Lawyerist Insider Profile: Ken Ammann

Ken AmmannName and law firm

Ken l. Ammann of Ken Ammann, P.C.

Describe your law practice

We have a statewide civil trial practice [in Oregon] focusing on representation of plaintiffs and defendants in complex personal injury claims. I also have an active arbitration practice and enjoy learning from the litigating attorneys when I act as their arbitrator. I employ other attorneys on a contract basis, as needed, which allows me to control overhead and “staff up” depending upon caseload volume and my trial schedule. After over 20 years of practice, I still get tremendous personal satisfaction when we get a verdict which provides financial security for an injured client, or when we successfully defend a client from a meritless claim.

Describe your ideal client

I follow one rule—I have to really like a person before I will agree to take their case. Every single time I have broken that rule because I thought the case would be very lucrative I have regretted it. On the other hand, I have never regretted representing someone, regardless of how their case turned out financially, when I truly liked them.

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

99% of my clients are referrals from other attorneys or past clients. We are fortunate in that regard. I market to other attorneys who do not handle personal injury cases, or who have limited trial experience and want some assistance handling a complex case. My defense business comes directly from insurance companies through past work relationships. I am on the defense panel list for several insurers. We simply work on treating those we work with and against with respect and keeping our clients well informed. I think if you get those two things right, the work will come.

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

We have not integrated blogging or social networking per se into our marketing but I am interested in doing so and plan to utilize LinkedIn, Facebook, and Yelp in that regard. The problem has been setting the time aside to get those marketing efforts up and running when you have a small 4 or 5 person firm.

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

LinkedIn seems the best professional development site—but I have not researched them all yet.

What blogs or websites do you visit most?

I discovered Lawyerist recently and enjoy the practical advice on things like going “paperless” which you publish. I use a practice development and productivity method called QuietSpacing developed by Paul Burton at Visionmechnix so I log on to that web page often too. He has great nuts and bolts practice development advice.

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

We use Outlook and QuickBooks for our calendar, email, and billing. We scan every document that comes in the door and maintain a duplicate “paper” and digital file on each case. I plan to go to a 90% paperless office in 2010 so we are looking into an integrated practice software system using Abacus or Prolaw. We use almost exclusively Dell computers and HP printers and we use the “Talkswitch” VIOP phone system which allows me to avoid all long distance charges and simply pay a flat monthly rate per unit/line. I can be out of the country, and as long as I have internet and my laptop with headset, my office can forward a call to me just as if I am sitting in the office down the hall from my receptionist.

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

Regarding personal injury law specifically, I anticipate more regulation and continued efforts at Tort Reform targeted at limiting damages and attorney fees. With respect to the practice of law generally, the ability to work from anywhere efficiently using fewer staff is creating a new generation of geographically mobile lawyers. My former senior partner started when all the staff had was carbon paper. In contrast, now I use Dragon voice activated dictation software and VoIP phone lines. I suspect the next jump forward will be widespread use of high quality real-time video imaging transmission from a small mobile wireless device like my iPhone.

Tell us something interesting about yourself

Something interesting about myself? Well, I have not watched television for 10 years—just decided to turn it off and spend that time reading! I decided two years ago I wanted to learn how to sail after my first sailboat trip to the Channel Islands, so I took some lessons from Captain Dan at “sail channel islands” and then bought a sailboat which I keep in La Paz, Mexico where I will spend 2 to 3 months next year sailing around the Sea of Cortez and working from my boat during the rainy season here in Oregon. Finally, one of my brothers and I have developed a clothing line called “Overforty Gear” which we are hoping to turn into a web based product endorsement business when we get time. All our friends love the hats and hoodies!

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