Andy Peterson

Who Do You Love?

When contemplating February’s theme, the George Thorogood song, “Who Do You Love”, continued to run through my mind.  Researching the lyrics, I realized the words themselves are more akin to a vagabond, yet still the chorus continues to echo in my mind.

Over the past several years, I have been introduced to the concept of finding our Why.  Several sources from Simon Sinek to a recent webinar by Bill Prater, bring new light to our deeper purpose and drive.  Each contends that we have a Why hardwired into each of us that begins at birth.  As we progress through life we have different personal experiences, both positive and negative, which revolve around our personal why.      

 

I recently had a discussion with a practice management consultant who reflected on the Why of many attorneys choosing their career path.  The 2 primary reasons provided were: 

  1. Desire to build wealth
  2. Desire to help others

As obvious as the desire to build wealth might appear, the most commonly mentioned reason was a desire to help others.  Somehow in the rush of life we forget why we began or why we love to do what we do.  If we don’t intentionally focus back to our why, who we love is lost in the noise.  I don’t acknowledge this without my own daily challenges either, and win some days better than others.

If we want to organize our thoughts and focus further, we need to keep track.  Who has never heard the saying, “You can manage what you don’t measure?”  Much like any sporting event, we only realize who is winning of losing based on a score.  The excitement comes from accounting for who is scoring, leading, excelling, etc.  Do we keep score for ourselves?  How would we do that if we wanted?

Revisiting the 2 primary reasons an attorney began their career, those with financial aspirations would need to keep score with a ledger, or some sort of net worth calculation.  A myriad of sources abound for doing this personally or professionally.  However, if we are focused on helping, what is the mechanism to keep score of those?  Do we track those that we help?  Do we resolve to a financial scorecard at the end of the year reflecting on the donations we mark as chartable in this season of filing taxes? Are these the Pro-bono cases or charitable organizations needing your professional support?  Perhaps some of these are true, however, I would suggest that we need to personally recognize those we have helped, including those smaller tasks that might seem just chivalrous or mundane to some.  From opening doors, offering a jacket to someone cold, to helping someone dig out from getting stuck in the snow that has recently inundated much of the US.  These items are not done for some write off or deduction, nor something that is paid for by others.  This is something that we are hardwired to do and to serve our fellow citizens and personal Why and at the same time.

Pamela J. Starr StarrParalegals

No, I’m Not Really Feeling the Love

It started out as a normal day at work – check 7 email accounts (don’t ask!); respond to email; make calls; post to LinkedIn; catch up (briefly) with Facebook and Twitter; drift back to Solosez; whittle down my to do list; wrap up my final project for school; lather, rinse, repeat. Work. Work. Work.

At some point during the day, I decided to Google my marketing content. I honestly don’t remember what triggered it – there must have been a comment about plagiarism in an email or a discussion – but there I was, searching the Interwebs for content from my business website.

Seek and ye shall find, they say … Oh, I found.

There were three para-professionals using MY marketing content to sell their services! One identified as a paralegal; another as a paralegal assistant (I still don’t know what that means); and the last, a virtual bankruptcy assistant (Not to be confused with virtual bankruptcy paralegal. I am a certified/certificated paralegal – emphasis on paralegal – with a lot of years of experience and training; she took a petition preparation training program).

Before you ask, 1) yes, there are copyright notices on all my websites, 2) my websites are supposed to be protected by Copyscape.

Instinctively, I posted to Facebook. I needed the love and support of my extended, virtual family. Once the warm fuzzies and go get ‘ems hit the spot, I dug in. (Well, I might have blogged first . . .) I reviewed their respective websites, Facebook pages, and LinkedIn profiles. I made copious notes.

The more I saw, the less love I felt. In fact, I felt a little sick.

These ‘professionals’, who are meant to be held to the same rules and canons of ethics and professional responsibility as I am, had outright plagiarized my content! The paralegal even had the chutzpah to include this on her website: “…adheres to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas. Fundamental to our success is the integrity of our paralegals and our high standard of professional conduct.”

One of them had copied my entire mission statement, verbatim!

Oh Copyscape, why hast thou forsaken me?

Okay, fine. Some of the scraped content was on private sites. Copyscape can’t ‘read’ LinkedIn. Worse yet – the paralegal assistant had reduced practically my entire welcome page to a pdf brochure! Try Googling unreadable content. Go ahead. I dare you.

It broke my paralegal heart to see this travesty.

