Hamptons Legal – The Daily Detail

News, Service & Small Practice Management

Archive for September, 2006

Featured Attorney – Meg Rudansky, Esq.

Posted by pbsweeney on September 26, 2006

Sag Harbor, New York

Meg Rudansky, Esq. graduated in 1984 from Brooklyn Law School. She was admitted to the bar in 1985 and immediately opened her private practice in Sag Harbor. Meg has been a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association (Elder Law and Tax Committees) since 1988. She is a member of the NYS Bar Association (Elder Law and Trusts and Estates Committees), a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and a member of Wealth Counsel, a national organization of estate planning attorneys.

We wanted to talk to Meg because she has developed a successful niche practice in Elder Law, and we were curious about how she has approached building her firm over the years.

Meg is very enthusiastic about her practice. “I love it. I really do love it,” she said. She particularly enjoys the counseling aspect; helping her clients with tax and estate planning strategies. Meg has defined her practice on this very personalized approach relating to an area of her clients’ lives that is cause for serious concern. “I love the counselor role,” she says.

Though many attorneys on the East End have successful practices that cover everything from real estate transactions to criminal litigation, Meg believes that her specialty cannot be easily added to a “laundry list” of legal services. The stakes are too high as changes in the tax code and Medicaid laws continually impact estate planning, thus constant attention to new legislation and relevant decisions are mandatory. Meg believes that her specialization has been the key to her success.

It doesn’t take long to realize that Meg is a text book example of a legal marketing whiz – she does everything we urge attorneys to do in order to get their names out there to grow their practice. She participates in local charitable causes, she gives seminars relating to her practice specialty, she has a great web site, she is well represented in professional organization membership in her specialty, she writes a column for a local paper, AND she has even developed a practice tool relating to marketing that sets her apart as a smart and savvy woman.

Given all this, how did Meg get to the place where she realized the value of comprehensive marketing on such a scale?

“Well to me it was a no brainer; it was common sense,” Meg tells us. “I just used what I thought were natural ways of getting my name out there.”

Meg shared with us one of her more recent marketing successes: I did a set of seminars at Guerneys Inn and the Southampton Inn, she says, and I included a free consultation for any attendee. I found myself flooded with people who took me up on that, and I found myself spending a terrific amount of time on these consultations trying to strike a balance how much information to give away for free. My client list went through the roof and it was a bit overwhelming.

It forced me to think – What do I want my practice to look like. Do I want a machine or do I want a more gradual growth where I can take the time to develop the systems to support it in a way that serves the client effectively?

Through my association with the paper I write a column for, I was able to take out a half page ad at a reduced price. I invited people to Starbucks for coffee and we all sat in a circle and I asked people if they had any questions. It was a great experience. People asked their questions, I listened and answered, and at the end I gave out $5 Starbucks gift cards. It produced a manageable number of clients without the expenditure of my time on lengthy free consultations. People that came in to me from that event came in as ready-made clients.

How’s that for marketing genius? We love it! We love that it was not too expensive and not too time consuming. We love the understanding and assessment of the target market group in the community. And the setting was perfect in that it was non-threatening and laid back. People did not need to be anxious about a one on one hard sell.

In the increasingly competitive world of lawyering on the East End, Meg Rudansky’s investment in a thoughtfully marketed specialty practice is a smart mirror of a national trend. You can reach out to Meg at 631-725-4778. See the contact page on her web-site for further details.

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Posted in Business, Featured Attorney, Law, Practice Management | Leave a Comment »

5 Tips to Improve Client Retention

Posted by pbsweeney on September 19, 2006

ITS ALL ABOUT CONTACT

Of course, the best way to retain a client is to be the best damn lawyer you can be. It’s not necessarily the splashy dynamic personalitites that have the biggest book of business. But even the best lawyers can lose momentum with a client even while a matter is still active. You don’t ever want a client to wonder where the heck you are.

