ABA Journal

Practice Matters

64 ABA Journal Practice Matters articles.

Lawyers who know their role can become ‘Rainstars’

My grandfather used to say, “Life is a movie, and we’re all just actors in that story.” And just as all good stories have heroes, understanding who they are and what they want can help lawyers learn to become what I call a “Rainstar.” A Rainstar is a lawyer with a tremendous ability to generate significant revenue for their firm while excelling at client satisfaction and retention.

Will ‘chatbot lawyer’ make it into Black’s Law Dictionary?

As I write this column, less than 24 hours after the invention of the phrase chatbot lawyer, I’m fully aware that it will be my call, in conjunction with my staff, on whether the term merits an entry in the next edition of Black’s Law Dictionary. And here I am, in a national magazine for lawyers, actually using the term and thereby potentially helping it along. But I can assure readers that I will assess the matter as objectively as I can.

Jurisdiction and Choice of Law: Which state standard should apply?

A Lawyer’s ‘Everest’: Legal career lessons from one lawyer who climbed a nontraditional path to the top

Building your career may be like climbing a mountain, but if you’re going to embrace the metaphor, don’t imagine an ordinary mountain; set your sights on making that mountain your personal Mount Everest.

Was the first English-language dictionary penned by a legal lexicographer?

The contender for the distinction is John Rastell (circa 1475–1536), who is commonly credited with having written the first English law dictionary. Yet he might just deserve credit for producing the first dictionary in the English language. Though early editions are undated, the first printing is thought to have appeared in 1523.

Are you prepared to address these sleeper ethics issues?

Although attorneys are expected to stay up to date with rules of professional conduct, there are enough obscurities, misperceptions and misunderstandings to fill an entire seminar. Here are some of the biggest red flags.

A Tale of Two Careers: Bestselling author advises lawyers who want to also write novels

When my first novel hit bookstores, there was one question my lawyer friends couldn’t help but ask: “Are you going to keep practicing law?” I told them I loved being a lawyer and saw no reason to quit, to which the typical response was something along the lines of “Gee, I’m really sorry, I hope your next book does better.”

How to frame a legal issue: Part II

A great boon to clarity results from rejecting the four traditional dogmas about framing a legal issue.

Should it be an ethical obligation to report other lawyers?

Lawyers are often in the best position to know about the misconduct of other lawyers. Most states have adopted the language of ABA Model Rule 8.3, which triggers a mandatory reporting obligation. But not all states have the requirement.

8 types of clients you must manage in your legal practice

How a client behaves may not only negatively impact a firm and its lawyers: Untrustworthy clients may also pose a professional responsibility risk. A lawyer who practices virtually and in real time has developed some tips to manage the untrustworthy client as well as other difficult clients.

4 Dogmas Debunked: How to frame a legal issue, Part I

“During my first week of law school in August 1981, we were put through a legal-methods course taught by senior faculty. My small section was led by a respected professor who taught us ‘four essentials’ for stating legal issues,” writes ABA Journal columnist Bryan A. Garner.

Take a self-deposition to steer your retirement strategy

“You might be grappling with questions around retirement, or perhaps you’re feeling the effects of practicing law in challenging times. If you’re feeling out of sorts in your practice, retirement plans or personal life, may I suggest a solution that worked for me? Look no further than your own legal training and experience.”

Word Game: ‘The denotations might be the same; the connotations are entirely different’

So many things can be characterized positively, rather neutrally and extremely negatively. For word-lovers, inventing examples of trifurcated terminology can be a great parlor game.

Watch out for these ethical constraints and pitfalls when speaking with the media

Most attorney speech about cases and the judicial system qualifies as political speech, which represents the core values behind the First Amendment. But attorneys are officers of the court, and their speech rights are limited in comparison with those of others.

6 storytelling do’s and don’ts for lawyers

Lawyers all over the world struggle with storytelling. To become better storytellers, lawyers need to leave the insulated world of legal practitioners and study what makes other professional storytellers—like novelists, journalists, advertisers and filmmakers—effective.

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