligent to their clients.

Whether it’s managing your day-to-day commitments or meeting a larger, more timely obligation, having a strong daily routine will help you keep track of your obligations. To help visualize a day in the life of a well-balanced lawyer, we’ve put together a templated schedule for you to build from—and compiled a list of valuable tools to help you stay organized throughout your day.

2. Exercise attention to detail

Lawyers are constantly being asked to do more with less. With new law firm technologies and more apps for lawyers being announced all the time, there are plenty of tools available to help lawyers work smarter.

But, that added efficiency comes at a cost—with more to do, there’s more to juggle. As a lawyer, it’s still your duty to make sure all the tiniest details are correct in every legal document you produce.

Tools like PerfectItWordRake, and jEugene can help you take care of details in your written work, while features like document automation in your practice management software can help make sure everything is properly formatted.

3. Keep a reasonable workload

The Attorney-Client Relationship: 5 Ways to Build Trust - 4LegalLeads.com

Diligence is important, but in order to be appropriately committed to all of your clients, you’ve got to keep your workload manageable. This might seem like common sense, but it’s also a requirement: Comment 2 on Rule 1.3 states, “[a] lawyer’s workload must be controlled so that each matter can be handled competently.”

In other words, balance isn’t just a matter of self-care for lawyers—it’s a matter of ethics. It’s no use getting more clients if you can’t provide all of them with appropriate representation.

Make sure you’re properly estimating how long tasks will take, and that you’re keeping an eye on your pipeline of new clients. Technology can make this easier. For example, Advanced Tasks, in Clio Manage, available to Elite plan subscribers, let you estimate the amount of time that goes into a task. You can also set statuses for your tasks, assign tasks to different people, and get reports on your firm’s productivity.

4. Take care of yourself

Taking care of yourself might seem out of place on a list of tips for staying committed in lawyer-client relationships, but it’s actually one of the most important things you need to be paying attention to. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be in a position to help your clients.

In some cases, the need for self-care is mentioned in state bar rules. In the State Bar of California’s Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-110 states that “competence” for lawyers includes the “mental, emotional, and physical ability reasonably necessary for the performance of [legal services].”

As per our cheat sheet, make sure you’re taking at least an hour or two a day for your personal well-being—especially if you’re working long days. Your clients (and your health) will thank you for it.

5. Arrive on time

Comment 3 on Rule 1.3 in the ABA Model Professional Rules of Conduct states, “[p]erhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination.”

Just meet your deadlines and get there on time. Seems simple, right? For lawyers who have a lot to keep track of, arriving on time might not be as simple as you’d think. Between meetings, appointments, hearings, and deadlines, there are plenty of places for scheduling errors to pop up.

Late meetings and missed dates can be troublesome for the lawyer-client relationship. Even when a client’s interests are not affected in substance, unreasonable delay can cause a client needless anxiety and undermine confidence in the lawyer’s trustworthiness. You can lose the client.

To keep on top of your busy schedule, use calendaring tools to set up reminders. Google Calendars, iCal, or Outlook are great places to start. There are also more advanced tools, like Clio’s Court Rules feature (available for Elite plan subscribers) that helps you calculate key deadlines based on court rules in your jurisdiction.

There’s only so much you can keep in your head. But with the right tools, you’ll get reminders for appointments and key dates right when you need them.

6. Listen

As with any relationship, listening is key when building new relationships with your clients. This doesn’t mean simply asking a token list of client intake questions either—take time to listen to your clients’ problems and make an effort to truly understand what they’re seeking from you.

Only then will you be able to demonstrate a genuine commitment to helping your clients.

Dan Pinnington suggests a good place to start: He asks all of his clients “What’s your greatest concern?” This forces his clients into a moment of clarity, and helps him identify how best to reassure them that he can help with their current situation.

7. Communicate clearly (and often)

How many problems are caused by a lack of clear communication? It’s your duty to promptly and clearly communicate with your clients in a manner that is convenient for them. But in terms of building a strong lawyer-client relationship, communication needs to go beyond the bare minimum.

For example, reaching out to clients unprompted can help them feel that you’re truly focused on their issue.

As Joshua Lenon, Clio’s lawyer in residence, says:

Unprompted communication is something that I think is really easy for lawyers to do, but so few actually do it. Reaching out to a client with an update—whether it’s significant or not—is a great way to show involvement in a matter.

