Twitter To Add “Buy Now” Button? How Your Firm Can Profit From Social Media

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 11.57.53 AMTwitter may well become the Internet’s next online shopping platform.

For the first time, a “Buy now” button appeared on multiple tweets this month, all of which included products that link back to a shopping site called Fancy, reports Mashable.

The button only appears on Twitter’s mobile site, not its web version, and the company itself has yet to comment. But, allowing this sort of third-party link to shopping services isn’t at all that surprising.

“A law firm could develop landing pages for ‘simple legal services’ at flat fees and run ‘Buy Now’ ads on Twitter. The Twitter ad schema would enable ultra focused ads to reach locales and various demographic groups,” writes Kevin O’Keefe on a Real Lawyers Have Blogs post.

Sound farfetched? Not really. It’s already happening.

“I would never have dreamed lawyers would buy pre-written blog posts, sell a half hour of their time for $50 per hour on an a legal matching site, sell services via Groupon, or pay $90 per click through on Google Adwords,” admits O’Keefe.

But law firms do, and have.

Even if Twitter doesn’t rollout this new service, there are plenty of other reasons law firms should use social media.

Law firms, LexisNexis, and client management solution providers are just a few of the many legal services groups taking advantage of Twitter. LexisNexis does a great job at using Twitter to build relationships and enhance their visibility and reputation among customers.

LexisNexis has over 26 thousand followers on Twitter. And there’s no wonder why. Its posts are readable, interesting, and we’re all vying to be their next re-tweet.

Taking notes by hand (w/ pen & paper): A must for lawyers ‪http://bit.ly/1mWSKRY via ‪@lawyerist ‪@samglover

Blogger Kevin O’Keefe talks about the many positive takeaways from being re-tweeted by some of these bigger names in legal services:

  1. “I feel an enhanced relationship with the companies and their executives.
  2. I am more apt to speak positively about the companies and their work—when deserved.
  3. I begin to tweet things they blog or share on Twitter. I am more apt to reach out to the companies on ideas.
  4. I view these companies as more innovative and social. While most of the people in the legal profession, including law firms and companies serving the legal profession are slow to adapt to a real social presence, these companies are proving they understand the future of social.”

The last reason being no small thing.

Read more about how to use Twitter effectively as a law firm or legal services entity on O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

Twitter is just one social media tool of many. And even if you would never do the same, if you consider it nearly unbelievable, as many as 56 percent of consumers and 72 percent of minorities who searched for an attorney in the past year reported doing so via social media, according to a study conducted by The Research Intelligence Group.

In fact, over one-fifth of survey participants went so far as to consult the social media pages of the specific lawyers or firms that they were considering during this search for legal representation.

So whether or not shoppable tweets are on their way, there’s already more than one reason for law firms to use Twitter.

How can you maximize the potential of social media while ensuring the appropriate use of intellectual property and customer information? What can counsel do to proactively protect brands from infringement by social networking website users?

Listen to C4CM’s audio conference “Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in Social Media: Policing and Protecting Against Brand Infringement” and learn about the potential trademark, copyright, and privacy issues presented by the use of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, and best practices for the protection of intellectual property and privacy on social media sites, including:

  • Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in Social Media
  • Social Media and Defamation, Patent, Copyright, Trademark and Trade Secret
  • Social Media and IP Policies You Need Today
  • Trademark Infringement Threats on Twitter, Facebook and Other Social Networking Websites
  • New Challenges Posed Both to Brand Owners and Users

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Should Law Firms Deliver Clients Good News Or Bad News First? Well, It Depends…

How do you tell a client that he’s lost his case, but there’s hope, at least, in appeal? How do you tell an employee you value their service, but the firm is downsizing?

The legal services business is rife with the good news/bad news scenario. So which do you present to people first?

Let’s start with the bad news. At least, that’s what most people would say.

In a paper published March 2014 in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, authors Angela Legg and Kate Sweeny studied whether or not participants would rather hear good news or bad news first. An overwhelming number of people (78%) preferred to receive negative feedback first, followed by positive feedback.

According to the study, participants believed that hearing good news last would help them end on a high note.

This is not entirely surprising as we’ve all been in the same position—wanting to jerk the Band-Aid off bad news quickly before reaching the healing, positive portion of the getting-news phase.

However, a second study, according to Psychology Today, turned around and asked the same participants to deliver good and bad news. It asked which order participants preferred to present it in, and the results are not what you might think.

