As reported by InsideCounsel, the American Bar Association House of Delegates (“ABAHD”) recently approved an amended model rule stating that it is ethical for lawyers to disclose client information when trying to move from one firm to another.

Specifically, the rule states that it is ethical for an attorney in negotiations for a different job, as well as attorneys in merging firms, to disclose the identities of clients and the amount of business they generate because the information can help point out any conflicts of interest that might exist.  However, the model rule states that lawyers still should not reveal clients' financial information.

Although the model rule has been approved by the ABAHD, the rule is simply an advisory rule.  In addition, the rule provides little guidance for attorneys faced with the question of how much client information can be ethically revealed in states whose bar associations do not have rules covering this topic.  Thus, prior to revealing any information, lawyers should carefully consider and weigh this model rule against Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 and 1.9.

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According to this infographic from the Wall Street Journal,  “lawyer gluts” and the “dismal state of today’s job market”, a deeper examination of the actual numbers in this piece (completely unverified at the time of this blog's publication, I might add) could equally support the conclusion that the legal market is simply changing – breaking fee from its traditional trappings -- rather than drying up altogether.  This generation of law graduates need not focus on the adversity created by a lack of large to medium size firm openings, but take note of the numerous ways these same numbers identify other employment options and encourage you to make yourself marketable to the very outside forces that are allegedly squeezing the big/medium law firm jobs out. 

Globalization making an impact?  Go learn a second or third language targeting those exploding European/Asian/Middle Eastern markets.  Alternative legal service providers making a dent in the workload at large firms?  Make sure you seek out and target those service providers, as they need guess what as their business platforms expand?  That’s right, lawyers.  Trends suggesting boutique firms are the flavor of the day?  Narrow in through your extra-curricular activities in school on a practice area that interests you and supports a boutique practice, and then actively target those firms.  Don’t let these headlines discourage you – they are intended to be dramatic and attention-grabbing, just as with any other piece of journalism in today’s age.  These numbers aren’t a doomsday forecast – but they should be an encouragement to lay out your job strategy early, and to be flexible in your searches.  This “adversity” only primes you to become stronger lawyers/marketers/business-people. 

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I came across a post on the Lawyerist on the question whether good legal writing is inherited or developed.  Putting aside that debate (the answer is both, by the way), it occurred to me that there are two steps that mediocre legal writers can take to immediately improve their writing.

There are actually three steps.  The first is to realize your legal writing needs help and care enough to try to improve it.  There are lots of advocates who slog through an entire career filing nearly incomprehensible briefs.   Don't be that lawyer.  Take pride in your product.  The fact you have read this far, rather than clicking on to something more compelling, means you are at least curious, or you just got an Apple and haven't figured out how to navigate away from this page.

The first sure-fire way to improve your legal writing is to strive to use an active rather than a passive voice.  It's ironic that I spent several (ok 6, but who's counting) years getting a degree in Literature-Writing from a really solid university, but it wasn't until I was a staff member on Law Review that I truly began to understand the importance of active voice.  If you missed the special torture that is editing a legal journal, or were otherwise never trained to write in active versus passive voice, I'll provide a very easy example to illustrate the difference.  Using passive voice, a lawyer might construct a sentence that reads: A man, woman and two children were shot by the defendant.  Contrast that sentence with one written using active voice: The defendant shot a man, woman and two children.

See? Simplest thing in the world.  But, even those of us who generally strive to use active voice occasionally fall into passive voice.  The key is to recognize when you're doing it and decide whether the sentence you've created could be improved by changing the voice.

The second way to immediately improve your legal writing is equally simple.  Pare back the number of words you use to say what you're trying to say.  This was something my mentor taught me when I was a baby lawyer and I've generally tried to adhere to the principle, at least when writing to a court or opposing counsel.  Basically, every word in any sentence should be necessary.  Nothing extraneous.  This will automatically take care of the tendency to include "herein" and other pointless words.  It also forces the writer, you, to think about what you're trying to say and how to say it in the clearest way possible.  Judges and clerks appreciate clarity.

