Jobs for Lawyers that are Done Lawyerin’

Are you tired of being a lawyer, but still want to use that fancy law degree, expensive education, and valuable legal expertise? We want that big brain of yours! At Nolo, we are always on the lookout for talented, experienced attorneys to help us with our mission of bringing plain English legal information to the masses.

What We Do

Publish, publish, publish. We have a dozen in-house editors who are tasked with writing, editing and updating Nolo’s award winning library of plain English self-help legal books, online and boxed software applications, and legal forms.

In addition, we operate Nolo.com and other legal sites in the Nolo Network. With so many questions to answer, we wind up writing thousands of articles every month, and we can only keep up with the help of our contributing authors. This is where you come in.

Who Are Our Contributing Authors?

These fine people – Practicing attorneys, retired lawyers, paralegals, recent law school grads, JDs working in other fields, and everything in between. We have found that the freedom and flexibility offered by this position appeals to a wide array of legal experts who want to use their skill, experience, and education, but don’t want to commit to a full-blown law career.

How’s it Work?

Our contributing authors work closely with our team of editors to add to and/or update our massive library of legal articles, Q&A’s and legal resource content. We use a platform developed and managed by Internet Brands to streamline the whole process, from idea, to published article, to payment.

This is all done over the internet, so the work is available to the right person, anywhere in the U.S.

Who We’re Looking For

If you’re interested in writing for Nolo, you can always find open positions at IBPublishing.com. As I write this, I know:

What Else You Should Know

Nolo has a hard-earned reputation for delivering the best quality, plain English, legal information available anywhere. Our editorial team is, well, very picky. Our contributing authors find that there is an initial learning curve, and the first few submissions often go back and forth between writer and editor before final approval. So, be prepared for, and open to, some criticism. Get ready to be a better writer.

New Debt Management Section on Nolo.com

We’ve spent the last few months building out a brand new, robust Debt Management section on Nolo. We’ve covered the gamut; like tips on dealing with overwhelming debt, when and how you might be able settle some of your debt, and who can garnish your wages. We’ve also got great information on more serious debt collection techniques like creditor lawsuits and repossessions.

If you’re struggling with debt, start here to learn about your options.

Is Google Still Not Being Evil?

Back in the day, Google’s motto was, “Don’t Be Evil.” The company grew tremendously because they offered something that was lacking online: A way to find information quickly. Lately though, I find their offering to be diminuted by their need to generate revenue. This infographic by Wordstream highlights the fact that Adwords ads dominate search results for keywords with “high commercial intent”. Whether the results are accurate or not, it has no doubt become obvious that Google is now solely responsible to shareholders, not users; just do a search for “credit cards.” I have a big screen, and it’s still eaten up by ads and Google Offers. Additionally, Google’s ads are becoming harder to distinguish from organic results. The background color of ads has changed many times over the past decade, and is now a pink that renders white on most screens. Searchers don’t even realize that they’re clicking on an ad, not a search result.

I always use my brother as a case study of “Joe Internet User”. I’m surrounded by tech savvy people that know how the internet works, so I need a “layman” to understand how everyone else uses the web. My brother starts his web experience by searching Google for the url he wants. Yes, he Googles “www.facebook.com” to get to facebook. When I watch him search for something, he invariably clicks on the first ad. He lands on a page selling something, then clicks back. I always get the, “wait, I know it’s here somewhere” line. Then he goes on to other ads until he finds what he’s looking for. Then I get the, “check this out” line. Google’s earned $0.50 and the publisher of the great content has earned who knows what. Accidental ad clicks? You bet. Money well spent.

Now, I understand that the Google is a public company and they have to constantly grow earnings, but given how integral they’ve become in our internet life, it seems wrong somehow to deviate from what made them so great pre-IPO: finding things online. Wordstream’s data suggests that they are more a servicer of highly targeted ads than a killer search engine.

I don’t want to buy traffic from Google, but I may not have a choice. Nolo has got 13 expert editors, 70+ freelance lawyers, and forty years of experience creating the best legal content available, but it may not be an economical business anymore. When it costs an average of $120 per page to produce just a simple article, and the only people finding it are coming from Google at an eight percent click-through rate (even though we rank number one), the potential conversion just doesn’t make it possible.

What if we could no longer afford to offer free legal information?

Another Panda Recovery

All About Car Accidents

While many of our sites are still struggling to recover from the original Panda update from early last year, a few have managed to buck the trend and not just return to their previous levels, but also start growing.  One of those success stories is All-About-Car-Accidents.com.

Just like with DisabilitySecrets.com, we had to completely overhaul the site.  We consolidated content down to the essentials, and made sure that those essentials were well written and useful for anyone visiting the site.  The interesting thing about All-About-Car-Accidents is that it was flat for so long, then improved in the blink of an eye.  Even DisabilitySecrets.com took months of constant growth before it got back to pre-Panda levels.

It’s also interesting to note that not only did Panda 3.5 seem to have a positive impact on AACA, but so did Penguin.  That surely would not have been the case if we hadn’t done so much work to make AACA better.

The lesson here is that there is no lesson here!  While we think we know the best way to go about getting back into Google’s good graces, the speed at which that happens seems to be a bit of a mystery.  It is good to see that our hard work will pay off, even if we aren’t entirely sure when that will be.

At the very least, it’s keeping us on our toes!

A Long Arduous Panda Recovery

It’s been well over a year since Panda 2.0 rolled out and Google traffic to one of our sites, DisabilitySecrets.com, was halved. Admittedly, DisabilitySecrets was undeservedly getting a lot of love from The Google.

For a quick peak, take a look at the graph. Read on for more detail.

This is a site that we acquired in 2010 from a former Social Security Disability examiner. While it did have plenty of unique, useful content, it also had thousands of thin quality pages that contained a lot of boilerplate text, and many thousands of pages with very little unique content, all of which ranked fairly well.

After Panda rolled out, we realized we had a lot of work to do to get the site’s content up to Nolo standards.

The first thing we did was start cutting out the poor quality and duplicative content, in an effort to minimize the site footprint in Google’s index. This also reduced the number of pages that our editor and writers would need to tackle.

It took us about two months of organizing and redirecting before we could boil the content down to the meat and move it on to editorial.

After that, our own Beth Laurence went to work. She spent months researching, editing content, recruiting freelancers with the necessary experience, and organizing all the information into a new taxonomy. This process, which continues today, took about six months before nearly all of the content had been addressed. Most of it had to be rewritten completely, but some was salvaged with only minor edits.

The focus was twofold. Beth and her team were responsible for the content quality, as well as user engagement metrics. We wanted to reduce our bounce rate, improve visitor time on site, and make sure our visitors weren’t clicking back to other search results.

It took nearly a year of work from both the SEO team and editorial before we finally starting seeing the fruits of our labor. The first quarter of this year was the “bounce back”.  As you can see in the graph below, Panda is quick to take away your traffic, and slow to give it back. At this point though, we are at higher traffic levels than ever, and continuing to grow.

The real benefit, though, is for our users. Panda forced us to dig in and really build a better site.

The Zuckerberg Effect

SEO involves a lot of comparing of numbers.  I would say that well over half of my time is spent looking at differing sets of figures, trying to find the patterns.

Today, I was surprised to see that a few of our pages on divorcenet.com about California community property and alimony laws had gotten substantial bumps in traffic over the last few days.  This can happen from time to time if new laws have been passed or gone into effect.

I hadn’t heard anything, though, so I went poking around to see if I could find any news stories about divorce in California, with a focus on dividing property and alimony.  That’s when I saw it: Mark Zuckerberg got married this weekend.

Google and Facebook aren’t exactly friends, but apparently when the founder of Facebook gets married, he lights up Google searches.  Since his wedding came so soon after Facebook went public, many people wanted to know just how much of that $19.1 billion Zuckerberg’s new bride would be entitled to, should the marriage not work out.

That’s another aspect of SEO that goes hand in hand with comparing numbers: spotting trends.  Sure, it may look like we’re surfing the internet, but a lot of times that’s part of the job.  We have to stay informed on current events, particularly if those events happen to fall under one of the many subjects that Nolo covers.

Hopefully, there will be a little Zuckerberg on the way soon; I’m sure we’ll see a bump in traffic for our wills and trusts pages!

Free Legal Forms from Nolo!

We’re giving away free forms! Every month, we’ll make a few forms inNolo’s Online Legal Store available for free. This month we’re giving away an Affidavit of Domicile and a Bill of Sale for Dog. Both of these forms can be found on our Free Legal Forms page.

