Friday, October 29, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week: Feldman Shepherd

Philadelphia personal injury law firm, Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig LLP, its staff and trial attorneys are committed to providing legal support to the community. The firm has donated at least $1,000 per year per attorney to legal services such as Philadelphia VIP, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Senior Law Center, Support Center for Child Advocates and others.

Each year, the staff raises money and gift donations for families much less fortunate. In fact, in 2009, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House was the recipient of the staff’s efforts, receiving more than $500 in monetary donations and a bevy of items collected as part of a Holiday Wish List Drive. In 2008, the staff participated in the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia’s “Adopt-a-Family” program, which helps nearly 200 Philadelphia-area families in need each year. Through “Adopt-a-Family,” staff members, generously donated thousands of dollars in goods and gifts.

Feldman Shepherd also contributes one percent of all cerebral palsy case settlements and verdicts to a fund that sends families of children with cerebral palsy to Disney World. The firm has sent six families to Disney to date and anticipates sending many more.

“Our pro bono and philanthropic efforts are a large part of the law firm culture,” said Alan Feldman, co-managing partner of Feldman Shepherd. “We work on pro bono cases, volunteer at many of the region’s public interest organizations, and give back to those less fortunate.”

Virtually all of the Feldman Shepherd personal injury lawyers provide pro bono legal services to those who are unable to afford to hire an attorney. The firm is also a proud supporter of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s “Raising the Bar” campaign, which helps fund more than 30 public interest law organizations that serve Philadelphia’s neediest citizens.

“Raising the Bar” was started by Alan Feldman during his year as Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2006 and has become the Philadelphia legal community’s most significant institutional effort in support of the Bar Foundation and their network of non-profit legal service providers. More than 100 local law firms participate annually, and their pledges since 2006 have totaled more than $4 million.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week: Curtin & Heefner LLP

Curtin & Heefner LLP takes pride in the quality of representation that it provides, not only to clients who are able to pay for legal services, but also in its participation in pro bono and community-based work.  As committed members of our community, the firm supports and encourages its attorneys to provide pro bono services.

Attorneys at the firm sign up annually through the Bucks County Bar Association to provide pro bono legal services which may involve representing a party in a protection from abuse (PFA) action, estate claims, landlord/tenants issues, driver’s license suspensions or employment issues.  While pro bono representation in these areas fly below public recognition or awareness, the trip back to the office after a few hours spent working on PFAs or helping someone recover their right to drive is one filled with satisfaction. This type of pro bono work helps everyday people with real needs and results in a true sense of personal fulfillment. It is very rewarding to know that someone may be safe from abuse or able to return to work or have a roof over their head as a result of our pro bono efforts.  Helping a pro bono client may not end with providing legal services. Pro bono clients have also been recipients of Thanksgiving food baskets, which is an annual project of Curtin & Heefner LLP.

Since Curtin & Heefner LLP is a firm comprised of specialized practice areas, often representing businesses, large corporations and banks, there are many types of pro bono cases that the firm cannot accept. As a result, attorneys are encouraged to find other areas where pro bono legal assistance can be provided. Firm attorneys have provided legal services to local families affected by the tragedies of September 11, 2001, have been involved in military programs such as wills for soldiers, and have helped with insurance issues when the Delaware River overflowed its banks in nearby Yardley, Pa., destroying and damaging homes and businesses.

In addition to their pro bono efforts, members of the firm also commit a great deal of time to community service. They traveled to the New Orleans area after hurricane Katrina and helped with rebuilding, serve on non-profit boards while assisting with legal issues that arise, and give back to the community. In fact, many local Bucks County and Montgomery County charities have been the recipients of pro bono work from Curtin & Heefner LLP attorneys in drafting by-laws, reviewing legal documents and providing legal advice as the needs arise.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week: Willig, Williams & Davison


Willig, Williams & Davidson is a union-side labor law firm committed to helping working individuals and their families resolve a wide variety of legal issues. The firm realizes, however, that legal assistance is not always affordable for some people. We feel strongly about helping individuals, who cannot afford legal counsel, to obtain and reap the benefits of this protection.

One such avenue where Willig, Williams & Davidson is able to contribute to this end is through Philadelphia’s Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP). VIP provides civil legal assistance to less fortunate individuals. Several of our attorneys commit their time and donate their legal services to Philadelphia VIP. For example, our attorneys have helped individuals to save their homes in conjunction with Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. This program was created to give homeowners of single-family residences, who are losing their homes in foreclosure, an opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with the lender’s attorney, to see if they can save their homes. Armed with a pro bono VIP attorney, a homeowner has a much better chance at saving their property, than if they attended these conferences without representation.

