Attorney Journal, Orange County, Volume 145

Page 1


Volume 145, 2018 $6.95

Best Books for Solo Entrepreneurial Lawyers in 2018

Dina Eisenberg 4 Client Intake Best Practices for Law Firms

Aaron George 17 Ways to Add Value to Your Client Relationships

Eric Dewey

A Strategic Approach to Legal Business Development

Jay Harrington

Make This the Year You Take Control of Your Time!

Susan Duncan

What Makes Lawyers Happy? It’s Not What You Think

Paula Davis Laack

Attorney of the Month

Richard E. Donahoo, Punching Above Their Weight

Donahoo & Associates, PC, Tustin

 949-833-3622






iates oc

13421 Danbury Lane, Unit 135 i, Seal Beach, CA 90740 NTY ORANGE COU

rs & Ass no

Helping People


nt La w

Make Their Dreams Come True


Volume 132, 201 $6.95

7 Disciplines Of a Leader

Jeff Wolf

Abdicate, Delegate, Don’t unting Client Trust Acco

Your Network is Your Net Worth

ckford Sheila M. Bla

Ruth Carter

the A Closer Look at ws e Revie lin On of s tic tis Sta

se 17 Ways to Increa Your Materials’ Readership and Response

n Katie Johnso

aries Civil Alert Summ

Trey Ryder

ntyre Monty A. McI

Learning to Learn

With over sixty years combined experience, John and Thomas Connors limit their Intellectual Property and Patent Law Practice to representing clients at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. John and Thomas Connors are highly skilled at:

Mike O’Horo

PC s e t a i c o s s A & s Connor th

e Mon Law Firm of th

Seal Beach roperty Law Intellectual P Excellence in s r o n n o .C w w w


Marijuana and Intellectual Property Law

• Obtaining patents, trademarks and copyrights for your clients • Protecting your clients’ intellectual property rights to prevent idea theft • Establishing your clients’ intellectual property rights both at home and abroad • Providing counsel necessary to navigate the complexities of protecting your clients’ intellectual property

Knowledge Is Power HOT CASES


Washington Redskins fight for their Federal Registration

Summaries of Important Intellectual Property Law Matters

Contact: to receive “Special Reports,” “Hot Cases,” and/or “Law Blogs”











2018 EDITION—NO.145

TABLE OF CONTENTS 8 Best Books for Solo Entrepreneurial Lawyers in 2018 by Dina Eisenberg

10 What Makes Lawyers Happy? It’s Not What You Think! by Paula Davis Laack


12 Community News

EDITOR Wendy Price

14 Make This the Year You Take Control of Your Time!

CREATIVE SERVICES Skidmutro Creative Partners

by Susan Duncan



PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Griffiths STAFF WRITERS Dan Baldwin Jennifer Hadley CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Susan Duncan Eric Dewey Paula Davis Laack Jay Harrington Dina Eisenberg Aaron George WEBMASTER Mariusz Opalka ADVERTISING INQUIRIES SUBMIT AN ARTICLE OFFICE 30211 Avenida De Las Banderas Suite 200 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 ADDRESS CHANGES Address corrections can be made via fax, email or postal mail.



16 Richard E. Donahoo, Donahoo & Associates, PC, Tustin Punching Above Their Weight by Dan Baldwin

22 A Strategic Approach to Legal Business Development by Jeffrey Jacobs

24 Seventeen Ways to Add Value to Your Client Relationships by Eric Dewey

28 Four Client Intake Best Practices for Law Firms by Aaron George


Editorial material appears in Attorney Journal as an informational service for readers. Article contents are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Attorney Journal. Attorney Journal makes every effort to publish credible, responsible advertisements. Inclusion of product advertisements or announcements does not imply endorsement. Attorney Journal is a trademark of Sticky Media, LLC. Not affiliated with any other trade publication or association. Copyright 2018 by Sticky Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without written permission from Sticky Media, LLC. Printed in the USA




•Certified Court Reporters

•Certified Legal Videographers

•Online Deposition Scheduling

•Court-Appointed Official Reporters

•Video Conferencing

•Online Document Repository

•Certified Legal Interpreters

•Video Deposition Streaming

•Jilio-Ryan Mobile App

•24/7, Last Minute Scheduling

•Video Transcript Synchronization

•Mobile Transcripts

•Nationwide Deposition Coverage

•Digital Deposition Streaming

•Productivity Enhancing

•Deposition Suites, Conference Centers

•Video Editing Tools

Transcript Tools

•Realtime Depositions •Electronic Transcripts •Electronic Transcript CD •Litigation Support Software Integration

Over 100 Years Combined Court Reporting Experience

•Complete Case Management

W W W. J I L I O R YA N . C O M


DTI is now Epiq. Southern California’s leaders in... Court reporting

Data acquisition & forensics

Managed document review

Free MCLE Seminars Call us for information to schedule a complimentary in-person or webinar MCLE seminar on a variety of electronic discovery topics.

Paper-based discovery services

ESI processing & hosting

Offices in LA Downtown, LA Century City, Irvine and San Diego

16842 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 375Irvine, CA 92606 Phone 949 622 0650 Web


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018







“Rick is one of the best lawyers in the country. I call him every time I have any issue in Nevada and would not hesitate to refer him any type of case ofPER anySON size.”AL IN JURY PA RTNE R ~ C. Michael Alder, Esq., Alder Law, Los Angeles, California CAALA Past President and Former Trial Lawyer of the Year

“I recently co-counseled a serious Las Vegas injury case with Rick Harris and his law firm. Rick’s advocacy and skills are extraordinary, and were instrumental in resolving and maximizing our client’s sizable recovery.” ~ Carl Wolf, Esq., Callaway & Wolf Northern California Super Lawyers San Francisco, California

© 2016 RHLF

Best Books for Solo Entrepreneurial Lawyers in 2018 by Dina Eisenberg


eading a great book is a real joy. Reading is also an effective way for solo lawyers to discover new ways of marketing and growing your law practice.

Listening is the New Reading Lawyers love to read. It’s what we do—we read and interpret information for the benefit of our clients. So, it’s understandable if your reading has been limited to case law. After all, you gotta work. However, I’m asking you to make time to read non-legal books to improve your business knowledge, business growth, and personal development. If you’re not growing, neither is your law practice. Before I break out my list of books, let me introduce you to my secret reading tool: Audible. Audible is the solution if you’d like to read more books but simply can’t find the time to sit with a book. I’ve been an Audible subscriber for over 10 years. I love it because I can read whenever I want. Before going to bed, I set the timer and listen for 30 minutes. While cooking dinner the phrase, ‘Alexa, play my book’ allows me to cook and learn. (I’ve burned a few things because I was concentrating on the concepts in the book, but oh well.) Generally, I’m listening to two books at a time (one biz, one personal). The Audible app is easy to install and set up on your phone or iPad. I have both my devices linked to the account. You simply

click to spend 1 credit (the cost of most audiobooks on Audible) and then send the book to your phone or iPad wirelessly. Sweet! You have no excuses for not reading these fabulous books I’m about to recommend!

