1

TDot’s Tips: Your first 3 purchases as a n00b solo

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 14, 2013 in TDot's Tips

OK so the whole “hour a day for the business” thing has worked out better for the business than the blawg :beatup:

But there are now two (2!) entries posted within the past 30 days, so in a way the activity here has actually increased +100% :P

My still-sorta-hiatus has been the byproduct of the solo practice, which has somewhat-bizarrely produced more (paying!) work than I thought I’d have at this point.1

And that whole “Hey! T. hasn’t been evicted yet!” has in turn prompted some former classmates and law:/dev/null readers to ask for any insights I may or may not have on how they can get started themselves. Since I’ve been telling them all to follow the same first few steps — after paying your taxes of course — I’m throwing it into another one of these entries.

So are you a new or aspiring n00b solo like me?2 Here are the first 3 things you need to get started:

  1. Your own domain name:3 It’s 2013; the internet stopped being new years ago. There is now -0- excuse for you still using smartsexyesquire@gmail.com as your professional email address.4

    Domain names typically cost less than $1-per-month. GoDaddy in particular always has dozens of coupons you can find with a quick Google search, often letting you buy a domain name for $3 or less. I’ve got dozens of domains registered for my law firm that aren’t even being used yet, just because they’re cheap and I might find a use for them later.

    Finding a hosting provider (a company that gives you some hard drive space on a computer somewhere in the cloud, to which your personalized domain name will point) is cheap too. I’m currently paying $9.95 a month at DreamHost, which hosts all of my domains — including lawdevnull.com — and comes with an email server preconfigured.5

    So for a $11 a month and less than 10 minutes of startup time, you can have a much fancier smartsexyesquire@mylawfirmname.com. Clients expect a custom name over an Gmail / Yahoo / Hotmail email account, so don’t disappoint them. ;)

  2. Dedicated contact information: For clients to hire you, they first have to know you’re a lawyer. And for them to know you’re a lawyer, someone somewhere (probably you) has to tell them how to contact you.

    And the odds are good you don’t want to give them a home address or your mobile phone number, especially when they start referring others to you and those referrals refer other referrals. Before long you’ve got people from all walks of life knowing where you live, even if their legal needs and your practice areas don’t match up.

    Fix that problem before it starts by getting dedicated contact information for your law office. Lots of new attorneys use Google Voice for free and swear by it; I was one of the unlucky ones6 — folks who called my Google Voice number would sporadically get a message that my number was disconnected, which I discovered is a not-uncommon problem — but ported my Google Voice number over to Verizon Wireless and pay ~$20 a month for unlimited minutes using their Home Phone Connect service. Either way, a dedicated phone line is fairly cheap.

    Then you need an address. A Post Office box is fine starting out, and costs as little as $2 a month depending on where you’re located and what size you get. If you feel the need to get a physical office that works too, but until you get a stream of clients you’re usually fine meeting folks in a municipal library or a Starbucks or your client’s place of business (many clients love not having to go anywhere). The key point is not giving out your home address.

  3. Business cards: I don’t care what anyone else tells you about those .vcf files, QR codes, or whatever fancy new-fangled foolishness gets advocated as the latest “most awesome thing… ever!” for distributing contact information — nothing will ever beat the sheer versatility of business cards in your pocket.Keep a stack on you at all times, no matter where you are. Walking the dog? Have cards in your pocket. Going through drive-thru to get dinner? Have cards in your pocket. Filling up your car at a gas station? Have cards in your pocket.7

    On any given day you will visually cross paths with dozens of people, even if you don’t realize it. 20-30 people a day at least (unless you lead a very boring life). That translates to thousands of people you don’t know and have never met, somewhere within handshake-distance in any given year.

    500 of these raised-ink cards set me back $30 at T-Rex Cards

    500 of these two-color raised-ink cards set me back $30 at T-Rex Cards

    Now those folks might not even need a lawyer themselves; many of my cards get handed out to folks who just want to connect to talk about my alma mater or sports or my law school. But if just 1 of those thousands of people becomes a paying client, or sends a paying client your way, you’ve paid for your cards for the entire year.

    And they’re inexpensive too: you can get fancy raised-ink cards like mine from T-Rex Cards for as little as $10, or also-fancy full-color cards from Moo for a bit more.

