Jones Elementary Book Project

Annual Jones Elementary Book Project Donations Now Being Accepted

Please help the Greensboro Bar Association continue the wonderful holiday tradition of buying and presenting a book to each student in the traditional program at Jones Elementary School.

You may donate online at Jones Elementary Project Donations or mail your check made payable to the “Greensboro Bar Foundation” to:

Greensboro Bar Association Foundation
P.O. Box 1825
Greensboro, NC 27402

Although donations will be accepted at any time, we encourage members to act before November 30, 2017 in order to allow time for the books to be ordered through Scholastic.

Please join us for book wrapping at the Holiday Party on Wednesday, December 13th at Elon University School of Law. Wrapping supplies will be provided.

If you have any questions regarding the book drive,
please contact Adam Kerr at adam@kerrlawnc.com
or (336) 500-7599.  Donate Today! Thank you!

Jones Elementary Book Project

Camille Stell

Stell: Can Data Save Law Firms?

We live in a world where everything is tracked. A device on my wrist tells me how many steps I’ve taken and my current heart rate. I use apps on my phone to track how much money I have, what bills have been paid and how my investments are growing. Data is everywhere. The question is “can data save law firms.”

Can Data Save Law Firms?

By many measures, today’s law firm model is struggling. By some measures, today’s law firm model is irrevocably broken. I’d suggest, though I’m not the first nor will I be the last, that you can correct course by using data.

While there are many challenges for solo and small firm lawyers today, here are three problems often identified:

  1. Reaching new clients;
  2. Being attuned to the needs of clients (client service, types of services provided, fee arrangements); and
  3. Spending too much time on administrative tasks and running the business.

The good news is we can address these concerns by mining a few of our systems and recording some numbers.

At the Clio Conference in late September, Clio released the 2017 Legal Trends Report, which you can find at clio.com.

Clio 2017 Legal Trends Report

Out of an average workday, here’s how lawyers are spending their time:

  • Utilization rate: 2.3 hours
  • Realization rate: 1.9 hours
  • Collection rate: 1.6 hours

This means lawyers are spending 2.3 hours of their day doing client work and getting paid for 1.6 hours of work a day. This is not a sustainable business model.

Let’s talk about data around the challenges we discussed earlier, finding more work, providing excellent client service and administrative efficiencies.

Reaching New Clients

There is an old adage, “I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” Without data, how do we know where to spend our time or our money?

Lawyers are advertising by using their websites, google ad words, print advertising and referrals from clients, friends, family and other lawyers.

Today, there is an array of marketing automation tools and customer relationship management tools. Solos and small firms are using products such as Salesforce to manage client interactions such as scheduling events with clients, maintaining potential client contact information, and providing clients, potential clients and referral sources with newsletters, alerts or evites.

Using the data collected in these tools can help you determine how to allocate resources, which clients come from which advertising campaigns and which clients are most profitable.

A low-tech solution is to ask your client how they heard about your service. Add this step to your client intake process. Once you collect the data, analyze it.

If you find clients come to you based on referrals, then keep up the coffees and networking lunches. If you find your clients are coming to you from ads, you can increase your ad spend. Digital advertising can be much less expensive than traditional advertising campaigns and can be targeted directly to your likely client.

The October issue of the ABA Journal features an article titled “Statistical Significance” featuring Drew Vaughn, founder of NuVorce. Vaughn was a speaker at the national bar-related insurance company conference this summer. He shared his results (and costs of) doing traditional networking compared with digital advertising where he can pinpoint his potential client by age, income and geographical location. Vaughn did some “back of the envelope” numbers showing his competitors profit was 16% compared to his 37.9% profit.

Vaughn has developed algorithms that help him in pricing matters for clients. His use of algorithms has garnered interest in his law firm from venture capitalists interested in investing in his firm, as well as other law firms interested in buying his law firm to have access to his algorithms.

An Easy Kick Start to Better Client Service

When consumers are surveyed, the vast majority say lawyers do not return phone calls. This is no different from the complaints that the State Bar gets, the vast number involve clients complaining about lawyers failing to return phone calls.

