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More on Financing and Small Business

Small Business 2 Comments

As you guys know, we are in the midst of our financing push, so we’ve naturally been keeping an eye on how recent VC and market trends.

Inc explores why it’s a great time to buy a business (listen up VCs and Angels!), the proper way to value your business and how to estimate your company’s growth potential.  For anyone who is going through the same process as us, we completely understand how frustrating it can be at times.  A lot of funds will simply say no unless you are an experienced entrepreneur or already have a great deal of money in the game.  Unfortunately, that’s why we need VCs in the first place!  Here’s an article that gives some good advice on break down the VC barrier and another on some common myths about VCs.

Naturally, we’re also running a business.  Entrepreneur magazine writes about some important ways to connect with your customer.  Another from Inc on writing a good mission statement.  While I’ve always been skeptical as a customer of company mission statements, I have learned that it is a great way to force yourself and your company to distill to the core essence and well, mission of what you’re trying to do.  For those companies who don’t have one, I urge you to try it, worst case, you lose an hour but best case it could help you focus on the tasks that enhance or prioritize that mission.



Potential Loan Forgiveness for Solos & More

Solo Practice, Trends in law 7 Comments

Here is an article from the Chicago Sun Times on a potential boon for recent law school graduates who go into public law.  This bill would allow law students who go into the public sector relief from debt incurred to attend law school.  While the bill is languishing, we will keep you updated if this goes anywhere.

Dick Durbin

Dick Durbin

In other news:

Local Chicago firm Much Shelist intends to remain a small firm in the face of conventional wisdom that larger law firms are more successful.

Class action lawyers scored a rare victory in winning a case for undercharging.



New Trends in Legal Marketing

Small Business, Solo Practice No Comments

With major law firms shedding jobs, most new JD graduates no longer can pursue the traditional path to success and wealth.  As a result, many are going to solo or small practices, where they must understand new marketing trends to successfully find new clients.

It’s amazing how much marketing has changed over the past decade.  Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have dramatically altered the marketing landscape, where most major companies have Twitter accounts that can instantly measure and respond to potential clients.  Lawyers should not ignore this form of important and cheap way of reaching clients.  Here’s a good blog post on responding via twitter.  A blog is also a good way to generate traffic and remain in the spotlight, here are some tips on creating your blog.

facebookmyspaceap081

TechCrunch

Twitter User Accounts

Silicon Angel

Of course, this doesn’t mean ignoring traditional means of reaching and staying in contact with clients.  It’s a great way to differentiate yourself if you can provide that personal touch.  Renee Berman has a good article on how to do that.  We wish you the best of luck!



USF Business Case Competition Update

Business Plan Competition, Small Business, The Lawyer Market No Comments

As our readers know, we’re full steam ahead on preparing for the USF business case competition.  We’re done with our initial presentation and now are just filling out the details.  Richard, our CEO, will be presenting this week to a board of directors in an initial go around.  We’re sure we’ll get some very interesting and helpful feedback.

Since we’re also in the middle of trying to secure financing, here are some good sources for those of you who are also looking at the same thing.  Angel Soft has some great tools for both investors and entrepreneurs.

This article from Entrepreneur suggests it’s just harder to get funding, and it will probably come from Angels, not VCs. And this article makes some great points on timing of fund raising, knowing the point at which you can successfully ask for money is key.

The Tribune emphasizes having a busines plan ready even if funding is not the object.  If you are looking to write one but don’t know where to start, this website provides a good template.

And to wrap up with some good news, Ann Meyer of the Tribune sees some good signs for small businesses in 2010.



Legal Trends into 2010

Trends in law 1 Comment

As we look at where the legal market is headed in 2010, here is an article from the ABA journal about 2009. It appears that we are truly at a crossroads for the legal field. More than 12,000 lawyers were laid off in 2009, while almost one third of all law school graduates expect to graduate $120k or more in debt.

As a result, we have law school graduates, even from the very top schools, competing for an ever diminishing job base burdened with debt.  The result?  Many lawyers are forced to go into solo practice.  But is this really a bad thing?  For clients, a large base of “more qualified” lawyers willing to work smaller cases obviously bodes well for those of us who can’t afford million dollar lawyers.  But for graduates, it’s an incredible chance to gain top end experience in private practice.  In solo or small firm law, there’s certainly no room for associates to simply do busy work.  Everyone has to cover for each other, which means that you’ll be asked to do things that you may not get the chance to do at a large firm, much earlier in you career.  Sure, the monetary compensation may not be there, but think of it as some additional investment in your career.

Finally, here is some interesting advice from two Chief Justices on solo law.  Interesting that law is more and more evolving towards how many other business operate.



More on Entrepreneurship in 2010

Small Business No Comments

As we wade into 2010, the economy is stabilizing, VC firms appear to be investing more, and all signs point to a recover, albeit small.   But make no mistake, 2010 is going to be a challenging year for us entrepreneurs, but with loads of opportunities.

All this means that entrepreneurs need to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities while minimizing their risks.  This New York Times article has some good tips on how to improve your business.  Of particular interest to us here at the lawyer market is the bit about social media:

“Social media is not a fad. Hire a professional or look into it enough to give you some insights. Things change quickly. This is one of the public faces of your company. Do not leave it to your 17-year-old nephew, even if he is “gifted.”

As a major user of social media marketing, it’s interesting to see how this form of marketing has evolved from the fringe to the mainstream in a matter of several years.  Applications such as twitter not only make it easier to directly target customers real time, but make it important to do so.  Here’s another piece from Entrepreneur that features the importance of social media marketing and some tips of getting your product to market.

Finally, some articles (link, link) on financing and important exit strategies for your business, as well as a feature on entrepreneurs who began with no experience.



Solo Practice: What does it take?

Solo Practice 1 Comment

We recently stumbled upon a very good source of information for those lawyers thinking about going into solo practice, mysingle.  It has several interesting articles and features about successful solo lawyers, various marketing techniques, and some other good information.  All things you should consider before diving in.

This an interesting post about a successful solo practice.

If you are wondering what the right price is to charge, here is a piece on the prevalence of fee discounts.

Here is some advice about the importance of keeping your goals in mind.

Finally, one on how to find success.

Hope those considering going solo find this helpful.



FYI Entrepreneurs

Business Plan Competition, Small Business, The Lawyer Market No Comments

We here at the Lawyer Market clearly have an affection for entrepreneurs out there, not only are we ourselves entrepreneurs, we also expect that this group can be greatly served by our lawyers, from creating a LLC form to drafting the operating agreement of a new business.  So here are a couple of articles that should be interesting to those of you out there either thinking about or who just did start a new business.

This article from the Chicago Tribune talks about if and when a LLC structure is right for you.  For those in Chicago, Mayor Daley has also announced recent plans to aid small businesses.

Finally, a really interesting article for those who are looking at funding options and considering a business plan competition, as we here are.  It debates the merits of participating in one and if it’s actually beneficial.  Our view is that like many funding sources, you have to weigh the cost (time, preparation, some travel costs) vs. the benefits and find those that best suit you.



Year in Review – 2009

Social and Economic Trends, The Lawyer Market 1 Comment

Greetings from our first 2010 blog post.  It’s been a crazy, tumultuous, and rewarding year here at The Lawyer Market.  Now at year end, we’d like to take this time to reflect on 2009, and the great things we can expect from 2010.

New Years

We started off in the worst economic environment in over half a century.  Major financial institutions had just collapsed.  This negatively impacted the rest of the economy as the financial crisis moved from “Wall Street” to “Main Street” and nearly all major companies were affected.  The legal market did not escape this trend, as these articles from the New York Times show. Unemployed and Struggling Lawyers Seek Solace and Why Major Law Firms are Shrink

Yet, in times of turmoil, opportunities present themselves.  We here at The Lawyer Market saw this crisis as an opportunity to fundamentally change parts of the legal process.  By utilizing the power of the internet, we hoped to connect lawyers with potential clients quickly and cheaply, all the while disseminating more information to both parties.  Hence, we began to create the lawyer market in early 2009.  It’s amazing to see all the support we have received, and we have successfully recruited more than 30 lawyers in only a little over two months of operations.

We have had successes and admittedly failures that forced changes and improvements with operations, marketing, finance and all aspects of the business.  For those of you who are frequent users, you’ve probably seen our landing pages change half a dozen times, all based on feedback and an effort to continually improve the user experience.  To recap then, in less than a year we’ve designed and create the site, successfully recruited a user base, and improved on a great array of our operations.

Naturally, we’re not satisfied so what does 2010 hold?  We’ve got several things on the agenda.  On the marketing side, you’ll be seeing a lot more from us as we ramp up our marketing efforts.  You’ll definitely see more site changes as we have engaged several consultants to further improve on the user experience.  Finally, for those of you who signed up from outside of Illinois, expansion is definitely in the works.  So to all of you who have used our website and/or supported us, thanks for a great 2009 and look forward to an even better 2010.

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