Participants were split. Half wanted to deliver bad news first, assuming that’s what others wanted to hear, and half wanted to deliver good news first, believing it would be—selfishly—easier for them.

As a law firm manager, which matters most? Do you want to make bad news easier to hear or easier to deliver?

Well, it turns out, this all depends on what outcome you desire.

Let’s say you’re delivering a performance review to an associate. It may be that you want him or her to work on honing a specific skill or improving a certain behavior. In this case, it might be better to deliver bad news last.

Studies show that when negative feedback about a person’s personality is delivered last, people are more interested in changing their mood and behavior than if the same feedback is delivered first. Apparently once negative feedback is heard and followed by positive feedback, participants are less worried and committed to changing negative aspects of their personality.

On the other hand, let’s say you’re a law firm delivering good and bad news to a client. You likely want to retain their business, so leading with the bad news and ending your meeting with the good news might be the best way to go. Once clients hear the positive aspects of your firm’s performance and their legal prospects, they will have a heightened mood and perception of the situation.

Giving bad news last may sour a client’s opinion of your firm and leave them lingering on a low note.

In the end, it’s probably not a good idea to give people a choice: do you want to hear the bad news or good news first? Instead, decide what follow-up behavior you’re hoping to spur and decide on a sequence of news accordingly.

A law firm manager or partner’s position as the bearer of bad news is certainly not an envied one. But, with the proper ordering of feedback to clients and employees, perhaps society can learn to stop shooting the messenger.

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Why Your Maternity & Paternity Leave Policies Are A Hit & A Miss: Mets Fans Teach Law Firms About Priorities

This April, many Mets baseball fans were more up in arms about paternity leave than the opening day game. It turns out time off for fathers is as much as a hotbed issue for Americans as batting average and runs scored—which is saying a lot for the country’s number one patriotic sport.

In case you were watching the Mets get slaughtered by the Nationals that day, here’s what happened: Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy decided he would take his contractually guaranteed three days of paternity leave to spend time with his wife, Victoria, and newborn baby, born from cesarean section. This meant Murphy missed the season opener and one other game, spurring insensitive comments from two sports radio hosts, Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason.

Among the worst offenders, Esiason said (via Slate), “Quite frankly, I would’ve said, ‘C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day.”

Esiason would go on to apologize to the many listeners appalled at his lack of taste or common sense (a healthy baby trumps a coach’s first-choice lineup). But, it reminded Americans of the sad fact that dads, by law, are just not prioritized in parenthood.

Outside Father’s Day and the FMLA, dads just can’t catch a break.

This week, Obama spoke out in favor of paid leave for parents. He cited the fact that the United States is the only nation in the industrialized world without paid maternity leave—something Obama is eager to change.

On Monday, at the White House Summit on Working Families, Obama said, “There is only one developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave, and that is us.”

“And that is not the list you want to be on, on your lonesome.”

Neither is the list for professional sports stars taking advantage of time off. Whereas the Mets’ Murphy was allowed through the Major League Baseball (MLB)’s collective bargaining agreement in 2011 to take up to three days of paternity league, no other professional sports organization allows the same privilege.

The NBA and the NFL have no such agreement, and players who deign to spend time with newborn sons and daughters are often chastised by fans and authorities (Former NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo implied recently that he believes he was traded for taking 36 hours of paternity leave, reports Slate).

Nevertheless, although businesses may loathe paid leave, Americans as a unified culture and a workforce do not. And they seem willing to speak out against companies with bad policies. A backlash that forces men like Esiason, radio host, to formally apologize.

Even in the U.S., which rewards the super-macho all-American man, people prefer the stable atomic family to wealth or recreation. Forbes staff admit that alternative work schedules are a must for entrepreneurs and today’s businesses.

“Telecommuting is not the future, it is now,” writes Karsten Strauss for Forbes.

“Across the board, telecommuting increased over 80% since 2005. Over 3.3 million people in the U.S. do it (and that’s not including the self-employed).”

So how can your firm handle changes better than the MLB?

Well, according to SHRM’s FMLA survey, tracking and administering intermittent FMLA leave was identified as the most difficult activity by 80 percent of responding organizations. In fact, some of the most frequently voiced issues were about the administration and abuse of the FMLA, particularly with respect to intermittent leave.

FMLA itself is confusing and difficult to interpret, especially following the recent sweeping changes to the law. Even seasoned HR professionals have difficulty figuring out how to calculate intermittent leaves, how to decide when the 12-month calendar begins, and how to determine if the leave request is actually legitimate.

