Is It Expensive To Gain A Paralegal Education?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It was in the late 1960's that the concept of having a paralegal was born. It started when lawyers were looking for ways on how to better serve their clients without increasing the overall cost of their legal services.

How to distinguish paralegals from lawyers?

The tasks of the lawyers are regulated by laws and policies of each state in the US. Although laws vary from state to state, each state prohibits paralegals from practicing law.

Paralegals cannot perform the following:

• Presenting cases in a court of law

• Accepting or refusing a case

• Providing legal advice

However, paralegals can carry out the following functions:

• Updating clients about their case

• Researching legal documents to assist lawyers in handling their legal cases

• Drafting legal documents

Paralegal education costs

Unlike the educational costs related to becoming a lawyer, the cost of earning a paralegal education does not involve a heavy price tag. Although paralegal careers are not as lucrative as the careers of a lawyer, paralegals can earn decent salary. In addition to that, they do not have to spend thousands of dollars each year for their paralegal education yet they can still land a high-paying career within the legal industry.

Paralegal schools

Nowadays, finding a paralegal school is no longer as frustrating as it was before. With the birth of online schools and colleges, you can earn a legal education right at the comfort of your own home.

What are the various paralegal educational options available?

• Associate's degree in paralegal studies - This educational degree is offered by community colleges, technical schools, and other institutions of higher learning. To obtain an associate degree in paralegal studies, you need to spend two to three years studying paralegal courses.

• Bachelor's degree in paralegal studies - This paralegal education option enables you to earn a bachelor's degree and obtain more detailed necessary training that can prepare you to become a legal assistant. In here, you will learn the proper ways to communicate with clients, lawyers and other individuals that work in the legal field. Having this educational degree opens your door to more job opportunities in the paralegal world.

• Paralegal certificate - This option requires completing a bachelor's degree in a certain field of study before you can obtain a paralegal certificate. It takes a few months of intense study about the existing laws. To obtain paralegal certificate without actually going to a certain school, you may opt to earn online paralegal degrees from any of the online paralegal accredited schools.

Caution when opting for online paralegal degrees

When you choose to become a paralegal and obtain relevant degrees over the Internet, be sure to study your options. The reason for this is that some of these schools are nothing but hoax. Thus, you need to make sure that the one you choose is one of the paralegal accredited schools approved by the American Bar Association.

Paralegal education does not have a heavy price tag. It may not carry a high-paying salary but legal assistant's careers do offer reasonable salaries and huge bonuses. To become a paralegal, you are required to obtain any of the paralegal courses from one of the paralegal accredited schools. If you opt to earn online paralegal degrees, be sure that the school you wish to attend to is approved by the American Bar Association. Else, you will only end up spending your hard-earned money for nothing.

10 Reasons Lawyers Should Not Create Online Videos to Market Themselves

1. They think it's another place to put it cheesy lawyer TV commercial, 2. They love hearing their own voice, 3. They think that creating online video is all about how great they are, 4. They think that online viewers really want to know about their credentials and where they went to law school, 5. They think they are exciting, lively and are want to-be talk show hosts like Jay Leno or Jon Stewart, 6. They don't know what else to do with their web cams sitting on top of their computer, 7. They have nothing useful to say, 8. They have a face made for radio, 9. Their office and their desk looks like a nightmare, 10. "Video Schmideo," who needs video when there is a yellow pages?

There are still lawyers out there who believe that they should not advertise in order to get new clients. They believe in the maximum "If you build it they will come." The reality is that most traditional forms of attorney advertising are becoming less and less relevant for consumers looking to hire attorneys. More and more, consumers are going online to look for useful information to make an educated decision about how to hire an attorney to help solve their particular legal problem.

Lawyers who truly understand that concept have begun creating educational messages to inform and educate online viewers. How do you stand out from all your other competitors? How can a consumer tell the difference between you and thousands of other lawyers who are all competing in the same market?

It's okay if you don't believe that video is right for you to help create educational messages to help your online viewers make smart decisions. I'm talking about giving viewers information that helps them understand how the legal process works. The best way to do that is with video.

Identifying the Right Criminal Lawyer

The U.S. Bill of Rights guarantees you the right to an attorney in the event that you're accused of a crime. However, this doesn't mean that you can simply choose the first criminal attorney you come across and assume that you'll get equal treatment. Having the right attorney can affect not only the outcome of the case, but your experience during the criminal proceedings. In order to choose the best criminal lawyer, you'll need to carefully consider a few things.

Firstly you need to choose an attorney which has experience with cases which are similar to yours. If you are accused of armed robbery then you will want a different lawyer to if you were accused of battery. Some lawyers only specialize in divorce cases and these would not be able to help you with Criminal cases.

There are many lawyers who do have the educational background to handle your case type but there is a lot to say about education and real life learning experiences; education can only go so far but real life experiences gives you the knowledge for more alike situations down the road. Make sure that your criminal defense lawyer has dealt with similar cases like yours so they can use their education smarts and real life smarts in the courtroom to win your case. They'll understand how they should proceed and not proceed. They know what results you're going to want and the obstacles to avoid.

When you find an attorney who seems to have the background you're looking for, discuss with them the basics of your case. During this process, pay attention to two things. First, consider how comfortable you are with the attorney. Do they listen carefully to what you have to say, or cut you off as though they've heard it a hundred times before? Remember that part of the job of a criminal lawyer is handle your legal issues, and part of their job is to help you through the process. Choose a lawyer that you feel comfortable working with.

You also need to pay attention to the criminal defense plan. There are some lawyers out there who will take on every single case they possibly can which will mean they don't have enough time to devote to your case. Some lawyers might propose a plea bargain to reduce your plea down to a lower charge. This might be suitable in some cases however it's not suitable for every single case. Make sure that your criminal defense lawyer will actually take your case to trial if needed.

Whenever you are trying to find an attorney for your case, you need to know their success rate. While no lawyer has a perfect case record, you need to look for a positive/negative ratio. See what the attorney has learned from their previous cases and how they may use that knowledge and lessons to give you the best possible criminal defense.

The bottom line is that when it comes to hiring the best criminal lawyer, you want to choose an attorney with specific experience in the field, with whom you feel comfortable and who is willing to take your case to trial, if need be.

The Lawyers' Definitive Guide to Video Marketing

You've made the choice to jump right into video to market your legal services. The move is a good one. It will help you distinguish yourself from everyone else. Here now, never before released, is my definitive guide to video marketing for lawyers.


1. Viewers get to see you 2. Viewers get to hear you 3. Viewers get to know you 4. Viewers begin to trust you before they ever walk in your door 5. You become the wise man at the top of the mountain 6. You are viewed as the legal expert 7. You are giving away information in order to gain an audience 8. Viewers see that you are a real human being 9. The image of a grumpy stuffy lawyer dissipates when a viewer sees you on video


What do I mean?

Do not use online video the same way lawyers have used TV commercials since 1973. A 30 second commercial on YouTube does nothing to help you get new clients in your door. The same is true for 60 second commercials too. Take advantage of the unlimited capacity for as much video as you can create. (There are some important caveats you need to know. More on that later.)


Explain the last case you successfully handled for a client. Tell your viewer why your client came into your office. Explain the legal issue in layman's terms; tell the viewer what you did to help your client solve their legal problem. Then, and here's the million dollar tip, explain to your viewer that if they have a similar problem, they should call you for more information.


Give the information away. It's free anyway (for most consumer-level attorney specialties). If you are a personal injury attorney, or workers compensation attorney or divorce attorney, explain how things work. Your potential clients will get this information from you when they come into your office anyway. Why not give it away and allow your viewer to become a better informed and educated consumer of legal services? The internet is the ideal place to give away your information. The more you give, the more calls you should get. (There's a lot of psychology involved in that reasoning that I will not go into here.)


When creating video, do not expect a viewer to watch you ramble endlessly. You must make your video long enough but also short enough. (How's that for a double-sided lawyerly answer?) You want to be concise, but you do not want a short commercial. You want to explain, but you don't want your viewer to lose attention and go elsewhere. What's the ideal length for a relevant video? Approximately 2-3 minutes. Yes, there are always exceptions, just as in law. Some will be shorter; some will be longer.


"Can I use my webcam or little flip video camera to make these educational videos?" You could. But then you'd be wasting your time wondering why not many people are watching your videos. Your webcam is great for a quick hello to a friend or relative. The video quality is generally poor, as is the audio quality. The new generation of flip video cameras are great little hi-def video tools that were unheard of five years ago. The major drawback is that they do not work well in low-light situations and none of them have the ability to use an external microphone, which is an absolute must when creating quality video to post online.


You have two options to create attorney video:

(1) Do it yourself, or (2) Hire an experienced video company to do it for you.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, like me, you need tons of time and dedication to creating strategy, lighting, audio, video, calibrating your equipment, shooting video of you- yourself, uploading the video footage to the computer, learning how to edit, insert transitions between scenes, correct color, add stereo sound, add graphics, add intro and exit music along with any background music, shoot b-roll footage to insert into video, render the video to a quicktime or flash file, then compress that file to make it compatible to upload online. Then, you have to upload the edited video to video sharing sites, put it on your blog and website, and there's more! You now have to optimize the text so that your videos will be found in the search engines. You must give the videos 'tags' and 'keywords' for the search engines. But there's still more to do! Then you have to let the world know about what you've just created.

