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Blogging Backlash & Lessons In What (Not) To Post

Recently, the community blog PLOS Biologue removed a blog post by two journalists Charles Seife and Paul Thacker that criticized the lack of transparency by scientists.

The article can still be read in a cached form here, in which it states:

“In the wake of several embarrassing scientific debacles where financial conflicts played a prominent role — the death of Jesse Gelsinger,[i] the delayed decision to pull Vioxx and Bextra from the U.S. market,[ii] and the misconduct of Andrew Wakefield,[iii] to name a few — scientists, clinicians, publishers, regulators, and journalists began to beat a steady drumbeat to march research toward transparency.”

The post goes on to discuss various instances where e-mails from scientists have revealed the extent to which industry experts control the scientific literature to promote their own products and private gain.

At the end, the journalists conclude, “In short, those working to improve public welfare should oppose attempts to embolden government entities to withhold public information, thus threatening public health and the public trust in science.”

PLOS Biologue pulled the post after severe backlash by its readers, arguing the post was “not consistent with at least the spirit and intent of our community guidelines.”

Keith Kloor, author of the Nature news article mentioned in the retracted post, told Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch that he disagreed with the decision to remove the article, stating:

“As much I think the PLOS post is deeply flawed and erroneous, it bothers me that it was retracted. 1) The official explanation is really vague. Not very transparent! 2) I have to wonder if there was intense pressure brought to bear from scientists…I find myself in the odd position of defending the flawed PLOS post from these presumed pressures, in part because I’ve been the subject of similar pressure campaigns. (Of course, I’m only assuming pressure was brought to bear. I have no idea if this was actually the case.)”

This instance provides law firms two important lessons about blogging. First, blogging is not easy. Readers—even online—create a discerning audience who feel free to openly and harshly criticize authors.

Second, blogging—while crucial to the survival of a company’s marketing strategy today—is as dangerous as it is beneficial. It is reported that the number of blogs published by Am Law 200 law firms has grown twelvefold in the last seven years, according to Above The Law (ATL), quoting the Am Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report 2015 from LexBlog.

In the same time frame, the number of firms publishing blogs has more than quadrupled to a total of 163 firms. And eighteen of the top 25 firms are blogging, according to the same source (via ATL).

With all these firms blogging, it’s important to remember that content matters. Just as easily as your firm can attract a wider audience or client base through its posts, it can alienate them.

Which firms may have the most at stake? It’s hard to say, but Fox Rothschild has the most blogs, with 39, and Sheppard Mullin places second with 29 blogs. Womble Carlyle follows closely with 22 blogs, and finally DLA Piper just misses the podium in fourth place, with 21 blogs, according to ATL.

What are these law firms talking about?

  • Employment and labor blogs (132 publications)
  • Corporate and commercial law (104)
  • Financial (100)
  • Intellectual property (73)
  • International (64)
  • Healthcare (55)
  • Administrative (52)
  • Technology (50)
  • Energy (47)
  • Real estate and construction (43)

Finally, you may have guessed, but mobile visits (visits conducted via smartphone or tablet) now account for 25 percent of global Internet traffic —and increase from 14 percent one year ago (via ATL).

So, decide with your marketing team and certainly name partners what message your law firm is hoping to send with its posts. Also come up with a plan for retractions (if any) or legal responsibility for the opinions in the posts. Like all things at the intersection of technology, law, and business, create a policy or manual for your blogging strategy.

In the end, blogging does more good than bad. After all, without blogging or reading others’ blogs, your firm may never know about interesting, informative upcoming events, like the following audio conferences:

  • Counsel’s Guide to Trade Secret Protection: Preventing and Avoiding Costly Errors and Penalties
    • Wednesday, September 16, 2015
  • Reclassifying Exempt Employees: Ensuring Wage and Hour Compliance
    • Wednesday, September 23, 2015 
  • Excel Pivot Tables: Shortcuts, Tricks, and Time-Saving Tips to Crunch Data More Efficiently
    • Tuesday, September 29, 2015 
  • Writing Effective Emails: Mastering The Number One Tool for Business Communication
    • Friday, October 2, 2015
  • Compensating Millennial Associates: Customizing Compensation and Rewards for Increased Productivity and Firm Profitability
    • Thursday, October 8, 2015
  • Partner Compensation: Keys to Compensating Succession and Client Transfers
    • Thursday, November 5, 2015 

To attend, click here.

