What is

SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, with more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters.

As a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE has helped more than 10 million entrepreneurs through mentoring, workshops and educational resources since 1964.

What Do They Do:  Help Small Businesses Like Yours

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. We have been doing this for over fifty years.

Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 10,000 volunteers, we are able to deliver our services at no charge or at very low cost.

We can provide:

  • Volunteer MENTORS who share their expertise across 62 industries
  • Free, confidential business MENTORING in person, via email or by video
  • Free business TOOLS, templates and tips here online
  • Inexpensive or free business WORKSHOPS (locally) and webinars (online 24/7)

Our 300 chapters hold events and workshops locally across the U.S. and its territories, and match up entrepreneurs with local, volunteer mentors.

How can I maximize my experience with SCORE?

  • Your mentor will likely recommend different services to better meet your needs, including a small group workshop or on-line materials, to accentuate mentoring. Take advantage as they are supplemental to the advice you are receiving.
  • SCORE does not provide grants, business loans, CPA services, or legal services, but your mentor may be able to suggest outside resources to assist you in those areas. Keep an open mind about what you think you may need initially, and work with your mentor to try to find a solution.
  • Your business is not built in a day. Similarly, you benefit most from SCORE by meeting with a mentor for more than a one-hour appointment. Before the conclusion of your initial session, your mentor (or someone from the local SCORE office) will schedule another appointment for you or assist you in finding the correct resource. You should meet with your mentor regularly to maximize your chances of success.

What qualifies SCORE volunteers to give business advice?

The key qualification SCORE mentors bring is real-world business experience. They are working and retired business owners, executives and managers who have been through the same challenges and decisions that many entrepreneurs are facing today.

In addition, SCORE teamed up with Deluxe Corporation to develop the Mentoring Methodology Training program for the orientation and certification of volunteer mentors. Designed by SCORE mentors and a panel of industry experts, the program gives new and experienced mentors access to proven tools and methods of success. It is these mentor tools and process that have resulted in the success of more than 56,000 new businesses and over 47,000 jobs created in 2014.

The Mentoring Methodology Training program is based on 5 key components represented by the acronym SLATE:

  • Stop and Suspend Judgment
  • Listen and Learn
  • Assess and Analyze
  • Test Ideas and Teach with Tools
  • Expectation Setting and Encouraging the Dream

Working with a SCORE-certified mentor means personalized guidance and support from those who have “been there” and are equipped with the optimal tools to help others succeed too.

What resources are available on

Since 1997, SCORE has offered a leading online business resource for entrepreneurs – This site is a comprehensive small business resource that includes SCORE’s mentoring service. Entrepreneurs visit to search a database of SCORE mentors or request a mentor match. SCORE’s website also offers “how-to” guides, small business quizzes, online workshops, LIVE Webinars, and the SCORE Small Business Blog with info on current trends in entrepreneurship.


SCORE is headquartered in Herndon, VA  —


New technology ushers in new legal issues all the time. The questions that arise are not always easy to answer. Did you know your Fitbit can now become part of your trial?

It’s very possible that ethical implications may soon completely change the face of the practice of law. In Canada, for example, a personal injury attorney is trying to win increased damages by using data from his client’s Fitbit to show the plaintiff’s low activity levels following a car accident. But are such data reliable? Attorneys may soon need to think seriously about the ease of manipulation as well as other facts that may affect the information’s accuracy.

Also, the more specialized the health information a wearable gadget collects and stores, the more likely it is to trigger privacy concerns. Potential constitutional questions could also arise under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments. Smart thinking would say we need to be aware of ethical obligations to stay abreast of changes in the law, including knowing the benefits and risks associated with new technology.

Mobile Friendly



In April, Google’s began to prioritize mobile-friendly websites in its search algorithm. This was a complete surprise to many businesses. Small businesses did not seem to know about this change so were not fast enough to redesign websites.

Recent stats say over 50% of the 350 largest law firms has not been set up to be mobile-friendly websites, and 70% percent of blogs were not ready for mobile viewing (this, according to Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs). Those law firms knew who were aware often didn’t have enough money in the budget to make their websites mobile-friendly. Statistics show that more people are going “mobile only,” and the update applies to mobile searches conducted across all sites, regardless of the site’s target audience.

