Internet Links

Ranking well in internet search results is increasingly crucial to operating a successful business. Any business owner that is attempting to market a business online should understand the concept of Google PageRank. While many books have been written on the subject, the basic idea is that a website builds PageRank by having other sites link to that site. Thus, what follows is a shameless attempt to pass PageRank to various pages dedicated to yours truly:

Windows 7 – should law firms upgrade?

In my opinion, Windows 7 Professional is a significant upgrade over XP Professional in a law firm work environment. Windows 7 seems to run smoother, is more secure, and is more fun to use, even when running productivity applications. Hillsboro Law Group PC has upgraded all of its workstations to Windows 7 in 2010, at a fairly reasonable cost. We have purchased a mixture of Dell, Acer, and HP desktops, spending $450-$700 per desktop. For law firms considering upgrading their computers, I currently recommend the Acer Veriton VX275, now available from Buy.com for the ridiculously low price of $525 including shipping.

64-bit Windows 7 has worked very well in our law firm, although some older printers may not be compatible. Our primary applications include Time Matters 10, WordPerfect X4, Firefox, and Outlook 2007, all of which work well in Windows 7.

To fully enjoy the new features in Windows 7, a large LCD panel is essential. One feature I have learned to pay attention to when buying LCDs is the monitor stand. Buying a cheap Hanns G or Acer LCD may seem like a good deal, until you need to place a space hogging, tacky plastic monitor stand under the LCD to raise it to eye level. The Dell P2210 is worth paying extra for, as it comes with an awesome stand, can tilt, swivel, and move up and down, and four USB ports are built into the monitor. Buy.com usually sells the P2210 at a lower price than Dell. Another option great option is to buy cheap LCD panels, but upgrade the stand with a Ergotron Neo-Flex LCD Stand.

Funding Your Living Trust

Over the last several years, estate planning has become an increasingly important part of my legal practice. Most of my estate planning clients have Hyatt legal insurance coverage, which offers basic estate planning services at no additional cost. Many Hyatt clients elect to set up a Revocable Living Trust, primarily to avoid having their estate go through probate. To make sure that the goal of probate avoidance is accomplished, it is imperative that a client properly fund the living trust after the trust has been established.

While Hyatt legal plans offer excellent value to clients wishing to set up living trusts, Hyatt does not cover the trust funding process. While I am more than happy to assist clients in setting up their trusts on an hourly fee basis, most clients are able to accomplish this process themselves without having to incur legal fees.

Rather than regurgitating advice already available online for funding living trusts, I will simply provide the following links, which I have reviewed and endorse:

How to Fund Your Revocable Living Trust
Funding the Living Trust

I should note that, at present, Hyatt appears to cover at least the transfer of real property into the trust, although this may change in the future.

Juvenile Law Page

While online competition among Oregon law firms has become much more intense in the last year or so, very few Oregon firms have made any attempt to market their juvenile law services. Hillsboro Law Group thus recently created a new juvenile law page, which is already ranking well on Google for various Oregon juvenile law search terms. We hope to continue to add content to this page, and to soon rank near the top for key juvenile law search terms in Oregon. I should note that several of our attorneys have an excellent track record in juvenile court, particularly David McCaffery, with two decisive victories for parents in Termination of Parental Rights cases.

We Made It

I am pleased to write that our law firm’s move to its new space went extremely well. We are now mostly moved in, the big moving day having been on August 7th, and have nearly completed the transition (website, letterhead, etc.) to our new name – Hillsboro Law Group PC. I will always be grateful for the support and hard work that our staff put into making the transition a success.

We chose the name “Hillsboro Law Group” (“HLG”) for several reasons. Most importantly, given that our firm has nine attorneys, not just Burton & McCaffery, we feel that HLG better represents our firm’s identity. Furthermore, given that we would like to add additional shareholders in the future, we want to avoid having to change the firm’s name if that happens. Also, our firm’s practice is very focused on legal matters in Washington County, so HLG signals this commitment to our Washington County clients. Finally, the use of the words “Hillsboro” and “law” in our firm name could have a positive effect on internet search results.

Misguided Benevolence

On Thursday at my weekly Rotary lunch, I listened to Jathon Janove give an employer management presentation, which I found quite interesting. Janove has recently published several books on employment law-related matters, and works for Ater Wynne, a very good Portland law firm.

The most memorable concept Mr. Janove discussed was “misguided benevolence.” When he first used this phrase, I admit I was a bit skeptical, imagining he was a Ayn Rand disciple opposed to charitable acts. What Janove actually means by “misguided benevolence,” however, is that a manager may subconsciously shun difficult interpersonal interactions with employees, and explain it away as “being nice.” For example, if an employee is not performing a particular task very well, the manager may fail to bring the issue to the employee’s attention. The manager may justify this failure to take action under the guise of benevolence, but actually the motivating factor is fear of confrontation. The problem may then grow over time, causing the business organization, and its constituent employees, to suffer.

Having managed several different law offices since 2005, I can easily discern my own tendency to want to avoid difficult interpersonal interactions, although I am hopeful that I have, more often than not, overcome misdirected benevolence. In any event, it is something I will be more conscious of in the future . . .

Moving Offices

I have been busy the last few months planning my law firm’s move to its new Hillsboro, Oregon office, and will likely become even busier through August. So many decisions to make! Interior upgrades, new furniture, phone system, etc. Ultimately, however, I believe that the effort we are putting into the new space will result in a much stronger law firm and higher quality legal services for our clientele. In general, many Hillsboro and Beaverton law offices do not present a modern, professional appearance, which may help explain why many Washington County residents feel more comfortable paying higher legal fees, including inefficient travel time, to Portland attorneys that are unfamiliar with, and thus often at a disadvantage in, Washington County circuit courts.

Once completed (hopefully in August), our new office space, in the 3rd floor of the Garner Green Building in Hillsboro will be on the cutting edge of the Oregon legal community. The custom space design will allow our attorneys, support staff, and clients to work together efficiently in an aesthetically pleasing environment. The large windows on all four sides of the space will allow in tremendous natural light to brighten our days.

After considering multiple phone systems, we have chosen Avaya IP Office product, which offers advanced features at a reasonable price, including automated conversion of attorneys’ voicemail to .wav email and the ability to link in to the office phone network remotely over the internet (great for remote offices).

I hope to write more on this issue in the near future.

My First Post – Hello Oregon

It is early Sunday evening and I have been working on my law firm‘s website for about an hour now. Part of a strong online presence is of course having a complementary blog, so here I am. I will begin by posting a few details about my professional background.

I have been the managing shareholder/attorney of a ten attorney law firm in Hillsboro, Oregon since September, 2006. I graduated from University of Arizona Law School in 2001, and successfully took the Oregon bar exam in July 2001.

My plan for this blog is to post a variety of material regarding my experiences working as an attorney, and in particular to discuss the often-neglected field of law office management. While I hope that people might actually read my blog, I recognize that my potential audience is quite narrow. But for those of you that have agonized over the design of your law firm’s website, or pondered the chronic inability of your law firm’s staff to get along with each other, I hope that you will find ramblings of interest. Have a good Sunday night. -Grant R. Burton