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.

 

 

More Business Plan Magic: Part Two

beverlym:

“To grow and thrive, you should be continually addressing and solving the problems you encounter with a plan of action.” More great advice from NWSideBar in Part II of “More Business Plan Magic.”

Originally posted on NWSidebar:

Form a plan of action to continually address new challenges so your practice can grow and thrive!

View original 734 more words

eCourt Mandatory in Oregon Effective December 1

The following announcement was posted yesterday on the Oregon Judicial Department Web site:

Chief Justice Thomas A. Balmer, Oregon Supreme Court, has approved a plan for the move to a mandatory eFiling requirement for attorneys filing cases in Oregon’s circuit and appellate courts. The Oregon Judicial department will circulate proposed court rules in the upcoming months for comment. The plan calls for a mandatory date of December 1, 2014 for the eleven circuit courts that currently have the Oregon eCourt system, including the eFiling component (File and Serve), and includes a transition plan for those courts that implement later. [Emphasis supplied.]

Prior to the implementation of mandatory eCourt, OJD will publish the final version of the mandatory UTCR eFiling rules. The current UTCRs are available here, but expect changes in October.

If you are not already familiar with the eFile and Serve system, get training.  Yesterday’s OJD announcement included the following:

Webinars and other eFiling trainings are available for Bar members. The trainings are designed for people with varied levels of experience with Oregon’s eFiling system. CLE credit has been approved for some of the sessions, and additional trainings will be added as needed.

The attached Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document has additional information, including a link to training dates and registration information. Additional information about eFiling and mandatory eFiling is on the OJD Web site.

You should also review the resources available from the Professional Liability Fund, including our collection of eCourt practice aids and our June 15 CLE: Survival Tips for Practicing in eCourt and Organizing Your E-Mail.  You may also search this blog for 10 posts on eCourt that served as inspiration for the PLF practice aids.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

Taming AutoCorrect in Microsoft Office

14526236790_b44b8d57ba_zIs AutoCorrect in Microsoft Office driving you batty?  Don’t despair.  Like most features in Office, the settings are completely within your control.

By choosing File > Options in Microsoft Office, you can:

Changes made to AutoCorrect in any Office program are global.  For example, if you delete the AutoCorrect entry in Outlook which converts tm to the superscript ™ trademark symbol, this change will apply in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  acNOTE:  This does not mean the trademark symbol is forever lost, only that Office will stop autocorrecting tm when typed with parentheses.  You can still insert the superscript version at will by choosing Insert > Symbol.

To add, delete, modify, or rename AutoCorrect entries in Office 2010 or 2013, follow these steps.  In Office 2007, launch Word, select the Office Button > Word Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options:

ac optionsAs noted above, changes made to AutoCorrect options in Word will apply throughout Office.  It isn’t necessary to open each program individually to modify AutoCorrect entries.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

Getting the Most Out of MS Office for iPad

So you’ve download Office for iPad, now what?  Learn how to get the most out of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by watching the tutorials available from InvestinTech.  If you are new to Office for iPad, start with the General Tips.  Some of the more popular InvestinTech topics are:

Each tutorial includes screen shots and easy-to-follow instructions.

InvestinTech is primarily known as PDF solution provider.  While on the site, check out their line of PDF products.  If you’re not in the market to buy, InvestinTech also offers some nifty FREE tools:

  • Slim PDF Reader
  • Docx to Doc Online
  • PDF to HTML Online
  • HTML CSS Templates
  • PowerPoint Templates
  • Able2Extract Mobile Apps – Allows you to convert PDFs into editable Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and create PDFs on your mobile device.

Share your favorite Office for iPad tips by commenting below.  Enjoy!

Beverly Michaelis [2014] All Rights Reserved.

Thinking about Partnership?

A potential partnership between lawyers sparks many issues – capitalization; entity formation; allocation of profits, losses, income, and expenses; restrictions on partnership authority; division of management duties; decision-making; withdrawal; and more.

But the most important consideration is often ignored: basic compatibility.

Do good friends make good partners?

Not necessarily. The interests or characteristics that draw two or more people together as friends do not always translate well to the business world.  This includes the practice of law.

Sometimes money gets in the way.  Or you could be polar opposites when it comes to work ethic or work style.

Maybe you are two peas in a pod with the same dislikes, which can be deadly.  The example that comes to mind is accounting.  Billing, recordkeeping, accounting, and reconciling can be outsourced, but should still be supervised.  As partners, the buck stops with you:

Lawyers must account for every penny of [client] funds as long as the funds remain in their possessionThis responsibility cannot be delegated, transferred, or excused by the ignorance, inattention, incompetence, or dishonesty of the lawyer or the lawyer’s employees or associates. A lawyer may employ others to help carry out this duty but must provide adequate training and supervision to ensure that all ethical and legal obligations to account for those monies are being met. In re Mannis, 295 Or 594, 668 P2d 1224 (1983) (lawyer reprimanded although he was unaware employee was commingling funds).  Excerpted from A Guide to Setting Up and Using Your Lawyer Trust Account, published by the Professional Liability Fund (2014).

How to size up a potential partner

For two lawyers considering a partnership, compatibility can be gauged best by joining forces as solos in an office share.  Each lawyer maintains his or her own practice, following the usual recommendations for an office sharing situation.  See the Professional Liability Fund (PLF) form/practice aid, “Office Sharing Guidelines” available on the PLF Web site.  

In an office share you can assess your potential partner’s work ethic, work style, and work habits first hand.  You will also learn how your potential partner approaches division of responsibility and money when the time comes to allocate and pay office share expenses.  You have the option of collaborating on individual cases while maintaining your independence.  This will give you intimate knowledge of your potential partner’s capabilities as a lawyer.

If the office sharing arrangement is successful, and you can come to terms on partnership formation issues, you are likely to have a successful union.  If the office sharing arrangement is not successful, you can accept the experience as a “lesson learned” and terminate the office share without the mess of a formal partnership dissolution.

For those who are convinced they have a winning partnership

Occasionally I meet two lawyers who are absolutely convinced they will form the perfect partnership.  They forge ahead, without the benefit of an office share experience, and later regret their decision.

I don’t wish to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, and sometimes folks are absolutely right in their assessment.  If you’ve known each other for years, and “just know” it will work I would ask you to do this simple exercise first:

Schedule a time to get together with your potential partner.  Bring two legal pads and two pens.  Allow fifteen minutes for each person to make a list of the goals he or she has for the partnership.  Each person should be able to answer: what do I hope to get out of this?  How will partnering up be a significant improvement over my current working situation?  Exchange lists.  What you learn may surprise you.

Note:  Each set of potential partners can decide how long to allocate to this process, but there is an advantage in keeping the list-making phase short and sweet: limited time is more likely to result in someone writing down the first (unedited) thoughts that come to mind.  Limited time also forces participants to be succinct.

Understandably, such an exercise will always be one person’s idea.  But please don’t initiate such a meeting and arrive with a list prepared in advance.  If you prefer a mulling and polishing period, tell your partner several days in advance so each person has an equal amount of time to prepare.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis