Dennis Kennedy and Allison Shields share their insights on effective LinkedIn use from their book, “Make LinkedIn Work for You: A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Other Legal Professionals.”
Dennis Kennedy is an information technology lawyer and legal technology pioneer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan who is well-known...
Allison C. Shields, Esq. is the President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc., which provides marketing, practice management and productivity...
Adriana Linares is a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. After several years at two of Florida’s largest...
Building a better LinkedIn profile can help you increase professional connections, but why should you really care about this platform? Adriana Linares hears tips and tricks from Dennis Kennedy and Allison Shields from their book, Make LinkedIn Work for You: A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Other Legal Professionals. They share how effective participation can help you gain more visibility in your peer community, increase your referrals, and find new professional opportunities.
Adriana would love to take listener LinkedIn questions and have Dennis and Allison back for a future episode! Send your questions to [email protected].
Dennis Kennedy is an information technology lawyer and legal technology pioneer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dennis is also the co-host of the Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast.
Allison C. Shields, Esq. is the President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc.
Making the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile with Dennis Kennedy and Allison Shields
Intro: So you are an attorney and you have decided to go out on your own, now what? You need a plan and you are not alone. Join expert host Adriana Linares and her distinguished guests on New Solo. Tune into the lively conversation as they share insights and information about how to successfully run your law firm, here on Legal Talk Network.
Adriana Linares: Hi and welcome to another episode of New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I am Adriana Linares, a legal technology trainer and consultant. I help lawyers and law firms use technology better. Before we get started with today’s guests and a really fun topic on LinkedIn for Lawyers, I want to make sure and thank our sponsors.
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Have we ever podcasted together? I don’t think we have. Hey Allison.
Allison Shields: I don’t think so. Hey Adriana.
Adriana Linares: Thanks for taking the time to visit with us and talk about your book with Dennis Kennedy, who is our other guest. But before we put Dennis in the hot seat, tell me a little bit about you, what you do and where are you? I decided I am going to start asking my guests that from now on.
Allison Shields: So I am Allison Shields. I am the President of Legal Ease Consulting. We are located on Long Island in New York. And I help lawyers with the business end of their practice, so everything from productivity, all the way through marketing and business development and a lot of work with social media and LinkedIn, which is what we will be talking about today.
Adriana Linares: I didn’t know you did social media stuff. Do you do social media for lawyers?
Allison Shields: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Oh, I am so glad, because I get asked all the time for resources of who does that and I didn’t realize you did that. I always thought — I knew you did productivity and of course LinkedIn and sort of a business coach, so that’s really great to know. Well, I am glad.
Hi Dennis Kennedy.
Dennis Kennedy: Hello.
Adriana Linares: I feel like I just saw you.
Dennis Kennedy: Good to be on the show. Yeah, I think we were at a virtual happy hour just a couple of weeks ago.
Adriana Linares: That’s true, but I saw you at TECHSHOW.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, that was eons ago, wasn’t it?
Adriana Linares: I guess it was. It was before the Rona got rid of all the fun in this country.
Dennis Kennedy: And I still thought we were like one step ahead of the virus in getting out of Chicago, really close to the line.
Adriana Linares: That’s true, although apparently I was in the belly of the beast during Mardi Gras, but that’s okay. Thankfully me and everyone I know, including you guys and your families, are healthy, so I am super happy to hear that.
Dennis, you have changed your trajectory a lot over the past year or two, so give us a quick little rundown on your big move to, are you in Ann Arbor now?
Dennis Kennedy: I am in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And I retired from Mastercard where I had been in-house counsel doing information technology and to me it’s innovation law for the last 12 or so years. Took the chance to do an early retirement, we moved to Ann Arbor and my wife and daughter talked me into taking a gap year and now I am doing some adjunct professoring. I have really gotten involved in the legal —
Adriana Linares: Vaping and tattoos during that gap year?
Dennis Kennedy: You know, I still think I am too old for tattoos, and you have to make a certain level of commitment. I can do like those silicon wristbands, but the tattoo just seems like a bit too much for me.
Adriana Linares: Silicon wristbands, so close.
Dennis Kennedy: So I am getting used to students calling me professor, which is kind of a new thing and I have written a couple of books and do a bunch of online things and I advise some legal tech companies.
I am probably going to launch something new that I am calling the Kennedy Idea Propulsion Center to satisfy my longtime wish to have my own think tank.
Adriana Linares: I love that, the Kennedy Propulsion Tank, was that what it was?
Dennis Kennedy: No, Idea Propulsion Center. So it’s modeled after the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, that’s where I am at, yeah, so Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory. And I even have a logo so I am pretty committed to it.
Adriana Linares: I love that. Well, I can’t wait to hear how that comes along.
Dennis Kennedy: The perfect time to launch a new business right now, couldn’t be better.
Adriana Linares: You know it’s funny you say that, because I will tell you, I have been thinking, I am going to change my business too, mainly because I have really enjoyed sort of sitting still; typically I fly and I travel a lot and it’s kind of weird, but I have really enjoyed it, so I think I am going to do something a little different too if I can just find the time to launch.
So for listeners, we are all on Zoom and we can see each other, but I like that, because I feel like it makes our conversation a little more intimate and cool and I love seeing Allison and Dennis, we used to get to work together all the time when I was more active with the Law Practice Management Division, you guys are two of my favorite people, so I appreciate you taking the time.
But I am really happy to talk about your book, mainly because so many lawyers ask me about LinkedIn and I have to be the worst social media and I usually prefer to refer to LinkedIn as business media, because it’s more business, less social, but I am definitely one of the worst users of LinkedIn and other social media, so I am glad to have some experts come on give us some tips and tricks.
So you guys, what edition of the book is this?
Allison Shields: Well, this is actually — this is a brand-new book. So some of the ideas are things that we have been writing about and talking about for years, but we took a little bit of a different twist with this book, which we actually released ourselves.
Adriana Linares: Awesome. You self published?
Allison Shields: Yeah, we did.