5+ Best Books for Entrepreneurial Lawyers to Read Your law practice is actually a business. We were trained in law school about how to practice law (kinda) but not how to run a successful, profitable business. You can educate yourself by reading business magazines and books (and hiring a mentor). I read Inc. magazine as my source for business innovation and tools for years before I was featured in the magazine. One of the most helpful management articles I ever read was about the Navy (yup, that Navy) and how they look at promotions. Reading Bo Burlingham’s book Small Giants helped me as a solo define my practice and business rules. I learned that I could say no to clients even as a small fry. You don’t have to be a big firm to have a firm culture that’s based on your values and goals. In fact, I’d argue that it is even more important for a solo lawyer to be crystal clear about your culture and boundaries. It’s your business. You get to set the rules according to the Sovereign Nation of You. My list is short for now. I actually want you to read these this month because they will set you up nicely for an incredible year. Of course, you can get these on Audible!


by Greg McKeown

Lawyers get overwhelmed and way too happy to wear the ‘Me so Busy’ badge. Don’t be like that. Reading this book helped me develop my own concept of what is essential in my life. It can be difficult to let go of things, but reading this book helped me realize that I should cling to the things that matter most and let the other stuff go. What is an essential, non-negotiable for you?


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

Building a Story Brand

by Donald Miller

This book is for you if you are stuck on building your brand or find clients confused by your messaging. Raising my hand—so many lawyers are confused by what I do. I thought it was obvious, but not so much. Reading this book, and doing the exercises, helped me to step back and reconsider my messaging. An easy read, you’ll be inspired to make changes in how you talk about what you do and to your website. (You want to pass the ‘grunt’ test.) I will be coming back to this book throughout 2018 for sure because a simple shift in messaging allowed me to grow my targeted audience quickly and keep them happy. Can visitors to your site tell what legal problem you solve in 5 seconds?

Reinventing You

by Dorie Clark

We re-invent ourselves all the time but never really focus on the process involved. I like this book for lawyers because it will help you identify your ‘awesome sauce,’ what makes you uniquely valuable to others, so you can convey that to prospects and clients and stand out in the marketplace. What’s your super talent?

Entrepreneurial You

by Dorie Clark

We are all about multiple income streams around here. This book will help you think about not just how to be more entrepreneurial, but also how to do that strategically so you are leveraging your efforts. If you read all her books, Dorie takes you along on her own entrepreneurial journey and that of other successful entrepreneurs. Lots of actionable advice here. What income streams have you been dreaming about adding to your law practice?

The Conversion Code

by Chris Smith

Sales are the flip side of marketing. Once people become aware of your brand and what you offer, you need to convert them into clients. A little rough for most lawyers, including myself. That’s why this book is so useful. You’ll get word-for-word examples of how to handle various sales challenges and convert more clients. It was really interesting for me, as a mediator/Ombuds, to see the author sharing techniques that I consider tools for conflict resolution. I used some of the ideas successfully, although I have an aversion to sales like most lawyers. Do you have a repeatable sales process for talking with potential clients?

Bonus Read: Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

Face it. Most lawyers are number-phobic. I know I am. That’s why I work with Profit First bookkeeper and accountant in my business. Profit First is a cash management system that suggests that you pay yourself first (profit) before you pay expenses, the traditional way of running a biz. The book is a relatively easy read and fun, however I recommend booking time with a PF pro like Billie Anne or Wendy to set up your new accounts for you.

Dina Eisenberg is the award-winning entrepreneurial lawyer who prepares solo and small firm lawyers to delegate, automate and design a law practice that fits. Is it time to delegate? Take a quiz to find out at: Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018


What Makes Lawyers Happy? It’s Not What You Think! by Paula Davis Laack


appy lawyer—sounds like an oxymoron, right? I can’t think of many of my colleagues who I would classify as happy, or even mildly enthusiastic. More troubling, when I ask my lawyer audiences how many would pick this profession if they had to do it all over again, very few hands go up. The law is a well-regarded profession (despite all of the lawyer jokes you hear) that affords most in it a very comfortable income, prestige and respect—something is missing. I recently co-presented with Larry Krieger at a conference on lawyer well-being. Krieger, together with social scientist Ken Sheldon, authored a groundbreaking study examining lawyer satisfaction. They discovered that the things that lawyers think will make them happy long-term in the profession (e.g., money, prestige, making partner, status) are exactly the opposite of what actually leads to wellbeing, and scientifically, have little to no correlation with happiness. Rather, it’s these three pathways that most correlate with longterm wellbeing:

Autonomy. Lawyers who are highly autonomous feel like they can

make their preferred choices and can express themselves authentically. This was a consistent problem for me as an attorney because I often felt like I left the best of who I was in the car. I would pull into the parking structure and become “Paula the lawyer”—the person I thought I needed to be to be successful in the law—rather than the person I really was, who was already a success. Working with people who actively support this need in others is strongly tied to well-being, while working with a partner with a more controlling style is predictably demotivating. Importantly, autonomy-support can be taught. In fact, businesses that supported an autonomous environment (versus top-down direction) grew at four times the rate of control-oriented companies and had one-third the turnover.

Mastery. Happy lawyers are the masters of their domain. Mastery is your desire to get better at something that matters to you, to feel competent and be successful at difficult tasks. Getting frequent feedback (especially about what is going right as you develop your practice), coaching in areas that need development, and mentoring all help to develop a sense of mastery. Relatedness. This is how you connect or relate to others, and

whether you feel a sense of belonging at work. Chronic incivility depletes the legal profession’s one true resource—its people. Collegiality, on the other hand, fosters psychological safety—the feeling that the work environment is trusting, respectful and a safe place to take risks. When lawyers don’t feel psychologically safe, they are less likely to seek or accept feedback, experiment, discuss errors 10

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

and to speak up about potential or actual problems. Harvard Law School professors Scott Westfahl and David Wilkins emphasize the importance of networks and connecting in their recent Stanford Law Review article. Networks and connections allow lawyers to leverage their technical and professional skills in new ways, collaborate meaningfully to solve complex client problems and provide the space to find different ideas, people and opportunities. Sheldon and Krieger’s study further supports the assertion that relationships, in all forms (to self, others, work, community and to your direct partner/supervisor) are the ultimate key to lasting satisfaction in the legal profession. Westfahl and lawyer/consultant Avery Blank offer these other suggestions to build the three pathways outlined above: (1) give attorneys greater responsibility for hiring, pro bono and charitable activities, including real leadership roles; (2) ask associates to develop new training, lateral integration programs, metrics for success and report regularly to management about associate preparedness and perceived gaps; and (3) provide more opportunities for lawyers to write, speak and otherwise represent the firm through activities that can also promote business development. Lawyers are like everyone else in terms of what they need to feel satisfied and happy at work, but their training can interfere with their capacity to meet these needs. Professionally, lawyers are responsible for doing all of the due diligence in a matter, analyzing what could go wrong in a situation and steering their clients away from negative impact. That’s important when lawyers are engaged in the practice of law; however, when lawyers practice looking at issues through a rigid lens 12-14 hours a day, that thinking style becomes harder to turn off. Ultimately, it can undercut leadership capabilities, interactions with clients, staff and family and the way life is viewed generally. So yes, happiness is in fact possible in the legal profession; firms, organizations and the individuals in them simply need to pay attention to what actually cultivates it, which is often the opposite of what society tells us really matters. Paula Davis Laack is the Founder and CEO of the Stress & Resilience Institute, a training and consulting firm that partners with law firms, healthcare and other organizations to identify and address burnout and increase the well-being and stress resilience of their workplaces ( She regularly publishes e-books, blog posts, and e-courses for busy professionals to disseminate her STRONG strategies— STress Resilience ON the Go. Learn more at:


COLLECTION DEFENSE FIRM WE CAN ASSIST WITH: • Clients that don’t qualify for BK • Non-dischargeable debts such as student loans and fraud judgments • Commercial and consumer debt settlement • Judgment defense—everything from settlement to postjudgment enforcement and lien removal • Collection harassment • Collection lawsuit defense

Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC 400 N. Tustin Avenue, Suite 375, Santa Ana, CA 92705 Office (855) 709-5788 |

Performance-Based Fees | Referral Fees Paid (Per CA State Rules)

COMMUNITY news n Mark P. Robinson, Jr., Shareholder and Founder of Robinson Calcagnie, Inc, has been named a Top 10 2018 Southern California Super Lawyer. Mr. Robinson was the 2014 National President of the American Board of MARK ROBINSON JR. Trial Advocates (ABOTA), a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges with chapters in all 50 states. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a highly selective professional society of trial lawyers and judges (including the justices of the United States Supreme Court) whose members are selected only by invitation. Mr. Robinson is a past president of the Orange County Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. In 2010, as well as in 1999, Mr. Robinson received the California Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award. In 2011, he was chosen to serve on the Judicial Council of California Court Case Management Internal Committee. He is a past President of the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association. n Alton G. Burkhalter, Founding Partner of Burkhalter Kessler Clement & George LLP, has been named to the Top 50 2018 Orange County Super Lawyers list. He has been selected as a Southern California Super Lawyer ALTON BURKHALTER for Business Litigation every year since 2007. Mr. Burkhalter is a seasoned business trial lawyer who has successfully prosecuted and defended a wide array of cases. He has received multiple “8 figure” jury trial awards, including a Nashville jury verdict of $30.4 million. In addition to his litigation practice, Mr. Burkhalter advises and represents clients in a wide variety of business settings, such as purchases and sales of businesses, partner buy-in and buyouts, restructuring business relationships, and terminating partners and business units.


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

n The Maggio Law Firm, family law firm, with offices in Irvine has been awarded certification as a TOP 10 Business by The Prime Buyer’s Report and is officially designated Prime Buyer’s Report – TOP 10. “We’re proud and honored to have our ‘client-first’ mentality recognized by The Prime Buyer’s Report,” said Gerald Maggio, owner of The Maggio Law Firm. “Since GERALD MAGGIO we established the firm in 2005, we have been dedicated to our clients’ best interests by acting with integrity and respect in every interaction. This includes our practical approach of starting each case with a costbenefit analysis, so our clients can make educated decisions about what is best for their families.” n Bisnar Chase Trial Lawyers was named the Personal Injury Law Firm of the Year by Lawyer Monthly Magazine. Managing Partner Brian Chase was also named the 2017 High Stakes Litigator, the 2017 Top Lawyer of Distinction, as well as the recipient of America’s Best Lawyers 2017. Chase is Past President of CAOC, and Past President of OCTLA. He has won two BRIAN CHASE separate Trial Lawyer of the Year awards from OCTLA and was named Consumer Attorney of the Year by the CAOC. He’s listed in the Nation’s Top One Percent by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. n Jennifer Keller, trial attorney at Keller/Anderle LLP in Irvine, has been named to the “Top 10 Southern California Super Lawyers” list for 2018. Keller was named a Super Lawyer in the categories of Business Litigation, Intellectual Property and White Collar Criminal Defense. Kay Anderle, a managing partner of Keller/ Anderle LLP in Irvine, has also been named to the Criminal Defense and White Collar Criminal Defense categories of the 2018 “Southern California Super Lawyers.” Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from a wide range of practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multiphased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.



n Newmeyer & Dillion LLP is pleased to announce that twelve of its Newport Beach attorneys have been selected to the 2018 Southern California Super Lawyers list. Each year, no more than 5 percent of lawyers are selected to receive this honor. The Attorneys named to the Southern California Super Lawyers list include: Michael Cucchissi, Jeff Dennis, Greg Dillion, Joseph Ferrentino, Mark Himmelstein, Charles Krolikowski, Thomas Newmeyer, John O’Hara, Jane Samson, Michael Studenka, Paul Tetzloff, and Carol Zaist.





n Snell & Wilmer is pleased to announce that multiple attorneys in the Orange County office have been selected for inclusion in the 2018 Southern California Super Lawyers publication. The attorneys included are Richard A. Derevan, Appellate; Steven T. Graham, Business Litigation; Susan Grueneberg, Franchise/Dealership; Timothy J. Kay, Estate & Probate; and William S. O’Hare, Business Litigation. O’Hare was also listed in the Top 50: 2018 Orange County Super Lawyers.

We’ll help you put your best foot forward. From logos and brochures to websites, strategy, writing and beyond, we’ve got you covered!




Jenny Strauss, Partner & Brand Strategist (215) 460-0835

Have a Press Release you would like to submit for our Community News? Email it to

View our portfolio at Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018


Make This the Year You Take Control Of Your Time! by Susan Duncan


lot of lawyers are extremely challenged about operating in crisis mode and ending many days feeling they were not productive because they were side-tracked into unanticipated interactions, tasks and requests. Being organized and able to prioritize is something some people seem naturally to do better than others, but are skills that can be learned and practiced. You can learn good time management habits to determine the difference between urgent and important.

Begin with the end in mind. Write a personal vision statement. Before plowing into how to better manage your time and priorities, take a step back and think about your vision and goals for yourself, including your professional and personal life. Where do you want to be in 15 years? Ten years? Five years? What will your practice look like? What management responsibilities will you have? How much time will you devote to your career? Your firm? Your family? Your friends? Your community/causes? Yourself? Write down your goals in a statement for each of these milestone years. Keep these in front of you and refer to them often.

Manage your email. If you are like most professionals, you likely spend around three hours a day processing emails. First, set up a folder structure for your email, e.g., each client, one for prospects and business development, one for personal, one for bar or professional associations, one for firm committees or management, one for general firm announcements. Second, be sure to flag any emails you don’t want to receive as spam and ask your assistant to unsubscribe you from any lists you are on. Third, if possible, turn off your email notification for several hours a day and don’t respond to every email when it comes in. If you have alerted your assistant to key emails to help you watch for, she can contact you about these. Fourth, send fewer and clearer emails yourself, only to those who need to receive it, with a clear subject line and clear action request. Remember that for every email you send, you may receive three in return! 14

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

Ask your assistant to help you. Despite the change in roles and responsibilities of many lawyers’ assistants (no longer doing traditional legal secretarial tasks), a good assistant can play a critical role in helping you get and stay organized, anticipate and prepare for both planned meetings and projects as well as the unexpected, and help with a number of other time-saving tasks. The first step is to sit down with your assistant and ask him/her what her experience is with organization and time management and see whether he/she has observed specific areas where he/she could help you. Consider having him/her help you in the following ways: • Meet for 15 minutes at the beginning of every day or end of the day to make a to-do list of the meetings, tasks and must dos for that day. Even doing this once a week on a Friday or Monday is a useful discipline. • Alert him/her to clients or others that may call or email and flag those for you; let her know what merits an interruption and what doesn’t. • Look ahead to meetings where she can be sure the conference room is reserved, refreshments ordered. • If meeting with a client or prospect you haven’t seen in a while, ask her to print out a LinkedIn profile of the person and/or take a quick look at the client web site for any company news of importance. • Make sure he/she knows how to navigate LinkedIn and reminds you to update your profile; he/she can also send out links to articles you’ve written and remind you to send an invitation to connect to all new contacts, etc. • Ask for help with your email review and management (see above). With enough knowledge of your clients and priorities, he/she can help put emails into folders for you to review by client, management committee, etc.

Keep a daily To Do List and prioritize it. At the beginning of every day, write a list of the things you need to get done that day. This will include preparation for meetings,

attending meetings, calls with clients, working on client projects with deadlines, business development and management tasks, as well as personal tasks. Place an A or B beside each task to indicate those that must be completed on that day versus those that can carry over to tomorrow. And if there are tasks you absolutely dread on your list, get in 15 or 30 minutes early and do those first thing in your day when you are freshest.

Block time in your calendar for longer and important tasks. Begin blocking time into your calendar for chunks of time when you know you’ll have to review or draft documents. Without scheduling this time in, you will inevitably find your days filled with other unscheduled interactions and pushing this work to the evenings or causing a delay in the work-flow chain which then impacts others. Also important is the discipline of discerning urgent tasks from important tasks.

Allow as much as 50% for “unplanned” events, crises or interactions.

Be flexible but establish boundaries for work-life balance. It is nearly impossible in today’s 24/7 business world to completely turn off the work clock at a particular hour or for full weekends. Clients and colleagues know you have access to email around the clock and given how competitive it is for law firms to attract and retain clients these days, lawyers feel pressure to be hyper-responsive and always available. You need to be clear on when you will not be available because you choose to turn your attention to family or other personal priorities and activities. Most colleagues and clients will respect this as long as they know you will still get their work done, which might include having others on the team to back you up and share the load. This is in part a question of managing expectations and finding the right balance for yourself. For example, many lawyers I know with young families might leave the office at 5 but when kids are in bed or doing homework, return to do an hour or two of email follow-up.

Learn to say “no.”

Learn to close your door, go to a conference room, turn off your email notifier and ask your assistant to hold calls to get work done that you have blocked time out for. Sometimes, this is the work that gets done an hour before the average day begins or in the evenings or on the weekends, since that is when you are less likely to be barraged with emails, phone calls and colleagues stopping by.

Look at the occasions where you say no to someone as opportunities to both help you meet your own goals but also for others. In many firms, partners become reliant on and may trust only one or two people to work with a client, take care of a management issue or be assigned an ongoing task or role. When asked to do something that you don’t have time for or isn’t a priority or doesn’t interest you, identify whether there is someone else for whom this could be a good development or leadership opportunity. Learn to be selfish and strategic with your time but not without trying to find a good “back-up” option for the person asking. There obviously are times when you need to be a good “firm citizen,” partner or colleague and help others out, but often, we don’t have the courage to say no and offer a good alternative which the person asking won’t think to do unless you raise it yourself.

Track and evaluate how you are spending time.

Save some time for you!

Unless you are in a solo practice, you will inevitably have unscheduled interactions with colleagues in the firm, receive unscheduled phone calls and need to attend to some sudden deadlines. Add a few one-hour blocks into your daily schedule to allow time for these unanticipated requests and conversations, especially if you serve in a management role.

Concentrate on each task.

Most law firms still require lawyers to record their billable time, and some are good about providing ample non-billable categories in order to track and in some cases reward time spent on non-billable but important firm activities. Many lawyers don’t record their non-billable time accurately as they don’t believe it is valued and, in some cases, believe firm management looks down on them for tracking their non-billable time. It is important for you to be able to evaluate how you are spending your time now in order to improve your time management. Create a daily log and monitor your time for two weeks. You then can take a close look at what is taking more time than it should or than you’d like, where you can delegate, where you can be more focused and efficient, where you can say “no” more often.

Between client, firm and your family obligations, it is easy to forgo time for yourself. Whether it is a day off, an exercise regime, meditation, time with a friend, participating in a hobby or something you are passionate about, take time to recharge your batteries. n Susan Duncan works on the business, strategy and management side of the legal profession at RainMaking Oasis and has been doing so since 1980. Along with a high level of energy and enthusiasm, Susan brings deep knowledge of the legal industry and a passion for what she does to her clients and consulting engagements. To learn more, visit:

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018




their weight

“We’re hired to make a difference. We want to focus on the client and change their circumstances. To be effective in this business you have to know the client and understand their situation,” says Richard E. Donahoo, founder of Donahoo & Associates, PC.