How? Simple. Use all of your available social media to do that. "Ugh," you think. "All that, just for one video?" That's right...if you want to do it properly. You've got to Tweet about it. You've got to put your video on Facebook and MySpace. You've got to tell your friends, relatives and acquaintances about it. "Is that all?" No. There's more! (I feel like this is an infomercial where they say, "Wait...there's more! For only $12.95 you get...")

Then it's time to start your next video...and the cycle continues. If you do not have the time or desire to learn the technical details of creating, editing and uploading your video, I strongly recommend that you skip option #1 and to directly to option #2: Hire a reputable video company to create your videos for you.

What should you look for when deciding to hire a video production company?

1. A firm with experience producing attorney videos. Do not use a video company that just finished a wedding shoot that weekend. I would also hesitate using those video companies that create video depositions. Why? Because they usually do not have experience knowing what an online viewer looking for an attorney wants in an attorney video.

2. Ask whether the video producer is a lawyer. Why is that important? A practicing lawyer has a pretty good insight into what consumers need to see, or want to see in an attorney video. A lawyer brings a particular type of experience when creating attorney video; especially an attorney video producer who has created hundreds of educational videos for use in their own marketing of their legal services.

What to Look For in a Divorce Lawyer - How to Choose Wisely

With the changes in family law over the last 30 years, including the adoption of equitable distribution in place of the old common-law rules, the adoption of laws protecting military spouses, and the adoption of support guidelines and various local rules promulgated within the various circuits, the area of separation and divorce has become much too complicated and specialized for someone who does not regularly handle these types of cases. It distresses us when clients come to us with poorly drafted separation agreements, and/or decrees which other inexperienced attorneys have handled. Just as it is better to win at trial than to have a great appeal issue, it is much better to have the right attorney, one who will get it right the first time, than to have to pay someone to fix problems stemming from errors made in the first place. Sometimes the errors are very costly and cannot be fixed as shown in the series of articles I wrote for The Family Law News, a peer review publication of the Virginia State Bar, Section of Family Law, entitled "Costly Errors in Multi-State Military Divorce; Or a Military Wife's Tale of Woe," which are published in the Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 issues of the publication.

The series of articles outlines the legal authorities, strategy and procedural points we used to successfully defend a military retiree, who was a veteran of the Vietnam War. His ex-wife was attempting to obtain half of his military retired pay and spousal support here in Virginia, despite having divorced him six years earlier in Hawaii. While we are always happy to achieve a successful outcome for our clients, we felt sorry for the ex-wife, who had received poor legal advice from hr attorney in the original divorce action in Hawaii, advice that lead to poor decisions which the Virginia Court found to bind her permanently. In ruling for us in the case, the judge told the ex-wife that instead of suing her ex-husband, show should go after the attorney in Hawaii who represented her in the divorce.

So, how do you go about finding a good divorce lawyer? Here are a few suggestions:

Suggestion #1-Ask a Lawyer

If you know a lawyer, ask him/her for a referral to a good divorce lawyer. He or she will probably know someone or several someones who devote a significant portion of the practice of law to separation and divorce and related issues. For example, I have been handling separation and divorce for 30 years and have an excellent reputation among the local legal community. Any divorce attorney worth his/her salt should have established a reputation among other lawyers. Lawyers generally know who is good for a particular type of case; they certainly know who they would see, if they were facing separation and divorce.

Suggestion #2-Yellow Pages/Internet

While not a great source of information, the Yellow Pages and internet can be a beginning source of attorney names. Lawyers who do not mention separation, divorce, military divorce, and related areas like custody and support or property division, are not seeking cases in those areas and certainly don't devote a significant portion of the practice to those areas. Be leery of ads that include a laundry list of everything under the sun. Remember the old saying, "a jack of all trades and master of none"? Wouldn't you rather have someone who takes the time to focus at least a significant amount of time to family law, than someone who maybe devotes 3% of his/her practice to family law issues? Remember not everyone advertises in the Yellow Pages or haw a website or internet presence.. For example, there are more telephone listings than there are attorney ads in the Yellow Pages.


The Virginia Lawyer Referral Service is operated by the Virginia State Bar. Lawyers must ask to get on the list and must agree to a fixed fee for an initial consultation. A lawyer can be listed under any category he/she asks for. The names are on a rotating list and given to consumers who contact the service. Again, not all attorneys are listed. We are not listed with the referral service. This resource can provide the name of an attorney who is seeking family law cases. This does not mean that the attorney is an expert in these types of cases or that he/she is experienced. All it means is that he or she is seeking divorce cases. Be sure to take the questions I talk about here to the attorney interview.

Suggestion #4-Talk to More Than One Attorney

In fact, interview several attorneys. Ask each attorney who else handles separation and divorce in the area. If they won't give you names, leave the office, when you see names showing up on various lists of recommendations, the odds are probably good that the attorney is doing these cases on a regular basis.

Suggestion #5 - Use a Checklist

I have outlined factors that you should consider when selecting a divorce lawyer.

A. Experience. The longer you have been practicing a particular area of the law, the more you know. There is an old adage that says a good lawyer knows the law and a great lawyer knows the judge! What is the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? Experience.

B. Experience Trying Cases. Has he/she achieved any trial successes for his/her clients? Can the lawyer point to case results or client testimonial reflecting his/her abilities?

C. Are they willing to settle when appropriate to do so? Trial attorneys sometimes suffer from a hired gun mentality. They like the thrill of trying cases and may not consider other options, such as mediation or arbitration to achieve a resolution. Most good divorce attorneys do not adopt this approach, but see trial as a last resort, when other options have failed to precipitate a fair resolution of the issues. Unlike other areas of the law, family law often entails ongoing relationships and consequently requires a different perspective. I recently read an article by a personal injury attorney, who was writing on how to choose a personal injury lawyer. He said not to choose a lawyer who settles a lot of cases. When it comes to separation and divorce, I believe it is important to try to reach an agreement, if you can.

Going to court about family law unless you have to is like using a sledge hammer on a flea problem; you may kill a few fleas, but you wreak a lot of damage to the structure of the house, too. When individuals settle their own cases outside of court, they can be a lot more creative than the court would be in fashioning a remedy that is fair to both parties. Sometimes, agreement is just not possible. When that is the case, you want an experienced able divorce attorney who can advocate for your position in court and has a proven track record of success.

D. Respect in the legal community. What are other lawyers saying about this lawyer? Has the lawyer lectured or taught? Has he/she taught other lawyers?

E. Publications. Has he/she written anything that has been accepted for publication in legal journals? This is another sign of respect for the lawyer and for his/her skills and experience. Has he/she written or published anything designed to educate the public as to their rights duties and responsibilities under the law?

F. Affiliations and memberships. What professional affiliations does the attorney have? Is he/she a member of the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar Association? A member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers? A fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys?

G. Does the attorney limit the number of cases he/she undertakes? We don't take every case that calls in or walks through the door. We limit the number of cases that we undertake to handle at a given point in time so that we an focus on doing the best job for those clients.

H. Relationship issues.

1. How was the telephone answered when you called for an appointment?

2. How were you greeted when you entered the office? Were you offered refreshments?

3. Did the attorney and staff listen to you? Are you sure? Could you tell they were listening?

4. Were you interrupted during your time with the lawyer?

5. Does the attorney use written agreements setting out the parameters of the representation and the financial arrangements?

6. One of the most important aspects of choosing a lawyer is the relationship aspect: you need to be able to work effectively and comfortably with your lawyer. The relationship requires intimacy and trust. Do you feel comfortable with the attorney?

7. Were you introduced to staff?

8. How long does the attorney retain files on closed cases? What happens to the closed file? How is it disposed of? What steps does the attorney take to safeguard your confidential information?

I. Why does he/she practice divorce law? Friends and colleagues think I'm crazy to devote so much time to separation and divorce law. They may be right, I just may be a little crazy. But like the song says, "it just may be a lunatic you're looking for." When interviewing a potential divorce lawyer be sure to ask him/her why they choose to practice family law. Does the lawyer have a life experience that allows him/her to advocate for divorce clients with genuine passion? Is that passion something that is reflected in client testimonials?

J. Cost. Unlike personal injury practice, the best divorce lawyers do not offer "free" consultations. You will notice that cost is last on the list. In our experience, the best divorce lawyers are generally not the cheapest. In the long run, what is it worth to you to retain or acquire your fair share of the assets that have been accumulated over the course of your married life? What is it worth to you to insure that you retain your fair share of time with your children? Some things are worth fighting for and worth the price that you have to pay.

If your attorney does not devote a significant portion of his/her practice to family law issues, has never tried a contested divorce, has never tried a contested custody case or who has never tried an equitable distribution case, or drafted a qualified domestic relations order dividing a pension, or who has no experience in military divorce and has never drafted a military retired pay order, you may want to choose another lawyer for your separation and divorce.

Why You Need a Divorce Lawyer

I recently overheard someone in a bookstore telling a group of people why they should not have their own attorneys, how they could not trust lawyers, how lawyers would cheat them and how they should rely upon the company the speaker belonged to instead. That conversation got me thinking about why people facing separation and divorce need not just any lawyer, but a good divorce lawyer.

Reason #1-What You need to know

You need to know your rights, duties and responsibilities under the law. Only a lawyer who has been retained to represent your interests can advise you. How can you realistically discuss financial arrangements in separating and divorcing, if you don't know what your rights, duties and responsibilities are? Not knowing what your rights are can result in not getting your fair share of assets, your fair share of support or your fair share of time with your children. Not knowing what your duties and responsibilities are can result in your paying more than your fair share of assets or your fair share of support. Most attorneys offer a special reduced rate for consulting services to encourage people to get advice early and often. There is no reason to rely on backyard fence advice, when you can get real advice from a qualified experienced divorce lawyer for a reasonable fee. Furthermore, in my experience, the backyard fence advice is usually wrong. Remember that if what you hear is half true, it is still wrong.

Reason #2-Backyard Advice

My friend is divorced. Why can't I rely on my friend's experience and knowledge. Well, you could do that but what you need to realize is that unless your friend is a licensed attorney, he/she is not authorized to practice law. Your friend's knowledge will be limited to his/her particular experience. His/her experience with the law is limited to the facts of his/her case and the law as it was at the time. Things change. The law changes. Any change in the facts will change the outcome or advice. Furthermore, changes in the law will change the advice. Your friend simply lacks the knowledge and experience to give sound practical legal advice.

Reason #3-Identifying Issues

The sooner you get a lawyer, the sooner you will learn what you need to know to protect yourself (and your children and property interests). Sometimes people have no idea how to go about identifying the issues they need to discuss, even if the separation is an amicable one and the parties anticipate a "friendly divorce." A good, experienced divorce lawyer can assist you in identifying the issues you need to discuss with your spouse to achieve a comprehensive agreement and global settlement. Over the years there have been numerous times when we were able to point out to clients areas they had initially overlooked and issues which should be included in their settlement discussions, such as life insurance, health insurance, and children's educational needs.

Reason #4-To Share or Not to Share?

My spouse already has an attorney. Do I really need to get one too? Can't the same lawyer represent us both? The answer is no, not really. 30 years ago when I first began practicing law, it was strictly forbidden for a lawyer to represent both sides to a divorce, no matter how "friendly" it was. There are some limited circumstances in which dual representation might be allowed, provided there is full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and a waiver of conflicts with informed consent by both parties. These situations are limited and in the event that unhappy differences or disputes should arise, the attorney must end the representation and both parties must seek new counsel. Frankly, we rarely if ever agree to dual representation. We represent our clients zealously within the bounds of the law and the conflicts in representing opposing sides are too apparent for us to agree to do so. Not only that, but if your spouse has a lawyer, that means that he/she has already sought legal advice and has some rudimentary knowledge of his/her rights, duties and responsibilities under the law.

Someone once said knowledge is power. Would you rather be the one with the knowledge (and the power) or the one without knowledge? How trusting can you be of your spouse or his/her attorney in the circumstances? Remember that your spouse's attorney already represents your spouse. In our experience, spouses, especially those who tend to be controlling will think nothing of misrepresenting the law to gain advantage in the negotiation. Recently a client told me that her husband who remains in the marital home told her that she was now his "landlord" and therefore she could not re-enter the home without his consent and presence and that his lawyer said so. Needless to say, everything he told her was wrong. Her husband also told our client that they did not need to use lawyers and could reach an agreement on their own without lawyers. He also said that if she insisted on having her attorney review paperwork before she signed it that he would find something to disagree with on each draft to drive up her costs. Clearly he was trying to manipulate, intimidate and control his wife, who was wise to seek her own independent counsel from a knowledgeable, experienced divorce attorney.

Reason #5-Do You Feel Lucky?

Going to a court hearing in a pending divorce without a lawyer is like playing Russian Roulette. How lucky do you think you are? Would you perform surgery on yourself or would you seek out a qualified surgeon? Why do you think that you know enough to represent yourself in court? Do you know what your rights, duties and responsibilities are? The judge won't help you out if you don't know what you are doing. There are rules of evidence and rules of procedure that govern hearings. You need someone on your team that knows the rules of the game. You will need someone to prepare you for your testimony in court so that you don't put your feet in your mouth up to your hip bone. You will be bound by the things that come out of your mouth in court. Recently we spoke to a man who incurred spousal and child support obligations of $4000 per month. The court issued an order based on erroneous exhibits filed by his wife's attorney and based upon things he said in open court as to his income which were not accurate. A skilled trial attorney can get you to say things that you don't mean to say, especially if you have not been prepared for your testimony.

Reason #6-Too Little, Too Late

Going to see a lawyer after you have already signed papers or participated in depositions or hearings pro se (representing yourself) is like closing the barn door, after the cow got out. Just because you were not represented does not mean that you can get out of a bad decision or bad deal you may have made or get out of rulings the court made when you were unrepresented. The time to get advice is before you sign. The time to get advice is before you go to court. In fact, you should get advice as soon as you receive legal notice of a pending lawsuit against you.

If you are reading this and you have already signed papers, you should still consult with a good experienced divorce attorney to have the papers explained to you and to review t he papers to see if there are any loopholes that may be used to renegotiate terms move favorably to you or to insist upon "clarification" of the agreement. The attorney can also explain the consequences of having signed the paperwork.

If you are reading this and you are in the midst of a divorce action and have been to depositions on your own, you should seek an immediate consultation with a good experienced divorce attorney to see if there is any legal basis to suppress the depositions. Be sure to take all of your documents with you to the consultation. We have seen situations where it was possible to reopen a case for a client because the depositions were taken too early. In such situations, the depositions were quashed by filing the appropriate papers under the rules of court. In your case it may be too late to do anything, but you should at least talk to a divorce attorney right away to be sure.

Reason #7-Isn't a Lawyer a Lawyer? (A Rose by Any Other Name...)

I know a lawyer who did the closing on our house. Can't I go to him/her for advice about separation and divorce? Yes, you could but there is a saying that if the blind lead the blind, they both fall in a ditch. Would you go to a podiatrist (foot doctor) if you had an eye infection? You could; after all, the podiatrist went to medical school and learned about the body, including the eyes. The questions are how much, if anything does he/she remember, is he/she current on the medical literature pertaining to the eye and infection, including the diagnosis and treatment of the eye? I have seen horrendous separation agreements prepared by lawyers who do not devote at least a significant portion of their practice to family law but were trying to accommodate a friend or relation in their time of need. Actually a lawyer should decline a case, if he/she does not believe that he/she has the knowledge and experience to handle it or that he/she is not willing to acquire the knowledge necessary to handle it.

It takes a significant amount of time to keep up with all of the changes in the law that affect separation and divorce. Think about it. Every week somewhere there is a court, either federal or state making a decision that could affect your situation. Every week that the legislature is in session, whether Congress or the General Assembly, they make decisions that could affect your situation. An experienced divorce attorney should make it a point to review new cases and statutes looking for those that affect family law practice; all of the best family lawyers do.

Reason #8-Prepaid Legal?

If you have paid for this service, then certainly you can talk to one of the participating attorneys. But unless the attorney is an experienced divorce lawyer with a significant portion of his/her practice devoted to separation and divorce and related issues, you should give serious consideration to looking outside of your prepaid plan. Has the lawyer written any books or articles on separation, divorce or related issues that are published? I am not a participating attorney in a pre paid legal plan. The best divorce lawyers are not participants in "prepaid" legal. To my knowledge there are no fellows (members) of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers who participate in pre paid legal services plans. If you are reading this report and have personal knowledge of an attorney who belongs to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and also belongs to a pre paid legal plan, please email us at to report the name of the attorney so that we can verify the information and update this report.

Think about what is at stake; the custody and support of your children, and the division of assets you may have worked your entire married life to accumulate, including your home, pension, savings, military retirement and/or 401K. Do you really want to cut corners when it comes to your kids? Your home? Your pension? Your retirement?

Reason #9-A Ship Needs a Navigator

If you think of your legal case as a ship, the client is the captain of the ship and the client's attorney is the navigator. The navigator doesn't decide where to go, but he/she does map out the best course to arrive at the destination. Divorce is difficult, even "friendly" divorce is not easy. It can be an emotional rollercoaster. You need emotional, psychological and legal support. In choosing to separate and divorce, you will be faced with important decisions that will affect you, your spouse and your children not only now but in the foreseeable future. Passions can run hot during this difficult time and you need a clear head. You need a team of individuals including someone knowledgeable in separation and divorce law to help you see clearly and navigate the difficult and sometimes angry waters of separation and divorce.

Not having a good divorce lawyer at the planning and separation stage leaves you without the sound advice and rational third party perspective you need to make decisions which can bind you for life. Not having a good divorce lawyer at the divorce stage leaves you without the knowledge, experience and advocacy of a good experienced divorce attorney. It leaves you at the mercy of your spouse and your spouse's attorney. Neither your spouse nor his/her attorney is there to show you mercy. You need someone to fight for you when you cannot fight for yourself. You need someone to help you understand what is gong on and how to act in the storm.

