Tag Archives: attorneys

Cost-Saving Ideas for Lawyers and Law Firms

Lawyers and law firms will always run up to the question of cost-savings and administrative costs.  One of these areas is the overuse of email by employees.  This does not only raise costs of storage in the server/back up, but also raises costs of lawyer billing time lost.  With this said, lawyers and law firms need to be wary of the ways that these cost-savings approaches bring.  This article will discuss one of the cost-savings ideas and discuss the risk of this idea.

The Harvard Business Review had a very interesting article discussing the high prices when “calculating average typing speed, reading speed, response rate, volume of email, average salary, and total employees.”  Tom Cochran, the author of “Email Is Not Free,” revealed that in his case, they were looking at a 7 figure price tag.

If you think about the emails and the paid storage for documents and emails, the price that a lawyer/law firm pays can really start to drain their financial resources.  In fact, the overuse of email comes from a system where there is no perceived cost.  Emails will be sent out regarding lunch invitations, short status updates, confirmations of receipt of the prior email, and so on.

When a typical email contains an average of 140 words, or roughly 3 paragraphs, is there a better way to reduce these costs?  By the use of cloud computing, an organization can significantly reduce these costs.  The article discusses the use of cloud apps, such as Skype, GChat, Dropbox and so on.

So is this the way to go?  I think that in the balance of short emails (with no confidential information), it makes sense.  Instead of sending an email stating that you are ready to go to lunch or that you will have to change a meeting time, it makes sense.  The message has no confidential or attorney privileged information.

However, the law firm and lawyer must be wary of using these services for case-related confidential and privileged information.  These cloud computing applications are not secure.

Keeping in mind that cloud computing often stores messages in a number of systems, which you may not be aware of, there might be a breach of security.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you know if the cloud computing app will save the messages in their cloud computing service?
  2. Do you know where is the cloud server located?
  3. Do you know what contract does the company offering cloud computing services (third party) has with the company that provides the server storage in the cloud (another third party)?
  4. Do you know where the company that provides the storage is located?
  5. Will these messages be stored in the computer or mobile/tablet device?
  6. If so, will the mobile/tablet carrier save these messages in their own cloud computing system?
  7. Do you know how safe is the cloud transfer of information?
  8. Do you know how safe is the cloud computing storage?

In other words:  Will it be cost-saving?  Yes.  Can you use it for all communications?  No.

So does using these cloud computing services worth it for information that is not privileged or confidential?  As a lawyer or law firm, you must evaluate the situation.

First of all, you must provide adequate training and warn your employees of any misuse of these apps.

Second, you must think of the risk that employees will breach this policy.  Will adequate and regular training reduce this risk?

Third, you must balance the cost-saving costs with this risk.

via Email Is Not Free – Tom Cochran – Harvard Business Review.

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The Sedona Conference Publishes Primer on Social Media

This post is geared towards lawyers and individuals working with electronic discovery (or anyone interested in discovery in a lawsuit of social media).

The Sedona Conference just published a Primer on Social Media.  The current version is open for public comments.  The purpose of the Primer is to provide primary instruction to the bar and the bench.

via The Sedona Conference® Publishes Primer on Social Media (Pubic Comment Version) : Electronic Discovery Law.

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NY Is First State to Require Law Students to Do Pro Bono Work to Get Licensed After Graduation

This is an article from the ABA News website:

In a move that is expected to improve access to the civil justice system for low-income individuals, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced at a press conference Wednesday a new Court of Appeals rule requiring all law graduates to complete 50 hours of pro bono work before they will be admitted to practice in New York.

It is expected that many will complete the pro bono requirement while they are still law students, according to Reuters. However, the pro bono requirement can also be met after an individual earns his or her law degree.

The pro bono requirement doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, so it does not apply to current third-year law students.

What qualifies as pro bono work is broadly defined, the article notes, alleviating concerns by law school deans that the program would be difficult to administer.

A 15-member advisory committee that helped draft the new pro bono rule will also oversee its implementation and evaluate how well it works, the news agency notes.

The New York Law Journal (reg. req.) provides a link to a copy of the new pro bono rule (PDF).

via NY Is First State to Require Law Students to Do Pro Bono Work to Get Licensed After Graduation – News – ABA Journal.

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ABA Model Rules and Technology

The ABA Commission of Ethics has submitted proposals for amendments for the Model Rules, in order for the rules to adapt to the changing technology environment.  These changes affect confidentiality, competence, client development, lawyer mobility, and outsourcing.

These amendments will be presented at their August meeting.  To get more information about these changes, please click on the link below.

via ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 | ABA Board of Governors / Commission on Ethics 20 20.

