60 Apps in 60 Minutes – 2015 TECHSHOW

60 Apps in 60 Minutes is always a popular presentation at the ABA TECHSHOW.  This year, I used Storify to cultivate the top apps recommended for iOS devices by the esteemed Jeff Richardson, Joe Bahgat, Tom Mighell, and Adriana Linares.  If you’re an Android believer, check out Jeff Taylor’s blog The Android Lawyer for Droid Apps.

Access the 60 Apps in 60 Minutes compilation here or click on the image below:

60Appsin60

Tomorrow’s post:  a compilation of 60 Sites in 60 Minutes.

Looking for more?

Jeff Richardson will publish a full list of iOS apps on iPhone JD this week.  If you’re a Windows mobile app user, contact Ben Schorr.  Still a Blackberry believer?  Dan Pinnington can hook you up.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

Advantages of Being a Rural Attorney

beverlym:

What kind of practice suits you best? The big city offers a built in client base, but it also comes with built in competition and higher overhead costs.

You owe it to yourself to at least consider the option of a rural practice. You might be surprised that many rural attorneys enjoy better quality of life, a greater sense of community connectedness, and make more money than their city counterparts.

The 2012 Oregon State Bar Economics of Law Practice Survey revealed that one quarter of all attorneys statewide planned to retire, cut back, or leave the practice of law by 2017. For the Oregon coast region, the number was 45% – almost half.

We are midway through this five year period and the exodus is well under way. In December 2014 and January 2015, the Oregon State Bar processed a record number of voluntary resignations.

Rural areas in Oregon have traditionally been under-lawyered. This is becoming more true, especially on the coast, as the attorneys who reported they would leave the profession make good on their promise. All of this is good news if you are setting up a solo or small firm, especially if you consider putting up a shingle in rural Oregon.

Originally posted on NWSidebar:

Five reasons for becoming a rural attorney from three rural Washington attorneys.

View original 559 more words

Pro Se Adversaries – Tips for New Lawyers

Dealing with a pro se party raises a number of reasonable concerns:

  • The pro se could misconstrue what I say
  • The pro se may regard me as his or her lawyer
  • The pro se could sue me for legal malpractice

Communicate in Writing Whenever Possible

When you communicate verbally, a pro se can misremember your words, misconstrue your meaning, or even deny the discussion occurred.

When you communicate in writing your words are documented.  It becomes impossible to “misremember” or deny what you said.  Yes, written communication can still be misconstrued, but there is less likelihood of this happening.

Use a 3-Way Disclaimer

  • “I don’t represent you.”
  • “I can’t give you legal advice.”
  • “If you have questions, hire a lawyer.”

Every pro se communication should include this type of disclaimer.   If the pro se party later argues you had a lawyer-client relationship or attempts to assert a legal malpractice claim on the grounds that you failed to protect her interests, you will be in a better position to defend yourself.

Be a Broken Record

The 3-way disclaimer must be used every time you communicate with a pro se.  Does it become repetitive?  Perhaps, but that doesn’t matter.  Some pro se adversaries “get it” from the beginning; some “get it and forget it;” some never “get it.”  This doesn’t mean the pro se is purposely trying to make your life more difficult.  But it does underscore the value of redundancy.

Practice Tips Beyond Pro Se Communication

For more tips on how to work with pro se adversaries, peruse the following:

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]

Finding Lost Wills

Occasionally we field calls at the PLF from lawyers or members of the public looking for a lost will.  If you find yourself in this position, here are some excellent tips, courtesy of the Washington State Bar Association:

People frequently contact WSBA for help with finding a relative’s will, or finding the attorney who wrote it. This can be a real challenge, particularly when many years have passed since it was written.  While WSBA does not keep wills, we can provide some tips for finding them.

If you have the name of the attorney who drafted the will, contact that person first. You can get the lawyer’s contact information from our Lawyer Directory.

