This is the second part of a three-part series. For the first post of the series, please click here.
- Google your business. This is a no-brainer. You want your firm to show up on Google and GoogleMaps when people search you. It’s free to do so through Google My Business. After I registered my firm with Google, it only took a week or so for me to get the verification card in the mail. Once I entered that code online – BAM – there I was on GoogleMaps! (…with the wrong address, mind you – but that was a pretty easy fix.)
- Go paperless. This is particularly important for solo lawyers. A solo lawyer needs to manage their practice when they are at home visiting for the holidays. They need to manage their practice when they are travelling. They need to manage their practice on weekends and evenings. They need to manage their practice from the courthouse, from home, and from the office. The bottom line is: you want to be mobile and you want to have access to all of your files at your fingertips. Nowadays, most documents (including court documents, letters to opposing counsel, letters to clients, etc) are created electronically. For documents that are only in hardcopy, you can just scan them and return them to the client (or, better yet, have the client scan and send them to you). Having a paperless office saves money for both you and your clients. Electronic storage is far less expensive than physical storage (lawyers often use third party off-site storage providers to store all of their non-active paper files) and you’ll save money on printing and paper costs. Plus, it’s better for the environment. And it’s 2015.
- Hook your website up with Google Analytics. Install GoogleAnalytics on your website (or ask your web designer to do it), and then download the Google Analytics app on your phone. Everything you could possibly want to know about the traffic to your website is now at your fingertips. You can see how many visitors visited the website on any given day, how they found the site, how long they stayed on the site, which articles they read, etc. Warning: it’s addictive. I can confess to checking my website stats multiple times per day. If numbers take a dive, it’s added incentive to write that next blog post or tweet!
- Join Meetup.com. Life as a solo practitioner can be isolating unless you take a proactive approach to meeting new people and maintaining connections with those you already know. Meetup is a website that is free to join. Once you’ve created an account, you can browse the hundreds (if not thousands) of Meetup groups in your city, and join the groups you are interested in. The groups host events (many of which are free to attend). There is a Meetup group for virtually every kind of hobby or activity you can think of, and tons of meetups for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and professionals. Pro tip: Download the Meetup app on your phone. You’ll have a calendar of events at your fingertips. Any time you feel like socializing (and as a solo, you should be socializing a lot), you can browse the calendar to see if any interesting Meetups are happening nearby.
- Find low-cost CPD courses. All members of the Law Society of Upper Canada are required to obtain at least 9 hours of substantive continuing professional development training per year, as well as 3 hours of professionalism training per year. Groups such as the Advocates’ Society, the Ontario Bar Association, and the Law Society itself offer courses that lawyers can claim towards their CPD hours. These courses can be very expensive (which is ok for lawyers whose employers are paying for it…and not ok for a solo lawyer trying to balance the books). There are several less expensive ways to obtain these hours. For example, you can claim up to 6 hours per year for “the time spent discussing substantive or procedural law topics that maintain or enhance learning ability” with a mentor. You can also claim up to 6 hours per year for writing and editing books or articles with or without a co-author. Or, you can get a group of two or more lawyers together for a study session to discuss content that comes within the CPD definition set out by LSUC. More details on all of the above can be found here. And if you’re a family lawyer in Toronto, the Open Bar series at 311 Jarvis is an affordable way to get your hours. Details for the Open Bar series can be found on the Family Lawyers’ Association website.
Stay tuned for Part III of this series.