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Lawyers and Social Media

Wisconsin Lawyer (May 2012) has an interesting read regarding the use of social media by lawyers.  These are the excerpts that caught my eye:

8 “Don’ts” When Using Social Media

  1. Don’t talk about clients or their matters.
  2. Don’t talk to clients about their matters.
  3. Don’t run afoul of the marketing-related Rules of Professional Conduct.
  4. Don’t engage in the unauthorized practice of law.
  5. Don’t engage in conflicts of interest.
  6. Don’t give legal advice online.
  7. Don’t jeopardize your identity. Protect it.
  8. Don’t make the wrong “friends.”

Risks when using Social Media

When using social media specifically for client development or marketing, you should be aware of the following additional risks:

  • Inadvertently establishing a lawyer-client relationship;
  • Providing legal advice to a nonclient without checking for potential conflicts of interest;
  • Not having enough oversight about how the firm or lawyers in the firm are being held out to the public;
  • Making snap decisions on new client intake;
  • Violating rules prohibiting direct solicitation of prospective clients; and
  • Engaging in the unauthorized practice of law or practicing out of jurisdiction.

In a Web-based environment, confidentiality can be more easily compromised than it might be when working through more traditional communication methods. Adesso says, “There are many times when social media is not the best forum to use. Social media does not easily allow for confidential communications, and thus should not be used in conjunction with any kind of adverse communication or contact with opposing counsel. In addition, there are many channels of advertising that will reach certain clients in a way that will not work on social media. However, if social media is done properly, it can act as an excellent entree to the more sophisticated or traditional means of communicating the message.”

Confidentiality can be breached in a number of ways when operating in an electronic environment, including by:

  • Failing to back up or protect client information;
  • Leaving a computer on or unattended;
  • Failing to secure your wireless network;
  • Having inadequate security (antivirus software and a firewall);
  • Failing to remove metadata or password protect-sensitive email attachments;
  • Inadvertently using the auto-fill function when sending email;
  • Inadvertently disclosing privileged or confidential client information;
  • Disclosing information without a client’s informed consent; and
  • Failing to provide a client with an electronically stored file.
  • Engaging in ex parte communication;
  • Making deceptive requests to gather information;
  • Failing to advise clients of the risks inherent in using social networking sites;
  • Directly contacting an adverse party;
  • Leaving an electronic trail that might provide a roadmap for a legal malpractice claim; and
  • Not taking the time to ensure the legal advice you give is correct.

via Wisconsin Lawyer May 2012: Managing Risk: Lawyers and Social Media: What could possibly go wrong? | State Bar of Wisconsin.

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Median Starting Pay for Associates Is No Longer in the Six Figures; Figure Drops 35% in Two Years

New law grads in private practice are no longer taking home median paychecks in the six figures.

The erosion in BigLaw jobs is depressing the salaries for all class of 2011 law graduates, according to new statistics from NALP–The Association for Legal Career Professionals.

Law grads from the class of 2011 are earning median pay of $60,000, a 5 percent drop from 2010 and a 17 percent drop since 2009. Average pay is $78,653, a 15 percent drop since 2009. The figures are for grads who found full-time employment in jobs lasting at least a year.

The drop in starting pay is even more pronounced when only private practice jobs are considered, according to a press release. Median pay for 2011 law grads in private practice is $85,000, an 18 percent drop from 2010, when the median was $104,000, and a 35 percent drop since 2009, when the median was $130,000. Average pay in private practice is $97,821, a 15 percent drop since 2009.

“This drop in starting salaries, while expected, is surprising in its scope,” NALP executive director James Leipold says in the press release. “Nearly all of the drop can be attributed to the continued erosion of private practice opportunities at the largest law firms.”

Starting pay of $160,000 is still the norm at large law firms, but the share of BigLaw jobs has dropped, putting downward pressure on the median, the press release says. In addition, some large law firms are hiring new grads in staff attorney positions at salaries less than $100,000.

Nearly 60 percent of 2011 law grads who obtained jobs in private practice were working in firms of 50 or fewer lawyers, compared to 53 percent of 2010 grads, and 46 percent of 2009 grads. (The figures don’t include grads in solo practice.) Meanwhile, only 21 percent had jobs in firms of more than 250 lawyers, compared to 33 percent two years ago. The private-firm employment figures include both part-time and full-time jobs, permanent and temporary jobs, and those that do not require bar passage.

Other class of 2011 findings:

• More law grads are going solo. Three percent of all jobs, and 6 percent of law firm jobs, were reported as solo practice. The figures were about half that in 2007 and 2008.

• The number of employed graduates working for a legal temp agency—about 2 percent—is at its highest level since NALP began tracking this kind of job in 2006. In 2009 and 2010, the percentage was about half that.

• Nearly a quarter of employed graduates are seeking a different job. In 2008, the figure was 15.9 percent.

Last month, NALP revealed that only about 65 percent of 2011 law grads were in jobs requiring bar passage, the lowest percentage ever measured by the organization. “Obviously these statistics paint a pretty dismal picture,” Leipold said in the press release. “In many ways the class of 2011 bore the worst brunt of the impact of the recession on the entry-level legal job market, particularly in the large firm market.

via Median Starting Pay for Associates Is No Longer in the Six Figures; Figure Drops 35% in Two Years – News – ABA Journal.

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Yale Launches New Law PhD Program Aimed at Those with JD Degrees Who Want to Teach

As reported by ABA Journal News:

Amidst a competitive market for those entering legal academia and an expectation that even entry-level law professors will have significant scholarly credentials, Yale Law School has announced a new PhD degree program.

Geared toward those who have already earned a juris doctor degree from an American law school and want to work as a law professor, the new program is billed as the first of its kind in the U.S. in a law school press release Wednesday. It points out that Yale, despite a relatively small student body, educated about 10 percent of the countrys law professors, including eight of the deans at what many consider the nations top 10 law schools.

“In the past few decades, legal scholarship has matured as an academic discipline,” says Dean Robert Post in the release. “Because the level of the scholarship expected of entry-level law professors has risen quite dramatically, increasing numbers of law professors now pursue PhDs in allied disciplines like economics, history, philosophy, or political science. Because such disciplines train students in standards and questions that are different from those of the law, the natural next step for the legal academy is to create our own PhD program that can focus on the questions and practices of the law itself. Students obtaining a PhD in law may, of course, engage in interdisciplinary studies, but their work will be anchored in the framework of legal scholarship.”

The law PhD program will begin accepting applications in the fall of 2012 and start enrolling students in the fall of 2013. Students will be eligible for a tuition waiver and a living expenses stipend.

via Yale Launches New Law PhD Program Aimed at Those with JD Degrees Who Want to Teach – News – ABA Journal.

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Minnesota Supreme Court Adopts New E-Filing Rules; Mandatory E-Filing to begin in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties | Practice Blawg

The Minnesota Supreme Court adopted final e-filing rules as amendments to the Civil Rules, General Rules of Practice, and the Public Access Rules.  These new rules go into effect on September 1, 2012 and apply to all matters commenced on or after September 1.

Perhaps most significantly, the final rules mandate electronic filing of all documents by attorneys representing parties in, and government agencies appearing in, all general civil and family law cases in the Second and Fourth Judicial Districts (i.e., Ramsey and Hennepin Counties) other than Conciliation Court and Probate/Mental Health cases.  Attorneys and government agencies must also electronically serve all documents required or permitted to be served on other registered attorneys and government agencies in such cases.

While we suggest that you download the new rules by clicking on the link above, here are some additional points that may be of interest to you:

  • Filing by fax will no longer be permitted in cases where e-filing is required.
  • Documents that are to be filed electronically must be formatted as Microsoft Word documents, WordPerfect documents, PDF files, or .tif files. Without leave from the court, all images must be in black and white – no color images will be retained by the e-filing system.
  • Each electronic document must be smaller than 5MB and each filing must be smaller than 25 MB.  Larger documents or filings may be filed in several parts.
  • Attorneys representing parties and governmental agencies appearing in mandatory e-filing cases must register with the e-filing system upon filing of any document by any party.
  • New Rule 14.06 establishes a procedure for designating confidential or sealed documents that will be filed electronically.
  • In addition to the required e-filing described above, voluntary e-filing is permitted in conciliation and probate mental health courts in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties as designated by the respective courts. Voluntary e-filing in civil cases in other pilot locations  designated by the state court administrator will continue to be permitted.

via Minnesota Supreme Court Adopts New E-Filing Rules; Mandatory E-Filing to begin in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties | Practice Blawg.

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ABA Opinion Gives Guidance on Changing Legal Fee Arrangements

Lawyers aren’t expected to practice year after year without raising their fees. And circumstances, of course, can change unexpectedly. So it’s often permissible for an attorney to change legal fee arrangements during an ongoing representation, as long as the change is reasonable and consented to by the client.

However, other provisions may be required or simply recommended to make sure the change complies with the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, explained the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility in an ethics opinion (PDF) announced today in a press release.

The Model Rules are used by many states as a basis for their own attorney ethics rules.

Disclosure in the initial fee agreement that billing rates may change in the future, for example, could rarely, if ever, be a mistake, according to the opinion.

And while lawyers may also require a client to provide new or additional security for payment under an existing fee agreement, they should be aware that this is considered a business transaction with a client that requires compliance with additional ethical standards.

For more details about what is required, read the full opinion, which is known as Formal Opinion 11-458 (PDF).

via ABA Opinion Gives Guidance on Changing Legal Fee Arrangements During Representation – News – ABA Journal.

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