You need someone who can help you to be pro-active and not simply re-active to steps that your spouse takes. You want a team to support you, a team which can and should include your pastor, rabbi or spiritual advisor, your CPA or tax advisor, extended family, friends and a good experienced divorce attorney.

Reason #10-You Need an Advocate

You are going through a traumatic experience. Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences in life, second only to the death of a spouse. You need someone who understands what is at stake and will advocate for your interests with not only knowledge and experience but passion and feeling. When you interview attorneys, find out why they practice family law and what motivates them in advocating for clients. What is it that makes them passionate advocates? I recently spoke with another trial attorney who does not generally handle divorce work. He usually handles criminal and traffic defense and civil suits for money damages; he told me that he was forced by the poor economy to take a contested divorce case. Divorce and family law are not his first choice of trial work. He is doing it now solely for the money. Is that the motivation you would want in your attorney? Or would you rather have a lawyer who has made a conscious decsion to focus on family law and uses his/her life experience such as knowing what it is like to be a child of divorce to relate to the circumstances of your case and to advocate for you with passion and conviction?

Education Law in the United Kingdom

The law is a wide ranging subject that covers a huge amount; as a result it is impossible for lawyers to be highly knowledgeable about every area and subsection of the law. The majority of lawyers, therefore, choose to specialise in a particular area of the law. One area of the law is 'education law'. For the most part this covers any aspect of the law relating to education and schools. As Education law is constantly changing it can be very useful to employ the services of an education solicitor in order to make sure that the school is following legal procedures. Using the services of an education solicitor can also be helpful for parents as well as for the schools themselves. Education solicitors can help with a number of problems and can provide advice on a variety of different issues and areas.

An important way that education solicitors can help schools is with the admissions process. More and more parents are being very selective about the schools they want to send their children to. Many parents want to send their children to the best schools in the area and as a result many schools are finding that there is a high demand for places. Education solicitors can help schools to ensure that their admissions policies follow the Admissions Code of Practice. In addition, solicitors specialising in education can give schools advice if the school wants to change their admissions policy. If a parent puts in a complaint about a school regarding admissions, an education solicitor will be able to help the school deal with it. Equally, if a parent makes an appeal about an admission decision, a school can utilise the skills of an education lawyer to provide advice or representation.

Education law can be particularly important for parents whose children have special education needs (or SEN). There have been cases where schools have refused to assess or reassess a child's special education needs and parents have been forced to take action. In other cases schools may have acted in a discriminatory manner towards children with disabilities and claims may need to be brought before the appropriate authorities. Education solicitors can help parents with both of these issues. However, they are also able to help schools with similar issues regarding SEN. They can work with schools to ensure that policies comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and make sure that proper risk assessment is carried out so that disabled children are not excluded from activities.

Solicitors specialising in education can advise schools on issues relating to challenging behaviour. They can provide advice on procedures to deal with bullying and anti-social behaviour and what the school's legal standpoint is. Equally solicitors can advise on situations where schools have to deal with the possibility of excluding a pupil. They can make sure that the school is up to date on relevant policies, and also whether the school's policy complies with the law. If necessary an education solicitor can act as representation for a school in an exclusion appeal case and can help the school to produce statements and documentation for the appeal.

The Academies Act of 2010 has further increased the need for education solicitors. This act allows schools to apply for conversion to academy status. This process will definitely involve an education solicitor in some way as there are a number of legal procedures that will need to be followed, for example the transfer of land and assets or enacting the commercial transfer agreement. As well as needing legal services for the conversion, the school may need advice on finance issues and employment rules and regulations. If a school is planning on converting to an academy, acquiring the services of a lawyer well versed in employment law can be very helpful. There are many different parts of the process that need consideration. These could include organising consultation on the subject with both parents and employees or may involve helping the school set up the trust that will run the academy once the conversion is complete.

These are only a few of the different areas that working in the field of education law will involve. There are a number of different issues that employment solicitors can advise both schools and parents on. These issues could involve dealing with complaints, providing advice on school expansion and acting as representation at hearings. Other areas may involve dealing with trespassers on school property, data protection issues or procuring services. Education law is a varied sub-sector of the law that can involve many different aspects of the education system and education lawyers can lend their services to parents and schools depending on the situation.

The 10 Commandments For Lawyers Who Use Video

Here are my rules for attorneys who advertise and market themselves using video; they apply to every lawyer who creates attorney video and they're mostly common sense, but because we're attorneys, nothing is ever as it seems.

1. Thou shall not disparage another lawyer in your video 2. Thou shall not puff yourself up 3. Thou shall not criticize another lawyer 4. Thou shall not compare yourself, by name, to any other lawyer or law firm 5. Thou shall not talk about yourself 6. Thou shall not make any guarantees that you cannot keep 7. Thou shall not be a salesman 8. Thou shall not use slogans 9. Thou shall make educational video 10. Thou shall learn how to answer your viewers' questions

No, I'm not Moses, and no, these commandments are not written in stone (but that would be really cool if they were). These are guidelines to follow if you are serious about creating attorney video. Some of these rules are common sense. Some are embodied in ethics rules that each of us must follow in our own state.

I reviewed an attorney video about a year ago for a feature called "YouLaw" which is a column I write for Technolawyer blog. In the video was a trial attorney from the mid-west who had a very good educational video- for most of it anyway. He was explaining in his video how aggressive he was in taking cases to trial. So far so good. Then he did something horrible. He compared his firm to his competitor- BY NAME- and claimed that unlike THAT PARTICULAR law firm, he takes cases to trial. The other firm (specifically giving their name) takes them solely to settle cases before they ever get to trial.

Whether the claim is true or not is besides the point. He has now subjected himself and his law firm to possible claims of libel and slander by this other attorney in his town. He could have accomplished the same thing without mentioning the name of the other law firm. Bad move on his part. His video was immediately taken down after my review came out.

Next: Stop talking about yourself. Yes, you read that correctly. Viewers who are watching videos looking for an attorney don't want to hear about YOU. They don't care about you. They care about themselves. Stop wasting your time and money talking about you.

Stop selling your services. There's nothing worse than walking into a store and the salesman hovers over you trying to sell you something the moment you move left or right. (I sometimes like to play around with them, especially in a jewelry store, where I move left, then shift to my right, and the salesperson follows my every move, hoping to make a sale). Aghhh! Stop selling yourself and start educating me, your consumer. By educating me, you become the expert and not the slick salesman. Re-read this paragraph again and commit it to memory.


I guarantee that if you follow these 10 commandments, you will create video that is better than 99% of the nonsense that is currently online. (You see, I can make that guarantee because I know it's true). Most lawyer video is not educational and does not help a viewer distinguish one lawyer from another. Follow these rules and you'll be on your way to creating great educational video.

A Tax Refund to Aid the Education Revolution

Following through with the yet another scheme that was announced in the 2008-09 Federal Budget, the Rudd Government has recently introduced to Parliament legislation that will see the enactment of the Education Tax Refund.

As set out in the budget, the Education Tax Refund will see the current Government invest $4.4 billion over the next four years to fund the all-important continuing education of the next generation of Australians.

Whilst the most recent cut to interest rates has moved to somewhat ease the current financial pressure on families, the new refund provides further relief and also moves to make it easier for parents to purchase the necessary equipment that is required for their children's academic development.

Families who are eligible to claim the refund will be able to receive a 50 percent discount each year for costs incurred when purchasing nominated education equipment.

The criteria is such that for expenses up to $750 incurred for each child who is undertaking primary school studies, a maximum of $375 refundable tax offset is available each year. Additionally, for each child who is undertaking secondary studies, for expenses up to $1500, a maximum refundable tax offset of $750 is available each year.

The costs of education expenses that are able to be included when claiming the Education Tax Refund include:

* laptops;

* home computers and associated costs;

* home internet connections;

* printers;

* education software;

* trade tools for use at school;

* school text books; and

* stationery

Generally speaking, parents who are entitled to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A for children who are in primary or secondary school as eligible to claim the Education Tax Refund.

Similarly, those parents who would be eligible to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A except that their child/children receive other government payments or allowances such as Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY living Allowance of Disability Support Pension are also eligible to receive the Education Tax Refund.

The refund will be available for parents to claim through their Income Tax Return on all expenses that are incurred from 1 July 2008. Hence, the first Education Tax Refunds will be claimed after 1 July 2009, when tax returns for the 2008-09 financial year are completed. So, from this date forward all parents who are eligible to claim the offset should retain all receipts for purchases relating to their children's education so that they can make a claim for the necessary offset amount/s when they are preparing their returns at the end of this financial year.

For those who do not need to lodge a tax return, they can still claim the Education Tax Refund by completing a separate form that will be available from the Australian Tax Office.

This is a general overview of the Government's new Education Tax Refund. There are various other details regarding the refund that you will need to be aware of if you feel that you may be eligible to claim the offset on your 2008-09 tax return. In particular there are further eligibility criteria that apply to other specific circumstances such as students that are considered independent of their parents, as well as children in shared cared arrangements.

For more information on the Education Tax Refund or for any other tax related queries you might have, contact the tax and accounting experts at The Quinn Group on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online enquiry form.

What It Takes To Be A Lawyer?

When you see all these handsome Lawyers in TV series like LA Law, sitting in their fancy offices, driving these flashy cars, have you ever realized what they have been through in terms of time, years of education, money, certifications, etc...