8. Manage expectations

On top of communicating clearly, you’ve got to ensure your client understands exactly what you can do for them. Managing expectations is key for avoiding disappointment down the road.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep, as this can erode your clients’ trust. Just look at this parallel example from the business world: According to the Harvard Business Review, when a company consistently fails to meet lofty expectations, employees lose trust in the organization and start to spend time planning their next move.

In short, it’s better to set realistic expectations and inform your clients about what lies behind them.

Know that success does not guarantee a strong lawyer-client relationship

Setting Communication Boundaries for Healthy Lawyer-Client Relationships

You may win your clients’ cases, but do you win their hearts? Whether you’re fighting for your clients in court or staying up late doing paperwork, your client needs to understand what you’re doing in order for you to be truly successful.

Remember, to build a strong client relationship, you’ll need to:

  • Take time to listen and understand their problems
  • Communicate clearly and often
  • Arrive on time
  • Set realistic expectations about what you can achieve

If you’ve got those down, you’ll be well on your way to creating more client referral opportunities and helping your firm succeed.

We published this blog post in February 2017. Last updated: July 29, 2020.

Categorized in: Business

Understanding family law client changes during the pandemic

As most family lawyers will attest, the pandemic continued, and in fact, somewhat increased, the need for family law services. After all, there is nothing like being quarantined with a spouse to test the limits of a marital relationship, and for some couples, they came to the unfortunate realization that their marriage could not survive.  In addition to the spike in divorces, the pandemic resulted in novel disputes concerning custody.  Parents who could not agree on whether their children should attend in-person school or activities or receive a COVID vaccination when eligible found themselves reaching out to their attorneys for assistance. Those who lost their jobs or were out of work or whose work diminished could not necessarily sustain the same level of support or alimony and also needed legal help in adjusting their obligations.  All of these new issues, coupled with the normal day-to-day family law issues have resulted in most family law practices being busier than ever.

Nonetheless, all of this uncertainty in the world and the realization that things can turn on a dime, also affected how we practice family law and how we will continue to develop business in the future. After all, in-person marketing, whether it be conferences, events, or even a lunch meeting are few and far between, and even if they do occur, being masked and socially distant makes it pretty difficult to engage in business development.

Use of digital resources and social presence

Everyone, and in particular, potential clients, have become much more reliant on computer research.  This is why it is more important than ever for family lawyers to use digital resources to promote their practice.  Keeping web bios up to date and having a social media presence that can inform prospective clients is more critical than ever before. And since prospective clients are seeking to address their concerns as quickly as possible, keeping content current and informative on social media and web bios is a way to connect and develop future business.

Expectations to meet virtually and increased accessibility

Even the way we meet clients and conduct hearings in many instances has changed.  There is now an expectation that lawyers will have the capability to connect remotely whether by Zoom or another source.  Oftentimes, it is more convenient for clients to meet over Zoom than to go to the lawyer’s office for an in-person, face to face, meeting.  In some jurisdictions, hearings are being conducted remotely, changing the entire way that we historically practiced.  Thus, the lawyers who are technologically savvy have a much greater advantage in satisfying the demands of the modern-day client.

Because as a society, working no longer means going into an office to work, clients have a greater expectation that lawyers will be available 24/7.  There is no longer a concept of being out of the office and unavailable given that there is no more office!  As such, being available and accessible is more important than ever for retaining existing clients and developing new business.

Desire to be understood and its impact on innovative approaches

Now, more than ever, when stress is higher for everyone, the family lawyer’s role of counselor is truly emphasized.  Having patience and understanding is needed more than ever before, as well as the legal acumen to think creatively about our rapidly changing personal situations so that the necessary legal arguments can be crafted.  While family law matters were never defined as “cookie-cutter”, there was certain predictability and repetitiveness of legal issues. Now, because of the changing dynamic of our personal lives and financial situations, the lawyer who is innovative and takes the time to delve into these new issues, is the one who will attract new clients and continue to develop business.

While the negative impacts of the pandemic are clear, it has, nonetheless, changed the way we practice family law and develop business in all the ways mentioned, and it will undoubtedly be a different practice going forward in the days to come.  Thus adaptability is the key to developing and maintaining a successful family law practice.

Ways artificial intelligence can benefit your law firm

How Law Firms Can Benefit from Artificial Intelligence - Law Technology  Today

Have you heard the buzz? Artificial intelligence is taking the legal world by storm—and lawyers are embracing the change, despite their traditional resistance to technology.

