Vol. 83, No. 11, November 2010
The Essential Attorney Handbook for Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Website Development Management
By Jeffery W. Lantz (Oro Valley, Ariz.: Esquire Interactive LLC, 2009). 260 pgs. $27.61. Order, www.esquireinteractive.com.
Reviewed by Jacques C. Condon
After reading The Essential Attorney Handbook for Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Website Development Management, two things are immediately apparent: 1) whether you already have a website, have a law practice that needs a website, or simply want to understand what Internet marketing means for lawyers and their firms, the Handbook is an ideal place to begin your research; and 2) 260 pages is not nearly enough space to cover this topic. As much as the author wants the Handbook to be a hands-on training tool, it is better positioned as an informational guide for lawyers.
The book begins with an obvious understatement, describing its content as a “fairly detailed” discussion of Internet marketing. With five sections, 19 chapters, and a jungle of subheadings, discussion brevity comes at the sacrifice of usability. The Handbook weaves through straightforward do’s and don’ts of Internet marketing and website planning. It ventures into mundane topics such as domain name registration and website hosting. The fourth section, on website development and search-engine optimization, is the most interesting and also the most complex.
Cutting-edge topics are discussed. Some, such as Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, are for the already knowledgeable computer user. Others, such as understanding Twitter, Facebook, and blogging, are for the computer challenged. The appendix complements these topics with information on creating accounts with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Bing. A glossary would have helped the discussion.
Although half the book is dedicated to background information, its lawyer and law firm focus helps distinguish the Handbook from the Dummies series of books. Nowhere is this more clear than in the book’s discussion of website development. The author’s legal background and law firm experience are a definite plus in tying the topic to the attorney audience. The focus won’t stop you from needing caffeine before digging into the prose, but it helps in giving the book relevance. The Handbook succeeds by informing you how and why the Web is important and what the Web means for you and your practice.
Overall, the author does a good job of explaining Internet and website concepts for lawyers and law firms. If you are building your own website, the book won’t be your last stop. If you want to know what Internet marketing means for you, the book should be your first stop.
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Every Dog’s Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owner
By Mary Randolph (Berkeley, CA: Nolo, 6th ed. 2009). 352 pgs. $19.99. Order, www.nolo.com.
Reviewed by Kari Niesen-LaScala
As the title suggests, this book is a valuable resource for dog owners. The first sentence in the introduction reads, “This book is for people who own dogs, live next door to dogs, get bitten by dogs, or otherwise deal with dogs – which, with the American dog population at an estimated 73 million, includes just about everybody.”
The book gives practical advice about such things as buying a dog, licenses, vaccinations, preventing biting, and traveling with dogs (you may think twice about putting your dog on an airplane as cargo after reading this), as well as how to navigate the legal system should it become necessary.
This is also, however, a very useful book for attorneys, because there are many legal issues surrounding dogs and dog ownership. The author discusses tort issues, such as injuries caused by dogs and damages for pet owners whose dogs are killed or injured, and contract and sales issues, including seller disclosures, sales agreements, and express and implied warranties. The book contains a list of states with “lemon laws” for dogs and a sample bill of sale.
The author discusses landlord/tenant issues for dog owners, including the different laws for private and public housing, enforcement of no-pets clauses, and issues concerning elderly tenants and people with disabilities; criminal law topics (abuse of dogs, organized dog fighting, and cases in which dogs seriously injure or kill another person); and even estate planning (to provide for the care of dogs after owners die).
The author provides several resources for readers. Every chapter includes endnotes with statutes, case law, and other relevant resources. The author also provides examples of such things as a demand letter, a letter in support of a small claims case, and a sample agreement for working out disputes.
The appendix contains tips for legal research and some state statutes regarding dogs. Specific state statutes in regard to dangerous dogs, dog bites, and trusts for pets, as well as states with contributory negligence laws, are listed in the book.
This is a very interesting and informative book: it is written in lay terms for the dog owner but also is very practical for the attorney who has a client with dog-related issues.
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Nolo’s Guide to Social Security Disability: Getting & Keeping Your Benefits
By David A. Morton III (Berkeley, CA: Nolo, 5th ed. 2010). 512 pgs. $29.99. Order, www.nolo.com.
Reviewed by Jennifer Edmondson
For the past 24 years, I have practiced law primarily in the areas of personal injury and worker’s compensation, first representing defendants and respondents and then plaintiffs and applicants. Last year, I began representing clients with Social Security disability claims. Although I think I have read almost every book and treatise published in this area, I had not read this particular book (which I did not even know existed). So when the opportunity to review Nolo’s Guide to Social Security Disability (the Guide) presented itself, I jumped at the chance.
I highly recommend this book not only to attorneys new to the Social Security disability system but also to nonattorneys who have Social Security disability claims of their own or are helping friends or family members with their claims. The Guide is concisely written and well organized and provides more than basic information regarding Social Security disability claims.
The book comes with a CD-ROM that contains the text of important federal regulations governing Social Security claims, such as the listing of impairments, which contains the criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine whether a claimant’s impairments meet the requirements for obtaining disability benefits. The book and the CD also contain practice points and explanations on how one should go about proving one’s claim. If you are looking for a relatively quick way to learn how to navigate the Social Security disability system, this is the book for you. At a list price of $29.99, it’s a bargain.
The author of the Guide is not an attorney, but rather a physician who served as a disability-determination consultant to the SSA in Arkansas. Along with providing the nuts and bolts of presenting a disability claim, the author also provides suggestions on how to cross-examine experts hired by the SSA.
I wish I had read this book first, when I began handling Social Security disability cases and before I dove into the numerous multivolume treatises and handbooks. Although this book is not a substitute for those large tomes, for a book that is only about 500 pages long, it teaches you what you initially need to know and understand about Social Security disability.
The quality of this Nolo guide is consistent with the others I have read – easy to read and understand, concise, and straightforward. According to the Nolo website, Nolo was founded in the late 1960s by San Francisco Bay-area legal aid attorneys Ralph (Jake) Warner and Charles Sherman, who grew frustrated with not being able to provide legal assistance to people who needed legal help but did not qualify for legal aid. At the time, no self-help books existed to help individuals with legal problems. For more information about Nolo, go to www.nolo.com.
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The 2010 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide
By Sharon D. Nelson, John W. Simek, & Michael C. Maschke (Chicago, IL: ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2010). 292 pgs. $89.95. Order, www.abanet.org.
Reviewed by Amanda K. Ashley
Use this book if you don’t have the time or desire to review a lot of technology specifications on your own and you just want to get your office up and running (or upgraded) quickly. This book will help you if you want a brief review of what you are purchasing but mainly are just looking for someone to tell you which products will give you the best bang for your buck.
Don’t use the book if you like to shop for and compare and review products and are more interested in a discussion of what is available than in a recommendation of a single product. You can gather all your research and make your own decisions and choices without this book.
Although there is some discussion within this guide, it is not quite as much the comparison-shopping guide that I initially thought and wanted it to be. Much of the first section of the book consists of one or two product recommendations. The latter sections get into a bit more discussion but still tend to focus on two or three products per type of technology.
Overall, the book is informative. It is a simple guide to technology for solo and small firms, that is, those with smaller budgets. The book covers a variety of technologies (from monitors to case management software to smartphones), and I picked up some handy tips. In a brief but persuasive discussion on Blackberry versus iPhone versus Palm Treo, the authors strongly dissuade attorneys from using iPhones based on Apple’s continued issues with security breaches; the authors also cover Macs and PCs.
I recommend this book for attorneys who are somewhat tech savvy and those who have yet to purchase a computer (you know who you are). However, if you consider yourself a technology geek, you might want to look elsewhere because, as the tagline suggests, this guide is for critical decisions made simple.
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Healthy Employees, Healthy Business: Easy, Affordable Ways to Promote Workplace Wellness
By Ilona Bray (Berkeley, CA: Nolo, 2009). 368 pgs. $29.99. Order, www.nolo.com.
Reviewed by Kara M. Burgos
This book is a guide for businesses, small and large, that wish to foster “workplace wellness.” Studies have shown that an affordable, simple workplace wellness program can actually boost business by making employees healthier, happier, and more productive. Bray has put together a panel of advisors to address elements of workplace wellness programs. The book, which outlines and details how a wellness program works and how it can benefit a particular business, is broken down into topics such as medicine, fitness, nutrition, health insurance benefits, workplace laws, and more.
The author compiled information already available to the general public but she did so in a way that aids employers in their businesses. Despite being marketed to both small and large businesses, it is difficult to imagine that any small company would have the financial wherewithal to implement many of the programs. However, many resources are on the Internet and can be accessed for free.
Although the book does not provide any new or earth-shattering information related to wellness, it does serve as a one-stop resource for overworked human resource managers who have been charged with trying to implement a healthier working environment. Included are forms, checklists, and newsletters that can act as templates for any business wanting to adopt a workplace wellness program.
The book’s premise is to encourage employers to foster a healthier working environment, including encouraging healthier eating and exercise habits. The book provides tips on engaging one’s workforce in such programs, most of which involve some type of incentive for people to participate, but the bottom line is that unless workers are willing to be actively involved in their own health, it will be difficult to engage them in a program at the office.
The underlying theme of the book is one all employers should embrace: by actively promoting employee wellness, employers can improve productivity and keep their health insurance expenditures stable, leading to a net profit on every dollar spent. It is likely that the only way that the goals and aspirations presented in the book will come to fruition is if an employer has at least one employee willing to tackle the issues of providing a healthy workplace. A good and comprehensive workplace wellness program will, over time, result in fewer absences, greater on-the-job productivity, improved worker satisfaction and retention, and fewer dollars spent on health insurance.
In these trying economic times, an employer might ask, “Who can afford to implement such a workplace wellness program?” But who can afford not to?
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Words from the Heart: A Practical Guide To Writing an Ethical Will
By Eric L. Weiner (Milwaukee, WI: Self-published, 2010). 92 pgs. $20. Order, www.familylegacyadvisor.com.
Reviewed by Yvonne Michaud Novak
This book encourages readers to prepare documents setting forth their “HEART”: hopes for the future; experiences in life; appreciation; religion, spirituality, or core beliefs; and treasures. The workbook is relatively short and can be read quickly. Completing the assignments will take more time, but the resulting document should be well worth the additional time. A number of my clients have died recently, and so I can definitely see the value for surviving family members in having such a document. However, as an attorney I cringe at the use of the word “will.”
The author does distinguish between the type of will attorneys usually prepare and an “ethical will.” My concern regarding the use of the word will is that when we draft wills, our intent is to provide clear guidance as to how a client wants his or her assets distributed. A document with will in the title has the potential to be interpreted by a grieving family as somehow applying to the interpretation of the actual will and may lead to disagreements as to what the actual will intended. An ethical will does not specifically address the assets of the decedent and, in fact, unlike with an actual will, the author recommends reviewing it with the intended audience before the writer’s death.
With my legal concerns out of the way, I highly recommend that all parents and all individuals with life partners consider using this workbook. The resulting document will be treasured by your intended audience.
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