Roberta M. Gubbins, Esq.
I Write Content--You Practice Law

Draft Three / blog

10 Marketing Tips to Build Your Practice
“What type of law are you going to practice? Where? Do you want a partner? Or will you be on your own?” Those were a few of the questions you were asked when you graduated from law school. And if you had an idea of what you wanted your practice to be and to look like, you may have been able to answer.

Or, perhaps your practice simply grew and years passed and now you’ve decided it’s time to set down those goals and objectives. Get out the yellow legal pad or the iPad, make your list and create a strategic plan. Now that you know where you want to go, start working on marketing. The following steps may help:

1. Marketing, it is said, is a contact sport, so walk out of the office and meet new people. Become active in your local community. Join the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or other service clubs that interest you and where you can meet people who have the types of legal problems you wish to solve. Go to make as many new friends and acquaintances as you can.

10 easy steps to market your firm
2. Make a list of groups, companies, organizations or companies whose members or     employees might have the sort of legal problems you like to solve. Pick one of the groups to concentrate on for the next three months. To narrow your list, think about what they read, what trade organizations they join, who their competitors are or what legal information they might need.

3. Get active in the trade organizations where you will find most of your clients. Join the organization and volunteer to be active on a committee, particularly the program or publication committees where you can interact with members.

4. Write articles for the trade print or e-newsletter, write a column for your local paper—they are always happy to receive well-written informative articles targeted for their readers.
   
5. Offer to speak at conferences or meetings. In-person presentations are an effective   marketing tactic—talk on legal topics of interest to the group and take lots of business cards.

6. Don’t eat lunch alone. Take people who can help you such as your accountant, lawyers at larger firms, bankers or business owners. Also, contact all your law school classmates, simply to say “hi.” Let them know they type of practice you have and discuss mutual referrals.

7. Draft a budget or financial plan so you can measure your success. Your goals might include increasing revenue by $60,000 opening 5 new files worth $1,000 in revenue per month, or launching a new practice area that will generate $50,000 per year.

8. Create an individual marketing plan. Decide how much you’re going to spend out and how you want to spend it—to fund the lunches, materials for your lectures or costs for on-line marketing. This is not an expense, this is an investment in yourself and your future.

9. Reach out to clients. Make them aware of all the services you provide and they haven't tried yet. And, add to your current practice. Ask yourself “What am I good at? What do I like to do?” and, “Which will my clients buy?” Get the training you need to add the new service. 


law firm marketing suggestions
10. Don’t forget your website. Put your Web address on your business cards, e-mail signature, letterhead and brochures to encourage visitors.


Rainmaking is personal. For some, it comes naturally while for others the skills have to studied and practiced. Find and practice the techniques that work for you. Soon you will be an expert, you’ll meet your goals and your practice will grow.


Roberta GubbinsComment
Love Your Lawyer Day - 3rd Nov, 2017
Several years ago I wrote the following essay encouraging recognition for lawyers. I resurrect it today in honor of Love Your Lawyer Day, celebrated on Nov. 3rd.

National Lawyer Day. Not Law Day celebrated in May and upon which many of us work, but a day to honor lawyers. Establishing a holiday requires considerable thought and planning. Setting up a holiday to honor lawyers would undoubtedly require extraordinary thought and planning.

Most holidays have colors associated with them. What colors can we associate with lawyers? A quick glance around a courtroom revealed gray, navy blue and black with a touch of red. One disgruntled person suggested gold to represent money. Let us use red for cheeriness and black for black letter law and black robes. Red and black are good strong colors.

National Lawyer Day should have special candy. How about candy in the shape of gavels, scales of justice, palm pilots, cellphones and briefcases? That would work. We could have Pez dispensers designed to represent judges, lawyers or clients.

We need T-shirts emblazoned with “National Lawyer Day—take your lawyer to lunch.” Or, “Have you thanked your lawyer recently?”

And flowers; we need flowers. There are plenty of red flowers. It might be harder to find black flowers. There are deep purple, almost black, irises. And this writer has heard of, but never seen, black orchids. There is, I am sure, a clever horticulturist out there who will find a way to create lawyer-like flowers. They will be expensive.

Lastly, we need a parade. What should be its theme? We could celebrate famous cases and their attorneys. The OJ trial, for example, or a tobacco case. Since we are into reality television, we could have a float entitled “When is it all right to eat your neighbor?” How about a Reasonable Doubt or a proximate cause theme? Or one entitled “My Favorite Tort.”

The Capital Steps can march with their briefcases. The attorneys can walk in the parade to receive the adulation of their grateful clients. Bar associations could sponsor floats. A float honoring the judges would be appropriate.

What day of the month should be designated National Lawyer Day? I suggest a Friday, giving the weekend to recover from the celebration. After all, lawyers are an exciting bunch and need the entire week-end to honor the profession. 

-->

Roberta GubbinsComment
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
Sally Consumer is an active user of the Internet. She uses it to find coffee shops, restaurants, doctors and lawyers. More often than not, her searches take place on her phone or her tablet. If your website or blog loads slowly, doesn’t fit the smaller screen forcing Sally to pinch or zoom in order to read the content, she will move on to a more responsive or mobile friendly website.

Google has long been aware of Sally’s search habits and has decreed that its search robots will include a website’s “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal. This means that site pages that can’t fit comfortably on the smaller screens will see a downgrade in ranking.

How do I know if my website is mobile-friendly?Ever efficient Google has created a website where you can enter your webpage URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or web address to test it. Find and click on the Mobile-Friendly Test, enter your web address and you will quickly know the results. If you fail the test, contact your web developer or website host to find out how to make your website responsive or mobile friendly.

What is a mobile-friendly design?


A mobile-friendly website is one that is designed to work the same way across all devices. A website with no usability concerns regardless of whether it’s being viewed on a phone, tablet or laptop is mobile friendly. If your website, like most law firm websites, is basic with few navigation drop-downs and no animation, it may pass the test.  The key features of a mobile-friendly website are:
  1. Static content that doesn’t change, 
  2. Simplified navigation,
  3. Images display smaller, and it’s
  4. Not reliant on a particular operating system to work properly.
What about a responsive design?

A responsive website is one that changes based on Sally Consumer’s needs and the device she’s using to conduct her search. With responsive design, text and images change from, for example, a three-column layout to a single column display. Unnecessary images are hidden so they don’t compete with the more important information on the smaller display.

The key features of a responsive website are:
  • Content changes, 
  • Abbreviated navigation, 
  • Improved images, and it’s
  • Reliant on a particular operating system to work properly. 
Which do I need? 

A simplified mobile friendly site will give you a consistent website experience across all devices. If you don’t have a large mobile audience (less than 35%), your site is simple with mostly text and images and your picture sizes are small, allowing for quick loading, a mobile-friendly site is for you.

Consider a responsive site if more than 35% of your web traffic is on mobile devices, your website content is complex or has features that are difficult to use on a phone or tablet or you want your website to appear up-to-date longer. Be aware that a responsive design takes expertise, proper planning and a larger budget.

Sally Consumer is in a hurry. She wants to solve her problems now. She will quickly pass by websites that load slowly and are hard to navigate on her phone or tablet. To be sure your website is the one she picks, test it for mobile-friendliness and make any necessary adjustments.
Roberta GubbinsComment
Non-traditional Lawyers Need a Web Presence

Sally is enjoying a quiet evening meal at her favorite restaurant with her law school roommate, Scott. In law school, both studied hard, were on law review and graduated in the top 10% of their class. After graduation, however, they took different paths to the practice of law. Sally is a shareholder in her small law firm practicing Elder Law while Scott, whose family had long been in the Military, is a JAG lawyer.
 
Over coffee, the conversation turns to marketing.

“We spend a lot of time and money on our website, blog and social media,” said Sally. “I need to update my blog tonight.”

“I’m glad I don’t need to do any marketing,” said Scott.

“I’m not sure about that,” said Sally. “What if you decide to leave the Military? No one will know you exist.”

Sally is right. Scott like the many other lawyers who turn from a traditional practice to use their skills in such establishments as the government--federal, state and local, the judiciary--judge, magistrate, clerk, legislature, house counsel for corporations or academia, still need to consider maintaining an Internet presence. 

Why do you or other non-traditional lawyers like Scott need an online presence?

An on-line presence in the form of a profile, a website or a stop on the social media thoroughfare is as necessary for non-traditional lawyers as it is for lawyers working as solos or in a law firm. It isn’t only consumers who search for lawyers on the web; other lawyers also read those profiles.

Scott can establish relationships and connections that would otherwise be unworkable because of distance and time. These are lawyers you can meet only through e-mail or text or, perhaps, a short telephone call. Those associations can be as strong and as important to your career as ones established face-to-face at networking functions.

Lawyers can use the knowledge gained in other fields to make a career change. A lawyer working for a governmental agency today can establish connections and soon be practicing for a law firm in their government relations department. Legal publishing experience, for example, could lead to consulting on copyright and drafting contracts with agents and publishers. Managing an international non-profit would be helpful if you wanted to practice in International Law. Retired judges often turn to mediation and arbitration.

These movements from traditional to non-traditional legal careers and back again will only be successful if the world knows that you’re out there. And the easiest and least costly way to become known is through an on-line presence. Using social media, LinkedIn and developing a website, you can network within the legal field as well as market your practice to potential clients. 


A legal career, whether traditional or non-traditional, can last 20, 30, 40 or more years. It can take many twists and turns as you travel along. Using the Internet to establish relationships with other lawyers can lead to exciting possibilities and help with transitions.
Roberta GubbinsComment
Is Voice Search in Your Future?
I received the Amazon Echo Dot for my birthday. It is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, answer questions or read the news. There is some setting up to do, which I have not yet completed, so I use her to tell me the weather and play music. However, I am not alone in using a voice controlled device to find information.

Many of you use some form of an intelligent personal assistant, such as Siri, Google Now or Cortana, available on your mobile devices, to quickly find information. Voice search is the fastest growing type of search. It’s faster, hands-free and allows you to multi-task. According to Google’s latest survey, 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis, while 55% of teenagers--your future clients—use it on their mobile devices.

Thanks to technology voice search has improved. The current speech recognition word error rate is as low as 8%. And, voice understanding, a search that responds by interpreting the meaning and context behind the words, is also improving.

What does voice search mean for law firms?

First, realize that those using voice search tend to ask for the information in the form of “who, what, where, when, why or how” questions. Second, the asker uses a conversational tone such as “What lawyer in my area writes wills?”

For you, that means the content on your website should focus on answering the questions your potential clients are asking. The better you’re able to answer those questions, the better chance you have to be returned in the search engines. Think about the questions you’re asked when meeting with clients, or at a Rotary luncheon or a Bar Association Event and write content that answers those questions.

Your content should be written in a conversational tone, using active verbs, ordinary not legal vocabulary and presented in an easy to read format. Using the Frequently Asked Questions format is effective. For example, if you’re a family law attorney practicing in Michigan, you can choose topics such as “Can a single person adopt a child in Michigan? Or “How do courts decide custody?” Or, “6 things to know about divorcing in Michigan.”

How does voice search affect SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

SEO is the process of using strategies and techniques to obtain a high-ranking placement in the search results. Those strategies include great content, easy to navigate sites and use of keywords to identify your topic. Experts recommend that your blog use long-tail keywords such as Traverse City Family Law Lawyer or Michigan DUI Lawyer. In other words, phrases that will answer the questions: “What family law lawyers practice in Traverse City?” Or, “What lawyers in Michigan defend DUI?”

The face of searching is changing and evolving. Use all the available information about how your clients find you and the questions they ask to keep current. Doing so will bring your website and this age-old legal profession into the future.

Roberta GubbinsComment
Is There a Podcast in Your Future?

Podcast--a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.

The newest and fastest growing entrant into the digital marketing world is the podcast. Edison Research conducted a study that found that podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016.
It also found that 21% of Americans or about 57 million people aged 12 and up have listened to a podcast in the last month. This a 4% increase in listening over the last year.

Why the increase in listening?

The answer is simple—mobility. Sixty-four percent of podcasts are being listened to on smartphones or tablets. People listen on their commute to work, on their evening walk or morning run or while completing mundane tasks.

Should You Have a Podcast?

Adding podcasts to your website or blog increases your reach to other audiences. Not everyone learns visually so for the listeners among us, the podcast is the perfect medium. Having a podcast is an effective way to differentiate yourself from other lawyers and to demonstrate your expertise in your area of practice.

Podcasting is cost-effective and efficient and offers the opportunity to improve client education. It is particularly appealing for small and solo practices.

Things to consider for your podcast:

Know your audience. Not everyone listens to podcasts. If your target audience is the younger audience who want to control how, when and where they get their information, then the podcast is for them. If, on the other hand, your goal is to bring in more senior executives, you’d be better off visiting their workplace and forget the podcast.

Create great content. Clients refer and are loyal to lawyers they trust; and trust is created by offering good well-researched and easy to understand information. Your podcast should not be comments on your last family vacation; your podcast must convey the right image and be of interest to your target audience. Interesting, informative and entertaining messaging creates a great podcast.

Have a co-host. Radio shows and podcasts work better is there are two speakers. It’s more interesting and fun to have someone to talk with. On your own? Invite guest speakers and use the Q and A format to add interest and liven up your broadcast.

Know how your audience listens.

Much of your audience will listen on your website, rather than downloading the podcast to their smartphone or tablet. Decide where the podcast belongs on your site—a spot of its own, under a practice area or a new developments section. Podcasts can add to the value of your site for prospective and current clients.

Try to Release Weekly Episodes:

In the ideal world, you would release on the same day and time every week. Your listeners will appreciate knowing they can tune in every Thursday at 4 p.m. to hear your latest update on the state of the law in your practice area.

Keep it short and simple:

Make it as short as you possibly can. Half an hour is the longest it should be—15 minutes is better. If the topic is complicated and needs more explanation, save it for your blog or a speech or article. Podcast listeners are working out or in their car so they won’t listen to a long or complicated narrative. Podcasts can convey passion, the personality of the lawyer and a limited amount of content

Finally, a great podcast needs listeners. Announce it on your website, your blog and on social media. The value of your podcast will increase as it is included in your overall marketing plans.



Roberta GubbinsComment
Writing Samples
Blog Post for Lawyer's blog


Is an ESOP right for you? 
Or Is there an ESOP in your future?
By


There comes a time in the lives of business owners that they want to move on; to pass the day to day management of the company to another in order to spend time in other pursuits. The question of how to accomplish that goal can be answered with an ESOP or an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

An ESOP is thought to be the most tax efficient way for an owner to leave a business and set up a management team to control the company. A well constructed ESOP transaction provides a “win win’ situation for the owner wishing greener pastures, the management team eager to take on the leadership role, the employees wanting to be part of the company ownership and the company wishing to keep down its tax burden.

What is an ESOP? 

An Employee Stock Ownership Plan is tax qualified plan created to invest in the stock of the company. It is similar to profit sharing plans or 401(k)s except that its main asset is the company’s stock. While an outside purchase may trigger a large tax burden, a properly structured ESOP can limit the taxes owed on the proceeds of the sale.

How does a typical ESOP transaction work?

The first, and, perhaps the most important step that needs to be taken, is for all the parties to come together to study the situation. This includes the company board, the selling owner, management team, and the ESOP Committee. As part of this process an outside independent ESOP appraiser determines the value of the company. Once everyone fully understands what is proposed and the role each party plays, and if all agree, the process moves forward.

The next step is for the company’s board to establish the ESOP and appoint an ESOP trustee who can be part of the management team or an outside person appointed for the sole purpose of buying the owner’s stock. Regardless of who it is, the trustee must negotiate a price that is not more than the fair market value of the stock and is fair to all. At times, the independent trustee stays on for a “cooling off period,” after which the company can appoint an insider to act as the ESOP trustee.

Like buying a house, when all are in agreement that the terms and conditions have been satisfied, the final ceremony is the closing. At the closing the selling owners receive cash for their shares and the ESOP receives shares in the company.

The ESOP often borrows funds from the company to pay the seller. The company borrows the funds from a bank. After the closing, the company contributes to the ESOP, which, in turn, uses the money to make loan payments to the company. The company uses those moneys to pay down the bank loan. Using this method gives the company a tax advantage since it can deduct the payments to the ESOP.

The purchased stock is held in the ESOP trust but is not in the name of any one employee. This is called a “suspense account.” As the loan is paid down, each year there is annual allocation of stock from that account to the employees’ ESOP accounts. When the employees leave the company, their stock is converted into cash, which can then be distributed to the employee’s IRA (Individual Retirement Account).

How the IRS treats the proceeds of the sale depends on whether the company is a C or an S Corporation. The seller of shares in the S Corporation to the ESOP will pay capital gains on the proceeds, while the C Corp seller may, under certain circumstances, have a year to reinvest the proceeds to defer the tax.

What are the advantages of an ESOP? 

The use of an ESOP to transfer ownership has advantages for the company, the employees and the seller.

1. The company keeps its offices, employee base and business connections.
2. The company can buy the stock from the selling shareholder at a tax advantage.
3. The assets in the ESOP trust grow tax deferred.
4. Distributions are taxed favorably.
5. Employees continue to have a job and gain a significant new employer provided benefit.
6. The seller has found a “friendly” purchaser.

What are its disadvantages? 

The process is a long one. Selling all or part of your business is a major event that requires a lot of discussion and negotiation. Because the process is complex, it can take six to nine months or longer to accomplish. And, there is cost involved in establishing and managing the ESOP, which requires an evaluation each year.

What could be trouble spots?

The first troublesome spot could be the cost of the stock. The ESOP must never pay more than the fair market value of the stock. To be sure you have a fair price, a solid valuation of the company by a qualified ESOP appraiser is necessary.

Because ESOP trustees are obligated to work in the best interests of the Plan participants and to negotiate an arms’ length sale between the ESOP and the seller, they must be selected with care.

Another area of concern is the company governance. The control of the company, both pre-and post-ESOP must be carefully reviewed. Shareholders can vote on shareholder matters, however, while the stock is in the “suspense account,” the trustee votes those shares. Again the selection of the trustee must be considered.

Ongoing administrative costs, which include outside appraisers and managers, should be reviewed carefully. If the company is an S corporation, an analysis of the ESOP is important to be sure it does not violate any provisions of the tax code.

If you are thinking it is time to move away from your company and are comfortable with employee ownership, the ESOP may be your answer. An ESOP that is good fit for your company and its culture can benefit everyone involved.

*** 

Column for newsletter

Off the Record
Are you a screen sophisticate?
By
Roberta M. Gubbins

Screen Sophisticate: One who has a highly developed knowledge of the ways of the computer screen.

I am not. I am learning but I will always be behind the folks who are growing up with the screen as an integral part of their lives. 

I thought of that when I was cruising the local mall recently. I paused and watched a young father show his toddler how to use her finger to navigate a game on the father's smartphone. I am sure the child is learning to walk and talk, but she will know how to use her finger on the screen long before she is an accomplished walker or talker. If the child becomes a lawyer, she will think nothing of strolling into court with a tablet computer or something as yet to be created, which will, of course, have all the files needed and be wirelessly connected to the court's system.


Today's law school graduates are quite comfortable with the screen as a tool. The rest of us can learn. Like all disciplines, there is a learning curve and the first task is to learn the language of screens. Let's start with some of the basics:

                             Binary--the number system used in computer science is binary or a base-2 system using two symbols: 0 and 1. The binary number 11000101110, for example, is equivalent to 1582. Frankly, that is as much as you need to know unless you want to explore the base 2 world, which I don’t. I had enough trouble understanding our base 10 system. I am a lawyer not a mathematician.
                 Bit--(binary digit) is the smallest piece of information used by a computer consisting of either 0 or 1.
                             Byte--(binary term)--the basic measurement of computer data and consists of 8 bits. Computer storage is measured in larger increments of bytes such as Kilobyte (1024 bytes), Megabyte (1024 Kilobytes) Gigabyte (1024 Megabytes) then Terabyte, Petabyte, Exabyte, Zettabyte, Yottabyte, in order of increasing volume and following the same pattern. What does that mean in paper? One Megabyte is about 500 pages or one thick book, while 1 Terabyte is about 1 million thick books.

If opposing counsel says he is sending 3 Megabytes of discovery, that's a lot but may be doable; if, however, he is sending a Terabtye or two, you might want to file a motion seeking help from the court or just say no.

While that is probably enough of the techie stuff for today, I will add two more:

App or application--is the program in which you do your work. If on an iPad, you access the Apps with a touch of your finger. Apps are narrowly useful since the apps on the tablet screen are used to find information, not for creating it and each must be opened individually. Apps such as QuickOffice Pro can be used to write a letter or document but might be awkward when it comes to editing it.

If you are using your tablet to read a brief or court case, there are, for example, apps (such as GoodReader or iAnnotate) for writing notes, highlighting text, making comments or underlining parts of a document that are helpful.

Software--files on a disk that contain instructions for a computer--such as Microsoft Word or Excel or Firefox--which you install on your computer to use when creating documents or spreadsheets or going on the Internet. These programs have many more bells and whistles than the apps.

That is probably enough techie stuff for today. I think, by learning a few terms and practicing on your tablet or computer, you and I can become more proficient and less awkward and truly be screen sophisticates. I will keep at it and I welcome you to join me.

* * *


 E-Blast on UCC Revisions sent to clients:


Revisions to UCC9 take effect July 1st

Revisions to Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which controls the granting of credit secured by personal property will take effect on July 1st. Article 9 rules apply when a manufacturer finances the purchase of a machine, a store owner borrows money to buy inventory, or a consumer uses credit to purchase a new flat screen TV. Michigan is one of 39 states that have adopted the amendments written to fix filing issues and other problems.

First, there was the problem of deciding which of the debtor’s names to use on the financing statement. Michigan has adopted Alternative A (“Only if”) of the two possible options as follows:

·                          If the individual debtor has an unexpired driver’s license, use the name on that card,
·                          If there is no driver’s license, but there is a state personal identification (ID) card, use the name on that card,
·                          If there is no driver’s license or personal identification card, then use the debtor’s actual name or the surname and first personal name.

Other states have adopted Alternative B (“safe harbor rule”), which provides that the debtor’s driver’s license name, actual name or the surname and first personal name be used on the financing statement.

In situations where the state issues both a driver’s license and a personal ID card and it isn’t possible for a person to have both, then the personal ID may be used under either alternative.

If the debtor is an entity such as a corporation, limited liability company, a limited partnership or when the collateral property is held in a trust or the decedent estate, the name on the financing statement will be the one used in the actual charter documents filed with the state.

Second, the new forms are more user-friendly. More detailed guidance is provided for completion of the forms. The check boxes have been moved to make things clearer. For example,

·                       The termination box is moved away from the continuation box, 
                        Boxes indicating whether the transaction is a public finance transaction, a manufactured home transaction, etc. are now in the financing statement rather than the addendum,
·                      Trust indication boxes are also now in the financing statement not in the addendum.

The UCC “correction statement” form is now labeled “information statement.” The new form indicates why the form is being filed and who is filing it.  The secured party (i.e. the bank) can, but is not obligated to, file an information statement if it believes that an amendment to its financing statement was not authorized. The debtor has always been authorized to file an information statement.

Michigan uses the national forms except the UCC-11 (information form), which is slightly modified. The state will take the old forms only until July 31st. The new forms should be available as of June 28th. Michigan’s filing fees will remain the same.

If the name of the debtor needs to be changed, there is a five-year transition period that lasts until June 30, 2018. Also, when you continue a financing statement after July 1st, you need to be sure the debtor’s name is correct according to the new revisions.

For more information, please feel free to contact:                        


Roberta GubbinsComment
Nitty Gritty or How it works

Send me your notes, I will transform them from legal jargon to plain English for your clients. Whether blog post or article for your local Bar Association Newsletter, I can help. Want your article or essay edited? See the fees below.

Blog Posts 
Pay per post:  One post---$200.00

Subscription: 4 posts a month---$600.00--

Articles:

Per hour: $75

Per word: $1.10

Price range is established before we begin.                                              

Editing:

Up to 5000 words $.07 a word

Longer works  $65.00 per hour

Price range is established before we begin

Fees quoted include two rounds of revisions. Additional revisions will be charged at our hourly rate.

Reliability, pleasant attitude, patience and positive working experience included at no cost.

Contact me at:

Or by phone: Ph: 734-255-9119



Roberta GubbinsComment
Services

Services

Legal jargon in plain English 

I will transform your words into plain English for your clients and prospective clients. I write with the reader in mind while creating marketing materials that you can be proud to have on display.


Newsletters and press releases



       A newsletter keeps your name before your clients, makes them feel special and is a great marketing tool.
You have a new associate, you’ve repainted the office, you are speaking at a seminar. Let your clients learn of it in your newsletter.I can write it.  


Web Page content, feature articles

       
Web site content needs to be:
       Short
       Punchy
       Easy to read copy
        
       Let me do it for you.
  Send me the information, recent court case or biography. I will transform it to short, punchy and easy to read copy. 


Ghostwriting, biographies, articles, brochures and blogs




 Don't have time to write that speech, article, your blog, biography or your brochure? I can help.

Send me your notes and I will:


        
  
           a. write the article in plain English

 
             b. spruce up the speech
 
             c. keep your blog up to date

             d. or write the book



And you can relax and eat ice cream.

Marketing tip:

Know your niche. Know who you are and who your prospective client will be.
Look at where you are today, decide where you want to go and think about how to get there.
Write those thoughts down. Keep them close, review them often, make them part of you and they will happen.
   
     
Ghostwriter for the best legal minds.
        


Roberta GubbinsComment
Where do I Find Topics for my Blog?
You have the best of intentions when it comes to writing your blog. Perhaps you’ve actually set time aside on your calendar to write that post. You sit in front of the computer and stare at the screen with no idea bubbling to the surface demanding to be written. Where can you find topics to write for your readers?

Start by pulling over the yellow legal pad, write at the top “What am I asked over and over?” 

Write the numbers one through six, one under the other so you’re using the whole pad. Now, without over-thinking it, write what comes to your mind first, then next continuing until you have six. Use as few words as possible to describe those questions. Keep it simple and quick.

Stuck? No ideas?

Think back to discussions with clients on the phone or in person, court hallway conversations, webinar Q & A sessions or queries from strangers you met standing in line at the local coffee shop for your morning coffee. These conversations give you topics that are important to clients and potential clients.

As you remember these questions, you will realize that the questioners aren’t asking about a recent court decision or your latest brief on a discreet legal topic. They are asking about problems that affect their lives. Maybe they are buying a house and want to know about deeds available in Michigan. Or what is a will?

There are two types of blog topics: 

     First, are topics that are timeless. Such topics as the difference between a legal separation and a divorce.
     Second, are timely topics usually found in the form of an analysis of breaking news story, which can be either mainstream or industry-specific.

For example, the SBM Newslinks posts Michigan Legal News everyday. Some articles affect a particular business such as the report on the “Detroit Teacher Sick Out Closes 90 Schools.” “What could this mean for other Michigan school districts” is a timely approach. “What’s the difference between an at will employee and one under contract?” is timeless.

Once you have the six topics, decide how often you’re going to post your blog. If once a week, you now have six weeks of topics; if every other week, then you have 12 weeks of posts. Put your writing time in your calendar and treat it with the same importance you would a meeting with a client.

On your non-writing weeks, schedule a time to look for news that needs explaining for your clients. They will appreciate your analysis of the situation and be pleased that you are thinking of them. Don’t worry if it’s been done before. You have your own take on the subject written in the light of the concerns of your clients.

Now you have six to 12 weeks of blog post topics. As you work your way through your list and you get more questions from clients, friends and acquaintances, you will find yourself adding to the list and never being at a loss for a topic for your blog.

Repost from SBM e-journal

Roberta GubbinsComment
What is Marketing?

Marketing: A management process through which goods or services move from concept to consumer. (Business Dictionary.com)

You are a lawyer providing a legal service. You are also a business. As a business you have all the management problems of every business owner including marketing your business. With a well-planned marketing strategy, your law business will grow over time.

The process of marketing includes four elements:
·      Identification, selection and development of a product or service.
·      Determination of price.
·      Selection of distribution channel to reach your ideal client
·      Development and implementation of a promotional strategy

Identification, selection and development of a service:

Your first consideration is to decide what type of law you wish to practice. Often this became evident in law school as you studied the various areas of law or you accepted an internship and spent hours researching personal injury or civil rights or criminal and you became fascinated.

Another approach is to study your town. Research the census statistics, join the Chamber of Commerce, study the businesses—determine the composition of the area to determine what legal services are needed. Use that information to start a practice or add a new needed practice area to your list of services.

Once the area of practice is identified and selected, develop an expertise by attending conferences, ICLE seminars, teach or write articles for your state or local bar association.

Determination of price:

Pricing is a complicated issue worthy of study. Prices should be based on the client’s subjective value placed on solving his or her problem. Because it’s subjective, it can be hard to figure out. Don’t quote over the phone, have a meeting with the prospective client, analyze the information and offer to send the quote the next day. You may also decide to offer some services at a fixed price, a price that is attractive to target clients and profitable to the law firm over time.

Selection of distribution channel to reach your ideal client

Take some time and decide who will buy your services. Once you know who you want to attract, then decide how to reach that person. One way is the Internet—PEW research says more than 75% of consumers use the Internet to find a lawyer or to learn more about the lawyer recommended to them. A website creates a good first impression and helps build trust and credibility. More consumers are turning to legal directories, so update you profile on the SBM Member Directory. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helps build relationships.

Face to face networking is another way to meet people and expand your client base. You can join volunteer organizations with goals you support, sit on boards, teach a class, give a speech and network with other lawyers.

Develop and implement a promotional strategy.

First, establish what marketing strategies you will use; second, determine how many hours a week you will be able to devote to your plan and last, establish a budget for estimated costs. Always ask clients how they came to you, ask them for referrals in your closing letter and use an analytics program to determine how your on-line presences are doing.

Marketing is more than selling. It as a way of thinking in terms of your clients’ needs and their satisfaction. If you turn your thoughts to them and not yourself, you’ll get more referrals and your business will grow.

Repost from SBM e-journal


Roberta GubbinsComment
What Are the Best New Year’s Resolution for Lawyers?
January, 2017 is now on your calendar. The month January, originally named Januarius in the Roman calendar, is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. He is depicted as a two-faced god capable of looking at the past and the future at the same time, which is exactly what you can do when you set out to write those New Year’s Resolutions; be like Janus and look to the past to plan the future.

Start by looking back at 2016. List three things that worked. Maybe Jane, the new paralegal you found after a long search is awesome, social media actually brought in new business and you delivered a ‘killer’ and winning final argument. Then list three things that didn’t work. For example, the new software crashed the computers, your blog posts died after three postings and your millennial associate went to work for a non-profit helping indigent defendants. Learn from the past. Simply being aware is enough.

While you’re in the thoughtful mode, lean back in your chair, close your eyes and visualize yourself being successful.

First, decide what ‘successful’ means to you. Does it mean more cases in a special area of the law or more time for the family or at your easel or at the gym or a combination of all those desires? Whatever it is make a mental picture of your place of professional prosperity and keep it in your mind. Hard to remember when you’re racing around from court to court, meeting to meeting and client to client, but pause a minute, find that place and move toward it. This is what athletes are told to do -- see it, then be it--works for them, it’ll work for you.

Resolve to make your life a little easier by leaving the office early on Fridays, fire your worst client, you know the one that gives you and the staff migraines and accept that there is no perfect solution in the law. Someone will be unhappy. Sometimes that person will be your client. Hang in there, next time your client will be the one with the smile.

Also, consider being or getting a mentor. Whether you’re giving or getting advice, a mentorship can help develop your career or help a new lawyer just starting out. And, do pro bono work. It’s a professional duty, helps develop new skills and makes you feel good about your practice

Most of all, keep your New Year’s Resolutions simple. Don’t take on more than you can realistically accomplish. Move through the coming year remembering where you want to be; find your path and start in that direction. By the end of 2017, like Janus, when you look back, you’ll be feeling good for keeping your promises to yourself.


The Lawyer Parent
Ask children who have lawyers for parents and they will tell you said parents are not only a source of embarrassment but can be real drags. As we celebrate the holidays and families are congregating,  it may be time to see ourselves through our children’s eyes. The trouble for the child undoubtedly begins before birth.

lawyer parent 
The gynecologist becomes aware that one of the child’s parents is a lawyer. The method of questioning alerts the doctor that you want detailed, soundly reasoned information. Little Jane or Jack is also listening and the discomfiture caused by the lawyer parent is beginning.

Being born doesn’t help. Now the scrutiny becomes more intense. Every diaper change is preceded by discussion regarding method, frequency, and type of diaper. More dialogue about the sleep position, the type of food, proper attire perhaps some research is needed before a decision can be made.

“Do the job,” the by-now-uncomfortable child thinks. “Is it going to be this way all my life?”

It is time for pre-school. The child is excited about being with his peers. The search for the proper pre-school was long, intense with many high-level parental conferences. Finally, a decision is made and the child is off to school. One day the children are talking about their parents.
trash truck

“My Mom/Dad is a lawyer,” says your child proudly. “What’s a lawyer do?” asks Andrea.
“Reads stuff and talks,” says your child.
“Is that all?” asks Ed. “My Dad drives a trash truck.”
“Now that’s really cool,” says Andrea.
Your child comes home and asks, “Why don’t you drive a truck?”

Move on to elementary school. Little Jack, now in second grade, has become resigned to the dullness of your occupation. Career Day is coming up. He comes home with a note from the teacher asking for parents to come in to talk to the class.

“You don’t have to go; I know how busy you are,” he says in an effort to avoid any embarrassment.

“No, I would love to speak to your class.”

 “Okay,” he says politely, head bowed.

You gear up for your performance. After all, you have spoken to groups before. You stand up on your legs in court all the time. Talking is what you do for a living. What would the class like to hear?
Maybe give a discussion of the First Amendment? Or, perhaps talk on the rights of children? You research your topic, you have notes, and you are prepared. Wearing your best suit, carrying your briefcase, off you go to your child’s class.

The teacher greets you and explains that you will speak after Mark’s Dad, the builder. Mark’s Dad has a tool belt, brings in some wood and proceeds to build a birdhouse—complete with turret and weather vane—in 5 minutes.

A hard act to follow, but you are prepared. Your child introduces you. You start your speech.
lawyer parent speaking to class

“Have you been on television?” asks one student.
“No,”
“Oh,” Your child wiggles in his seat.
“Do you carry tools? Like Mark’s Dad?”
“No, I carry a briefcase.”
“Oooh” they say. Your child wiggles some more.
“Do you build stuff?” asks a voice from the back of the room. You suspect the questioner is Mark.
“No, I research the law and write briefs.”
“Oooooh,” they say. Your child has about disappeared under his desk.
Finally, the teacher says, “Thank you, Ms. Lawyer.”

Your child walks you to the door and the ordeal is over for both of you. The class moves on to Sally’s Mom, who shows them how to make an origami bird.

The teenage years are no picnic when you have a lawyer for a parent. First of all, lawyers have strange senses of humor. They tell weird stories and they tell them anywhere—in front of your friends, their parents, and their friends. People look at them and wonder how they can believe that the fact that little Johnny, sent to live with his Aunt Tillie who placed him in a fancy private school where he proceeded to teach the other little boys socially unacceptable behavior, is hilarious.

Then there is the questioning. Lawyer parents ask annoying questions. Where are you going? Why? Who are going with? What time will you be home? Do I need to call the other parents? Other parents ask those questions, but lawyer parents demand answers.

They will start their cross-examination with “Isn’t it true that...” They call the other parents. And, if you end up in trouble for some transgression or another, they bring in several lawyers to straighten out the mess, causing you even more humiliation. Nothing is simple for lawyer parents.

Going through life with a lawyer parent is not easy. On the other hand, they do know how to read, research and write. They also know how to argue. They will cause you to think and have reasons for your conclusions. They will force you to clarify the issue of a situation.

While they do not drive trucks, carry neat tools or build anything, they are handy to have around when a problem arises. They will take it on, protect your rights and stand in your corner all your life.
Lawyer Parent to the Rescue
(Excerpt from "Why do we do that?"commentary on lawyers and the law.)
Now We Can Advertise

Lawyers and Seltzer 
New lawyers starting a law practice in the 1800 America could advertise their business. Using mass circulars, handbills, posters, ads in the local community papers, they let the citizens know of their existence. In 1908, however, the American Bar Association (ABA) published the Canons of Professional Ethics, which abolished advertising by lawyers.

The ABA believed that lawyer advertising was unprofessional and cast a negative light on the profession. There was also the concern of encouraging frivolous cases and clogging the courts. According to the Chicago Bar Association, “The most worthy and
effective advertisement possible…is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust.”

Lawyers were, however, allowed to be listed in legal directories, like the SBM Member Directory, and could also print business cards and use professional letterhead. They were back to the days of face-to-face networking, building their relationships with clients one person at a time.

Bates v State Bar of Arizona

That is how things stood until 1974, when John Bates and Van O’Steen founded their practice in Arizona. They decided to focus on a large number of small cases such as uncontested divorces, adoptions or simple bankruptcy to support their practice. To get the word out, they placed an ad in the Arizona Republic on February 22, 1976.

The State Bar of Arizona suspended Bates and O’Steen for six months. The lawyers challenged the decision and eventually the matter was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled in their favor. The Supreme Court removed the ban on advertising stating that it “inhibited the free flow of information and kept the public in ignorance.”

The Court, however, did allow the State Bars to “regulate” advertising to make sure the information offered was true and didn’t mislead consumers.

The day after the Supreme Court decision in 1977, Group Matrix, an advertising agency, obtained their first legal client. In those years, they advertised for personal injury lawyers on television, radio, outdoor advertising on billboards, benches, taxis, buses and yellow pages. Over time, the yellow pages have faded away and the agency added a web service. 

How do lawyers advertise in 2016?

In many ways, advertising of legal services follows the same path it followed in the early years. We still advertise on TV, radio, billboards, taxis, buses and benches. What has changed is the addition of the Internet which gives lawyers another way to gain name recognition, impart information to prospective clients and establish their brand by creating websites and writing blog posts.

And, we are subject to the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct on advertising, which are in the section titled “Information About Legal Services.” One of the rules requires “A copy or recording of an advertisement or communication shall be kept for two years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where it was used.” {Rule: 7.2 (b)} That rule includes material on your website. Remember to give it a read.
-->
The Social Media

The lawyer sitting next to you at the conference is busy writing a tweet for Twitter, another is taking a selfie to post on Facebook. It seems that everyone except you are busy using social media to market their practice. Should you jump into the social media pond?


Maybe, maybe not.

Social media has its good and bad points. To understand what is best for you, your first step is to analyze your practice. Understand the legal service you offer in order to know your target market—their age, demographic, economic position. Knowing your practice will help sort out the pluses and minuses of using social media and decide which social media platform is right for you.

What is social media?

Social media is defined (Merriam Webster) as: “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)”

Think Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and so forth. Each attracts a particular audience. If that audience includes your target market, you could consider joining the group.

The advantages of using social media:
·      Social media marketing is cost effective AKA free. You can sign up, create a profile and post information without paying a cent.
·      You can reach consumers that never come to your speaking events or read your newsletter or your blog. Your tweets find new readers who will comment or retweet your tweet to their followers leading to an even larger audience.
·      You gain name and brand recognition.
·      People come to know you by your choice of words, style of writing, topics you pick. Use an easy to read style, offer real information and show them you are approachable and they will be loyal and frequent readers.
·      Social media builds relationships.
·      Use visitor analytics and readers’ comments to learn more about your audience. Knowing their interests will help you find topics for them.
·      You can post a link to social media on your website and your SBM Enhanced Profile, making it easy for readers to find you.

The disadvantages of social media marketing:

·      Time—time is money, time spent on social media is not billable time, time you don’t have, which means if you start a social media be sure you are aware that time must be set aside to continue the postings.
·      Content needs to be written, edited, revised and published—again a time issue.
·      Social media creates demands on your talent; posts need to relevant to your practice and interesting to a wide variety of readers. Fortunately, as a lawyer, you have access to a variety of topics with the weekly SBM e-journal and the SBM news-links posted daily.
·      You lose control of your content. Everything you publish is available to be commented upon positively or negatively by all who read it.
·      Social media doesn’t have a quick return on your investment. It builds relationships and firm loyalty over time so you need to decide to be in it for the long haul.

Social media can bring many benefits and increased profits to your practice, but it does come with limitations. With good planning, you’ll be successful. If you decide to start a social media account, it could be you taking “selfies” and posting news items to your readers at the next conference. You’ll be in good company.
  
The Millennials are Coming. Are You Ready?
As of 2015, the millennials, defined as those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, outnumber both the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in sheer volume. (Pew Research http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/) By 2020, 46 percent of the US workforce will be millennials. And, it is reported that these individuals account $1.3 trillion in annual spending, which doesn’t include millennial—influenced spending by their parents and grandparents.

Who are millennials?

For some of my readers, they are your children and grandchildren. Studies show they have the following characteristics:
                                                                   

•  They work and play online, mostly on mobile devices.
            •  They welcome access over ownership in a new “sharing” economy, think UBER, bike sharing.
•  They expect media, information, services and purchases to be available on demand.
•  They are socially aware and assume that companies, firms, individuals will be active in the community and give back.
            •  They know more about technology than any other generation; they live in a world of sharable information.

What legal issues could millennials, aged 18-34 in 2015, have?

They are buying houses, estate planning for their children, starting businesses or helping their aging parents. And some are having criminal problems. MADD reports that the 26-29 year olds (20.7 %) have the highest rate of drunk driving. Think about how your services can be of use to this younger audience.

How can lawyers reach millennials?

Millennials are never out of touch—they live by their mobile phones and expect the information they need such as reviews, social media commentary, price comparisons to be instantly available. For law firms, that means their website, profiles and blogs must be mobile friendly. Your law blog should be informative, short, engaging and easy to read on a smaller screen.

Being active on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn is an effective way to ensure millennials see your firm, interact and engage with you, learn something from you and eventually employ your legal services.

In the interests of hands-on research, I texted my millennial grandson, Collin, 22-year-old, bio-molecular engineer living and working in New York city, asking one question—How would you find lawyer? He texted back, “I would ask one of my fraternity brothers who are lawyers.” And “I would Google my geographic area and the kind of service I needed. Then I’d check their website and then try to find some sort of review or blog post written by a past client.”

Two marketing concepts are at work here. He began the usual way, asking friends for referrals, showing the importance of face to face marketing. Then he used the millennial way—going to the Internet to find and investigate lawyers in his area. And, it’s reasonable to assume he would do this on his phone.

Would millennial Collin find your mobile friendly, easily accessible website?


-->

LinkedIn--The Professional Networking Tool in Your Toolbox
LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the professional networking tool in your marketing toolbox. It is a business oriented social networking service. Think of it as a tool to help you organize all the networks of fellow lawyers and clients who refer work to you. And it does so in a way you can understand with results you can see.

To be effective on LinkedIn, you need a marketing plan for its use.

Start by asking yourself “What do I want to accomplish with LinkedIn?” 

Do you want to:
Build your client base
Cultivate relationships with particular businesses
Search for a position
Create your own web presence outside that of your firm or
Establish your expertise?

Whom do I want to attract?

If you’re searching for a position in a law firm, you want to attract the attention of law firm managers, recruiters or human resource departments. On the other hand, if you want to build your client base, your profile and publications should address potential clients’ needs. Tailor your message to fit your intended goal.

Your Profile:

Now you know why you’re on LinkedIn, you can create an effective profile, one that uses some of the keywords that your reader uses to search for a lawyer such as “Traverse City Elder Law Lawyer.” Write your profile in first person (“I”) as if you were talking to that client in your office. Add to your profile using LinkedIn sections. Upload your video, write a short blog for the publications section, and, if you volunteer, add volunteer organizations. Remember to include a picture, your skills in the skills section and make sure your title states clearly the type of law you practice.
Marketing Toolbox

Build a network
Remember that LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Its purpose is to build relationships. Start by connecting with people you know. Send invitations to connect on LinkedIn as part of your follow-up after you meet new people at an event. Add something personal to the standard invitation such as reminding them where you met.

Use LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn offers groups for every situation one can imagine and while some may be of little value, some are helpful. If you search the profiles of the people you want to meet, you will find the groups they belong to. You can join the group and follow the discussions, commenting and adding articles or links.

Updates

Updates are short messages you share with your network. You can send an update directly from your home page using the update box. Experts say that 80% of updates should be news or information for your readers and 20% about you. Review the updates posted to your home page and comment when appropriate.

LinkedIn is about networking and building relationships. Check your homepage or read the update e-mails for news about others in your network. Respond with a congratulatory note or information that can help them further a project. Taking a few minutes to scan your home page, respond to updates and send comments can bring good results when done with your goals in mind. And, remember to include a link to your LinkedIn home page on your SBM enhanced Profile page in the Member Directory and your website.


Build a Better Blog, Readers Will Come
Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. Ralph Waldo Emerson

     The phrase, attributed to Emerson in the late nineteenth century, is actually a misquotation of a much longer statement that has morphed into a metaphor about the power of innovation. It means that if you develop something superior to a device that is widely used, you will succeed.
     The same is true of Blogs. Create a blog that offers quick and useful information your clients and potential clients can use, written in a format they can understand, is fresh and interesting and gives them a reason to return and you will have built a better blog and consumers will beat a path to your door.

How to build a better blog:
A Better Blog=More Readers

     Understand why you’re writing it. Do you want to be seen as an expert, build an awareness about your firm or simply add fresh content to your website? Maybe it’s all three. A well-defined strategy will keep you and your reader interested.
     Decide what you want to say. Think about the clients you have. What type of problems are they experiencing? Perhaps, there has been a surge in questions about the Health Care Law or the change in the formula for child support. Define your subject matter clearly and the post will be easier to write.
     Start with an engaging title. Effective titles are short. Titles that ask a question, use numbers such as ‘6 ways to peal an orange’ or solve a problem such as ‘how to peal an orange’ are attention grabbers.
     Compose compelling copy. A story with facts that set up your topic will get the reader’s attention. Write clearly using plain English and keep it short. A 300 to 500-word blog is sufficient. Blocks of text are tiring. To keep the reader on the page, break up text:

  • Use bullets to emphasize key points,
  • Add images, videos and graphics, and 
  • Bold or underline material.

     Review and revise. Write it, set it aside and come back in a few hours or the next day. You’ll be surprised at what needs changing.

Now you’ve built a better blog. What next?

     First, publish it on your website’s blog page and your blog hosting site. Second, let the social world know it exists. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and an e-mail blast to announce its posting. Third, market it on Social Media; let your followers know of the new publication. Soon fellow lawyers and clients looking for the information offered will beat a path to your door.

Write a Book for Clients
     “Let’s write a book,” said Dick to partners Sally and Jane sitting across from him at the oblong walnut conference table of SDJ Law, LLC. 
     Both women lifted their heads and stared at him. 
     “Yes, a book,” he said, “a book for our corporate clients. A book will establish us as experts in our field, encourage the right clients to call and provide helpful information to our clients and colleagues.”
      Dick is right. A book, written by you for the benefit of your clients and colleagues, is an innovative marketing tool. Your book can be given to attendees at your next seminar, displayed in your lobby and featured on your website. It is concrete item that prospective clients take home and refer to when they have a need. And, it puts your name and contact information in their hands. 

6 Easy steps to put a book together.


Write a Book for Clients
     First, consider that a book of this type doesn’t have to be a 300-page tome. It can be about 40 to 75 pages or 10,000 to 20,000 words. If your firm has been writing weekly blog posts on your practice for several months, you have a good start on content for a book. Twenty weeks of roughly 500 word posts gives you 10,000 words or enough for a 40-page book. 
     Second, know your ideal clients and what they need. Most blogs are far to wide-reaching. They try to do too much in too little space. To be effective, you need to narrow the topic down to one small part that is the greatest concern to your clients. 
     For example, SDJ’s practice handles a wide range of legal matters affecting corporate clients such as contracts, copyright and trademark, annual reports, corporate meetings, employee relations, mergers and acquisitions, etc. They need to narrow the focus of the book to one topic; one that they care about as that will improve the writing. They select contracts as their topic.
     Third, now that there is a topic, create a working title and theme for the book. If the topic is annual reports, a title—Understanding the parts of a contract—might work as a start. The theme is: Helping clients understand some basic contract principles.
     Fourth, outline your book. You can probably use some of your blog posts from the past and create new ones in the coming months. For our example, SDJ could focus on the various types of contracts clients may have to review. 
     Fifth, compile your chosen blog posts into one document, add a cover, an introduction, a table of contents and a conclusion and you’re done. Using Amazon Kindle for an e-book or their Create Space for a Print on Demand book takes time to set up, but is free. Other services are available to take over the whole formatting and printing process for a cost.
     Sixth, once the book is available, put some in your lobby, link to it on your website and social media and post it under publications on your SBM Member Directory
     You now have a book that is helpful to prospective clients and your colleagues and can establish you as a thought leader in your area of practice. 

The Wonderous World of #Hashtags
Definition of hashtag: word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text, such as a tweet. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

     For most of us, the # icon is a symbol of measurement. It stands for a pound as on 1#. But, for many, it is type of label used in social media to make it easier for users to find messages with specific content. The hash (#) character is placed in front of a word or phrase (tag) used for description and placed either in the main text or at the end of the message. 
     Historically, the pound sign was first used in information technolo
how to use #hashtags
gy to identify a special meaning. Over time, some suggested using it on microblogging sites such as Twitter and it took off in 2007 after it was used in tweets relating to the San Diego forest fires. Internationally, it became a writing style for Tweets during the 2009-10 Iranian election posts. Now #hashtag is also used on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and many more. 

     Hashtags are not registered or controlled by any one user or groups of users. They live in perpetuity and don’t contain any set definitions, which means that any hashtag can be used for any purpose and by anyone. It is also important to think about which hashtags to include with your post since they can have a huge influence on who finds or fails to find what you are writing about. Going to the wrong audience can cause great content to be lost in Internet land. 
     Keep your hashtags short. Limiting them to one or two words is best. #thisisaverylonghashtag is too hard to read. 

Hashtags on Twitter

     Because of their expanded use, hashtags have become valuable. Adding a hashtag in your Twitter post will make your content noticeable by anyone with an interest in your topic or word. For example, #unbundling. If it is mentioned and hashtagged in your Tweet, anyone searching for that word in Google or in Twitter could find you regardless of whether they are a follower or not. 
     Hashtags can appear anywhere in your Tweet—beginning, middle or end. Tweets with hashtags get more retweets and favorites than those without. Keep it simple, however, don’t use more than two hashtags per post. In other words, don't #spam #with #hashtags and only use hashtags that are relevant to the topic.  
     Clicking on the hashtagged word in your Tweet shows you all the other Tweets marked with that keyword. Twitter reports that hashtagged words that become popular are often included in trending topics. 

Hashtags on Instagram and Pinterest

     For those who like to post and tag photos, Instagram and Pinterest are the places to be. Unlike Twitter, use as many hashtags to categorize your photos as you want since using them will increase your followers. 

Hashtags on Facebook

     Hashtags are not as popular on Facebook. When you add a hashtag to your post, the people you’ve shared your post with can also see it in that hashtag's feed. For example, if you share a post with a hashtag with Friends, they can see your post in that hashtag’s feed. Remember, if you use a hashtag in a post you share to Public, and allow people to follow you, your post will appear on your public profile and in that hashtag's feed.

Hashtags on Google+

     Google+ is not Twitter so it’s important to remember that a Twitter approach will not net the same results. Google recommends that you pair your hashtags with images since photo sharing is the most popular activity on Google and limit yourself to 2-3 hashtags per post.  
     Hashtags are an organizing tool. Using them well on your social media sites can identify your content, bring more readers to your posts and expand your network of possible clients.