Many of the calls you fail to return may be because you do not believe you can assist the client. However, responding to a potential client to say “I’m not the lawyer for you, but let me make a referral” allows you to provide a service to a consumer in need and if handled well, could leave the consumer with a positive experience. A positive experience is good for the profession and may result in a referral to you later for a matter that is a better fit.

These calls are a great opportunity to refer clients to other lawyers thereby strengthening your network of referral sources, or to provide a referral to your bar association’s Lawyer Referral Service. If you are concerned about how long this process will take, look for ways to automate this process or delegate the calls to your paralegal, your receptionist or to your virtual assistant.

Where Can I Find the Data?

There are many sources for locating data about your firm. Depending on the tools you are using, analytics from Google, Facebook, Sales Force, or Avvo are a few. You can build Excel reports to track and analyze the data or if that is not in your skill set, hire someone to help you with this. The best treasure trove of data can be found in your own billing records. There, you should be able to determine how much it costs you to take a deposition or try a criminal traffic case. A lawyer told me about a real estate closing several years ago. The client complained about the price of the closing. When the lawyer went back to her billing records, she found that she or her paralegal had taken 50 phone calls from the client during the course of the closing. If these calls were billed at her lowest billing rate at a minimum time increment, the closing would have cost 10 times more than the flat fee. It is no accident that this lawyer is no longer practicing real estate law.

What questions are you trying to answer with this data? How are prospective clients finding me? What is my rate of turning prospects into clients? Is online marketing bringing in paying clients? Are my fees reasonable?

Move from “I think” to “I know”

It’s easy to say, “This won’t work for me”. “I don’t have time to track data.” “I’m not a numbers guy.”

Once you incorporate data analysis into your practice, you are no longer guessing about the effectiveness of your marketing, the accuracy of your pricing or the continued inefficiencies in your practice. Welcome to a data-driven law practice!

Camille Stell is the Vice President of Client Services for Lawyers Mutual. Continue this conversation with Camille at camille@lawyersmutualnc.com or 800.662.8843.

Free 2.5-Hour CLE: Expunction of North Carolina Criminal Records

On November 30, 2017, the Greensboro Bar Association’s Second Chance Project, in partnership with Legal Aid of NC—Greensboro Office, will be presenting a FREE CLE for Greensboro Bar Association Members on Expunction of North Carolina Criminal Records.  This CLE will be an overview of recent significant changes to North Carolina statutes relating to expunction and will provide training on how to assist a client through the process of getting an eligible criminal charge or conviction expunged.  The presenter will be Daniel Bowes, a Staff Attorney at the NC Justice Center who focuses his work on behalf of individuals, families, and communities isolated from opportunities to prosper by the collateral consequences of criminal records.  The CLE will be held at the offices of Smith Moore Leatherwood, 300 N. Greene St., Suite 1400, Greensboro, NC 27401.  Registration will begin at 8:30 AM and the program will run from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Register online for Second Chance CLE here

Sarah H. Roane, President of the Greensboro Bar Association

Message from the President, November 2017

It is time for the Greensboro Bar Association to heed the call of our state’s legal leaders. According to the Greensboro Police Department, more than 20 people have died from opioid overdoses in Greensboro this year. In 2015, both Guilford County and North Carolina as a whole saw approximately 73% increases in opioid deaths as compared to 2005, with Guilford County ranking fourth in the state for total opioid-related deaths in 2015.

“There is an opioid epidemic that we ignore at our peril.”

-Mark W. Merritt, President, North Carolina State Bar
  The North Carolina State Bar Journal, Fall 2017

“Many of you have witnessed the tragic consequences of this epidemic in your local communities.  Now, the legal community must do its part to address this crisis.   . . . Our communities have too much at stake to remain passive in the face of this growing threat.  Let’s do all we can to protect all North Carolinians from drug overdoses and prescription drug abuse.”