Adriana Linares: That’s cool. Was that, just real quick, because I know there is always people interested in learning or figuring out how easy or hard self-publishing a book is, was that hard, easy, where can I get it?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, you can get the book on Amazon, because we decided to publish direct to Amazon, which makes it — and it’s in some ways easy. So some of the hard parts remain, like actually writing the book, but we found a designer, and I think this is key, so we found a designer who did the cover and then did all the interior design and put it in the format that was needed for Amazon, and we are really happy with that.
And then it’s just kind of you upload the files and Amazon takes over, gives you like the reports you need, puts it up on Amazon, and it’s reasonably inexpensive. Since with a lot of publishers these days you end up doing all the marketing yourself as an author, it’s kind of like why not get the royalties from Amazon yourself since you are doing all the marketing anyway. We decided to do it as an experiment, but we liked the results.
Adriana Linares: That’s really cool. A couple of quick questions that I thought of, so did you just write it in Word and did you guys have a file that you shared and then you gave the final book to the designer?
Allison Shields: So the way we — because we have written together for years now, we kind of have a system set out, so normally the way we do it is we work together on a — usually on a shared document to create the outline and the chapters and then we usually divide them up. So Dennis wrote half of the chapters and I wrote half of the chapters, and then we swap, so each one of us then either adds or subtracts or makes edits or whatever to the other person’s chapters. And then we usually swap again and then go through the whole thing and see if there are any changes that we want to make. And we found that that works well for us. As a matter of fact, half the time we forget who originally wrote which chapters.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, you guys are probably like one brain by now when it comes to some of this.
Dennis Kennedy: Our writing style is really similar, which makes it a lot easier. Probably the biggest difference is I am more ready to let things go and say it’s done, it’s done and Allison more wants to give it like one last look.
Adriana Linares: I can see that. I can see that.
And then as far as finding a designer, did you get a recommendation from someone or did you hop on Upwork and look for someone who was experienced in designing books for Amazon?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, it turned out that my daughter found somebody because she was planning to write a book and she found somebody whose design she really liked, and I liked what he did for her and then I talked to him. We have never met him and then he just did everything for us. He had a lot of experience, great designs. And the key thing for me was that he did the interior design, because there is a lot of specifications that you have to meet to put it up on Amazon and he takes care of all of that. You can go like oh, I kind of like it to have this look and this kind of font and that sort of thing and then he comes back and you go like yeah, that’s great.
Adriana Linares: And does he help you pick a font that’s suitable for, because I am assuming this book then people can download as a PDF or they can read on their Kindle and are there different delivery methods, so you have to pick something that’s universal?
Dennis Kennedy: Oh, here is what you are going to love. So it’s Kindle and we conceived of it as a Kindle book, but when you do the Kindle Direct, they do a print-on-demand paperback.
Adriana Linares: Oh, I was going to ask you that too, do they print it?
Dennis Kennedy: So people order that. It’s like a five day delay for people to get the print version, but it looks totally — the book looks totally awesome as a paperback.
Adriana Linares: That’s so cool.
Dennis Kennedy: But we don’t do anything on actually creating the book, that’s all done by Amazon and they ship it out of course so it’s a super smooth process.
Adriana Linares: That’s great.
Dennis Kennedy: So we like that. Now, to go back to the font thing, he had a portfolio of work that he had done. So you can kind of go hey, I liked these covers that you did, thinking these colors and here is the field I kind of want and he comes back pretty quickly with a couple of ideas, and we like them, made just a few little tweaks. And on the inside he has some examples of books he has done and you go like, oh, I liked the approach you took in the blah, blah, blah book, and so then he does that.
Adriana Linares: Would you share with us just a ballpark of what it costs to have someone design your book and get it Amazon ready for you?
Dennis Kennedy: $750.
Adriana Linares: Hah, no kidding, that’s amazing.
Allison hold it up for me again and then what I want listeners to do is go look on Amazon, it’s ‘Make LinkedIn Work for You’, which is what we are here to talk about, the book, ‘Make LinkedIn Work for You: A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Other Legal Professionals’.
Really nice cover, super simple. I mean there is not much going on there, but it works. I think it’s great.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, there is some imagery like in the background like in a lighter color that I don’t see as showing up when she is holding up.
Adriana Linares: That’s cool.
Dennis Kennedy: There is a design on it, but yes, it’s pretty much what we wanted.
Adriana Linares: Damn. I am going to think of a book I want to write and do that just so I can be an author. I always wanted to be an author guys, couldn’t do it.
Dennis Kennedy: How can I do a book without writing it?
Adriana Linares: Buffer that problem, where I said I don’t read and I don’t write, but I sure like to talk and I really listen.
Allison Shields: That’s okay. You can write a book that way because you could just talk and then have it transcribed or talk to somebody else and have them write it.
Adriana Linares: I really need to work on that. I just need a topic. If anybody has an idea out there, send it to me.
So let me ask you something, let’s start with — let’s start talking about some of the tips and tricks that come out of the book, which like I said lawyers ask me a lot about LinkedIn and I am always like, I mean yeah, but let’s get some good news and some good tips going. Let’s start with what I think is really the most critical part and that’s making sure your profile looks good, sounds good, do I want my profile to say Henry Herman, real estate lawyer or should it be a little more inviting than that?
Allison Shields: I think first of all what you are calling out there is the headline and that’s one of the most important pieces I think of your profile, because it follows you all around LinkedIn. So even if someone is not actually looking at your profile, but you show up in search results or they see you in a group or something that you write in your — as a network update, they are going to see your name and your headline and your picture. I mean those three things they are going to see everywhere.
And so you want to make sure that when somebody sees that headline that they know exactly who you are and what you do and you want it to create kind of a curiosity in the person so that they will say ooh, I want to learn more about that person and so that they will click through to actually read the rest of your profile, right?
So one of the first mistakes I think lawyers make with their headline is not saying that they are a lawyer, like they will say partner and that could be anything, right? Or even if they say partner and the name of their firm, it could be an accounting firm, it could be — so a lot of times you don’t even know that they are a lawyer.
So then you want to go a step further and say what kind of lawyer you are, but maybe you want to include something in there like what kinds of clients you represent or some other things that make you stand out from other people who do what you do.
Adriana Linares: How many characters do you get?
Allison Shields: I believe the headline is 120 characters.
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Dennis Kennedy: There is more room than you think but it’s not very much. You can run it out really quickly.
