Archive for the ‘Practice Tips’ Category

Legal Technology Big Change Through Small Revolution Guest post by BlueLine staff Investment in legal technology has moved at a staggering pace over the past few years. Tech start-ups promise to radically disrupt law practice by automating everything from document review to legal research, while Lex Machina and Judicata promise to empower lawyers with data-driven insights and analytics. Despite these revolutionary possibilities, myriad simple legal tasks, such as cite-checking, pulling cases, and reviewing quotes, still consume absurd lengths of time. We question whether the low hanging fruit is being left on the tree. The low hanging fruit has already been picked in practice management software. Lawyers are now familiar with digital time-entry, e-billing, and expense-tracking applications. There has been less interest in applications that are specifically designed to improve the tasks that lawyers can actually bill their clients for doing. Perhaps this is because lawyers focus on automation that speeds […]

Declarations provide the factual basis for claims made in memoranda of points and authorities, briefs, and writs. (I.e., every statement of fact in a brief must be properly supported with a citation to a declaration.) Here’s how to write a really good declaration: First, write the declaration in the declarant’s own voice, using her own language, from her own perspective. Second, tell a good story. The declaration should be a narrative, and it should be comprehensive with regard to the incidents it relates. Finally, follow the rules of evidence. Everything in a declaration must be admissible as if it were testimony in court. There must be foundation (how the witness knows what she knows) and there must not be inadmissible hearsay. Show personal knowledge for every claim in the declaration. For example, do not say, “I applied for General Relief last week but I can’t get it for six more weeks.” Instead, […]

Last week the partner in my firm was approached by some women who wanted to press charges against a restaurant for discriminatory behavior. The partner’s first step after deciding to take the case was to prepare a demand letter. A demand letter is simply what it says: a letter demanding payment or some other action from someone. An attorney might write a formal demand letter for a client as an attempt to avoid litigation over a dispute and expedite a resolution. A demand letter generally includes: What payment or action is demanded. Why. Law out the facts that led to the writing of the letter. Make sure to get the facts straight; this is also good preparation in case you end up litigating the dispute. Then explain why the person owes money — have they failed to pay for a job done, have they botched a job you paid them […]

Jane Austen’s Persuasion is about a pair of lovers, Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth, who are thrown together eight years after Anne, under the influence of a family friend who thought the match financially imprudent, broke off their engagement. The book is about many forms of persuasion, not least of which is how Anne, regretting her decision not to marry Wentworth, slowly wins back his embittered heart,  by doing no more to actively persuade him than just being her good, loving self. We are always, every day, in subtle ways, convincing people that we know what we are doing, that they should hire us for the job, that they should keep us on for the job, that they should put their trust in us, build a collaboration with us, take a risk on us or with us, enter a relationship with us, maintain a relationship with us, etc. It is not […]

The basic psychological premise behind effective persuasion is that people only do things for emotional reasons. Logic is something they use to justify a decision they’ve already made or an action they’ve already taken. Effective persuasion therefore relies on appeals to emotion rather than appeals to reason. This is why Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People pairs the idea of influencing people with the idea of making them like you, and why one of the most popular quotes I have seen on the topic of persuasion is all about playing on people’s subconscious emotions: People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies. ~ Blair Warren, sales copy writer Encourage their dreams. This bypasses the other person’s conscious mind by tapping into her subconscious need or desire for respect, prestige, etc. Justify their […]

Culled from a number of sources on applying for legal jobs: (1) Thoroughly research the organization. Look not only at the organization’s web site, but also try to find recent news articles on the organization. Try such sources as Lexis-Nexis, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and legal news sites. Also speak to classmates and alumni from your school who have worked for the employer. In the interview, mentioning that you have read about the organization in the news and/or talked to former employees makes you look resourceful and genuinely interested in the organization. (2) Be able to answer the question “Why did you go to law school?” Practice how you will answer this. Start your answer with a strong thesis statement (“I went to law school because . . .”), rather than with a long roundabout story about how you ended up in law school. Then try to talk about how your reasons for going to […]