Get these three things knocked out, and you’ll have everything you need to effectively market your nascent law practice :D

That’s it for this entry y’all — enjoy the rest of the week! :)

—===—

Past TDot’s Tips entries:

  1. Don’t confuse “paying” with lucrative of course — I’m still broke, I’m just not getting evicted or going deeper into debt at the moment :beatup: []
  2. And yes I realize it’s no longer hip to use “n00b” but (1) I don’t care and (2) I don’t care ;) []
  3. You’ll notice I didn’t say “your own website” — since the TGD Law site still hasn’t been substantively updated since I opened the firm back in October, I’m not entirely sold that having a fancy website is necessary to do well. Time will tell I guess. []
  4. Amazingly, I’ve actually been handed a business card (from a real lawyer!) listing “smartsexyesquire@somerandomdomainthatwasntgmail.com” as their email address. And folks think *I* have a big ego… []
  5. I’ve also started offering other attorneys a hosting plan through my law firm in case they’re intimidated by the geek-speak, using DreamHost on the backend. []
  6. Sound familiar? See here or here or here. :mad: []
  7. True story: I got randomly asked by another refueling motorist if I was an attorney just last week :crack: He saw the back of my car (which, admittedly, is bedecked with both NC State and NCCU Law stickers and a corresponding license plate cover) and wanted to know what area of law I practiced, because he advised entrepreneurs on how to start their businesses and they often needed an attorney. It was crazy. []

Tags: , , , , ,

 
-

Getting caught up

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 12, 2011 in The 2L Life

Hey everybody! :D

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here at law:/dev/null, largely due to spending Spring Break this past week trying to get caught up on life post-trial team season. I’m still not there yet, but I figured if I waited to post until I was caught up on classwork I wouldn’t have any readers left :beatup:

So what’s been going on over the past week and a half here in Legal Eagle territory? Here’s a bulleted rundown:

  • Wednesday (03/02/11): Finally had my nuked Gmail restored… in its entirety :surprised:  I have to admit I was both surprised and impressed, and I’ll concede I was wrong in my entry predicting the worst. After making sure all of my mail was restored / downloaded / backed up / etc, I stayed up until 2am-ish to make sure I was fully packed and my trial team binder was ready for the AAJ competition I was brought in on.
  • Thursday (03/03/11): Skipped classes to head to the airport, then flew down to Atlanta GA for the AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition regionals. The first round wasn’t until Friday night, so I spent the day with the team checking out the city.  We had lunch at the Underground‘s Georgia Peach Restaurant & Lounge — some of the best barbecue I’ve had outside of North Carolina, and their peach-blended tea was delicious too.1 :)
  • Friday (03/04/11): The 2L team’s first round in the AAJ STAC was against the 3Ls from WFU Law. There were some initial jitters when we found out I had already met the presiding judge — the coach of the GSU Law team Christie and I dismantled at the TYLA NTC — but since we didn’t really know how to go about asking for a recusal (and didn’t even know if doing so would even be appropriate given AAJ’s chronic shortage of judges) we just went ahead and did our thing. EIC and M&M were counsel for the defense on that case and turned in a top-notch performance. It provided a big confidence boost to Tinkerbell2 and I heading into the Saturday rounds.
  • Saturday (03/05/11): And with that confidence in-hand, we torched the next two teams we faced on Saturday :D Tinkerbell and I were counsel for the Plaintiff for both rounds, and we first went up against 2Ls from I’m-not-entirely-sure-where.3 The results could be summed up like this: Tinkerbell was so devastating on cross-examination, their lead counsel blurted “DAMN!” in exasperation when yet another one of his objections was (properly) overruled :spin: I also got to deliver my first “split” closing, which went over well with the jury both in its execution and content.

    NCCU Law's 2L and 3L AAJ Trial Teams :D

    We followed that beatdown with a match against the 2Ls from WFU Law, in what was hands-down the toughest match we had. Their cross-examination was sharp, and it seemed like every evidentiary ruling made by the judge was going in their direction whether it was warranted or not. Tinkerbell finally shook them off their game during her cross-examination of the Defendant, who started fabricating facts under the pressure. I was sufficiently heated at that point4 that I was out for blood when it came time for closing arguments, and proceeded to beat the Defense over the head with their own inconsistencies. It was all very satisfying :angel: Afterwards we headed to a post-competition reception, then went back to the hotel and played spades at its downstairs bar until last call.