So, start by reading The Center For Competitive Management (C4CM)’s guide, Managing Intermittent FMLA Leave, a no-fluff, plain-English report that will guide you through this intricate law. Jammed packed with compliance guidelines, this comprehensive, 101 page guide provides easy-to-understand FMLA guidance. Available here.

Next, create a flexible workplace for your law firm professionals valuing (and needing) time with their families.

Learn about the myriad benefits for the employee and employer, as well as strategies for implementation in C4CM’s training guide, Creating the Flexible Workplace. Available here.

Creating a flexible workplace that’s accommodating for moms and dads will lower costs associated with employee absenteeism and improve staff retention. It will decrease healthcare utilization costs and enhance your firm’s reputation as an employer of choice.

Don’t think twice, swing. It’s a homerun.

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Job References: Facts, Fiction & Fair Legal Practices

Why should employers do background checks? Should you outsource them or conduct them in-house? How far in a candidate’s past should you check? What’s legal, what’s not?

These are just some of many important questions law firm managers should ask before hiring new associates or employees. When you dig for dirt, it’s not just the EEOC you have to worry about. In fact, it’s essential that you also follow the rules put forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Title VII, the ADA, and federal and state privacy laws.

And it’s not just employers that make mistakes. Employees should be weary of what references they list, as well.

It’s not your typical myth-busting episode, but background check experts Allison & Taylor Inc. talk about the seven deadly myths of job references in a recent article. Both employees and employers should be weary of confusing the following fiction with fact:

Myth No. 1: Companies are not allowed to say anything negative about a former employee.

According to Allison & Taylor Inc., approximately half of their clients receive a bad reference, despite strict policies in place.

For job candidates, it is important to realize that your chances can be seriously harmed by even one out of three of your references sabotaging your chances. Seriously consider your reference choices.

For employers, you have to take references with a grain of salt. What was this candidate’s previous position compared to the one being offered? How might the personality of this old manager influence his or her opinion about the candidate? Sometimes previous employers are simply bitter about losing a qualified employee—or one they spent time and money to train.

Make sure a bad reference really merits the maligning.

Myth No. 2: If I had any issues with my former boss, I can simply leave him or her off my reference list and nobody will ever know.

The reality is that background checks are incredibly thorough. A “social security check” will determine where a person has worked in the past, and include a number for the human resources department. You cannot be sure HR will omit the names of previous bosses.

Law firm managers should ask a candidate for reasons why they may have left off a place of employment. Not all omissions were made with malicious intent.

Myth No. 3: I sued my former company and they are now not allowed to say anything.

A law firm hiring an litigious employee? Now you’re treading on dangerous ground. Is it proof of an associate’s prowess and passion for legal practices or a liability? That’s for your firm to decide.

For the complete list of myths, click here.

In today’s world, where legal services demand is on the decline, law school graduates are likely to have non-traditional backgrounds. It’s for this reason that law firms may start to see non-standard backgrounds for associates during their reference checks.

Because of reduced on-campus recruitment, candidates may experience higher numbers of videoconference interviews and stronger importance placed on resumes and background checks.

Law firm managers should be sure they understand the most efficient way to cover their bases from afar, without risking compliance issues at home.

To learn more, take The Center For Competitive Management’s course, Background Checks: What’s Legal, What’s Not—a powerful resource you can use to ensure you hire the best candidate for the job and safeguard your organization against negligent hiring claims.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Patent Trolls (Again): What Does This Mean For Your Firm or Clients?

Patent Trolls beware. There’s a Supreme Court-backed knight crossing your bridge, wielding a powerful verdict.

On Thursday, in a unanimous decision in Alice Corp. vs. CLS Bank International, the Supreme Court ruled that ideas are not patentable just because they are performed on a computer. Although the ruling still leaves plenty of ambiguity in the patentability of software, it is one step closer in the recent anti-NPE movement.

Non-practicing entities, or NPEs, have been on the minds of high-tech business owners and the lawyers representing them for decades.

Today, however, the trial court invalidated Alice’s patents, stating they were just concepts, not patentable ideas.

“Viewed as a whole,” wrote Justice Thomas wrote (via New York Times), “petitioner’s method claims simply recite the concept of intermediated settlement as performed by a generic computer.”

“[The methods neither] improve the functioning of the computer [nor] effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field.”

In the recent past, the court was weary of hampering innovation by restricting patenting requirements. Long advocates for protecting intellectual property of both the individual and businesses, courts worry that reigning in patent trolls means restraining creativity and invention.

