“Don’t Let Law Schooling Get In the Way of Your Legal Education”
~ Bastardization of a quote attributed to Mark Twain.
We live in a wonderful age of information. Access to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses and legal research can be done at the touch of a button or screen. Substantive law and professionalism are offered by our colleges, associations, societies, and the regulator. But there is precious little about advocacy, legal marketing, and practice management out there to help you sharpen your skills.
Fortunately, the gap has been bridged by entrepreneurial lawyers and legal educators through the use of blogs and podcasts. I’ve assembled a list of them that I use on a regular basis. Most of these are based in the United States, but there is a universality that cannot be denied.
1. Lawyerist: This is a good all-rounder covering practice management, starting a law firm, legal technology, ethics, marketing, and advocacy skills. They also have podcasts, with average runtimes of 50 minutes. Here are some recent blog titles:
- Luddite Lawyers Are Ethical Violations Waiting To Happen
- If You Lead, Business Will Follow
- Why Creativity is Important to Good Lawyering
2. Persuasive Litigator: This is all about trial advocacy. Led by Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, the writers in this blog are dyed-in-the-wool litigation consultants with specialties in legal communication. You may think that your legal kung-fu is good. These sensei introduce you to psychological persuasion as trial tactics to help you reach the next dan in legal advocacy. After reading this particular blog, I have changed the colour of my case law highlighting from fluorescent yellow to light green. Why? Because the colour yellow is harsher on the eyes and denotes caution while green is easier to look at and has the psychological effect of balance and positivity. I have noticed a greater acceptance of my presentation of case law by judges because of that switch. Persuasive Litigator is completely focussed upon juries and their reactions; for the most part, substitute “judge” for “jury” and you are on your way. Here are some recent posts:
- Make Your Damages Numbers Meaningful
- Don’t Treat Racism as Just a Belief
- Design Your Metaphor
3. Legal Marketing Made Easy: This blog and podcast is all about bringing clients in other than the “referrals from happy clients and good work” route. Jim Hart is a lawyer that has started two law firms from scratch. The first practice was in Florida, then moved to North Carolina. Hart has detailed information as to what tools he uses to minimize the work he can’t bill for and maximize the work that generates money. The podcasts have stopped since November of 2014, but the blog is still current and offers an abundance of free information that otherwise eludes the profession. Hart is a solo practitioner and steadfastly believes in the work/life balance. Here are some recent posts:
- Why You Should Consider MeetEdgar for Your Law Practice – An Honest Review
- The Difference Between Happy Clients and Pissed Off Clients
4. The Art of Lawyering: Christopher Small is a lawyer in Seattle, but a legal entrepreneur at heart. He did something that no one else has done. He documented every day of his solo practice since 2008 and has shared what he has learned every step of the way. His motto tells you everything about the man: “Make more money. Be a bad-ass attorney. Love your life.” His blogging and podcasting life has morphed over the years from Law Firm Marketing Mastery to The Art of Lawyering, but the podcasts can still be found on iTunes and Stitcher Radio (Android app). Some recent blog posts:
- How to Start a Personal Injury Law Firm with Adam Krause
- How to Get Stuff Done When You Aren’t Feeling Motivated
- 5 Strategies for Pricing Your Legal Services
5. Wise Law Blog: Garry Wise is a Toronto lawyer who has a legal news Twitter aggregator called “140 Law.” There are precious few teaching moments in this blog, but it does point to various timely legal headlines of the day. The greatest value here is that there are links to other Canadian blawg (get it?) writers sending out substantial interpretations of Canadian and Ontario law into the Interweb. Here are a few blogs that Wise Law Blog has linked to:
- Employment and Human Rights Law in Canada
- Ontario Condo Law Blog
- Legal Feeds
There are lots more to choose from, like JDBlogger and Solo Practice University, just to name a few. My personal favourites are the podcasts because when I’m vacuuming the house (ugh) or cleaning the bathrooms (double-ugh!), I’m in my happy place, determined to be a better and more successful paralegal.
Contributed by Simon Brown. Simon is a Newmarket paralegal whose services include Small Claims Court litigation, Landlord/Tenant matters and Provincial Offences. His thoroughly researched writing appears in SCOPE and on his own business website. Visit Simon’s website to learn more about Simon’s services.