Now.  This second "way to immediately improve your legal writing" is not a rule.  It's just an approach.  And, it's an approach I freely disregard when I want to emphasize something through repetition or diction (word choice).  Hell, I often write entire paragraphs in the passive voice  and include a lot of extra words.  But, when I do it, I do it purposely, usually for effect.  Otherwise, I strive to write clean, spare, Hemingway-like sentences, in the active voice, as free as possible of legalese.*  (*Ok, I'll admit an affinity for ancient latin phrases like sua sponte, ab initio, inter alia.  I know that writers who know what they're talking about, as opposed to armchair poseurs (who me?), have zero tolerance latin phrases.  If I give in to the urge to use them in an early draft, I almost always delete them.)

There.  If you struggle with your legal writing, try these two suggestions.  I guarantee you'll see results.

(As originally posted at http://atcounseltable.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/two-sure-fire-ways-to-immediately-improve-your-legal-writing/)

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We've all been there, wondering when we'll get "our shot" – perhaps a high-profile role at trial, taking an important expert deposition, or simply face time with the firm's largest client. And, despite the insecurities that naturally accompany the rigors of a demanding job, most of us are probably less concerned about our capability for handling high-level responsibilities as we are about simply getting opportunities to develop the skills they require.

While there is obviously no single path to skills-development, effective leadership, and internal promotion, one important and often overlooked opportunity for a young lawyer to advance his or her career is by mastering the role of local counsel. In fact, as anyone who regularly serves as or manages local counsel in large national litigation will tell you – good local counsel is critical for the defense. Good local counsel not only gets work done, but adds insight and perspective to the litigation, and value to the defense team.

This article is just a starting point. But the best practices offered below – framed under six objectives, to provide context – should take you a long way toward demonstrating to law firms and clients around the country that your firm has the capable and dependable people they need as local counsel for their matters.

Objective #1: Be Helpful

The beginning of any local counsel work – often occurring at or near the time a lawsuit is filed in your home jurisdiction – provides an immediate opportunity to help national counsel with the case. Without being asked, provide information to national counsel about the venue, judge, opposing counsel, jury pool, deadlines, and any important local rules governing the initial pleadings. Some of this information can be obtained quickly by sending a short email to the attorneys in your office. You can also be helpful by sending national counsel copies of example pleadings or motions that may be relevant, and by offering to complete and file the necessary paperwork for national counsel to be admitted pro hac vice.

As the case progresses, continue to anticipate the needs of national counsel, and consider that national counsel may be busy with multiple cases and deadlines across many jurisdictions. Clearly label your emails to remind them of the specific case and topic for discussion. Responding quickly to emails and completing assignments early is crucial. Important briefs, correspondence, discovery, etc., will often need to be reviewed by several layers of lawyers from national counsel on up to the client. This inevitably takes time, and an important brief received by national counsel the day before it is due will surely frustrate them.

Objective #2: Determine Your Role

Not every local counsel role is the same. It can range from signing the initial pleadings to first chair trial counsel. Usually, local counsel's role is somewhere in between. Depending on the client, there may even be written guidelines and expectations for local counsel. Be sure to request any such guidelines as early as possible. Absent formal guidelines, however, the role and responsibilities of local counsel may be driven by such factors as the busyness of the litigation, personalities involved, and specific skills of the lawyers, to name a few. With this in mind, local counsel should (1) work quickly to determine his/her role; (2) stay within the confines of that role; and (3) be ready for that role to change. Flexibility is key, as is a proper respect for the relationship between national counsel and the client. Local counsel work should not be used as a platform to establish one's own business connection with the client. You will gain respect from all members of the defense team when you perform your role well. And when in doubt concerning your role, just remember the first objective: be helpful.