Let me Describe to you the Lawyers course of training. Formal educational requirements for lawyers include a 4-year college degree, 3 years in law school, and the passing of a written bar examination.

Competition for admission to most law schools is intense. prospective lawyers should develop proficiency in writing and speaking, reading, researching, analyzing, and thinking logically--skills needed to succeed both in law school and in the profession.

Regardless of major, a multidisciplinary background is recommended. Courses in English, foreign languages, public speaking, government, philosophy, history, economics, mathematics, and computer science, among others, are useful. Students interested in a particular aspect of law may find related courses helpful. For example, prospective patent lawyers need a strong background in engineering or science, and future tax lawyers must have extensive knowledge of accounting.

Acceptance by most law schools depends on the applicant's ability to demonstrate an aptitude for the study of law, usually through good undergraduate grades, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), the quality of the applicant's undergraduate school, any prior work experience, and, sometimes, a personal interview.

During the first year or year and a half of law school, students usually study core courses, such as constitutional law, contracts, property law, torts, civil procedure, and legal writing. In the remaining time, they may elect specialized courses in fields such as tax, labor, or corporate law. Law students often acquire practical experience by participating in school-sponsored legal clinic activities; in the school's moot court competitions, in which students conduct appellate arguments; in practice trials under the supervision of experienced lawyers and judges; and through research and writing on legal issues for the school's law journal.

Law school graduates receive the degree of juris doctor (J.D.) as the first professional degree. Advanced law degrees may be desirable for those planning to specialize, research, or teach. Some law students pursue joint degree programs, which usually require an additional semester or year of study. Joint degree programs are offered in a number of areas, including law and business administration or public administration.

After graduation, lawyers must keep informed about legal and nonlegal developments that affect their practice. Currently, 40 States and jurisdictions mandate continuing legal education (CLE). Many law schools and State and local bar associations provide continuing education courses that help lawyers stay abreast of recent developments.

The practice of law involves a great deal of responsibility. Individuals planning careers in law should like to work with people and be able to win the respect and confidence of their clients, associates, and the public. Perseverance, creativity, and reasoning ability also are essential to lawyers, who often analyze complex cases and handle new and unique legal problems.

Lawyers held about 695,000 jobs in 2002. About 3 out of 4 lawyers practiced privately, either in law firms or in solo practices. Most of the remaining lawyers held positions in government and with corporations and nonprofit organizations.


For Additional information:

  • Medical Malpractice Lawyer Explains Why Online Attorney Video Educates Consumers

    Consumers looking for an attorney have traditionally relied on word-of-mouth referrals. If you didn't know someone who could refer you to a lawyer, you would have to search for one on your own.

    The problem with all forms of traditional attorney advertising is that they didn't explain how they could help solve your legal problem. They didn't educate you and they never have.

    With online video so prevalent today, consumers need only go online, do a Google search and find thousands of lawyers instantly. How then can a consumer filter out all the noise? With online video, attorneys who educate their consumers set themselves apart and inform their targeted clients. The best attorney videos don't talk about attorney credentials, since nobody really cares about that. Rather, a consumer only cares about how you can help solve their legal problems.

    Educational video gets viewers to see you, hear you and begin to trust you before they ever walk in your door. That's the beauty of educating and empowering your consumer. Traditional forms of attorney advertising have been extremely truncated in both time and space. Specifically, a TV commercial had no way to educate a consumer within 30 seconds or 60 seconds. The same was true for radio. Yellow Pages ads were static and were nothing more than a lawyer trying to shout louder to anyone who was flipping through the book looking for an attorney. I've always asked consumers who use the Yellow Pages whether they want to hire an attorney the same way they hire a plumber.

    Creating video to educate your consumers about how things work are much more powerful than all other forms of attorney marketing. Consumers are coming to expect attorneys to have video on their websites, and lawyers who fail to take advantage of this incredibly powerful tool will lose out big time when viewers skip over their websites in favor of other attorneys who provide useful and educational information.

    Lawyers - How to Get Prospects to Visit Your Web Site If Search Engines Fail You

    PROBLEM #1: The lawyers who get the first few positions usually get the inquiries. The remaining lawyers are left paying for web sites that produce little. 

    PROBLEM #2: Even if you rank high, your search results are mixed among those of your competitors, so prospects can easily get distracted and miss your site altogether. 

    Fortunately, you can bring prospects to your web site without search engines and without the potential for confusion. Here's how: 

    STEP #1: Load your web site with educational articles that have teaser titles. People are drawn to helpful information written in list form. For example, I use 17 Fatal Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make, Marketing Secrets of Superstar Lawyers, 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, and many more. When you add educational articles, besides creating a desirable web site, your articles increase your relevance in search engine rankings. 

    STEP #2: Invite prospects to visit your site where they can read your articles. Offer the articles in every type of communication, including 

    -- Classified Ads. Invite prospects to your web site through classified ads. Your entire ad could be as simple as this: Discover 17 Fatal Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make at (enter your domain). Or make it more attractive by including two or more titles: Discover How to Build Your Law Practice With Dignity and 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make at (enter your domain). 

    -- Display Ads. If you want more space than a classified ad -- or think your prospects may not read classifieds -- design a small display ad. Make powerful use of black and white graphics to seize your reader's attention. In addition, include a closely cropped photo of your face with good eye contact and a warm, engaging smile. (Nothing draws a reader's eyes to your ad faster than your eyes looking back at the reader.) Depending on the size of your ad, you could include titles of many articles. Each title acts like a fishhook in the lake. You can't be sure which bait will cause your prospect to bite, but all it takes is one good title to motivate him to visit your web site. 

    -- Yellow page ads. In your yellow page copy, offer articles that your prospect can read on your web site. 

    -- News releases to the media. Write a news release about a key issue in your area of law or the impact of a recent court decision. At the end of the news release, announce that you have published three articles, listing each by title. Then tell the reader he can call your office to receive free copies by mail, or visit your web site at []. 

    -- Newsletter. In every issue, invite prospects to read articles on your web site. You might say something like: Yours Free! Discover 15 Business Card Sins Lawyers Commit, Marketing Secrets of Superstar Lawyers, and How to Market Other Practice Areas Within Your Firm -- at (enter your domain). 

    -- Seminars. In your seminar materials, include a flier that lists articles on your web site.

     -- Referral Sources. Send a mailing to your past clients and referral sources alerting them to articles on your web site -- and inviting them to direct friends and colleagues to your site. 

    -- Referral Card. Create a referral brochure with a reply card on which you offer various articles. Say that for a faster response, they can read these articles on your web site.

    -- Feature Articles. At the end of every article you submit for publication, include an author's note that offers your articles, something like this: Trey Ryder specializes in education-based marketing for lawyers. He offers the following three articles at (enter your domain): 17 Fatal Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make, High Pressure vs. Dignity Depends on How You Use the Three Cons, and 19 Secrets That Increase Response to Ads. 

    -- E-mail Signature. Consider offering an article and including its title in the signature to your e-mail. You might include something like: Visit [] to read 17 Fatal Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make. Your URL by itself may not motivate a prospect to go to your web site. But when you alert him to an important article that discusses one of his current problems, he has a good reason to visit you site. 

    -- Envelope Insert With Outgoing Mail. Prepare an insert about 1/3 the size of an 8.5" x 11" sheet that announces new articles on your web site. Include this in all outgoing correspondence and, on the insert, invite the recipient to pass it along to a friend or colleague. 

    In addition to offering articles, you can also use the above methods to invite prospects to your web site so they can: (1) ask you a question by e-mail (2) send you facts about their claim for a case evaluation (3) subscribe to your firm's newsletter (4) register for your firm's seminar (5) read your latest newsletter (6) request a consultation with you by phone or in person (7) read comments from past clients -- whatever you think will motivate them to visit your site. 

    Summary: Don't depend only on search engines to bring prospects to your web site. Also, don't depend on your web address alone to motivate prospects to visit. Instead, make your prospects an irresistible offer -- something they can't refuse -- which they'll discover on your web site. Then put the offer in ads, newsletters and announcements. This will erase the confusion factor from search engines and increase the number of qualified prospects going to your site.

    Lawyer Survey Suggests Law Education Lacks Basics For Creating Practice

    In my national survey of lawyers the majority of respondents felt that their formal legal education had not prepared them for implementing legal theory in a business setting. Specifically, they felt they lacked the basics for creating a law practice as well as attracting and interacting with clients in order to develop their business and survive. While they indicate that some law schools are now spending time on the business side of practicing law, respondents also suggest these courses may not be deep enough, comprehensive enough, or given frequently enough.

    The consensus is that a soon-to-be lawyer's business experience needs to be early, hands on, including meeting with clients before the bar exam. It should also involve networking, volunteering, and joining business organizations while students are still attaining their formal legal education. Hands-on experience is necessary for learning communications skills, the psychology of how to interact with clients and the press, using persuasion, and implementing the law in a wide variety of social situations. One large benefit of doing this, and doing it early and often, is that it builds your confidence in a shorter period of time than otherwise. Attempting this later typically take you years of slogging through it all by yourself.

