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March 2008

Google Says You Are An Expert

I was giving a presentation last night to a group of college students in a marketing class.  We were talking about internet marketing and the use of blogs to show off your expertise.  The discussion gravitated towards the issue of whether or not someone could “pretend” to be an expert in something that they were not. 

While theoretically possible, it is not likely that someone could long pretend to be an expert in something they have no expertise in.  But it does raise the fundamental issue about de facto vouching of expertise by Google.  If you show up on page one of the Google search returns, the presumption is that you must be an expert.  Google has, in effect, vouched for your expertise by placing you in that spot. 

Of course, clients should do more than review a website before hiring an attorney.  Other questions will quickly reveal the gravitas of the supposed expertise.  Questions we should be asked include:

  1. How many cases has the attorney handled concerning the specific issue which the client is dealing with.
  2. What have been the results that the attorney has achieved in each of those cases.
  3. How long has the attorney been specializing in this particular practice attorney.
  4. Are there any references who the client might speak to who had similar legal issues

Cost-Certainty is the Number One Factor Driving Clients towards Flat Fee Billing.

We are currently involved in some fairly complex Anticybersquatting Protection Act litigation across the country.  We’ve been closely monitoring the hourly bills (we sometimes start litigation on an hourly basis until we see where it’s going).  The client is an international company that is used to paying hourly fees.  The complaint in one case is filed and early motions in play.  The client actually requested the other day for the flat fee alternatives.

As we discussed with the client, it was clear that one single factor was driving the client’s decision concerning an appropriate flat fee level.  That single issue cost-certainty.  Over the next few posts, I will be talking about the flat fee process for complex litigation.  Many lawyers say the flat fee model doesn’t or can’t work with litigation.  Quite simply, they are wrong.  Most likely, they’ve never tried.  They’re smatter than they think and the variables really are fewer than most people pretend.

The Power of a Good Vacation

I just returned from a ten-day vacation to Colorado with family.  We went resort skiing, I went on a Backcountry 10th Mountain Division Hut Trip and then spent some time in Boulder with friends. 

I think we constantly underestimate the importance of taking time off and unwinding from the daily grind.  We owe it to ourselves, our families and our clients to be on top of our game.  That can’t occur unless you unplug every once in a while.

The thing I have noticed most since returning to work is that I do not sweat the small stuff near as much as I was in the months leading up to my vacation.  After grinding it out day after day for months on end, the little things start to catch up with you.  You ability to reasonably prioritize and emotionally deal with those little things is compromised.  In short, I am a better lawyer today than I was when I left on my vacation.  When was the last time you unplugged?