C4CM audio conferences are live, interactive sessions presented over the telephone. You can attend from any location with phone access. You pay just one low registration fee for as many participants as you wish at one call-in location. Listen in from the convenience of your home, your office or in your conference room with your entire team and immediately put what you’ve learned to work in your department.

Need to reach a wider audience with your posts? Find out how, here.

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The 57th Grammy Awards & Benefits Of Blogging For Law Firm Professionals

These days people crave real-time reports.

This week, Beyonce, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams top the 57th Grammy Awards with six nominations each. But, the awards telecast has surprisingly little airtime. There are far more categories and performances in the Grammys than regular audiences will see. This is why some sites, such as Monkey See, Vox, and Entertainment Weekly, look to live-blogging during the ceremony.

Although it seems unlikely that law firm professionals will start live-blogging courtroom events (although, anything is possible), there are myriad reasons for lawyers to blog. It may not be as riveting a performance as Taylor Swift, but there are certainly other reasons besides entertainment from which you will benefit. Here are a few:

1. Productive Diversion. Angry birds and Pinterest can certainly fill up your free time. So will tracking this year’s film and music awards shows. However, a personal blog allows attorneys to make more productive use of their lunch hour.

Stuart Brown wrote in his book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul writes, “I have gathered and analyzed thousands of case studies that I call play histories. I have found that remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives are probably the most important factors in being a fulfilled human being.”

When moving physical locations is impossible (law firms frown upon playground breaks for attorneys), briefly browsing the Internet for fun, diverting subjects, videos, or photos can substitute as “play.”

“The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative innovative person.”

Writing about your favorite sports team, commenting on news items, or reposting interesting videos are each great ways to maintain a positive personal attitude in an often stressful environment.

2. Hone Your Writing Skills. Lawyers write briefs and motions all day, but practice (so they say) makes perfect. In addition to honing your writing skills for legal briefs, a personal blog can also help lawyers to hone their skills in writing communications for clients.

Blogs, by nature, are more informal and cater to a different audience. Practice colloquializing legalese. Clients will be grateful to (finally!) fully understand the status of their case with your newfound informal communication.

3. Brush Up On News. Although many lawyers already watch the evening news or read the morning paper, a lawyer’s professional work benefits from being up-to-date on current events. Brushing up on recent news is fodder for elevator conversation with colleagues, and, now, it can be fodder for editorial content on your personal blog.

4. Discover A Different Area Of Law. Depending on your practice, the day-to-day legal work you are conducting may or may not be your primary interest. So, when you’re tired filing patent applications, use a personal blog as an outlet to read and research an area of law that attracts you most.

As a younger attorney, sometimes BigLaw dominates your time with pages and pages of doc review. A personal blog allows you to return to those challenging student days of mock trial and competition. Not every day at work will be intellectually stimulation. But, everyday of blogging can be.

5. Networking. Ever since the “good old days,” lawyers have had to rely on networking to boost their practice by reputation and name recognition.

Kevin O’Keefe, an avid law blogger, wrote about such old-school practices on his website Real Lawyers Have Blogs, “You went out and mingled. You left the marketing clothing behind. You entered into a conversation with the people you wanted to leave an impression with. You spoke at conferences. You networked at conferences and community charitable events to build trust, build relationships and to build word of mouth.”

A blog can continue this sort of personal interaction with the community. But, according to O’Keefe, many lawyers don’t understand that a law firm blog—more than a website or ad in the yellow pages—isn’t for marketing, it’s for relationship-building.

“Now we have lawyers and law firms who never understood that blogging was networking through the net, apparently giving up on the philosophy of that relationships and reputation build business.”

So, in addition to joining LinkedIn, online professional groups, and social media networks, give personal blogging a try in order to increase your online visibility. But, remember that a blog—much like attendance at a town council or a casual conversation with a neighbor—is meant to endear trust by your clients, not ensnare them in another poorly-disguised legal advertisement.

Need more tried-and-true, old-fashioned advice for lawyers operating in these techy times? Catch one of C4CM’s audio courses, live-streaming, here: http://www.c4cm.com/lawfirm/audioconferences.htm

There may not be as much music in them as the Grammys, but they will certainly be on-key when it comes to law firm management consulting.

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Why Entrepreneurs Need Lawyers & Why Lawyers Need Blogs (Or Other Innovative Business Practices)

Can lawyers be entrepreneurs, too?

Well, as we’ve already discussed, lawyers are successful entrepreneurs when:

  1. Their law firm practice stands the test of time;
  2. Their law firm practice earns more than it spends;
  3. Their law firm practice creates an impact on the industry;
  4. Their law firm practice earns public recognition; or
  5. Their law firm practice achieves its mission or goal.