-Chief Justice Mark Martin
  2017 State of the North Carolina Judiciary

Please join us at our next lunch meeting on Thursday, November 16th at 12:30 p.m. in the Empire Room for an important discussion regarding the impact of the opioid crisis on Greensboro, and what we, as citizens and lawyers, can do to help.  The meeting will feature two speakers from the Greensboro Police Department, Lieutenant T.D. Moore, Vice Narcotics, and Jenny Caviness, Community Engagement Manager. Our very own President-Elect, the Honorable Teresa Vincent, will give her perspective as a presiding judge in Guilford County’s Drug Treatment Court. Bring your experiences, your ideas, and your questions!

On a lighter note, I hope you will all plan to attend our Membership Committee’s first Mix-n-Mingle of the year!  The event will take place at Joymongers Brewing Company, 576 North Eugene Street in downtown Greensboro, on Thursday, November 9th at 5:00 p.m., and will feature a visit from the Urban Street Grill food truck.  I am sure we can all think of a colleague who is not a current member of the GBA, but should be! The Membership Committee is offering a prize for the member who brings the most prospective members to the event!

I wish all of you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Volunteer at Potter’s House

Volunteers are needed to serve food to the less fortunate at the Urban Ministry’s Potter’s House. Shifts are from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community in the company of fellow members of the bar. We need help on the following Sundays:

Nov. 19

Dec. 17

Please email Melissa Duncan at mduncan6@elon.edu  if you are able to help and write POTTER’S HOUSE in the subject line.

Attorney Barbara Morgenstern Elected President of NC Chapter of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Barbara Morgenstern

Barbara Morgenstern

Attorney Barbara Morgenstern, with the law firm of Black, Slaughter & Black has been elected 2018 President of the NC Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Morgenstern is a Fellow in the AAML, which recognizes attorneys who are highly skilled negotiators and litigators representing individuals in all facets of family law, including divorce, child custody and support,
and equitable distribution.

Smith Moore Leatherwood Joins Leadership Council on Legal Diversity

Smith Moore Leatherwood has joined the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD). Founded in 2009, the LCLD has more than 265 members who serve as either general counsel of major corporations or managing partners of the nation’s leading law firms.

“Our firm recognizes and embraces the value of diversity in its many forms,” said Julie Earp, chair of Smith Moore Leatherwood’s management committee. “We look forward to participating in LCLD and utilizing its many resources.”

The LCLD and its members have dedicated themselves to creating a truly diverse legal profession. By producing tangible results in the lives of talented individuals, LCLD works to promote inclusiveness in its institutions, circles of influence and society, with the ultimate goal of building a more open and diverse legal profession.

“Members of LCLD lead by example, which is something we value at Smith Moore Leatherwood,” said Kimberly Gatling, chair of the firm’s diversity committee. “Through law school mentoring programs, fellowship programs and other opportunities the LCLD provides, this partnership will enable us to better prepare future generations of diverse talent for positions of leadership in our firm and our community.”

New Members, Approved October 11, 2017

Robert Davis
Endorsed by Marcus Allen Shields

Daniel Adams
Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey
& Leonard LLP

Endorsed by Kimberly M. Marston

Britton C. Lewis
Carruthers & Roth, P.A.
Endorsed by Christopher J. Vaughn

Jenny Ann Lane
Elon University School of Law
Endorsed by Linda Nicole Patino

Hon. Paul L. Jones
Emergency Superior Court Judge
Endorsed by Hon. Henry E. Frye

Nicole R. Scallon
Henson & Talley, LLP
Endorsed by Perry C. Henson, Jr.

