The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success

Essential Tips to Power Your Practice

Archive for May, 2009

A Positive Reminder About Negative E-Mails

May 26, 2009 By: Reid Category: Coping with E-mail, Firm Management & Operations

Our friend and ABA colleague, Tom Grella, took a moment to share the following e-mail tip with us this week. More than an e-mail tip, it is sound guidance on helping to maintain law firm collegiality.  Tom says he’s not sure where he first came across this, but it has been a handy reminder taped to the corner of his computer monitor for a few years:

In general a positive tone is good – a negative, overly critical or unconstructive tone is not. The following are specific examples of undesirable behavior:
1. Needless, one or two word responses (such as ditto, right on, yea or I agree), or responses that are clearly directed toward one member, not the membership at large, and directed at another inappropriate email by someone else.
2. Direct comments about other attorneys or staff that are abusive, derogatory or defamatory.
3. Comments that could be reasonably interpreted to be malicious in intent toward any other attorney or staff member.
4. Unnecessarily or intentionally negative or unconstructive tone in comments, opinions or suggestions about the firm, or any of its attorneys or staff.
5. Comments that are divisive with intent to segregate or polarize attorneys or staff.
6. Statements with blatant, malicious, unsubstantiated inaccurate or deceptive information.
7. Unsubstantiated comments, negative or positive, about staff or attorneys.

Thanks, Tom. We all can use this reminder of the power of e-mail as a quick and often unretractable form of communication. Unfortunately, the reminder was not in time for a first-year associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges last week who, according to the ABA Journal, could have benefited from it taped to his monitor!


The Digital Edge Podcast Features The Lawyer’s Guide to Success

May 20, 2009 By: Reid Category: Announcements, Technology

Dan and I are pleased to be guests of Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson on the May edition of their monthly podcast, The Digital Edge. Jim and Sharon are prolific bloggers and authors, so where they find the time to produce a first-rate monthly podcast I do not know. Dan and I have known Sharon and Jim for years, and have collaborated on numerous tips presentations throughout the US and Canada, so we had fun recording the podcast.

We invite you to listen to the interview here or, better yet, subscribe to the monthly podcast and listen to past editions of the podcast too.

The Digital Edge is featured in each issue of the free webzine, Law Practice Today. If you are not a subscriber, you should take a minute to subscribe today. Each month it features valuable articles and information of interest to lawyers in all types of practice settings–from true solos to large firm partners.

Don’t Miss An Important Message Or Bulletin: Please Whitelist Your Bar Association, Insurer (And Anyone Else Important!)

May 12, 2009 By: Dan Category: Coping with E-mail, Ethics & Professionalism, Technology

Last night I posted on the SLAW.CA blog about a fraud warning my employer (malpractice carrier LAWPRO) sent to the 20,000 lawyers in private practice in Ontario. There is an important lesson to be learned from our e-blast.

We have received more than a dozen calls and e-mails from lawyers further to the fraud warning blast we sent out Monday afternoon this week. Thankfully, that e-mail blast prevented most of these lawyers from being victims of a bad cheque fraud.

However, two of the lawyers who called didn’t get our message because their Spam filter caught our e-blast. One happened to call us for advice on how to handle a suspicious transaction further to articles he had read in past issues of LAWPRO Magazine. The other just happened come across our message when he checked his Spam filter this afternoon.

The lesson: Spam filters aren’t perfect. They sometimes catch legitimate messages – these are called false positives. Please whitelist your Law Society, malpractice carrier and anyone else that you really need or want to get messages from. And on a regular basis please check your Spam filter for messages that should not have been caught by it. It could save you from a malpractice claim.

I did mention this point at the end of my SLAW post last night, but felt that it warranted a post of its own here to make sure people get this important message. No doubt, LAWPRO will get calls next week from lawyers that were victims of this fraud because they didn’t get our e-blast warning messages.

Calling all innovative lawyers! Now’s your chance to get the recognition you deserve

May 09, 2009 By: Dan Category: Announcements

The June 1 deadline for applying for the College of Law Practice Management’s 2009 InnovAction Awards is fast approaching. I have posted on SLAW twice about this award, but thought there might be some innovators amongst readers.

Is your law practice or firm one of the profession’s leading lights of innovation? Have you or someone within your firm with vision and courage led a groundbreaking effort to practice law differently? Have you developed a new and better way of serving clients, a breakthrough way to find new business, a truly innovative way to value and sell your services? If so, then you deserve the recognition of lawyers and clients in your region and worldwide. And if so, the College of Law Practice Management ( wants to hear from you.

The College of Law Practice Management is now accepting entries for the 2009 InnovAction Awards at Awards are presented for law practice innovations within law firms and legal departments that have never been done previously, or that take an existing innovation to the next level of originality and performance.

See the Hall of Fame for previous winners.

The goal of the Awards is to demonstrate to the legal community what can be created when passionate professionals with big ideas are determined to solve the business challenges faced in today’s competitive markets. Award entries will be judged on the basis of four primary criteria:

  • Absence of precedent (never been done or done quite this way before)
  • Evidence of action (the innovative idea was transformed into action and not merely reflective of best intentions)
  • Effectiveness of innovation (there is some measurable outcome that indicates the innovation is accomplishing what it was intended to do)
  • Action must have taken place within no more than three years prior to this entry.

Complete contest rules and application forms can be found at

If you are or know someone that is truly innovative – please apply or get them to apply before the June 1 deadline.