My friends tried to reassure me. With virtual pats on the back, they suggested these others were jealous of my success or, my favorite, ‘imitation is the greatest form of flattery’. Imitation – maybe – not copy/paste, change the company name /area of law, and move the sentences around.

This betrayal could not stand. I love what I do and I have integrity. I was a ticked off redheaded child of the GSOT.

I sent each of the copycats an informal takedown notice by email. The paralegal and the VBA responded in righteous indignation. ‘Uh uh! We didn’t do anything wrong.’ The paralegal flipped it to make it sound as if my language came after hers and that there was “nothing particularly distinctive” about it. Hmm, my company has been around since 2008; hers since 2012. In a search of the specific phrases, the first 2+ pages of results are linked to my company.

Oh, honey, no.

Oh, the 3rd offender? Ms. ‘I’ll make a pdf and she’ll never know I’m using her content’. She never responded to my request. After 7 days, I filed DMCA complaints with Facebook, LinkedIn – POOF! FB page/my content, gone! (Her website had already been frozen when I found her.) I waited another 2 weeks – by then I’d discovered three more miscreants – her profile was still on Elance, Merchant Circle, and Thumbtack – I sent her a Cease and Desist with specific demands, including confirmation of the destruction of all printed and digital copies of the brochure. <crickets> DMCA came riding in on its white stallion to take down those profiles too.

Copyscape, we need to talk.

Trippe Fried

Race To the Bottom by Trippe Fried

I would like to ring in the New Year by alerting you to a brewing race to the bottom on NBC. It features two unwitting contestants, Jenna Bush-Hager and Rosie O’Donnell. The operative double-entendre here is “unwitting”.

Jenna Bush-Hager is a correspondent on The Today Show, a program featuring six people who can barely stand each other acting like BFF’s. The Today Show stars the mature and knowledgeable Matt Lauer and a gaggle of nitwits, most prominently Al “I Just Don’t Care Anymore” Roker who delivers the world’s least informative weather report while taking pot shots at the tourists who flock to Rockefeller Center each morning hoping desperately for a few precious second of unearned air time.

Mrs. Bush-Hager is the daughter of former president George W. Bush – a man whose greatest life accomplishment is a portrait of his own feet. George W. made a lot of enemies while in office but he shares his greatest foe, the English language, with Jenna, who comes across as someone who considers herself a “veterinarian” because she doesn’t eat meat. Her chief assignment on The Today Show is interviewing members of her own family; there is something both morose and pathetic listening to a would-be newscaster interview two former U.S. presidents about former First Lady Barbara Bush, a woman to whom she refers on air as “Gammy”. Jenna’s recent expose into George W.’s painting was embarrassing on many fronts, not the least of which was the uncomfortable fact that both father and daughter were completely oblivious to the fact that the segment wasn’t fit for anything more intellectually developed than Sesame Street. This may explain why Lauer speaks to Bush-Hager much like a proud parent praises a child who just read its first book without any help.

Rosie O’Donnell is on The View, a daily bromide-fest in which four women try to discuss current events while giving second-rate actors like Jason Biggs a forum in which to prove that they truly are complete asses. Rosie’s cohosts include the always astute and balanced Whoopi Goldberg, Blond Republican Chick (name unimportant though she is also knowledgeable), and actress Rosie Perez. Noise, not knowledge, is O’Donnell’s stock in trade. During the Ferguson protests she evinced either an uncanny gift for hyperbole or a stunning ignorance of environmental nomenclature by referring to “black boys” as an “endangered species”. On a different episode Rosie opined that the United States should deal with the threat of international terrorism by adopting Gandhi’s policy of non-violent protest (not that she put it so eloquently). It’s difficult to explain the difference between imperial subjugation at the hands of the British (who wanted to beat the Indians into submission) and the genocidal ambitions of jihadists (who want to kill Americans) to someone who vehemently insists that she is never wrong. Even if Rosie understood that for Gandhi non-violent protest was a means to an end and for some reason still believed that Americans should allow themselves to be killed to forward a greater national interest, it is difficult to see Rosie shutting up for long enough to hear that there is a flaw in her logic.

As anyone who has suffered through five consecutive minutes of programming on The Learning Channel will attest, there is no shortage of morons on television. What makes the presence of Jenna Bush-Hager and Rosie O’Donnell worrisome is that both are considered “newscasters” by the NBC network. News by definition informs, and even in a wired world where broadcasts are agenda-driven we still want to have some confidence in the qualifications of commentators. Paul Krugman is an unabashedly liberal Democrat but he is credentialed as a Nobel Prize winning economist. Conservative commentators like former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele bring real knowledge of and experience in the halls of power. Bush-Hager and O’Donnell offer neither. One brings a surname, the other even less (O’Donnell’s feud with Donald Trump notwithstanding).