How well a law firm manager improves the firm’s training scheme, ameliorates his personal leadership style, and advances legal technology used by associates will ultimately impact the number of clients he attracts and new business he sustains.

Luckily, this job just got easier.

The Virginia Supreme Court in Horace Hunter v. Virginia State Bar ruled on the extent to which law firms can promote their practice and previous legal wins via a blog or website.

“The Virginia majority held that Hunter did not have to seek clients’ permission to discuss past closed cases, even if there was a possibility that the clients would suffer embarrassment or some other harm by the public airing of their affairs. The court also ruled that Hunter’s blogging about past courtroom successes on his firm’s website constituted an advertisement, even though he also included commentary on the criminal justice system. As a result, the majority said he should have included a standard disclaimer cautioning against too much reliance on past results.” (via Above The Law)

When it comes to non-legal entities, like (ironically) the blog reporting on this blog ruling, not all legal blogs represent commercial speech.

Above The Law reports, “The opinion was kind enough to put our personal legal questions to rest by citing Above the Law as the sort of legal blog that transcended the strictures that apply to Hunter’s blog. According to the Virginia Supreme Court, ATL is not legal advertising because we have commenters. Thanks y’all.”

But, that’s not all.

Not only are courts smiling fondly on legal blogs these days, but the blogosphere itself is promoting legal work. Consider, for example, a recent post on the Harvard Business Review Blog. It reads, “Ready to Innovate? Get a Lawyer.”

As it turns out, lawyers can be entrepreneurs. And, entrepreneurs—in turn—desperately need lawyers.

Just as quickly as breakthrough innovations take place, laws are put in place to take them down. Scottish scientists closed a sheep named Dolly and then President Bill Clinton issued an executive order banning federal funds to do the same.

Fledgling start-up website Napster was shut down the same year incumbent music conglomerate Apple launched iTunes, reports HBR. Patent trolls roam the Internet putting a stop to innovators who license their intellectual property too late.

Just as new technology crops up, so does corresponding litigation.

“Now, more startups are even opening their own policy offices in Washington, Brussels, and other lawmaking capitals. Only four years into its existence, for example, Twitter opened a D.C. office headed up by a former senior Congressional and FCC staffer. Facebook’s D.C. office has almost 30 employees,” writes Larry Downes for HBR.

“Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other Silicon Valley brand names all have their own, often extensive, government operations. For the new breed of disruptive innovators, it’s a necessary evil.”

Although calling law practice a “necessary evil” is certainly not what clients want to hear, lawyers—for their part—should be relieved to know that the business world is looking out for them. Entrepreneurs and lawyers need one another.

So, if your paid TV advertisement hasn’t reached the ears of potential clients yet, rest assured that bloggers are marketing your legal services free of charge.

In the end, Downes is addressing start-up companies and entrepreneurs in his HBR post. But, lawyers should also pay attention to his message. “When a single case can make or break your business, there’s no such thing as too much innovation—or too much lawyering,” Downes concludes.

In reverse, for those lawyers who resist change, fondly preserve “the good ole boys club”, reject new technology, or refuse to improve their firm management style, remember: when a single case can make or break your business, there’s no such think as too much innovation (period).

Don’t be stuck in a rut. Write a blog. Or, read more about innovation within law firms here.


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Boost Your Legal Business By Not Acting Like A Lawyer (Oh yeah, And Go Vote)

Obviously the big topic of conversation today is the U.S. Presidential elections.

American associates across the nation are returning to their offices proudly wearing their “I Voted” stickers.

And why shouldn’t they be proud?

After all, voting is part of our nation’s democratic history. It represents the freedom our ancestors fought for. And voting is, consequently, our civic duty.

Lawyers should be especially sensitive to this latter point.

Attorneys serve as guardians of American civil liberties and rights. After voting for national independence from Great Britain, America’s Second Continental Congress wrote its Declaration of Independence, on which twenty-five, almost half, lawyers signed.

But while the Presidential elections are today’s hot-ticket item, some considerably smaller but equally contentious and highly significant judicial elections are also taking place.

Judges in Iowa, Florida, Michigan, and Alabama are each expecting controversial ascents to the bench today, according to the WSJ Law Blog. In fact, 33 states will watch the hands of justice, well, change hands.

Iowa’s biggest scandal is the fact that it ousted “three supreme court justices via retention election as payback for the justices in 2009 voting to strike down as unconstitutional an Iowa law banning same-sex marriage,” explains the WSJ Law Blog.