Adriana Linares: So it’s not a short bio, it’s a good description of what you do.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, it’s a headline.
Adriana Linares: Because I see a lot where it looks to me like some — I can always tell when someone has gone to a LinkedIn training because it will say something like small business attorney helping barbershops, nail salons and tattoo parlors, so it will be pretty specific and I know that that’s someone who read your book hopefully.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. So you can tell that. So I sometimes use this example of, because this partner at XYZ law firm to me is just a killer. I mean it just — I don’t know, if you look through like a list of people and their headlines you go, I don’t even know why somebody would do that. It also tends to be really interior focused, like head of blah, blah, blah department, that sort of thing.
Whereas I kind of like this, if you can squeeze it in there, I think of this three-step approach. And so say that I am a biotech lawyer, just to choose an example out of thin air, and if you say I am partner of XYZ law firm as a biotech lawyer, it doesn’t tell anybody anything. But if I say lawyer who helps biotech startup companies launch new products; former chair of State Biotech Association; craft beer brewer, then if I am in a biotech world I am going hey, that’s one of my people.
Adriana Linares: That looks cool, right? Gosh. Well, you guys made me go look at mine while we were talking about it, mine is pretty lame so I need to fix it. Mine just says legal technology consultant. Nobody knows what that means.
Dennis Kennedy: No one. So I sometimes say that if you just ask your friends to take a look at your headline and say does this describe what you think it is that I do or what’s unique about this thing.
Adriana Linares: Oh, that’s a good way to do it.
Dennis Kennedy: So you get some feedback that way. And the other thing is to look at your competition and see how they are describing themselves.
Adriana Linares: I should ask my mom to look at my profile. Mom, is this, imagine?
Allison, is one of the services that you provide helping lawyers build a better LinkedIn profile?
Allison Shields: Yes. Oh, absolutely.
Adriana Linares: Oh good, okay.
Allison Shields: I will do group trainings. I will work with individual lawyers on their profiles. Some of them I have actually sat down with them and helped write the profile and then handed it off to them. So there are a number of different ways that I will work with people.
Adriana Linares: And do you mind telling us, giving us ballpark, I always make people tell me prices, because I know listeners want to know, ballpark of what you charge for something like that?
Allison Shields: Well, some of it depends on how we are going to do it. So some of my clients I do ongoing, where we do almost like mini training sessions and every training session is like $400, and they are usually like 45 minutes to an hour, which is about as much as people can absorb, sometimes too much.
Adriana Linares: Tell me, tell me about it.
Allison Shields: If I am writing it for them, which I don’t prefer, that’s a little more complicated because I usually have to get info from them and I usually have to interview them and then we have to go back and forth with drafts, which is kind of a pain. I would rather consult and have them write it.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, so then you charge more, right.
Okay, well, that’s good, and that’s actually not — I think that’s very reasonably priced for something that’s so valuable, if LinkedIn is going to become a major resource for attorneys, which we will talk about when we get to our next segment in a few minutes.
Dennis Kennedy: You guys just gave me a great idea for pricing in this new online era, that’s where you could say it’s $500 for an hour and for 30 minutes it’s $1,000.
Adriana Linares: I am totally going to try that with my new business model, that’s hilarious.
What other things do I need to make sure I do with my profile? I have got to have — do I have to have a full résumé on there that goes back — like if you have been — if you are 60 years old you have got a résumé that goes back 40 years, do people really have to have on there what they did while they were in college or do we highlight major points related to our current business goals?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, you are going to have an approach and so it has the implications, right? And so people tend to think of the negative implications of showing your age or going too far back, but you have to make a decision because LinkedIn rewards you for the completeness of your profile and it helps people find you and you can make better connections. So you become more findable and it helps you in certain ways.
So you are making a judgment about that, and this comes up whether it’s people in LGBTQ community, people who are religious, political, a number of things where you need to make smart decisions about what you put in your profile. But the fact is the more complete your profile is, the more likely it is for people to find you. And they may find just that connection that makes a big difference.
Like I am a big advocate of hobbies going back further because there are some things that if you are part of the club, it makes a big difference. So if you were in Boy Scouts and you were an Eagle Scout, when you run into other Eagle Scouts it’s a big thing. People went to like small private schools or even if you grew up in a small town and you run into somebody who has that in common, it’s like you are in.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s so true.
Dennis Kennedy: So that’s what you are trying to gauge.
And then some of it is very difficult, don’t get me wrong. I did a presentation with LGBTQ in LinkedIn and it is a difficult thing to know what to disclose and then it comes down to this thing like, if I run into somebody and they are bothered by that, do I really want to work with them or work for them? So it becomes a very complex thing. So I tend to say more is better, but I think keeping it updated is more important.
Adriana Linares: Will you guys go look at my profile picture while we are talking and tell me if you think I should change it and I mean that, go look at it because I picked one that I thought was kind of intriguing, kind of oh well, she is got something to say, but I also noticed that LinkedIn is pretty pushy, right? First of all, it tells you your profile strength, do you guys believe in that, is that a good meter? It says mine is intermediate, which unfortunately for me I am okay with intermediate and mediocre, I am not an overachiever so this doesn’t encourage me to go fill it out.
Dennis Kennedy: But think the completeness thing is important, but obviously the incentive is for LinkedIn to get more of your data. So it’s right off like in all things. So LinkedIn gets value of pushing you forward. I do think that having a complete profile does help you in a number of ways.
Adriana Linares: What do you think of my picture Allison; I saw you laughing?
Allison Shields: You probably saw me laughing.
Adriana Linares: I did.
Allison Shields: I would change it at least for your — you might put that somewhere else, even somewhere else on your profile because you can attach pictures.
Adriana Linares: You can?
Allison Shields: But I don’t know that that’s the one I would want to follow me around, although it probably makes people laugh.
They might go and say hey, what are we looking at, but to get back to Dennis’ point, yeah, the completeness does help you and I would try to make your profile as complete as you can, because LinkedIn kind of rewards you for that in terms of different things that — or different doors that kind of open up. You are seen more in search if your profile is complete and I know there is a whole section in the help that tells you what the advantages are of being complete.
