Category Archives: Law Practice Management

FL CLE: 30 CLE Hours or 33 CLE Hours??

The Florida Supreme Court approved a new rule on 1/1/2017 requiring Florida attorneys to complete technology-related CLE courses. If your Florida CLE compliance is due in the next couple years you don’t have to worry about it.

FL CLER – Technology Requirement

The first Florida attorneys that need to complete 33 hours – including 3 hours of technology – have compliance dates starting in December 2019.

Only if your compliance deadline ends in December 2019 (or later) then you must complete 33 credit hours every 3 years. Five of the 33 credit hours must be in approved legal ethics and 3 of the 33 hours must be in approved technology programs. Please click here to see more information: FL CLE.

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How Can Small Law Firms Grow Today?

The changing legal landscape invites a different approach to law practice.

We have all heard the legal industry is changing. Lawyers compete for clients, experiencing how access and affordability are two barriers that seem to be pervasive. Whether a lawyer is relatively new to the profession, or has been practicing for many years, the thoughts of how to maintain and grow a successful practice is or should be on the mind.

So how can small firms grow today? The old tested methods of networking, advertising, and referrals certainly would still hold true, but in today’s world, it seems more is needed. Clients tend to want easy access to their attorney, coupled with reasonable fees, and a sense of consistency or branding. While this may sound obvious in theory, in practice, as a general statement, it doesn’t work so well.

Access

While office building set ups may be comfortable for lawyers, anecdotally clients share that riding up an elevator, waiting in a reception room or conference room, and then finally meeting with a lawyer in that setting can often be “overwhelming” or “intimidating.” Traditional law practice set up lent itself to such an environment, but as society has changed, it appears a sizeable number of consumers and small businesses prefer being able to pull into a one level parking lot, walk into a retail setting that is still professional, and have access to an attorney – even if to just to briefly meet to set up an appointment.

Reasonable Fees

Many firms offer options of flat fees, hourly fees, and hybrids, but few, if any, publish some or all of them on their websites. Clients have perceptions of fees being exorbitant, sometimes rightfully so, which is why transparency up front, with full disclosures as to how a fee can increase or change form (flat to hourly) builds credibility, and may increase the likelihood of a client choosing you.

Consistency or a Brand

Today, society loves brands, probably more than ever. Of course, one firm in and of itself can create a brand, having various locations can serve to enhance a brand and peoples’ desire to frequent it.

While anyone can arguably make a cup of coffee, we have Starbucks. While anyone can arguably make a sandwich, we have Subway. And while anyone that is trained on tax preparation, can prepare taxes, we have H&R Block. Law firms can benefit from consistency, not necessarily in the practice of law itself, as every case is technically unique, but in the business of law. Having an expectation that a common name, a certain look and design of the firm, and defined levels of client service, can give clients a sense that there’s credibility, and that it’s a brand that they want to employ.

In general, it seems people have a sense of security or an expectation with a brand-and yes, even service brands. We know that you can not control the services of a dentist, a hairstylist, or an accountant/tax preparer, but the business framework within which they operate can be. As described above, the consistency that can come from branding can be very important to gain business and have it repeat.

Example of a Solution Encompassing Access, Affordability and Branding

An example of one answer to the challenge of access, sharing reasonable fees, and affordability is providing consistency through branding as part of a law firm franchise system.

Legal Value Firm®, a Torrance, California based law firm has done just that. Now in its fifth year, Legal Value Firm is a full-service law firm of attorneys, offering a wide range of practice areas, for mostly flat fees, in professional space in a shopping center. This paradigm has offered clients a whole new alternative: easy access and affordable legal services in a branded, neighborhood Legal Value Firm. Currently, Legal Value Firms are being offered in Arizona, with other states pending (legalvaluefranchise.com).

Founding attorney Joe Donnini states, “Law practice is definitely changing, and the timing is perfect to redefine access and delivery of legal services. With our new shopping center concept, we have positioned our brand to be a solution of the future for many consumers/small businesses and attorneys, too.”

How Does Franchising Work?

As a way to grow a law firm, franchising will offer education, training and support on client development, marketing, operations and overall business management. Attorney franchisees will be able to use their independent judgment in their practice of law, and still be in business for themselves but not by themselves.

Prospective licensed attorney franchisees may be relatively newly licensed attorneys, seasoned attorneys that want to convert their practice or operate it in addition to Legal Value Firm, or larger firms that want to capture more market share (analogous to hotels that have various brands under their portfolio).

Franchising is not the answer for every attorney, but certainly can be for many. In Legal Value Firm’s experience, some of the challenges described in this piece that lawyers face have been minimized or overcome. For example, there are numerous occasions where clients will sign up for an engagement simply because they frequent the shopping center-or it does happen where people engage the firm on the spot for a pressing matter. Capturing more market share is something that can be harder in a traditional setting with a traditional practice operation.

So while change can be inevitable, choices are increasing for small law firms to grow their business. Franchising is one choice that is poised to evolve as the future does. For more information about franchising click here: Legal Value Firm.

This is a guest post from attorney Joe Donnini. Joe is an experienced attorney, entrepreneur, educator, and business consultant.  Having a diverse background has positioned Joe to gain perspective in multiple industries on many matters.  Joe has assisted clients in key areas of business creation, development, operations, and finance.

Attorney Credits New Webinar Series on YouTube

Have you checked out the Attorney Credits YouTube channel yet???  We recently started a new monthly webinar series that can help you with the business side of running a law firm.  Once we record the webinar we then make it available on our YouTube channel.

We thought this could be a helpful FREE resource for you!  We also thought that you could benefit from some non-CLE content that State Bars will not let us accredit. Topics range from S.E.O to building and managing your online reputation.

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New CLE on Common Ethics Traps for Attorneys

Pick up the phone and call your clients, don’t “borrow” money from trust accounts, calendar every key deadline & date – the same fundamental ethics principles still hold true for the 21st century lawyer. That’s because the same traditional ethics issues continue to plague lawyers, leading to countless ethics violations and malpractice lawsuits.

Lawyers & Ethics

The same traditional legal ethics issues continue to bring attorneys down – calendaring dates and communicating with clients still top the list.

In this course Joel Selik discusses the most common ethics violations you need to be aware of so you can continue to practice ethically. The main issues discussed include the most common ethical pitfalls, insurance issues, what happens when you get “the letter” and sources of ethics laws & duties. To access the course please click here: Common Ethics Violations to Avoid.

Joel will also address

  • Calendaring deadlines
  • Communicating with clients
  • Trust account issues
  • Dumping clients
  • Staying in your practice area
  • Contingent & set fee agreements
  • Billing issues
  • Responding to a malpractice letter or ethics complaint
  • Key practice points to remain ethical

A malpractice attorney and ethics expert, Joel G. Selik has practiced law for over 30 years and frequently represents attorney clients in malpractice cases. Joel is licensed to practice law in both California and Nevada and he frequently presents seminars on Estate Planning, Nursing Home Litigation, Legal Ethics and Malpractice.

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in California and around the country. For more information about CLE in California please click the following link: CA CLE.

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Attorney Credits: New Webinar Series for Lawyers

We know that running the business side of a law firm is just as important as the practice of law itself. Therefore, we have started a new webinar series that’s dedicated helping you run a better law firm. Although you cannot get CLE credit for completing these webinars, it can definitely help you run a more profitable law firm.

List of Webinars:

  • Master Your Domain: On-Site SEO Best Practices
  • The Most Common Fatal Mistakes Found In Your Lawyers Professional Insurance
  • How to Get New Business from Your In-Person and Online Marketing Part 1
  • How to Get New Business from Your In-Person and Online Marketing Part 2
  • How To Become A Local SEO Superhero

These webinars focus on a number of topics and we are going to continue to produce a new webinar every month.  Let us know your thoughts and future topics you would like to see. To check out our webinars on our YouTube channel please click here: Attorney Credits Webinars.

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Webinar: On-Site SEO Best Practices for Attorneys

At Attorney Credits we know that running the business side of a law firm is just as important as the practice of law itself. You can’t help clients if they can’t find you to ask for your help. And nowadays, like any other goods or services, clients are finding attorneys and legal services online. But are your law firm’s web pages fully optimized for SEO? Do you even know what SEO means??

Webinar Topics Covered:

  • Keyword research & placement
  • Webpage content best practices
  • Internal linking & schema optimization
  • Why is “Technical SEO” so important?

If you need help with your SEO please join Chris Dreyer, CEO & Founder of Rankings.io on Friday, September 22nd at 10 a.m. PST for a highly informative website on how to improve your law firm’s google page rankings. In this one-hour webinar presentation, Chris will discuss the key strategies and best practices to truly master your on-site SEO. To register for the webinar please click here: Master Your Domain: On-Site SEO Best Practices.

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New Ethics CLE: Ethics & the SmallLaw Attorney 

Complying with the ethical rules can be a challenge for solo and small firm practitioners. Small firm and solo practitioners normally handle nearly all legal and business aspects of the firm, as they often serve as their own marketing, administration, billing and collections departments.

Ethics & the SmallLaw Attorney 

Small firm and solo attorneys are especially susceptible to ethics violations because they often handle all legal and business aspects of the firm.

In this CLE course, attorney Gary J. Ross provides a highly practical review of the main ethical issues faced by solo practitioners and attorneys in small firms. When you complete this course you will know the sources of ethics rules for attorneys, recognize the reasons SmallLaw attorneys tend to have more ethics violations, understand the most common ethical pitfalls and know how to properly operate your law practice in accordance with the ethics rules. To access the course please click here: Ethics and the Small Law Practitioner.

Key topics covered:

  • The Model Rules
  • Communications concerning a lawyer’s services
  • Using engagement letters
  • Establishing the lawyer-client relationship
  • Charging a reasonable fee
  • Retainers
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Taking on matters in a new area of law
  • Ending the lawyer-client relationship
  • Of counsel relationships
  • Sharing fees

Gary J. Ross founded Jackson Ross PLLC in 2013 to cater to the legal needs of the startup and venture capital community. Prior to founding Jackson Ross, Gary worked in the corporate transactions and securities practice groups in various large firms in various large cities and also managed to fit in a tour of duty with the Treasury Department.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in New York and around the country. For more information about New York CLE in please click the following link: NY CLE.

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New CLE on Ethics & Records Implications for Lawyers

Social Media presents numerous challenges for law firms, attorneys and the business clients they represent. From maintaining confidential information to preserving important digital content, attorneys now must be aware of the novel ethical issues posed by social media websites like Facebook & Twitter, blogs, ISP services and applications like SaaS.

Lawyer, Social Media & Ethical Conduct

In this CLE course John Isaza walks you through the key legal ethics implications that arise from a social media presence, including best practices on how to address those ethical concerns.

In this course, John Isaza highlights the main legal ethics implications that arise from attorney’s social media presence and the companies they represent – including best practices on how to address the primary ethical concerns. John also discusses the following Model Rules: Competence, The Advisory Role, The Advocacy Role, Transactions with Non-Clients, Marketing and the Integrity of the Profession. To access the course please click here: Social Media: Ethics and Records Implications for Lawyers.

Additional topics addressed:

  • Pertinent ethical questions
  • Inadvertent communications on social media
  • Jury tampering
  • Ex parte communications with the court
  • Applicable ethics provisions
  • Key policies that should be in place
  • Policy considerations
  • Social engineering
  • Sources of ethical information
  • The big picture
  • Records in social media
  • Marketing materials in social media
  • European data laws
  • High level considerations

John Isaza, Esq., FAI heads the Information Governance & Records Management practice at Rimon. Mr. Isaza is internationally recognized in the emerging legal fields of information governance, as well as records and information management (RIM). He is one of the country’s foremost experts on RIM issues, electronic discovery, and legal holds.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in New York and around the country. For more information about CLE in California please click the following link: NY CLE.

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New CLE: Using Clio to Streamline Your Legal Practice

We live in the 21st century.  Practice and case management software now provides attorneys with a convenient method of effectively managing client and case information – from conflicts and calendaring to documents and billing.  It can be used to share information with clients and other attorneys in the firm via the cloud and it is also scalable so you can choose the best fit for your firm.

Practice Management Software

How do you choose between MyCase, Clio, Rocket Matter or one of the many other service providers?

This CLE course will review how Clio practice management software can help you run a more efficient law firm by attorneys who have implemented Clio at their law firm. Eric Hanscom, Ian McDaniel and Ryan Pickett of Hanscom Alexeev & McDaniel LLP mainly address tracking client information, managing conflicts of interest, calendaring and document management. This course will focus on how Clio can be used in an Intellectual Property and business law firm context. To access the course please click here: Using Clio to Streamline Your Legal Practice.

The panel of speakers also address:

  • The advantages of cloud based software
  • Costs & savings
  • Tracking renewal fees
  • The client intake process
  • Invoices
  • Integration with other applications and programs
  • Electronic signatures

Before beginning his own practice, Eric Hanscom utilized his science background and law degree to gain experience in multiple facets of patent, trademark and copyright law.  Ian McDaniel focuses his expertise on advising emerging companies and small and mid-size businesses in corporate and securities transactions and general counsel services. A graduate of the University of San Diego Paralegal Program, Ryan Pickett will be enrolling in law school in 2018.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in Illinois and around the country. For more information about CLE in Illinois please click the following link: IL CLE.

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NY CLE: Newly Admitted New York Attorneys Can Now Take Some CLE Courses Online

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Attorneys in New York that are newly admitted to practice in the state have special CLE requirements that are different than experienced attorneys.[1]  Newly admitted NY attorneys must complete at least 16 transitional CLE credit hours in each of the first two years of admission to the New York State Bar. That’s a total of 32 newly admitted CLE courses in the first 2 years.

Newly Admitted NY CLE Requirement

  • Sixteen (16) accredited hours
    • In EACH of the first two (2) years of admission
  • Requirement EACH year:[2]
    • 3 hours – Ethics & Professionalism
    • 6 hours – Skills
    • 7 hours – Law Practice Management and/or Areas of Professional Practice

Newly admitted New York attorneys NOW have the option to complete 14 of the required 32 credit hours by completing by completing on-demand computer based CLE programs in the areas of law practice management and/or areas of professional practice.[3] For more information about New York CLE please click here: NY CLE.

[1] Under the New York CLE Rules, attorneys admitted to the New York State Bar for two (2) years or less are considered newly admitted attorneys.

[2] In each year newly admitted attorneys must complete 3 hours of ethics & professionalism, 6 hours of skills, and 7 hours of law practice management and/or areas of professional practice

[3] The first set of 16 transitional NY CLE credit hours must be completed by the first anniversary of admission to the New York State Bar Association. The second set of 16 transitional hours must be completed between the first and second anniversaries of admission to the NY State Bar.

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