Finding a Good Fit

Richard E. Donahoo has more than 20 years of experience practicing law in California. As a plaintiff’s attorney, his primary practice areas are employment and labor disputes, prevailing wage litigation, wrongful death, financial fraud, and severance contracts. The firm has a diverse practice, representing a broad range of clients: employees, families suffering from a devastating loss, retirees defrauded by insurance companies, classes in complex class actions, bankruptcy trustees. Approximately 30 percent of their large complex cases involve working with other attorneys and other firms. Donahoo says there never was an “Ah-ha!” moment when he realized the drive to become an attorney. Yet, as early as his high school years he realized the law might be “a good fit.” When he was in his twenties and prior to becoming an attorney, he worked for a firm involved in litigation and spent many long hours with attorneys who became very influential in helping him figure out his career path. It also helped solidify the feeling he had in high school and confidence to know that a career in law was a “great fit” for him. His path to become an attorney wasn’t without it’s challenges.


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

While starting law school at the age of 29, he also had the extra responsibility of working and taking care of his young son full-time as a single dad. When asked about it, Donahoo says, “Those were tough years. Looking back, I am thankful for that test. Those years gave me a unique perspective and the confidence I could multi-task under stress.”

Taking the Leap

His legal career began at Horton, Barbaro & Reilly, where he was “very fortunate” to be mentored by some of Orange County’s best trial lawyers. “I learned from the best. In the 90s, Jay Horton, Frank Barbaro and Ned Reilly were always in trial. It a was a place to see great trial lawyers in action. I got to see and learn first-hand what it takes to bring in a jury verdict,” he says. “I tend to jump in with both feet and go 100 percent.” In 1998 he stepped out and made the jump to private practice. “I started my firm on April 1, 1998 - April Fool’s Day. Twenty years have gone by so fast, but I’ve never looked back.” The challenge of practicing as a trial attorney and managing a firm is one many attorneys face. Donahoo is assisted by his twin brother, William, who acts as the case administrator and

© christopher TODD studios




Twin brothers Richard E. Donahoo and William E. Donahoo.

manages the office. “I am lucky to have him. He takes things off my plate, so the attorneys can focus on the cases and our clients and not worrying about running the business side of our law firm.”

Philosophy and Connecting

© christopher TODD studios

Today, Donahoo leads a team of experienced attorneys that routinely takes on large corporations and government entities whose wrongdoing causes damage and injuries. The firm was founded in 1998 and today consists of Donahoo, two attorneys and a support staff. “We’re small but we punch above our weight. I am lucky to have dedicated and loyal support,” he says. Donahoo is a classic attorney, the type who like to lead by example. “I try to lead by doing the blocking and tackling. I do a lot of the litigation that in other firms might be delegated to a junior partner or senior associate, because I want to win. I don’t ask my associates to do anything I wouldn’t do myself,” he says. His business philosophy is based on staying focused, even when it comes to the smallest of details and, in his words, “grinding it out” to obtain success when others would normally give up or say “good-enough.” He says, “Doing the little things right every day is what’s going to make you successful whether it’s winning your case or being successful at anything.” Donahoo credits this philosophy and working style toward helping win all of his team’s biggest wins, which include sevenand eight-figure verdicts. Donahoo and his team are obviously driven to make a difference for their clients, to change their circumstances as most attorneys are. However, it’s his strong ability to connect with jurors which often sets him apart from other attorneys. Whether it is a wrongful death or insurance bad faith case or a labor and employment class action, Rich’s passion, belief and mission to seek justice for his clients comes through crystal clear to the jurors he addresses. “I think for whatever reason, I’m able to relate to jurors and put forward my client’s case in a credible way.”


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

© christopher TODD studios

William E. Donahoo, Brenda Torres, Judith Camilleri, Esq., Richard E. Donahoo, Esq., Sarah L. Kokonas, Esq, Ailene Reyna, and Kelsey Ung.

The “Grinder”

Donahoo and Associates also has no problem taking on the type of cases that other firms might avoid and has built a reputation among fellow peers as being a firm of “grinders.” “Our goal is to make sure we know every fact and detail about a case, then simplify as much as possible to make sure the jury is crystal clear on the matters of the case that pertain to our client’s position.” If you are going to try the types of cases we take on, it’s vital to understand every aspect of the case and then communicate that information to the jurors without confusing them.” Donahoo’s ability and willingness to “grind it out” to a successful verdict is a valuable asset that attracts referrals from other attorneys. “My longest jury trial was five and a half months in a case where I represented 33 clients. It was a battle but worth the fight,” he says. The verdict resulted in a seven-figure recovery. His tenacity was also demonstrated when he represented 900 managers of a national health club chain which became noteworthy when a federal judge decertified the collective action, requiring individual actions. “We then filed almost 900 individual arbitrations and prepared to arbitrate each one,” he says. The case eventually resolved in an eight-figure settlement.

Tenacity and Hard Work Rewarded

Donahoo’s biggest jury verdicts have come representing individual people. In 2014 he represented a mother against

the County of Orange after she was struck by a car in an Orange County crosswalk, an event that killed her two-yearold daughter. “That was a tough case. We knew that suing the county would be an uphill fight, but we believed the evidence supported liability against the county,” he says. The jury agreed, awarding more than $7.4 million. In 2016 Donahoo teamed with Tom Foley of Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis, LLP against Mcguire Woods, a national trial firm, in a closely watched bellwether jury trial against MetLife, Inc. in Los Angeles. The plaintiff alleged financial elder abuse involving a failed real estate fund. The firm’s retired client lost her life savings of $280,000. MetLife claimed that the company had nothing to do with the fraudulent program. The jury found for the retiree against MetLife, awarding her compensation for her entire loss, and $15.4 million in punitive damages against MetLife and its subsidiary. He says, “We focused on the defendant’s conduct and the jury understood the purpose of punitive damages. The case was important not only for our client, but for the other 97 clients victimized in the same scheme.”

Recipe for Success

Donahoo points out that part of that mix involves efforts to overcome the growing challenge of getting cases to a jury trial. Donahoo says that the proliferation of arbitration agreements and scarce judicial resources are making the process of getting before a jury increasingly difficult. “The jury trial is more and more the endangered species of our

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018


© christopher TODD studios


system. We have to adapt. We have to become better dealing with that and find ways we can get to a jury.” Donahoo says his personal success and the success of his firm can be attributed to a very few basic steps: “Get to know the client. “Prepare yourself and the client for the ups and downs of the case. “Focus on the facts. “Paint the picture and tell your client’s story. “Tell the jury why the case is important.”