    Dealing effectively with people, which is so necessary to your converting prospects to clients, often seems to be omitted from law school curriculum. When it is used, it seems it is often a one-semester course early on which is inadequate. A similar situation has occurred in medical schools where the schools have become aware that their medical students were totally ignorant of what to do in an intake interview with patients. As a result, some schools instituted a first-year course on doctor-patient communication. But now, slowly, the schools are discovering that this interpersonal skills and small talk interview course, with a workshop and peer feedback, needs to be required every year of medical school for both learning appropriate skills, gaining confidence in using them, and making them a habit. Being addressed only once early on is not particularly helpful long-term.

    To paraphrase what one lawyer shared on this: Formal education (both undergraduate and graduate) taught me absolutely zero about promoting and presenting myself as an effective and authentic professional. Part of the problem is that when you are still in school, you do not yet fully realize the importance of professional marketing and of interacting with your client as a human being, not just a potential financial transaction. I have learned almost 100% of my promotion and self-presentation skills from other lawyers, other business owners, and family members. My confidence to begin to create profitable visibility and credibility for myself also began there. The upshot is that law school education as it currently stands may be completely useless, except for providing law theory, technical information, and cases. Everything that is worthwhile and works in the real world comes through post-academic experience, which is too bad.

    If lawyers, in general, do not learn from their formal training how to market, interact with clients, and create and develop a business-like law practice, how do they work around that obstacle? Most said they did some self-study and figured it out on their own. They read business books and articles and tried to adapt the ideas of the authors to their practice. They realized and embraced the notion that everyone was in marketing and sales in some ways. They learned how to interact with clients from their friends and/or relatives who worked in retail or sales.

    One lawyer had a B.A. in English with emphasis in journalism and creative writing that he found helpful to fill in the interpersonal skills' gap. Another lawyer had an undergraduate degree in linguistics which helped him spot communication problems. And still another had involvement with the financial services business where he could see how to apply marketing mindsets to law practice with emphasis on being the values-based, trusted advisor.

    While a formal law education cannot provide everything a practicing attorney will need, it certainly must, at the very least, lay the ground work for the basics lawyers will need to take their education on the road, to set up a practice and run it like a business, and then market and develop it in order to survive.

    Lawyer Survey Suggests Clients Unrealistic About What Lawyers Can Achieve For Them

    In my national survey of lawyers, lawyers report clients often have unrealistic expectations or misperceptions about "what lawyers can do and can actually achieve for their client." Overall, lawyers responding to the survey felt that many-perhaps, too many-clients expected their lawyer to be able to resolve any problem at minimal expense in a short amount of time. This is because the lawyer should not have to research the law, or prepare for hearings, as they should already "know" the law and be appropriately experienced. Clients expect "fairness" from the lawyer and legal system because to them what is "fair" should supersede what is "legal."

    Clients do not seem to understand that while a lawyer can do everything right and get the right result for the client, the lawyer can also do everything right and still not get the result the client wants. Some clients may also think that if the lawyer really wants to fix a case, they can. It is only matter of choice, will power, and payment.

    Too often clients think that if they will only pay lawyers enough, they can make their problem go away. Clients tend to think that lawyers win all of the time. But, at the same time, they see lawyers as only as good as their last victory. Moreover, if the lawyer was not successful, it was their fault. Whenever lawyers explain that what clients want done is not possible, the clients invariably will not believe them. Instead they go to someone else who will tell them what they want to hear, take the fee, and then not deliver because they cannot.

    Because a lawyer works in a special area that deals with a government agency, clients may think that somehow the lawyer has some control or sway over the workings of that agency with respect to the client. Lawyers who have worked with tax controversies, for example, have found that their clients think their lawyer can influence the IRS with respect to pursuing collections. That they can talk to judges and officials to make it work. Worse yet, some expect that a dismissal in a criminal case can be simply purchased or fixed.

    Clients believe that having a superhero and vicious fighter in their corner isthe answer to their legal problems. This is because it does not matter what the client has done; the lawyer will do anything it takes, including lying for them, to get them what they want.

    Unfortunately, some clients want "justice," apologetic behaviors from others, and concessions they cannot get. Lawyers cannot get the abstract "justice" they want. They cannot control the tactics of the other side or force the other side to tell the truth, (i.e., agree with the client's version of the story). They cannot get the client's adversaries to know, or admit, that they were wrong. Because a client desires something does not mean a lawyer can provide it.

    Many people think that a case can be easily won without any personal effort on their own part. They also get frustrated by the court system, as they do not understand that a lawyer must work within the framework of the law and court rules. Frequently clients do not see that judges do not always perceive things the client and lawyer's way (the same with juries when they are involved), irrespective how well the lawyer has handled the case.

    Lawyers need to educate their prospects about the realities of consulting, hiring, and working with a lawyer. These issues will be discussed in other lawyer survey reports.

    The Single Page Lawyer Resume

    In this competitive legal market, employers are bombarded with resumes. In most cases, they do no have the time or manpower to give resumes more than a cursory two-minute glance to make an initial determination. What does this mean for your resume? The formatting on your lawyer resume should be impeccable to give the reader an immediate positive impression. You should also consider submitting a single page lawyer resume; shortening the length of your resume could give you a better chance of being read and considered.

    The Benefits of the Single Page Lawyer Resume

    When limiting the length of your lawyer resume to one page, you are forced to provide a precise and concise document that focuses specifically on the skills and experience a potential employer is looking for. In other words, you have to make the document more targeted, get rid of old, irrelevant, or extraneous information that could be cluttering your resume. The result could mean a more impactful resume.

    If you are a recent graduate, a law student, or a lawyer who has only worked for one employer, limiting your lawyer resume to one page may be an easy task. If on the other hand you are an experienced lawyer, or one that has made several transitions, limiting your lawyer resume to one page may be a tall order. In that case, you may need an additional page. However, you can still enjoy the benefits of the "single page" lawyer resume format if you capture the most relevant information on the first page of your resume.

    In other words, you should aim to include your education and entire work history - or most relevant work history - onto the first page of your lawyer resume. To know what is "most relevant" to include on that first page of your resume, assume that a potential employer never sees the second page. This will allow you to determine whether the information included is sufficient to provide an employer with a good understanding of your skills and qualifications.

    Constructing the Single Page Lawyer Resume

    Your single page lawyer resume should be highly organized to include the following sections:

    * Name and contact information. You should include you name, mailing address, at least one telephone number, and a private email address. If you have a good LinkedIn profile, you may want to include it there as well (See "Optimizing Contact Information On Your Legal Resume" for more information about using your contact information effectively).

    * Education. You should list the schools of higher education you attended in reverse chronological order. One of the most common questions asked by lawyers who are writing their legal resumes is whether to include their legal education at the top or bottom of the resume. If you have been out of law school three years or less, you should consider placing your education at the top of your resume (See "Top 20 Legal Resume Writing Tips" for more information on this topic).

    * Work History. Here you should list all of the jobs you've held, and try to limit them to law-related positions, unless you are a recent graduate of law student. Begin with the full legal name of the company, law firm or organization you have worked for, provide your full title, as well as your dates of employment, and the city and state where you practiced. Finally, provide a short description of the worked you performed, your responsibilities, and various accomplishments. Use active verbs to set off each sentence, keep them very brief and to the point, and list them with bullets if you have enough space (See "Using Active Verbs in Your Legal Resume").

    * Bar Admission. Your lawyer resume should always include a separate bar admission section. If you are short on space you can include professional associations in this section as well. Be sure to include the year of admission for each jurisdiction you were admitted to.

    Information that you can easily omit on your resume is "references available upon request" citations, and personal hobbies (e.g. reading, knitting, gardening etc.). Because the modern resume is a marketing tool, it's best to keep personal interests, hobbies, and other non-essential materials for the interview process. If you are keen on listing organizations, affiliations, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities on your legal resume, only list those that are relevant to your practice as a legal professional, or that are directly related to your targeted job. Again, if it's not related to your practice or the position, do not include it.

    Single Page Lawyer Resume Sample

    Here is a single page lawyer resume sample that contains all of the features we've mentioned:

    JOHN B. DOE 555 N. Westminster Road o New York, NY 20021 o (212) 555-555 o


    Latham & Watkins LLP, New York, NY Litigation Associate, September 2003 - Present Summer Associate, Summer 2002

    * Represented clients on a wide variety of litigation matters including securities, breach of contract, unfair business practices, product liability, professional malpractice, and aviation.

    * Handled arbitration matters involving claims of securities fraud, unsuitability, unauthorized trading, deceptive trade practices, breach of fiduciary duties, and breach of contract on behalf major financial institutions and brokers.

    * Assisted in government contract matters relating to municipal law, contract and procurement, transportation, and infrastructure development.

    New York Supreme Court, Nassau County, NY Intern for the Honorable Phillip B. Connor, January - March 2003

    * Conducted legal research on a variety of substantive and procedural issues with an emphasis on commercial litigation matters, drafted memoranda, and attended oral arguments.

    United States District Court, Northern District of New York, Albany, NY Intern for the Honorable Geoffrey E. Peterson, June - August 2001

    * Performed legal research, reviewed and evaluated pleadings and motions, and assisted Judge in drafting opinions and bench memoranda.


    Cornell University School of Law, Ithaca, NY Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, May 2003

    * Notes and Comments Editor, Cornell Law Review

    New York University, New York, NY Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in History, May 1999

    * Vice-President, Asian-American Student Association


    New York (2003)

    Continuing Legal Education from the Client's Point of View

    In a lawyer's world, it is hard to find the time to satisfy all of your clients' needs, manage professional contacts and relationships, and continue to try to gain new clients. That is one of the main reasons that Continuing Legal Education requirements have been met with moans and groans from attorneys across the country. Lawyers feel that imposing such rules is foolish, and a waste of time that could be spent working on more important matters.

    But let's take a look at the issue from the clients' point of view. As a client, you should want the best possible attorney to represent you in any situation. The word, representation, in its nature, carries such a strong meaning. Your attorney is acting on your behalf in all legal matters that you may encounter.

    Some people may measure a lawyer's ability and expertise in different ways, but some of the most useful information when considering a lawyer to represent you is the depth of their knowledge. This comes from a number of sources that include their primary and secondary education, their experience in a given field, the success that they have had in the past, and the amount of continuing education they do. That last part, Continuing Legal Education, may seem trivial. But without it, it is hard to ensure that a lawyer is keeping up to date on new laws and changing practice areas.

    With that in mind, Continuing Legal Education should be mandatory in every single state. That offers civilians a broader range of qualified lawyers to choose from that will represent them to the best of their abilities. And from an administrative point of view, the Continuing Legal Education made available to lawyers needs to be of the highest educational value and quality. Lawyers need to get the most up to date information on a variety of subjects easily and completely in order to get the maximum benefit intended through the MCLE rules and regulations.

    In the end, I think everyone, even the lawyers, can agree that a high standard needs to be set in the legal profession. With that in mind, Continuing Legal Education should be held to that standard, and should provide lawyers the opportunity to continue to learn and excel in their field throughout their careers.

    17 Fatal Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make

    MISTAKE #1: Relying on referrals. When you depend on referrals as your sole source of new business, you allow middlemen to control your flow of new clients. You may discover that whether you receive referrals has nothing to do with your knowledge, skill or experience. Instead, it may be based on your ability to return the referrals.

    ADVICE: In addition to referrals, make sure your marketing program attracts inquiries directly from prospects. This allows you to manage your marketing program, rather than relying on third parties over which you have little or no control.

    MISTAKE #2: Depending on media exposure. Without question, articles in the print media and inter-views on radio and television can help you attract new clients. But many lawyers rely on publicity as their entire marketing program. True, exposure can increase your credibility. But, often, exposure by itself isn't enough. Lawyers routinely report, "We were very happy with the number of articles about our firm, but we didn't get a single new client!" In addition to exposure, you need to interact with prospects.

    ADVICE: Make sure your marketing program brings about interactions between you and your prospects, such as over the telephone or in person. Interaction is a critical step in the marketing process -- and the step most law marketing programs overlook.

    MISTAKE #3: Relying on networking groups as a primary source of new business. Networking is a time-consuming exercise in meeting prospects and cultivating referrals. And while networking may bear fruit, lawyers often underestimate the time required.

    ADVICE: Pursue opportunities to meet and talk with genuine prospects, but don't put networking above other marketing strategies.

    MISTAKE #4: Competing on low price. When you lower your fee to attract new clients, (1) you undermine your credibility because clients conclude your services were not worth what they previously paid, (2) you attract clients who will leave you when competing lawyers offer fees lower than yours, (Clients who are loyal to the dollar are never loyal to you!) and (3) you'll probably lose money because the cost of attracting a volume of new clients is often greater than the profit you can earn from those clients.

    ADVICE: Instead of competing on price, compete on value. You're better off being the most expensive lawyer in town and having prospects appreciate your knowledge than being the cheapest lawyer and having prospects question your skill.

    MISTAKE #5: Delivering an incomplete marketing message. Many lawyers believe common marketing methods don't work because those lawyers didn't get the results they wanted. But usually the problem isn't the marketing method, it's the message. If your message lacks even one essential element, your efforts could fail.

    An estate planning lawyer delivered a seminar to 84 prospective clients, yet no one came into his office for a free consultation. After I reviewed his presentation, we added less than five minutes of information to his program. At his next seminar, 10 of the 11 couples in attendance requested appointments.

    ADVICE: Before you implement your marketing program, make sure you create a complete, competent marketing message. Without a powerful message, your marketing program is doomed.

    MISTAKE #6: Not effectively reaching your target audience. A tax attorney who represents doctors before the IRS advertised his services in a weekly shopper newspaper distributed free to homes. Not surprisingly, he was disappointed with the response. Before running the ad, the lawyer could have saved his $2000 investment had he asked himself, "Will doctors look for a tax attorney in a free weekly newspaper?" I don't know about doctors, but that's certainly not where I would look.

    ADVICE: Choose different methods that you believe will reach your prospects. Then test each method on a small scale before you invest serious dollars. This way you'll know which method most effectively reaches your target audience and how well it attracts the clients you want.

    MISTAKE #7: Making decisions by committee. The quality of a marketing decision is based on how long it takes to make the decision and how much the decision has been watered down by compromise. One person working alone has the potential to make good decisions. When two people work together things begin to bog down. And if you're waiting for three people to agree -- well, don't hold your breath. Marketing is like football. Can you imagine how long it would take if the entire team offered their ideas and everyone had to agree before they could make the next play?

    ADVICE: Choose one quarterback to direct your program. If you don't get the results you want, change strategies or change quarterbacks. But don't compound your quarterback's problems by bringing in more people to help make decisions.

    MISTAKE #8: Not taking the leadership position in your market. When prospects perceive you as the leader in your field, you have a substantial advantage over other lawyers. Yet, many marketing programs aren't designed to seize this powerful, profitable position.

    ADVICE: Look at your position in the marketplace. From your prospects' point of view, is any lawyer clearly the leader in that category? If not, design your marketing program so you take control of your niche. If that niche is already dominated by other lawyers, create a new category for yourself. Then promote the category so prospects see you as first in that new area. One of my clients created a new category and successfully dominated his niche for five and one-half years, when he decided to pursue another area of law. You gain an extraordinary advantage when prospects perceive you as the leader.

    MISTAKE #9: Not delivering your marketing message until prospects come into your office. Lawyers usually have no problem persuading prospects to hire their services once the prospect is in their office. But getting prospects through the door is another matter.

    ADVICE: Develop materials you can send to prospective clients. Then create a marketing program that uses the print and broadcast media to attract inquiries from prospects who ask to receive your information. When prospects call your office, you respond by mailing your packet and adding their names to your mailing list. This allows you to put your marketing message into their hands regardless of their location, rather than waiting for them to come to your office. If your materials are powerful and persuasive, you'll find that prospects call you and request appointments.

    One of my lawyer clients received 426 calls from prospects after offering his materials on a radio talk show, over 500 calls after a mid-day television news interview, and another 400 calls after an article appeared in a local newspaper.

    MISTAKE #10: Not marketing to your practice mailing list. Your mailing list is your own personal area of influence. It should contain the names of all your past clients, current clients, prospective clients and referral sources.

    ADVICE: Make sure you mail your newsletter at least monthly. And don't think that you must make your newsletter an 8- or 16-page treatise. A simple educational letter of even one or two pages works fine. Your newsletter's size is not nearly as important as how often you mail it and the value of the information you present.

    MISTAKE #11: Taking marketing shortcuts. Lawyers who achieve success often trim back their marketing programs hoping to save money by eliminating the bells and whistles. What they often don't realize is that many of the so-called "bells and whistles" are not bells and whistles at all. They are the essential components that make their programs work.

    An attorney hired me to refresh his marketing message, which had grown stale. When we kicked off his new program, he attracted 247 prospects to five seminars, an average of 49 people at each program. His calendar filled up almost overnight. After six months, he took his marketing in house and started cutting corners. Within 90 days, his results were as dismal as they had been before he called me.

    ADVICE: When you shortcut your marketing on the front end, you slash the number of new clients on the back end. If you want to streamline your marketing and determine if any steps might not be needed, start slowly and track results. Be careful not to cut away steps responsible for your success.

    MISTAKE #12: Not making marketing a priority. For most lawyers, practicing law is their highest priority. When they get busy, they often reduce their marketing efforts because they need that time to work on their clients' behalf. They operate under the false hope that their momentum will attract new business long into the future. But when they cut their marketing efforts, they actually shift their marketing into neutral. As a result, inertia takes over and things slowly coast to a standstill.

    ADVICE: Make marketing a priority for you or someone in your office. Or hire an outside consultant so you make sure the work gets done. Don't turn your marketing on and off like a light switch. Keep your program in gear so you always attract an ongoing flow of new clients.

    MISTAKE #13: Writing an intricate marketing plan that becomes impossible to carry out. Many marketing plans look like jigsaw puzzles with dozens -- or even hundreds -- of pieces. And while the plans might work, most lawyers and their staffs don't have the hours needed to carry out the plans.

    ADVICE: Make sure your marketing plan is built on simple steps that have proved to be effective and efficient. In my 33 years in marketing, the most profitable, efficient and effective method I've found is my method of Education-Based Marketing.