In today’s world, data is growing explosively. While that massive store of data contains correspondingly voluminous and useful information—especially for the practice of law—it also takes massive time to analyze. And then there’s the monotony, boredom, and frustration felt by humans who are trying to plow through a Sisyphean task, and the ever-increasing need for speed in response to client, court, and regulatory agency demands. Together, these challenges add up to a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to maintaining a smart, functional legal practice—at least for mere mortals who occasionally have to stop to eat and sleep.

Thankfully, computers are evolving just as quickly as the data boom, and they’re here to save us from ourselves. Artificial intelligence, or AI, refers to computer software and systems that don’t just do tasks they’ve been programmed for in advance—they actually learn as they go, improving their performance through feedback. These programs can quickly learn to complete data-intensive tasks that were previously relegated to bored and weary humans. By recognizing patterns in the relationships between words or data points, computers learn how to identify relevant information, recognize mistakes and spot inconsistencies—all faster, and usually better, than humans do.

What does all this mean for lawyers? The primary areas where AI is being applied in the law, so far, include the following broad categories:

Artificial Intelligence in the energy industry | Shell Global
  • review of documents for discoverable or otherwise relevant information, generally referred to as technology-assisted review (TAR).
  • legal research through automated searches of a universe of case law and statutes.
  • contract and legal document analysis.
  • proofreading, error correction and document organization.

How can your law firm benefit from these AI applications? In this article, we’ll discuss the seven top benefits of applying AI solutions in law firms. As you’ll see, these benefits are all interrelated. It’s easy to recognize how saving time can save money—but spending less time on mundane tasks can also save lawyers’ creative energy and reduce their stress. Together, more creativity and less stress make lawyers more productive, letting them complete work faster, which in turn saves time—and the entire process starts over.

When analyzing how AI can benefit your law firm and your legal practice, be sure you’re thinking holistically and identifying all of the potential benefits. (You may find some benefits, unique to your practice area or your firm, that we didn’t call out in this article.)

AI saves time. The biggest, most obvious benefit to AI applications is time savings. Computer systems can analyze more information, more thoroughly than humans can, in a tiny fraction of the time. For example, one of our users reported that she spent an hour proofing a document and then ran the original through AI software as a test. In less than a minute, it found and fixed all the errors she had painstakingly identified. This benefit applies to all types of AI applications. Computers can quickly:

  • search through and identify discoverable or potentially relevant data of all forms and file types
  • conduct legal research that would take a skilled attorney days to complete
  • analyze contracts and other documents for errors, missing information and inconsistent language.

Obviously, those time savings can translate into monetary savings, since less attorney or staff time is involved in finding answers and identifying mistakes. Those savings can quickly make up for the cost of new technology and thereafter can be passed along to clients.

AI allows earlier (and more accurate) risk assessment.  TAR tools, including predictive coding, can be used to review information in real time. This allows lawyers to identify potential risks earlier, advise clients wisely about their exposure and head off legal problems before they even occur. When a lawsuit has been started, or even merely threatened, these smart solutions allow law firms to quickly identify relevant information and to define the universe of data and custodians that must be protected. With this increased information, law firms can more accurately assess outcomes, minimizing costs and limiting risks while protecting their clients’—and their own—reputations.

AI produces higher-quality work. Work produced by intelligent software—which doesn’t get tired, bored or distracted—can be truly error-free. Specialized document software can enhance the organization of documents and flawlessly maintain that organization, including all internal cross-references, through the life of the document. Such software can also ensure that language is applied consistently, no matter how many attorneys had a hand in the drafting. Through document comparison and automatic learning, software such as contract comparison tools can identify missing clauses or conditions, inconsistently used terminology or undefined terms, both within a single document and across a pool of similar documents.

AI improves organizational and logical structure. With automatic document comparison and organization, attorneys can more quickly identify holes or gaps in their documents and even in their legal analyses. For example, contract analysis programs that have learned through repeated analysis can identify missing terms or definitions in known types of contracts. Similarly, document analysis can uncover a logical connection that hasn’t yet been firmly established in a legal memorandum, allowing attorneys to revisit and strengthen their weak points. For both, smart software that maintains internal organization and allows attorneys to quickly and conveniently switch between different levels and views enhances the overall structure and logical flow of the document.

AI enhances creative analysis and identification of persuasive precedents. With the time savings of automated review, research and document quality control, AI frees up attorneys’ time and mental energy for higher-level work. This enhances creativity, allowing attorneys to add unique value and focus completely on the work that computers can’t do. Increased confidence in results also gives attorneys the free hand they need to take risks and evaluate alternatives. With intelligent legal research software, attorneys can test out variations in fact patterns or legal analyses to identify the most advantageous strategy. Comparative analysis between cases in different states or between state and federal courts no longer takes days of exhaustive (and exhausting) scanning.

