Filing Fees and Other News

Filing Fees, Courthouse Staffing, Courthouse Projects, and Legal Aid

The July 2 edition of Capitol Insider included this announcement regarding filing fees, which increase effective October 1, 2019:

Increase in Filing Fees – HB 3447 increases most civil filing fees by six percent. Examples include filing, motion, settlement conference, trial, document, and marriage solemnization fees. The increase in filing fees will go into effect on October 1, 2019. Almost $300,000 of the increase will be directed to the State Court Technology Fund this biennium with the remainder deposited into the state’s General Fund.

In addition, public bodies and local governments will contribute to eCourt funding via “case initiation fees” effective immediately. Other good news includes increased revenue allocation for Legal Aid, courthouse staffing, and courthouse projects.

Approved Changes to the UTCR Effective August 1

The latest changes to the Uniform Trial Court Rules are now available online. The updates address the Certificate of Document Preparation, streamlined civil jury cases, consumer debt collection cases, family law procedures, exhibits in juvenile cases, filing of the DMV record, extreme risk protection orders, notice of filing expedited matters, and statewide post-conviction relief (PCR) rules.

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

 

 

Astonishing Admission from Amazon about your Data

Thanks to Delaware Senator Chris Coons we recently learned that Amazon keeps Alexa transcripts and voice recordings indefinitely and only removes them if they’re manually deleted by users. Maybe.

While the company is engaged in an “ongoing effort to ensure those transcripts do not remain in any of Alexa’s other storage systems,” there are still records from some conversations with Alexa that Amazon won’t delete, even if people remove the audio.

In addition, Alexa also retains all purchase requests, reminders, and alarms.

Wow!

You, the user, must take the extra step to delete this data – and even if you do – Amazon doesn’t always follow through.

Despite reports by cnet and other tech sites, this news flew under the radar when reported last Tuesday – two days before Independence Day.

Smart Technology

As cnet points out, voice assistants aren’t the only cause for privacy concerns. Any smart home device – locks, doorbells, or appliances – can potentially collect and share your data. Be aware that the price you pay for convenience may mean sacrificing privacy.

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

Happy Independence Day!

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

How to Terminate an Employee the Right Way

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Let’s face it, no organization is immune from having to make the tough decision to terminate an employee. Of course no one likes to do it, but that still leaves the real question of how and when you should do it? This is especially true for lawyers beginning a new practice or expanding their existing practice…

via Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: How to Terminate an Employee the Right Way.

Assuming the employee has not committed an act that warrants immediate termination, consider these suggestions from the post referenced above:

  • Document, Document, Document: Scrupulously document disciplinary issues (if it’s not documented, it’s as if it didn’t happen).
  • Start with Warnings: When addressing performance issues, consider using a progressive disciplinary approach: For example, an escalating series of verbal, written, and other more serious notifications to the employee so they can attempt to improve their performance. However, this would not apply to serious performance breaches, nor for new employees who clearly don’t have the skills for the job.
  • Be Consistent: Take the same disciplinary approach for all employees—being mindful of each individual’s unique background and characteristics such as race; color; religion; pregnancy; gender identity; sexual orientation; national origin; age, 40 or older; disability, visible or invisible; or genetic information.
  • Document Some More: Always document the termination with a concise termination memo. If you do not provide the reason(s) for termination, the employee might assume the actual reason for their discharge was due to whatever protected category applies to them, such as race, gender, or age.
  • Don’t Waver: In the termination meeting, be professional but firm in your decision. The termination memo should do much of the talking for you.
  • Stick to the Script: Do NOT say anything different to the employee than what’s included in the termination memo—this is not the time to be overly reassuring and retreat from the true reasons for discharging the employee.
  • Go in as a Team: Try to have a manager who knows the employee present for the termination. A team approach—two management representatives, or a management representative and a human resources representative, or a management representative and a career counselor, etc.—is preferable because one person can take notes and there will be more than one witness to confirm what is said.

The Professional Liability Fund offers a Checklist for Departing Staff and sample office manuals, which may be helpful. From the home page, select Practice Management > Forms and peruse the “Staff” and “Office Manuals” categories.

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis