Starting a Law Firm – Local Counsel Work

When considering starting your own law firm, one often overlooked source of business for your fledgling business is local counsel work.

When I began my career as an attorney at a medium sized firm, I had an idea of what I would be working on. For instance, areas such as corporate law, family law, criminal law, estate law, real estate law, are all examples of practices areas that I, like all lawyers, am familiar with because those courses are taught in probably every law school in the United States. So, if you join a law firm in the private practice arena, you will probably work as a lawyer in one or more of these areas.

For example, the typical way to practice law is to have a client ask you to help them with their legal problem. A person or entity will come to you and hire you to help them with their business, family, or personal legal dilemma. That is the most common way to work as a lawyer.

However, one surprise that many lawyers find when they start practicing out of law school is that other lawyers and firms often hire attorneys outside their firm to be their lawyer for a local hearing. This concept is called local counsel.

There are two standard forms of local counsel work:

(1) a firm in the jurisdiction you work in, but which is a long ways away (like in a different city) hires you; or

(2) a firm outside of your jurisdiction and typically in another state hires you.

In these two situations, attorneys and/or law firms will hire out a lawyer to handle hearings in the courthouse or county where the original firm has filed its case. Hiring and outside attorney enables the hiring law firm to have an attorney present in a court-house that is far-far away from the hiring firm’s office. It would be much too expensive to have a $300.00-an-hour attorney drive from a far away city to attend a minor foreclosure hearing. So, the law firm that originated the lawsuit will often hire an attorney at a lower dollar amount to handle a simple hearing.

Examples of legal areas in which local counsel work is needed are: foreclosures, bankruptcy, and debt collection. Often the hired attorney will appear at a minor hearing, such as a status conference, and file an attorney appearance with the court. The attorney will inform the court that he or she has been hired only for the purpose of the local counsel work. A judge will often understand that the law firm who hired the local attorney will handle the actual procedural filing. However, the local counsel attorney will handle the minor matter before him or her. One thing to keep in mind is that the hired lawyer still owes a duty to both the court and his client to be diligent and prepared when he or she accepts the case – no matter how minor it is.

Why is local counsel work important for starting your own firm? In the foremost, it is usually relatively simple and it is a very effective way to generate cash flow for your firm. Without cash flow, your law firm will die.

Another great thing about local counsel work is that it helps the courts function efficiently. If an attorney can show up at minor hearing and guide the legal process along, the court can worry more about other, more important, cases on its docket.

In sum, local counsel work is an often unknown and overlooked aspect of starting and building a law practice. Attorneys who have been practicing for any amount of time often know about local counsel work. However, a person coming out of law school likely has never heard of it. If a person decides to start their own firm out of law school, they will not want to miss this great source of revenue-generating work.

Furthermore, another reason to do local counsel work is that lawyers tend not to stiff other lawyers. In other words, when you are hired, you know you are going to get paid. That may sound simple, but when you are staring out and trying to survive, getting paid for the work you do is of the utmost importance. Heck, it may be the only important thing to know when you are starting your own firm.

When considering starting a law firm, and whether your niche area is family law, criminal law, corporate law, or some other area of law, you need to remember local counsel work and focus some of your firm marketing towards this area. It is not always the most lucrative work, but, if you can get it, it is steady, it generates immediate cash flow, and it get your new law firm humming.

Men and Divorce – The Best Advice

Not all men are the same. The way your buddy feels about his divorce may not be the same way you feel about yours so taking advice from him may not be effective for you and you may feel lost even more. In taking divorce advice for men, keep in mind that you need to seek what best suits you and your situation. Once you hear the words of wisdom you’ve been waiting for, you can at last begin to accept and cope with the ending of your marriage.

Be True to Yourself

Acceptance of the divorce and how you feel about it is the first step towards recovery and moving on. Sometimes, men tend to maintain the strong image in them that they try to show the people around them that they are not affected. If you know deep down inside that this major life transition is hurting you, acknowledge this feeling. You do not need to shout to the whole world that you are upset, but it is important to take some time to admit to yourself your real feelings.

Have Someone to Talk To

Talk to someone you can trust and is a good listener like a friend or a family member so that you can confide your feelings. Counseling can also be helpful if there is no available person to talk to.

Think Before You Act

Men and women alike sometimes think that their sadness and grief about the divorce is an indication that they should reconcile with their former spouse. Before you attempt to call your ex-wife, you should first realize the root cause of your feelings. Is it because you really want to be with the person or is it because you are grieving over a loss? Grief because of loss will subside with time once you have accepted the end of your marriage.

Do Not Take Your Issues on Other People

Going through a difficult time does not give you the right to make it difficult for others as well and treat them in a mean way. If you cannot avoid displacing your negative feelings on others, the best thing to do is to either warn them that you are not in a good mood or try to stay away from them until you are relieved of your anger.

Be Careful When Dating

Some men start dating too soon. This is not a sign of being able to move on but a sign of trying to fill in your feelings of emptiness. As much as possible, do not get too involved in your first few dates because they are usually just for comfort or consolation.

Read Support Books about Divorce

Take time to read books about how to recover after divorce. These self-help books may provide you with enlightenment and inspiration to embrace this new chapter in your life.

Give It Time

Keeping yourself busy can be helpful. Focus on your work, your hobbies, or try to find new activities to do. Aside from the fact that it will help keep your mind off the painful experience you went through, it can also give you a chance to discover more positive things about yourself and your new life ahead.

Guide to Finding the Best Law Firm for Your Business

A law firm is a simple business entity formed by one or more lawyers, who look after the interest of their clients together. Lawyers in these firms can also allow other lawyers to work with them, who are called associates. In a law firm, all the partners not only share the profits and loss incurred, but also the risks associated with running the firm. It functions similar any other company, however in most companies lawyers cannot raise money through IPO’s, which is why conflicts of interest is often not there in this type of business.

How to choose a law form for your business?

For any business, finding the right law firm to handle all their legal issues and get better legal advice is very important. The following guide will help businesses to choose the best law firm for their legal issues.

a. Factors to look for in a law firm:

The first and foremost factor that should be taken in to consideration is to find a firm that has experience in working with businesses similar to the client’s business and understand the nature of the business. Also, they should be able to offer legal advice and explanations in simple, plain language, and not in legal terms. For start-up businesses, small firms are the best option because they charge less and value them more as a client. All solicitors working in the firm should have a practicing certificate issued by the law society, which the professional body for law solicitors. A qualified firm means, it is verified by the law society and so can offer better legal advice.

b. Searching law firms for your business:

The first place to look for a law firm is the law society. The law society can put individuals in touch with solicitors in the particular specialization or particular area, and also arrange for a free consultation. Other people to ask for recommendations include friends, people from similar businesses, accountants, bank managers, and local chamber of commerce.

c. Arranging a meeting with solicitors:

It is always advisable to see a number of solicitors and have a face to face meeting before selecting one. Questioning the solicitor, what they know about your business and its sector, will help enable you to make a decision on whether to choose them or not. Most solicitors charge fee on a per hour basis, so check out how much your solicitors charge. You should try and make them agree a fixed spending fee, so that you don’t spend above your budget limits. To this end, it is advisable to get quotes from solicitors before proceeding. Above all, see what other services the solicitors can offer you for the better growth of your business, and take advantage of the situation.

Conclusion:

The legal market is very big which makes choosing the right law firm for your business a difficult task. A detailed research and a clear idea of what you are looking for in a firm will help you make the right decision and growth of your business.

Online Law Firm Marketing: Are Attorneys Complying With ABA Ethical Rules?

Law is a profession ripe with tradition. This profession is one of the few self-regulating professions and is governed by a myriad of professional rules, ethical opinions, and applicable common law. It is well-known that, historically, the law itself has slothfully adjusted to incorporate technological advances within its parameters. This is true regarding the ethical rules of professional conduct. Yet, as more and more legal professionals are now turning to the internet to market their practice through legal websites, blogs, and other social media outlets, there will become an increased need for further regulation regarding ethical advertising on the internet.

The American Bar Association (“ABA”) has draft model ethical rules for states to adopt and lawyers to follow. Today, these rules are called the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules”) and were adopted by the ABA’s House of Delegates in 1983. These Rules were modified from the Model Code of Professional Responsibility. Additionally, the precursor to both was actually the 1908 Canons or Professional Ethics.

As noted, the Rules are not actually binding on an attorney until their state has either adopted them or some other related professional rules. Presently, all states except for California have adopted the ABA’s Rules at least in part. Most of the states have adopted the ABA’s Rules in full with slight modifications or additions to them. Other states, like New York, have adopted the ABA’s Rules but included somewhat substantial modifications.

The Rules and each state’s compilations do include provisions related to advertising and solicitation. Depending on the state, the distinction between each of these terms could be minimal or significant. Generally, “advertising” refers to any public or private communication made by or on behalf of a lawyer or law firm about the services available for the primary purpose of which is for retention of the lawyer or law firm’s services. In contrast, “solicitation” is a form of advertising, but more specifically is initiated by or for the lawyer or law firm and is directed to or targeted at a specific group of persons, family or friends, or legal representatives for the primary purpose of which is also for retention of the lawyer or law firm’s services.

Even though the Rules do address advertising and solicitation to the internet, they are unsurprisingly lacking. These gaps are somewhat filled by ethical opinions or case law. But this generally means that an attorney has already gone through the litigation process and, unfortunately, likely been subjected to discipline.

However, the Rules do provide a fairly strong foundation for an attorney or law firm read over. Even if your state’s professional rules do not adequately present internet marketing provisions, you may still consult the ABA’s Rules for guidance.

Within the Rules, the primary place to look is Rule 7. This rule pertains to “Information About Legal Services” and houses the majority of the applicable rules to internet marketing for attorneys. Duly note, that there still will be other provisions scattered throughout the Rules which apply to marketing. This is just the most applicable concentration of provisions an attorney should consult first before looking for those ancillary sections elsewhere.

Rule 7.1 is the first and more overarching provision an attorney should be concerned with. This section is entitled “Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services” and prohibits a lawyer from making “false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A “false or misleading” communication is further defined in the rule and Comments as one that “contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.” Most pertinently, Comment 1 expressly states that Rule 7.1 does apply to a lawyer or law firm’s website, blog, or other advertising because it states that this provision “governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2.”

Under Rule 7.2, which is entitled broadly as “Advertising,” allows attorneys to advertise “through written, recorded, or electronic communication.” Comment 3 confirms that “electronic media, such as the Internet, can be an important source of information about legal services.” Thus, this only solidifies the fact that 7.2 and, therefore 7.1, apply to internet legal marketing.

In addition, Comment 2 for Rule 7.2 provides further information regarding what can actually be included in these advertisements; for our purposes, websites and blogs. It permits the following: Information concerning a lawyer’s name or law firm, address, and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer’s fees are determined, including pricing for specific services and payment or credit arrangements; a lawyer’s foreign language ability; name of references; and a catch-all for all other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.

However, there is a caveat! First, your state may actually have additional requirements. For instance, New York only permits foreign language ability if “fluent” and not just as for a general ability. Therefore, you might be complying with the persuasive ABA Rule, but in violation with the mandatory state rule (in this case, New York). Second, this Comment is also misleading. Sub(c) under Rule 7.2 actually requires that a communication–such as an advertisement which we now know includes an attorney or law firm’s website–to contain the name and office address of at least one lawyer of the firm or the actual firm itself.

Rule 7.3 is entitled “Direct Contact with Prospective Clients” and deals more so with solicitation–as opposed to advertising–to prospective clients. But, if the attorney or law firm has a mailing list or sends out a newsletter via e-mail, this rule can also be applicable to past clients are well! The rule prohibits in-person and live telephone calls to prospective clients, which includes “real-time electronic contact[s],” that involving advertising an attorney’s services in hopes or retention. Further, this rule requires that every e-mail sent must include “Advertising Material” at the beginning and end of the transmission. Moreover, this rule provides an exception for family, close friends, or past clients,

That is, unless another exception applies. Rule 7.3 still prohibits a lawyer from sending, for example an e-mail newsletter, to another person if that person has either 1) “made it known” they do not want to be solicited or if the communication 2) contains “coercion, duress or harassment.” Meaning, if a past client tells you they want to be unsubscribed from an e-mail mailing list, and you fail to do so, you will be in violation of this rule just as much as if you directly communicated with a prospective client!

Additionally, you may be able to extrapolate this rule to other aspects of social media. There is a seasonable argument that an attorney who directly sends a Facebook Friend message or “Friend Request” to the prospective client hoping for them to “Like” the attorney’s professional page might constitute a violation of this rule. Even if it does not generally violate this rule, if the prospective client rejects the first request and the attorney sends a second “Friend Request,” is the attorney now in violation of this rule? Arguably it would appear so!

Finally, the last rule that really applies directly to internet marketing such as attorney websites and blogs is Rule 7.5; “Firm Names and Letterheads.” Even though it does not appear that this rule applies, looking at the Comments clearly shows that it does. Specifically, Comment 1 directly remarks that firm names include website addresses. Further, it refers back to Rule 7.1 and reminds us that website addresses cannot be false or misleading. In effect, this means that an attorney or law firm cannot make their domain name “http://www.WinEveryTime.com” or something of that effect.

Yet, the Comments do permit trade names in a website address such as the example “Springfield Legal Clinic.” But duly note, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that state legislation may prohibit the use of trade names in professional practices if they deem fit. So this is another state-specific area for the attorney or law firm to review.

In conclusion, even though law has typically lagged behind in adopting such advancements like technology, there are still ample provisions in the ABA Rules to guide an attorney or law firm to comply with internet marketing. More and more legal professions will branch out on the internet, which will create a greater need for more ethical regulation. Yet for now, with the ABA Rules as a guidepost, a profession should understand their obligations in creating, managing, and promotion their legal practice on the internet through websites and blogs.

The Best Advice is Your Own Advice

When it comes to dealing with the recession, the best advice is your own advice, with one huge and important footnote-you have to know what you’re talking about. It is sometimes said that in a court of law a person who chooses to represent themselves has a fool for a lawyer. Because of the complexities of the law, and the extensive schooling required to obtain a license to practice it, serving as your own lawyer doesn’t make much sense. You’re not really qualified to do it, and the outcome is almost invariably disastrous.

Financial advice on the other hand is much different. Although some financial advisers operate on a straight fee basis, more often than not a financial adviser is paid a commission. They profit from anything that you buy based on their recommendations. The more they get you to invest, the more money they make. The potential conflict of interest that this creates is clearly obvious.

The problems that this sort of relationship creates come into stark focus when considering personal financial security in the face of a thundering recession. Many people have lost millions of dollars of wealth over the past several years as the recession has caused the economy to crumble around us. Unfortunately, very few financial professionals, including investment advisers, saw this coming. Consequently, many people were caught short with bad investments that ultimately lost value.

A study of financial professionals shows that less than 5% of people who use a professional adviser have a written financial plan in place. We’re not talking here about the general thoughts and advice of the adviser, but instead about a written document that defines a detailed and actionable financial plan. This is an astounding statistic because the very first step in creating long-term financial security is to build a solid financial foundation. And the very first step of building that foundation is to craft a comprehensive plan.

This is why in planning for your financial future, the best advice is your own advice. Nobody cares about you like you do. Obtain a financial education that enables you to understand how money works, and the best investment strategies for use during a recession. Only when you are able to make your own investment decisions, will you be able to realize true and absolute financial security. Once you know what you’re doing, start giving yourself good advice.