Best Practices – eService, Workflow, Trust Accounting and Beyond

From office system best practices to eService and advanced trust accounting – CLE offerings covered a wide array of topics this year. If you missed a program, don’t despair. Video and audio recordings are available to download from my online store.  Here are the details:

Best Practices for Client Intake, Engagement & Workflow
OSB Program No.: 6724*9 (1.0 PS/general MCLE credits)

Recognizing the objectives and ethical traps of client intake, implementing the 7 key elements of intake forms, automating intake with ease, documenting representation, modernizing the engagement process using forms, brochures, automation, and eSignatures, using technology and staffing to improve workflow, and more.

Best Practices for Docketing, Conflicts, Disengagement & File Retention
OSB Program No.: 6724*10 (1.0 PS/general MCLE credits)

Represent clients effectively and ethically by applying best practice recommendations for docketing, conflicts, disengagement, and file retention. Includes docketing tips for eCourt practitioners, streamlining conflict checking, limiting liability exposure through proper disengagement, simplifying disengagement, and creating file retention policies, procedures, and checklists.

Oregon eService
OSB Program No.: 6724*11 (1.25 PS/general MCLE credits)

For experts and novices alike – an opportunity to polish eService/eCourt skills and apply tips straight from the courthouse – or understand eService from the ground up. Includes how to eServe in four easy steps, six compelling reasons to use eService, identifying eService exceptions, responding to service contact issues, pursuing sanctions under UTCR 1.090(2), eService vs. service by email, courthouse dos and don’ts, and proper Certificates of Service.

Trust Accounting Fundamentals
OSB Program No.: 6724*12 (1.5 ethics MCLE credits)

From managing bank charges and avoiding impermissible cushions to reporting overdrafts and addressing client fee disputes – this program will provide a fundamental understanding of how to operate your lawyer trust account.

Advanced Trust Accounting
OSB Program No.: 6724*13 – 1.25 ethics MCLE credits

Delve deeper into the more advanced issues of trust accounting, including how to safely manage wire and EFT transfers, using layaway payment plans, collecting “first and last month’s rent,” managing evergreen retainers and hybrid fee agreements, receiving third party payments, bartering legal services, passing on credit card transaction fees, what to do with unclaimed funds, responding to garnishments and liens, how to disburse settlement proceeds if your client is missing, and more.

Your on demand CLE purchase includes

  • MP4 download (combined audio and video file)
  • M4a download (audio only)
  • Written program materials, including presentation slides and resources
  • Answers to polling questions asked during the live CLE
  • MCLE Form 6 for self-reporting of MCLE credits

Instant digital delivery with options to save to the cloud or your mobile device

Links to digital files are delivered instantly at checkout with your purchase confirmation email.  Download, stream, save to your Dropbox account, or send files to your mobile device or desktop computer.

Free eBook!

If you visit my online store, be sure to download your free copy of Tips for Improving Client Relationships.

Secure payment processing

All transactions are handled by Selz and protected with industry standard security, including encryption and SSL secure. The Selz platform is also PCI compliant. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover accepted.

All Rights Reserved 2018 Beverly Michaelis

Using Contract Lawyers

Contract lawyers can play an essential role in managing workflow. Here are five quick tips from Law Practice Today on using freelancers effectively:

  • Get client consent.
  • Decide whether the contract lawyer will have client contact (if so, this affects the contract lawyer’s liability coverage status in Oregon).
  • Supervise! Overseeing the work of a contract lawyer is your ethical duty. Outsourcing lawyers should also be sensitive to the impression the contract lawyer makes on the client, particularly if they engage in client communication.
  • Beware of potential unauthorized practice of law. Ensure the contract lawyer is licensed to deliver services in the state of the client’s legal issue.
  • Don’t hesitate to bill for the contract lawyer’s services at prevailing market rates. I would add: include this cost (or fee) in your client engagement letter.

If you are considering hiring a contract lawyer (or want to offer your services on a contract basis), check out the following resources from the Professional Liability Fund:

  • Contract Lawyers Checklist
  • Contract Project – Letter of Understanding
  • Contract Project Intake Sheet
  • Independent Contractors or Employees
  • Letter Declining Contract Project

From the PLF home page, select Practice Management > Forms > Contract Lawyering. A number of CLEs are also available under the CLE > Past CLE heading:

  • Contract Lawyers CLE: Conflicts
  • Contract Attorneys: Managing Expectations and Getting Paid
  • Practical Contract Lawyering

To learn about Oregon malpractice coverage for contract lawyers and qualifying for a “supervised attorney” exemption, contact the PLF at 503.639.6911 or 800.452.1639 and ask for Jeff Crawford or Emilee Preble.