“Those law firms who don’t act will suffer the consequences of their content being ranked well below mobile-friendly content on smart phones,” predicts O’Keefe. “The result will be significant reductions in search traffic.” So we need to be long-term thinkers – to be able to read the big picture – to survive.



I don’t know about you, but I can’t live without my calendar. I have my online Google Calendar, Outlook (which some of my clients prefer) and am still a holdout for the paper calendar. I know, I know, in the age of technology I still have a paper calendar, but there’s a lot to be said for it, especially for those of us who are visual learners. Also (and I’m dating myself here) but the paper calendar was always a huge part of malpractice insurance requirements; a second pair of eyes if you will. Do you remember the days of the “RED CALENDAR BOOK?”

Trials and Calendars

When it comes to a trial, you ABSOLUTELY cannot live without a calendar. AbacusLaw is my current favorite, especially the latest version. You almost can’t go wrong. The program guides you through the who, what, when and how of it all. It tells you what needs to be done and when. It links the parties and puts up a Chinese wall for those who are conflicted out of the case.


Trial lawyers love facts. They are the bread and butter of a lawyer’s life. Lawyers love to break out facts from supposition. They use facts to assemble the story, compile their witnesses, and gather documents and exhibits to back up that story. When explaining his case to his team, an attorney should be able to point to a timeline (or chronology – we will use timeline for this article) which outlines those facts. A timeline needs to be on a calendar. It’s a visual reminder of each step. Everyone involved in the lawsuit will use this calendar – lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants, and even the Judge and court clerks.

Inconsistencies and Gaps in Timelines

As a very young legal secretary working for defense lawyers, I was taught me how to look for inconsistencies in timelines. Missing facts or gaps in time. Depending on the case, there might be two or more timelines, often intersecting, which are needed to tell the full story. One such case, which was later made into a movie (Julia Roberts take a bow), had so many facts and intersecting timelines that the Judge bifurcated it. It became 8 trials; with 8 teams of lawyers and took 8 years to complete.

Witness Credibility

Gaps, inconsistencies, or missing facts can usually tell you how credible your witness will be at trial. For example, in one of our cases, the plaintiff claimed that our client spilled chemicals at the back of the building he worked in, instead of disposing of them properly. The Plaintiff claimed our client had spilled chemicals on his hands which badly burned him. Plaintiff claimed he immediately sought help at the emergency room. He stated he was distraught, could not work; could not use his hands to do everyday tasks; and eventually was diagnosed with cancer. He stated he believed all of this was as a result of our client having [allegedly] spilled chemicals on his hands. The timeline showed however, that he had not gone to the emergency room until the following day. He seemed to have no actual burns or damage to his hands, and he had no difficulty filling out the emergency room forms. Later, at his deposition, he was questioned about these inconsistencies. When asked why he didn’t go to the emergency room until the following morning, he said he always played darts at his local bar on Thursday nights, and could not miss that, as his teammates relied on him.

Later on in court, our defense lawyer explained to the jury:

“Mr. Smith is here today to explain to the jury how this accident allegedly ruined his life. How he can no longer use his hands as he used to. How he is depressed, damaged, is suffering from cancer, and how this accident allegedly changed his entire life.”

The lawyer went on:

“Let’s just examine the details of Mr. Smith’s story so we can act accordingly, and see that justice is done for him and for my client. What was the first thing on his mind after the accident? Was it getting to the emergency room as fast as possible? Was it protecting his hands until his burns could be treated? No. His first thought was that his dart team needed him to be there for their regular Thursday night game. So he went there instead of the emergency room. Was he able to play darts with hands [allegedly] covered in chemicals and while dealing with painful burns? Apparently he was able to struggle through and play an almost perfect game. Only the following morning, after sleeping, eating breakfast, showering and waiting 7-8 more hours, did it occur to him to seek that emergency room treatment.”


“When” Is Often Just As Important As “What”

The famous question, often quoted: “What did the president know and when did he know it?” During the Watergate hearings, Republican Senator Howard Baker asked this question. (Fred Thompson, then senator, later Law and Order actor is sometimes credited with framing this question.) “When” was just as important as “what” for Watergate.

