Jay Shepherd, who closed his practice to open a company to teach civil lawyers how to bill like criminal defense lawyers have been billing since time immemorial, exposes the deep, dark secrets (just go with it) of how small firms and solos can compete with BigLaw:
Toys and tech.
I know, I know, can't anyone advocate that better lawyering is what makes us, um, better lawyers?
No, no, and no.
Toys....and tech. Get with the program.
Here we go, grab the Starbucks:
 Jay asks why are you using Windows XP, an operating system launched ten years ago last week. Seriously? You’re using an operating system from the Clinton Administration?
Yes, I use XP. It works fine. Does everything I want.
 ...small-firm lawyers have a better chance of carrying the latest iPhone or Android device, while their Biglaw counterparts are still lugging around their 2002-ish BlackBerries.
I have a 2010 blackberry. It emails, texts, accesses the net, you know, has the ability to communicate with people and websites. Works fine. Does the job.
 Social media. Because you can't talk about lawyers without talking about social media.
 Intimidate witnesses with an iPad and impress clients at the same time.
When the iPad came out last year, I made a point of using it in depositions. I uploaded all of the written-discovery documents into my GoodReader app. Then, instead of referring the deponent to the typical stack of photocopied documents, I’d flick and pinch on the iPad screen to pull up the bookmarked documents, then ask him, “Is this your signature?” while I highlighted it on the glass. Yes, I was showing off, and it wasn’t necessarily any more effective than the stack of photocopies. But it was potentially intimidating to the witness, and more importantly, it showed our client (one of the world’s largest banks) that we were on the cutting edge. And that gave them comfort.
So there you have it. Change your operating system, get rid of the blackberry, get an iPad and use it to impress.
Congratulations, you can now compete with BigLaw.
Now if I can just remember one client in the last 17 years that gave a crap about any of this...
But I don't want to get in to what really makes clients want to be your client or how to compete, lawyer to lawyer, with BigLaw. It's boring, and doesn't involve shiny intimidating toys.
Non-anonymous comments welcome. Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.