AI reduces attorney stress and frustration. Document review, proofreading and legal research can be tedious, mind-numbing work. While these tasks must be completed in the course of competent and ethical representation, no one said that attorneys had to do them! Allowing software to do at least the first round of “heavy lifting” reduces stress and boredom, minimizing the time that attorneys must spend on preliminary or low-level review. At the same time, knowing that their AI solution has already completed a comprehensive review gives attorneys more confidence in the results. This allows attorneys to dive into the creative, intellectual analysis that they are trained to do—and that computers can’t replicate, no matter how smart. Together, these dramatically improve attorney work satisfaction.

AI improves client relations.  Building from the previous points, AI solutions allow attorneys, freed from the tedium and minutiae of low-level tasks, the time to engage in the more satisfying, creative, human-specific work of legal representation. This includes talking to clients; fully developing, exploring and explaining strategies, theories and outcomes; and keeping clients better informed at every stage of the legal process. Not to mention, better and more consistent results by themselves lead to greater client satisfaction.

As we discussed at the outset, these benefits are interrelated, with each type of benefit leading to and fostering additional benefits. That interrelationship also harnesses the power of momentum. Just as an early mistake can rapidly spiral into more (and more serious) later mistakes, high-quality work also builds on itself and supports the production of more good quality work.

Artificial Intelligence in Law and Legal Practice | by ISA VIT | ISA-VIT |  Medium

In short, deploying an AI solution can create positive momentum throughout a law firm. As attorneys come to trust AI software, they can relax and let the computers attend to the monotonous details. No longer “stuck in the weeds,” these attorneys are more likely to engage in strategic problem-solving, which can enable them to enjoy their work more. (Aren’t our creative problem-solving abilities part of what drew us to the law in the first place?) Happier, more satisfied attorneys are less likely to take sick days or suffer burnout. They’re also more likely to have adequate time (and patience) to thoroughly counsel their clients and mentor their subordinates. All of this adds up to a much better working environment for everyone.

Legal Costs in Family Law matters – who pays?

Terms Used In Family Law

In cases decided under the Family Law Act the general principal is that the Family Court does not make an order that one party to the proceedings will pay the other party’s costs of the proceedings.  Usually each party is to pay their own legal costs. However, there are exceptions to this general principal.  Section 117 of the Family Law Act provides the circumstances in which the Court may order one party to pay the other party’s costs. 

What will the Judge consider in deciding whether one party will pay the other party’s coss of the proceedings?

Before a Judge makes a costs order that one party pay the other party’s costs, the Judge gives each party an opportunity to put their case forward as to why the Judge should or should not make such a costs order. 

The Judge must be satisfied that there are circumstances which justifies the making of the order having regard to the Family Law Act and the cases dealing with the Act.  The Court will consider those factors referred to in Section 117(2A) of the Act namely:

  1. the financial circumstances of each of the parties;
  2. whether a party is in receipt of Legal Aid?
  3. whether the party has conducted himself or herself properly?
  4. whether the party has complied with the requirements of the Court as to the preparation of the case and compliance with Court orders made from time to time?
  5. whether one party’s case or a particular discrete part thereof has been without merit or the party is wholly unsuccessful?
  6. whether there has been an appropriate offer of compromise and whether a party has rejected what would have been an appropriate offer to accept?
  7. whether the case commenced by a party or the defence of a case is frivolous or vexatious?
  8. such other matters as the Court considers relevant.

A party seeking a costs order can make an application either during the case if appropriate or within 28 days of the final determination of the matter. 

How can I protect myself against a Costs Order and/or improve my opportunity of obtaining a Costs Order in my favour?

Family Law | Nelson, Robinson & El Ashmawy PLLC

Firstly, a party can put themselves at risk that he or she will be ordered to pay the other party’s costs order in the event that:

  1. They do not conduct the litigation in an appropriate manner, namely, for example failing to comply with the rules and regulations relating to initial discovery, disclosure, complying with Court orders and proper preparation of the matter as required by the Court; or
  2. Failing to accept an offer that is put by a former spouse or partner during the process. 
  3. Secondly, a party can protect their position and hopefully obtain an order in circumstances where the party makes an appropriate offer of settlement which is not accepted by the other party.We highly recommend that you make an appropriate offer to settle matters with your former partner.  We refer you to our further Article dealing with offers.