  • Sunday (03/06/11): We found out our 2L team came in 7th place overall5 and only the Top 4 would advance to the semis, so Sunday got spent checking out the Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and then packing up to head back to the Bull City. Before leaving the hotel we also ran into MDG… which was vaguely reminiscent of a 1L nightmare I used to have where I tried to hide from my teachers but they always seemed to find me no matter where I went.6 :beatup:
  • Monday & Tuesday (03/07-08/11): Both of these days get lumped together because they were both spent knocking out life necessities — several loads of laundry, apartment cleaning, turning in travel-related paperwork, and so on.
  • Wednesday (03/09/11): Had a business lunch with the Pickle Princess, who I hadn’t seen since the April festivities celebrating the end of my second term as UNCASG President. After catching up on how our respective lives had progressed over the past year, I gave a tour of my alma mater to a quartet of her students who were participating in a FFA competition we were hosting. Turns out one of them even wants to go to law school eventually :surprised: If I ever get sick of the whole “being a lawyer” thing, I think I’d really love being a booster for N.C. State and for NCCU Law :spin:
  • Thursday & Friday (03/10-11/11): These two get lumped together too, since they were basically split between watching the opening games of the ACC tournament and trying to catch up on all the mounds of schoolwork that amassed themselves between focusing on TYLA, focusing on SBA, and focusing on AAJ.

Which brings us to today: catching up on law school work, catching up with law school friends, and catching up on the law school blog :D

God willing I’ll be able to resume my somewhat-normal life now that I’ll have some free hours again, which in turn should (hopefully) mean more work around the blawgosphere — keep your fingers crossed!7

And until then, have a great night y’all! :)

  1. I did, however, nearly choke to death at one point amid drinking said tea. Madame Prosecutor was not pleased. []
  2. Another 1L K-S veteran with me. She’ll probably object to this nickname, but as 1 of the 2 shortest people I know at NCCU Law I thought it was appropriate ;) []
  3. I think they said Mercer Law, but I can’t remember for the life of me :beatup: []
  4. I know it’s a competition, but lying under oath? Really? []
  5. In reviewing the ballots, we swept Saturday but somehow lost the Friday night round. Even given my natural bias toward my own team, I’m still at a loss to explain how any rational judge (let alone 3 of them) could have arrived at that conclusion. When a pair of Emory Law 3Ls kicked our butts at TYLA, I admitted it to you. The people we went against that night in AAJ were far worse, while EIC and M&M easily outperformed Co-Counsel and I ::shrug:: []
  6. He was supposedly in town for a NBA game, not to tell me my 1L CivPro grades were entered wrong and I had actually failed. []
  7. Unless you don’t actually like reading this stuff, in which case you can stop visiting :P []

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
-

Rawr (or, “F*ck the Cloud, Day 3”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 1, 2011 in Technology

Don’t have much to write tonight y’all — operating off 2 hours of sleep and just got home from NCCU Law about a half hour ago, so I’m completely beat and ready for bed :beatup:

I’m also still locked out of my Gmail account, just like I’ve been for the past two days now :(

Fingers crossed that I’ll wake up tomorrow and have all my stuff miraculously restored so I can promptly back everything up and contemplate de-Google-fying my lifestyle…

Tags: , , , ,

 
2

G[F]ail (or “F*ck the Cloud, Day 2”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 28, 2011 in Technology

Another day on the internet, another day with no access to anything Google-affiliated :mad:

Now at least it says Google is trying to fix things...

After sporadically checking Gmail throughout Trial Practice and Business Associations this morning, I finally just gave up. Still no email. Still no docs.  Nothing. Nil. Nada.

At least Google was kind enough to put a new redirect in place when I tried to access my account. Now it tells me explicitly why I can’t access my account, instead of sending me to a page saying I violated their Terms of Service.

After winging AAJ trial team practice tonight since I didn’t have any of my docs, I made my way home from the law school around 11ish when I discovered I now at least (it appears) have access to my non-Gmail services.

I also noticed Google had posted an update on their blog making it out like there was never really an issue.  Here’s the copy/paste, but you can read the original at this URL:

Gmail back soon for everyone
Monday, February 28, 2011 | 6:30 PM
Posted by Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar (24×7)

Imagine the sinking feeling of logging in to your Gmail account and finding it empty. That’s what happened to 0.02% of Gmail users yesterday, and we’re very sorry. The good news is that email was never lost and we’ve restored access for many of those affected. Though it may take longer than we originally expected, we’re making good progress and things should be back to normal for everyone soon.

I know what some of you are thinking: how could this happen if we have multiple copies of your data, in multiple data centers? Well, in some rare instances software bugs can affect several copies of the data. That’s what happened here. Some copies of mail were deleted, and we’ve been hard at work over the last 30 hours getting it back for the people affected by this issue.

To protect your information from these unusual bugs, we also back it up to tape. Since the tapes are offline, they’re protected from such software bugs. But restoring data from them also takes longer than transferring your requests to another data center, which is why it’s taken us hours to get the email back instead of milliseconds.

So what caused this problem? We released a storage software update that introduced the unexpected bug, which caused 0.02% of Gmail users to temporarily lose access to their email. When we discovered the problem, we immediately stopped the deployment of the new software and reverted to the old version.

