A recent article by Bruce Stachenfeld over at Above the Law reminded me of my biggest pet peeve regarding law firm financial performance: misleading law firm profit margin figures. Bruce correctly points out that “profit margin is a dangerous statistic to use in comparing law firm profitability” because it “can be completely manipulated by two factors: [t]he titles that a firm gives to its lawyers; and [t]he leverage in the system.” Essentially, for a given number of associates, the more partners a firm has, the higher its profit margin (%) will be. The reason for this is that typically all partner compensation is included as profit. This is a mistake. Keep reading to learn why this is a problem and to learn how to calculate law firm profitability the right way. [Read more…]
Ed. Note: This is a guest post by Fred J. Cohen, Esq.
Most couples get married thinking that it will last forever and a day, but the reality is that more than half of first marriages end in divorce, while second and third marriages fare even worse. Let’s face it: divorce is never easy, and these proceedings often become contentious, particularly when it comes to dividing the marital property. These questions can become even more complicated when one or both spouses own a business. It takes dedication and perseverance to build a successful business and a divorce can undermine years of hard work and sacrifice, especially in cases where a spouse may be entitled to a significant percentage of the business. There are steps you can take, however, to protect your business assets.
Looking to buy a great gift for that special lawyer in your life? You’ve come to the right place. This lawyer gift guide has 40+ gifts for lawyers. The gifts are categorized and are listed roughly from least expensive to most expensive. The links in this article are affiliate links. Keep reading to discover 2016’s best gifts for lawyers.
Hover over the links to see a product pop-up.
Best Gifts for Lawyers: Stocking Stuffers
For me, the very best stocking stuffers are things that bring life’s little pleasures. I recently bought a few extra iPhone cables and adapters for the house and office. Imagine living in a world where you never have to leave the room to charge your phone. You can give the gift of that world to your special lawyer for about $20.
Along the same lines, I love never having to look for a pen. My favorite is the Pilot G2 in Blue. They’re super smooth, last forever, and photocopy just like black ink. A box of 12 will keep you well stocked for the year.
More Pens for Lawyers
If you’re looking for something fancier, a fountain pen might be the way to go. You can get into something basic, like the Pilot Metropolitan, Lamy Safari, or Kaweco Sport, for $25 or less. Or, stepping it up a notch, you can go with TWSBI Diamond 580 or Sheaffer Prelude for around $50. I would not recommend moving up to the high-end models (PELIKAN M400) unless you’re sure that the recipient has a thing for fountain pens.
Best Gifts for Attorneys: Less than $50
If a board game makes sense, go with Lawsuit!
New Yorker Book of Lawyer Cartoons would make a good coffee table book. On the other end of the spectrum, The World’s Funniest Lawyer Jokes and Comebacks for Lawyer Jokes: Restatement of Retorts complement each other nicely.
For the Practical Gift Giver:
Do you like to give practical gifts? Then these options might be for you.
Some lawyers prefer mechanical keyboards to digital ones because they cause less stress on the lower arms, enable faster more accurate typing, and make a more distinctive sound.
Levenger legal pads are the Cadillac of legal pads. The paper is thick, sturdy, and luxurious. Pages are pre-printed with detailed header box for easy organization as well as margins for Cornell Method note taking.
Useful Legal Books
Modern English Usage by Bryan Gardner
This book teaches you important things like when to use fewer or less, farther or further, and nauseated or nauseous. Since lawyers make their livings with words, Gardner’s volume is an indispensable resource for attorneys. The newest edition incorporates date from Google that helps to provide objective evidence for previously subjective disputes.
A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting by Ken Adams
This book would benefit any lawyer, but it is predominantly for transactional attorneys (i.e. those who negotiate and draft contracts). Ken’s manual is basically the only resource for those attorneys who are looking for a rigorous approach to contract language.
Black’s Law Dictionary: It’s a dictionary for lawyers.
No lawyer gift guide would be complete without a nod to lady justice.
Best Gifts for Lawyers: $50 to $200
If you looking to sharpen up the decor in your lawyer’s office, here are some ideas for office accessories:Michael Aram magnifying glass and letter opener set Michael Aram candy dish Dacasso Leather Desk pad
Marquis by Waterford: Decanter and matching glasses
Best Lawyer Gifts: $200 and up
If you’re thinking about getting your lawyer a tablet, I highly recommend the Surface Pro 4. Just about every lawyer that I’ve seen at court using a tablet has been using a Surface. There are a few models that vary in price from around $900 to $1,800. The lower end model is probably sufficient for most legal applications.
Best Brief Case for Lawyers
I see far too many lugging around their case files in bags that are unbecoming of a professional, such as messenger bags, backpacks, or even schwag bags from conferences (!!!). Even if your lawyer doesn’t do this, it’s always nice to get an upgrade.
Filson makes a nice entry-level brief case made from water-resistant twill. It has two interior sections and 4 interior stow pockets. Zippers are quality YKK. It’s made in the USA.
If you’re looking for something more traditional, I like this classic model from Jack Georges.
For maximum carrying capacity, look no further than the Saddleback Leather Co. Large Classic Briefcase. This thing is a monster. It’s perfect for attorneys who still lug around huge paper files to court. Sure, it’s pricey. But Saddleback’s motto is “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead” and they offer a 100-year warranty. You’re paying to quality that Saddleback clearly stands behind. If you’re looking for something smaller, Saddleback has plenty of other models as well.
Best Bags for Female Attorneys
Don’t worry, I consulted heavily with my wife on this section. The Lodis Audrey Brera Cross-Body Briefcase is sleek, stylish and professional. It comes in a few other colors besides tan, of which red is next best.
For a larger capacity, the Michael Kors Jet Set can’t be beat. My wife uses this bag. I’m constantly amazed how much it can hold. Another huge plus: it comes in over 10 colors. The Tumi Sinclair is similar to the Jet Set, but comes in few colors.
And, if you’re hunting for big game, take a look at the Prada Saffiano.
Watches for Lawyers
The Komono Magnus is sharp choice for less than $100.
Hard to Buy For
If you made it this far, there’s a good chance your lawyer is hard to buy gift for. If that’s the case, I recommend the Kindle by Amazon. Who wouldn’t want their entire library at their fingertips? I love my Kindle and have gone through a few models over the years.
And if that doesn’t suit you fancy, the go with an Amazon gift card.
I participated in a public-defender internship during my last of year of law school. Looking back, the experience was easily one of the most valuable and eye-opening of my legal career. I’d like to encourage today’s law students, even those not interested in a career in criminal law, to spend time defending indigent criminal defendants. So I’m proud to announce that I’m offering a $1,000 scholarship for law students. It will be awarded annually to a law student who has participated in a public defender program. Keep reading to learn more about this scholarship opportunity for law students.
Picking a practice group is an incredibly important decision for any young attorney. Your practice group will dictate the substance of your day-to-day duties at your firm. But, your initial choice also has the potential to set the course for your entire career. Inertia in the workplace is powerful. Spend a few years doing real estate work and people are going to start thinking of you as a real estate attorney. Once people think of you as a real estate attorney, you’re likely to have a difficult time switching to a significantly different practice area. Or even more generally, it’s difficult to switch from litigation to corporate even if you’ve only been practicing for a year.
One factor that I suspect junior attorneys frequently overlook are the billing rates associated with a particular practice group. [Read more…]