Guide to Finding the Best Law Firm for Your Business

A law firm is a simple business entity formed by one or more lawyers, who look after the interest of their clients together. Lawyers in these firms can also allow other lawyers to work with them, who are called associates. In a law firm, all the partners not only share the profits and loss incurred, but also the risks associated with running the firm. It functions similar any other company, however in most companies lawyers cannot raise money through IPO’s, which is why conflicts of interest is often not there in this type of business.

How to choose a law form for your business?

For any business, finding the right law firm to handle all their legal issues and get better legal advice is very important. The following guide will help businesses to choose the best law firm for their legal issues.

a. Factors to look for in a law firm:

The first and foremost factor that should be taken in to consideration is to find a firm that has experience in working with businesses similar to the client’s business and understand the nature of the business. Also, they should be able to offer legal advice and explanations in simple, plain language, and not in legal terms. For start-up businesses, small firms are the best option because they charge less and value them more as a client. All solicitors working in the firm should have a practicing certificate issued by the law society, which the professional body for law solicitors. A qualified firm means, it is verified by the law society and so can offer better legal advice.

b. Searching law firms for your business:

The first place to look for a law firm is the law society. The law society can put individuals in touch with solicitors in the particular specialization or particular area, and also arrange for a free consultation. Other people to ask for recommendations include friends, people from similar businesses, accountants, bank managers, and local chamber of commerce.

c. Arranging a meeting with solicitors:

It is always advisable to see a number of solicitors and have a face to face meeting before selecting one. Questioning the solicitor, what they know about your business and its sector, will help enable you to make a decision on whether to choose them or not. Most solicitors charge fee on a per hour basis, so check out how much your solicitors charge. You should try and make them agree a fixed spending fee, so that you don’t spend above your budget limits. To this end, it is advisable to get quotes from solicitors before proceeding. Above all, see what other services the solicitors can offer you for the better growth of your business, and take advantage of the situation.

Conclusion:

The legal market is very big which makes choosing the right law firm for your business a difficult task. A detailed research and a clear idea of what you are looking for in a firm will help you make the right decision and growth of your business.

Wikipedia Marketing – Use a Wiki to Market a Law Firm Or Practice

Wikipedia is a very important tool in a tech-savvy legal marketers’ arsenal. Web technologies like RSS from blogs, wikis, forums, and other kinds of channels into feed-enabled portals create buzz about an attorney or law firm.

Wikipedia has a massive traffic volume and influence in search engine results. The site also tends to attract a tech-savvy audience that researches RSS and other Web 2.0 technologies. Presented carefully, a strong presence for a law firm with relevant Wikipedia entries can help drive traffic to the Firm’s website. In the ever-expanding world of social computing, it makes sense for firms and attorneys to take the plunge into Wikipedia, but it is just as important to learn the rules of the game first.

GETTING STARTED

When creating the firm or attorney page, first check the state bar’s rules for the filing requirements for public advertising and written, recorded, electronic or other digital solicitations. In Texas, all attorney advertising copy must be submitted to the Advertising Review Department. However, since Wikipedia entries are assumed written by a neutral third-party the pages don’t officially fall into the “advertising” category.

Here is the official word from the Texas State Bar Advertising Review Department Director Gene Major; “Read the Texas Disciplinary Rules for Professional Conduct. Rule 7.07(e) lists the type of exemptions the Bar allows without submission for approval from us. These exemptions include publicly available information about the attorney or law firm, business card-type information about practice areas, firm website and information concerning legal issues, such as news articles, legal articles, editorial opinions, or other legal developments or events.”

Before constructing the framework for the Wikipedia page, the best advice is to list everything planned for the page, then read the individual state bar’s exemptions rule on filing requirements and make sure nothing on the Wikipedia list contradicts the state bar rule.

Wikipedia’s strict content guidelines must also be addressed and understood thoroughly. Wikipedia’s editors are basically anyone who owns a computer, and they can be merciless. Wikipedia defines itself as: an encyclopedia, not a forum for advertising or self-promotion, or a vanity press. As such, it should contain only material that complies with its content policies, and Wikipedians must place the interests of the encyclopedia first. Any editor who gives priority to outside interests may be subject to a conflict of interest.

There are no firm criteria to determine whether a conflict of interest exists, but there are warning signs. Adding material that appears to promote the interests or visibility of an article’s author, its author’s family members, employer, associates, or their business or personal interests, places the author in a conflict of interest. When editors write to promote their own interests, their contributions often show a characteristic lack of connection to anything the general reader might want to consult as a reference.