What do intellectual property experts think?

Dana Rao, Vice President, Intellectual Property and Litigation, Adobe, wrote to Forbes:

“The Supreme Court added another nail in the coffin of patent trolls with a decision that reinforces the common-sense belief that patents can’t be granted for abstract ideas that have been around forever. Importantly, they made a critical distinction between those abstract patents and valid software patents that improve a technological process,” said Rao.

“This ruling supports true innovators while helping rein in the abuse of the system by the patent trolls. We’re pleased to see the judiciary acting where Congress would not. But we still need Congress to act, as only they can meaningfully change the economic incentives that are driving the abuse of the patent litigation system.”

If that happens, patent litigators—like patent trolls—might also find themselves without a job.

According to Bruce Wexler, partner at Paul Hastings, who wrote to Daniel Fisher at Forbes, patent lawyers shouldn’t fret quite yet. In fact, maybe the Supreme Court’s ruling just made their job easier.

“Chief Judge Archer’s dissent in In re Alappat some 20 years ago is now the majority rule,” writes Wexler.

“The mere recitation of some structure ‎in a patent claim is not the dispositive test for patent eligibility. Patent law demands more. The invention must reside in the application of an idea. While this can raise grey areas, the argument cannot simply be about whether or not structure appears in a patent claim.”

If anything, the Supreme Court ruling is one more reason innovators should contact patent experts about what is, and is not, patentable. Law firm managers should keep their clients apprised of changes in patent law. Between the America Invents Act and recent rulings against NPEs, intellectual property practice areas will have their hands full.

If you haven’t done it already, consider alerting implicated clients of recent court decisions affecting their operations. A monthly newsletter to clients helps assure them you’re there and cross-sell your services.

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The 2015 Vault Law Firm 100 Ranking & What It Takes To Get To The Top

The 2015 Vault Law Firm 100 rankings are in. Considering this economy, it’s not surprising that litigation powerhouses are taking the lead.

Still fighting for the No. 1 and No. 2 spot, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz takes the lead with Cravath, Swaine & Moore following suit. Although both firms excel at far more practice areas than litigation—including corporate, tax, and trusts and estates—lawsuits seem to be driving America or, at the very least, this list of top ranking firms.

Take, for example, Quinn Emanuel and Boies Schiller, who continued to ascend in the Vault Law 100 this year.

Quinn Emanuel first reached the Top 40 ranks in 2009, Top 25 in 2010. This year it is No. 15 this year. Renowned for its trial skills and ranked No. 1 for General Commercial Litigation in Vault’s 2014 rankings, survey respondents called the firm “innovative,” “intense,” “feared” and the “best litigation firm in the U.S.,” according to Above The Law Blog (ATL).

Quinn Emanuel’s litigation expertise is diverse, taking on all areas of litigation: products liability, appellate litigation, all types of class actions, clients can take their pick.

And, with lawsuits on the rise—patents, securities, employees, class action suits—there’s no wonder litigation firms are leaders of the pack.

All this just to say that even one-trick ponies aren’t just one-trick ponies; they have two, three, four practice areas up their sleeve.

And while the major New York-based firms continue to dominate, smaller firms can still make a name for themselves via innovation.

According to the Vault (and ATL), here are the Top 15 firms for 2015:

  1. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  2. Cravath, Swaine & Moore
  3. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  4. Sullivan & Cromwell
  5. Davis Polk & Wardwell
  6. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
  7. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
  8. Weil, Gotshal & Manges
  9. Kirkland & Ellis
  10. Latham & Watkins
  11. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
  12. Covington & Burling
  13. Boies, Schiller & Flexner
  14. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
  15. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

The full list is available here.

As litigants are increasingly in demand, it is no surprise that litigation support is increasingly desirable, as well.

A recent survey by ALM Legal Intelligence reveals that the hourly base pay for paralegals continues to rise. Salaries for paralegals, litigation support and docketing workers at both law firms and law departments, according to the ALM/IPMA Annual Compensation Survey for Paralegals and Managers, 2014 Edition, released yesterday, are all implicated.

Conducted annually since 2002, the 2014 survey included 298 law firms and law departments reporting on over 9,500 paralegal, litigation support, and docketing positions.