This type of pro bono representation is very important, because it is usually due to a financial hardship that these individuals are losing their homes. Many people in this situation do not have the money to try to get their loan current, much less to obtain legal representation. So, in this instance, pro bono representation is invaluable.

I have had the opportunity to help many individuals through this program. One such individual was a hardworking union roofer who had been laid off due to budget cuts with his employer. The strain caused by this loss of employment affected him both personally and financially. His marriage fell apart, and he was at risk of losing his home which had been in his family for generations. His property was on the verge of Sheriff’s Sale, which brought him to the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. Through Philadelphia VIP, I was able to negotiate a resolution with his lender, which kept him in his childhood home and gained notoriety for Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program in the New York Times. This was incredibly rewarding for both of us.

Pro bono work is the gift that gives back. In offering legal assistance to someone who could not normally afford it, you are helping to put this person on an even playing field with someone of greater financial means. At Willig, Williams & Davidson, we strive for equality and justice, and doing pro bono work plays an integral part in achieving this goal.

Kristine A. Phillips is a partner in the Legal Services Department of Willig, Williams & Davidson. The firm maintains offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pa., Baltimore, Md., Delaware County, Pa., Montgomery County, Pa., and Camden County, N.J.  

Legal Tabloid Blogging With David Lat

I had the pleasure to hear the entertaining and informative David Lat, Founder and Managing Editor of Above the Law, speak in Philadelphia yesterday. Here are some interesting facts and takeaways from his discussion about the popular legal blog:

Readership:
The blog has between 200,000 to 300,000 page views on any given day. This number can jump as high as 700,000 with a really popular story.

In-House Counsel: To expand the blog's perspective regarding in-house counsel, they will be adding two new bloggers to their roster soon: one in-house senior lawyer and one in-house junior lawyer.

Audience: Although their audience is mostly large firms, they recently introduced a new column with content targeted toward small firms.

Geography: The blog's largest reader base is in New York and D.C., with Chicago and the Bay Area close behind.

Text Tips: You can now text tips for news items to the blog at (646) 820-TIPS.

Submitting News: They do accept press releases, but tend to favor news submitted by readers because it is more organic. They try to add value and context on the blog with the stories they post.

Follow the Above The Law blog team on Twitter at @ATLBlog, @DavidLat and @ElieNYC, find them on Facebook and sign up for e-updates at the blog.

Thanks to the Delaware Valley Law Firm Marketing Group for organizing this event.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Back on September 17, I wrote a blog post asking for participation in this week’s National Pro Bono Celebration. The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is sponsoring the celebration again this year from October 24 through 30, 2010. 

At Furia Rubel, we provide professional public relations services pro bono to clients such as Elephant’s Eye Studio Tour, Philadelphia VIP (Volunteers for the Indigent Program), and Deep Run Mennonite Church East.

This week, we will be showcasing some of the legal pro bono efforts of our law firm clients. Check back for a post each day this week about Willig, Williams & Davison (Wednesday), Curtin & Heefner LLP (Thursday), and Feldman Shepherd (Friday).

The National Pro Bono Celebration is being celebrated all over the country.  To find an event near you, check out this interactive map.

Monday, October 25, 2010

QR Codes: Innovative Mobile Marketing And The Uses For Professional Service Providers

Posted by Amanda Walsh


You’ve probably seen them around town, maybe on a billboard or flyer. They are those funny barcode-looking symbols that can be scanned by a barcode reader on a smartphone and will take you to a website or special application.


These are called QR Codes (Quick Response Codes or QRCs) and they have exploded in popularity in Asia. Now, they are hitting America and can be used in a variety of ways for marketing.


At Furia Rubel, we niche in marketing and public relations for nonprofits, B2B companies, and professional service providers including lawyers. When new technologies are introduced, we discuss the relevancy of these technologies to our clients, the opportunities they present, and how we can put them to use for our clients in order to add value to their marketing and PR efforts.


Some ways that law firms can use QR codes include driving traffic to their websites or promoting events such as seminars, sponsored programs or association conferences. They can also be used to announce new products (such as scholarly publications or white papers), new services (such as new practice areas), or class action law suits. With a class action, a firm can quickly provide valuable information to prospective class members – especially when dealing with consumer issues.


If a business is a major sponsor of an event, adding the QR code on every piece of signage can drive attendees to a webpage specifically thanking them for participating and providing them with an opportunity to sign up for such things as eNewsletters and eAlerts targeted directly to them.


In addition, QR codes can be used in trade industry and business publication advertising to drive readers to a website where they can learn more about the advertiser, their offerings and/or special promotions. Companies can use them in conjunction with launching a new website, brand or blog. One caveat however, is that the targeted webpage where users are being directed MUST be smartphone-friendly.


I asked our VP of Marketing, Laura Powers, what she thought of about QR Code use. "One of the best things about using QR Codes in advertising is that they provide us with another tracking tool to use on marketing pieces such as print advertisements and direct mail," she said. "If someone uses the QR Code, we know that the ad was viewed. That’s important when it comes to tracking results and measuring Return on Investment (ROI) on a campaign.”


Using QR codes does not provide a one-size-fits-all approach, and though they may lend themselves to consumer-oriented promotions, with some innovative thinking, they can also be used for professional service firms and nonprofits. Some additional resources to read more include:
QR Code credit: http://2d-code.co.uk/

Friday, October 22, 2010

Journalism And Twitter: Social Media Points To Ponder

Posted by Amanda Walsh

This Mashable.com article piqued my interest as it relates to journalism, Twitter and why it is important for organizations, including newspapers, to have a standard of use social media policy in place.

A recent Washington Post online guest article by Tony Perkins called “Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality” sparked some Twitter commentary from The Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD). According to Mashable, a Post staffer responded to GLAAD using the Washington Post Twitter account to defend that article as giving a platform to “both sides” of the debate. GLAAD responded with "there are no two sides to teenage suicide”.

Afterward, Washington Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti, perhaps in an effort to do some damage control, issued a company-wide memo stating that the tweet should not have been sent. Although the Post “encourage(s) everyone in the newsroom to embrace social media and relevant tools, it is absolutely vital to remember that the purpose of these Post branded account is to use them as a platform to promote news, bring in user generated content and increase audience engagement with Post content.”

My initial thought about this situation is that it could have been avoided had the Post had a social media policy in place that more clearly defined what the branded Washington Post Twitter account should and shouldn’t be used for. In this case, I think it would have been helpful to urge journalists to seek approval BEFORE posting something that could be seen as controversial or offensive. Even if the staffer had responded on his/her personal Twitter account, he or she still would have been seen as representing the newspaper.

The Mashable article did bring up a good point however, after this incident, and the way in which the Post’s responsed to it, future journalists may be hesitant to engage with readers on Twitter or on other social media platforms at all. I don’t think that should be the answer either. Instead, this situation reminds all of us, including journalists, that when using Twitter and/or any social media platform it is important to know why you’re using it and who your audience is. Once those objectives are clear, the social media policy is in place, and journalists have professional ethics in mind, there is an opportunity for journalists to create dialogue around the news and what is going on now.

Thanks to social media platforms like Twitter, people are now engaging in citizen journalism, communicating directly with the likes of @SenJohnMcCain, @AndersonCooper, @NYTimes and more. News is becoming gradually more social. People expect a response and increasingly they’re getting one from brands, newspapers, celebrities and politicians. Putting a gag order on reporters isn’t the answer, setting parameters for responses is.

As is the case with much of our communications in the 21st century, when you press the send button, the message is out there. That is why the utmost care and thought needs to be put into every form of communication from Twitter to e-mail. In an instance our message can reach thousands or millions across the world.

To read more about the memo, the Washington Post article and the Twitter responses, please read the Mashable article.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Powers tells How to Increase Your Influence through Social Media to e-Xplorations

Our own Laura Powers, VP of Marketing, contributed recently to the e-Xplorations blog at http://e-xplorations.com/blog/. She authored an article titled “How to Increase Your Influence through Social Media” which explores how building social authority is a key component of the strategy behind social media engagement.

To read the full article, click here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Media Training For Chilean Miners

Posted by Amanda Walsh

As I write this blog, the 32 Chilean miners and one Bolivian are being extracted from a collapsed mine in San Jose, Chile after 69 days of being trapped underground.

The entire world is waiting anxiously as each miner emerges from below. In preparation for this day, the miners have gone through media training. All in an effort to prepare to face the microphones and cameras as the international media stands by watching each man appear.

Psychologist, Alberto Iturra, oversaw the miners’ mental and emotional health during this ordeal, says they were taught techniques on "remaining poised during an interview, asking the interviewer to repeat the question if they don't understand it, and how to say that they prefer not to answer" a question.

I have read rumors of book deals, TV and movie deals all being in the works for the men about their amazing story. A lot of excitement awaits them after their rescue and it is important for every one of them to be prepared as they are thrust into the spotlight. I'm sure today's media attention is only the beginning of many interviews and TV appearances for these guys.

