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.

How Does a Debt Settlement Law Firm Work?

I have been working in the debt settlement industry for almost ten years now and have very extensive knowledge as to how it works. Before we begin I want to say this will be a rather long article and if you are not serious about finding a solution to your debt problem then stop reading now. The purpose of this article is to explain to you first how debt settlement works and what the process entails; both the good and the bad. Next I will explain the differences between how a debt settlement law firm works and how it compares to a standard debt settlement company. There are many differences between how this process is handled by the two. Because of this debtors should learn these differences before enrolling into any program. Many people may already know how a debt settlement company works but have no clue as to how a law firm works and this article will explain just that.

First of all, I would like to state that debt settlement as a means of credit card debt relief is not for everyone; some people simply do not have the right state of mind, while others may benefit more from bankruptcy.

To begin with I would like to go over the purpose of credit card debt settlement and how the process works. The purpose of debt settlement is for the debtor to get out of debt quickly without having to file bankruptcy and save a lot of money in the process. The goal of the debt negotiator is to negotiate a one time lump sum payment on the debtors’ behalf at a far reduced amount than what the debtor currently owes.

These benefits are tremendous. The debtor could save themselves close to half of what they currently owe and be out of debt in a few years. However as with most things in life there are drawbacks to this process and there is no way to avoid them.

In order for any creditor to be willing to negotiate a debt settlement on a debt the account must fall into default first. There are no creditors in the world willing to negotiate when you are current and up to date on your monthly minimum payments. If they feel you can maintain your monthly minimums than this is precisely where the creditors want to keep you. This is where their profit is made, by just paying the minimum each month you will be in debt for over thirty years, even if the interest rate is not all that high. If your rate is above 20%, you will be stuck in debt for well beyond thirty years and payback the creditors well over ten times the original balance alone in interest. That is exactly where they want you!

So understandably they will not negotiate with you when you are current and they feel they can still bank on your minimum payments for years to come. So the only way to ever negotiate is to fall behind on the monthly payments. Naturally once you do this you will be negatively affecting your credit score and will also be receiving calls from collectors; this is what may put some people off from doing debt settlement, thus why I stated above this process may not be for everyone.

For those people already behind this will not make a difference and their credit will not be damaged any more than it already is, however for those who are current this will adversely affect their credit. It is quite a shame that this point alone may stop some people from using debt settlement; thus dooming them to being financial servants to the creditors for decades to come.

You must also be made aware that this process in the end will begin to help rebuild your credit. Thirty percent of your MyFICO credit score is made up of your debt to credit ratio, which will look a lot better after you get out of debt. Additionally the negative remarks from falling behind will not hold much bearing on your credit score after two years. Your credit score is only a snapshot in time and only uses the last two years of payment history to determine the score.

Now during the process of falling behind your goal is to save up as much money as possible in the quickest possible time. This money is then used later on to pay off the settlement that is negotiated by the debt negotiator. The faster someone looks to save money and complete this process the better for many reasons. For one the faster you are out of debt the more money you stand to save and the less risk you take from the negative aspects of settlement such as lawsuit and further damage to the credit report.

This brings us to the title of the article “How Does a Debt Settlement Law Firm Work?” As I explained above there are great benefits to debt settlement such as saving lots of money and time; and there are also some downsides such as collection calls and the possibility of a lawsuit.

The main differences between how debt settlement is handled by a debt settlement law firm and standard debt settlement company is how they deal with the negative drawbacks. A law firm has much more legal power and is set up correctly to comply with their states’ laws.

Collection Calls

One of the first major differences in how debt settlement is handled has to deal with collections calls. When you first fall behind and your debt is still in the hands of the original creditor there is nothing legally that can be done to stop them from calling. However once the creditor passes the account off to a third party collection agency which will happen anywhere between 3-6 months after falling behind things change. Legally once in the hands of the collectors a law firm will have the power to have all calls to their client stopped, and if the collector continues to call and harass the client legal action can be taken against that creditor seeing as they will be in violation of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practices Act).

So the client’s first advantage by using a law firm will be a much decreased activity in collection calls, and this is very important for some people. Any regular debt settlement companies that claim they can stop the calls are simply not telling you the truth and you should be very weary of them because of this.

Lawsuits

The next major advantage a law firm has concerning debt settlement is how a lawsuit can be handled. In case you are not aware once you fall behind on your credit card debts the creditors/collectors do hold the legal right to pursue you through the courts to collect the debt. However I will mention, that suing is not the mainstay of the collectors and is not exercised very often; reason being it simply costs too much money and time on the creditor’s behalf with no guarantee of getting any money even if they were able to obtain a judgment anyway.

The advantage the law firm has is they can still legally contact and negotiate a settlement with your collector after they have issued a summons to court. A debt settlement company does not have this legal power. The collectors are very willing to negotiate a settlement even after the summons has been issued; they realize they may get very little if anything regardless, so being contacted by a reputable law firm who is willing to offer them money and settle the debt without wasting any time or money with going to court is very beneficial to the collector.