A timeline should always front and center. I am a fan of trial binders. I create a trial binder with all the most important information in there. The timeline is always under the first tab in that binder. I use a table, enter my question and leave space below each question to fill in the events. The next tab contains a calendar, with the actual events highlighted by date. So if a witness trips up during questioning, the calendar shows the correct date. This means the lawyer can explore the inconsistency and often prove his case right there. For example: maybe the store was closed on the day the plaintiff said he stopped there for gas. Only when the facts are placed on a calendar do they really come to life.


Always Put Your Trial On A Calendar

Put your trial on a calendar  Some holidays are the same day every year. However, some holidays—such as Labor Day, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving— change from year to year. In addition, many witnesses put what they are doing each day on social media. Many post their activities on Facebook with no understanding that there is no expectation of privacy. Not all jurisdictions allow for use of social media posts, but I believe that time is not far off.





Success is planned. Ask any successful person – they have planned their way to it. You plan to succeed, or you fail to plan. As a small or medium sized business you need to be constantly aware of the bottom line. Are you overpaying for products, services and people? Do you have a plan? Or are you simply “going for it?”

  1. You need to determine your action plan and then break it down by both actions and by time frames. That will give you a level of measurability. Don’t be afraid to dream BIG.
  2. Start with the end in mind. Think about teams that work seamlessly together – like a NASCAR® pit crew for example. They look at the end of the race first and work the plan backwards. They plan where each pit stop and where each tire change must be in order to win the race. So they start with the end in mind. If your goal is to make a million dollars this year, you need to be at $250,000 by the end of March, $500,000 by the end of June, and $750,000 by the end of September in order to win the year at $1,000,000. So think like a NASCAR® pit crew – look at the end first and work backwards.
  3. Ask for help – seek it out! Ask your friends or colleagues. You might be surprised by how willing people are to share their experience and talents. Google it! Look for networking groups/sites on the internet and find the discussion boards and start asking your questions. There is an incredible wealth of information right at your fingertips. Once you get started, stick to it, stretch your imagination – don’t limit yourself or your options.
  4. Track your progress. Ignorance is not bliss. You can’t get yourself back on track if you don’t know whether or not you’ve fallen off. What if you don’t have all the hours in the day to do take care of the tasks needed? Are you going to accept that as an excuse or are you going to do something about it? You know what I’m going to say next, right? Of course, if you don’t already have one, HIRE A VIRTUAL ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT!
  5. If you already have a virtual administrative assistant, are you maximizing her time and resources? If not, why not? Are you aware of all of her skills? Have you asked her how much time she has to offer you? Talk to her. Virtual administrative assistants care deeply about the growth of your business. Your success is their success. Find out how your virtual administrative assistant can help you meet your goals. Share with her your plans and visions. Tap into her resources and if you need more assistance, don’t be shy about asking her to add more members of her team to your account!

What are your measurable steps? How do you know if you are on track for success? We would love to hear from you, including feedback about this blog. Don’t be shy – leave us an email message. We will be happy to answer your questions or learn from you. Have a great week!!!


Whether you’re trying to raise capital, cold call, or just network, it’s essential to have an elevator pitch.  This is one of the most overlooked marketing tools you have in your arsenal.

The term “elevator pitch” means giving a condensed synopsis of your business – in the time between floors in an elevator.

Below are some examples of things to keep in mind when formulating, practicing (and you DO need to practice it) and delivering your elevator pitch.  It’s OK for it to sound like a sales pitch as long as the concept is clearly communicated.

Example 1: “My Company is We are the leading, online, legal administrative services provider in California.

This pitch is short, concise and clearly states what the name of the company is, as well as what they do. Being this clear allows the person you are addressing to think about ways they may be able to use your services – or refer business to you.

Check for “stop” words – words that make the person you are speaking to take pause or be confused.

Example 2: “My Company provides online solutions to clients world-wide.”  What does that mean? Absolutely nothing – and it just stopped the conversation dead while your elevator companion is trying to figure out what you just said. Try your pitch on a complete stranger.  If they get it, move on to your target audience because you have succeeded.

