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Law Practice Tips

Attorney at Work’s Top 20 Articles of the Year

By Joan Feldman

The most-read articles on Attorney at Work this year focused on personal technology how-tos, along with law firm management, productivity and profits. Another popular theme: lawyer well-being. Or, in 2021 parlance, “me-ssential” advice on why and how to prioritize self-care activities (like sleep) and protect your time.

Counting Down the Top 20 of 2021

When 2020 finally ended, we searched for a word to encapsulate the year. “Unprecedented” and “pandemic” topped the list at dictionary sites, beating out personal favorite “hellscape,” and those themes dominated Attorney at Work’s content.

For 2021, “vax” and “vaccine” have achieved word-of-the-year status at The Guardian and Merriam-Webster, respectively. As Merriam-Webster says, “For many, the word symbolized a possible return to the lives we led before the pandemic.” Emphasis on the word “possible,” as we spent the year in a strange, slightly unfocused limbo, doing our best to improve our personal workspaces and daily efficiency habits while waiting for definitive announcements on hybrid work and WFH policies — and vaccination requirements. “Vaccine” was also selected word of the year because it has been at the center of debates about personal choice, political affiliation, professional regulations … and so much more.

For the business word of the year, Grammarly put forward the following somewhat cringy but apt contenders: “Rethrival,” “communigreat,” “stratiskilled,” “flexpert,” “fur bomb,” “greenhousing,” “jammagabbing,” “blursday (what day is it?)” “spark-tacular” and “me-ssential,” a word that encapsulates the movement to prioritize self-care and wellness in the workplace.

Here, then, are the most popular, spark-tacular posts published by Attorney at Work in 2021, based solely on page views. Thanks to all of our contributors for sharing their expertise (flex and otherwise), creative thinking and support this year. Here’s to your rethrival in the new year.

The Top 20 Articles of 2021 Countdown

20. These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (for Your Home Office)” by Andrea Cannavina (@AndreaCan)

19. “How to Set Yourself Up for a Productive Day: Everything in Its Place” by Jay Harrington (@HarringJ75)

18. “Diversity in U.S. Law Firms: ‘It’s Always Going to Be Incremental’” by Susan Kostal (@SKostal)

17. Shadow IT: A Serious Threat to Law Firms” by Sharon Nelson (@SharonNelsonEsq) and John Simek (@SenseiEnt)

16. “When Everything Is Urgent and Important: How to Prioritize” by Jamie Spannhake (@IdealYear)

15. “Top 6 Reasons to Hire a Paralegal Over a Lawyer” by Roy Ginsburg

14. “Scale: The Three-Step Formula to Grow a $1 Million+ Legal Practice” by Jay Harrington (@HarringJ75)

13. “Analog Attorney: 17 Amazing Ways a Hobinichi Techo Will Change Your Life” by Bull Garlington (@AnalogAttorney)

12. “Five Organizational Skills for Lawyers” by Camille Stell (@CamilleStell)

11. “Tricks for Reading Documents in Microsoft Word” by Danielle DavisRoe (@affinitylegal)

10. “10 Habits for Successful Email Communication” by Mark C. Palmer (@PalmerLaw)

9. “Must-Have Apps for Running a Tech-Forward Law Firm” by Catherine Tang (@AmericanAttorney)

8. “Five Kinds of Rest: Avoiding Exhaustion Means More Than Getting Enough Sleep” by Jamie Spannhake (@IdealYear)

7. “Home Office Setups: Best Products for Comfort, Productivity and Joy” by Bull Garlington (@Bull_Garlington)

6. “Attorney Burnout: Four Traps to Avoid” by Gray Robinson

5. “Productivity Apps and Hacks for a Smoother 2021” with tech tips from Sheila Blackford, Brett Burney, Tom Lambotte, Sharon Nelson and John Simek, and Camille Stell

4. “Using Outlook Rules to Process Email Like a Pro” by Danielle DavisRoe (@affinitylegal)

3. “8 Legal Practice Areas Growing in 2021 and Beyond” by Michael Rynowecer (@BTIconsulting)

2. “The Remarkable 2, Supernote A5 X and iPad: War of the E-Tablets!” by Bull Garlington (@Bull_Garlington @AnalogAttorney)

1. “Solo and Small Law Firm Hourly Rates: Winners and Losers, by State and Practice Area” by Susan Kostal (@SKostal)

Past Years’ Article Rankings

law firm marketing

Attorney at Work’s Top 20 Law Firm Management Articles of 2020

When asked the one word or phrase they’d use to describe 2020, Washington Post readers came back with “exhausting” and “relentless” and “surreal.” “Dumpster fire,” “heartbreaking” and “persevere” also made the list. Over at Dictionary.com, “unprecedented” and “hellacious” were up top, while the lexicographers at Oxford opted to ignore precedent and said, “umm, no” to choosing a single word of the year.

The Guardian chose “pandemic” as the most influential word of 2020 because it best describes the sheer scale of the COVID-19 crisis. It has, of course, overshadowed everything and everyone — including this year’s list of Attorney at Work’s top 20 articles.

In February, after noting an uptick in interest in the topic, we published Megan Zavieh’s No. 2 post on the ethics of relocating. Little did we know that working remotely would become so common that the ABA would update its Model Rules to address it. Our contributors stepped up in early March, the crisis looming: Jared Correia predicted the shutdown would be a referendum on remote work. As confusion and chaos unfolded, Gina Rubel and Susan Kostal taught us how to communicate with both the media and clients during a crisis. Sharon Nelson and John Simek advised us on Zoom videoconferences — and the security risks of sending lawyers and legal professionals home to work, practically overnight, with few safeguards in place. Since April, remote work, videoconferencing, and what to do about marketing, tech, staffing and stress have been the themes of this relentless year.

Most of us became adept at Zoom — quickly shifting from “where’s the mute button?” to experimenting with Zoom backgrounds and flattering lighting. Why did Bull Garlington’s “Looking Good in a Tiny Square” rocket to No. 1 this year? What does it say about our collective state of mind that, even in these grim times, our default is to show up, sit up straight and try to look our best (at least up on top)? To paraphrase Roy Ginsburg’s advice to solos in his No. 4 post: Failure was never an option. It helps to have someone as smart and funny as Bull to remind us to laugh.

Now, at year’s end, we’re back inside, isolating, watching COVID-19 cases climb during this surreal holiday season — and counting down the days until 2021 begins.

“Hope” is a word you won’t find on any of those 2020 word lists. We know the overwhelming problems we’re facing won’t fade with the New Year’s Eve fireworks. And yet, after a year filled with heartbreak — a surreal year, a dumpster-fire year — there is hope in sight. An inkling.

Here are the most popular posts published by Attorney at Work in 2020.

20. “The Power of List Making” by Meyling (Mey) Ly Ortiz

19. “10 Tips for a More Effective, Personable Attorney Bio” by Gina Rubel (@FuriaRubel)

18. “Attorney Unhappiness Hits a High: 5 Things We Can Do About It” by Jamie Spannhake (@IdealYear)

17. “5 Hacks to Level Up Your Videoconferencing Without Spending a Dime” by Andrea Cannavina (@AndreaCan)

16. “Succeeding in the Business of Law: 5 Rules Every Lawyer Should Live” by Robert Katzberg, author of “The Vanishing Trial”

15. “This Is How Lawyers and Clients Look Good on Video Callsby Scott Brennan

14. “Five Tips for Online Court Appearances” by Joan Feldman (@AttnyatWork)

13. “Five Things to Stop Doing With Business Emails in 2020” by Laura Ernde

12. “Offline: The Coronavirus Outbreak Has Become a Referendum on Remote Work” by Jared Correia (@RedCaveLegal)

11. “Five Reasons Lawyers Avoid Retirement” by Camille Stell (@CamilleStell)

10. “Beware the Four Most Dangerous Outlook Features” (Video) by Deborah Savadra (@LegalOfficeGuru)

9. “Moving to a Virtual Law Office: How to Ethically ‘Practice in Place’” by Mark C. Palmer (@PalmerLaw)

8. “Public Speaking Tips for Videoconferencing During the COVID-19 Crisis” by Marsha Hunter

7. “Continuity of Care: Reassuring Clients You’re Prepared for COVID-19” by Susan Kostal (@SKostal)

6. “Scrub Your Document With Microsoft Word Document Inspector” (Video) by Deborah Savadra (@LegalOfficeGuru)

5. “30-Day Business Development Plan for Lawyers During the COVID-19 Crisis” by Jay Harrington (@HarringJ75)

4. “COVID-19 Impacts for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers: Beyond Remote Work” by Roy Ginsburg

3.Getting Started With Zoom and Using It Securely” by Sharon Nelson (@SharonNelsonEsq) and John Simek (@SenseiEnt)

2. “Can You Relocate Without Taking a New Bar Exam?” by Megan Zavieh (@ZaviehLaw)

1. “Zoom Backgrounds: Looking Good in a Tiny Square” by Bull Garlington (@Bull_Garlington)

Top 12 Law Practice Tips of 2019

Attorney at Work’s Top 12 Practice Management Articles of 2019

Attorney at Work’s Top Legal Marketing Articles of 2019

Attorney at Work’s Top 20 Marketing Articles of 2018

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Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

Categories: Law Firm Marketing, Legal Technology, Managing a Law Firm, News and Trends, You At Work
Originally published December 23, 2021
Last updated December 26, 2021
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Joan Feldman Joan Feldman

Joan Feldman is Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of Attorney at Work, publishing “one really good idea every day” since 2011. She has created and steered myriad leading practice management and trade publications, including the ABA’s Law Practice magazine where she served as managing editor for a dozen years. Joan is a Fellow and Trustee of the College of Law Practice Management. Follow her @JoanHFeldman.

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