Retrieving Attorney Court Calendars and Case Information Online

Attorneys and staff can easily retrieve Oregon circuit court calendars and case information online by following these easy steps.

Using OJCIN to Retrieve Your eCourt Calendar

  1. Navigate to OJCIN Online.
  2. Under “Select a Destination,” choose Oregon eCourt Case Information (OECI). Click “Sign In.”
  3. Enter your OJIN/OJCIN user ID and password.  (A paid account is required).
  4. Leave the location set to “All Locations” to generate the most comprehensive search results.
  5. Choose “Search Court Calendar.”
  6. Under “Search by” at the top of the page, click the down arrow and choose “Attorney.”
  7. Under Attorney Information, enter your last name and first name. Alternatively, change the button selection to “Bar Number” and enter your bar number.
  8. Under Date Range leave “On or After” set to today’s date.  Change “On or Before” to a new date 90 days or less in the future.  For example, search “On or After” 5/26/2015 and “On or Before” 8/23/2015.  Calendar activity can only be retrieved 90 days out from the “On or After” date.
  9. Jump directly to any case included in the search results by clicking on the hyperlink for that case.

Using OJCIN to Retrieve eCourt Case Information

For a list of all your cases, choose “Search Civil, Family and Probate Case Records” or “Search Criminal, Traffic and Parking Cases” at steps 4/5 above.

  • Remember to change “Search by” to “Attorney.”
  • Under “Case Status” decide if you want “All” cases, “Open,” or “Closed.”
  • The “Date Filed” field can be left blank unless you prefer to retrieve only those cases filed within a specific date range.
  • Search results can be sorted a number of ways.  “Filed Date” is the default. To change the default, click on the down arrow under “Sort by.”

Using the OJD Public Access Site to Retrieve eCourt and non eCourt Calendar Events

Calendar information can be retrieved from the public Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) website without logging in to OJCIN or OJIN.  The interface varies, depending on whether you are retrieving calendar events from an eCourt or non eCourt jurisdiction.

Retrieve Calendar Events from OECI (eCourt Jurisdictions)

  1. Navigate to the public access calendars.
  2. Under “Select a Destination,” choose Oregon eCourt Case Information (OECI). Click Go.
  3. Follow steps 4-8 above for using OJCIN to retrieve your court calendar.
  4. Events for the next 90 days will be displayed.  Since you aren’t logged into to OJCIN, you won’t be able to jump to the hyperlinked cases.

Retrieve Calendar Events from OJIN (non eCourt jurisdictions)

  1. Navigate to the public access calendars.
  2. Under “Select a Destination,” choose OJIN Circuit Court Calendars. Click Go.
  3. Leave “court” set to “All Courts” for the most comprehensive results.
  4. In the “Attorney:” field enter your last name in this format: Last First Middle with no commas.  Click Go.
  5. Events for the next 90 days will be displayed.  Since OJIN courts are not part of the Oregon eCourt Case Information system, no hyperlinked case information is available.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

The ‘2xFISTed’ Bill

beverlym:

Great advice from our friends at NW Sidebar on using 2xFISTed billing – a handy acronym to help you remember the optimum approach for preparing and presenting client bills.

Originally posted on NWSidebar:

The “2xFISTed” acronym is a great way to turn billing into a marketing opportunity. It increases the likelihood that bills get paid promptly and speaks to the value you offer your client.

View original 1,025 more words

Are You Losing Clients?

If your client retention rate is less than 90-95%, something is terribly wrong.

You might react by changing your fee agreement – aiming to “punish” the client who terminates your services after a substantial amount of work is done but prior to a recovery.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the underlying problem.  If you fail to keep one in ten (or more than one in ten clients), it is time for some serious soul searching.

Hybrid Fee Agreements Don’t Solve Client Retention Problems

Don’t get me wrong, hybrid fee agreements have their place.  They are very effective in helping lawyers achieve cash flow during long months of toiling away on a contingent fee case.  They are also a creative way to address client push-back against the traditional hourly fee approach.

They are not effective in curing client retention woes.

What Does it Take to Keep Clients?

Improving client retention isn’t rocket science.  In fact, you can do it by following a simple acronym:  TREAT.

T – be Timely

R – Respond to client requests and concerns

E – show Empathy

A – demonstrate Assurance that client matters are being handled competently

T – deliver on the Tangibles.  Don’t send emails, invoices, or correspondence riddled with errors.