Then, in Florida, conservatives are following Iowa’s example and rallying to oust their own liberal judicial representatives.

Basically, now is the ideal time to pay attention to elections and brace your firm for the litigation fallout. State lawyers have already gotten involved in Florida. Who is next?

Which of your clients will benefit from this conservative trend in law and voting?

Putting political party preferences aside (although, not totally aside), for at least one attorney, this year’s voting cycle has been an excellent lesson in law firm business marketing.

Brian Tannebaum, Esquire, recently recounted his polling experience this November, 2012. He starts his story:

“I went to vote Saturday at 7:20 a.m. I left with my ‘I voted’ sticker at 12:39 p.m. When you stand in line for five hours, even a person like me has to pass the time by speaking to someone. After skimming through the morning paper and making a futile attempt to find something interesting on Twitter or Facebook, Jeff asked me a simple question: ‘What do you do?’”

For lawyers, this is often an unluckily question from the random stranger. The number of lawyer jokes testifies to the fact that law is one the least beloved industries. Luckily for Tannebaum, it turns out that Jeff upped the ante—as a mobile auto dealer.

But, more to the point, the two began talking in the polling line, as strangers do.

There was no pitch, there was no exchange of business promises, rather, jovial conversation emerged organically from this shared experience.

The moral of the story is simple. Tannebaum rants:

“We are constantly in everyone’s face trying to get business. Someone told us that appearing on every page someone accesses on the internet will get us more wonderful high-paying clients. While it’s important to be able to be found on the internet, this notion that we have to be in everyone’s face 24/7 is one of the (many) reasons people hate lawyers.”

It makes good business sense to be aggressive about catching clients. But, not when you forget common courtesy and polite civic behavior. Today reminds us all that we’re just equal citizens, looking for opportunity.

Tannebaum believes no amount of gadgets will give you that. His slogan for the office of law may as well be: honest conversation always wins.

He drives his point home, saying, “Oh, I almost forgot… We started talking about people we both know. He also told me his company has had a contract with a big local auto dealership for the last 20 years…. He’ll be at my house next week.”

So today, when you’re out in the cold waiting for your turn to contribute to history, shake a hand or start a conversation. Not as a lawyer, but as a layperson. You’ll be surprised what that’s worth.


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Wiki-lawyering: New Industry Trend?

The word “wiki”—not coincidentally—means “quick” in Hawaiian. Wiki sites, or web pages that can be collaboratively and quickly edited by multiple browsers, were first created by Ward Cunningham in 1994.

Cunningham created WikiWikiWeb to facilitate communication between software developers for his company’s website, c2.com. The name was borne from a passing, positive memory of the Wiki Wiki Shuttle at Honolulu International Airport.[1]

Since Cunningham’s site, wiki applications and websites spread rapidly. At first, wikis were known almost exclusively among programmers and web-industry professionals as a way to add, modify, or delete content via a web browser using simplified markup language or rich-text editor.

However, in 2001, wikis became popular among the general public. A new, free content encyclopedia, Wikipedia, placed the common man in charge of the breadth and expertise of encyclopedic information.

Since then, Wikipedia has inspired a variety of other wiki-based sites.

The collaborative nature of wikis, in addition to the sheer size of publicly accessed content systems on the Internet, contributed to the idea’s instant success.

And this same success, initially obtained by wikis from collaborative editing, can also be harnessed by law firms.

Take, for example, the community forum reddit. The website reddit allows users to contribute information and online articles of interest to a roundtable, organized by subject. Then, readers are allowed to respond via comments and “up and down votes,” which determine the contributing individual’s standing within the forum.

Today, in the “law” reddit, a user posed the question: “What is the correct way in contacting a lawyer and requesting he/she create a contract for my online business? I’ve e-mailed about 5 and I’ve got 0 replies. All my e-mails were written professionally but I feel like I’m doing it wrong.”

The 21 subsequent comments—presumably by lawyers—answer the question seamlessly.

1. Call, don’t e-mail for help.

Blackmun responds, “Law firms gets hundreds of scam attempts by e-mail, it’s a really bad way to contact us.”

Further down the forum chain, another user—tgidenver—offers up examples of what spam e-mail lawyers receive:

“Dear Counsel,
I’m in the process of attaining an attorney that will assist me in collecting funds that i loaned a friend that currently resides in your jurisdiction. Please do advise if this is a case you can assist me with, to enable me furnish you with more details.
Truly yours Victoria I. Gottschalk”

It’s true, these days, e-mail is full of spam. As a result, e-mails from real people often get lumped into trash folders with fake, online ones.

The advice on reddit is sound.

Go for the old-school approach and pick up the phone. Calling an attorney will also help clarify the issue at hand. What kind of contract do you need? What is the time-frame? What is your budget?

Furthermore, it’s possible the law firm you’ve contacted doesn’t specialize in the type of contract you are looking for, at which point, a prospective client should ask for a referral.

Over the phone, this process can take as little as five minutes. A series of e-mail chains, however, can take a few days before either party is finally on the same page. In most cases, the digital conclusion will be: please give us a call at your convenience.

2. Get a referral.

The second bit of advice on reddit is also quite valuable: Seek a referral.   In any people-oriented profession—from the doctor’s office to local restaurants—a good recommendation of service is vital.

“Someone you know has used an attorney they like, so get his/her name and call for a referral. It can be any kind of attorney—someone who does divorces will know a good contract attorney and set you up.

It’s no bother, either. Referrals are a big professional networking tool. Giving one is a compliment, some income and will get you referrals. The referring attorney will probably get a lunch from it, too.”

Isn’t that easy?  

3. Seek legal counsel by searching on your State Bar Association’s website.

Finally, if you don’t know who to ask for a referral, a person can always peruse their home State Bar Association website.   But, not all lawyers agree on this issue. Take user 17usc’s advice, for instance:

“In my state, Bar Association referrals come in two flavors: 1) unscreened list of every lawyer in the state; or 2) barely screened (years in practice) list of every lawyer who’s paid to get referrals from the Bar Association.  

I’d suggest finding a business that seems to have its act together and asking who they use; or finding a lawyer you like and trust in any field, and asking who they recommend for this work.”

So, need a contract for your small business franchise? Go to your local Starbucks—that one that always seems to be busy—and see if they’re happy with their legal counsel. Get names and numbers.

Or, does your neighborhood have a family-run restaurant, owned and successfully run for decades? Chat your way into some contact information during breakfast one day.

Reddit—a community forum with real-time, real-people comments and contributions—is a great source of information for both lawyers and clients.

There, individuals receive free advice for their legal questions. And lawyers, for their turn, keep in touch with the issues plaguing potential clients in their area.

So, for tomorrow’s querying user, use reddit (or similar sites) as a marketing and market research tool for your firm. It’s a great way to keep up with the happenings of current and future clients.

Plus, you may just find bountiful resources to your own legal-reference questions. Wiki-lawyering, the next wave of the future?    


1. The history of wikis was aptly taken from Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_wikis

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Five New Year’s Resolutions For Law Firm Success In 2012

New Year’s Resolutions, according to historians, date as far back as Ancient Rome with Janus, a mythical king. Janus’ two faces allowed him to look forward and back in time (and, incidentally enough, through doors).

Before the beginning of each year, Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts. In 153 B.C., the Romans declared January 1st the start of the New Year, the calendar month to which Janus donated his name.[1]

“Making a resolution on New Year’s Day is a time-honored tradition. Earlier celebrants of the holiday went through elaborate rituals to chase away the ghosts of the past. While the Chinese used cymbals and fireworks, others used rites such as exorcisms and purifications. Ceremonies, involving bonfires, processions or parades, often had masks that symbolized the dead,” writes Tree.com.

By denouncing past sins, bad habits, or weaknesses through resolutions, it was thought that a person could exorcize his demons. Announcing intentions for a clean slate at the New Year would provide the release needed to escape ill health or oppression.[2]

For lawyers, making New Year’s resolutions may not release you from ill health, oppression, or war, but resolutions could release law firms from its financial ills or other woes.

So, consider making resolutions for your firm this New Year. Here is a start on five:

1. Create a business strategy for 2012

Around the New Year, when work is at a peak, it’s often difficult to find the time to meet. But, law firm partners and administrators should get together to discuss the short and long-term future of the firm.

Each party should arrive with contributions and ideas. If one area of the firm is weakest—like marketing or technology—hire an expert to push the strategy and decision-making process forward.

Whether your goals are lofty, modest, large or small, a firm’s business strategy should be formalized and written down. No more hallway conversations about the problems and solutions you face.

This year, hire a stenographer to transcribe—not your next court case—but your next partners meeting to ensure no creative idea, innovation, or thought is lost.

2. Revamp your website

Like the Trojans, never look a gift horse in the mouth. This year, that means, don’t question the World Wide Web and the gift of its practically free access and marketing for your firm. Creating a firm blog or starting a social media site, for example, require some time and almost no money.