What is required to make the application?

If one party makes an Application for Costs then it is critical that the appropriate evidence be put before the Court to enable the Court to consider all the relevant matters to determine such an application.  The order that will be made by the Court will depend on the conduct of the parties and what is said that a party should not have done or should have done which results in the consideration of the costs order.  It is critical if you are making the application or defending the application to take this aspect seriously and prepare the appropriate evidence.

What costgs may be payable?

Family Law - Gray Reed

The Court could order a party to pay costs of the other party:

  1. On an ordinary basis.  This is a limited basis and would be essentially on the basis of the minimal attendances required by a party to do justice between the parties.   This will be significantly less than the actual costs that a party would expect to pay; or
  2. At a fixed figure as determined by the Judge.  This would be unusual; and/or
  3. However in what is regarded as exceptional circumstances a Court may order costs on an indemnity basis.  This means that the losing party will be ordered to pay all costs reasonably incurred by the successful person with the benefit of the order.  Watson & Watson acted on behalf of the wife in the case Kohan v Kohan in 1993 which confirmed the Family Court had power to award costs on an indemnity basis.  There is no defined class of cases in which indemnity costs have been ordered against a party, however, it would usually require significant disregard to the processes and/or the rejection of an offer properly framed which was made by a party and rejected or not accepted by the other party in circumstances where the party rejecting the offer received a significantly lesser successful outcome at the hearing of the matter.

Seven Tips for Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

Seven Tips for Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

Deciding to get divorced is a huge decision, and choosing a divorce lawyer can also be an emotional and stressful experience. Read our seven tips for finding your ideal solicitor – for both yours and your family’s wellbeing.

Ending a marriage or a civil partnership is going to be a difficult and emotional time. It may involve children, assets, pets or large amounts of money. Choosing an experienced, professional family solicitor to guide you through the process will help to alleviate some of the stresses, however complicated you think your case may be.

Many law firms offer free consultations with experienced family solicitors. Use this opportunity to ask the right questions and decide if that lawyer is right for you. The idea of divorce might be daunting to some people, so the consultation will also help prepare for the case ahead. 

DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED A DIVORCE LAWYER? 

​You may have decided on a DIY divorce. Perhaps you have been separated from your partner for two or more years, or you have an amicable relationship with them, and you’ve made mutual decisions regarding children, assets or wealth.

But even the best-laid plans of mice and men go awry. In other words, more often than not, there will be unforeseen circumstances that need professional legal help. Family solicitors

are accustomed to dealing with all eventualities concerning divorce, and it will be worth having the peace of mind that using an experienced professional can bring.

CHOOSE A RELIABLE LAWYER 

Seven Tips for Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

 

​Your divorce or civil dissolution can go through many stages, some more difficult than others. What may seem simple at first could become more complex further down the line.

Find a lawyer that’s accessible and contactable at short notice, should you have any questions or need to talk about any disputes that may arise. You will be meeting your lawyer in person, so it’s useful to have one in your local area or who will travel to see you at work.

DO YOUR RESEARCH 

​Find out what other people have to say about the law firm or lawyer you’re going to be using. Read online reviews or ask friends or colleagues who have personal experience of dealing with law firms or solicitors.

Find a lawyer that specializes in divorce law or civil dissolution. Perhaps your case involves a high-net-worth individual or a child arrangements battle. Many law firms list their lawyers’ specialties and expertise to help you narrow down your search.

During your first consultation, don’t be afraid to ask your new lawyer whether he or she has experience dealing with cases similar to your own.

ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR LAWYER 

​Use the consultation as a chance to get to know your lawyer on a personal level as well as professionally. Talk about your needs, and ask about their experience in similar cases. It’s important you feel comfortable with your chosen solicitor, as you’ll be talking to them about personal and potentially difficult matters.

You may find that the lawyer you meet at first is not the lawyer for you.

A reputable solicitor will guide you to a more suitable colleague in their firm, or even suggest another law firm altogether.

FIND OUT THE COSTS UPFRONT 

​It’s important that you get a good idea of how much the legal services will cost so you can budget accordingly. Lawyers may charge an hourly rate, either billed in intervals or at the end of proceedings.

Some lawyers offer a fixed fee for some work, so there are no nasty surprises. For your piece of mind, find out how and when your lawyer charges.