Outside of the Arena

Donahoo is married to a former defense attorney, Natalie, and he has two more children: Nicole, age 12, and Jack, age 10. “Having a spouse who knows the ups and downs of litigation has helped. She understands the time commitment. She’s been a rudder when the seas get rough.” Chase, the son he raised during law school, will graduate from Santa Clara University School of Law in May. Time outside the office is usually spent with the family and with their horses, trail riding and team roping. He is active in California’s youth rodeo association, serving on the board of directors for the California Junior Rodeo Association. “My daughter rides horses and competes in junior rodeos, barrel racing and team roping.” On weekends, he can be found on the road, hauling horses to a competition. He competes in team roping in Southern California when possible, but he focuses his limited time on family and his practice. “Since my daughter started competing, my team roping and golf game have taken a back seat.” He was on the college rodeo team at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and qualified and competed in the College National Finals Rodeo in bull-riding and steer wrestling. “The things I learned in the rodeo arena 30 years ago are still with me today. Now, it’s just a different arena. You’re going to get knocked down in this business. It’s how you pick yourself up and you keep going that counts.” n Contact Richard E. Donahoo Donahoo & Associates, PC 440 W. First Street, Suite 101 Tustin, California 92780 (714) 953-1010


• Western State University College of Law, J.D., cum laude, Law Review, 1993–1996 • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, BS, Business Management, 1987


• AV Preeminent rating, Martindale Hubbell • Orange County Trial Lawyer of the Year, 2015 • Orange County Trial Lawyer of the Year, 2017 • Super Lawyers, 2009–2013, 2015–2018 • Top Attorneys, Orange Coast Magazine

» BAR ADMISSIONS • California

• U.S. District Court Southern District of California • U.S. District Court Central District of California • U.S. District Court Northern District of California • U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit • U.S. Supreme Court


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

A Strategic Approach To Legal Business Development by Jeffrey Jacobs


any of us treat legal business development the same way we do bathing suit season—we work hard at it when we need to. When spring break approaches we hit the gym, and when October rolls around we start raiding our kids’ Halloween candy. When we’re slow at work, we ramp up our business development efforts, and tamp things down when business picks up. Legal business development becomes a rollercoaster: a cycle of ups and downs that creates stress and uncertainty. There’s a better way to approach legal business development, and it involves consistency of effort over the long-term. If you’re consistent with business development as a lawyer, you’ll have a steady pipeline of new business opportunities. You can be more discerning about the work you take on. You won’t feel pressured to take on clients that don’t fit your practice. You won’t have to ignore your gut instinct that an engagement could lead to trouble because you need the revenue. You’ll have more success at the work you do pitch because you’ll come across as confident and measured, rather than desperate. Sounds good, right? Here’s how to do it.

Understand What You Need, So You Can Understand What You Need to Do The problem with a sporadic approach to business development is that lawyers often overreact and overcorrect when times get slow. They engage in a bluster of business development activity that brings in work—often more work than they can handle. So, they stop all business development activity to focus on the work they have. guessed it. The cycle repeats. A lawyer who finds himself riding this up and down cycle typically lacks an understanding of what sustained level of business development activity is required to keep his plate full, and the plates of others full, as appropriate, on a consistent basis. Here’s what he should do instead: 1. Start by understanding his ideal client. It’s far easier to sell if you know who you’re selling to.


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

2. Then define his sales process. What is his buyer’s journey? What process is required to move a prospect to a paying client? If he meets a prospect at a networking event, what’s next? Is there a free initial consultation, followed up by a proposal? 3. Once he’s defined his process, he must understand conversion. In other words, how many prospects take him up on his offer for a free consultation? Of those who participate in a free consultation, how many request a proposal? Of those who request a proposal, how many are converted into clients? Sure, every client’s journey is different, but if you pay attention to conversion, patterns will emerge. And when it comes to crafting a sustained business development strategy over time, it’s important to map your actions to the best data available. Otherwise you’ll just flail about. 4. Now that he has some data (even if it’s not perfect—and in this process we’re shooting for “better” not “perfect,” at least at the start), he can dig into it. Let’s say that once he’s analyzed the data, he finds that 50% of the prospects he meets agree to initial consultations, 40% of those he meets request a proposal, and 20% of those who request a proposal become paying clients. That means that, for every 100 prospects he meets, 4 become paying clients. He should then analyze how many new clients come in via other means each year, such as by referral or directly through his firm’s website. 5. Once he has this data at his disposal, he must determine another metric, which is the value of each client. How much money, on average, will each new client spend? For the sake of keeping the math easy (I’m a JD not an MBA!), let’s say each new client accounts for $5,000 in revenue. 6. Finally, he must determine the amount of revenue he wants (or needs) to generate from new business. To keep the easymath theme going, let’s assume that number is $250,000. Once a lawyer has done this diligence, he can work backwards and craft a legal business development action plan that will get him to his goal. In this case, we’ll use the following assumptions: • New Business Revenue Goal: $250,000 • Number of referral and direct new clients annually: 25

• Revenue from referral and direct new clients annually: $125,000 This means that there is a $125,000 gap that the lawyer needs to fill through new business development to get to his goal. He needs 25 new clients to reach his objective. As we know from the data above, only 4 out of 100 prospects become paying clients. Accordingly, he needs to meet 625 prospects to convert 25 into new clients. Assuming he works 50 weeks out of the year, he needs to meet 12.5 new people, on average, per week. That breaks down further to meeting 2.5 new prospects, on average, per day. Armed with this understanding, the lawyer can then put in place a daily practice to get himself, and his personal brand, in front of the right amount of people so that he can meet his goal. Instead of haphazardly reaching out to large numbers of people at sporadic points in time, he can strategically touch base with small numbers of people daily. He knows the numbers, so now he can create a plan. And if he’s smart, he’ll take a few simple steps to compound his success. He’ll take a hard look at his sales process and make incremental changes that lead to big improvements, and better conversion, over time. He’ll create valuable content and distribute it via social media—he can’t be in more than one place at the same time, but his content can scale. Instead

of focusing only on developing new business, he’ll look for opportunities to increase revenue from existing clients. Legal business development is a numbers game. You need to be out there, active, and engaged. You can’t just pop up periodically on someone’s radar screen and expect them to engage with you when they haven’t heard from you in six months. It’s the steady consistency, not the episodic intensity, of legal business development effort that matters. As author and marketing expert Seth Godin once said, “The thing is, incremental daily progress (negative or positive) is what actually causes transformation. A figurative drip, drip, drip. Showing up, every single day, gaining in strength, organizing for the long haul, building connection, laying track — this subtle but difficult work is how culture changes.” It’s how legal practices change, too. Want to eliminate the topsy turvy uncertainty of legal business development? Adopt a more strategic approach. n Jay Harrington is an attorney, executive coach, author, and legal marketing consultant. He is the owner of Harrington Communications, an agency which helps lawyers and law firms build stronger brands and bigger books of business. His new book, The Essential Associate: Step Up, Stand Out, and Rise to the Top as a Young Lawyer, launched on April 3rd, and is available for purchase at


• Decades of Experience • Aggressive Representation • Personalized Care • Over 1 Billion Recovered by Our Attorneys

949.287.4931 |

500 Newport Center Drive, Suite 950 Newport Beach, CA 92660

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 144, 2018



Legal marketers talk a lot about value. We talk about providing value, being of value, and adding value. It’s a solid concept. A correct concept. A simple concept. Value is anything you do that makes your client’s life happier, easier, better informed or more profitable. But few firms have a thoughtful, repeatable process that they use to build loyalty and reliance on their client relationships. If your competitive advantage is built on providing value (and whose isn’t?), here are 17 strategies to integrate into your client relationship management process.