This year, revamp your firm’s website to connect to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Advertise your firm’s expertise and exceptional employees to attract new clients and associates in 2012.

If your site and its content has already been perfected, consider going mobile.

3. Start using social media

Just like a firm website, social media is a great way to establish free marketing for your firm.

Assign a younger associate to the task. Not only is their billable rate low, but their eye for Millennial detail and savvy for attracting new followers will, undoubtedly, be greatest—an thus most effective—at the firm.

4. Personalize legal products to your clients

This year, clients want specialized services and products. This means alternative billing arrangements or tailor-made service.

Make a New Year’s resolution to be flexible. The economic recession is creating change in a variety of traditional industry—law, healthcare, financial services. Stay competitive by becoming adaptive to your clients’ needs and requests.

Set up January meetings with your clients to discuss ideas for improvement. Ask them if there are any services or products they’d like to see from you this year. Arrive with a few ideas, yourself.

Opening up communication and the willingness to change will certainly lead to success and survival during these difficult economic times.

5. Ask for help

Whatever demons your law firm is hoping to expel this year, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Budget some funds to hire new experts in the field or contractors.

Law is an industry where human capital is of the upmost importance. Like Janus in Ancient Rome, two faces is always better than one.



1. Blair, Gary Ryan. “The History of New Years Resolutions,” Ezine articles. [LINK: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-of-New-Years-Resolutions&id=245213]
2. “History Of New Year’s Resolutions,” Lifestyle & Leisure Article in Tree.com. [LINK: http://www.tree.com/lifestyle/history-of-new-year-s-resolutions.aspx]

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Occupy Wall Street Reminds Lawyers To Find A Cause, Make A Difference With Pro Bono Work

­­­­When was the last time you offered free legal advice or voluntary legal aid without pressure or obligation from your law firm?

Surely, lawyers are among the best at offering service gratis. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to gage the true number of helping hands in America. Statistics vary when it comes to calculating the percentage of lawyers who perform pro bono work each year.

For example, the American Bar Association (ABA) conducted a study that showed 73 percent of lawyers did pro bono work in 2008. Yet, states like Pennsylvania and Nevada report that only about 10 to 40 percent of their lawyers, respectively, perform periodic pro bono work.

“There is great unmet need in the community for pro bono service,” Allen Snyder, retired litigator, said to The National Law Journal.

Snyder uses his retirement to offer his pro bono legal services in Washington, D.C. And, he’s not alone.

James Springer also uses his retirement for good after leaving Dickstein Shapiro in 2004. One of the firm’s top antitrust lawyers, Springer now works part time as an attorney with the D.C. Legal Aid Society.

“Social Security law is as complicated as any subject matter I’ve dealt with,” Springer said to The National Law Journal.

“What I didn’t expect is how frustrating it is and how long it takes to get things done. We are dealing with bureaucrats who have impossible workloads.”

These days, federal regulations are only becoming more and more complicated. In a recession, some people find it hard to catch up or hang on. Springer helps clients keep their heads above bureaucratically-suffocating water.

“I deal with real people,” Springer said to The National Law Journal.

“I’ve never been hugged by a client until I came to work for Legal Aid. I do this for myself as much as I do this for other people.”

Even lawyers need a hug once in awhile. So where are they?

Nothing is worse than a destitute and desperate civilian going into a court case on a pro se basis. There is a lot to lose considering today’s economy.

Some causes attract more attention than others. The National Lawyers Guild has a table in Zuccotti Park to help demonstrators in the Occupy Wall Street Movement with legal advice. Wearing bright green ball caps, the legal aids are visible amid the crowd.

The aim is to decrease police violence and demonstrator transgressions.

On Friday, volunteers offered a “Know Your Rights” training session. Advice that’s easy to assemble for an expert but difficult to know as a pedestrian.

So what can your law firm do to benefit the community? How can you—the individual—serve before retirement?

The benefit to law firms that conduct pro bono services is increased visibility in dark economic times, in addition to well-deserved praise and attention from a myriad of potential new clients.

Pro bono work is frequently tout as win-win. It’s true.

Back in Zuccotti Park, N.L.G. volunteer Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a law student at the City University of New York School of Law, tells the Downtown Express. “Whatever happens [in the protest], there’s a neutral witness.”

Day and night, green hats are taking names and numbers of people in trouble.

“We document it, but we don’t get involved.”

Although, in the case of pro bono work, involvement is just what the nation is looking for.

Find your cause, make a difference.


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