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Business Card Strategies

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Let me make this perfectly clear: your business card says a lot about you. When I open the desk drawer with my Rolodex and piles of rubber-banded cards, it's like pulling open a drawer of memories. (It also reminds me that I need to scan them with my Fujitsu ScanSnap and save them with CardMinder.)

In some cultures, it is considered correct business politesse to hold the card presented to you with both hands, observe it, and comment, before putting it carefully in your wallet.

I have my own rules for business cards, to wit:
• Make sure someone can read your card easily without glasses or a magnifying glass (the “over age 40” rule).
• If you use your domain name in your email address, make sure you also have a web page with that domain name.
• Send two business cards to each client at the close of your case and ask them to refer you business.
• Whenever you give your card, give three (one for that person and two for friends).
• Use both sides of the card – include your practice areas on one side, a map to your office, or a piece of advice.
• Make it unique and easy to spot.

Making your card unique and easy to spot is tricky in the rather conservative field of lawyering. You want the impression you make to be favorable, so keep that in mind before you get too wild and crazy. And if inexpensive business cards are what you seek, the Internet is a good place to go. Try Vistaprint, but don't forget to give your local supplier a chance to compete.

Time Management

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Do you jump from one task to the next without ever finishing? You may want to try the Pomodoro Technique of getting work done. To begin, you'll need a kitchen timer, a list of tasks and a pencil. Choose a task to be accomplished and set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer). Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your task list. Take a five minute break and begin a new task with the timer running. Every 4 "Pomodoros" take a longer break (15-20 minutes). The technique was created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. Cirillo originally used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian), hence the name. To download the free book and forms, visit the Pomodoro Technique website.

Are you Ergo?

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Ergonomic, that is. I don’t need statistics to convince you that anyone who works in a law office spends a huge portion of her (and his) time sitting at a desk.  I do, and I’m guessing you do too.  Studies have found that ergonomic disorders are practically a pandemic problem in the U.S. What you are sitting on is every bit as important as your keyboard, monitor(s) and desk.

Recently, I decided to purchase a new chair to use at work. Checking out my co-workers' offices, there seemed to be a variety of seating options – from a traditional executive chair for our executive director (that figures) to an exercise ball/chair used by our risk management counsel (see the slideshow below). You'll notice I found a lot of cushions and ergo add-ons too.

After much Internet research, I visited local office furniture stores to try some chairs on for size. I felt somewhat like Goldilocks, searching for the chair that was “just right.” Luckily, I found a chair that offered enough customizable positions and possible adjustments to suit even my finicky tastes. After more than six months, I’m still happy with my chair and no longer see it as a medieval instrument of torture. In fact, most of the time I don’t think about my chair at all, which frees me to concentrate on my work.

What did I buy? A Steelcase Leap Chair.  Do you have a favorite chair? What about an ergonomic solution that might help other desk dwellers? Share your comments here.

How Good Lawyers Survive

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One of my favorite funny movie lines of all time comes from 1956's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Our hero is running for his life. His voice-over narration is (deadpan): "I had known fear before, but never fear like that." The understatement cracks me up every time.

I was somehow reminded of this line when reading the introduction of a new book dealing with bad times in law practices.  Lawyers have seen tough times before, but never quite this tough.  How Good Lawyers Survive Bad Times by Sharon Nelson, Jim Calloway and Ross Kodner has just been released by ABA books. Need a pep talk with a heaping helping of practical advice? This book is a 212-page cookbook for making lemonade out of lemons, figuratively speaking. As anyone who has seen these well-known authors and speakers would expect, the advice is delivered with compassion, common sense and a dose of humor. Most of the advice is geared to those in small firms, those recently laid off, and those struggling to find jobs. There are tips on getting clients to pay, finding a new job on the Internet, alternative billing , and resume writing. The last section of the book is devoted solely to using technology to practice better, cheaper and faster than before.  For lawyers experiencing the worst of what the economy has dealt, this book is a lifeline. Purchase your own copy, or check it out from the Bar lending library. Good-Lawyers