PREPARE FOR YOUR CONSULTATION 

 

Make the most out of your initial consultation and don’t leave any stone unturned. Book your appointment when you have enough time to sit down and have a conversation with a lawyer. Choose a time when you’re not in a rush to get somewhere else, so you can focus on your meeting.

Your solicitor will want to know basic details so make a note of these if you’re not 100% sure. They will need to know your marriage dates, personal and spousal income, what assets you have, estimated property valuations, and what pensions you have. It’s also a good idea to get this prepared so you know what kind of settlement you want to achieve.

STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE 

 Although the process will be an emotional one, try not to bring any bitter feelings into your negotiations. Anger, hate, and revenge may raise their ugly heads, but letting negative emotions take over will make the divorce or dissolution more complicated, longer, and possibly more expensive. And, while your lawyer may be sympathetic to your cause, keeping your situation factual will save time and get you the best possible outcome.

Be clear about what you want (and what you need) from the start, and stick to your action plan.

MORE INFORMATION 

If you are in this difficult position and are looking for divorce advice, Pinney Talfourd is here to help. We have an experienced and dedicated team of specialist family lawyers based in our offices across Essex.We have evening and weekend appointments available and offer a free initial 30-minute consultation for all new family law inquiries. You can book your free initial family consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This half-hour appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimize stress and delays.

Seven Tips for Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

Seven Tips for Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

Deciding to get divorced is a huge decision, and choosing a divorce lawyer can also be an emotional and stressful experience. Read our seven tips for finding your ideal solicitor – for both yours and your family’s wellbeing.

Ending a marriage or a civil partnership is going to be a difficult and emotional time. It may involve children, assets, pets or large amounts of money. Choosing an experienced, professional family solicitor to guide you through the process will help to alleviate some of the stresses, however complicated you think your case may be.

Many law firms offer free consultations with experienced family solicitors. Use this opportunity to ask the right questions and decide if that lawyer is right for you. The idea of divorce might be daunting to some people, so the consultation will also help prepare for the case ahead. 

DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED A DIVORCE LAWYER? 

​You may have decided on a DIY divorce. Perhaps you have been separated from your partner for two or more years, or you have an amicable relationship with them, and you’ve made mutual decisions regarding children, assets or wealth.

But even the best-laid plans of mice and men go awry. In other words, more often than not, there will be unforeseen circumstances that need professional legal help. Family solicitors

are accustomed to dealing with all eventualities concerning divorce, and it will be worth having the peace of mind that using an experienced professional can bring.

CHOOSE A RELIABLE LAWYER 

Seven Tips for Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

 

​Your divorce or civil dissolution can go through many stages, some more difficult than others. What may seem simple at first could become more complex further down the line.

Find a lawyer that’s accessible and contactable at short notice, should you have any questions or need to talk about any disputes that may arise. You will be meeting your lawyer in person, so it’s useful to have one in your local area or who will travel to see you at work.

DO YOUR RESEARCH 

​Find out what other people have to say about the law firm or lawyer you’re going to be using. Read online reviews or ask friends or colleagues who have personal experience of dealing with law firms or solicitors.

Find a lawyer that specializes in divorce law or civil dissolution. Perhaps your case involves a high-net-worth individual or a child arrangements battle. Many law firms list their lawyers’ specialties and expertise to help you narrow down your search.

During your first consultation, don’t be afraid to ask your new lawyer whether he or she has experience dealing with cases similar to your own.

ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR LAWYER 

​Use the consultation as a chance to get to know your lawyer on a personal level as well as professionally. Talk about your needs, and ask about their experience in similar cases. It’s important you feel comfortable with your chosen solicitor, as you’ll be talking to them about personal and potentially difficult matters.

You may find that the lawyer you meet at first is not the lawyer for you.

A reputable solicitor will guide you to a more suitable colleague in their firm, or even suggest another law firm altogether.

FIND OUT THE COSTS UPFRONT 

​It’s important that you get a good idea of how much the legal services will cost so you can budget accordingly. Lawyers may charge an hourly rate, either billed in intervals or at the end of proceedings.

Some lawyers offer a fixed fee for some work, so there are no nasty surprises. For your piece of mind, find out how and when your lawyer charges.

PREPARE FOR YOUR CONSULTATION 

 

Make the most out of your initial consultation and don’t leave any stone unturned. Book your appointment when you have enough time to sit down and have a conversation with a lawyer. Choose a time when you’re not in a rush to get somewhere else, so you can focus on your meeting.