Objective #3: Be Proactive (within reason)

This objective goes hand-in-hand with determining one's role. Once you know your role, make sure you do not get lazy. Monitor the docket and let national counsel know right away about any filings. Send reminders when deadlines are near. Provide regular updates, even when there is seemingly nothing new to report. (The lack of developments in a case can nonetheless be significant. And, at least everyone will know you are on top of things.) As early as possible, ask national counsel for educational materials concerning the subject of the litigation that they think would be helpful for the performance of your responsibilities. Anticipate the needs for depositions or hearings, such as reserving conference rooms and court reporters, and recommending food, lodging, and transportation. Of course, you should not "overwork" the case. But a proactive approach to your representation will instill confidence in you and your firm, and increase your value to the team.

Also, just one quick piece of advice: draft your updates with the client in mind. You likely will be expected to report to national counsel on updates in the case, who then has the discretion to determine whether or not the information needs the client's attention. Draft your email so that it can be cut and pasted into a new email by national counsel, or simply forwarded to the client. This is helpful to national counsel, and can provide an opportunity for national counsel to commend your good work.

Objective #4: Give Advice

You can add great value to the defense team by being more than a taskmaster. Local counsel is often hired for their judgment and perspective on issues, in addition to the tasks necessitated by the location of the case filing. Do not shy away from giving an informed opinion, especially when asked. Whether working directly for a client, firm partner, or outside law firm, providing advice is a necessary part of our job. Think carefully, articulate your thoughts, and give your advice. Experienced lawyers know this is difficult, and will appreciate your input.

Objective #5: Build Relationships

One of the benefits of serving as local counsel is that you can be introduced to new clients, other law firms, and experts. Try to take advantage of these opportunities to build relationships. These connections will make you and your firm more valuable for future work, in any capacity.

Objective #6: Remember the Ethical Rules

Do not forget that you could be held responsible for the decisions of national counsel, depending on how they are carried out. Although you are acting under the direction of another person, you are still bound by the rules of professional conduct. (See Model Rule of Professional Conduct ["MRPC"] 5.2(a)). Similarly, a lawyer should not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so. (See MRPC 5.5(a)).

And do not forget Civil Rule 11, under which your signature certifies that you read the document, believe there is good ground to support it, and that it is not meant to harass or delay. Rule 11 can be particularly troublesome for local counsel when national counsel provides documents just before they need to be filed, and expects local counsel to simply sign and file them. You should carefully review documents before they are filed, and work respectfully with national counsel to ensure there is time to do so. While the implications of these ethical rules are beyond the scope of this article, they are nonetheless offered for consideration.

In short, be helpful, be proactive, stay within the confines of your role, and be careful. For the young lawyer who takes advantage of such opportunities, serving as local counsel can be a very rewarding experience.

Justin Rice is an Associate with Tucker Ellis LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. He practices primarily in the areas of products liability and business litigation. As a member of Tucker Ellis's Medical & Pharmaceutical Liability Practice Group, Justin works with law firms around the country in both national and local counsel capacities, defending manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. He can be reached at justin.rice@tuckerellis.com.

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Suppose your client, a lawyer, has been sued for malpractice. Could the alleged malpractice be a basis for discipline? Alternatively, is a disciplinary complaint likely to give rise to a malpractice suit? This article will attempt to shed some light on the distinction between attorney malpractice on one hand and professional misconduct on the other, as well as the types of conduct that may constitute both.


1. What is attorney malpractice?

Simply stated, attorney malpractice is a failure to exercise ordinary skill and knowledge, where that failure damages a client. “To state a cause of action to recover damages for legal malpractice, a plaintiff must allege: (1) that the attorney ‘failed to exercise the ordinarily reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession’; and (2) that the attorney's breach of the duty proximately caused the plaintiff actual and ascertainable damages.” Schurz v. Bodian, 2012 WL 502680, *1 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012) (internal citations omitted). See also Legacy Healthcare, Inc. v. Barnes & Thornburg, 837 N.E.2d 619, 624 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006). (attorney malpractice claim involves “failure of the attorney to exercise ordinary skill and knowledge (the breach of the duty).”).