We believe that everyone needs access to high quality, legally enforceable forms for a wide variety of everyday situations. Nolo’s legal forms were written by our team of in-house expert attorneys, so you can count on them to be accurate, legally binding and easy to use. All of our forms also come with detailed, Plain English instructions, so you can clearly understand all of the legal terms and jargon involved.

Now, you can get some of our forms for free,

so you can see for yourself

just how helpful they can be.

SEO Team Manifest Destiny

Sure, in our eyes everyone is a part of the SEO Team.  But, in reality, we’re just a handful of people trying to make sense of this crazy thing we call SEO.  Recently, we brought in a few more poor — I mean, lucky individuals to help us.

Desiree Stephens has the good sense to not be an SEO Analyst.  She is, in fact, our Product Specialist, doing things like making sure all those people we bring to our sites actually have some related products to check out.  Desiree likes to read and likes to spend time with her niece, Molly, which means she’s probably the cool aunt who’s all smart and literary and whatnot.  She used to live in Washington, DC, but she adamantly denies the rumors that she was a lobbyist trying to get Gilmore Girls back on the air.

While Leah Torres lacks the good sense to avoid being an SEO Analyst, she has many redeeming qualities that make up for it.  After her long period of hazing — I mean, training, Leah will be working on sites like CriminalDefenseLawyer.com, DisabilitySecrets.com, and TheBankruptcySite.org.  She enjoys swimming and running and other things that people in their 20’s have the energy to do.  She was also an early adopter of natural deodorant something that has, thankfully, improved a great deal over the years.

These new additions have resulted in two immediate changes for the SEO Team: 1) Our collective IQ has shot up considerably and 2) The SEO Cove has now expanded to become an SEO Peninsula, surrounded on three sides by salespeople and engineers.

It’s been great to add new perspectives to our group.  We tend to live and die by the Google around here, so injecting some new blood into our system has given us some perspective.  Don’t get us wrong, we still live and die by Google, we just don’t take it so personally anymore.

We are sure that Desiree and Leah will help the SEO Team reach new heights of greatness.  Maybe we’ll even update this blog more often!

I Don’t Like Penguins Anymore

The flightless black and white birds who live in the snow are cool (pun intended), but we’re not fans of the Google’s most recent update, “Penguin.”

Sites that we’ve worked very hard to build seem to have been flagged as SPAM by Google’s latest attempt to improve their search results.  For example, one of Nolo’s niche sites, TheBankruptcySite.org, was hit pretty hard. This is a site that’s been getting a lot of love from some of the recent Panda updates, yet had all that affection overturned by Penguin.  That’s particularly frustrating for the four different Nolo editors, half dozen expert attorney authors, and the SEO analyst who spent a year making sure that all the content on this site was up to Nolo standards.

The only thing we can come up with to explain these results  is that certain set’s of 50 state articles have a fair amount of templated content, primarily the intro and other “non-meat” bits.  This was a concern when we were creating them, but the bulk of the content is unique, and specifically tailored for each state.  In some ways, it seems like we’re being penalized for being thorough.

Aside from that, we can’t figure this thing out. At this point, we’re just hoping it’s collateral damage that will work itself out.

We’re just going to go play golf.

Google Penguin Update Returning Odd Results

Nolo’s goal has always been to publish quality content to give users accurate information on the legal issues they may face. A year ago, Nolo was acquired by Internet Brands, which maintains thousands of legal websites. The legal editors were given a daunting task:  Make sure the legal content on these sites lives up to the Nolo standards. This includes research, editing, and an overall makeover of the site.

So, when Google released its latest update, Penguin, we were a bit confused. One site in particular that was hit stands out: USImmigrationLawyers.com. The editor in charge of the site spent 10 months rewriting articles, posting new relevant content, and creating a reliable site for users to find out information on green cards, visas, work permits, and almost anything you would need to know about immigration.

Even more confusing are the new search results in Google. USImmigrationLawyers.com used to rank in the first two results for “ADIT Processing.” Now, when I search “ADIT Processing,” the first three sites are forums. Although, I do find forums interesting, they don’t always give accurate, timely information written by experts. Also, the government site wasn’t even in the top three results! Our ADIT Processing article now ranks #4ish.

Ilona Bray wrote all four of our Immigration books, and has years of experience as an attorney.  Her article should be more authoritative than a mishmash of forum posts.

Anyway, I do understand Google’s concern with web spam and its impossible task to give users the best search results, because this is what we strive for at Nolo.  But I think they are still missing a few steps.