Last week I had the pleasure of co-presenting the final session for the North Carolina Bar Association’s Practical Skills CLE with Erik Mazzone and Lee Rosen. The Practical Skills CLE is intended for recent law school graduates and attorneys who are transitioning into new practices or getting ready to hang their own shingle.
I’ve spoken with many newly licensed attorneys here in North Carolina but also across the states who still do not have any idea where they will be working. Finding an entry level job as an associate in this poor economic climate is not an easy task. This is forcing many new attorneys to open up their own law practices without the benefit of a couple years of mentoring and real-world experience in the legal profession. This is an opportunity for those of us who have been actively practicing law and running our own businesses to help our colleagues into the profession and to equip them with the skills they need to avoid malpractice risks and succeed in their chosen careers.
In the 20 websites that I presented during our Practical Skills 60 Sites in 60 Minutes session, I tried to choose sites that might be useful for an attorney just starting out. I started with Pipes to show how you can efficiently hunt down and organize the wealth of legal resources that are online. Then I added to the list a number of the blogs that I have been reading for years that provide me with useful knowledge about starting out in law practice or that have links to good resources. Among the listed blogs are a number of useful apps and a couple just for fun.
Pipes: A tool that aggregates and mash-ups content from around the web to create a customized feed. Use simple commands combined together to create more useful, powerful feeds. Start your morning off reading regular law practice management blogs and other specific practice area blogs for useful practice tips and updates.
Open Congress: OpenCongress combines official government information with related news and blog coverage. If you want to find out the story behind a bill or what your representative is doing in office, this is the place to go.
Cornell American Legal Ethics Library: This digital library contains state by state codes and rules related to ethics and professional responsibility. Search by jurisdiction or topic. If you operate a virtual law practice, this is a great resource for checking out the rules and regulations of other states where you may be practicing law virtually or to help you avoid UPL in other jurisdictions.
Solo Practice University: SPU is a web-based educational community for attorneys that teaches the “practice of law” and fills in the gaps that law schools tend to ignore, such as the practical, how-tos of running a law practice. Specific practice areas are taught as well as marking, ethics and other topics related to law practice. There is a monthly fee but it provides valuable access to some great mentors and practical knowledge about the profession.
Google Voice: Create a Google phone number and route calls to your home, business, or mobile devices. A useful tool for blocking and screening calls with other features, such as voicemail transcripts, storing, sending and receiving text messages from one device or online to other devices. Rather than calling multiple numbers to reach you, your clients dial one number and it tracks you down to the phone you can answer or takes the call to voice mail. A great tool for the mobile attorney with a virtual law practice.
Penzu: This app is for the attorney who enjoys writing but doesn’t want the world to read it. Start a free, private online journal. Some law firms are prohibiting their associates from blogging publically. Use this tool to get your stress relief without exposing your frustrations with the practice or inadvertently sharing your clients’ confidential information.
Techmeme: This popular website is a resource of technology and trends that can help you run your law practice and your life. Focusing on the practical application of technology in daily life, it combines the best tech stories of the day into an easy-to-scan page with 24/7 updated content.
Cloud Ave: If you want to learn about and keep up to date on cloud computing and SaaS, this blog provides non-biased reviews, news and practical information that can be applied to the use of the tech in a law practice.
Divorce Discourse: This blog was created for the family law practitioner by Lee Rosen and the Rosen Law Firm. Updated regularly with useful content. Also check out the Stay Happily Married and Divorce Talk Radio. I’m not even a family law practitioner, but I find the tips in this blog to be useful as well as entertaining.
Law 21: Written by Jordan Furlong, a Canadian lawyer and legal journalist, this blog addresses the changes that are taking place in the legal profession, such as the impact of social media and technology used to practice law.
JD Supra: Part marketing and networking opportunity, part repository of form documents. JD Supra hosts thousands of legal documents submitted by the lawyers who drafted them.
MyShingle: Written by attorney and author of Solo by Choice, Carolyn Elefant, this blog caters to solo and small law practices. The site provides useful resources for starting, managing and marketing a solo or small firm practice. She also has a great resource of links to other sites.
Seismic: This company has some great free apps to help you manage your online social media, from video to iPhone to in-browser tools. Host your law firm videos, share links, text, video and photos from a single screen. Create lists to separate family, friends and work.
Law Practice Matters: Written by the NCBA Director of Practice Management, Erik Mazzone, this blog is a great resource for law practice management news, tips and tech reviews.
Tripit: This website lets you organize and share your travel plans by building an online itinerary that you can monitor and receive alerts about travel delays and share with others.
eCycling: A resource for IT asset disposal and electronics recycling. Use this site to find out the best way to recycle or dispose of your law practice electronics in a secure and eco-friendly way.
HARO: Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Subscribe to these emails & scan them to see if you have a legal expertise that a report needs as a source for their articles. Is an easy and free law practice marketing method that can pay off if you commit to reviewing it regularly.
lawtechTalk: NY attorney and prolific legal blogger, Nicole Black, created lawtechTalk as a resource for reviewing online legal technologies and social media for lawyers. On the website she posts regular screencasts that review and demo legal tech.
Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites: Written by Massachusetts attorney, writer and media consultant Robert Ambrogi, this site reviews new and useful website for the legal profession. Check out his Lawyer2Lawyer podcasts that are also posted on the blog.
Wolframalpha: Want to know where the web is headed? WolframAlpha is a long-term project across all professions based on a new form of knowledge-based computing. Think of a combination between Google and Wikipedia. Consider how this may affect legal research, your practice and the public’s ability to access the law.