We’re not reccommending that you blitz a client with all these means of contact because how annoying would that be, but think about using a few of these to remind a client that:

-You take a personal interest

-You’re around

-You’re the logical Go To person in the client’s life

1. Google Alerts: Set up the client’s name as a Google alert so that whenever something of note happens in the client’s life, you know about it. It takes only a few minutes to have this search done for you on a daily basis indefinitely. Then you can pop the client an email of better yet, give them a call about the event. Plus you can set up alerts for industry specific news. If you are providing ongoing business consulting, this is great way to stay current and spot legislation, decisions or trends that impact the client’s business and may provide you with billable hours related to consultation and revisions in paper according to what you have found. The message : Wow, my firm really looks out for me. They CARE. They’re THOROUGH.

2. I Have an Extra Ticket: This is an easy one, because who doesn’t love being thought of for something free, so few people will turn you down. This can be as casual or upscale as you like, from a ball game to a show to a benefit. If the event is local, a last minute invitation can be a very inexpensive night, with a quick bite to eat (it’s too late to make a reservation at anywhere expensive), or drinks after to talk about the event and then of course, about the client’s life or business. This is also a great tool for continuing the conversation with that potential client you met recently. Work out a budget that is appropriate and select events twice a month. Make it part of your marketing routine, above and beyond the usual client lunches.

3. Solicit Client Opinion: You don’t have to know everything. Say you have a friend or another client who needs a particular service and they have mentioned in passing that they are looking for a specialist or an expert or even a good contractor. Think of the clients you have who have experience in the area under discussion and give a few of them a call to ask their opinion. Most people are flattered to be asked. The client has the opportunity to flex his knowledge muscle for you, and you get to have another positive interaction that demonstrates your care and concern, while reminding the client again that you’re here.

4. Happy Birthday: Yeah I know its old, corny etc., but someone needs to calendar all the clients’ birthdays and buy a stack of cards that need to go out. Don’t imprint them with the firm’s name in gold – hand write them. A terrific number of firms confirm that a birthday card has resulted in a call. “I’ve been meaning to call and kept putting it off and then I got your card.” It’s just part of making it easy for clients to remember you and call you and feel good about it.

5. Get Out of Your Office: When was the last time you visited a client at his/her place of business? During economic downtimes in particular (now), a walk through with your client at their place of business, taking a tour, meeting key employees, and initiating positive discussion, helps solidify your position with the client. Ask the client how they are responding to their current situation, whether it be reduced or increased growth. Talk to them about where they see themselves in two years, in five years, etc. Explore a few potential legal needs for them down the road such as, for example: their commercial lease or new premises, labor and any associated immigration issues, structure of the company, etc. You know what to do – just get yourself there and do it!

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Anyone out there have a tip they’d like to share?

Posted in Business, Law, Practice Management | Leave a Comment »

Legal Junkie Heaven – Supreme Court Oral Arguments Available the Same Day They Are Heard

Posted by pbsweeney on September 15, 2006

How cool is this:

Beginning with the October 2006 Term, the Court will make the transcripts of oral arguments available free to the public on its Web site on the same day an argument is heard by the Court.

This is not as much fun as being able to listen to the arguments live in real time, but its a nice step forward and an interesting note about the direction of Chief Justice Robert’s administration.

In the past, the transcripts had been posted on the Web site approximately two weeks after the close of an argument session. Previously, transcripts could be obtained sooner than they were posted on the Court’s Web site by making arrangements in advance and purchasing them from the Court’s contract reporting service.

Transcripts can be located by clicking on the “Oral Arguments” prompt on the home page of the Court’s Web site and selecting “Argument Transcripts.”

Transcripts will be listed by case name and the date of oral argument. Transcripts are permanently archived beginning with the 2000 Term on the Court’s Web site. Transcripts prior to the 2000 Term are maintained in the Court’s Library.

Posted in Federal Spotlight, News, Practice Management | Leave a Comment »

“Act Like a Drug Dealer” NY Times Reporters Attend Legal Seminars

Posted by pbsweeney on September 13, 2006

Michael Calderone in the Observer has an eye opening story in his Off the Record column about how the NY Times legal team and various consultants are formulating strategies to help protect journalists in their wrangling with federal investigations and subpoenas. The hope is that reporters will not end up languishing behind bars like Judith Miller during her contretemps with Patrick Fitzgerald, by simply using a little commmon sense, and simple tools like disposable cell phones.

Love to be a fly on the wall in one of these legal seminars given to staff at W. 43rd Street headquarters by Times lawyers George Freeman and David McCraw. Read the entire story here.