    MISTAKE #14: Never completing -- and therefore never implementing -- your marketing plan. Many lawyers get so caught up in gathering facts that they never stop designing their plan. They collect data, add more steps, collect more data, revise their plan, collect more data....

    ADVICE: Implement your plan at the earliest possible moment. A poor marketing plan that is up and running is far more profitable than the "perfect plan" that never gets off your hard drive.

    MISTAKE #15: Delaying your marketing program until your cash flow improves. More often than not, lawyers who use this reason never start marketing because they aren't aware that their logic is backwards: Their cash flow won't improve until they start their marketing program.

    ADVICE: Maintaining an effective marketing program is the most important investment you can make. Why pay for an office and staff if you don't have enough business to justify the overhead? Start your marketing program now so you have an ongoing flow of new clients.

    MISTAKE #16: Carrying out a marketing program that does not achieve the five essential steps for success. Your marketing program must (1) establish your credibility, (2) identify how you're different from other lawyers, (3) generate interactions between you and your prospects, (4) gain your prospect's commitment, and (5) maintain your client's loyalty. Programs that don't achieve all five steps will fail.

    ADVICE: Any time you evaluate a marketing opportunity, consider how well that method will accomplish these steps.

    MISTAKE #17: Promoting your services. When you promote your services, you take on the role of a salesperson hawking his wares. This method, called selling-based marketing, undermines your credibility and causes prospects to question whether they can trust you.

    ADVICE: Instead of promoting your services, promote your knowledge by educating prospects. Education-Based Marketing gives prospects what they want, information and advice, and removes what they don't want, a sales pitch. It attracts prospects who come to you because of your knowledge, skill, judgment and experience.

    Wrongful Death - How Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

    One personal injury case can turn into wrongful death lawsuit anytime. If the victim is killed as a result of personal injury or negligence of an individual or institute or organization, a wrongful death lawsuit is brought against the responsible party.

    However, unlike personal injury cases, here the compensation is paid to the dependants of the killed person. Any form of personal injury accident including automobile accident, slip and fall, work place accident, medical negligence and other such incidents can be the reason of accidental death. Since recklessness and negligence of an entity ruins the life of another, victims have got all the right to file compensation claim in the court of law.

    In case of accidental death, those who are financially dependent on the killed person are considered as the victims. Just imagine if the person on whom you depend financially, god forbid, is killed by a road accident won't you become helpless?

    State and federal laws help such people by empowering them to claim compensation from the guilty party. Lawyers specialized in handling accidental death cases can help accidental death victims get compensated in their state.

    It is true that the loss of a near and dear one cannot be compensated, no money is enough to balance the absence of a family member; still, monetary compensation helps surviving members get back on to their normal lifestyle.

    To file wrongful death lawsuit in the court of law, the family members and dependants of the killed person should take help from accidental death attorneys who can guide them starting from evidence collection to presentation. Along with compensation, the feeling of getting justice reduces emotional suffering.

    Families suffering from accidental death of a member have the right to receive compensation from the party responsible for the death. The responsible party can be an individual or an organization. Sometimes the surviving members are eligible for compensation from insurance companies as well. It is recommended to consult wrongful death lawyers as soon as possible, so that the lawyer can guide the claimants on how to protect key and strong evidence and make the wrongful death compensation claim process much easier. Wrongful death attorneys can also guide you learn the importance of Statute of Limitations (SOL) and help prevent your claim from going invalid by taking proper steps timely.

    If you or your acquaintances lose a family member due to irresponsibility and negligence of a third person, do not delay to see personal injury lawyers or wrongful death attorneys. While hiring personal injury lawyer, make sure you deal with a skilled and experienced attorney. Those with years of experience in representing accidental death claimants can be of great assistance. Laws related to accidental death may vary from state to state. Victims should consult lawyers from their own state.

    Senior attorneys represent the case in court of law highlighting the rights of the surviving members of the victim's family. Wrongful death lawyers educate their clients about their rights, collect reports and evidence properly and help claimants win the case. The compensation amount enhances the recovery process and brings back the surviving members to their normal lifestyle.

    How to Become a Successful Divorce Lawyer - Separating Fact From Fiction About Family Attorneys

    Would you like to know how to become a successful divorce lawyer?

    The thought of being any kind of lawyer conjures up images of courtroom lawyers on TV. Like a lawyer who fervently argues over the innocence of his client. Or, some people envision an attorney who stands in front of the jurors and gives an Academy Award performance during his or her final closing arguments.

    The truth is that good trial lawyers need to possess the skills of a seasoned Hollywood actor. They must passionately dispute a client's innocence, or portray the defendant as someone who is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    However, most successful divorce attorneys don't spend much of their time inside of a courtroom facing a jury trial. Instead, the majority of time is spent in negotiations with an opposing lawyer, trying to develop a settlement that is best for both parties involved.

    Most divorce lawyers get their feet wet by working in law firms that specialize in family law. Then, there are some lawyers who enjoy the academic aspect of law, and go on to become university professors, who teach law. Finally, others opt to start their own private practice.

    How to Become a Successful Divorce Lawyer - Education Needed

    The path to seriously becoming a successful divorce attorney begins with undergraduate studies at a four year university. Here, you will spend at least the next four years working on a major and minor degree.

    You are not required to get your undergraduate degree in a law related field. However, it makes sense to at least take some law classes, such as Business Law and any other law related classes you can find. This will make your eventual transition into law school much smoother.

    Towards the end of your undergraduate studies, you will need to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The best way to prepare for it is by taking an LSAT Preparations Course. Some of the best courses to take are: PowerScore, TestMasters and Kaplan.

    Once you pass your admissions test, law school is for three long years. During this time, students receive intensive instruction, and gain firsthand experience. Students usually work as interns for divorce law firms.

    How to Become a Successful Divorce Lawyer - The Bar Exam

    Once you have graduated from law school, you will need to decide which state you plan on practicing law, and pass that state's bar exam. You can also take an additional Multistate Bar Examination. This test does not replace the state test, but is accepted by many states.

    The bar exam is very difficult, and many lawyers take it more than once to pass.

    How to Become a Successful Divorce Lawyer - Career Decisions

    When you're licensed to practice law, you will have to look for a place to work. If you live in the Seattle area for example, you'll want to determine if you would like to work for a law firm or become an independent Seattle divorce lawyer. It is most likely better to acquire some on-the-job experience with other law firms. This way, you can learn from other professional, successful divorce lawyers and cultivate your skills. Then you can go on to become the best Seattle divorce lawyer on your own when you're confident with your experience.

    Divorce lawyers can make a good living. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008, the average annual income of a divorce lawyer is $131,650.

    Fort Lauderdale Accident Attorney - Benefits of Hiring Specialized Lawyers

    Once you fall prey to personal injury cases, you should consult a lawyer to know your rights. If it was someone else's fault that put you under a traumatic situation, law empowers you to claim compensation for all the damages. And a lawyer is the best person to seek legal guidance.

    Personal injury or car accident victims should look for lawyers soon after the accident. A specialized lawyer should be hired always. There are many lawyers in the state, some of them are specialized in car accident cases, some handle medical malpractice cases mostly whereas, some deal with completely different section of laws like criminal laws or income tax.

    The attorney who has years of experience in the field of personal injury should be consulted only. To refine your search, you can talk to the lawyers who handle branches of personal injury cases like automobile accident, dog bite, spinal cord injury, slip and fall, insurance bad faith, medial malpractice and others.

    Since they are focused on a specific field, they have better knowledge on the subject and you can expect a positive result from them. Reputed law firms often have members who are specialized in different areas of personal injury. You can contact any of the local law firms or lawyer referral services to find a suitable lawyer who can guide you through out the process - right from the beginning till the end.

    It is recommended to work with a lawyer of your own state always. Residents of New York should look for New York personal injury lawyers, people from Arizona should hire Arizona attorneys and Floridians should work with Florida personal injury lawyer to get the maximum advantage of the service.

    There are different ways to find a local lawyer. You can ask your neighbors, friends, relatives and other acquaintances for recommendations. This way you can find you some good lawyers because people would only send you to the person who offered a good service in past. So you can be assured of quality service, however, it is always good to do some research before taking the final decision.

    A specialized lawyer does the following things for their clients:

    Evaluation OR Feasibility Study:

    Cases have merits and demerits. Senior attorneys evaluate the case first and suggest whether it will be good to take the case in court or an out of court settlement can yield better result. A lot of cases are settled outside court where both the parties are called and a decision is made.

    Document Collection:

    Evidences are the key to success in court. Law relies on evidence. Hence, a competent counsel would try hard to collect useful evidences through proper channel so that the documents are considered in court.

    Personal injury lawyers see the doctor who first checked the victims and collect his statements. Lawyers often go to the local police for detailed report of the case.

    Some of the lawyers hire professional investigators who submit all the necessary documents and information after a thorough probing. It is clear why hiring local lawyers is useful. Florida lawyers can always do a better searching in Florida to find out the truth and bring up the real facts before law.

    Proper Client Care:

    Specialized lawyers educate their clients on how to face defense counsel in court. Statements of victims hold great value, hence, victims should be careful while answering - a single misstatement can spoil the case. A competent lawyer would always teach the client on how to respond to specific questions.