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Freelance Attorneys Learn to Blog Better with Cari Twitchell

Do you like our blog?  Well, it’s about to get even better—thanks to Cari Twitchell, a writer, editor and law-trained content-marketing strategist. Cari joined us for lunch to share her tips and tricks, based on years of writing content.  Her presentation covered blogging basics:  getting started, choosing a strategy, finding topics that will get noticed, making use of keywords, imagery, and mobile-responsive design, and connecting with social media.  If you blog, or are thinking about it, I heartily recommend connecting with Cari and learning more about her technique. A few highlights, useful to both freelance lawyers and the lawyers who hire them: Posts should be as long as needed to make the point (at least 250-300 words), but not longer—a blog reader’s attention span maxes out at about 7 minutes (about 1600 words). Choose topics wisely.  Find out what your audience is searching for, especially the words they use to find it (the magic “keywords”)—then sprinkle those words throughout your post so search engines will recognize your post may have the answer. Include hyperlinks (Cari recommends 2 to 4 links per post, starting in the first paragraph) and mobile-responsive contact information (for example, a bio with a phone number that allows a viewer to place a call by simply touching the screen). Be easy on the reader’s eyes.  Bullet points, numbered lists, and white space are all good.  Bold and italics don’t show up well on the screen.  Visual images are always a plus, but of course, use only with permission and attribution. Share posts on social media as long as they’re relevant.  We still get asked about some of our earliest posts—what is a freelance attorney , how we get paid, and what the ethics rules say about hiring us.  If people still want to know, it’s okay to share. I’ve been blogging for more than a year,...

Tales from the Trenches: A Brief Interview with MFAN Co-founder Emerald Gratz

One of MFAN’s founders, Emerald Gratz, recently took a job with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings. We will miss her, and wanted to share her parting thoughts on freelancing with our readers. The interview has been modified for clarity.   MFAN: Congratulations! We’re glad you’ve connected with a great gig, but are sad you’re leaving the freelance community. Any regrets about freelancing? Emerald: Absolutely no regrets about freelancing! In building a freelance practice over three years, I learned several valuable lessons. First, I learned how to run my own business and everything that goes along with it: marketing, technology, necessary paperwork (billing, taxes, contracts) etc. Second, I practiced law in the private sector, something new to me. Third and most notably, I met and connected with (both professionally and personally) tons of new people in the legal community. MFAN: What was your favorite part of freelancing? Emerald: Connecting with new people. Being an enthusiastic extrovert, freelancing gave me a great reason to constantly pour energy into meeting and building relationships with new people in the legal community, both attorneys who might need freelance help as well as attorneys who could spread the good word about freelancing itself. Prior to freelancing, my network consisted primarily of public sector and government attorneys I knew because of my work at the AG’s Office and federal court. But freelancing allowed me to more than double my network and fill it with private sector connections. MFAN: Okay, what was your least favorite part? Emerald: Running my own business was challenging, especially the marketing part. MFAN: What surprised you the most about freelancing? Emerald: Over the course of three years, I never ceased being amazed by the variety of freelancing opportunities out there. It just took time, effort, and a calculated plan of attack! MFAN: How did freelancing affect your job search? Emerald: Freelancing...

MFAN Member Karin Ciano Reports from the Great Minnesota Solo and Small Firm Get-Together

Earlier this month I attended Minnesota CLE’s tenth annual Duluth conference, Strategic Solutions for Solo & Small Firms. If you don’t go, you should. It’s a great chance to learn practice management tips applicable to freelance practice, earn CLE credits, get special deals and savings on publications, demo practice management software, get a free headshot, take a harbor cruise, collect serious swag, and best of all, to network with hundreds of solo and small-firm lawyers from all over Minnesota. Mark your calendars: next year’s get-together is August 3-4, 2015. This year’s conference featured several presentations of interest to freelance attorneys and the lawyers who hire them. Carolyn Elefant’s plenary session, “The Future of Solo Practice in the Next 10 Years: Making Solo Sustainable,” anticipated increasing growth by non-lawyer providers who aggregate legal services, including freelance-services providers such as Custom Counsel, Axiom and Hire an Esquire. Minnesota’s own ethics maven and former HCBA President Eric Cooperstein presented on several topics, including “The Ethics of ‘Of Counsel’ and Other Attorney Relationships.” Eric’s session addressed the different types of relationships between lawyers, devoting significant time to some of the same issues MFAN addressed in its spring CLEs on working with freelance attorneys, but going into more detail on the differences between freelancers, associates and “of counsel” relationships. I look forward to posting on these great presentations in more detail. Were you in Duluth this year? What’s your best tip for getting the most out of the conference? Share it with us in the comments! Karin has been a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton; a law clerk to three Minnesota federal judges; a legal writing teacher at NYU Law, William Mitchell College of Law, and the University of Minnesota Law School; and a sole practitioner and freelancer in Minnesota… MFAN Bio | Email | Web | LinkedIn | Google Plus | MFAN...

MFAN Holds Summer Social

On July 9, 2014, MFAN members gathered at Sweeney’s Saloon in St. Paul for a fun summer outing. Those in attendance enjoyed catching up on one another’s practices and brainstorming ideas for MFAN’s next year. Special thanks to everyone who made it, and here’s to another great year for MFAN! Effective June 1st 2016, Lynn Walters is no longer accepting assignments as a freelance attorney. Lynn’s new company, Blackstock Walters, LLC, offers litigation support services such as legal research, motion preparation, and document summaries on a project basis. MFAN Bio | Email | Web | LinkedIn | MFAN...

MFAN Hosts Conversation with Minnesota Lawyers Mutual

On May 14, 2014, representatives from Minnesota Lawyers Mutual accepted an invitation from MFAN to sit down and discuss the contours of malpractice insurance coverage for freelance attorneys. Members in attendance at the regular bi-monthly MFAN meeting had the unique opportunity to engage in a dialogue with Timothy Gephart and Jayne Harris of Minnesota Lawyers Mutual to ask questions, pose concerns, and solicit opinions regarding malpractice insurance coverage for legal work done on a freelance basis. Not only was the information received extremely helpful, but the lively conversation also expanded the working knowledge of Minnesota Lawyers Mutual regarding freelance work being done in the local legal market. MFAN thanks Minnesota Lawyers Mutual for taking the time to provide interesting information, listen to concerns, and support the future expansion of freelance law practices in Minnesota! Effective September 10, 2014, Emerald has accepted a position with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings and is no longer working as a freelance attorney. You can reach her at emerald_gratz@hotmail.com. MFAN Bio | Email | LinkedIn | Google Plus | MFAN...

MFAN Members Present CLE for MoreLaw Minneapolis

On May 7, 2014, MFAN members Karin Ciano, Emerald Gratz, and Lynn Walters presented a CLE for MoreLaw Minneapolis entitled “Working Productively (and Ethically) with Freelance Attorneys.” The lunch hour CLE addressed how freelance attorneys can help solo and small firm attorneys who need help managing their workloads but are not ready or interested in hiring permanent help. Karin, Emerald, and Lynn presented information on what type of work can be done by a freelance attorney, when to call for help from a freelance attorney, and how to set up a working relationship with a freelance attorney. Overall, the CLE was a success and attendees were engaged by an informative and interesting dialogue. MFAN thanks Kimberly Hanlon and MoreLaw Minneapolis for the invitation and great conversation! Effective September 10, 2014, Emerald has accepted a position with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings and is no longer working as a freelance attorney. You can reach her at emerald_gratz@hotmail.com. MFAN Bio | Email | LinkedIn | Google Plus | MFAN...

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