Monday, November 26, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Gina Rubel recently authored a blog for Avvo.com's Lawyernomics blog titled, "Law Firm Crisis Planning and Management: Lessons Learned from #Sandy." The blog explores crisis management for businesses and how Furia Rubel and its law firm colleagues on the East Coast dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Gina discusses crisis planning and management issues such as life without electricity, transportation / travel, social media and crisis messaging. To read the full article, go to Avvo.com's Lawyernomics Blog.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Posted by Leah Ludwig
|Image from Mashable.com and YouTube.com|
This all hit me when I stumbled across some very interesting and real-time articles on how people can craft their holiday meals via YouTube and tech gadgets galore. One of the articles which knocked my old school Thanksgiving meal socks off was Mashable’s “How to Cook a Complete Thanksgiving Meal Using YouTube.” This article displays 12 YouTube videos on Thanksgiving meal how-tos from roasting the perfect turkey, cooking all the critical sides like mashed potatoes and stuffing to creating the dessert course of pumpkin pie AND incorporating the proper table setting and musical ambiance to enhance your dining experience.
Then I found myself scoping out another Mashable article, “6 Tech Fixes for Your Thanksgiving,” featuring ways that people can make the holidays less stressful by putting their gadgets to good use. The article shares tips such as using a free smartphone app for your Thanksgiving menu. The app helps you pick out a menu; it includes recipes, generates a shopping list and helps you lay out a step-by-step schedule for cooking. Here are a few other tech features for you futuristic Thanksgiving meal preparers:
- A vegetarian cooking app for your vegetarian guests.
- An iGrill thermometer which enables you to connect your mobile device through Bluetooth and monitor your bird’s temperature without ever opening the oven door.
- A Belkin Chef Stand which is a non-slip base that keeps your tablet from moving around - all while the stylus maintains a clean screen as you navigate your way through various recipes.
- A MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker which is a smartphone app that can be downloaded for free and helps you get back on track with your calorie counting after a hearty Thanksgiving meal.
Perhaps it’s time for me to teach grandma a thing or two about combining traditions and technology to create this year’s Thanksgiving meal. All I know is that all this talk about Thanksgiving meal prep is making me very hungry and excited for this year’s festivities. I think I will stick to the tried and true traditions of jamming as many family members into one kitchen to create a Thanksgiving masterpiece using the traditional methods; however, these tips may be an interesting way to mix things up in the years to come.
Monday, November 12, 2012
|Image from Avvo.com|
A Web search for the name of a lawyer will frequently reveal that lawyer’s Avvo.com listing on the first page of results. On Avvo.com, default profiles are created for lawyers from public information. Unless these profiles are claimed by attorneys to verify their identities, they remain mostly without vital information that viewers can use to learn about a lawyer, their firm and their services. Avvo profiles also have ratings associated with them that are based on very little information. The only way to improve a rating is to complete a profile.
Below are details for the sections that are needed to complete a lawyer's Avvo profile. If information can be copied from a current website bio and LinkedIn profile, we find that, on average, each individual's Avvo profile update will take about 60 to 90 minutes to complete.
Practice Areas - Add all primary practice areas (choices are limited to an extent by Avvo) with the percent of business conducted in each and a brief description of specific and unique services. Including the brief description allows viewers to read about services in more detail through a pop-up bubble on the profile.
Fees and Payment Types - Adding this information should be determined by personal / firm preference.
Contact Information - Add company name, address, office phone, mobile, fax, email, website and up to four blog and social media links.
Languages Spoken - Adding this information should be determined by personal / firm preference.
About Me - Add a professional photo and biographic information. There is an additional option to link YouTube (or Vimeo) videos and have them displayed as well.
There are two types of references on Avvo: client reviews and peer endorsements.
There are automated forms that can be used via this section to request client reviews that should be used at the lawyer's discretion with approval from the firm.
License - Add all states in which the attorney is licensed to practice. Note that you will need a Bar ID Number because Avvo verifies these records.
Work Experience - Add all relevant past and present positions.
Education - Add college, law school and advanced degrees.
Awards - Add relevant awards and recognitions.
Associations - Add organization name, dates and positions served.
Contribution - Avvo has a system of earning points by interacting and communicating with the Avvo community to provide useful information. See the “About Contributions” section below for more information.
Cases - Adding this information should be determined by personal / firm preference. This section requests case titles, details and outcomes.
Publications - Add title, publication name, year and a link to online content, if any.
Speaking Engagements - Add topic, event name, organizer information, date and a link to information online, if any.
About Avvo Contributions
Avvo has a system of earning points by interacting and communicating with the Avvo community to provide useful information. Points can be earned in a variety of ways. What do contributor points mean? On the Legal Leaderboard page, contributors move up and down according to points. Our tests indicate that it isn't obvious to the public how to navigate to this leaderboard area, so the value of contributor points to the consumer is not clear.
As with any social media, if engaging with the Avvo community, lawyers should follow the Rules of Professional Conduct for the states in which they are licensed to practice, should not reveal confidential information and should avoid debating the accuracy of another user's answers or comments. Avvo legal contributors should always conduct themselves professionally and never offer legal advice.