Tips for Finding a Will

Some or all of these tips might help. Keep in mind that you don’t want to trespass when trying to find a will. If in doubt, contact the personal representative for the estate.

  • Speak with other family members or close friends. These people often know if a will exists and where it might be.
  • Contact the deceased’s bank(s) to find out if they kept a safe deposit box. Most banks have simple procedures for gaining access to a safe deposit box in the event of a death.
  • If you have the authority, check the deceased’s files, computer, lock box and safe.
  • Check address books or email programs for attorney names. They may have prepared the will or referred the deceased to someone else. You can look up current contact information for attorneys in our Lawyer Directory.
  • If the attorney who prepared the will no longer practices or you cannot find him, call other probate attorneys in the vicinity. They may know who took over the practice, and whoever took over the practice may have the wills.
  • Contact the probate court in the counties where the deceased lived to determine whether the will was registered.
  • Contact a probate attorney for help. These attorneys have access to networks of other probate attorneys in the state, one of whom may have the will you are looking for.
  • We do not keep records on who takes over an attorney’s files when they retire, or provide legal advice of any type.

How Oregon departs from these practices

More Tips from the WSBA

On a related topic, see Do You Keep Original Wills? Best Practices Say No.  We concur!

All rights reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

Multi-tasking is a Myth

Four years ago I was inspired to write Attention Divided: Avoid Multi-Tasking.  multi

In that post, I shared the following:

My name is Beverly and I’m a recovering multi-tasker.  Like others of my ilk, I used to take pride in my juggling skills.  I believed that tackling two or three tasks simultaneously was a sign of efficiency.  Boy, was I wrong!

The truth is we just aren’t wired for multi-tasking.  Research shows that when we attempt to switch our attention back and forth we take 50% longer to finish a task and make up to 50% more errors. In the worst case scenario, multi-tasking can literally cost us our lives or at a minimum, our dignity.

I encouraged lawyers to stop the insanity and suggested 8 specific action steps to resist multi-tasking:

  • Control distractions – like the annoying pop-up: “You’ve Got Mail!” or push notifications on your smartphone or mobile device.  In fact, turn your smartphone OFF occasionally.
  • Give yourself a break from social media and the Internet.
  • Set boundaries for reading and responding to e-mail and texts.
  • Schedule a specific time each day to make and return phone calls.
  • Advise clients of your business practices – office hours, availability by phone, ability to accommodate unscheduled appointments.
  • Embrace “single tasking.”
  • Ditch the guilt.  Much of the reason we feel compelled to multi-task is because we believe it is expected of us.
  • Respect each other’s time whenever possible.  “Do You Have a Minute?” almost always translates into a much longer interruption.

In this month’s issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, I was thrilled to see Elizabeth Ruiz Frost’s article “Mental Shrinkage: The Many Costs of Multitasking.”  I couldn’t agree more with the title and the points made in Frost’s article.  If you haven’t read this month’s issue of the Bulletin, I urge you to do so.  Take a few minutes to read Frost’s article and ask yourself: is this me?  Do I see myself in these scenarios?  If the answer is yes, consider implementing the 8 point plan above.

All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis

Family Leave for Solos and Small Firm Lawyers

How do solos and small firm lawyers plan for extended leave when a new member is about to join the family?  It can be hard enough to take a vacation!

Fortunately, there are some answers and good resources to draw upon.  (Jump to the end of this post.)  For now, let’s cover the basics.

Colleagues, Conflicts, and Staffing

The best coverage plan entails having a number of colleagues lined up who are willing to cover your cases.  Remember what your parents said?  Safety in numbers!  If one person can’t cover in an emergency, someone else can.  A team approach works best.

By necessity, any lawyers who might work on client matters must be screened for conflicts.  Clients need to be notified anyway about your upcoming leave.  Use this opportunity to get permission to share information for conflict and representation purposes.  (More on this below.)