And complete is not even as elaborate as Dennis is saying, it means you have your About section filled out. It usually means you have your current position and I think two previous positions. I think you have to have like five skills listed. It’s not onerous to get to that point of being what LinkedIn considers all-star, which is their most complete.
Adriana Linares: Got it. And it does allow you to put in things like your best posts, you can upload documents, which I am going to guess are things like articles you have written, blog posts and then media. So I guess if you have got videos or maybe you were interviewed on TV or something you would be able to put it there and then of course websites.
So right, you can create a pretty complete profile of your experience and who you were and who you are by just going through all this. It’s got Add a Profile section, About Feature, Background Skills, Accomplishments, Additional Information, Supported Languages, so very cool.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, the media links are great because — so if you are – like you could link to a podcast or you could link to a podcast that you are interviewed on, or if there was a video done of a presentation you did or your slides, all those sorts of things just become — and they add some extra graphic interest as well to somebody who sees your profile.
Adriana Linares: Okay, well great. Before we take a break any other last minute tips we have got to make sure we know about when it comes to filling out our profile?
Dennis Kennedy: Don’t be afraid to schedule time to update it on a regular basis, like every quarter or something like that, because what a lot of people do is they get — you are real comfortable in your job and so you don’t update what you have done at your current job and then all of a sudden you decide you have to leave or get a new job and then you are scurrying to come up with what it is that you have done that’s important, unless you update on a regular basis, you actually might be more likely to be contacted by a recruiter or something because your information is up-to-date.
And then I do believe in like a nice current professional photo.
Adriana Linares: So you don’t like my picture either?
Dennis Kennedy: I don’t know. I just remembered like one of my old law firms, that it just seemed, and that was a while back, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t know it’s going to be all that different today, but it’s like all the photos were like black and white and the people looked 10 to 20 years younger than they actually were. You want to avoid that, because one of the useful things about LinkedIn is when you green into the real world, like you are going to have lunch or coffee with somebody, you can go to their LinkedIn profile and see their picture and so when you see them in the restaurant, to the extent we are allowed to go to restaurants ever again, to say hello like you knew them.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, no, I love that. Well, great. Let’s take a quick break and listen to a couple of messages from some sponsors and when we come back we are going to talk about connections. I have so many questions. So we will be right back.
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Adriana Linares: All right, we are back. I am on the line with Dennis Kennedy and Allison Shields, my LinkedIn for lawyers’ gurus. They have got a new book out called ‘Make LinkedIn Work for You’, you can get it on Amazon and I hope that you do run out and get it.
I wanted to ask you guys about connections. Do you accept connections from people you don’t actually know Dennis?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, but that’s because I am probably kind of a public figure and I have written about LinkedIn and stuff, so I have always done that.
Also, I am running some science experiments on LinkedIn and Connections, so I err on the side of quantity, but I do use a couple of tests that I use. So usually the shared connections, number of shared connections, that there is some kind of plausible link, some things. Obviously if somebody has to connect to me and they have zero or one connection and they are like a social media advisor or something like that, then I am not going to connect to that.
Typically I won’t connect to like people who seem really young, so that’s just — and I don’t typically like to connect to law students who I don’t know them already. So there would be a number of things.
But yeah, I am pretty open about it, but I think it’s very different being an older white male frankly on accepting connections from people you don’t know than it is probably for almost every other category.
Adriana Linares: You guys are a special category. What about you Allison, how do you monitor and accept or deny connection requests?
Allison Shields: I will connect to people that I don’t know, but not as frequently as Dennis does, and I have some of those same tests but I maybe take it a little bit further.
One of my kind of tests is if I don’t already know the person, did they take the time to personalize their invitation to me or did they just send me the stock LinkedIn invite, and I know that sometimes that’s harder to personalize when you are using the mobile app so there are reasons maybe why people are doing that, but that always takes it a step further for me. So if somebody is taking the time to personalize the invitation to talk about what they saw that made them want to connect with me or why we might be good for one another or how we might be able to do business together, that person is going to have a much better chance of getting their connection request accepted from me.
But there are people that if I look at their profile or I see what they are doing on LinkedIn and I think that they make sense for me to connect with, even if I don’t know them, I will connect with them.
So I just don’t go as far as Dennis, I am not quite as open, and one of the reasons is I like to the extent that I can for my network to be not just helpful to me, but also helpful to other people in my network. So Adriana, if you were looking at my LinkedIn and you saw that I was connected to Dennis and you said hey, can you introduce me to Dennis Kennedy or what do you know about Dennis Kennedy, and that’s happened to me on occasion where somebody has said hey, I see you are connected to this person on LinkedIn, I am either thinking about hiring them, what do about them or I am thinking about doing business with them, what do you know about them or how can you introduce me to them and if I am connected to all these people that I have no real connection to, that’s much harder for me to do.
Adriana Linares: Your network is diluted if that happens. How much time a day do you guys spend on LinkedIn and I mean that from a professional perspective, not because you wrote a book about it, because I never go in there. I think I have 160 connections sitting there waiting for me to accept or deny because I just don’t go in there that much, but do you all actually spend time in there and do you get requests like that a lot Allison, like tell me about the power of the connections?
Allison Shields: I mean I do get requests like that on a fairly regular basis. I would say not all the time, but I would say probably on average once a month or once every other month I will get somebody that will ask me something about somebody that I am connected to on LinkedIn and that may be because they know that I wrote a book about it and so forth and so they figure my — I may be using it differently than then they are using it.
In terms of how much time I spend, there are some days that I don’t hop on there at all and there are some days that I spend significantly more time and that’s in part just because of the way your schedule is or what have-you, but I try to schedule things out also, so some of my time that I am spending on LinkedIn is really spent on other platforms and then I am scheduling out posts, whether that be using Hootsuite or I am on the web and I find an article that’s interesting and I put it into buffer to post tomorrow, or I have written a bunch of blog posts and I am using a service to then push those blog posts out to LinkedIn and to other social media. So it may look like I am physically spending more time on LinkedIn than I am —
Adriana Linares: Than you really are — yeah.
Allison Shields: But I do try to look at it, I do try to spend some time there at least every week. That may be broken up into a couple different times during the week or it may be just I haven’t done it this week I better sit down and do some stuff on LinkedIn.
Adriana Linares: What about you, Dennis? What do you use, what are you doing in there all day long?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I probably spend when you go to time I probably spend a lot less time than people would expect, and so for me there’s two things I do that I think are really important. I have a reminder for myself to just take a look at my LinkedIn profile once a month and then also I have scheduled every three months to go to think about connecting videos, audios and updating the site. I also do some what I call A/B testing where I might —
Adriana Linares: Lot of testing, how do you, Dennis?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, like a little bit of — yeah, I see we are going more into science mode lately. So I want to say like if I say this in my headline does that make a difference, that sort of thing, and then when I do updates it’s pretty easy just go in there and see how many views, the replies, stuff like that. And then I would say what’s going to typically pull me is when I get an alert, there’s somebody’s message for me. So I have a number of people.
So one of those weird things, like I have some people who instant message me in LinkedIn. I have some people who instant message me in Twitter, some in Slack, some in — like everywhere you could think of, but LinkedIn is one place, and I would say lately mostly inquiries I get about speaking come through LinkedIn.
Adriana Linares: Really?
Dennis Kennedy: That’s what I would say and there are also some groups that I am involved in, and then I also — I use LinkedIn because my audience gets out so I can amplify other my friends things, like you said, you have wanted to get like a bump, more attention for your podcast or for your new book, for example.
Adriana Linares: For my new business.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, then if I did an update about that on LinkedIn, it’s likely to get let’s say several thousand views and that will help —
Adriana Linares: That was an offer, right, Dennis?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, that will help you amplify. Of course I am — yeah, as you know —
Adriana Linares: You are my biggest fan.
Dennis Kennedy: The original and still Honorary President of your fan club. So —
Adriana Linares: I love that.
Dennis Kennedy: So that’s how I do it. So I would say it’s one of those things where as Allison said I think that some people say like, wow, you are spending all your time on LinkedIn but it’s actually compared to like a time suck like Twitter it’s very small.
Adriana Linares: Oh, talk about a rabbit hole. Do you recommend that people go in and remove connections that are — so here’s one thing I do which is, I try very hard to keep my connections very legal specific because I don’t care about anyone who’s not in legal. So if there’s a person who worked in legal but now they are working for an insurance company or they have left legal, I un-friend them on LinkedIn, should I do that?
Dennis Kennedy: I would say no, it’s like — I think that the value — what I have learned about LinkedIn over the years is the value of weak — what they call weak connections. So if you think about who refers you business and where things — leads come to you, you would say in the real-world you go like, wow, it’s not from, it’s not usually from the people you would expect. So there’s a lot of things it’s like connections of connections, people you ran into a long time ago, somebody you did a talk for 10 years ago even.
So I like to keep people in there and I generally don’t weed people out, people sort of weed themselves out, and there’s also a big benefit to leaving people in right now in the COVID era is that as people get laid off, lose their jobs, make changes, that you are going to lose connection with them, whereas if you are connected to them on LinkedIn, they are going to update their profile and stuff, and then you kind of are able to keep in touch with them.
So I err on that. I am like a quantity person more than a quality, I mean, I do both and Allison sometimes says that I have this reality distortion effect because I do have my own audience so that if I send an invitation to somebody they are probably more likely to connect with me than if it’s just the average lawyer sending it out to somebody. I take that into account but I would like — I am just really intrigued by the notion that’s weak connections because I think that reflects what happens in the real-world.
It’s like somebody you met, even somebody you run into the grocery store, that — almost that kind of thing, but if you keep kind of narrowing it down on LinkedIn, you are just — you are in the same echo chamber and you are not getting anything fresh into it.
Allison Shields: Also if you are talking about somebody who was in your target market, somebody who is in legal and it has now left to do something else, they probably still have connections in legal. So by cutting them off you are potentially their connections that might ultimately become clients or customers or referral sources or whatever.
Adriana Linares: What else do we need to know about connections from ‘Make LinkedIn Work for You’?
Dennis Kennedy: Sort of my big thing is that LinkedIn has been around for — open to the public for I think in another week or so for 17 years. So they have been working with this data for a long time and they have other algorithms and they analyze the way that networks work.
So in LinkedIn you will see something like this area call ‘You May Know’ and it will make suggestions of people that you may know or should be connected to. I have done a lot of, here I go experimenting again, but I did a lot of experimenting in that area just to see how effective that algorithm is and it actually is really interesting who is suggesting, that’s one area to play with. Then I also think there are times like when I moved from St. Louis to Michigan I really wanted to develop a Michigan LinkedIn network really quickly. So I did a lot of outreach and invitation. And so I think that sometimes when you are moving locations or say you are changing a practice area or opening a new business, then you may do add a lot of connections in a short period of time and there are some really good techniques to do that.
Adriana Linares: We are going to take a quick break, listen to a couple of more messages and then I am going to come back and ask you about what do I do with LinkedIn, do I participate or sit on the sidelines? I have a feeling I know what you two are going to tell me, but we will be right back.
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Adriana Linares: Alright, we are back. We are with Dennis Kennedy and Allison Shields, two of my favorite people on the planet talking to us about LinkedIn, giving us a lot of good ideas and suggestions, and basically doing a free consultation for me on my LinkedIn profile. But I think everyone should go look at my picture and tell me if you think I should change it or leave it. We should do an A/B test; no, that’s not an A/B test, it’s just a vote.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I am in favor of changing it.
Adriana Linares: Wow, that’s two. Tell me about what are your recommendations for a participation? So there are some of us who literally never post anything and we just read a lot. So I think for me LinkedIn is a really powerful and interesting place for me to get information about the legal profession. I think some of the best articles and posts and the most useful information I ever find is through LinkedIn. So I use it when I find the time to get in there, I do spend a lot of time really more than anything just reading stuff, not necessarily looking at other people or trying to connect with them. Tell us about participation.
Allison Shields: The first thing that came to mind for me, Adriana, when you were just talking about how you use LinkedIn and the fact that you don’t really post very much, but you read and you find really great articles that are relevant to, not only you, but really they are relevant to your target audience too, if they are about the legal profession.