The networks long ago ceded the role of primary source for television news to the likes of CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC and there is a reason that excerpts from Walter Cronkite newscasts seem ancient. But some semblance of competence and knowledge is still important. In this race to the bottom, we all lose.

Andy Peterson

New Appreciation by Andy Peterson

As we have just rung in a new year in 2015, many will face new years with a ton of resolutions and look to make a significant change.  The simple fact is that many will start and few will ever complete whatever goal they may have hoped to achieve.

Focusing on something “new” for this article, I am taking a slightly different perspective.  What if everything we ever needed or wanted was around us and we were just too busy to recognize it?  I have found myself realizing that if I pause for a moment to look around, I have a wealth of abundance around me daily.  While I don’t share the following to brag, I do realize that I have been immensely blessed with an amazing wife who, to date, has endured all of my strengths and weakness for the past 17 years.  I may tell her that it feels like 25 years, but honestly can’t believe where the time has gone.  I am also very blessed to have 2 healthy and incredibly talented children who have their own unique strengths.  I don’t always understand each of their particular nuances, but still appreciate them and love them beyond comprehension.  As much as I have begun to realize this, I haven’t always shared this with them or helped them learn to appreciate all that they have had around them.

Hal Elrod’s book “The Miracle Morning”, reminds us to start each morning with this perspective, and is a fundamental key to his acronym that he uses as the Life S.A.V.E.R.S.  Hal encourages everyone to embrace the Affirmations, or reflect on all of the blessings we have in our life. This could easily become an ego trip for some, but that is not the point.  Many of us don’t take even just a moment to recognize all that we have, and with this provides each of us with a boost of daily energy to keep a sane perspective.

Recently I was listening to a Jay Abraham series, where he was reflecting on what putting things in perspective means using a piece of fine art.   He had purchased several custom paintings that were captivating yet were unable to transform a room without the proper lighting.  The realization is that no matter how good something is, unless you see it, it doesn’t have full potential value.

I wonder if we all don’t have similar experiences that we have each encountered in our daily lives?  We can see all that others may have but also note that they don’t recognize them.  We commonly refer to this as the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”  We can see and envy what others have, but fail to appreciate the fine things that we have around us every day.

I am still working on refining my own perspective, but why not try a new perspective this year?  I believe each of us are blessed each and every day, but simply fail to recognize or appreciate them.  Best wishes in 2015 to you, and to everyone you are blessed to encounter each day of the year!

Andy Peterson:  After chasing a childhood dream as a professional pilot, Andy stepped away from aviation to honor a commitment to his family.   He is currently the Director of Business Development for Kahuna Business Solutions.  When not working, Andy enjoys racquetball, providing part time flight instruction, introducing aviation to youth, and spending time with his wife and 2 sons.

Cynthia Sharp

January = New by Cynthia Sharp

In preparation for 2015, I analyzed where most of my business had come from over the past three years and found that most had come from people with whom I have personal relationships. Simply put, my businesses have always grown when I networked in person and picked up the phone.  This ratifies the words shared by Jeffrey Gitomer: “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends.  All things being not quite so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.”

While I embrace the New Wild Digital World along with its significant benefits and encourage attorneys to do the same, I also like to take a step back and get back to the basics – to those activities that make the biggest difference in my bottom line.

In a world of “high tech/low touch”, strategic in person networking remains the most powerful way to create and deepen relationships. Here are a few tips to successful networking at an event or conference.  Note how the integration of NEW world technology and social media can amplify potential results:

(1) Research the background of any speaker or other attendees (if you have that information).  I normally connect through social media prior to the event which warms the atmosphere for an in person introduction.

(2) Instead of hanging out with others from your office or social group, be sure to mingle.  The purpose is to establish new business relationships.

(3) Engage fully while conversing.  Glancing around the room, at your watch or cell phone sends an unattractive message to your conversation partner.  Many professionals (and other adults) have unfortunately not mastered basic social skills. Make sure you’re not one of them.

(4) The most important and neglected part is The Follow Up. Immediately after a networking event or conference (usually before leaving the premises), I take a snapshot of the business cards given to me. Using Evernote, the image is sent to my assistant along with instructions to add contact information to our marketing database as well as the appropriate follow up action (i.e., send a letter, schedule a lunch date or other specific action).

Time for….Secure Cloud Backups by David Bilinsky

One of the major themes of the Predictions for the Legal Profession for 2015  – Part 1 and Part 2 from the 25 thoughtful contributors was the increasing focus on security for law firms for 2015.  Perhaps Sharon Nelson, a lawyer and President of Sensi Enterprises Inc, a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax Virginia,  put it best when she said:

“Cybersecurity is now universally the chief worry of large firms. We have already concluded that we cannot keep determined intruders out. “

 I am aware of several law firms that have been hit by the Crypolocker or Cryptowall ransomware malware.  These ransom Trojans enter your system and begin stealthily encrypting all files that they can locate.   Finally one day you enter your office only to be met with a message similar to this on your screen:

The ransomware then demands payment to de-encrypt your files in Bitcoin within a very short time frame (too short to use brute force attacks to break the encryption) and if payment is not made within this time frame, it vanishes from your system – leaving your files fully encrypted.

PCWorld stated, quoting CTU Reseachers:

“Between mid-March and August 24, 2014, nearly 625,000 systems were infected with CryptoWall,” the CTU researchers said. “In that same timeframe, CryptoWall encrypted more than 5.25 billion files.”

The largest number of infected systems were located in the United States—253,521 or 40.6 percent of the total. The next most affected countries were Vietnam with 66,590 infections, the U.K. with 40,258, Canada with 32,579 and India with 22,582.

How does it enter into your system? Typically these Trojans enter by way of an attachment to an email message that appears to be sent by a legitimate company.  It is a disguised executable file and it installs itself and adds a key to a Windows computer that causes it to run on startup.  From here it contacts one of many command and control servers that generate a very large encryption key pair.  The public key is sent to the infected computer and uses these keys to encrypt as many local and networked files that it can find (per Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CryptoLocker).

The firms that do not pay the ransom gave up on their data or –  the fortunate ones – were able to restore their system from a cloud-based backup that was not attacked by the Trojan.

Accordingly, we can learn from someone’s unfortunate experience by creating a backup that (we hope!) will be immune from such ransom exploits.

How have the firms done this that survived the attack?

They had cloud-based backups that were not continually connected to the office servers.  In other words, they made periodic backups that were ‘versioned’ and as such, the firm was able to go back to a date prior to the infection and at least restore their data as of that date.

It may have been of assistance that the files were also stored in encrypted format by the cloud backup service.  If the files are not of a format recognized by the ransomware, they are not encrypted.  Furthermore the cloud-based backup was not recognized by the ransom Trojan.

One cloud storage and backup service that may protect your files against such a threat is Spideroak (note that we say may protect – we make no assurances in this regard and each reader is recommended to check with their IT and security expert to determine how best to guard their systems against these threats).

Spideroak (https://spideroak.com) is a zero-knowledge backup and storage service.  That means that the Spideroak servers never know the plaintext contents of the data you are storing (most importantly they are not stored in Word or other common formats!). Furthermore only you have the key to de-encrypt your data (you can’t ask Spideroak to reset or provide this for you..they don’t know it) and they don’t know your password either.  They can’t reset that for you, either.

These days, when it comes to your precious law firm data, it is reassuring to know that at least someone has your back.

BMC

The Rural Lawyer – New Year’s Goals

To be perfectly frank, I stink at New Year’s resolutions. While my intentions are admirable, most of my resolutions seldom make it past mid January, early February at the latest. So this year, I’m resolving to avoid resolutions altogether and in their place try goal-setting instead. The cool thing is that there is some tech for that — granted it’s a analog device that Buddhists have been using for some 400-odd years, but I have no doubt that someday soon there will be an app for that.  It’s called the Bhavacakra (“wheel of life”) and it is a framework for laying out goals.

Step 1 – Identify the important stuff. Thing big picture; what are the 8 things you’d like to tackle this year. If you need some help coming up with ideas – one version of a Bhavacakra is pictured below. Think of these big picture items as forming the rim of the wheel.

wheel

Step 2 – Create a few aspirations to go under these big picture categories. Aspirations are your answers to questions like: I want to develop more…, I want to learn…, I want to try to… There should be at least one aspiration for each of your big picture items – but a many to one mapping works too, just remember not to bite off more than you can chew, after all you only have 365 days to work with. For our example, aspirations might be “I want to develop more clients” which maps to “marketing”, or “I want to be more mindful in my practice” which maps to “health”.  These form the spokes of the wheel and are usually where most New Year’s resolution stop.

