To Join, Or Not To Join? That Is The Question.

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If You Join a Bar Association, Join It for the Right Reason

Many lawyers, especially solo practitioners or those in small firms, might often find themselves wondering if joining a bar membership is worth it. The more I’ve read into this dilemma, the more I realize how common this question is. With that question in mind, I did come across two articles on that might help.

The first article, Will Joining A Bar Association Help Solos And Smalls Get Clients, was written by Carolyn Elefant. She doesn’t go completely against bar associations in her article, but she does make a point about how they are poor for meeting clients. This brings me to the second article.

Why You SHOULD Join A Bar Association (A Response to Carolyn Elefant), was written by Keith Lee. His reason is obvious, given the title. He points out in the article that while you aren’t likely to obtain new clients by joining a bar association, you would be still be able to enhance your business development. How so? Because you would be increasing your professional network, which can go a long way if you actually know the attorney who is opposing you in a trail.

I only scratched the surface of the articles, so feel to check them out yourself by clicking the links above. From what I gathered, I believe joining a bar association can be a good thing… If you are joining for the right reasons and picking the right association.

What are your thoughts on joining a bar association? If you’d like to contribute an article of your own on this topic, or any others, feel free to submit a “Become an Author” form by clicking here.

Copyright:Stepan Popov

Some Advice When Going the Distance

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I have been considering going back to school over the past few months. For what exactly, I’m not sure. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is where I decide to go to school. There are a handful of colleges in my area that I could choose from, but I also thought about taking online courses from an out-of-state university. The idea of online courses seems appealing and convenient, but I’ve learned from previous college experience that they require the same amount of time and dedication as on-campus courses.

Karleia Steiner, a blogger for StudentAdvisor’s online blog, recently wrote an article that contained several tips for adult students who are taking online courses. Here’s a few of the tips:

  • Use any interactive tools provided
  • Connect with your courses peers
  • Stay organized

Check out the full article to see the other tips by clicking the title, 7 Online Study Tips for Adult Students.

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Don’t Dread Continuing Your Legal Education

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Getting yourself motivated to take courses for your CLE can sometimes be quite challenging. This is especially true if you have a busy schedule. This lack of motivation and time is something that every educated professional will more than likely deal with at one time or another. While I most certainly am not a lawyer, I too must find time to take courses that will benefit my own career.

I recently came across an article on titled, Beyond Biglaw: Back To School (Or, Some Tips About Continuing Legal Education), written by Gaston Kroub. Mr. Kroub comes up with several good points that can not only help other attorneys stay on top of their CLE, but also help them enjoy taking the courses. They include:

  • Using technology to better locate and take courses.
  • What types of courses attorneys can take.
  • How teaching CLE can contribute to your own education.

The advice Mr. Kroub gives in this article helped motivate me to stop putting off the enhancement of my own education, and I’m sure it can help motivate you. To view the full article, click here.

Copyright: Andriy Popov

Trial Reviews How David Beats Goliath

Trial Magazine Cover June 2012How David Beats Goliath – Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms was reviewed in the June 2012 publication of Trial.  Reviewer Douglass F. Noland gave a very thorough, detailed and fair review of the book.  Here are a few brief excerpts:

“Author Michael Swanson’s How David Beats Goliath is a must-read for any lawyer who works on contingent-fee cases.”

“Swanson explains, in a straightforward way, how to maintain your firm’s cash flow and how to level the playing field against your opponents.”

“If Swanson’s strategy is applied faithfully, lawyers may lessen their worries about financing their cases, so they can concentrate more on the cases themselves.”

To read the complete review, click here. To purchase a copy of How David Beats Goliath, click here.

Managing Tax Records

The IRS recently released an informative bulletin regarding the management of your tax records.  As a Certified Public Accountant, I am often asked, “How long do I need to keep my tax returns after I’ve filed?”  Here are some of the tips shared from the IRS’ release:

  • Normally, tax records should be kept for three years.
  • Some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRA and business or rental property — should be kept longer.
  • In most cases, the IRS does not require you to keep records in any special manner. Generally speaking, however, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return.
  • Records you should keep include bills, credit card and other receipts, invoices, mileage logs, canceled, imaged or substitute checks, proofs of payment, and any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your return.

For more information, click here to read the release.  The IRS also recommends reviewing Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals, for more details regarding tax documentation.

Kelly A. O’Leary, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CITP
Director of Finance and Administration