Posted in Ethics, Law, News, Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Voter ID Scuffles

Posted by pbsweeney on September 13, 2006

We could subtitle this “The Bizarre ‘Wisdom’ of Exclusionary Legislation.” Yesterday when I went to vote in the primary, the mostly retiree poll workers kindly looked up my name in the rolls and I signed in to vote. My signature was examined to see if it was a match and I was ushered to one of the old lever machines which are so reliable and apparently not made anymore – but that’s a whole other subject. The point is that the process was not remotely adversarial. Those of us voting were all happy to be exercising our rights. But in some states this happy, cordial, feel-good process is changing…

Peter Wallsten of The Los Angeles Times writes…
“Little noticed by U.S. voters, a nationwide melee has broken out pitting liberal and conservative groups in a duel over restrictive new voting laws that could determine who wins close elections in November and beyond. The dispute, which is being fought in disparate and often half-empty courtrooms in as many as nine states, concerns new state laws and rules backed primarily by Republicans that require people to show photo identification to vote and, in some cases, proof of citizenship and identification when registering to vote.” Read the full text of the article here…

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Law, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Tuesday Sept. 12 Is Primary Day in New York

Posted by pbsweeney on September 10, 2006

The Daily Detail urges readers to vote on Tuesday as Democrats, Republicans & the Working Families Party prepare for the November elections.

In the gubernatorial race, Democrats will choose between New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi. Senator Hillary rodham Clinton faces challenger Jonathan B. Tasini. Four candidates are vying for Mr. Spitzer’s job; Sean Patrick Maloney, Andrew Cuomo, Mark Green, and Charles King (Mr. King has dropped out but his name will still appear on the ballot).

Republicans voting for a gubernatorial candidate will choose between K.T. McFarland and John Spencer.

The Working Families Party is hoping for a county clerk nomination with either Vivian Viloria-Fisher or Charles Pohanka III, while Daniel Calabro and Michael Abatangelo are running for Committee membership.

Regular polling places will be open between the hours of 6 a.m. & 9 p.m.

The Daily Detail officially endorses Eliot Spitzer (we can’t wait to watch him shake up State Government with his trademark zeal), Senator Clinton (we liked watching her dress down Rummy and look forward to more of this new, less moderate style), and Sean Patrick Maloney (he’s a young fresh face full of enthusiasm and committment to the job and he carries none of the heavy baggage of Mr. Cuomo, or the unsavory campaigning of Mr. Green).

So Go Vote!!!

Posted in News, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Bong Hits For Who?

Posted by pbsweeney on September 5, 2006

Kids, kids – whattaya gonna do?

Who among us is not rooting for the Supreme Court to take Ken Starr’s latest appeal, if only for the chance to hear the learned justices utter the words, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” Starr, the former Whitewater special counsel, petitioned the court last week to review the case, in which the Juneau, Alaska, School District suspended a high school senior who unfurled a banner bearing those words during an Olympic torch relay in 2002. The event was off school premises, leading the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in March that the suspension violated the student’s free speech rights. (Frederick v. Morse.)

The school district is fuming and the NSBA (National School Board Assoc.) has filed an amicus brief, as apparently it’s just too outrageous that students’ constitutional rights are not being violated more consistently. Ken Starr feels so strongly about it that he agreed to help Pro Bono.

Hats off to legal blogger, Robert Loblaw, who has discovered a parallel case (which he dubbed Bong Hits for Bush), that came down last week from the 2nd Circuit, Guiles v. Marineau. The case, he reports, involved a student whose school forced him to put duct tape over the front of an anti-Bush t-shirt that portrayed the president as a “chicken-hawk” drug and alcohol abuser. The 2nd Circuit said this violated the 13-year-old’s First Amendment rights. Loblaw explains:

“The Court explains that the school may have a permissible interest in censoring pro-drug and pro-alcohol messages. However, the t-shirt in this case was actually anti-substance abuse, since it attacked George Bush for using drugs and alcohol. Instead, the shirt bore a political message that was protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, the student should not have been disciplined or forced to duct tape his t-shirt.”

As there is no split between these two circuits on the First Amendment rights of students, the Supreme Court will likely not hear Ken Starr’s appeal, but it sure is fun thinking about it.

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Humor, Law, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »