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Ask the Risk Pro: PERMAnent Joy and Pointers for PI Lawyers

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Learn how to turn your online bio into marketing gold.

By Jay Reeves, The Risk Pro

If you want a happier and more prosperous Law Life, you simply need to be able to spell the word “permanent.”

Actually, you don’t even have to spell the whole word – just the first five letters.

PERMA is the brainchild of Dr. Martin Seligman, a founder of the field of positive psychology. In a TED Talk that has racked up a remarkable 6 million views, he explains the five core elements of psychological well-being – abbreviated as PERMA:

  • Positive emotions – feeling good
  • Engagement – finding flow
  • Relationships- creating authentic connections
  • Meaning – having a purpose
  • Achievement – having a sense of accomplishment

I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Seligman some years ago when he gave the commencement address at my daughter’s college graduation. In his talk, he explained how to put PERMA to work in your life: create time every day for activities that make you happy and get you in the flow; connect with people, not things; strive to make a difference, not just make money; celebrate even small wins.

Now let’s take a PERMA dive into the Risk Pro’s mailbag:

Dear Risk Pro: I’m changing the “About Me” page on my website. I want to start it with a story of why I became a lawyer and how that affects my practice, and I’ll drop my educational and work background down lower on the page. What do you think? Bio in Bowling Green OH
Dear Bio: Brilliant! Eight out of 10 visitors to your site will click on your attorney bio before leaving – and many of them will decide whether to hire you or not based solely on their impression of it. The best way to draw them in is to tell an authentic, compelling and unique story. Here are more tips for turning your online bio into marketing gold.

Dear Risk Pro: One of my pet peeves is when people conclude a sentence with rising intonation, thus turning a declarative statement into a question. Another is repeatedly ending sentences with “right?” I find these verbal tics annoying. Linguistic in La Crosse WI
Dear Linguistic: I know, right?

Dear Risk Pro: I’ve been a plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer for almost 30 years. I like what I do and I’m good at it. But lately it seems I’m getting more and more clients who drive me crazy. They keep asking the same questions over and over. I find myself having to repeatedly explain the meaning of “at-fault” and how our contingency fee arrangement works even though we’ve gone over this several times before. Any suggestions? Irked in Illinois
Dear Irked. Yes. Go immediately to the nearest mirror and take a long, hard look. The person staring back at you is the one who is “at-fault,” not your clients. There’s a communication problem in your office – and it begins and ends with you. Sure, some clients don’t listen, and some are difficult to work with. But put yourself in their shoes. When they come to see you, they’re anxious, uncertain and – in your practice – hurting. Here are some tips: (a) Do more listening than talking. (b) After explaining a legal point, ask if your client understands. Better yet, ask them to repeat what you told them. (c) Put important information in writing. (d)  Consider whether you’ve lapsed into bad habits – like talking over clients’ heads and not actively listening to them – over the years. (e) Weed out problem clients through better case selection. (f) Use plain English. Clients distrust lawyers who think they’re smarter than everyone else and use too much legalese.

Dear Risk Pro: What did the bartender say when Arial and Helvetica walked into the bar? Funny in Fort Worth TX
Dear Funny: Get out of here! We don’t serve your type.

Dear Risk Pro: You say every firm should have a cybersecurity protocol. What are the basic ingredients? Where do I start? Insecure in Indianapolis IN
Dear Insecure: A cybersecurity protocol is a written set of procedures for keeping your firm’s systems and data safe. The details will vary from firm to firm, but the essentials – anti-virus software, password protection, multi-factor authentication, limited access to sensitive data, use of approved devices only, universal buy-in from all team members – are the same for everyone. Another key component: having a cyber liability policy to complement your malpractice coverage. Want to learn more best practices for cybersecurity? Attend Alta Pro’s FREE, one-hour CLE webinar “Putting Cyber Security to Work in Your Practice” on September 17. Attorney Kevin O’Hagan – a top cyber expert who defends lawyers in malpractice cases – will give you a roadmap for staying safe and successful in these uncertain times. Register here.

Risk Rhetoric: “There will never be a reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp, in remarks to the 1977 World Future Society

Risk Definition: Mutephobia – the fear of being permanently muted in a Zoom meeting

Risk Pro List of Things You Really Should Know (or not)
Top 10 Movies You Have to Watch Twice to Catch All the Jokes

  1. Princess Bride
  2. The Big Lebowski
  3. Toy Story
  4. Spaceballs
  5. Airplane
  6. Blazing Saddles
  7. Shrek
  8. The Incredibles
  9. Shaun of the Dead
  10. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    (Source: Ranker)

Got a question about how to keep your law practice safe, successful and soaring? Ask the Risk Pro – the personal, on-call practice management consultant for lawyers insured through Alta Pro Insurance Services. Contact the Risk Pro at


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