framing

Tips on PR and Media from BASF

Working with the media can be frustrating at times and exhilarating at others. There is nothing better for your business than seeing your name and law firm in print, but there is nothing worse than seeing you or one of your attorneys misquoted. So how do you manage the message?

One of the keys to working with the media is to always be ready for that 10 second sound bite. It can be a quote, a statement of fact or an opinion, but it must be well thought out and to the point. This day and age, nothing is off the record (as you have seen when politicians are caught making comments in front of a live microphone). If you talk to a reporter or answer an email, assume every word that you have said or written will appear in tomorrow’s paper or on the radio. Always look your best, as a photo or video can be posted on Facebook or on YouTube instantly.

Here are some other tips for working with the media:

  • Follow reporters on social media, especially on Twitter, as most reporters and publications have a presence here
  • Subscribe to local newspapers printed and/or online
  • When you post on social media, make your post one that will draw the attention of a reporter. For example, if you are an expert in a specific area of law and there is breaking news that relates to that topic, post something using the hashtag of the case name in question. This is one way a reporter might find you.
  • Work to become a subject expert or go-to person for information in your practice area
  • Introduce yourself to a reporter or editor at a social occasion and exchange business cards
  • Participate in seminars and workshops on media

How do you get yourself known in the legal community and generate a buzz around your practice?

  • Send out press releases (electronic, not paper) when your firm has news of importance
  • Write op-eds for newspapers or letters to the editor to get your opinion known (note that most papers limit the number of submissions in a year). The Recorder, for example, has a section in their newspaper called “In Practice” where attorneys are invited to submit areas in a substantive law, practice areas or law firm management. The contact for submissions is Vitaly Gashpar and he can be reached at vgashpar@alm.com.
  • Write articles for alumni magazines and blogs and bar journals
  • Start a blog and consistently publish at least weekly
  • Produce videos about yourself and your firm; videos are a great way to market yourself
  • Keep your website current and high on the search engine lists; consider hiring an SEO expert to help you with key word advertising

If you have a busy practice and cannot handle the added work of public relations and social media, outsource that work. Here are some ways:

  • Hire a public relations or communications firm which specializes in the legal industry
  • Hire a contractor who can help you on an hourly basis or on a monthly retainer; this is a great way to get into the social media arena
  • Subscribe to a service which filters social media information and delivers to you a digest of important news and cutting edge topics

And when a crisis happens to you or your firm, hire an expert! You may need to save your reputation, your practice, your clients and your future.

Here are some vendors to consider:

Blattel Communications
A full-service communications and marketing firm dedicated to the legal industry. They handle public relations, marketing and crisis communications and build PR and marketing plans which will give you a clear roadmap to follow. www.blattel.com

Whittaker Communications
Carl Whittaker has over 25 years of experience assisting law firms and non-profits with public relations and marketing matters. He provides focused, practical advice on public relations, positioning, marketing and communications planning, and website development. www.whitakercom.com

Infinite Public Relations
Offers professional services and litigation/crisis communication to companies in law, financial services, accounting, and consulting. They use creative storytelling, time-tested public relations methods, and knowledge of their clients’ businesses to effectively place them in top-tier, targeted publications and media outlets.www.infinitepr.com

networking

Recommendations for Building Your Business Through Networking

  • Article: Network Like a Pro: tinyurl.com/NetworkLikeAPro   
  • Among both attorney and non-attorney groups
    • Non-Attorney Groups:
      • Business Networking International (BNI)
      • Rotary Groups
      • Association memberships
        • Neighborhood Associations (e.g., Mission Merchants Association)
        • Chamber of Commerce
    • Attorney Groups:
      • Bar Associations (BASF, Barristers Club, Minority Bar Coalition, American Bar Association)
      • CLE groups (Attorney Action Club and San Francisco Lawyers Network).
  • Listservs
  • Mentorship
  • Alumni associations
    • College
    • Law school
  • Sports associations
clients

Renting Meeting Space from BASF

Looking for a place to hold a client meeting or mediation? BASF offers meeting space to accommodate large and small gatherings. Our meeting rooms can accommodate from two to 26 people and are available by the hour or day.

Located in the heart of the financial district at 301 Battery Street, between Sacramento and Clay Streets, BASF’s offices, on the third floor of the stately Bently Reserve building, offer a convenient and secure meeting place.

Discounts are available with BASF membership. More information and photos atwww.sfbar.org/about/meeting_facilities.aspx

hiring

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Tips from BASF

California employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance, even if you have only one employee.

This is true even if that employee is a family member!

If your employees get hurt or sick because of work, you are required to pay for workers’ compensation benefits.

