I Say Of Counsel You Say…

Of Counsel relationships remain a strong area of interest for lawyers who are drawn to the idea of creating a professional affiliation. In that quest, there are many misunderstandings about what an of counsel relationship is:

 

To better understand of counsel relationships, start here.  Also see this excellent post from Solo Practice University.

If you decide to pursue an of counsel relationship, enter into a written agreement to avoid misunderstandings.  See the American Bar Association publication, The Of Counsel Agreement, 4th EditionIf you are an Oregon lawyer, save money at checkout by using our ABA Books for Bars discount code, OSBPLF.

Of counsel arrangements may also implicate your professional liability coverage.  If you are an Oregon practitioner, please contact our coverage experts at 503.639.6911 or 800.452.1639 – particularly if you carry excess professional coverage liability with the PLF.

If you are forming an of counsel relationship and have any uncertainty whatsoever about how to craft a proper agreement, consult with outside counsel. Lastly, Don’t confuse being of counsel with being an independent contractor. See Mission Impossible? Working as an Independent Contractor in Oregon and this post.  [Pertaining to contract lawyers, but providing a good review of the issues surrounding independent contractor status.]

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

Editing TOA codes in Word

beverlym:

Want to know how to make Word sing? Follow CompuSavvy! Here’s a great post on creating a table of contents and a table of authorities.

Originally posted on CompuSavvy's Word & WordPerfect Tips:

Recently, I was teaching a class about creating and generating a Table of Contents (TOC) and a Table of Authorities (TOA) in Word at the Department of Justice, where I work part-time as a contract trainer / template designer.  One of the legal assistants in the class asked me what to do if she made a mistake while marking a citation — such as a court case — for inclusion in the TOA.  She said someone had told her she had to delete the resulting TOA code and start over.

Not so.  It’s quick and easy to edit the codes themselves.  I’ve been demonstrating that trick since the 1990s, when I taught computer classes for legal professionals at UCLA Extension and the University of West Los Angeles.

Here’s how it works.  After you mark a citation, Word automatically turns on Show / Hide (Show / Hide is the feature that displays non-printing…

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Oregon eCourt: eFiling UTCRs Amended

On September 29, 2014, the following Uniform Trial Court Rules (UTCRs) were amended out-of-cycle pursuant to Chief Justice Order 14-049: UTCR 21.040, 21.050, 21.070, 21.080, 21.090, 21.100, and 21.120.  The changes are summarized below:

UTCR 21.040(2)

Simplifying the rules for filing documents:

“When a document to be electronically filed includes one or more attachments, including but not limited to a documentary exhibit, an affidavit, or a declaration, the electronic filing must be submitted as a unified single PDF file, rather than as a separate electronically filed documents, to the extent practicable. An electronic filing submitted under this section that exceeds 25 megabytes must comply with subsection (1) of this rule.” Also see UTCR 21.040(2)(c).

[Former UTCR 21.040(2) described a complex filing scheme with different rules for specific types of documents: motions to strike, motions for leave to amend, attachments to a petition for post-conviction relief, attachments to a Uniform Support Declaration.  Under revised UTCR 21.040(2) all filings are unified by default.  Over-size files must still be split.  Stand-alone affidavits or declarations are filed separately.  Otherwise, if they are attachments to another document, the entire document – along with its attachments – is filed as one unified PDF.]

UTCR 21.040(2)(a) and UTCR 21.040(3)

Adding new requirements regarding submission of electronic filings requiring court signature:

  • Orders, judgments, or other documents requiring court signature must be submitted separately from motions.
  • Filers must include appropriate information in the filing comments field for each submission. For example: “Motion for Summary Judgment” and “Proposed Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment.”
  • Any electronically submitted document that requires a court signature must include a blank space “of not less than 1.5 inches and a blank line following the last line of text” to permit the court to affix a signature and signature date.

UTCR 21.040(2)(b)

Adding new requirements regarding submission of electronic filings that include confidential attachments:

  • If an electronic filing is not confidential but includes an attachment that is confidential (or exempt from disclosure), submit the attachment separately.
  • Filers submitting a confidential attachment must select the “confidential check box” after attaching the confidential document.
  • Filers must include appropriate information in the filing comments field for each submission. For example: “Motion for Stay” and “Confidential Attachment to Motion for Stay.”

UTCR 21.040(2)(c)

Clarifying requirements for filing affidavits and declarations:

  • Documents that include affidavits and declarations as attachments must be submitted as a unified single PDF under UTCR 21.040(2).
  • Affidavits and Declarations that are stand-alone documents (not an attachment to another document) are filed separately.

