iPadLast week I wrote about a paperless initiative of the State Bar of Arizona. As part of it, the Bar will no longer print hard copies of CLE materials.

As you might guess, I got an earful—though a good number of Arizona lawyers told me they supported the move.

One question that arose in the blog comments (where the good stuff usually lies) was in regard to the ability to annotate the electronic materials. After all, we’re all used to marking up our printed materials during the CLE presentation. What do we do if we are gazing at a PDF, and we con’t happen to own Adobe Acrobat Pro?

A blog post by Nicole Black this week provides some solutions for those accessing the PDFs on an iPad. She points to a few rather inexpensive tools that will have you commenting and noting before you know it. As she says, the four tools “are just a few of the many apps available for reading, storing, organizing, and marking up PDFs and other documents on your iPad.”

You can read her post at Lawyerist, here.

social-media-word-cloudA headline for a blog post yesterday made me pause:

“Is Online Social Networking Worth My Time?”

Gulp. If The Lawyerist takes up the topic, and declares social media a waste of said time, won’t that provide conceptual cover to many lawyers who are seeking—desperately—permission to stop thinking about the topic? Instead, I suppose, those lawyers would like to return to practicing law the way it’s been done for a generation (whatever that means).

But then Lawyerist founder Sam Glover answered the question posed in a reasonable way:

“Sure, in the same way that email is worth your time. Online social networks are, like offline social networks, a way to stay in touch with family, friends, and acquaintances. If you use social networks — online or offline — for that purpose, they will be worth your time in the same way watching the Super Bowl with your college friends or having lunch with your rich aunt are worth your time.”

I’m beginning work on a social media presentation that I’ll deliver in Dallas in February. And as I ponder what to tell bar executives about the topic, it helps to keep in mind that social media is just another tool. And, as Sam says, it’s not a tool that does just one thing all the time. It can be used to sell—occasionally—but it also can inform, amuse and infuriate. Just like any relationship we have.

In print and online, we always must remember that our readers have many parts in their brains. The best social media—the best content provider—will help exercise multiple parts of those brains. And that is where a valued relationship is best developed.

gender equality scale in the legal professionRecent news articles suggest that we may have quite a ways to go in regard to gender equity in the legal profession. (Cue the women lawyers, who mutter “Really?” in mock surprise.)

The first article reports on some discouraging trends that affect women lawyers. The study was done by the National Association of Women Lawyers, and the article notes:

“The Survey once again found that women’s compensation lags men’s at all levels, although this year the gap between male and female equity partner compensation has slightly narrowed.  NAWL Foundation President Stephanie Scharf, a Partner at Scharf Banks Marmor LLC in Chicago, who founded the NAWL Annual Survey, noted that ‘the gap between male and female compensation at the equity partner level does not correlate with male/female differences in billable hours, total hours or books of business, begging the question of how firms actually set compensation for their partners.’”

The complete news story provides some striking findings from the study. And you can read the entire study here.

Adding to the findings of that October report, I came across another recent article, this one in Forbes, that puts a more specific face on the challenges women may face.

Titled “Your First Name Is Killing Your Business,” the article’s author Victoria Pynchon writes:

“If we want work or more money for the work we’re already doing, it would be better for us to adopt a male name than to earn another degree, work longer hours, or, deliver higher quality work product.”

Drawing on the comments of Bloomberg financial analyst Susan Antilla, Pynchon points out that people think better of applicants when they have a male name.

Adding to the challenges that lawyer–parents face, an article I read just this morning is titled “Parenting Gets the Best of One Biglaw Associate.” In it, the author shares an email from one large-firm associate—who is also a young, married mother—as she describes why she is opting out of biglaw practice.

As author Elie Mystal opens the article, “It shouldn’t be so damn hard—in the richest country on Earth—to have a big-time job and be a loving parent. The struggles highlighted by this woman make me sad as a new parent myself.”

(Hat tip to lawyer Graham Martin for pointing me toward the ATL article. And thank you to the terrific dialogue on the LinkedIn page of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, which got me on this trail in the first place.)

Findings and data and experiences such as these rightly anger women lawyers and those who support their work. Does the research match your own experience? What do you think are the next major obstacles that must be overcome to achieve something closer to parity?

What’s on your website?

If current research—and my own informal surfing around—are any indication—the answer may be: Not much that folks care about.

Portion of image results for search of “lawyer website”: Draws you right in, doesn’t it?

Or, if you don’t have a legal website, let me put it another way: What do you look for in a lawyer’s web presence when, for instance, you’re looking for someone because you have a case to refer?

Are you looking for 10-year-old writing samples from when the lawyer externed for a judge?

Surveys say …. Blecch.

How about 70 photos of gavels, or courthouse steps, or maybe the scales of justice?

Well, OK, but all things in moderation. I saw one law firm site that ran ALL of those on EVERY page and sub-page.

We get it! You went to law school!

There are a lot of terrific sites out there, but many others are cluttered with who knows what.

Here, from people more expert than me (Larry Bodine and Gyi Tsakalakis), are a few elements that consumers and even lawyers seem to respond to: lawyer bios and Q&As.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget how to choose a good picture of yourself. It matters; it really matters.

What are some stellar lawyer websites you’ve seen? Share the URLs and I may do a future story on one or more.

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