The benefits include:

  • Medical care
  • Temporary disability benefits
  • Permanent disability benefits
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Death benefits

Below are four important items to consider as you begin to evaluate your options:

  • Begin shopping for coverage before you hire your first employee. By law, coverage must be in place upon hire.
  • Keep detailed payroll records. The premium for workers’ compensation insurance is based on actual payroll paid, and is auditable.
  • Be sure your employees are being classified correctly for workers’ compensation rating purposes. The main rating factor of the premium you pay for workers’ compensation insurance is related to the industry classification(s) assigned to your business. It is important that a correct classification code is assigned to each employee. If an incorrect classification is used, the error will likely be caught at the time of the annual audit and can result in unexpected premium due. A knowledgeable broker can assist with this classification for you.
  • Is your insurance broker large enough to have access to multiple insurance carriers, yet small enough to offer personal service?
    • Do you have an advocate to work with in the case of a claim?
    • Is your broker able to assist with workers’ compensation related compliance tasks such as legal hand-outs, posters and/or enrolling in an MPN (Medical Provider Network)?
    • Can they offer risk management services, including assessments, classroom safety trainings, and setting up an Injury, Illness and Prevention Program (IIPP)?
insurance

Health Insurance Tips from BASF

As a sole practitioner or small law firm, there are a number of important areas to consider while evaluating the most appropriate health insurance options for you, your employees and their families.

Below are five important items to consider as you begin to evaluate your options:

  • Begin shopping for insurance at least 30-60 days prior to needing coverage in force. There are over 200 different individual and small employer plans available in California. Coverage can take time to understand and implement. Having a 30-60 day lead time will provide adequate time to implement appropriately.
  • Make a list of the doctors, hospitals and/or facilities that are important to you, your family or your employees. All medical plans have “contracted” or “in-network” providers who have agreed to accept pre-defined amounts for services.   Securing a medical plan that has most, or all, of your doctors in-network will provide enormous savings over time.
  • Understand a medical plan’s “maximum out of pocket exposure.” Your deductible or copayment is NOT the most important component of your medical plan. An individual or family’s “maximum out of pocket exposure” is the most important number and is the amount that identifies where your exposure would end for covered services in a catastrophic event. Make sure you clearly understand what this amount is and that you are comfortable with this level of exposure.
  • Learn more about tax-efficient medical plans such as health savings account (HSA) options. Health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement account (HRA) alternatives can dramatically decrease a subscriber’s financial exposure to medical expenses while at the same time decrease monthly premiums.
  • Ask about what ongoing or additional services your insurance broker will be providing.Pricing of individual and small employer health plans are identical regardless of which broker you are working with. Most agents or brokers differentiate themselves by providing additional administrative, HR, technology or legal resources which are, in many cases, free-of-charge. Be sure to understand how service-focused the broker you have selected will be throughout your relationship. The health insurance marketplace is rapidly changing. It is important to understand how these changes will affect you and your practice and a knowledgeable insurance broker will be able to help guide you through them.
fee-disputes

Attorney-Client Fee Disputes

  • How to Prevent Attorney-Client Fee Disputes clients

    Try to avoid fee disputes with your clients through frequent communication; the use of detailed time entries on bills; advance deposits of fees; prompt and regular billing; management of accounts receivable; and the collection of advance deposits towards fees.  Fee collection matters often provoke legal malpractice claims, so the best practice tip is to avoid …more

  • BASF’s Fee Dispute Program meeting

    BASF’s Fee Dispute Program began when the Mandatory Fee Arbitration Act was enacted in 1978. This program provides a means for attorneys and clients to resolve a fee dispute and avoid the time and expense of taking a dispute to court. At issue is the amount of fees and/or costs the client must pay, or …more

clients

Representation Agreements

  • Representation Requirements clients

    You need to be familiar with the requirements in the Business & Professions Code that govern fee agreements and billing: Business and Professions Code Section 6146 6149.5.  Prepare form fee agreements that comply with the statutory and ethical requirements and that are tailored for your practice and the type of matters and clients you expect …more

litigation

Litigation

  • Rules-Based Calendaring time

    One of the most expensive but necessary programs that a litigator may purchase is rules-based calendaring software.  The decision of which calendaring program to select is often driven by what integrates with the document management software that you choose, e.g., Time Matters integrates with LawToolBox and Practice Master integrates with CompuLaw.  Other providers include Westlaw, Lexis …more

More Resources:

Cost-Effective Trial Tools by Charles H. Jung, published on Legal by the Bay

ethics

Ethical and Professional Responsibility

More Resources:

 

What Hat Am I Wearing? Practical and Ethical Issues for Attorneys Practicing Dual Occupations by Laura Drossman, published on Legal by the Bay
Keep Your Client in Mind, the Ethics Will Follow by Chris O’Connell, published on Legal by the Bay

sample-docs

Sample Documents & Researching the Law

  • Research Resources coworking

    The Rutter Guides in Westlaw and the Matthew Bender Guides (as well as California Forms of Pleading and Practice) in LexisNexis both provide many excellent sample documents. The San Francisco Law Library offers free access to Westlaw/LexisNexis in hour-long intervals.  It is an excellent resource and probably sufficient for an attorney just starting out.  I …more

  • Free Online Legal Research research

    Google Scholar, for case authority including page references and cases citing the opinion. Not reliable for shepardizing, or one of the credible and credited case legal resources accepted by the Courts, but an excellent starting place. http://scholar.google.com/ (select case law radio button) FastCase, located in the BASF SpaceBar (right next to the free printer). From …more

More Resources

“Legal Research” by Kristen Bargmeyer
cclawyer.cccba.org/2012/07/legal-research/
Via Contra Costa Lawyer

Are you looking for a good value in legal research? We all need information and for those of us watching our overhead, legal research databases can be prohibitively expensive. Luckily, there are some legal research resources that can help a solo or small firm get the information they need for less.