According to their findings, at law firms, the highest hourly-pay positions are Litigation Support/Technology/eDiscovery Manager at $79.66 and Paralegal Director at $76.42. Among law departments, Paralegal Supervisor was the highest paid position at $70.32, followed by Litigation Support/Technology/eDiscovery Director/ Manager at $65.35, reports the ALM.

Law firm paralegals, the largest group reported, increased average hourly base pay to $36.57 from $35.98 in 2013, while law department paralegal pay jumped to $34.30 from $31.46.

Law firm bonuses on average increased most noticeably for Paralegal Directors at $18,421, compared to $16,149 the prior year.

Specialists/Industry Analysts bonuses rose to $6,939 from $5,749. Law firm billing rates for paralegal positions increased an average of 4 percent.

If you’re a law firm manager, should you care?

Well, it may be that the salaries of your first-year associates look a lot more attractive as litigation support than ever before. And, your first “innovative” act as a climbing-the-ranks firm might be reevaluating traditional legal positions and finding alternative arrangements, instead.

Competition to the top has never been fiercer. Pony up!

Are all your employees accurately classified as exempt or non-exempt? How can you be sure?

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are being forced to pay out big bucks for misclassifying employees and failing to pay proper overtime. In fact, the number of FLSA-related lawsuits in federal courts has spiked by 250% in the past decade.

Is your company at risk? The DOL estimates that nearly 70 percent of employers are not in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)!

Introducing FLSA Compliance: Your Practical Guide to Overtime Exemptions and Wage and Hour Law – a no-fluff, plain-English report you can to master the ins and outs of this complex law.

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The Key To Cross-Selling Initiatives For Law Firms (What Your Firm Has Forgotten!)

You’ll nod your head in agreement that it must be done right before you list a couple of excuses for why your law firm doesn’t successfully cross-sell its services.

The average client has 4 major practice needs and 5 minor—yet measurable—needs. Nevertheless, on average, a primary provider delivers only 1.8 practices to a single client, meaning most law firms deliver one, and a handful service 2 practice areas.

There are several reasons why law firms fail at cross-selling multiple practice areas to the same client. And, there are multiple solutions geared toward success. Here are three common reasons firms fail to cross-sell:

1. Your associates aren’t encouraged to do so.

First, to cross-sell your practice areas, you need to tell your associates to do it!

Law firms assume that lawyers understand the need to push other practice areas on their current clients. But, few—if any—lawyers are trained marketing or sales aficionados.

Not only that, your employees may not be incentivized to cross-sell services. What does your divorce attorney get for pushing client hours toward your IP division? What does your first-year attorney gain by mentioning your in-house litigation consulting service?

An attorney will simply increase his billable hours if there’s no incentive to cross-sell. However, when the reward is compensation during his quarterly review, he may jump at opportunities to help.

So, to cross-sell your services to clients, first consider selling the idea to your attorneys.

2. Nobody knows what services you offer.

Clients don’t know who in your partner practice does what. Neither do your own attorneys. When the right hand doesn’t know what the left is up to, this becomes a real problem.

New clients should always be introduced to the firm as a whole—the variety of its services, the expertise of its lawyers, and the breadth of successful case wins. Never assume a client understands what a “litigation department” does. By standardizing each new client introduction to the firm, you have a better chance to cross-sell them services later.

Similarly, never assume your associates understand the full capacity of your firm’s services. Attorneys, especially new eager ones, may not know the full extent of your case history—your strengths (and weaknesses).

It becomes difficult to cross-sell when you—as an attorney—don’t truly know what size case or level of technicality his firm is equipped to handle.

3. You’re afraid to cross-sell.

Finally, the thing holding most people back from cross-selling legal services is fear. Fear of losing clients, fear of not knowing how.

A firm must have full faith in his own or his partner’s practice in order to successfully cross-sell. If you are reticent to recommend a fellow lawyer or partner, it may be time to cut ties with that person altogether.

As for fear of lack of know-how, there are a few sources to help.

The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM) offers a powerful resource, Law Firm Origination and Cross-Selling Credits: A Guide to Your Firm’s Future Success, which looks at the key to successful cross-selling initiatives—how to turn selling into a team sport, and manage the origination that ensues.

This comprehensive guide also explores the problems firms encounter before, during, and after implementing origination and cross-selling credits within the compensation system. It includes such sections as: Challenges for Modern Day Law Firms, Developing Your Compensation System, Cross-Selling Credits Within the Compensation of a Law Firm, and How to Teach Your Attorneys to Cross-Sell (and more!).

Now there are no more excuses to achieving success and boosting your law firm business today.

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