Welcome to the Practice Management issue of the Marin Lawyer. Our March issue is the first issue of our quarterly digital magazine with all new content. And it is the first issue where we have sought out all of the content on a theme, in this case, articles to help you run a small firm or solo practice.

Business Basics

Most of us in a small or solo firm need help making it work and often this means hiring someone. Employment lawyer and MCBA board member Sarah Léger makes it easy for you with some great tips for doing it right, including a primer on properly classifying an employee as exempt or non-exempt. And insurance broker extraordinaire Andrea Christensen gives us a helpful overview of the most common insurance issues you’ll face and how to decide what you need. Family lawyer and MCBA board member Kris Cirby lets you know that the law library can be helpful with some of the basics, like a conference room that seats 20.

Online Presence

As more and more small businesses use social media as part of their business, law firms have an extra burden: making sure they do not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct. MCBA Past President, Human Rights Commission President, personal injury lawyer and man-about-town Matt White has some pointers about how. If you’ve been meaning to update your website but haven’t made the time, branding expert Laney Silverman has five easy things to fix if you’re not doing them already. If you want to get a little more advanced, you could work on improving your SEO. Don’t know what SEO is? Neither did criminal defense attorney and MCBA board member Mike Chaput. He offers lots of great advice as he guides you through his learning curve.


We are lucky to have the expertise of rock star (literally) legal marketer, videographer and website designer Mary Cary, who has a wonderful primer about using video, whether that is just to have on your website or to be a little more adventurous and run a Facebook ad. Digital marketing guru Lael Sturm shares his firm’s technique for finding your ideal clients. He is generously sharing their workbook for free with MCBA members.


Most people find being a lawyer stressful. Running a practice adds its own unique stress. Taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your practice, not to mention being a pretty good idea anyway. An often-overlooked component of that is your diet. Diet affects not just your weight but your stress response and overall health. Expert nutritionist Barbara Sobel gives you some eminently practical advice for improving your diet. Personal injury lawyer and MCBA member John Feder has some wise words—his own and a few other folks’—about how not to let your practice overwhelm your life, as does a certain relative of his, mediator and MCBA President Sue Feder in her President’s Message. And your Editor profiles the nonprofit iRest Institute in downtown San Rafael. I’m a certified teacher of this meditation technique, which has done wonders to change lives around the country and even the world, particularly the lives of soldiers and veterans. If a medic in the mountains of Afghanistan finds it helpful, imagine what it can do for you!

Packing Up

Do you have a succession plan for your practice? What does retirement look like for you? What’s involved when you stop practicing? MCBA Past President, adventurer and new retiree Wanden Treanor walks you through what you need to think about and do.

We also profile Wanden in this issue. Read about her childhood observing deposition prep! And all probate and estate attorneys will want to be sure not to miss our Judge’s Corner. Judge Kelly V. Simmons gives a candid account of the changes in the probate court and some advice for attorneys. And if you want to get some insight into the local election results or the remarkably swift transformation of the Democratic primary, be sure to check out Greg Brockbank’s political column.

Before you read any of these articles, please take a look at our impressive MCBA Legal Scholarship Fund recipients and make sure you scroll down and use the "Donate" button to support future remarkable local lawyers.

I would like to thank all of our authors for their contributions. And a big thank you to our guest editing team, many of whom did double duty as authors: Habib Bentaleb, Mike Chaput, Kris Cirby, Sarah Léger and Matt White. We hope you find this issue of the Marin Lawyer valuable and are able to put some of its advice to good use. Please let us know! If you see any of us, let us know what you found useful or what you didn’t. Our next issue is out in June with an environmental theme. Watch for it (or contribute if you have an idea!)