Read more about TREATing clients well here.

To simplify: show the same care and concern to your clients that you wish someone would show to you if you were in their shoes.

Remember that Poor Client Retention Can Lead to Bar Complaints and Malpractice Claims

If you need further motivation to kick your client retention up a notch, understand that how you treat clients is connected to everything in your law practice:

  • Client satisfaction and retention
  • Getting paid on time
  • Minimizing fee disputes
  • Future referrals
  • Avoiding bar complaints and legal malpractice claims

Go beyond TREATing clients well.  Do a thorough client relations check-up. This includes understanding the scope of the attorney-client relationship (when you can act and when you need the client’s informed consent) as well as managing client expectations.

Losing Clients on a Regular Basis Just Shouldn’t Happen

I am not currently in private practice, but in regard to client retention, nothing has really changed.

Back in the day, exactly one client terminated our firm.  This particular client read about a case in the news that she judged to be the same as hers.  She then fired us to free herself up to hire the lawyer who handled the case she read about.

In truth, we dodged a bullet when the client made this decision.  She would never have accepted (from us) that her case didn’t have the same value as the one she read about.

I can also share that in all the years I worked for a private law firm, we were on the other side of a client termination exactly once.

My point here is that my firm – and all firms we knew – simply didn’t lose clients.  And this is still true today for the majority of lawyers.  How do I know?

A large part of my job entails helping lawyers or families of lawyers close law practices.   I have been exposed to lawyers who were at the top of their game and lawyers who were not.  I also have a substantial amount of ongoing client contact due to these closures.

The truth is the lawyers need to do a lot wrong, and generally for some period of time, before clients jump ship.  Therefore, you don’t have to follow my client relations tips or suggestions for TREATing clients well 100% of the time.  No one is perfect.  But you should keep clients uppermost in your mind just about every waking moment that you are at work.

We All Know What to Do – Why Can’t We Do It?

None of this is really new.  So why is it so hard?  The number one reason: you are trying to juggle too many cases without the proper resources.  You are practicing beyond your expertise and not weeding out cases and clients; you are practicing within your scope, but your caseload is too high; you are unwilling to invest in staff, technology, or other solutions.

Making money isn’t easy.  As a result, many lawyers skimp.  They try to get by without hiring someone despite the fact they have more work than they can handle.  This trap is referred to as “penny wise and pound foolish.”  Next week I’ll write about how you can make money by spending money and hiring staff.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

 

Ever Consider Using Live Chat on your Law Firm Website?

beverlym:

An interesting idea. Before you jump in, consider the following:

Chat tends to be more in depth than speaking to potential clients by phone. For best practice purposes, assume you are forming an attorney-client relationship.

Consider writing disclaimers you can copy and paste into chat at the end of your conversation. Make your nonengagement clear if ending the chat concludes your legal services. This is critical if the client contacts you about a matter that typically has a deadline associated with it, whether the client mentions it or not. Also be careful if the chat results in scheduling an appointment. Get the client’s contact information so you can confirm your meeting by email and provide your street address, directions, and phone number. Yes, the client can get these details from your website, but it is more convenient to include them with the appointment confirmation. If the client doesn’t keep the appointment, send a nonengagement email.

Besides running a conflict check before chat begins, remember to add the potential client to your conflict system so you have a record of the contact.

Protect client confidentiality and consider saving the chat record. Since chat software allows you to print the conversation, one choice is to print to PDF and save the PDF as you would in-person consultation notes and intake forms.

Lastly, some practical pointers:

As this post intimates, chat has the potential of being a time suck. Plan accordingly.

First, know your analytics: peak times when new clients are most likely to call, email, or send a contact form through your website. If possible, chat (meaning you) should be available during prime time.

Whatever your chat hours are, make them clear or potential clients will quickly get frustrated.

If you are only willing to chat for a set amount of time, disclose this limitation up front. Each lawyer will have a different sensibility about length of time. I may be channeling my inner “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” but 5 minutes seems too short, 10 could be okay, somehow 15 minutes feels just right.

Keep your eye on the goal. While you might build good karma helping someone by chat who will tell his buddies how wonderful you are, the idea is to convert a potential client into an actual client. Remember to use this tool as you would a phone consult: to qualify or eliminate someone from being a client as quickly and economically as possible.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. As my husband is fond of saying, first you don’t know, then you know. If chat hours or chat limitations change, just update your website.