2. What is attorney misconduct?

By contrast, attorney misconduct is the failure to comply with the rules of conduct adopted by a court to which an attorney has been admitted to practice. Because all states except California have adopted some version of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules of Professional Conduct”), they will be the focus of this article. A failure to abide by the rules subjects the attorney to discipline by the highest court of that jurisdiction. “Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition imposed by a Rule is a basis for invoking the disciplinary process.” Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble, ¶ 19. See also Rule 9, American Bar Association’s Model Rules for Disciplinary Enforcement (“Enforcement Rules”) (“It shall be a ground for discipline for a lawyer to: (1) violate or attempt to violate the [State Rules of Professional Conduct], or any other rules of this jurisdiction regarding professional conduct of lawyers…”). The Enforcement Rules also provide for discipline for refusal to cooperate in the disciplinary process itself. See Enforcement Rule 9 (3), providing for discipline for disobeying a subpoena or order from a bar disciplinary authority.

Of course, the potential consequences of an attorney discipline case are very different from those of an attorney malpractice case. In the worst outcome of an attorney malpractice case, the attorney must pay monetary damages to the plaintiff. By contrast, attorney discipline actions place the attorney’s law license in jeopardy. An attorney who has been found to have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct faces a range of sanctions from a private reprimand up to disbarment, depending on the severity of the violation. See Enforcement Rule 10.

3. Does malpractice equal misconduct, or vice versa?

As noted above, attorney malpractice occurs where an attorney fails to exercise ordinary skill and care, and thereby causes damage to a client. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 provides "A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation."

Furthermore, Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3 provides "A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client."

Thus, it would seem that Rule 1.1 and Rule 1.3 may codify the requirement that an attorney exercise ordinary skill and care, and that failure to do so may constitute misconduct as well as malpractice. It is difficult to imagine a failure to exercise ordinary skill and care that is not also a failure to employ the “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”

Some courts have indeed treated isolated mistakes as misconduct and punished it accordingly. For instance, in Board of Professional Responsibility, Wyoming State Bar v. Vreeland, 2012 WL 662236 (Wyo. 2012), an attorney represented a client in a criminal trial. Id. at *1. The jury returned a conviction on February 4, 2010. Wyoming Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(c) required that a motion for judgment of acquittal be made within 10 days of the jury’s verdict, and Rule 33(b) required a motion for new trial to be filed within 15 days of the verdict. However, Vreeland did not file the motions for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial until March 3, 2010; hence, the motions were untimely. Id. The Wyoming Supreme Court found that Vreeland violated Rules 1.1 and 1.3 of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct (based on the Model Rules) and imposed a sanction of public censure. Id. at *2. See also Board of Professional Responsibility, Wyoming State Bar v. Dunn, 262 P.3d 1268 (Wyo. 2011) (attorney received public reprimand for failing to file timely governmental claims notice and complaint); In the Matter of Brown-Williams, 2012 WL 366587 (Ga. 2012) (attorney received public reprimand for missing statute of limitations in workers' compensation case).

By contrast, some courts have explicitly held that an isolated mistake is not a proper basis for discipline. For instance, in In the Matter of the Application for Disciplinary Action Against William E. McKechnie, 656 N.W.2d 661 (N.D. 2003), the Supreme Court of North Dakota addressed a mistake similar to the mistake made by Vreeland, but found that the mistake did not constitute misconduct. "In this case, McKechnie gave Follman incorrect legal advice about the statute of limitations and Follman's case was dismissed for failure to file within the limitations period. This evidence shows nothing more than an isolated instance of ordinary negligence, or error of judgment. We conclude there is no clear and convincing evidence that McKechnie violated N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.1." Id. at 669.

Even in jurisdictions whose highest courts have not specifically stated that isolated attorney mistakes should not give rise to discipline, attorneys are not typically sanctioned under Rule 1.1 or 1.3 for simple negligence. More commonly, it appears that attorneys are disciplined for violations of Rule 1.1 or 1.3 in addition to numerous other violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct that involve intentional misconduct, dishonesty, ongoing failure to communicate with clients, or chronic neglect of clients’ interests. For instance, in In Re Adinolfi, 934 N.Y.S.2d 94 (N.Y. App. Div. 2011), an attorney was sanctioned for violating New York Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3 where at least 26 of the attorney’s 103 cases before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had been dismissed for failure to file a brief. Id.at 95.

Finally, the Preamble to the Rules themselves suggest that isolated mistakes should not subject a lawyer to discipline: “Moreover, the Rules presuppose that whether or not discipline should be imposed for a violation, and the severity of a sanction, depend on all the circumstances, such as the willfulness and seriousness of the violation, extenuating factors and whether there have been previous violations.” Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble, ¶ 19. Thus, those courts that have either explicitly stated that an isolated mistake is not a basis for discipline, or at least typically decline to sanction lawyers for such mistakes, appear to employ an approach more in keeping with the spirit of the Rules.

What about the reverse question: can an act or omission that constitutes attorney misconduct give rise to a malpractice action? The Preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct provides that violation of a Rule should not in itself give rise to a cause of action. “Violation of a Rule should not itself give rise to a cause of action against a lawyer nor should it create any presumption in such a case that a legal duty has been breached.” However, violation of a Rule can be evidence of the breach of the standard of ordinary care. The Preamble provides that though “[the Rules] are not designed to be a basis for civil liability,…[n]evertheless, since the Rules do establish standards of conduct by lawyers, a lawyer's violation of a Rule may be evidence of breach of the applicable standard of conduct.” Furthermore, some kinds of attorney misconduct have nothing to do with attorney malpractice. For instance, a felony conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated will certainly result in discipline, but would provide no basis for a malpractice claim.

Dina M. Cox is a partner with Lewis Wagner, LLP in Indianapolis, who focuses her practice on the defense of complex litigation, including legal malpractice, drug and medical device, product liability, consumer class actions, and insurance coverage and bad faith lawsuits.

Neal Bowling, attorney with Lewis Wagner, LLP, focuses his practice on complex business litigation as well as defense of lawyers in malpractice and disciplinary matters. He has extensive experience advising and representing clients in complex and challenging litigation including: securities matters; employment litigation involving breach of noncompete and wrongful termination claims; and representation of lawyers in malpractice actions and disciplinary investigations and proceedings. 

 

 

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Media strategy and the tips and tactics of developing female organizational power were the big topics of the morning at this year's DRI Sharing Success seminar in sunny Scottsdale at the Westin Kierland Resort.  The morning started off with TV and radio personality, Mary Katherine Ham.  She regularly defends her political opinions on her morning radio program, The Morning Majority, and against Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor.  Her presentation focused on finding our voice and crafting our message and defense in the media - be it in the press, on tv, or on the Internet at large through social media.  Enlightening and refreshing and a great start to the morning. 

Linda Bray Chanow from the Center for Women in the Law spoke next and offered a very interactive discussion on the perceptions of female power in business and law. Simply by starting with a classic scenario we've all seen in our professional careers,  attendees peppered Ms. Chanow with questions and comments. Overall an incredibly collaborative and insightful presentation that will surely lead to continued discussions amongst all the attendees during the rest of the seminar.  Definitely excited to see what the rest of day has to offer.  

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The vanishing jury trial is perhaps one of the most important issues facing the civil justice system today.  Civil trials have declined in federal courts from 12% in 1984 to less than 1% in 2010.  Statistics from state courts, though more difficult to obtain, generally show the same trends.  The issue has been widely studied, and while the fact of the vanishing trial is clear, the reasons for the decline are less obvious.  Several theories have been advanced, ranging from a dramatic rise in case filings and underfunded court systems to the ever increasing cost of litigation and the success of alternative dispute resolution.  

In 2010, DRI created the Jury Preservation Task Force (JPTF) to examine and inform the membership of issues impacting civil jury trials.  The work of the JPTF is now underway.  In 2011, the JPTF conducted multiple surveys concerning issues impacting civil jury trials.  Survey respondents included State and Local Defense Organization (SLDO) leaders and participants in both the DRI Insurance and Corporate Counsel Roundtables.  The JPTF is now in the process of examining the survey results along with the significant body of research available on the vanishing jury trial and the initiatives being proposed to address the problem.
The JPTF, in collaboration with DRI’s Trial Tactics Committee, will publish the results of its findings in a future edition of For the Defense.  Then we will ask for your help.  Stay tuned!

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Do you feel at a loss or intimidated or repulsed by the thought of using social media? Like it or not, social media sites are a new means of communication, which we cannot ignore any more than we can ignore email. The fact is social media, if used properly, can be an effective, professional, and personal tool. If you are not using these sites currently, take a few minutes to see why you should be using social media and what you can do efficiently and effectively to save time, learn more and even advance your career. 

What’s the point? It’s all about building and creating relationships. Think about the way you traditionally get to know someone. You meet, you talk, you learn about each other’s likes and dislikes, you find things in common, and if you like that person enough, you set up another meeting to do it all again. Social media is simply an outlet to let people get to know others at their own convenience. Instead of sharing things face to face, you share things with a select group of people via Facebook or Google+ or you just share things with the world via Twitter. 

But I don’t have time. If you don’t have time to watch the news, read a newspaper/magazine, or go to dinner with a friend—just check your newsfeed. The magic of social media is that it was designed for people with little time and/or short attention spans. We all have smart phones—be it an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone. We all check our email. But it is even faster to check your newsfeed. Your Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn apps provide a constantly updating newsfeed right on your phone. No longer do you have to read an entire article about the debt crisis; now you can just “follow” the @NYTimes or @CNN on Twitter and catch their headlines in 140 characters or less. Each contains a link that you can choose to click on if you want more information or you can simply scroll past it. Do you love a good travel deal? Do you want to get tips about home repair? For any kind of information that you may desire, there is someone tweeting about it. And that information does not have to flood your inbox and you do not have to waste time deleting it. Got a complaint about a restaurant or hotel you just visited? You can tweet about it. In fact, I tweeted about problems I was having with a particular hotel recently and within minutes, I was offered free parking, free points and free breakfast. I did not have to ask for a manager, and I did not have to be put on hold. Quite frankly, I did not have the time to do either. 

What do I get out of it? You gain information and instant perspective about a company or person just by following their tweets and/or status updates. You would be surprised how often most corporate entities are tweeting and what they are tweeting about. Corporations tweet articles or people that have mentioned them. Some tweet deals and discounts. Some even tweet about legislation that is up for a vote in the House or Senate that may affect them. Not only can you follow the entity, you can follow your client contact. Now I am not suggesting that you “friend” a client on Facebook initially, but you can “follow” them on Twitter or invite them to your LinkedIn network. Both are less personal than Facebook. Following someone can give you great insight into who he or she is and give you an easy way to break the ice the next time you speak with him or her. You can keep it professional and discuss that New York Times article his or her company tweeted about, or you can make it a little personal and ask about the restaurant he or she recently tweeted about. Either way, you have something to talk about.

But what should I share? Anything that interests you from articles to restaurants to experiences. It’s up to you. I assume many people email articles or links to things they have read that they think will be of special interest to someone. While you can still do that, what is even easier is simply posting it on your wall or tweeting about it. You can quickly suggest books, movies or restaurants to your friends and acquaintances. You might tell them about an amazing trip or experience that you have just had – share pictures or video. What we often like to know about people or share about ourselves can all be posted to your “wall” or shared through a simple 140 character “tweet.”

How do I use social media for professional purposes?  It’s all marketing. Lawyers live by their professional reputations and work hard at becoming the expert in their niche area of practice. Social media is a way to advertise your knowledge and insight in a quick and simple way. People may have little time to read your blog or log in and peruse your profile. But a short and insightful post is like a perfect news sound bite. It can have lasting effects and get you noticed. Twitter is the perfect tool for this, and because it is searchable and open to the public, it is best to keep it professional. Facebook can be linked to your Twitter account; however, because many people use Facebook to keep up with friends and family and post pictures, it is probably best to keep Facebook strictly personal. Professional relationships with judges, clients and coworkers (unless they are your very good friends), are better fostered through LinkedIn and Twitter.