Business and legal departments often find themselves faced with a temporary shortage of help. Law firms can often provide exceptional value to their clients (and themselves) by placing staff or attorneys in the client’s business on a temporary basis. Secondments are the temporary assignment of staff or lawyers to work in a client’s business. Reverse secondments are similar but place the client’s executives at the law firm. Both strategies provide an exceptional experience for the individuals being placed. The practice adds ongoing value because the placed executive learns new systems, processes, understands the culture and business imperatives better and often expands the relationship within the firm.

Law firms that provide ongoing CLE, training programs and instructional guides provide value by shifting the task of providing this from the client to the law firm. The training can be done by webinar, onsite at the client’s offices or in written form. Some firms provide training videos on a client extranet ensuring the client gets the exclusive benefit

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

of the custom-designed training program. Consider adding mechanisms to report attendance, viewing time or other metrics to help the client manage the training of their employees.



Law firms often have access to resources and information that their clients do not. Additionally, law firms can draw on the experience of their lawyers gained through years of working with similar, even competitor, companies. Identify the key competitors of your client and do research on them to understand their strategic direction and their competitive advantages. Monitor the media for updates about the competitors and provide regular updates to your clients on their activities, legal issues and changes in financial position.



Custom analysis or research can provide significant and unique value to a client. One firm I worked with undertook an analysis of all the wage and hour decisions in all the courts in the client’s footprint along with an analysis of the judge’s historical decisions. This gave the client an exceptional tool to evaluate each jurisdiction and make better venue decisions. Research can also set the firm up as an authority on a topic. Certain aspects of a study may be made available to the public while the more significant findings are kept for the exclusive benefit of the firm’s best clients.





There’s no question that clients are focused on gaining efficiencies in every aspect of their business. This is no less the case in their management of litigation and the handling of their legal issues. Checklists, guides and tracking systems can help improve the effectiveness of a department and the efficiency of the work.

A thoughtful plan provides exceptional value. Plans demonstrate to clients a commitment to accomplish the client’s goals in a timely and predictable manner. Many law firms and lawyers meet annually or quarterly to look at the upcoming year or quarter and help clients plan for the anticipated work. Plans come in many varieties and can be done for training, legal work, expenses, and many other purposes.







The trusted relationship a law firm has with its client takes time to develop. Evidence that a trusted relationship has developed can be found in the ways the law firm has made their services transparent to the client or given the client extraordinary access to the firm. This could be in the form of access to the firm’s software or technology, access to staff or transparency in billing, processes used or research undertaken.

Finding the right fit for a position can be a challenge. In the legal area, outside counsel can be particularly helpful by finding and introducing potential candidates, assisting in writing job descriptions, vetting candidates, assisting in orientations or on-boarding of the new hire.

Businesses are constantly on the lookout for issues that could present challenges or opportunities for the business. Issue spotting is the process of monitoring industry news and trends to identify emerging issues and opportunities that could affect a client’s business.



There is an endless number of ways in which technology can be used to add value for a client. Some firms set up extranets and house war rooms on them to store the documents, giving easy access to the matter records.



Your connections can be a resource to your clients. Faced with challenges and opportunities, the people you know can help your clients achieve their objectives. Make sure you know all of the people that you know and your partners know and proactively make introductions to your clients. Enabling your clients to expand their network of connections and tap new resources adds significant value to the relationship.



Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to market their company. You could be an avenue for them that they hadn’t considered. Whether it is using your client’s products or services, developing a co-promotion or simply promoting your client’s business, aligning their sales and marketing goals with your own can be a win-win situation for both of you.

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018




Sure. You should get paid for your legal insights. But some insights can be given in order to add value to the client relationship. Once you know the issues your client is most concerned with, you can develop insights into the issue, helping your clients to get a better view of what the future holds for them.



Law firms are well positioned to provide a host of investigative services for their clients, from screening job applicants, merger candidates or even competitors’ activities.



Sometimes companies need a way to interact in the marketplace without their competitors or customers knowing who is behind the request or inquiry. Law firms are uniquely positioned to provide a wall to shield the company’s name. Whether it is receiving resumes for top executives, conducting research or requesting public records, law firms can provide the anonymity that clients need to accomplish their goals.



Who can read everything they need to read on every subject that they need to monitor? No one. So curating content on topics of high interest to your clients is a way to make their jobs easier and their loyalty to you more secure. Collect articles and news reports on a client’s top interests, their competitors, suppliers and vendors, and other information that they don’t have time to collect for themselves. Boil the information down to the most salient points and deliver an executive summary of the information.



Your business clients have charitable and community causes that they feel strongly about. Align a portion of your community involvement and charitable giving to ensure your client’s community objective are also fulfilled. Clients appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort when you add real value to the relationship. That effort will not only build loyalty, but it can integrate you into their business. n Eric Dewey, MBA is principal of Group Dewey Consulting and has more than 25 years training and coaching hundreds of lawyers and other professionals in practice and business development. He is the former chief marketing officer of several large law firms and has extensive experience in financial services, commercial real estate and management consulting. His clients range from the nation’s largest law firms to midsize law firms, specialty boutique firms, and solo practitioners.

Don’t handle complex tax issues on your own! You need an experienced tax attorney to represent you in front of the IRS and state tax authorities. Our services include: • Tax Planning and Preparation • Tax Controversy and Resolution Services • Small Business Formation and Tax Preparation • Bankruptcy Petition Filing

Luis E. Vasquez the tax law office of

1820 E Garry Avenue, Suite 108, Santa Ana, CA 92705 | T: 949.756.1394 F: 949.756.1398 | 26

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

Your Estate Plan is Not Business, It’s Personal … Our passion is to educate, motivate and protect our clients, their families, and their hard-earned assets—for life. We don’t just draft estate plans … we create lifelong relationships backed by comprehensive planning.

Providing expertise to our California clients in: • Asset Protection • California Probate • Estate Planning • Medi-Cal Planning • Trust Administration


Give us a call today! 17702 Mitchell North, Suite 101, Irvine, CA 92614 714-966-2646 |

4 Client Intake Best Practices For Law Firms by Aaron George


t many law firms, client intake is a disjointed process of back and forth calls and emails, and manual paperwork. The process can be arduous for both clients and staff. Worst of all, poor organization can expose law firms to liability when mistakes are made and result in lost business when things slip through the cracks. The better job you do at managing your intake process, the more efficiently your law firm will operate, and the more business you will close. Read on for our list of four client intake best practices to help get your law firm on track for success.