Good luck!

Originally posted on NWSidebar:

Some bold lawyers have introduced “live chat” functions on their websites to get leads, but is this a good idea?

View original 587 more words

Time for a Law Office Getaway

Summer is almost upon us!  And regular readers know this is the time of year when I “nag” you about the importance of building vacation plans into your work schedule.

Work without rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation leads to burnout.  So banish the excuses!  This will take a bit of effort and planning, but your body and mind will thank you.

I Can’t Afford It

“If I’m not at the office, I can’t bill.  If I can’t bill, I won’t get paid.”  True enough, but there is a solution:  budget for your vacation.  A bit of research and number crunching is in order here.  First, calculate your vacation expenses. This should be relatively easy.  Next, quantify the lost revenue you need to replace during your time out of the office.  Now that you know how much you need, begin setting aside funds every week to meet your financial goal.  If necessary, find little ways to cut back that can really add up: like bringing your lunch to work, deferring your daily Starbucks fix, using public transportation, or telecommuting.  Saving weekly will keep you on track and help manage expectations. If you’re just getting started, then your plans this year may be more modest.  Next year, you can begin saving for your summer vacation in January.

I’m Too Busy

Work will never go away, but I guarantee that if you look ahead in your calendar you will find a block of time with no commitments.  Even if you haven’t made plans yet, block the time out now before your calendar fills up.  If you have a habit of backsliding, enlist your family as enforcers.  This time should be sacred.  If you need an extra incentive, consider non-refundable travel reservations.

Preparation is Key

If you’re a member of a firm, going on vacation is a matter of meeting with other lawyers who will be covering cases during your absence.  If you are a sole practitioner, use the buddy system.  Find a colleague who is experienced in your practice area and willing to cover for you.  This arrangement is usually reciprocal and is helpful if you have an unexpected absence from the office due to injury or a medical condition.

Get a game plan in place:

  • Notify clients, opposing counsel, judges, or other appropriate parties that you will be out of the office;
  • Prep your files.  They should be well-organized and current, with status memos so your buddy can easily step in if needed;
  • Create a “Countdown Schedule.”  Identify what needs to be done when and whether certain tasks can wait until your return;
  • Allow for wind down.  As your vacation approaches, leave time in your schedule to finish up last minute work.  Reduce or refer out new matters;
  • Train staff.  Do they have a clear understanding of office procedures?  How will they screen client calls during your absence?  Give them parameters for contacting you or your buddy in the event of an emergency.
  • Resist constantly checking voice mail, e-mail, or text messages.  Technology is a God-send, but part of rejuvenation is taking a break from our instant Internet society. Checking in is okay, but stick to a schedule to avoid obsessing over what is going on back at the office.  Remember – you have an emergency plan in place.  If something happens, staff or your buddy will get a hold of you.
  • Avoid post-vacation overload.  Just as you blocked out dates to go on vacation, allow yourself time to get back up-to-speed.  Otherwise, you’re right back where you started.

Give yourself and your family a well-deserved break.  With a bit of organization, you can budget for (and enjoy) your time off.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

Avoiding Malpractice When Filing and Serving a Complaint

There are many potential pitfalls when it comes to filing and serving complaints.  Learn from the best by reading the top tweets cultivated on Storify from our
June 3 CLE, Avoiding Malpractice When Filing and Serving a Complaint.  Click on the image below or follow this link.

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All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

Employment Practices for Lawyers – Avoiding Trouble at Termination

Last week I shared the top tweets for hiring staff from our May 28, 2015 seminar, Employment Practices for Lawyers. This week we turn to avoiding trouble at termination.  Here are just a few of the tips our speaker shared.  All the tweets from the CLE can be viewed on Storify.

disability

absenteeismflsa

Read all the tweets here. Oregon lawyers may order the CLE free of charge on the PLF website, http://www.osbplf.org.  Select CLE > Past, then Employment Practices for Lawyers: Hiring with Confidence and Avoiding Trouble at Termination.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

Employment Practices for Lawyers – Hiring with Confidence

Hiring staff can be an intimidating process – whether you are a new or seasoned employer.  Avoid the pitfalls by reading the top tweets cultivated on Storify from our
May 28, 2015 CLE, Employment Practices for Lawyers: Hiring with Confidence and Avoiding Trouble at Termination.  Here are few representative tweets from the presentation:

2015-05-28_20-07-022015-05-28_20-07-112015-05-28_20-07-35

Read all the tweets here.  Oregon lawyers may order the CLE free of charge on the PLF website, http://www.osbplf.org.  Select CLE > Past, then Employment Practices for Lawyers: Hiring with Confidence and Avoiding Trouble at Termination.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

New Notary Guide Available

This just in from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office:

We are pleased to announce the 2015 Notary Public Guide is now available from the Secretary of State’s website.

This free publication has been updated with new material, including information about advertising as a notary, preventing financial exploitation of the elderly, and notario publico fraud. The publication may be viewed online, downloaded, or printed from your printer, and has links to many other resources, as well. It includes a Good Practices review page and sample certificate blanks you can copy or download and printout.

While you’re on our website, don’t forget to check out our Training page.  The ONE online tutorial has been revamped to be even more user-friendly, and live presentations are scheduled throughout 2015. Anyone can take the training and, in fact, most notaries find the refresher very helpful. Look for a seminar near you!

Your Engagement Letter is Not a “One Size Fits All” Bucket

What a Good Engagement Letter Can Do

Engagement letters are an essential tool in the lawyer’s toolkit.  Done correctly, they set the stage for the lawyer-client relationship, provide clarity, and minimize misunderstandings.

The best engagement letters follow a predictable formula:

  • A specific description of the legal problems the lawyer will handle
  • A specific description of the legal problems the lawyer will not handle
  • Steps the lawyer has taken already on the prospective client’s behalf
  • Steps the lawyer will take, once engaged
  • Steps the clients must take for engagement to commence
  • Future or ongoing client responsibilities

Combine Your Fee Agreement and Engagement Letter for Maximum Effect

Ideally, the terms of engagement are wrapped into the lawyer’s fee agreement.  This simplifies the process – the client need only review a single document to know what the lawyer will do, how much it will cost, and what the client’s responsibilities are.

Create Templates for Efficiency

Practitioners can streamline the engagement process fairly easily. While some terms will vary, most of these letters contain enough boilerplate for a lawyer to benefit from creating forms or templates.  [Rewriting an engagement letter/fee agreement for each client is a real time-waster.]

Don’t Fall Into the “One Size Fits All” Bucket

Some lawyers attempt to use their engagement letter as a one size fits all bucket.  For inspiration, they look to every case where a transaction or engagement went awry and proceed to add disclaimers to ward off future problems.  For example, lawyers who handle matters where property valuation is an issue may add language to the initial engagement letter forewarning the client of the need to obtain an appraisal.

How Could this be a Bad Thing?

  • Multiple disclaimers make for longer, more complicated engagement letters and fee agreements.
  • The longer and more complicated your letters are, the more likely the client will miss the key points:  what you are going to do (or not do) and what it will cost.
  • In the end, it could all be for naught if the goal is to avoid a potential legal malpractice claim….

Which Approach is More Effective?

Lawyer 1 incorporates a disclaimer into his engagement letter forewarning the client: if property value becomes an issue in this case it will be client’s responsibility to obtain an appraisal.  Without an appraisal, client assumes the risk of under (or over) valuing said property.  Lawyer 1 proceeds with representation, relying on the disclaimer in his initial engagement letter.

Lawyer 2 limits her engagement letter to the usual points discussed at the beginning of this post.  When the value of property becomes an issue in the case, lawyer informs the client of client’s responsibility to obtain an appraisal and the risks of failing to do so.

Keep it Contemporaneous

This is a no-brainer.  Disclaimers given at the beginning of representation don’t have the same value as disclaimers given contemporaneously.  Clients need context to make sense of your warning.  At the beginning of the case, there is no context.  Even if the client nods and understands, the disclaimer in your engagement letter will be long forgotten by the time the property issue arises.

Parting Thoughts

A well-written engagement letter and fee agreement is all about balance.  Include sufficient information about the scope of your work, division of responsibilities, and what your services will cost, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to disclaim or forewarn of everything that could ever go wrong.  If helpful, consider developing a client handout that addresses common issues or questions that arise.  Give specific disclaimers and warnings contemporaneously when the client can put the information into context.

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]