As always, we’ll post a detailed incident report outlining what happened to the Apps Status Dashboard, as well as the corrective actions we’re taking to help prevent it from occurring again. If you were affected by this issue, it’s important to note that email sent to you between 6:00 PM PST on February 27 and 2:00 PM PST on February 28 was likely not delivered to your mailbox, and the senders would have received a notification that their messages weren’t delivered.

Thanks for bearing with us as we fix this, and sorry again for the scare.

A “scare”? Really??

I realize Google has a vested interest in downplaying this situation — after all, they’re trying to convince major corporations to entrust their networks to The Cloud — but I’m almost offended that they’re acting like (i) losing access to my email for 2 days now (potentially permanently), complete with (ii) redirects to a page saying I violated the Terms of Service, alongside (iii) cryptic and thoroughly uninformative status updates on the Google Apps Status Dashboard, and (iv) no substantive response from the company until after the media catches on to what’s going on, is all merely a “scare.” :roll:

Then there’s the rest of the content in this non-apology apology. They’re backing up my email from tape archives but it’s somehow still all there? I call bullsh*t: the sheer volume of tape cartridges they’d need to use to back up all their users is too huge to believe they do these backups daily. A more likely explanation is that they’ve got a monthly or quarterly tape archive that they’re going to use to restore my account (assuming they actually restore it), which would mean I’ll have permanently lost anything recent.

We’ll see what happens over these next 48 hours that they’re supposedly working. But for now I’m drifting toward becoming one of those anti-GOOG partisans…

[Postscript: And to those of you thinking “But TDot, Gmail is free! You shouldn’t complain!”: I’ll stop complaining about losing my access when Google decides to give me the advertising $$$ they made from ads targeted based on heuristic analysis of my email messages ;) All the “free” users are paying for Gmail service, exchanging the privacy of our email correspondence for cloud storage and reliable access.]

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
2

F*ck the Cloud

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 27, 2011 in Technology

[Update @ 10:00am on 02/28/11: Still locked out of everything. Now on Day #2 of no Gmail… no Gchat… no Google Docs… no Analytics… no Feedburner… no Calendar… :( ]

Take a look at this photo. It’s a screenshot from the Gmail account that I’ve been using for about 5 years now.

Buzz is there, but my emails aren't. And no ninjas.

Notice anything unusual?

That’s what I saw when I logged in earlier today. First thing I noticed — no ninjas. I’m not a fan of the bland white default, so I switched things over to the Gmail ninja background.

Next thing I noticed: the privacy-invading Google Buzz is turned back on, even though I cut it off the day it came out.

It was at about that point I realized the biggest issue — 100% of my emails before this morning were completely and totally gone. So were my chat logs. So were my settings. :surprised:

After probing around online in a panic, I discovered this thread in the Gmail forums and a cryptic entry in their Apps Status dashboard that they were “investigating”. Along with a reassurance that it only affected 0.08% of Gmail users… which doesn’t reassure me at all since I’m one of the people affected :mad:

Access Denied. To everything...

Then, just to add insult to injury, as of about 20 minutes ago my entire Google Account has been disabled. Meaning I can’t just get to my Gmail — I also can’t get to Google Docs (including my homework), Google Scholar, Gchat, Analytics, Feedburner, Webmaster Tools, and all the other G-stuff I’ve gotten into the habit of using.1

I’ve disliked “cloud computing” ever since it was created. When N.C. State announced plans to migrate from its own mail servers to Gmail, I was skeptical. Likewise during my second term as NCSU’s Senate President, where the (otherwise phenomenal) Student Body President I worked with still reigns as the biggest Google Docs fanboy I’ve ever met.

Maybe it’s my libertarian-leaning political beliefs. Maybe I’m a neo-Luddite. But personally I prefer having all the data coming to my home network where I’m responsible for my own backups and not subject to the failures of someone else.2

Then I got lazy trusting in Google’s reliability and set my cron jobs to download/backup my Gmail on the last day of each month. And of course this all failed today, hours before that cron job was supposed to run :beatup:

The only saving grace is that I didn’t lose all my stuff — I’ve still got a not-quite-a-month-old archive stored locally at home. But my distrust for the cloud has been affirmed, and I will now redouble my neo-Luddite ways in trying to avoid cloud computing as much as possible.

Grrr.

  1. Just out of sheer coincidence, helping Google make $$$ through its advertisements. []
  2. Few things can provide peace of mind quite like a 1TB RAID with hot-swappable drives that can then go to the bank safe deposit box ;) []

Tags: , , , , ,

Copyright © 2019 law:/dev/null All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek.
Find TDot on Twitter or on Google+.