If you get sued and you only have a standard company representing you, you can expect to go to court and try to figure it out yourself. This often results in a judgment for the debtor!

Correct Legal Set Up

Perhaps the biggest advantage the law firm has over a company is how they are set up. The vast majority of debt settlement companies are not legally allowed to work in all the states; many are not even set up correctly to operate in their own state.

The states’ attorneys and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) are cracking down severely on these companies and shutting them down as fast as possible. When this happens often times the company does not have the money to payback its clients for the fees they paid to a company that will no longer be in business and can no longer help to settle their debts. Now the debtor will be left holding the bag having paid thousands in fees but still be stuck in debt, and this nightmare scenario happens more than you may think. Thus making law firms a much, much safer option!

Another issue that many people have with debt settlement companies is they will not disclose how this process works and will simply sugar coats things and preach about the great benefits but never mention one downside. A law firm legally must disclose everything about how this works before being able to enroll anyone into any structured payment plan. A lot of companies do not have your interest at heart and will say whatever it takes to get you signed up even if they are fully aware that they are setting you up to fail.

Which brings me to my last point; a lot of unscrupulous companies will allow their clients to sign into a program and pay whatever they want and put them into programs that are set up for much longer than they should be. By stretching a debt settlement program out the savings will decrease and the potential for a lawsuit will increase. These companies cannot legally give the client advice or assistance if they get sued; it is considered unlicensed practice of law and this is what I mean by them knowing they will be setting you up to fail. If you can’t get this process done within three years, four max in special situations, then you should seriously consider bankruptcy. A law firm will be strait up and tell this to you, where many shady companies will keep trying to sign you up.

I really hope after reading this article you feel enlightened and now have a much better understanding of how debt settlement works and how a law firm can advantage you the most. I know for the most part I have been focusing on the negative aspects of debt settlement, but I feel it is important for people to understand both the good and the bad, allowing them to make an educated wise financial decision on how to get out of debt. But you must realize just how powerful the benefits of this process are! Saving close to half of what is currently owed and becoming debt free in a few years will be so beneficial to your current and future financial well being. Credit card debt has a way of destroying people’s finances and their lives and debt settlement is the perfect alternative for those who want to escape debt quickly and avoid the embarrassment of filing for bankruptcy.

If you are curious as to whether using a debt settlement law firm can benefit your financial situation then I invite you to follow the link below in the signature box and fill out an application. I welcome the opportunity to review your personal and unique situation to see if debt settlement will be the right fit for you.

Driving Marketing Change At Law Firms – A Test of Leadership

Although it is never easy to challenge the status quo or achieve fundamental change within an organization – especially at a law firm. Yet change is a fundamental component to success. How does a firm steeped in culture and tradition address these questions? Very carefully. Especially if it is driven by a law firm marketing partner.

Driving change can bring about profound personal and professional rewards. It requires developing a strong vision of the firms identity. I call the process firm sculpting – creating your firms ideal image.

The goal of course is to find that new image and make it powerful – one that will greatly increase client satisfaction and propel the firm’s success. This of course takes true leadership – and that’s the rub.

True leaders have the capacity to articulate a vision and inspire others to pursue it with them. True leaders come from a place of honesty–with willingness to see what actually is and discover what could be through community effort. They bring with them a confidence that gives others the courage to strive for even the loftiest goals.

Your firm’s potential for change lies in the hands of such a true leader. Without a strong individual with the skill to push for change by enlisting rather than alienating others, your firm may make important improvements, but it is unlikely to reach its full potential.

The all-important first step in initiating change is to find such a leader within your ranks. Once you are committed to seeing things change, look around and ask yourself who will lead. (The answer may be as close as your own reflection in a mirror.)

Once the leader is chosen, whether he’s the partner with the most power and seniority in the firm or a more junior partner who is eager and willing to support the process, his or her first step is to identify and enlist the other key players in your firm.

Forming Your Inner Team (the Key Partners)

The next step is to identify the principal members of the team–the inner circle. Most of the time, the inner circle will be composed of key partners and, in some firms, top-level administrators. Without them on board, the probability of creating profound change at the root level is seriously diminished. Bring them on board as soon as possible.
But before the firm does this, it must address a very serious issue. It must know whether the core power base–the inner circle–includes what is referred to as a “Toxic Partner.” Like a drop of poison in a carafe, a single “Toxic” can be fatal to even the most brilliant and ambitious of plans.

