Many of the posts on Lawyerist focus on how to get good clients; we spend very little time talking about how to get rid of bad clients. As a general rule, the goal is to keep the clients around once they hire you. Nevertheless, for some clients, the lawyer’s advice should be limited to “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
At some point in our educational careers, we have all returned to school in September and been directed to write an essay titled “What I Did Last Summer.” And we have all had the same first thought: Nothing. I did nothing all summer.
Running a successful law practice is all about getting clients. One way is by building a referral network, a frequent topic on Lawyerist. Another way is by advertising, such as in the yellow pages.
As traditional advertising methods wane, lawyers are getting excited by new methods of attracting clients through the internet. All those potential clients out there, yearning to find the lawyer of their dreams — all they need is a little encouragement. A little channelling. A system of connecting clients with lawyers. And lawyers will be eager to pay to have pre-screened clients sent their way – as long as they do not violate any ethics rules.
A family member or close friend calls you one day with a “quick” question. Seems she has a dispute with a neighbor or she just got denied a promotion or she needs to tell the renter of her duplex to stop smoking in his unit. She knows you are really busy but was wondering if you would mind looking into it or just writing a letter or making a phone call for her. She hates to bother you but she does not know any other attorneys and really needs some help with this problem.
As I surf around the blawgosphere, I have noticed that it seems to be in vogue for solo and small firm attorneys to take potshots at large law firms. If one read only the solo blawgs, it would seem all large law firms are lumbering, inefficient, selfish behemoths, so knocked off balance by this recession that they are about to keel over and smash their marble conference room tables. Then all the solo munchkins would come out of their hiding places in brightly colored garb, sing songs of freedom, and sign up all of the large firms’ former clients.
A few months ago, I posted a warning to lawyers about emailing clients at work. My concern was based in large part on a NJ district court decision that found an employee had waived the attorney-client privilege for emails that she sent to her attorney while using her work computer. Although the emails had been sent using a Yahoo! account, the employer found images of the emails on the employee’s hard drive.
Recently, I noted on a listserv that one of the cheapest ways to get CLE credits and market oneself at the same time is to teach CLEs. In Minnesota, presenters can receive credit for the time spent preparing the seminar, plus the organizers usually let the presenters attend the rest of the program for free.
There is a good deal of postulating in the blogosphere about the types of ethical trouble a lawyer can get into by using social media. The nattering nabobs of negativism warn us to be careful when using social media like Facebook or Twitter, lest we unwittingly disclose client confidences, improperly solicit new clients, or misrepresent facts or law.
For the most part, rude or obnoxious behavior between attorneys does not result in an ethics violation. But sometimes, lawyers can just go too far. An excerpt from the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Decision in In re Greenburg (May 5, 2009): “During the hearing, Mr. Greenburg suggested that…
It is probably fair to say that most lawyers have grown accustomed to the convenience of emailing clients. Less disruptive than phone calls, more efficient, creates documentation of conversations—hard to believe anyone could ever practice law without email. From an ethics perspective…