If you have staff, great!  They are a huge help any time you are away from the office, more so during extended absences.  They will be a lifeline for everyday communication, including screening mail, email, and calls.  If you don’t have staff, consider getting a temp.  Having someone who can cover day-to-day operations brings peace of mind and ensures that nothing falls through the cracks.

How Do I Tell My Clients?

One option is to send a letter or email.  No surprise there.  But is it the best approach?

Most lawyers anticipating family leave have a number of colleagues in mind to assist in covering their cases.  This alone can make writing a letter or email complicated and confusing:  “I’m going to be out of the office, but you can choose from Lawyer A, Lawyer B, or Lawyer C.”  Huh?

Consider picking up the phone instead.  Call clients and tell them you are taking a medical leave and why.  (Of course, you can omit the “why” part – it is personal and technically no one’s business, but most lawyers taking family leave don’t mind sharing this news.)

Have a conversation with the client about what is happening.  Explain your plan, offer a name of a monitoring lawyer (or team of monitoring lawyers), then get consent to screen for potential conflicts and review the client’s case with the monitoring lawyer(s).  If everything is a “go,” make sure the client understands and agrees to temporary representation by the monitoring lawyer(s).  Don’t forget to discuss how the billing and payment piece will work.

If the client does not agree with your proposed arrangement, you may have to disengage and withdraw from the case.  The client will need to find a new lawyer of their choosing.

Confirming Arrangements in Writing

Assuming you call clients to review your plan, sending a confirming email becomes relatively easy:

“As we discussed, I will be out of the office on a medical leave of absence for ___________ (months/weeks).  During my leave, I propose that _______________ monitor your file.  You agree that I may share information with _____________ so (he/she) may screen for potential conflicts of interest. If no conflicts exist, you agree that I may disclose details of your case to ______________________ for purposes of monitoring your file and attending to any legal work that needs to be accomplished while I am out of the office.  If we discover a conflict that prohibits ___________________ from assisting you, I will contact you immediately.

You will receive a separate written confirmation from ___________________ (the monitoring lawyer) confirming the arrangements we have made.

(Describe next how the client will be billed.)

My assistant, _______________, will be available by phone and email should you have any questions while I am out of the office.  (Provide your assistant’s contact information.)

Rest assured I will stay informed regarding the status of your case.  I anticipate returning to the office on ___________.  If for any reason my return is delayed, I will inform you immediately.

(Optional:  Please reply to this email confirming your understanding and agreement to this arrangement.)

Fee Agreements and Paying the Monitoring Lawyer

If your existing fee agreement has a provision informing the client that you have made arrangements for someone to cover your practice in the event of illness or disability you have laid the necessary foundation for using a monitoring lawyer.  The PLF offers a number of fee agreements and engagement letters that incorporate “assisting attorney” language.  For samples, visit the PLF website.  Select Practice Management > Forms, then Engagement Letters.

If your existing fee agreement has a contract lawyering provision – meaning the client has consented to use of a contract lawyer at a specified rate – it is easy to have the monitoring lawyer step into the contract role.  You may bill the client for contract lawyering services according to your existing fee agreement.

Alternatively, clients can sign separate fee agreements with the monitoring lawyer.

More Answers and Good Resources

There are many excellent articles and resources for lawyers planning family leave:

[All Rights Reserved – 2015 – Beverly Michaelis]

Do You Keep Original Wills? Best Practices Say No

beverlym:

A good reminder about why keeping original wills is not such a great idea. For more information, see the PLF File Retention Guidelines at http://www.osbplf.org > Practice Management > Forms > File Retention Guidelines and read our In Brief article “Why Did We EVER Want to Keep Original Wills?”

Originally posted on NWSidebar:

Advice from WSBA’s Office of General Counsel regarding what to do with original will documents.

If you have ever wondered what to do with original wills, the following advice from the WSBA Office of General Counsel may help you decide.

View original 449 more words