Finding Your Firm’s Vision – The Heart of Legal Marketing

Once the leader and the inner circle have been identified and any Toxics have been dealt with, the next step is for your leader to set up a series of meetings to determine what the firm’s values and challenges are and then begin to articulate a vision for the firm’s future. Ideally, a facilitator will be brought in at this point to help keep things on track.
Uncovering your firm’s values is no easier than confronting its challenges. Your firm’s values must inspire the partners if there is any hope of inspiring the firm itself and its clients. When the members of the inner circle envision the firm, they should identify which values move and inspire them. These inspired values must appeal to them at a visceral level, not just sound good. Left to their own devices, many partners (and professional marketers) come up with meaningless phrases like “We live to serve.” Your firm’s inspired values must be held to a higher standard than this.
The values must be concrete and measurable; the first measure is whether they elicit a positive emotional reaction that motivates action. You’ll know when the values defined by the inner circle are powerful enough–endorphins will kick in, enthusiasm will rise and it will inspire people to take action.

Drafting Your Firm’s Master Charter (and Creating Derivative Charters)

The inspiration and commitment achieved during the first seminal meetings will soon be evidenced in the creation of your firm’s master charter. As will be discussed in much more detail in later chapters, it is the inspired values and principles found in the master charter that will guide what we call -derivative charters–charters that belong to your key departments, practice groups and committees.

The master charter must be anchored in the leadership’s inspired values. It is the first evidence of what has been a dynamic, proactive process. The master charter must be real, not contrived. It must be rooted in the leadership’s intentions for the firm and the principles on which the firm will be governed from now on.

The master charter will become the focal point of the firm’s identity. It is the document that articulates the inspired values and priorities of the firm. It will not be drafted in a day–creating it takes introspection, analysis, debate and thoughtful examination. But when it is finished, it is the equivalent of a constitution for your firm. If it is done with excellence, it will both guide and inspire every member of your firm to actions that are congruent with the firm’s identity.

Once a powerful firm culture is in place, the master charter’s norms and values will keep the firm on the path to following its inspired values and will discourage individual or group conduct that is inconsistent with those values.

Once the master charter is completed, many law firms falter. The leadership becomes excited about the new charter and circulates it among the other members of the firm. A few memos go out touting the power of vision and describing the bright future that lies ahead. A few of the more ambitious partners try to rally the troops around the cause, but soon the inspiration begins to pale and the charter fades into the background, with no more appeal than the firm’s letterhead and logo.

Resculpting is for naught unless the people below the leadership level believe that the vision is relevant to their lives. I can’t emphasize this enough: The relevance cannot be illusory; it must be as real to them as their weekly paycheck. So your next step must be to give them both the responsibility and the authority to put changes into action.
In order to do this, I recommend that the firm’s charter be a jumping-off point from which each major department creates its own charter and plan of action within the vision that the leadership has delineated. These derivative charters and the strategic action plans will give the members of the firm a personal stake in their future.

The facilitator, with the support of top leadership, must ensure that each of the firm’s major departments, practice groups and committees is given time and support in crafting these all-important documents. Otherwise the subordinates will perpetually feel that this is the leadership’s vision, not theirs. Giving them the opportunity to participate is the only way to make the vision relevant, and it will also make them accountable for the results.

The challenge lies in getting the inspiration and enthusiasm evoked by the creation of the new vision to truly motivate everyone–all the way down to the people on the lowest rungs of the firm’s ladder. The solution is to empower everyone. Skipping this step will undermine all of the firm’s efforts.

In the end, every member of the firm should be enrolled in the change process. Every member of the firm who comes into contact with clients, vendors, other firms’ attorneys, or anyone else should reflect the firm’s inspired values and identity. Every form of marketing, advertising and promotion should be inseparably integrated with the people who make up the firm.

Bringing the Rest on Board (and Creating Strategic Action Plans)

This last step in reinventing the firm happens once the master charter and derivative chapters are written. To allow everyone in the firm to take part–to take ownership–in the changes the firm is making, the leaders of each of the firm’s major departments, committees and practice groups, in conjunction with each of their respective team members, will construct detailed action plans that identify specific goals, specify time lines and names of people accountable for bringing the goals to fruition. These strategic action plans should be developed for each of the major departments in the firm.
Strategic action plans are developed only after the firm’s charter and the derivative charters have been carved out by the leadership. These charters are the basis for the strategic action plans, which are tangible instructions for making decisions and taking action.

Strategic action plans can be thought of as logical extensions of the firm’s values and beliefs. They are, by nature, imbued with the firm’s culture. They can take on enormous momentum, capable of pushing the firm forward to new heights and performance levels.

Strategic action plans bridge the gap between the firm’s words and its deeds. They provide specific task-driven objectives against which the firm’s leadership, including the managers, can test assumptions and gauge the firm’s departmental performance.

The single most important characteristic of strategic action plans is that they are task-specific–they describe purposes, time lines and responsibilities for the tasks the firm performs. These plans, as well as the specific goals they are intended to achieve, must in the end be measured against both the derivative and master charters.

Although it is never easy to challenge the status quo or achieve fundamental change within an organization, the personal and professional rewards are boundless. Moving away from a firm’s preconceived notions frees it from existing limitations. The vision that emerges from the process of sculpting your firm allows your firm to create a new identity that will greatly increase client satisfaction and propel the firm’s success.