Your solicitor will want to know basic details so make a note of these if you’re not 100% sure. They will need to know your marriage dates, personal and spousal income, what assets you have, estimated property valuations, and what pensions you have. It’s also a good idea to get this prepared so you know what kind of settlement you want to achieve.

STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE 

 Although the process will be an emotional one, try not to bring any bitter feelings into your negotiations. Anger, hate, and revenge may raise their ugly heads, but letting negative emotions take over will make the divorce or dissolution more complicated, longer, and possibly more expensive. And, while your lawyer may be sympathetic to your cause, keeping your situation factual will save time and get you the best possible outcome.

Be clear about what you want (and what you need) from the start, and stick to your action plan.

MORE INFORMATION 

If you are in this difficult position and are looking for divorce advice, Pinney Talfourd is here to help. We have an experienced and dedicated team of specialist family lawyers based in our offices across Essex.We have evening and weekend appointments available and offer a free initial 30-minute consultation for all new family law inquiries. You can book your free initial family consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This half-hour appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimize stress and delays.

Importance of Social Media for Law Firms and Solo Attorneys

Social Media for Law Firms and Solo Attorneys - Smokeball

Social media is a force to be reckoned with when considering the development of your business and professional networking. The social media marketing strategy is one of the biggest marketing strategies out there, and when used properly, you can navigate your law firm towards a successful opportunity in leveraging one of the most powerful tools available. The social media community is constantly growing at a rapid rate, and marketers are fully aware of this. Do not miss out on the fight to create the best social media account to advertise your business and generate more clients. Here are some of the ways your firm may benefit from the use of mixing social networking and the law.

Business growth

Social media marketing is strongly connected to successful business growth. How? You can increase leads, improve search engine rankings, drive traffic towards your website, keep an eye on your competitors, develop a trustful relationship with your clients, create incredible brand recognition, maximize possible conversions, and establish your brand as the best out there. When you post regular informative posts on your social media platforms, it will draw interest towards your website as well as help you build a reputation. Make sure to always link back to your website in all your posts so clients know where to sign up for your services.

Also, make sure you create a visually appealing brand through the use of logo and color scheme. There should be consistency in overall looks of your posts and that look should convey your business personality to the users.

Social media marketing is one of the best ways to introduce your law firm to new clients. In fact, make it a part of your strategy to connect to people who would not have typically heard of your organization.

Social media for lawyers: Build an online presence for your firm |  RingCentral

Marketing campaign tools

Traditional marketing campaign tools are the use of radio and printouts, but these are both costly options and are hard to track. Social media does not cost you anything, so you save a lot of money in leveraging the ability to provide an effective yet cheaper marketing strategy. You can even pay certain social media platforms to have an advert placed at the top of your users’ timelines, such as on Facebook. So that money you save on radio and printouts, you can use that instead towards the occasional purchase of strategic advert marketing campaign tools, especially for those posts you really want to increase the visibility on.

Informal communications 

Even with just the captions under your posts, you can engage with your clients by asking questions where you can view and respond to your client’s reactions. Social media is a great tool to determine how your clients are feeling about your services, and where you can make improvements.

You may even find that any complaints coming your way are posted through social media, as users like the use of publicity to gain attention as a means of attempting to resolve a dispute quicker. No business wants negative comments from users under all their social media posts to put off any potential clients, and this can be one of the biggest challenges. Learn from the comments under the posts in how you can provide a better service. Provide immediate and sympathetic responses to any negative feedback to show you care, so that users keeping an eye on messages get a positive vibe that you genuinely care about providing an excellent service to every client.

By using social media marketing for your law firm, you get the chance to convey an authentic voice for your service to help you stand out from the crowd. Authenticity is always attractive and generates attention through its differences. Figure out what your organization’s main mission and vision is, and carve that out into your social media posts to present your unique voice.

Younger Workers Might Benefit From Social Perks of Being in an Office

Contact us for more information.

5 Tips to Improve Law Firm Client Relationships

Written by Teresa Matich

78 percent of lawyers say that acquiring new business is one of their top challenges, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group. In other words, if law firm business development is difficult for you, you’re not alone.

There’s more to building a business than buying a few online ads and praying for clients. You’ll need to spend time building relationships, while also keeping existing clients happy to ensure repeat business—all of which can be more difficult than it sounds.

We’ve rounded up a few best practices surrounding client relationships, based on our webinar, Business Development Strategies for Law Firms, held by Clio’s own Lawyer in Residence, Joshua Lenon. As he puts it:

Quite frankly, a lot of your own career development centers around your ability to bring in business, so it’s something that you should be focussing on from day one.