Step 3 – Develop measurable, manageable goals with timelines that will meet each of your aspirations. These fill the sections of the wheels.  Goals need to be measurable so you can track your progress, need to be manageable so you don’t get overwhelmed and they should have a time line so there is an impetus to stay on track. The more specific you can make your goals, the better; details are things that can be tracked, measured and managed

The only thing left is to left to do is to execute your goals and the best way to do that is to find away to keep yourself accountable for them. This can range from blogging about your progress to finding an accountablity partner – someone to check in with on a regular basis and who’ll help keep you on track. The key is to find a process you are comfortable with and to go with it. Personally, I use a system of rewards to keep me on track (meet a milestone, get a treat – I find old Scotch and fine chocolate work well as). It’s basically operant conditioning without the electroshocks. If you want a bet of a technological edge, there are goal tracking apps out there; topping my list are Joe’s Goals, Mindbloom’s Life Game, Goalscape, Lifetick, and Milestone Planner. I would note that most of these could double as project management software as well, so while you are on the road to personal improvement, your practice could become more efficient as well – what a great twofer.

So, here’s to a new year and success in achieving your goals.

Bruce M. Cameron Having decided that going to law school and opening a solo law practice would be a sufficient response to the male midlife crisis, Bruce now practices Collaborative Family Law and Estate Planning in rural Minnesota. When not in the law office, he can be found on his small farm where he and his wife are at the beck and call of a herd of horses, a couple of cats, a few dogs and one extremely spoiled parrot. http://www.rurallawyer.com

 

 

#3ThingThurs 01/22/15 | Finances #Thurs3at3

Lots of talk of finances in the air which made me think of these 3 things this Thursday:

  1. Long Island, New York based Go To Legal Administrator (http://www.g2admin.com) – service for solo/small firms looking to hand off the bookkeeping to an actual expert in all the things attorneys need their bookkeeper to be.
  2. My bud Cynthia Sharp (@sharperlawyer) just had another booked published: The Lawyer’s Guide to Financial Planning. Cynthia is doubly on my mind today as she was The Legal Connection Community site presenter for December; her topic Delegation Dynamics not only is near and dear to my heart, but also fits with checking out the service mentioned in No 1 above.
  3. And any time tax is mentioned an image of @taxgirl pops into my head! Hi Kelly! :)  FYI, if you all want timely information regarding taxes AND a great example to follow in terms of branding/networking/marketing “on line” – look no further than PA based, tax attorney, Kelly Erb and her firm Erb Law.

Hope you enjoyed my melange of musings on finances this Thursday and come back next week for the next #Thurs3at3

 

 

David A. Moore

3 Methods For A Most Productive Year by David A. Moore

How many productivity and goal setting articles can you read at this time of year? Just so many right? And then it becomes redundant and you realize you are just procrastinating. You’re 1) not being productive, and 2) you’re not goal setting, you’re dreaming.

I’m a world-class procrastinator. I mean black belt level. Think Bruce Lee of procrastination. But somehow I’m a productive procrastinator. You might be one of those too.

As you kick off the New Year, you are probably setting goals for the growth of your practice as well as personal growth. Productivity can play a key role in helping you accomplish both of these goals. A simple example would be if you were highly productive during your work day, you might be able to get out of the office to meet more prospective clients or referral sources AND be home at a reasonable hour to have more family time.

So let’s look at some goal setting methods that can help:

Goal Setting Methods

Google “Goal Setting” and you’ll have 27.9 million results to keep you busy. Most of us don’t have a problem “setting” goals. The biggest problem is trying to tackle too much. We always think we can do more than we actually can OR we choose conflicting goals (i.e. make partner at the law firm versus spend more time with the family).

Below I highlight three methods (books) to help in your goal setting:

  • Zig Ziglar’s Pick Four: Selected by Seth Godin as part of The Domino Project this is an extremely helpful guidebook based the goal setting principles laid out by Zig.  The concept is simple. You pick four major goals and are taken step-by-step on a 12-week journey toward achievement. You review goals daily and must record what you have done to advance. If nothing, you must write “nothing” which means you must pay attention.
  • Getting Results the Agile Way: This book/methodology is a productivity system itself. The team at AsianEfficiency.com has done a great job of walking you through many of the “12 Core Practices.” The book is written by J.D. Meier who was a project manager at Microsoft. It would be nearly impossible to digest and implement all of the techniques simultaneously. But…the RULE OF 3 is mission critical. The idea of focusing on three major yearly goals, three monthly goals, three weekly goals, and three daily goals, all supposedly supporting one another, is one of my favorites.
  • Chris Brogan 3 Words – Chris Brogan is a mega-personality in the online world and has been for years. For several years I have received his “My 3 Words for (enter year)” email and linked post. The concept is very simple and very zen-like. It’s an exercise where you pick three words that help you focus on your annual goals and filter your daily activities. For example, last year one of my words was “EARLY.” This was to remind me that I had a goal of getting up at 5:30 a.m. But this also helped me accomplish a fitness goal of getting to the gym first thing in the morning. This, ALSO, helped my wife start working out with me, which we found out we both enjoy that time together. So instead of picking a word like “Workout” or “Fitness” a broader word like “EARLY” accomplished many things in many areas. You get the idea?

There you have it. Together, we can make 2015 a productive and profitable year!

David A. Moore is the owner of APG:Legal, a division of Advantage Print Group, a full-service print and marketing services provider to solo, small and mid-sized legal firms. David
helps firms automate the order process, increase efficiency and eliminate mistakes.

Jeff Lantz

What to Do (and Not Do) for an Effective Website by Jeff Lantz

Happy New Year!  With the advent of the New Year, it’s a good time to talk about what website design is new, exciting, and effective, and what looks dated.

  • Don’t try to put as much information as possible “above the fold” Past website design best practices focused on placing as much information as possible “above the fold” (meaning what people could see on an average computer screen without scrolling down).  The rationale was that if users could see the top 62 reasons why a firm should be hired without having to scroll down the page, that firm, and not a competing firm, would be hired.  Long text passages on the home page of a website are much more likely to be ignored than they are to convince a prospective client to call a firm.  Lots of links and boxes lead to competing calls for attention and reduced resonation, as website visitors don’t know where to look (or click).  Focus instead on a simplified design with key messages
  • Do make good use of white space and images.   Major e-commerce companies have spent tens of millions of dollars in testing to determine what colors, backgrounds, and design aspects produce the best results.  The winning combination?   White (or light-colored) backgrounds, good imagery, and comparatively little text.  For two examples, see www.bestbuy.com and www.target.com.
  • Don’t assume that your website visitors will read all the pages of your website. They won’t.  A good law firm website might have an average of 2-4 pages per visit, which is usually far less than the total number of pages contained in most law firm websites.  If you have important information that prospective clients should know, such information should be highlighted on the home page and often other website pages. 
  • Do consider a “horizontal section” design approach for your home page.  A horizontal section design presents key messages laid out in horizontal sections that take up the width of a computer screen (often with a white or a light-colored background or image to distinguish between sections).  Each section is highly focused on one message or aspect, with a limited use of text.  Sections are also fairly large in size, often with each section taking up the equivalent of most of the screen of an average laptop computer. Because each section often takes up much of the space on a screen, and because each section is usually highly focused on one element, as users scroll down the home page they see precisely the messages and aspects desired to be seen by the website owner.  With traditional websites that use a 2-4 column approach and an emphasis on putting information as high as possible on the home page, often the result is a number of messages, links, and other information competing for the user’s attention.  The Best Buy and Target sites noted above use the horizontal section approach.  (For an example of a law firm website that our company developed using this approach, please see www.schoolviolencelawyers.com
  • Do understand that the purpose of your website’s home page is about creating resonation.   Website visitors tend to spend about 4-14 seconds before deciding whether to invest additional time with a website to learn more, or to click their back button and return to the Google search results page.  This limited time only allows website visitors to read headlines and absorb aspects such as imagery, colors, and layout.  To create a positive resonation in this short time, think about your website’s home page as being like the cover of a magazine in a grocery checkout line – you want users to make a quick decision to spend the time to engage with your website, where they can then learn more about your firm’s services.
  • Do keep your website’s focus on how you help clients with their legal matters.   It’s easy for a law firm’s website to turn into significant accomplishments and bullet-point practice area lists.  Your clients, however, want to know exactly how you are going to help them.  They may not understand the legal terminology that lawyers use to define their practice.The more that a law firm’s website is focused on exactly how clients are helped, the better that the website will resonate with clients (and the more likely it is that the firm will be retained).

Good luck for a very prosperous 2015!

Jeffrey Lantz, Esq. is an attorney in Arizona and CEO of Esquire Interactive, a company that helps law firms develop new business through branding, websites and strategic business development.