Lawyerist Insider Profile: Graham Martin


Name and law firm

Graham M. Martin of Martin Legal Services, LLC.

Describe your law practice

My practice focuses primarily on civil litigation, with an emphasis on resolving people’s legal situations in as amicable and efficient a manner as possible. I enjoy working in a variety of areas under the umbrella of civil litigation, and letting people know that they have more options than they think when it comes to conflict resolution. My process involves a tiered approach, to maximize positive outcome and minimize both the monetary and emotional cost to the client.

Describe your ideal client

I like clients who have legitimate disputes with individuals, businesses, or government entities, and who are running out of options, not those who are simply having an emotional reaction to a situation. Preferably, a client will come to me prior to the start of a legal proceeding so we can get the problem resolved without needing to involve the courts.

How do you attract your clients? If you use multiple methods, which have proven most effective?

Almost all my marketing is done online. The majority of my clients so far have come through the Minnesota State Bar Association’s online referral service, which has provided me with a lot of variety in types of cases, and a lot of satisfaction from helping those people navigate the legal system. The second major source of clients is from friends and colleagues in the legal profession, even formerly-opposing counsel.

How have you integrated blogging and/or online social networking into your marketing plan? If you have not, why not?

My blogging has been helpful to me mostly as a guest blogger on other sites (including a guest post about Google Profiles on Lawyerist). As I am able to focus more time on building my practice, I will integrate a blog on my website addressing contemporary legal issues of interest to the general public. Social networking has been helpful for me mostly in building my professional network, rather than my client base.

If you use online social networks, which do you prefer?

The only social network I regularly use is Facebook. I have a good profile on LinkedIn, and have set up a Twitter account, but think it’s better to be active and prominent on one social networking site rather than only partially engaged in many.

What blogs or websites do you visit most?

My online information-gathering tends to be mostly non-legal (other than frequent visits to Lawyerist). Daily stops are Lifehacker and Engadget (to learn about up-and-coming technology and how to integrate it into my life). When I’ve got extra time on my hands, I also love the variety of stories at SlashDot.

What hardware and software do you use to the following aspects of your practice: e-mail, contacts, calendar, tasks, timekeeping & billing, phone, word processing & document creation, and PDF creation & editing

I am a big proponent of freeware—particularly that which integrates with other systems well. Consequently, I use GMail for my personal and legal email (with separate accounts, of course), Google Calendar for my appointments, and Google’s built-in task list (which shows up in my email and on my iGoogle home page). I’ve recently added Google Voice to my arsenal for use as my business line, which handily records and transcribes my voicemail. For documents, I am still stuck with MS Office, but love CutePDF for PDF creation. And for timekeeping and billing I picked up a cheap program called Fanurio ($39), which isn’t as powerful as TimeSlips, but gives me all the functionality I currently need for a solo law practice.

What do you anticipate will change in the practice of law–or your practice, specifically–over the next five years?

I see two big things changing in the legal profession in the near term: billing and client relations. We have already started to see attorneys change billing to more of an “a la carte” flat fee structure, and as young attorneys get more comfortable with what certain jobs take to complete, I expect we will see more and more of that. Customers like to know how much they are going to pay for both goods and services. I also expect that clients will begin gravitating toward attorneys who can connect with them on an emotional level, not just understanding the facts.

Tell us something interesting about yourself

My favorite pastime consists of listening to, playing, and composing jazz. I have been a jazz trumpet player since high school, and almost got a masters degree in jazz studies. I still play here and there (but law school and my practice has put a dent in the amount of practicing and writing I can do), and I can be seen playing with the Nova Contemporary Jazz Orchestra the fourth Tuesday of every month at O’Gara’s in Saint Paul.

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