The Oregon Women Lawyers operate a Contract Lawyers Listserve for members. To join or use the service, visit the OWLS website.

All Rights Reserved – 2018 – Beverly Michaelis

Get Your Fee Agreements!

The Fifth Edition of the OSB publicationFee Agreement Compendium, is now available on BarBooks.

Topics include

  • Ethics Issues Arising in Fee Agreements
  • Billing Costs
  • Truth in Lending Act and Attorney Fee Agreements
  • OSB Fee Dispute Resolution Program
  • Drafting Tips for Fee Agreements
  • Retained or Not Retained–You May Need to Prove It
  • IOLTA in Relation to Fee Agreements
  • And 14 sample forms, including 9 addressing specific practice areas

Get answers to your frequently asked questions

Credit cards and installment payments

  • Does the Truth-in-Lending-Act prohibit me from passing on credit card surcharges to clients? §3.9
  • What are the implications of taking installment payments from clients?  §3.4

Client costs

  • Should I “bundle” or “unbundle” client costs? §2.3
  • What are the tax consequences of advancing costs for a client? §2.5-2
  • Am I personally liable for costs if the client doesn’t pay? §2.7

Drafting Tips

  • What are the 10 best tips for drafting fee agreements? §5.2
  • What are the perils of an ambiguous fee agreement? §5.1-3

Fee Disputes

  • Should I, or shouldn’t I, use OSB Fee Dispute Resolution?  §4.1-1 through 4.1-3.

Referral fees, splitting fees, and limited scope representation

  • What are the rules on referral fees? Splitting Fees? §1.1-7, §12.1 through 12.2-4.
  • How should I craft a limited scope representation agreement? §10.1 through 10.2.

(See the cited sections for answers.)

The Fee Agreement Compendium has always been a treasure trove of resources and tips.  Download the PDF from BarBooks today.

All Rights Reserved – 2018 – Beverly Michaelis

 

Legal News and Upcoming Events

Is Mandatory Malpractice Coverage Coming to Washington?

Mandatory malpractice coverage is well known by Oregon lawyers and may be coming soon to members of the Washington bar (WSBA).

In July, the WSBA Mandatory Malpractice Insurance Task Force presented a tentative recommendation to the Board of Governors (BOG) to mandate malpractice insurance for Washington-licensed lawyers. The task force expects to present a final report to the BOG in four short months.

Next steps include:

  1. Considering feedback from the Board of Governors;
  2. Ramping up information efforts among WSBA members, and obtaining and considering additional comments received;
  3. Detailing the recommended malpractice insurance mandate, including the specific
    required coverage minimums;
  4. Identifying in detail the recommended exemptions from the professional liability
    insurance requirement; and
  5. Drafting a proposed Court Rule for the Board of Governor’s consideration

Members may submit comments to insurancetaskforce@wsba.org. The task force continues to meet monthly through the end of the year. Read the interim report here.

Free Access to PACER

This past week, the ABA Journal reported a potential end to PACER fees:

A new bill before the U.S House of Representatives would prohibit the federal courts from charging for public documents. The Electronic Court Records Reform Act would require that documents downloaded from the PACER database be free. Currently, the repository for federal court documents charges up to 10 cents a page.

The article notes that PACER has become a reliable money-maker for federal courts, pulling in $150 million in fees in 2015 alone.

Of further interest to federal court practitioners, the proposed bill would require documents to be posted to PACER within five days of being filed in federal court in a manner that allows for easy searching and linking from external websites.

Additionally, it would require consolidation of the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system, allowing for one-stop shopping when searching for federal court cases. Presently, each court operates its own separate CM/ECF system.

Free Data Breach CLEs in Bend and Medford

The Professional Liability Fund is offering two free data breach CLES in October:

These CLEs will explain data breach, what you can do to protect your client’s information, your ethical duties, and what to do if a breach occurs. For more information, follow the links above. Register for the Bend CLE by emailing DeAnna Shields at deannas@osbplf.org. Register for the Medford CLE by emailing Eric B. Mitton at eric.mitton@cityofmedford.org.

All Rights Reserved – 2018 – Beverly Michaelis