When constructing a page if its decided to write an article on an area of law where there is personal involvement, be sure to write in a neutral tone and cite reliable, third party published sources, its important to beware of unintentional bias. A neutral point of view is the key to success on Wikipedia.

The best learning tools here are examples. Houston attorney Mark Lanier’s page is a good model of how to write a Wikipedia entry properly. It can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Mark_Lanier

You will notice Lanier’s page is categorized under American Lawyers/Living People. A page’s category is an important designation. According to the Wikipedia article traffic statistics (http://stats.grok.se/) Lanier’s page has been visited 246 times in June of 2008.

A law firm that created their Wikipedia entry properly can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skadden%2C_Arps%2C_Slate%2C_Meagher_%26_Flom

This firm categorized their entry under: Law firms of the United States | Law firms established in 1948 | Law firms based in New York City. According to the traffic counter, their page has been viewed 6,508 times in June of 2008. That’s a strong audience.

Along with the successful pages we should also cite examples of problem entries. Haynes & Boone is a good cautionary tale. Their page can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haynes_%26_Boone

You will notice there is a warning header at the top of the page listing the entry as being written as an advertisement. Judging from the length of the page a lot of work went into building it. But there aren’t any external links except self-promoting websites and there are no references listed. Whoever wrote this entry probably thought the link to the firm’s website would be enough to justify the time and effort it took to build the page. However, a quick check of the page traffic counter shows the page was visited once in May and not at all in June. It is important to cite sources and make sure other articles link to the page from related topics. Make content relevant for the Wikipedia community, not just the firm.

CASE CITATIONS

You will notice from the Mark Lanier page example citations of some of his flagship cases. These cases should not be cited unless they are considered closed by the courts and all parties involved. If an attorney is involved in a court case, or close to one of the litigants, it would be very difficult to demonstrate that what is written about a party or a law firm associated with the case, or a related area of law, was entirely objective.

The courts or their parties could potentially notice even a minor slip up in neutrality in a court-case article on Wikipedia for an active case-in-progress, and this could potentially cause real-world harm. Because of this, restrict case citations and edits on other Wikipedia pages to cases officially closed.

STEPS FOR DEVELOPING THE PAGE

1. Research State Bar Professional Conduct Guidelines for filing requirements.

2. Research Wikipedia’s guidelines for content creation and editing, including standards for writing style, formatting, editing, adding links, etc.

3. Study the attorney and firm pages listed in this article and notice how they crafted their page, then make it easy on yourself and copy them with your own content.

4. Choose the proper category for the page. Study other related firms and attorney pages to distinguish the particular area that will most benefit your practice.

5. Find someone outside of your organization to do the actual development of the entry to avoid being deleted by Wikipedia’s conflict-of-interest policy.

6. Craft practice articles in the Wikipedia Sandbox:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sandbox The Wikipedia Sandbox section of the site allows members to post draft articles, experiment with formatting, tone, and linking strategies, and receive feedback from the community

7. Write articles according to Wikipedia’s neutral point-of-view standards, which discourages users from putting spin or bias in articles. Remove all the slick marketing hype for the copy. This sentence, for instance, is similar to something that would appear in company marketing materials:
o “XYZ Firm is a diversified law practice focused on the highest level of customer service”
For Wikipedia, it needs to sound like this:
o “XYZ Firm is comprised of attorneys representing a number of diverse practice areas including, Intellectual Property, Maritime Law and Business Litigation.”

8. Strategically link related pages within Wikipedia. Guidelines state that content creators should provide relevant links to other Wikipedia articles.

9. Use external links to send traffic to a Firm’s site. Hotlinks are permitted in certain sections of a Wikipedia article, such as External Links. Be sure to add links to relevant Firm Web pages where possible. Use concise, targeted pages relevant to the Wikipedia article in question, rather than just linking to the company’s homepage. Add links to the firm’s Web pages, data sheets, and white papers in an article’s “References” section. Include links to third-party sites on company-specific pages to demonstrate neutrality.

Finally, take all the valuable content just created and add value to the Wikipedia community by expanding the information available on RSS technology.

TRACK THE RESULTS

Starting with the article traffic statistics, track how many people are visiting the Wikipedia page. Be sure to monitor where clients are hearing about the firm and keep a record of the new calls into the office and be sure and ask the client where they heard of the firm.