UTCR 21.070(3)(d)

Clarifying that motions for remedial contempt must be conventionally filed because they are created as new “criminal-base-type” cases in the eFiling system.

UTCR 21.070(3)(g) [Removed]

Permitting eFiling of amended pleadings that require payment of an additional filing fee.  Former UTCR 21.070(3)(g) required conventional filing of such documents. Also see UTCR 21.050(1) above.

UTCR 21.070(3)(l)

Adds petitions or motions for waiver of the mandatory eFiling requirement to the list of  documents that must be filed conventionally.

UTCR 21.070(3)(m)

Adds stipulated or ex parte matters listed in SLR 2.501 to the list of documents that must be filed conventionally. See Adoption of Oregon eCourt SLR Chapter 24 below.

UTCR 21.080(6)

Adds a new provision permitting relation-back of filings due to system unavailability, errors in transmission, or other technical problems that prevent the eFiling system from receiving a document.

UTCR 21.090 and 21.100

Housekeeping changes only, updating references to “subsections and “sections” for consistency throughout UTCR Chapter 21.

UTCR 21.120

Reducing the retention period of documents that contain the original signature of a person other than the filer from 10 years to 30 days.

Adoption of Oregon eCourt SLR Chapter 24

As part of going live with Oregon eCourt, a judicial district adopts uniform “Oregon eCourt” SLR Chapter 24. As a companion to new UTCR 21.070(3)(m), each court’s SLR Chapter 24 – 24.501 – will be updated to permit courts to adopt an SLR (2.501) that lists certain stipulated/ex parte matters that must be presented conventionally in that court, instead of eFiled. The SLR update will be part of the SLR chapter for Josephine, Marion, and Douglas Counties when they roll out Oregon eCourt in December 2014, and otherwise in the existing eCourt counties as they do the annual adoption of their SLRs. It provides as follows:

24.501 STIPULATED OR EX PARTE MATTERS MAY BE ELECTRONICALLY FILED

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this rule, any stipulated or ex parte matter may be electronically filed for purposes of submitting to a judge for signature.

(2) SLR 2.501 is reserved for judicial districts to adopt a local rule regarding specific stipulated or ex parte matters for which the documents must be presented conventionally and may not be electronically filed.

[All Rights Reserved 2014 Beverly Michaelis]

 

 

 

Opening or Converting Old Forms – Tips for Mac Users

As Mac users know, not all legal forms are Mac-friendly (especially older forms).  For untitledexample, what if a colleague sends you a document created in Microsoft Word 97/Windows?

If you have Pages, you should be able to open a Word 97 document without a file converter. Try these steps.

If you have Microsoft Office for Mac, you can search the Download Center for a file converter, but the only one I could spot was the Microsoft Word 97, 98, and 2000 Converter for the Macintosh.  Office for Mac 2011 users report there is no converter for newer versions of office and old files created on the Windows platform do not open.  If you’re an Office user, what should you do?

  • Open the old form in Pages first, then resave it.
  • Try the Insert > File or Insert > Object > Text from File… command.  Launch Word, select Insert > File or Insert > Object > Text from File… browse and find the old form, click Insert.  Inserting a text file into a blank document in Word strips out formatting.  It often works better than using File > Open to access a document created in a non-compatible word processing program.
  • Ask the colleague who provided the form if he or she can resave it for you.  Options include: a newer version of Word for Windows, Word for the Mac, Rich text format (.rtf file), or PDF.  If a PDF is created electronically or scanned then OCRd, you should be able to copy and paste text from the body of the PDF into Word 2011 for the Mac or Pages.  You can also save a PDF as a Word document in Acrobat.
  • Try an online file converter, such as ZamzarOnline-ConvertCloud Convert, or Convert Files.

Final Words of Wisdom

Old forms may be “old” and not converted to a newer platform or software version for a reason – they are old and shouldn’t be used.  Before going to all this effort, be certain this is a form worth converting, meaning it is valid and still legally viable.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

 

The Evolution of Online Marketing for Lawyers: Don’t Get Left Behind

beverlym:

Marketing online means beefing up your LinkedIn
profile, getting the right headshots, developing a logo and more – read all about it in yet another excellent post from NW Sidebar.

Originally posted on NWSidebar:

Now is the time to ask how you can get started implementing online marketing tools to help grow your business!

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Cyber Security and Data Breach Response

lock“Cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”  Barack Obama, President of the United States

The Identity Theft Resource Center has documented over 500 data breaches in 2014 through early September.  This represents a 26.2% increase over the same time period last year. The news isn’t any better for the legal profession.

The latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report notes that “Nearly half of law firms were infected with viruses, spyware or malware last year.”  Fourteen percent of law firms “experienced a security breach last year in the form of a lost or stolen computer or smartphone, a hacker, a break-in or a website exploit.”

Where to Start

With such staggering numbers, it is easy to become overwhelmed.  If you are concerned about cyber security but don’t know where to start, begin here at the ABA Web site. If you are a prolific user of mobile devices, be sure to check out the ABA’s suggestions for Security on the Go.  To understand the state of security in US law firms, read this post by Bob Ambrogi.

Make Encryption Your Best Friend

Encryption is a powerful way to protect sensitive data belonging to you and your clients. The ABA post Playing it Safe provides a good overview.  Since TrueCyrpt is no longer available, check out the following reviews of encryption software: LIfehacker, GFI, PC World, and Gizmo.

You’ve Heard it Before: Use Strong Passwords

It seems we are reminding lawyers every other day about the importance of using strong passwords unique to each account or Web site.  See these recent posts on the ABA Law Technology Today blog:

Firewalls, Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus, Malware Protection

The best protection is comprehensive.  This excerpt from The 2014 Solo and Small Firm Technology Guide provides guidance.  Don’t be afraid to hire an IT expert to help.

Purchase Cyber Liability and Data Breach Coverage

The Professional Liability Fund (PLF) Excess Claims Made Plan automatically includes a cyber liability and data breach response endorsement with these features:

  • Forensic and legal assistance to determine compliance with applicable law
  • Notifications to individuals as required by law
  • 12 months credit monitoring to each notified client
  • Loss mitigation resources for law firms

If you aren’t eligible or don’t wish to purchase excess coverage through the PLF, contact a commercial carrier.

Protect Yourself Against Scams

The security measures outlined above are a good start toward protecting your firm and your clients from scams.  For more complete protection, get educated.  Order the free PLF CLE: “Protecting Your Firm and Your Client from Scams, Fraud, and Financial Loss,” and talk to your bank about fraud protection services.

[All Rights Reserved – 2014 – Beverly Michaelis]

 

 

The State of Law Firm Security

Viruses are More Common at Law Firms than Encryption, ABA Survey Shows

Firms-with-virus

“Nearly half of law firms were infected with viruses, spyware or malware last year, according to the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. At the same time, only a quarter of law firms had any kind of email encryption available for their lawyers to use, the survey found.

Also, 14% of law firms experienced a security breach last year in the form of a lost or stolen computer or smartphone, a hacker, a break-in or a website exploit.”

Bob Ambrogi

Read the full post here.

Leaving Your Firm

Parting isn’t always such sweet sorrow.  In fact, it can be downright contentious.

If you are contemplating leaving your firm, do your research. Meeting your ethical obligations fulfills only part of your responsibilities.

IF YOU ARE A PARTNER

Conduct your partnership withdrawal in a manner that honors the contractual and fiduciary responsibilities owed to your fellow partners.  Contractual duties are controlled by your written partnership agreement.  Fiduciary duties are described in case law and codified by statute in Oregon’s Revised Partnership Act.

IF YOU ARE NOT A PARTNER

Review your employment contract, employment letter, office policies, office procedures, or any other applicable terms that may control the process for terminating your relationship with your current firm or your obligations upon departure.

ARE ISSUES LIKELY TO ARISE?

Consult outside counsel experienced in the areas of lawyer mobility, partnerships, fiduciary duties, lawyer separation, and law firm dissolution.

PUT CLIENTS ABOVE ALL ELSE

If you are making a lateral move to another firm or setting up your own practice, remember that the client’s freedom of choice in selection of counsel is paramount.  Always put the interests of your clients first.  Keep the transition as amicable, professional, and stress-free as possible.  Contentious withdrawals alienate clients and damage relationships.

GIVE NOTICE TO YOUR FIRM BEFORE YOU CONTACT CLIENTS

Inform the firm of your decision to leave before contacting any clients.  Failing to give adequate and timely notice to your firm or partners before you contact clients is a violation of the duty of loyalty owed by a lawyer to his or her firm based on their contractual or agency relationship.  It may also constitute conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in violation of Oregon RPC 8.4(a)(3).

RESOURCES

The Professional Liability Fund has extensive resources for Oregon lawyers who are departing a firm, withdrawing from a partnership, or dissolving a firm.  Visit our Web site for more information.

All rights reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis.