Small Firm & Technology Section: Welcome and Information

Brandon Huffman is a white man with brown hair. He is wearing black sqaure glasses, a pale blue shirt, and a black jacket. He is standing in the sun with a grey building behind him.By Brandon Huffman

Dear Members of the Small Firm & Technology Section:

I am so honored that you have given me the privilege to serve as chair of the section this bar year.

For those that don’t know me: I am a lawyer in Raleigh and my firm, Odin Law and Media, launched in 2017 as a solo shop. We’ve grown since, but stayed true to a niche practice vision. I’ve tried to integrate practice management and technology innovation into the practice from day one. Read more

It’s Not Goodbye, Just See You Later – 2021-22 NCBA Small Firm & Technology Section Wrap-Up

Alicia Lewis is a young woman with blond hair. She is pictured in a sleeveless grey cowl turtleneck. She stands in front of a grey bookshelf with a blurred background.

By Alicia W. Lewis

Attorneys and legal professionals in solo and small firms are some of the hardest working individuals in the industry. No matter your practice area, you juggle your caseload and clients, run a business behind the scenes, volunteer for professional and pro bono causes, hopefully throw in some exercise or time for mindfulness, and then there is the thing we call “life” you try to insert into the “work-life” equation. It can be overwhelming and not an easy thing to accomplish, but the members of this section rise to the challenge day in and day out to provide top-notch legal services to our communities. Read more

NCBA Small Firm &Technology Section Content Survey

By Erin Edgar and Shannon Lanier

Through our postings on the NCBarBlog, we strive to do our part to help the NCBA fulfill its mission of promoting the administration of justice and encouraging the highest standards of integrity, competence, civility, and the well-being of others in a very special way. We would like to hear from you, the Small Firm & Technology Section members, concerning ideas that you may have for items that we can discuss which will continue to fulfill this mission. To that end, we’ve provided a short survey which we invite you to complete, NCBA Small Firm & Technology Section Content Survey.

The deadline for the survey is Friday, March 11.

Thank you for your cooperation and your continuing efforts on behalf of the NCBA and the legal profession.

Erin Edgar and Shannon Lanier serve as the 2021-2022 Communications Co-Chairs for the Small Firm & Technology Section.

Benefits of Section Membership

By Erin Baker Edgar

Have you recently renewed your NCBA Membership, including all of your section memberships? During this time of social distancing and remote working, you may find it important to review the benefits of your section membership and how it can help you boost your business network and professional development.

Thanks to a recently upgraded technology platform at the NCBA, we are able to offer unique benefits and virtual events to our section members during COVID-19. With this in mind, here are three of the most important benefits to joining, or rejoining, this section.

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Don’t Sign on the Dotted Line – Unless You’re the Client

By Luke J. Farley, Sr. 

We’ve all been there: you’ve been mediating all day, it’s 5:30 p.m. (or later), the parties just (finally) came to terms, and everyone is ready to go home. The mediator whips out a form, jots down the basic terms of the settlement, and hands you the form. You reach for your pen, and then ask yourself, “Shouldn’t my client be the one signing this?” Considering the increase in remote mediations since the start of the pandemic, there’s a good chance you and your client aren’t even together in the same room — or the same state. So do you sign? The North Carolina Court of Appeals just answered that question for you. After the decision in Mitchell v. Boswell, No. COA19-1077, 2020 WL 6437278 (N.C. Ct. App. Nov. 3, 2020), your client should definitely be the one signing the form.

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Clio’s Virtual Conference – The New Normal?

By Pegeen Turner

This year has had few bright spots, but the virtual Clio Cloud conference was one of them. Clio, the world’s largest cloud-based legal practice management system, has created a community of legal professionals that is pushing the envelope of legal and legal tech. I have been a Clio consultant since the early days and have attended all the Clio conferences, beginning in 2013, when there were only 250 of us, to this last virtual conference with more than 4,500 attendees.

Clio’s 2020 conference, aka ClioCon, did not start off as a virtual conference, but as 2020 shifted, so did Clio. In March, as the pandemic began, Clio‘s plans were upended for their popular in-person conference in October. Jack Newton, the CEO of Clio, had said that he would not consider a virtual Clio conference because all of the virtual conferences he had attended had been less than lackluster.

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Ketan Soni Presents “The New Community Platform”

By Ketan Soni

What You Need to Know About the New Community Platform

This year, the NCBA has switched to a new online community platform. This new community platform for Sections, Divisions and Councils offers many more features than the previous system. Below is a summary of the basics and what you need to know to utilize this platform and its features.

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Helping People Find You With Google My Business

By Brian Craig

Have you ever been searching for something online, and used the search query “near me” or added your city to what you’re searching for? If so, you’re not alone. Recent studies have shown that almost 50% of Google searches have local intent—that is to say, the searcher is looking for a business or service geographically nearby.

Based on that stat, it’s not hard to understand why law firms are paying special attention to Local SEO recently. As most searches are done through Google, we pay the most attention to Google’s service for local search, which is called Google My Business.

Especially in the current environment with COVID-19, Google My Business is critical to helping your firm communicate with clients.

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Does Your Law Firm Disaster Plan Include a Pandemic?

By Pegeen Turner

For years, I have preached about disaster planning for law firms. When I am performing an audit for a firm, I always ask about a Disaster Recovery Plan, and many times the answer is a blank stare.

In North Carolina, Disaster Recovery Plans usually include things related to hurricanes and other natural disasters, but should we also be planning for a pandemic? With the spread of the coronavirus increasing around the world and the CDC admitting that a spread is likely in the U.S., now is the time to consider brushing off your plan and reviewing it.

Most disaster recovery plans include servers going down and a lack of internet, phones and other basics necessities of business and life. But what happens if that office is a hotbed of illness, and your firm decides (or it is decided for you) to send everyone home for a month in order to stop the spread of the virus? Will your office survive the disruption that this will inevitably cause? Are you prepared? It is time to look at what your options are right now.

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DIY Marketing Plan Challenge

By Crystal L. Mathew

An ugly truth of private practice, especially in a small or solo firm, is that marketing is a must. You might argue that you didn’t graduate cum laude from law school to hang out at cocktail parties and write blogs, but if you don’t take steps to promote yourself, no one will. The good news is that with a little guidance, focus, and discipline, you should start to gain clients, work on more interesting cases, and enjoy a thriving practice in less time than you think. Below are some simple steps to put together a relatively painless individual marketing plan that you intend to accomplish over the next 6 months.

Define Your Practice

I meet many lawyers from solo or small firms, whose strategy is to take any business that comes in the door. One week, a lawyer wants to put up a billboard targeting traffic tickets, while the next week, that same lawyer wants to hold estate planning seminars at the local Ruth’s Chris. While billboards and seminars can be perfectly fine strategies if executed correctly, you must be consistent in your messaging and marketing to successfully grow your practice. Forcing yourself to clearly define your practice and narrow your focus is going to help you gain expertise and credibility, and create lasting relationships resulting in more lucrative work. While you may be qualified and willing to do multiple types of law, I recommend focusing on marketing one practice area at a time.

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