Wikipedia is a collaborative, constantly evolving site, and a firm’s page must be constantly monitored. The team responsible for overseeing the page must constantly be aware of edits to the page, participate in ongoing discussions about pages, and look for opportunities to add more relevant, useful content to the site. Provide value to the Wikipedia community and reap the rewards!

Will You Be a Crime Victim? What Are Your Odds? Refuse to Be the Victim of a Violent Crime!

Being the victim of a crime is one of those aspects in life that we tend not to think about… unless it happens to us personally. Have you ever been a victim of crime? If you have, it probably irreversibly changed your life. If you haven’t been a crime victim, consider the facts that follow.

Let’s face it, from birth, life is a crap shoot when it comes to being a crime victim. You roll the dice and take your chances. Day in and day out, you hear about assaults, hold-ups, home invasions, burglaries, car jackings, rape and murder. You might think, “It’ll will never happen to me!”

Have you ever wondered what the odds are that you might be a crime victim, or become one again? The statistics are startling. Of course, a lot depends on who you are, where you live, where you work, your daily routine – and how lucky you are. Lifestyle has a lot to do with it but anyone, anywhere, at any time can be innocently swept up and involved in a crime.

*Consider these odds:

  • 1 of every 39 Americans will be the victim of a violent crime THIS YEAR
  • 1 of every 6 women will be raped in their life time (80% are unreported)
  • 35% of adults will be a victim of a violent crime sometime in their life
  • there is a 100% chance that you will experience a theft in your lifetime and an 87% chance that you will experience theft 3+ times
  • 3 of every 4 households are burglarized every 20 years

Sobering isn’t it?

Law enforcement touts that crime rates have come down from their peak in the 1980’s…and that’s true. The crime rate has fallen 1-2%. But what they don’t tell you is that the NUMBER of crimes continues to rise proportionately to our population growth. The US population in 1980 was 227 million. Today our population is 307 million, which represents a 40% increase in population AND the NUMBER of crimes since 1980. Simply put, more people – more crime.

“What can YOU do to keep from being a crime statistic?” REFUSE TO BE A VICTIM! Be Informed! Be Prepared! Be Armed!

*Source: FBI Crime Statistics

Some Crime Statistics

Fighting crime is a priority of every country and every society, and the United States is definitely not an exception. Moreover, societies have to devote resources to fighting crime. Some countries have small budgets, while others have very large budgets. The United States has a very large budget to fighting crime. Moreover, there are a number of non-law enforcement entities that help fight crime. For example, public watchdog groups, advocacy organizations, and the courts also help hinder crime. In 2007, the United States was an impressive reduction in crime. Although addressing why that reduction occurred is important, simply looking at the statistics will reveal that the decrease in crime rates was notable.

Compared to the first half of 2006, the first half of 2007 in the United States saw rather large decreases in crime. Nationwide, violence fell 1.8% and property crime fell 2.6%. Moreover, in every one of the four regions in the U.S. violence crime in every category fell. Nationally,

  • murder dropped 1.1%
  • rape dropped 6.1%
  • robbery 1.2%
  • assault 1.7%

Additionally, cities that had over 1 million residents saw significant drops in violent crime rates:

  • murder rates fell 6.5%
  • rape fell 14.2%
  • robbery 4.3%
  • assault 3.3%

Furthermore, across the nation property crime fell in every category:

  • burglary rates dropped by 1.3%
  • larceny-theft fell 2.1%
  • motor vehicle theft fell by 7.4%

And amazingly, arson, not considered a violent crime or a property crime, dropped by 9.7%.

Clearly, the United States has met with notable success in reducing crime. But unsurprisingly, some crime has not decreased but has in fact jumped.

  • In non-metropolitan cities and cities that have between 10,000 and 24,000 residents, violent crime jumped 1.1%. Essentially, rural areas saw slight increase in crime.
  • In metropolitan counties, cities with 50,000 to 99,999 residents, and non-metropolitan counties, murder rates jumped.
  • Burglary rates jumped 3.5% in in metropolitan cities.
  • The South saw a 0.4% increase in property crimes.

So, what do these statistics mean? What is the U.S. doing right, and what can be improved? What works and what does not? Those questions are difficult to answer and need to be answered (or attempted to be answered) by professional researchers. Reductions or increases can be linked to a variety of factors. Rarely can they be linked to only one factor.

Crime statistics show that the United States crime, while definitely being address in the United States, still can have more resources and attention to devoted to it. Crimes will occur, and people will be charged.