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The Road Back to Best Practices for Lawyers

— February 10, 2022

With the potential for quicker and easier travel just around the bend, this is also a time to resume traditional networking habits and for lawyers to again be the face of their firm – even while wearing a mask. 

When the governors of California and Nevada announced to their respective states the expansion of Interstate 15 in December 2021, I saw it as a wake-up call.

This five-mile stretch between the state line and Barstow will ideally ease traffic congestion during peak hours. Construction on this critical economic corridor is expected to begin by mid-Spring, with completion anticipated by the end of Summer 2022. So while this initially seemed like an I.O.U. in a Christmas stocking, it is terrific news for local economies, supply chains, and tourism hubs like Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

But traffic accidents happen there, too, as anyone who works or lives nearby knows. The roadway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles was described as the deadliest in the U.S. by the Scripps Howard News Service in 2010. The service’s “Killer Roads” national reporting project revealed that 1,069 people perished in 834 accidents on Interstate 15 between 1994 and 2008, which was more than twice the death toll from any other road in any other county.

As the owner of a small firm, I pride myself on the local presence I’ve established. When I receive the unfortunate call from a client injured outside California on Interstate 15 or another major roadway, I will always go above and beyond to help them find the right out-of-state advocate.

What I Seek in Another Lawyer

While I never hope for injury claims, they are inevitable here in the Inland Empire. I have had several clients, relatives, or friends contact me from Nevada or Arizona after a collision on Interstate 15.

I am licensed to handle claims occurring only in California, but sought similar practitioners on their behalf in Nevada and Arizona (and even some in-state) who could deliver the right services. I want the lawyer to have four specific qualities:

-A solo practitioner or small or boutique law firm. The lawyer or firm I refer should reflect my own so that the same level of care and attention is given to the client.

-A genuine local. The lawyer should be headquartered near either the accident or the court that will be hearing the case. Despite the benefits of video conferencing for depositions, you want to know that the lawyer practices near where they will be needed. They will understand the local legal issues, developments in the courts, and the reputations and track records of the judges.

-Positive reputation. The lawyer needs to be a fighter in the courtroom as well as a compassionate listener outside of it. If I do not know the lawyer directly, I place the most faith in word of mouth. Testimonials are key and a colleague or professional who will vouch for an out-of-state lawyer carries a lot of weight.

-A solid track record. I always like to see the results of another lawyer, not just to keep up with the Joneses, but to ensure they can speak to their successes. While there is a bottom line factor to consider, not everything can be measured in dollars – time, health, resources, and family are all impacted with every litigation and a favorable resolution can take many forms.

I feel confident referring a lawyer who demonstrates the right combination of those traits and shares my own values. I also believe in reciprocity; a reference from a peer is the highest compliment, and when the right opportunity presents itself, I return the gesture to lawyers who do good work in their fields.

Methods for (Re)Building Your Own Brand

Injuries aside, re-openings and road expansions are positive signs for lawyers and clients – with more people traveling across state lines for personal and professional purposes, clients may have a greater and more varied need for legal services. More importantly, it can help facilitate a “return to normal,” and this is an ideal time for local lawyers to strengthen relationships, broaden their networks and initiate strategic alliances with their out-of-state counterparts.

With the potential for quicker and easier travel just around the bend, this is also a time to resume traditional networking habits and for lawyers to again be the face of their firm – even while wearing a mask.

Surgical Masks are Effective For Stopping the Spread of COVID-19
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

It is invigorating to see in-person meet-and-greets on my calendar again; it’s a reminder that so much of our profession depends on people and relationships. Considering all the disruptions of the past two years, the excitement of meeting someone new is equal to reconnecting with an old acquaintance, and I see this as a time to reinforce bonds and forge new ones.

Attending live local bar association meetings and legal conferences are great ways to maximize education and networking opportunities. I still believe this is a way to stay updated on legal trends and develop law marketing strategies. If you are deemed safe to travel and follow public health guidelines (such as social distancing), you will have a chance to stand out and make a lasting impression on new and like-minded contacts.

The prospect of traveling more frequently will have its risks and rewards. With the right point of view, lawyers can establish new connections in neighboring states that will strengthen your network and – even when you cannot represent your client – refer an out-of-state counterpart who will also provide the same exceptional service.

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