So I think one of the biggest misconceptions about participating on LinkedIn is that you have to be a content creator and create your own stuff and write your own things all the time. That’s not necessarily true. You can be a very effective participant on LinkedIn by just sharing other people’s content or liking or commenting on that content. So when you see a really great article, if you comment on it or if you reach out to the person that wrote it, and potentially maybe connect with them or the person that shared it doesn’t necessarily have to be the person that wrote it. You are also building your network and your reputation that way, as somebody who says, well, Adriana knows where to go and who to follow to get the best information for lawyers.
So I am going to follow her and I am going to watch what she is doing. So it doesn’t have to be your own created content in order to participate but you are a content creator, I mean, you’ve got a podcast. So those things are easy for you to share.
Adriana Linares: I should put these on there. I really should.
Dennis Kennedy: Here is an idea.
Adriana Linares: I am looking for content guys.
Allison Shields: Talk about low-hanging fruit.
Adriana Linares: Seriously. I am the — I am the worst social media ever. I don’t know where people find the time. I just have to say that, I don’t know and my friends are some of the guiltiest parties between all the platforms, I just don’t know, I never have time.
What other questions do you typically get for lawyers, and I think that’s really important, Allison, because that’s something I get all the time is, I don’t have time to write things, but what you’re suggesting is you can become an influencer of source without having to create content just as long as you are participating, reacting, interacting; what do you think about when it says, “Dennis Kennedy is celebrating his two years at University of Michigan”?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, if it’s two years, it’d probably be Michigan State, but —
Adriana Linares: Okay, and then they have the corny canned responses, that says, congrats, are we pro that or let’s take a moment to write something unique and genuine?
Dennis Kennedy: I’m totally thumbs up on that, because it’s a touch, and so if it’s somebody you know, you haven’t talked to her for a while and a lot of those people you just say congrats on the new role, like the canned response and they’ll send you something back.
Adriana Linares: I guess, it’s just reminding people that you are out there.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, it’s just a touch.
Adriana Linares: Right, that makes sense. So I’m in favor of that. I don’t know about you, Allison. I’m not like a big birthday person, but some people do that.
Allison Shields: I kind of ignore the birthdays on LinkedIn. I mean, I’m all for the birthdays on Facebook, but that —
Adriana Linares: Me too.
Allison Shields: — talks about how the difference is in the way I use those two different platforms. I don’t know that I’d be offended if somebody wished me a happy birthday on LinkedIn.
Adriana Linares: I didn’t — I disconnect from them.
Allison Shields: But it’s something I usually do.
Adriana Linares: No, I am kidding.
Dennis Kennedy: Send them a nasty email.
Adriana Linares: Yes.
Dennis Kennedy: How dare you wish me a Happy Birthday?
Adriana Linares: How dare you? On LinkedIn, don’t you know this for Facebook? Your recipes go on Facebook lady.
Allison Shields: Unless of course you are a personal chef.
Adriana Linares: Well, that’s so true, unless you are a personal chef and you’re trying to get people who want you to cook for them in their homes. I would like that, right? Here’s my — I can either make this for you or you can make it yourself, I probably immediately hire them.
Dennis Kennedy: It’s sort of more effective than that these days and not that many people use it as this Tagging thing. So if you type the @ symbol and starts to type somebody’s name, LinkedIn will suggest the person that you’re talking about and then you can click on that and it will put their name into your post and then they get specifically notified of that.
So I was thinking about your thing, because if you are reading the newsfeed let’s say daily or regularly, that you could do great things with likes and comments and shares. I mean, it’d be amazing what you could do and then you have your 160 people, so if you put something out, that is your audience, it’s so tiny, but if you are adding to your connections and you are tagging specific people that you want to see this, then look how much your reach has extended.
Adriana Linares: One thing I wish I had more time to do is, and which is, I think one of the quick ways you’re suggesting of connecting with people and just touching them and reminding them that you are out there, so I read these great articles and I think, oh, I know somebody who would like that and I never — I just don’t have — I don’t take the time but you’re right. If I found a great article on such-and-such I should just — and you don’t have to post everything publicly, you can certainly share things privately if you’d like, but then there is something to be said about also just posting that publicly, right, because one, it’s a touch point, two you are tagging someone else and three, you’ve got something on your feed all of a sudden and maybe someone else would jump in and interact.
Dennis Kennedy: Right and then say that there’s somebody you just really like what they are writing or what they are doing and you start to do this thing where you’re liking their stuff and you’re sharing their stuff and they may notice you, and then if you’re in one of the premium accounts, you can see that they looked at your profile and then you send them an invitation to connect and they are going to be connected with you, and then all of a sudden that you are connected with somebody who’s like a leading figure in the fields, and it just happens sort of organically online. That’s just kind of cool phenomena.
Adriana Linares: And you said something that made me think of something else too. In order to see who has seen or looked at your profile you have to have your something turned on, right?
Allison Shields: Yeah, so in a free account you’ll get limited information, but you can’t be using LinkedIn anonymously. You have to have it turned on so that people can see who you are. So there’s different ways to use LinkedIn and there are sometimes reasons but I think for a limited amount of time that you might set yourself to anonymous.
So for example if you’re a lawyer and you’re using LinkedIn to look things up for a case, you might want to put that as anonymous, so that the other party or whoever it is doesn’t see that you’re looking at their profile. But LinkedIn will not give you more access than you allow other people, if that makes sense, so —
Adriana Linares: That’s what it was, that’s what I was thinking like turning. So explain that to us just a little bit.
Allison Shields: So in the Settings you can set how you want other people to see you when you’re looking at different things. You can be completely anonymous, and I don’t remember what they call the one in the middle, Dennis. I don’t know if you can remember off the top of your head.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I forget what the name of that is.
Adriana Linares: Creepy — Creepy Level 2.
Dennis Kennedy: No, so what people would see is, a legal technology consultant looked at your profile, so it’s this kind of a weird thing, but yeah, as you up the level then you can start to see. So you’re allowing people to look at your information, which is to me the whole point of LinkedIn.
Adriana Linares: Right.
Dennis Kennedy: Some people say I’m worried about my privacy on LinkedIn, I am going like, well, it’s like a business networking tool and you are in control of what you put out there. It’s like the classic thing, you’d say that that lawyer always liked to do hiding in the closet marketing, like my work puts off, that sort of thing.
So like on LinkedIn I’m going to be totally private, nobody can see anything about me and then they’ll say, I just don’t get any benefit from LinkedIn, I don’t — I don’t —
Adriana Linares: I don’t know why. Let me ask you a couple random, but sort of rapid-fire questions. Should I pay for a LinkedIn premium?
Dennis Kennedy: Yes, two cases. So one is if I’m actively looking for a job, the job looker whatever I call it, the job looker account whatever it’s called.
Allison Shields: Seeker — jobseeker.
Dennis Kennedy: Jobseeker; $30 a month, you can turn it on and then you can terminate it whenever you want, but it gives you a lot of benefits. If you’re still in your current job, it will let recruiters see that you’re looking for a job, and certain other people, but it won’t let like your employers see it and other people who are in the right category, so they’ve done a good job with that.
It lets you see more of the people and maybe even all the people who’ve looked at your profile in the last months which will tell you whether people that you’ve sent résumés to are looking more deeply and it allows you to do some other things.
The Sales Pro account wants you do it as a small business owner, you’re just going to get hooked, because it’s like $80 a month, which is a decent amount of money, but it allows you to do just amazing — amazingly granular search, reach out to people who you aren’t directly connected to in different ways, and in this pandemic day I looked at the Sales Pro and said, geez, that’s $1,000 a year I could save just by turning that off and I said, well, yeah, I’m going to launch some new things, like you are launching your new business, say, I’m like, no, it’s like too valuable to me that I can like segment people by different categories, by job position, all those sorts of things and then work on them.
Allison Shields: But, Dennis, I think that your experiences may be atypical because you are already a heavy LinkedIn user, so I always say to people, look, I mean, one of the good things at least so far with these LinkedIn premium accounts is you could turn them on and off, so it’s not like you have to spend the whole thousand dollars for the year, you can decide, well, I’m going to try it out and if I’m not really using it, I can turn it off.
But a lot of the lawyers at least that I talk to are not even using a fraction of the capacity of what’s there in the free account. For somebody like that to jump them into a premium account, I don’t know if it would be worth it. I think they have to get their hands into LinkedIn and start using it more and then maybe decide to try out the premium account, because if you never open up LinkedIn, it doesn’t matter what kind of account you have, you’re not using it.
Adriana Linares: Well, I’m a good example of that person.
Dennis Kennedy: But I think if you’re starting out something especially or you are launching a new marketing thing, new practice group, practice area, you could — just the fact that LinkedIn is going to give you a way to say, give me a list of all the C-level executives who identify as biotech companies in my state or the surrounding couple of states and give me that list and tell me like how they’re connected to me, are they first, second, third degree connections and give me some more information like that, that’s really powerful and it’s hard to get that information when you’re launching like a new sales effort.
Adriana Linares: But I like what Allison is suggesting which you can turn it on and off, right?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, oh we have.
Adriana Linares: And based on your needs, that’s great. Next question for you.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, get the job, turn it off.
Adriana Linares: That makes sense. I mean, come on, it’s a smart thing to do. It’s the financially responsible thing to do.
Tell me real quick, if you don’t mind, a couple more questions because I know we’re going long, but as we talk more I could ask a million more questions, you guys are going to have to come back. And here’s what we’ll do.
I will ask listeners to email in questions that they’ve thought of because I’ve got like ten more, but I’m just going to ask you a couple more and then we’ll have you guys back. And nobody will need to buy the book at that point, no, I am kidding. We won’t give away —
Dennis Kennedy: There is so much in the book, it’s unbelievable.
Adriana Linares: So much. What about business LinkedIn pages? So if you are a lawyer and you are a solo do you need the business page?
Allison Shields: So that’s a really interesting question and maybe this is a subject for a science experiment, Dennis.
Adriana Linares: Oh, I got somebody.
Allison Shields: But I think there is value to having it for a number of reasons; one, it seems kind of silly, but I think it makes you look more professional. So if you — especially if you have a logo and it’s attached to your company page it’s going to show on your LinkedIn profile and then people can click from your profile directly over to the company page. And if you are a small firm or if you’re in a small firm I think it’s even more important to have a business page or what they call LinkedIn Company Page because everybody who works for that business is then attached to that page, so one of the utilities of using the company pages from a user perspective is that I can go and see who are all of the people that are working for the Dennis Kennedy Idea Propulsion Lab and I can see who’s connected to that page and then I can also see how I’m connected to them.
Adriana Linares: Dennis, how many people are currently connected to the Company Propulsion page?
Dennis Kennedy: I don’t know it’s like 30 or so, but I just launched it. And the experiment I’m doing is with Showcase pages, which are a new thing.
Adriana Linares: Oh.
Dennis Kennedy: So off your Company page you can do these Showcase pages. So, say that you are starting this new line of business that you’re going to start. You could actually do a separate Showcase page that highlights just that so people have like multiple practice areas, it gives you that and then to me the great benefit of the LinkedIn Company pages and the like is that LinkedIn has Google juice like nobody’s business, right? So that if you do a search on yourself that LinkedIn Company page is likely to be probably the top result maybe, but certainly the top three.
Adriana Linares: Oh, wow. That’s so powerful.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Okay, we are going to come back and talk about that next time you guys come see me.
Well, two more quick questions. What about groups, should we be joining groups?
Allison Shields: So I think groups is one of the most powerful tools within LinkedIn and I think at least anecdotally for the people that I’ve spoken to, the lawyers who have gotten business through LinkedIn, a lot of it is as a result of being participant in groups.
I will say a lot of people poo-poo the LinkedIn groups and they say they’re not really useful and there’s a lot of spam and/or the groups are just not good and nobody is doing anything in them. But the way I look at it is it’s just like real life, some groups you join in there, it’s a whole bunch of people who just want to run around and hand out their business card and they are not really interested in having a conversation or interacting or providing value, and it’s the same thing on LinkedIn.
So it can be hit or miss and you got to find the groups that make sense, but look, if you’ve got a group of people who are all in one place and they are all in your target market, don’t you want to be there? I mean, I find a lot of value in the groups for that reason and things that we were talking about sharing, you can share to some extent obviously to your own network by posting to your own profile, but oftentimes the groups have a lot more people in them than you have connections.
So when you post in a group, a lot of times your posts have more reach than they would by just posting them on your own page. So those are a couple of the reasons why I think they are useful.
Adriana Linares: Great tips. And you can also not only can — and I’ll just say this but we don’t have to talk about it, but you not only can join groups and by the way leave them like you said if they aren’t working for you, but there’s also hashtags just like on Twitter and on Facebook of topics of interest, so I follow legal technology, legal marketing, trial practice, hashtags, just again to keep an eye on the profession and when something interesting goes by I’m alerted of it and maybe I’ll share it with people who I think would be interested this point moving forward.
The last thing I want to ask you is about advertising. Should a lawyer advertise on LinkedIn, their legal services? Can they? Should they?
Dennis Kennedy: I am really — I have not done LinkedIn advertising, but it’s really intriguing as a way to go because I don’t think it’s very expensive, you get another place where you can test things pretty inexpensively, right? So you can say, hey, we’re thinking of starting this new COVID-19 practice group and should we call it a Pandemic Group, should we call COVID-19, should we call it something else? And you could do these ads and do this track to see what response that you get. So there are some things there.
Anecdotally, I think people have found some success with it and I think it’s fairly easy to set up and use if you’re familiar with the add services, but I think if you’re not familiar with the add services like the pricing and setting limits on your spend and all that stuff can be a little confusing?
Adriana Linares: I’ve done it, it’s been a minute now just to try and sell some webinars on office and stuff like that and both LinkedIn and Facebook were very affordable, really easy to figure out how to do and the reach and response is very high because of all the creepy data they have. They can help you reach the right people. So that’s a —
Dennis Kennedy: Did you get registrants from it though?
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I sure did, yeah. And when I launched my new business angle, I’m going to try it again. But first I am going to hire Allison to help me with my LinkedIn profile. You guys are the best.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today and I really do want to encourage everyone to go pick up the book on Amazon ‘Make LinkedIn Work for You’ by Allison and Dennis.
Dennis Kennedy: Super-affordable, super-affordable price.
Adriana Linares: Oh yeah, how much is it?
Dennis Kennedy: Oh good question, because I have two books out so I forgot the price. So, Allison, do you remember what the —
Allison Shields: I don’t remember.
Adriana Linares: I may go look. I’d like to be like Leo Laporte that gets on this computer.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, the paperback is under $25 because as you know with certain other legal publishers the prices of books are super-duper high.
Adriana Linares: They are super-super stupid is what they are. I mean, at the books the content is great, the price is stupid. Okay, so it’s $24.87 for the paperback and then I’m sure — oh here we go. Ooh you have — but wait, if you have Kindle Unlimited it’s zero dollars. So all of you listeners right now who have Kindle Unlimited you hop on that and then otherwise it’s $14.99 on the Kindle and $25 on the paperback which is super reasonable.
And you know what I find, I do all the time, I get a lot of books on Audible or on Kindle but then I buy the hardback or the actual book because either I didn’t catch a word or a name or I want to go back so maybe that’s another option as you can always do both.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, because some people use the Kindle Unlimited as a way to test out books that they eventually buy, so there’s some benefits, but everything is in Kindle so that’s the — if I can use the word “experiment”, that’s the experiment we’re trying here.
Adriana Linares: I love it. Well, congratulations, you guys, I’m sure it’s great, because I have your original LinkedIn for Lawyers from the ABA, somewhere and some — one of my — in many houses that book is sitting somewhere, and I am pretty sure Dennis Kennedy signed it. Ooh, I wonder what I could get for it on eBay.
Dennis Kennedy: Probably less than the cover price.
Adriana Linares: Colleen would buy it for me. It’s a Dennis Kennedy original.
Dennis, tell everybody how they can find, friend and follow you and connect with you on LinkedIn before I let you go.
Dennis Kennedy: So I am always some version of Dennis Kennedy which means www.denniskennedy.com which means @denniskennedy on Twitter, and I think that I am super-easy to find on LinkedIn, that’s a search i.e. “connect to people”. So if you do a personal message that said, “I loved hearing you on the podcast” it’s almost guaranteed that I will connect with you.
Adriana Linares: Your podcast or mine?
Dennis Kennedy: Either of them, but —
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Dennis Kennedy: — I don’t want to hurt Tom’s feelings on this as you know.
Adriana Linares: Oh, he is so sensitive too.
Dennis Kennedy: So that’s the best way to do that. I just don’t — I always tell people it’s pretty rare I connect with any way on Facebook, I use that for family and friends.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. So what about you, Allison, how can people find, friend, follow and hire you?
Allison Shields: Well, my website is lawyermeltdown.com and the blog is legaleaseconsulting.com. I have a business page on LinkedIn for Legal Ease Consulting and on Facebook also. On Twitter I am @AllisonShields, and that’s Allison with two Ls.
Adriana Linares: And your last name is spelled S-H-I-E-L-D-S, like shields of gold.
Allison Shields: Yes, although it will be J-O-H-S. We just have to do all the work to get it changed.
Adriana Linares: Oh wow. That sounds like a pain.
Dennis Kennedy: There are a couple of articles coming out of this where Allison will describe how easy or not easy it is to change your name in social media.
Adriana Linares: Across the board sounds crazy. Well, thanks again you guys, really appreciate your time and hope to have you back because I have more questions, and again, I’m going to ask our listeners to email into [email protected].
I get all those messages. If you have any questions for Allison and Dennis then we can have them come back and answer for us. That would be really fun if you have recommendations or suggestions for future episodes or topics that you would like to see covered, you can always send them in that way.
Thank you for listening to New Solo on the Legal Talk Network. If you like what you have heard today, I would love for you to subscribe five-star ratings and give us a review on iTunes. We will see you next time, and remember, you are not alone, you are a New Solo.
Outro: Thanks for listening to New Solo with host Adriana Linares. Tune in again to learn more about how to successfully run your new practice, solo, here on Legal Talk Network.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
New Solo covers a diverse range of topics including transitioning from law firm to solo practice, law practice management, and more.
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