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Writing briefs with the iPad in mind | Taking your dog to the office | What is true innovation?

Posted Oct 11, 2013 8:30 AM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Most judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals read legal briefs on iPads, New Orleans appellate lawyer Raymond P. Ward wrote at Louisiana Civil Appeals. "But before the briefs are downloaded to the iPad, they are run through a program that automatically turns all the legal citations into hyperlinks, linking to either Lexis or Westlaw. So whenever the judge comes across a legal citation, the judge can click on the link and can instantly see the cited authority."

He says this is going to change how he writes briefs. No more footnotes. "From now on, all the important citations, including record citations, are going to be in main text, not in footnotes," Ward wrote. "From a typographic standpoint, this may be aesthetically unpleasing. But from a reader-friendly standpoint, it is the way to go when you realize that all those citations are going to be hyperlinks. To make the on-screen reader’s job easier, you want that hyperlink to be located as close as possible to the associated text."


Gone to the dogs?

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Image from Shutterstock.

Phoenix solo Ruth Carter has a virtual law practice but is considering a move to a brick-and-mortar office. But that office would have to allow her to bring her dog, she writes at Attorney at Work. "I love working with Rosie," she writes.

Carter surveyed other dog-loving lawyers about their policies. Those who brought dogs to work said that their dog's presence, as well as taking breaks to walk the dog, reduced their stress levels. But sentiments were mixed about whether dogs and clients should be in the office at the same time.

Sam Glover from Lawyerist reversed a policy that allowed dogs in his office. “The dogs were well-behaved as long as their owners were in their offices,” Glover told Carter, “but if they went to check the mail or use the bathroom, the dogs would whine and howl the whole time they were gone. More importantly, dogs aren’t professional. There is no suit you can wear that will counteract the extreme casualness of having a dog in your office while you meet with a client.”


Defining innovation

Toby Brown, director of pricing at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, was at a Legal Marketing Association conference last week at which a panel was asked if there had been any true innovation in legal services in the last 25 years.

The consensus of the panelists—among them ABA Journal Legal Rebel Kingsley Martin—was that there has not been, Brown wrote at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog.

What law firms that hold themselves out as innovative "appear to be doing is hiring BigLaw trained lawyers and utilizing significantly lower overhead. Some do it via onsite client secondments. Others do it with less expensive office space. All seem to do it with lower lawyer compensation. But this is merely doing it the same way—only cheaper. Is this approach a smart idea? Absolutely. Many times I kick myself and [fellow blogger Greg Lambert] for not thinking of it first. But is this approach a real transformation to the way legal services are delivered?"


Doing the math

At Divorce Discourse, North Carolina lawyer Lee Rosen suggests using math to see how effective your law firm's gatekeepers are.

Have your intake person track the number of calls that come in from potential new clients. Then track how many consults are scheduled and figure out your conversion rate.

"If you have more than one person taking calls, then compare them and funnel the calls to the person with the higher call conversion rate," Rosen writes. "If you have just one person, then keep the data and use it as a baseline to test the new person when you replace the old one. You need the data if you’re going to improve."

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