 Use your website as a marketing tool, not an intake tool

Your website is a major part of your law firm brand. It’s like an online storefront where your potential clients can browse around, learn more about your services, and contact you if they’re interested. Having a website for your law firm is mandatory these days. But, a lot of attorneys make the mistake of trying to use their website for client intake, when it’s really meant for marketing. Sure, it seems like a great idea to have a comprehensive intake form on your website that will just collect all the information you need to assess a legal matter without you ever having to talk to anyone. But in reality, doing it this way just creates a barrier between you and a client who is interested in your services. Why is using your website for intake a problem? Purchasing legal services is a big decision, and it requires a lot of trust. Before you have established this trust, expecting someone to fill out a comprehensive intake form and provide their sensitive information is probably asking too much. The primary goal of web marketing is twofold: 1. Generate interest in your services 2. Create an easy transition to the next step of the sales process For most law firms, the next step in the sales process is an initial phone call or a consultation, which provides a perfect opportunity to build enough trust to seal the deal. You should make the process 28

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018

of getting to this step as easy as possible on your prospective clients. Here are three tips in mind to maximize conversions on your website and make the transition to the next step of the sales cycle as seamless as possible: 1. Display your phone number prominently on every page and encourage people to call 2. Use a virtual receptionist service so someone is always available to pick up the phone 3. For people who wish to inquire online, include a simple contact form on every page with just basic fields: name, phone, email, and message Treat your website like a marketing tool, and save client intake for later in the funnel, once you’ve had an opportunity to build rapport and establish trust.

 Automate follow-ups with drip emails One of the biggest mistakes law firms make during the intake process is failing to follow up enough. Just because someone didn’t book an appointment right away or didn’t sign their retainer yet does not mean they are a lost cause. But if you never check in and follow up with them, they will be far less likely to move forward. In sales, persistence pays. Law firms are no different. The more you check in and follow up with potential clients, the more they will trust you and the more likely they will be to hire you. It’s that simple. How to follow up automatically with drip emails The biggest challenge with following up is simply having a good system in place to manage all the potential clients and keep track of the communications. Without a system, it’s virtually impossible to know who to follow up with and when. Fortunately, you can automate much of the process by using drip marketing. Drip marketing is basically just a process for sending an automated sequence of emails at predefined time intervals. It eliminates the hassle of having to remember to follow up and saves time because you don’t have to manually type out and send emails to each person. Everything just runs in the background.

For example, Lexicata has an email campaign feature which allows you to initiate a drip email sequence with a single click. Not only that, but we also offer the ability to trigger automated reminder emails for consultations, pending intake forms, and unsigned fee agreements. Both of these features together will ensure that you are following up with your prospects frequently during intake and not letting any business slip through the cracks due to poor organization and lack of communication.

 Use online questionnaires to streamline data entry

Legal work requires collecting a lot of information, which is a big reason why having a good client intake process is so important. Many law firms utilize intake forms to help create a structured system for collecting the necessary data. This is smart because it helps prevent important information from being overlooked, which can be costly. However, there are also quite a few downsides to using paper or PDF intake forms. These things may impede your workflow, result in inefficiencies, or cause errors in your data. Here are a few of the biggest issues and challenges that can arise: • Data collected in the forms has to be re-typed into a database or case management system later, which wastes a lot of time and can result in data transcription errors • Illegible handwriting can cause errors or confusion • There is no ability to require important fields to be filled out • There is no ability to validate the formatting of information (e.g. you can’t guarantee that an email address or date will be in the proper format) • Paper and ink costs can be high from having to print out every single form • Scanning and uploading paper forms into a document management system takes up a lot of valuable time How online questionnaires streamline the process Fortunately, using online questionnaires makes the process of collecting and entering data much easier for both law firms and their clients. Here are some of the key advantages that online forms can provide over paper or PDFs: • No duplicate data entry – the fields on the form can be mapped directly to a database or contact management system • No printing, scanning, faxing, etc. – forms can be filled out online, even from a mobile device • Organized, clean data – no issues with poor handwriting, plus you can have required fields for the most important info and validate the formatting of your inputs • Data in a usable format – the data can be mapped to fields and inserted into documents automatically or exported into a spreadsheet for reporting purposes

 Offer e-signatures to speed up retention times and improve conversion rates

These days, most legal work is done remotely. Less and less time is spent interfacing with clients in person. Instead, law firms rely heavily on email, scanning, and faxing to send documents back and forth with their clients. But these processes can be quite cumbersome and inefficient for both parties. Downloading, printing, signing, scanning, uploading, and emailing is a lot of steps just to sign a fee agreement. Yet, you can’t legally establish an attorney client relationship without one, so it’s a critical step. This is why getting a fee agreement signed can be one of the biggest bottlenecks in the intake process. How e-signatures will save time and boost conversion rates Compared to the cumbersome back-and-forth process for signing paper documents, e-signing is a breeze. You can simply click a link in an email and draw or type in a digital signature in a matter of seconds. The document can be sent back to the other party with a click of a button, and everyone automatically receives an executed copy of the agreement once it has been signed by all parties. No one has to deal with downloading, uploading, printing, faxing, or scanning, saving time and eliminating hassle. It also helps cut down on wasted paper, saves money on printing costs, and makes life immensely easier for everyone. Most importantly, the amount of time required to get an agreement signed will be reduced significantly. This helps increase your conversion rate and saves you from the hassle of having to continually follow up about pending agreements. Although it’s often overlooked, the client intake process is one of the most important parts of a law firm’s operations. Client intake is how you convert a prospect into a paying client, and how you capture all of the important information you need in order to do your job. A poor process can result in wasted time, costly mistakes, and lost business. Essentially, client intake is really just the legal sales process, and by improving your client intake process you can increase the efficiency and profitability of your practice. If you’re looking to grow your law practice, these four client intake best practices are the best place to start. n Aaron George is a technology entrepreneur with a background in law, having attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Currently he is cofounder and President at Lexicata, the legal industry’s leading CRM and client intake software. At Lexicata he focuses on product design, content marketing, and business operations. Connect with him on LinkedIn:

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018


Monty A. McIntyre, Esq. Mediator, Arbitrator & Referee ADR Services, Inc.

To schedule, contact Christopher Schuster: (619) 231-1323 or

Organized, succinct summaries of EVERY new published California civil case, posted every other Monday for $7.99 a month! Subscribe at


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 145, 2018



Post Falls, ID PERMIT NO. 32