Avoid buzzwords or corporate jargon whenever possible. Buzzwords are showy and can come off really wrong if the person is not familiar with the terms you are using. Try to avoid terms like: outside the box, streamline. Keep your messaging clear and concise.  Try putting a question in your pitch.

Example 3: “Have you ever worked with an online virtual assistant?  “Well, my company is We are the leading, online, legal administrative legal services provider in California.”

Asking a question can act as an attention grabber and an attention gauge. It is important to not only capture the attention of the person you are speaking to but also gauge how interested they are in the conversation. If they seem interested in learning why you asked them the question you did, you can tailor your messaging to meet their interest level.

Know your business. There is nothing worse than hearing a fabulous elevator pitch but when asked for more information, you find that they were just reciting lines and don’t really know much about the subject matter.

Example 4: “It is wonderful that you are the number one, Bay Area Virtual Professionals.  How many companies like yours are there?”

As long as you understand why you’re ranked number-one and out of how many, you should be good to go.

– The bottom line is –

An elevator pitch is extremely important and worth taking the time to develop so it is easily understood and projects exactly what it is that you do. It may mean that you try out many elevator pitches until you find the right fit but it’s worth it. You never know whom you may run into in an elevator!


Ah…Summer…a time for watermelon, sunscreen and the outdoors.  Kids are out of school and your family is anticipating vacation time.  Except if you are an entrepreneur or solo practitioner.  YOU can’t take a vacation – OR CAN YOU?


  • You can’t even conceive of stepping away from your office for more than a day or two;
  • You haven’t taken a proper vacation in years (turning off the computer for 2 straight hours does not count);
  • IF you go anywhere, you only choose destinations with high-speed internet;
  • Even when on the beach enjoying the sun, sand and marguerites, you have a hard time turning off.  You are always thinking of the work that needs to get done;
  • You’re still handcuffed to that darned smartphone!

UNFORTUNATELY, THIS IS A REALITY for many lawyers and hard-working business owners.  BUT HERE’S ANOTHER REALITY – IT IS POSSIBLE – even for the busiest workaholic.  All you need is the right assistant.

There’s a myth running around the Internet which suggests that virtual assistants are only qualified for basic admin tasks.  It got there because many of the Big VA companies do only offer limited admin-based tasks. But the new breed of virtual assistants – with coveted skill sets – the business grade VA’s – are capable of much more.


To prepare your business for head-honcho away time, you need a business-grade, legal virtual assistant.  Expert VA’s have the experience and maturity to cope with the unexpected, problem-solve, and hold things together while you’re away.  What’s more, they know when your help is truly required and will get in touch if – and only if – an urgent situation arises.


Even the most skilled virtual assistant cannot step into your company, 100% prepared on the first day.  The key is to bring her onboard at least a few months before you plan to be away. This gives both of you time to figure out the details: put in place any ongoing processes and agreements; delegate every day and occasional tasks; and make sure your VA meets your expectations.

Time – with no travel looming on the immediate horizon – means you’ll have time to work out the bugs and get comfortable with your virtual assistant before you ever step out of the office.  When vacation finally does roll around, your VA continues with business as usual.

Of course, some tasks – those responsibilities that no matter how much training you do, only you can handle – will need to be put on the back burner during your time away, but your VA will keep your core business functions running effectively and smoothly, and make sure that you don’t lose any valuable opportunities.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for travel:

  • Does this have to be put on hold?  You can often delegate more than you think.  Now that you’ve been working with your assistant for a few months and have come to trust her abilities, is there anything else you can hand over?
  • If this happens, do that. To put your mind at ease, schedule a Skype conference with your VA to anticipate any unexpected things that could come up while you’re away.  Establish an if-this-happens-do-that list: a set of guidelines that will help your assistant handle almost any situation.
  • Create a contact plan.  One (or several) of your if-this-happens-do-that scenarios will involve true work emergencies that should include contacting you.  Agree on what constitutes a “call-worthy” situation.