Getting Started

1. Open a Twitter account and find some people or businesses to follow. Every so-called expert, personality, news source, or business is on Twitter, so search for them and follow them. You can find out who follows them or who they follow and build your base from there. You will be surprised how much information is available to you in just a 140 character tweet.

2. Pick your niche. Just like finding a niche area of practice, it is important to find your niche when developing your social media personality. Are you the guru on employment law, products, health care? Are you an expert in cooking or travel? Remember just because you are a lawyer, does not mean your social media personality has to be all about the law. It is about building a following and providing helpful information to your followers. If your followers trust you in one area, they are more likely to trust you in other areas.

3. Tweet daily. This sounds harder than it is. We are constantly absorbing information all day. Take a minute to spread that information around. Read a great article —tweet about it. Learned something new today —tweet about it. Found great, but possibly little known case law —tweet about it.

4. Connect your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, selectively. Keeping some things separate is important, but sometimes we want to reach all of our audiences at once. 

    a. Sync your Twitter and LinkedIn account. Market more than just your resume and your network of connections to the LinkedIn universe —market through the tweets you are already posting on Twitter. Do not wait for connections to happen —make them happen. Ask for advice or a business through both your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Syncing is simple. After logging into LinkedIn, there is a status update box just left of the share button. You will see the famous Twitter icon. Click on it and you will be taken to the Twitter authorization page. Follow the steps and choose what you want to be connected.

    b. Selectively connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Sharing personal pictures and status updates on Twitter may not always be wise, but you can send tweets to Facebook by linking the two services and using the hashtag #fb to get certain tweets onto Facebook.This is an option you can turn on through Facebook, just search for “selective tweets.”

Kim Tran is an attorney in the law firm of Hiltgen & Brewer PC in Oklahoma City. Ms. Tran's practice is concentrated in the areas of product liability, insurance defense, insurance coverage, commercial litigation and construction law. She represents companies involved with consumer goods and products, manufacturing industries and the insurance market. Ms. Tran is an active member of the DRI Women in the Law Committee, serving as the vice chair for the webpage subcommittee.
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A 2011 Midlevel Associates Survey conducted by The American Lawyer demonstrates that although the salary gap between minority and majority associates is closing, persistent differences continue to exist.  Hispanic associates reported the highest increase in their salary from 2008 to 2011, while Asian associates reported the highest salary and billing rates as compared to both their minority and majority counterparts, despite a decrease in their average salary.  Nonetheless, minority associates continue to rate job satisfaction categories lower than their majority counterparts. 

The survey also demonstrates that firms are making an effort to retain their minority associates.  Black and Hispanic associates were the most likely to report that they had mentors – 86.5 % and 83.1%, respectively.  Notwithstanding, all minorities thought that they had a lower chance of making partner than white associates.  Only 60% of Blacks, 63.7% of Asians and 68.4% of Hispanics thought that they were headed toward promotion.  How effective are these mentoring relationships when minority associates do not believe that they will reach the upper echelons of their firms?  What is the missing link between mentoring and retention/advancement of minority associates?  Has your firm employed innovative efforts to address the issue of advancement of minority attorneys?

http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1322459168295&Survey_of_Minority_Associates_Shows_Persistent_Differences&cmp=tsm-cc-CCDDSurvey              

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An Expert's File

Posted on November 11, 2011 08:02 by Francisco Ramos Jr

 

Assume everything you write or e-mail an expert will be discoverable.  Even if you can somehow keep it from being discovered, you will probably spend your time and the client’s money to keep it confidential.  With that in mind, before you send anything to an expert ask yourself whether you would have a problem with the other side seeing it.  If so, think long and hard before sending it.  Also, folks have become too casual in what they include in e-mails, and I’ve found this true with experts, particularly their staff.  So try to avoid e-mailing experts and their offices whenever possible, sticking to phone calls and faxes when possible.  And ask them not to e-mail you.  Yes, it is less convenient, but it will help ensure that the experts don’t make errant comments that become part of their permanent file (which at some point will likely have to be produced to the other side).

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