Avvo has become an important player in organic search engine optimization for individual lawyer’s names across the county. Because of this, it is important for lawyers to complete their Avvo profiles at Avvo.com. Taking a short amount of time to complete a profile using the steps above will help support the online marketing of attorney’s names and their law firms.
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Posted by Rose Strong
My sister-in-law Jackie works for a major insurance company and has been what they term a Work-At-Home (WAH) employee for more than a decade. It came about when her mother had a stroke and needed someone around just to keep an eye on her in case she fell or needed help with her medication.
Today, 1 in 10 people work virtually, otherwise known as working from home. With the technology drive in this country, it’s only natural that corporations and small businesses alike, take advantage of employees working virtually. It’s a savings on work space, increases productivity, cuts down on absenteeism and according to one study, the WAH employee works an average of one hour a day more than someone who works in the office.
For the employee, there are some great perks. Not having to commute to and from a job is the first advantage that comes to mind and I’ve always been jealous that my sister-in-law doesn’t have a dress code to follow and works in her pajamas for the first few hours of her work day. She also gets to start work and end her day earlier than most. She’s in her office at her computer at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m., but shuts that baby down at one in the afternoon. Sweet, huh?
Now for the nitty-gritty:
What is it really like to work at home, day in and day out? Although there are great benefits to working at home, there are some downsides to being able to sit at your computer and work in your bedroom slippers.
One of the biggest obstacles that Jackie had difficulty with was the lack of social systems. Although she lived with an elderly parent those first few years, that didn’t fit the bill for the regular social skills that come with working in an office. I mean, how do you hang out at the water bowl with your cat and talk about the Monday night football game? Having others around is often essential for creativity and motivation. Without that, telecommuting can be both difficult and isolating.
Communication is also a factor when you work virtually. Only using emails and instant messaging for discussing work-related issues with your colleagues, leaves out the cues one might interpret from body language and tone of voice that we pick up in a face-to-face conversation. Also, not being in the office tends to lead to that out of sight, out of mind truism and can cause a feeling of isolation.
I admire my sister-in-law in her discipline over the years as she’s quite devoted to her routine, but for some people, maintaining a routine can be a challenge. We all have a routine when we are working outside the home: stopping for a cup of java from the local coffee shop, checking email and phone messages, chatting with co-workers about current events and office news, then, suddenly that’s all gone when you work from home. Getting into a routine at home to keep you in sync with the office is essential.
One factor I’ve seen Jackie struggle with is that she’s home during business hours, which makes her easy prey for those pesky, yet necessary home maintenance and repair items, such as furnace cleaning, A/C maintenance, tree work, electrical and plumbing repairs. She is often at odds with her husband to get him to be present when people come to the house. Considerable interruptions and demands from children, visitors and others who impose upon someone working at home may cause getting work tasks completed to be a challenge.
Of course, these aren’t the only things that can be tricky for those working virtually, but they are some of the most common pitfalls to be aware of if you’re thinking of bringing the office home with you. Oh, and that’s another one: difficulty separating work-life and home-life. That takes some discipline and practice to balance the two, but it can be done.
Many of these difficulties can be overcome and this article by Lea Green on the PGI blog runs down a list of work-at-home snags and how to overcome them. Telework Research Network at Undress for Success.com is a group that studies the trend of working from home and has excellent resources for anyone considering working virtually or those that are already working from home.
Friday, November 02, 2012
U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers Survey – To Participate or Not to Participate, That’s the Question
Posted by Leah Ludwig
Every year, legal marketers across the U.S. debate the need and validity of the U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers Survey. Some firms have decided to boycott it altogether, while others participate and use their inclusion for marketing, public relations and business development value. Last year, my colleague Gina Rubel asked her legal marketing colleagues on a national listserv if they knew of any law firms or in-house counsel that subscribe to Best Lawyers and use the subscription to guide decisions about hiring counsel.
A marketing director in Virginia said that her firm has in fact received business from their listing in Best Lawyers after linking an attorney’s Best Lawyer profile to the firm’s website. She said that within 12 hours, the attorney had received a call from a prospect who had gone to the Best Lawyer site and saw the attorney’s profile. The attorney was hired with a substantial retainer on what turned out to be a multi-million dollar case. This marketer also said that she knows of lawyers in her own firm who have been contacted by other attorneys who search the deep link listings in Best Lawyers to find other Best Lawyers for referrals. Her firm has had several matters referred to it as a result.
On the other hand, there are many legal marketers who do not see value in Best Lawyers and feel that it is an “arbitrary ranking / metric driving poor business decisions.” To read more about this reasoning, visit Larry Bodine’s LawMarketing Blog.
It is understood that responding to any ranking survey is an investment of lawyer and staff time. The benefits certainly need to outweigh the time investment. That said, when an attorney or law firm is ranked, there is a credibility factor that goes along with it. But the ranking in and of itself, is not what is going to benefit the firm. It’s what the firm does with it. For example, issuing a press release, sharing the release on the firm’s website and via social media, updating attorney bios and adding the news to the firm’s newsletter – are all ways to capitalize on such an investment.
This has been a recent topic of discussion with many of our law firm clients and partners – and to reiterate, the choice is ultimately up to each law firm to decide on the value of the opportunity and whether or not their firm plans to strategically capitalize on its investment with supporting promotional efforts.