Remember, trust is like a muscle – you have to build it and use it.  Your legal VA has the skills and maturity to take care of your business while you’re away, but the most important component to a relaxing vacation is trust.  Give yourself – and your assistant – the time and preparation necessary to build confidence and establish a good working relationship. You can always build up to a two-week vacation by taking 2-3 days off and testing the waters.  When you finally do step out of the office, you can truly relax.

How do you prepare your VA for your vacation?  What works and doesn’t?  How can we help you relax and enjoy your time away?


Google it?” – The transitive verb Google means “using the Google search engine to obtain information on something or somebody on the World Wide Web.”  The term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006.  The first recorded usage of the word was in 1998 when Google co-founder, Larry Page, wrote “have fun and keep googling.”  Add to that the multitude of how-to videos to be found on YouTube and you have a veritable arsenal of helpful information to get your time, and your virtual office, in great shape.

Time Management Is An Art Form— Often considered old fashioned, old school type lawyers had it right in so many ways.  They had systems in place to organize their time and workload.  They used dictation machines to record their thoughts, worked with secretaries who took shorthand (and actually read what they typed), and all law firms had a tickler calendar for ongoing reminders of important dates.  Courts didn’t have e-filing so it took longer to get things done.  That meant planning ahead.

Fast Forward To Today– We have instant everything – so we wait to the last minute to get things done, because we know we can.  Constantly being on edge is burning people out and many lawyers leave the profession after as little as a year because of the billable hours requirements.

We’ve Come Full Circle– We want our quality of life back.  Enter the Virtual Assistants – those people who can help get tasks done quickly and efficiently, free up the attorney’s time and reduce stress.  VA’s are extremely organized because time is money.  Here are some of my best tips on time management.

  1. Invest in yourself.  Take the time to figure out how you work best.  Are you a visual learner?  A procrastinator?  What makes you tick?  Half the battle is knowing yourself.
  2. Carry a scheduleand record your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week.  You will soon see how much time is spent producing results and how much is wasted on unproductive things.
  3. Use appointments, not to-do lists.  Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it.  To-do lists only grow longer.  Instead, make appointments with yourself and create time blocks for priority items.  Schedule start/stop times to keep you on track.
  4. Plan for interruptions.  Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day.  Don’t skip this step, it can be the most important part of your day.
  5. Take 5 minutes before every meeting or phone call to decide what result you want to attain.  This will help you to know what success looks like before you start.
  6. Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing – or emails because they just popped up.  Disconnect instant messaging.  Instead, block time to answer calls and emails daily.
  7. Block out distractions like Facebook and social media, unless you use these tools to generate business.  Schedule time for these activities after your priorities are dealt with.

Remember – 20% of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80% of your results.



The Virtual Professional (VP), sometimes known as Virtual Assistant (VA), industry is growing fast. It’s an excellent way for those who want to run their own business to get started. This type of business lends itself to low startup costs and can be started on a part-time basis. It is also an area with a good deal of growth potential.

Pros of a Virtual Assistant Home Business:

  • You can begin with very limited funds.
  • You can use the same skills you have used in the past for prior employers, later expanding or specialize in your niche area.
  • The Virtual Professional industry is growing rapidly and demand is expected to remain strong.
  • Income potential is strong. Typical virtual assistants charge from about $35 to $75 per hour, depending on the type of services offered and/or the skill level of the virtual professional.
  • You have control over which hours you work and how many hours you work each week.

Cons of a Virtual Assistant Home Business:

  • Finding initial clients can be challenging, as with any business. However, this can be overcome by using creative marketing techniques, joining a VA group and/or networking. Tell everyone you come in contact with what you do and ask them to spread the word.
  • As your business grows, it’s likely that your equipment needs and expenses may also grow.
  • Like any home business, you are responsible for paying your own taxes, securing your own health insurance, etc.

What You Need to Get Started as a Virtual Assistant:

  • A professional website which showcases your services and talents.
  • A good idea of who you want your potential clients to be. How to reach them and what their needs are. Since the industry is relatively new, many of your prospects won’t know what a virtual professional or assistant is, or how you might be able to help them.
  • Business cards. If your VP business has a professionally designed logo, you should include it in the design of your card. This is particularly true if you use the logo on your website or other promotional materials such as a brochure or letterhead. Using your logo on your business card ensures that your business uniformly presents its brand to all your clients. Most virtual professionals offer a wide array of services too numerous to list on a small space such as a business card; including your website address is a good way to ensure that potential clients can access much more information about you easily and quickly. The back of your business card is a good place to put a bulleted list of your VA services that would otherwise not fit onto the limited space on the front of the card.

We appreciate your feedback and if you like this, please share it with a friend. Also, be sure to like us on LinkedIn and Facebook. Check back for future tips and tools.



Despite the fact that many people don’t understand the term “of counsel,” a growing number of law firms are creating of counsel positions for lawyers— and these of counsel lawyers play different roles, depending on the culture of the Firm they are part of.

Here are some examples of the Of Counsel position:

  • Traditionally, retired partners, in relinquishing their role in the law firm partnership, have taken the of counsel title, which gives them an office, a secretary, and lets them ease out of practice gracefully. Their knowledge and experience continue to be a firm resource. Often these guys put in as many hours and bring in as much business as before.
  • Politicians sometimes become of counsel. Typically, they become affiliated with firms in Washington, D.C., or the Washington office, perhaps opened just for them, of a home state firm. The arrangement gives them a salary with a minimum of conflicts of interest while they ease into the working in the private sector again. In exchange, the firm obtains a rainmaker with political connections.
  • Sometimes law professors who work on occasional cases for a firm, in-house corporate counsel, or on behalf of a legal foundation will become of counsel.
  • Of counsel has even been an umbrella for a “mommy track” to partnership. During the last decade, the number of women holding of counsel positions has more than tripled.
  • Of counsel positions allow law firms to evaluate lateral hires before making them partners. In addition, of counsel can cover lawyers whose primary value to a firm is their business or technological expertise or lawyers who want to combine jobs in law, business, politics, and education.
  • Of counsel allows small law firms to expand their areas of expertise and prestige by adding specialists with little expenditure. This often allows for greater flexibility and creativity in devising career paths.

Attracting and retaining top legal talent is difficult. Competition has been particularly fierce in the technology sector. Often firms will allow clients to “borrow” their lawyers for short periods of time or on a “project” basis.

Sometimes, it just comes down to the fact that lawyers are unsatisfied with their careers and are looking for alternatives. In the past, a lawyer would typically work for one or two law firms during his or her lifetime. That is no longer the case. Nowadays lawyers can move between firms every few years with ease.

Lawyers listed on a law firm’s letterhead as of counsel should have a substantial connection with the firm. This usually prevents firms from “renting” the names of famous lawyers who do no real work with the firms.

Clients, and the public, should expect confidentiality and loyalty from attorneys

Conflicts: Clients, and the public, should expect confidentiality and loyalty from attorneys who effectively declare they practice law in a close, personal, and continuing association. These legitimate expectations would be frustrated if a firm could represent one party in litigation while an attorney of counsel to the firm represented an adversary in the same case. California clearly treats the of counsel lawyer as a partner or associate for purposes of conflict of interest and disqualification rules. Therefore, the lawyer’s dual relationships to the firm as well as one of the clients must be fully disclosed to both clients. It would not be surprising if the competitor decides not to remain a client, but it may be willing to continue being represented by the firm because of the value it places on the firm’s services and the trust it has in the of counsel lawyer. Under California law, a client, whether or not a party to an action, may assert the privilege to prevent disclosure of confidential communications between the client and its lawyer. The communications protected by the privilege include information that is transmitted between a client and its lawyer during the course of their attorney-client relationship and that is not disclosed to any third persons other than anyone present during a consultation to further the interests of the client.

The SEC increasingly is turning its enforcement focus to lawyers, and of counsel lawyers should take note. The attorney conduct rules establish specific guidelines that a securities lawyer must follow when representing a public company. Specifically, an attorney who represents a public company must comply with the SEC’s “up the ladder” reporting requirement if the attorney believes there is evidence of a material violation by the company of federal securities laws. The attorney must report the violation to the company’s chief legal officer (CLO) and possibly the chief executive officer (CEO).