Some tips to keep in mind when preparing for a media interview can be found on ThePRLawyer blog’s Timeless Media Relations tips.


(Photo credits: http://nymag.com)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Facebook Releases New “Groups” Feature

Posted by Amanda Walsh


The latest news from Facebook is their new “Groups” feature. The re-designed product allows users to add friends into a group, send messages out to those members and even participate in a group chat session.  Facebook markets this as a unique tool for students working on a group project or families sharing photos and videos.  

My first reaction to the news was that perhaps companies with satellite offices may find this useful or employees who work from home.

Some changes to “Groups” are:
  • Group notifications sent to your email. This is an opt-out feature, meaning that any person in the group is automatically included on email outreach unless they change their settings.
  • Posting and sharing of documents within the group. This feature reminded me of Google docs, but could be helpful in some settings. I will be interested to see the ease of use concerning document formatting and exchange of documents within a group.
  • Group chat.  For companies who have employees who work at home, perhaps the group chat ability would be helpful and increase productivity.  The lines of communication would be open for realtime feedback and collaboration.
Facebook has more than 400 million active users.  Out of those users, more than 60 million post status updates every day.  Let’s face it, the statistics from DigitalBuzzBlog are astounding.  People are using Facebook constantly and yes, at work too.  Why not bring it into the fold and turn Facebook into a productive tool for the workplace?

Some other questions include what will happen to the old groups feature? So far, Facebook maintains that they continue to support the old Facebook groups feature. But we’ll see what the future holds.

I predict that large companies will abuse this feature and begin to send out mass e-mail promotions to members of groups and many members will leave the group or report messages as spam and complain to Facebook.

Some great resources to learn more about the changes are here, here and here. What are your thoughts about the new groups feature? 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Recap Of Meet The Law Blawgers Media Panel


Posted by Amanda Walsh

Here is a recap from the Legal Blawgers media panel program in Philadelphia that our own, Gina Rubel moderated. Check out what they had to say, "Meet the Legal Blawgers: #Blawger Hashtag Allows Attendees to Share Thoughts in Real Time on Twitter".

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Suddenly Frugal Tips From Leah Ingram At The Women’s Business Forum

Posted by Leah Ludwig and Amanda Walsh 
Today, Senior Account Manager Leah Ludwig and I attended a morning meeting of the Women’s Business Forum (WBF), which is a Bucks County-based, nonprofit, networking organization for small business owners and entrepreneurs. 



Today’s guest speaker was Leah Ingram, author of the books, Suddenly Frugal and Toss, Keep, Sell!: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In.  She shared “Tips for Cutting Business Costs” with the group.

Here are our takeaways on how to save your business money from the meeting:

Recycle printer cartridges.  I know at Furia Rubel we bring out old printer cartridges Staples and get Staples rewards dollars. There may be other office supply stores that offer similar programs and discounts.
Fill out rebates!  Many people simply forget to fill these out after purchasing certain items like cell phones or printers. Ingram encouraged the group to invest the 20 minutes needed to do the paperwork and you could have an extra, 20, 50 or even 100 dollars in your pocket.
Make money off of old office equipment. Apple offers discounts for new items if you bring in an old Apple item as a trade-in.  Some other websites for savings or selling office equipment are craigslist.com and freecycle.org.
Be green!  Ways to save include, printing on both sides of used paper, switching florescent light bulbs, investing in power strips to turn off office equipment by one button.
Use associations and memberships to their full potential. Keep in mind that many industry organizations or alumni groups offer members discounts such as special credit cards, reduced travel expenses, etc.  It never hurts to ask about these opportunities to save.
Consider bartering with vendors.  This is a great tip because often times small businesses need services and connect with other businesses that can provide. Ingram advises talking to your accountant about proper management of these types of agreements. Additionally, it is important to have a contract in place for an understanding by both parties.  
Ditch the landline phone. Often times, business owners use their cell phones for the majority of their business communication.  Ingram notes that this could lead to savings by eliminating the less-used landline but may not be for everyone.
Include charity donations and volunteering on tax returns.
Eliminate shipping costs. Send email communication with .pdf files. Also consider using Skype or other conference call services instead of traveling.

Lastly, our favorite tip for business from Ingram was:

Don’t underestimate the power of PR! Ingram shared that because of using Help a Reporter Out.com she was in some feature stories about her and her family using frugal techniques in their daily lives.  These stories lead to business offers for her and later, the opportunity to publish her books. Public relations and marketing are essential to growing your business and Ingram encouraged all business owners to look into building a brand and getting the word out about their services.

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