Whether you’re starting a new practice, or just looking to brush up on your law firm business development skills, this list includes several valuable tools to build positive client relationships and ensure sustainable growth for your law firm.

Client relationships and law firm business development

For any law firm—or any business, for that matter—it’s important to focus on building strong client relationships. Happy clients will keep coming back, and they may also recommend your services to others.

There are plenty of ways to build relationships, but some approaches work better than others. If you want to build the best client relationships possible, take a look at this chart from BTI Consulting, which outlines 17 activities to consider.

Source: BTI Consulting

The two activities in the Business Magnets quadrant are less important. As Joshua says:

For the most part, your clients aren’t searching for an innovative approach. They’re not searching for a law firm that anticipates their needs, because they know that information already. They know what their needs are. So if you’re marketing yourself solely on these two features, while you might stand out a little bit, you might not be able to close the business. To close the business, you have to at least meet the price of admission.

In other words, the six activities listed in the Price of Admission quadrant outline the basic expectations most clients will have for you. Clients won’t single you out as exceptional for keeping them informed and dealing with unexpected changes, but you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re capable of these activities to close new business.

So how do you build client relationships to reach relationship bliss? According to Joshua and BTI, there are at least five things that you as a lawyer can do to keep your clients coming back:

1. Reach out with unprompted communication

Joshua states:

Unprompted communication is something that I think is really easy for lawyers to do, but so few actually do it. Reaching out to a client with an update—whether it’s significant or not—is a great way to show involvement in a matter, but a lot of lawyers don’t necessarily do this.

2. Pay attention to regional reputation management

For lawyers responsible for business development in solo, small, and medium sized firms, Joshua notes:

You’re going to be dealing with regional clients, and they’re going to be asking their colleagues whom they turn to. If you have a regional reputation—and that can be demonstrated in a variety of different ways, whether it’s by participation in community activities, or by coverage in the local news—your ability to demonstrate that reputation will help you build a stronger relationship.

3. Offer a breadth of service

Lawyers can’t claim to specialize under most states’ ethical advertising rules, but many still fall into the trap of keeping a narrow focus and missing out on clients.

As Joshua explains:

We tend to focus on a particular area of expertise and seek clients for that. But clients are actually seeking lawyers that can handle their needs, not necessarily just your expertise.

Make sure that you’re open to helping clients, even if it means referring or handing a client off to an appropriate source for aid.

4. Demonstrate your value

As a lawyer, you need to be able to demonstrate your value. But while some lawyers charge upwards of $1,000 per hour, demonstrating dollar value can sometimes be difficult. And, clients can sometimes see lawyers as interchangeable, regardless of their skill or expertise.

That’s a problem—in that scenario, clients see cost but not value.

“You need to show the client you’re actually saving them money or time or emotional grief because they’re hiring you,” Joshua states.

5. Show a commitment to help

“You need to be able to understand the client’s business,” Joshua says. “It may be family affairs, it may actually be a business, but you need to be able to recognize what they’re actually seeking, focus on it, and demonstrate a commitment to help.”

How do you demonstrate this? Dan Pinnington does it with a simple question for clients: “What’s your greatest concern?” He finds that this forces his clients into a moment of clarity, and allows him to reassure them that he can help with their greatest worries as they apply to the matter at hand.

“Dan didn’t arrive at this question because he was told about it,” Joshua says. “He arrived at this question because that’s what worked with the clients he was seeking.”

Key takeaways

To sum up, here’s what you need to focus on to build strong client relationships for sustainable law firm business development:

  • Reach out. Unprompted communication does wonders for showing your clients that you’re involved.
  • Manage your local reputation. Get involved in your community to build relationships with potential clients.
  • Broaden your horizons. Be ready to help anyone who comes through your door—even if it means referring them to another lawyer.
  • Communicate value. Take extra care to explain how your services save your client money and/or time.
  • Focus on helping. Ask your client what their greatest concern is, and show your commitment to helping with that.

There’s a lot more to successful law firm business development beyond building client relationships. Traditional networking activities and online promotion should also be part of your plan. You’ll also need to track your efforts to ensure they’re effective.

Joshua talks about all that and more in the webinar, which you can watch here.

Want to do a deep dive into law firm business development? Watch our webinar, Business Development Strategies for Law Firms, for tips to on how to grow your firm.

We published this blog post in December 2016. Last updated: August 6, 2021.

Categorized in: BusinessMarketing