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There's probably no better way to project a polished professional presence than having a good brand. Today we're looking at what that means exactly, and exploring ways to improve yours.

Your Brand Is Your Promise to Your Client. If you Google 'branding' you'll find many different descriptions of what it means. But at the heart of it, your brand is how others see you based on how you present yourself and the characteristics that define you. This is your personal brand.

Your professional brand adds the context of your work to that equation, defining your unique value proposition in the marketplace.

And your firm brand is about the reputation and value proposition of your firm as a whole, not just you (unless you are a solo lawyer).


"Knowing who you are, what you stand for, your professional strengths and what clients can expect when they hire you - as well as being able to communicate this clearly and effectively - will be key to your success both in terms of becoming better known internally (within your law firm) and externally (with your clients)." - The Importance of Personal Branding for Lawyers, Stephanie Solakian Goldstein


The Illinois State Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service provides referrals to local lawyers Mondays through Fridays.  The Service makes referrals in a number of areas of law.  For the month of April, there were at total of 940 calls.


Today's challenge is to create a more thoughtful out-of-office ('OOO') message, also called an automatic email responder, to better serve and delight your clients.

An Easy Way to Extend Your Customer Service. Picture this...it's the end of the day the Friday before your week-long vacation. You're about to shut down your computer when you remember - shoot! - I need to let everyone know I'll be out next week. So you log back into Outlook/Gmail, spend 60 seconds updating your last (generic) OOO message with next week's dates, and 2 minutes later you're out the door.

Sound familiar? If so, you're not alone.

And while just the basics will suffice, it's certainly not taking advantage of the opportunity to create a positive memorable experience for the reader. You've worked hard to develop client relationships and deliver exceptional service while you're in the office. It's time to extend that to your client touches when you're out of the office as well.

The Bare Necessities. A professional OOO message should at minimum cover the following 3 items:


Enter 'MMAM17' as a coupon code when viewing your shopping cart in the Bookstore.


Save 25% on ISBA books, Fastbooks and merchandise* from May 8-19.

ISBA books are a great resource to help save you time and money. Covering a wide range of subjects, all books are written by recognized authorities and are focused on Illinois law.

Each title is available in a convenient paperback format, and most are also available as a downloadable Fastbooks PDF. Because Fastbooks are downloadable and searchable, they make it easy to always have the law at your fingertips.

What's more, most ISBA books are bundled with a complimentary Fastbook PDF that you can download after placing your order.

A few recent bestsellers include...


Welcome Desk4Success-ers to Week 2: Polishing Your Professional Presence! Today we're exploring proper LinkedIn etiquette for better business networking.

LinkedIn is for Business (Only). LinkedIn differs from other social networking platforms in that it's only meant for business. So those family photos, political comments, and videos of you puking rainbows — all that should stay off of your LinkedIn profile.

Not on LinkedIn? Check out these YouTube videos on creating a LinkedIn account and updating your account for 2017.

The Golden Rule. The most important thing to remember when using LinkedIn is to treat your connections online the same way you would IRL. Build rapport. Be respectful. Don't overstep.

Making and Accepting Connections. 'Connecting' is to LinkedIn what 'Friending' is on Facebook. Once you've 'connected' to another person — either by their invitation or yours — you are considered a 1st-degree connection. And, like the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, you have an extended network of connections made up of people that your connections know. (Learn more here.)

Here are our some common do's and don'ts when it comes to connections:


Please enjoy this gift from our malpractice insurance partner, ISBA Mutual!

Almost 30 years ago, ISBA Mutual was created with a simple mission: to be a benefit to the members of the ISBA. We will be celebrating this longstanding relationship throughout ISBA Member Appreciation Month.

To help you put your best face forward, ISBA Mutual is sponsoring the Free Business Portraits Giveaway.

Also in celebration of ISBA Member Appreciation Month, ISBA Mutual is sharing some valuable resources that are normally available exclusively to ISBA Mutual insured firms, starting with a complimentary download of our e-book The Fundamentals of Loss Prevention for Lawyers!

Legal malpractice claims affect lawyers in every area of law. Even practices that were once thought to be immune from malpractice claims such as criminal and defense work are seeing a rise in claims. Furthermore, the chance of being sued does not diminish with experience. On the contrary, statistics indicate that the greatest percentage of legal malpractice claims are made against lawyers who have been practicing ten years or more.


We're finishing up our week of 'decluttering our office + mind' by dealing with digital data backup.

"You'll be sorry you didn't!" - Mom

Last month my basement flooded and the water destroyed everything in its path.

I had meant to check on the sump pump earlier in the day. But the phone rang, laundry needed to be done...life happened. What would've taken me all of 60 seconds to check on ended up costing me a back-breaking 3 days of work ripping out (heavy wet) carpet and dealing with the messy, stinky aftermath of a flooded basement.

Which brings me to backing up computer data.

Back up your data. We all know we should do it. It doesn't take much in the way of time or resources. So why do so many of us drag our feet getting it done - when the consequences for not doing so are disastrous?

No more. Today, we're going to take a look at a few simple solutions for backing up our electronic data, and pledge to 'Get-R-Done.' That way, we don't have to spend any unnecessary time or energy worrying about losing those files, pictures, and contacts we just can't do without.

The power of three. Backing up can be as simple as copying a file from one spot to another (e.g., from your desktop to a removable USB drive). It can also include uploading your files to the cloud, or installing a file-synchronization service.


We've dealt with decluttering our desks (Monday) and our minds (Tuesday and Wednesday). Today we're turning our attention to downsizing digital clutter, starting with the inbox.

Achieving Inbox Zero (or Close to It)

Go take a look at the number of emails currently in your inbox. (We'll wait.) Is it zero? If so, congrats, you've already reached the mythical Inbox Zero. Go celebrate. For the rest of us (festivus!), is it 50? 500? 5,000? Does your number stress you out? What would be your ideal number?

Knowing your comfort level will help you manage your inbox. For many of us, Inbox Zero is not realistic, but Inbox 100 just might be. Here's how we can get there...

Delete, Repeat. This one is simple, and you're probably already doing it to some degree. But if your inbox number is upwards of 3 figures, you're a prime candidate for a batch delete. To batch delete, sort your inbox by sender. Twenty emails sitting around from J.Crew? Delete them as a batch by clicking on the sender then delete. Repeat for all unwanted emails/senders.

Another helpful tip is to sort your inbox by subject. If you've got a long thread of emails using the same subject line, and the last one contains all of the earlier replies, consider just holding on to that last one and getting rid of the rest. (Tip courtesy of our Membership Coordinator Ann Boucher!)


Your challenge for today is to dim the lights in your office, sit (in lotus position) on your newly decluttered desk, close your eyes, and hum for the next 30 minutes.


Just kidding! Sort of anyway.

Today we're learning how to incorporate a few minutes of mindfulness into our professional lives to help us cope with work-related stress and push the reset button on our mind.

What is mindfulness? While it sounds new-agey, mindfulness has been practiced by people for thousands of years. At its core, it is being in a state of awareness.

Why is it so popular? Most of us are flying on autopilot throughout the day. Our frantic lives leave us on edge, stressed, and wondering where the day went. Mindfulness is a way to counteract those tendencies by connecting with what's going on around us and within us. Short of going on a tech-detox or taking a mental health day, it's one one of the best - and easiest - things you can do for yourself to improve your day.

Like monotasking, mindfulness also improves productivity, which helps explain why the practice of mindfulness has made its way into the corporate culture at numerous companies, like Google, Target and General Mills.


What is monotasking? Simply put, it's the art of carrying out one task at a time.

Why everyone should be doing it... The antithesis of multitasking, monotasking helps improve your memory, cut down on errors, and increase your productivity. And if that isn't enough to convince you, monotasking can also make your work feel more enjoyable.  

...Except for these people. Like Mensa, only 2% of the population are true multitaskers, or 'supertaskers.' For these lucky few, their performance doesn't suffer when they do different things simultaneously - it sometimes gets better. For most of us though, our brain can't handle the overload. Take the test to find out where you stand.

5 Steps to Monotasking