Joseph Thomas Petrack
National General Insurance Company
Endorsed by Peter R. Lamm

Catherine Stalker
Rossabi Reardon Klein Spivey PLLC
Endorsed by Elizabeth M. Klein

Philip Allan Boyers
Rossabi Reardon Klein Spivey PLLC
Endorsed by Elizabeth M. Klein

James Claiborne King
Sharpless & Stavola, P.A.
Endorsed by Pamela S. Duffy

Ashleigh M. Greene
Sweetapple, Broeker & Varkas, P.L.
Endorsed by Ames Chamberlin

Joseph Anthony McManus
WFG National Title Insurance Company
Endorsed by Jennifer L. Ruby

Laura S. Browder
Wyatt Early Harris & Wheeler LLP
Endorsed by Ames Chamberlin

Brian Kuppelweiser
Wyatt Early Harris Wheeler LLP
Endorsed by Ames Chamberlin

Bethany A. Boring
Law Office of Dennis E. Boring, Attorney
Endorsed by Ames Chamberlin

Young Lawyers Section: Connections, November 2017

Last month, the Young Lawyers Section successfully hosted its annual Swearing-In Ceremony and Bridge the Gap program.  There was a great turnout for both events, with 16 participants for Bridge the Gap and 35 attorneys sworn in to state and federal courts at the Swearing-In Ceremony.  Thanks to the judges and attorneys who came out to the events to show support for the newly admitted attorneys.

Swearing-In ceremony participants for Bridge the Gap program.

Swearing-In ceremony participants for Bridge the Gap program.

Happy Hour. The Young Lawyer’s Section will be hosting its next happy hour on November 16 at The Bearded Goat (116 E. Lewis St) from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.  Come meet and socialize with your fellow young lawyers!

Connect with Us.  Do you want more information about upcoming YLS events or how you can get involved? Check out our website at www.greensboroyls.org.  E-mail Grant Sigmon (grant@sklawnc.com) to make sure you are on the listserv.  Also follow us on Facebook (Greensboro Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section).

New Members, Approved September 13, 2017

Cynthia Francine Adcock
Elon University School of Law
Endorsed by Luke Bierman

Britainy Ambrosino
Bradley Law Group
Endorsed by Ross J. Simpson III

Jaye Elizabeth Bingham-Hinch
Tuggle Duggins P.A.
Endorsed by Michael J. Wenig

Jonathan M. Bunker
Bradley Law Group
Endorsed by Ross J. Simpson III

Daniel Joseph Burke
Brotherton Ford Berry & Weaver, PLLC
Endorsed by Steven P. Weaver

Christopher L. Carr
Guilford County Attorney’s Office
Endorsed by Brian Tomlin

Joshua Carl Dawson
Oak Ridge Military Academy
Endorsed by Ames C. Chamberlin

Alexander J. Eiffe
A.G. Linett & Associates, PA
Endorsed by Molly Hilburn-Holte

Wendy M. Enochs
Coltrane and Overfield, PLLC
Endorsed by Hon. Teresa H. Vincent

Erik Randall Hamner
Endorsed by Hon. Teresa H. Vincent

Robert A. Hassell
Robert A. Hassell, Attorney at Law, P.A.
Endorsed by Ames C. Chamberlin

William Randall Holcomb
The Law Office of Randall Holcomb, PLLC
Endorsed by Megan E. Spidell

Ross Spencer Holland
Guilford County Public Defender
Endorsed by Hon. Teresa H. Vincent

Michael Jung
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Endorsed by Todd E. Davis

Susan Liemer
Elon University School of Law
Endorsed by Luke Bierman

Benjamin Noah Neece
Woodruff Family Law Group
Endorsed by Jennifer A. Crissman

Sinead Noelle O’Doherty
US District Court/Middle District
Endorsed by Sarah H. Roane

Shannon Peterson
Guilford County Attorney’s Office
Endorsed by Kelvin D. Smith

Alicia C. Phillip
Cordell & Cordell, P.C.
Ames C. Chamberlin

Taniya Donyale Reaves
Guilford County Attorney’s Office
Endorsed by Matthew J. Turcola

Katherine Ann Reynolds
Elon University School of Law
Endorsed by Heather L. Scavone

Curtis J. Shipley
Ellis & Winters, LLP
Endorsed by Andrew S. Chamberlin

Charles Richard Splawn
Elon University School of Law
Endorsed by Luke Bierman

Jamieson H. Stone
Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP
Endorsed by Ames C. Chamberlin

Janet M. Wallace
Law Office of Steven Foskett, PA
Endorsed by Hon. Teresa H. Vincent