Support Your Local Bar Association

If you’re newly admitted, recently moved, or just transitioned to private practice the best way to get connected to your new community is to join the local bar association.

A quick visit to the Oregon State Bar website reveals that not all local bars are active at this time, but don’t despair.

If your local bar association is up and running

Join!  Attend events, including social gatherings and CLEs. Get involved and meet local judges and practitioners.

If your local bar association is inactive

This is your golden opportunity to get it up and running.

  • Hold an open house at your office
  • Organize and deliver a CLE
  • Host an after-hours social event
  • Invite locals to a no-host coffee hour at a local business
  • Organize a themed lunch gathering where attendees share tips on marketing, technology, or other relevant subjects

Don’t let inertia prevail – find ways to connect!  Get started by introducing yourself to the local judiciary and courthouse staff.  Visit local law offices (if geographically feasible). Otherwise, make calls and send emails or even letters.

One easy way to find other lawyers in your area is to access the Member Directory PDF behind the secured login on the OSB website.  Listings of lawyers organized by city begin on page 278.  Take note that the directory does not include the latest contact information.  Another option is to search by city using the online directory. 

Given your objective, you should also consider contacting Member Services at the OSB.  They may be willing to pull a current list of attorneys by county or city for you.

Local bar associations offer many advantages

  • Community
  • Networking
  • Local cost CLE
  • Member benefits
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Connection to the local judiciary (for discussion/resolution of practice issues in the judicial district)
  • And more!

Join started today!

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017

My Desk, My Enemy

Desks are the pedestals of our productivity. How we organize the stuff on them has a big effect on how well or if we get things done in a timely fashion. But just as important as these practical concerns is the impact it has on our mental health.

While researching content for a presentation, I came across this older post: My Desk, My Enemy: 6 Helpful Ways to Get Organized.  Written by Dan Lukasik and published at Lawyers with Depression, it contains helpful information that remains relevant.

Organizational Style

Dan begins by describing the four organizational styles identified by Kelly Lynn Anders in her book, The Organized Lawyer:

Stackers organize by topic in stacks. They are visual and tactile and like to give the appearance of order. The busier these people are, the more stacks they have.

Spreaders are visual like stackers, but must be able to see everything they’re working on.

Free Spirits keep very few personal belongings around the work area. They like new ideas and keep reports, books, articles and magazines near.

Pack Rats have emotional ties to things. They like the feeling of fullness around them and like to tell stories about what’s in the office.

These categories are insightful, and describe a fair number of people I’ve worked with. But they fail to recognize what happens when a lawyer is depressed, depleted of energy, and has no motivation to get organized.  Dan calls this “the depressed desk:”

When a lawyer has depression, motivation and organization are BIG problems. A lack of energy blunts motivation. We already know that it’s a good idea to keep our desk together, but there simply isn’t much neurochemical juice to get it done….

We must outfox depression. It would have us do nothing. So we must do something. 

Dan’s Six Simple Solutions [Abbreviated]

  1. Get rid of all those pens. Only keep three or four.
  2. Take home any books that you don’t use on a regular basis. [I would add: do the same with magazines and legal periodicals. Create a “free spirit” space at home if this is your organizational style.]
  3. Hide cords – use twist-ties or coil your cords up.
  4. Only keep on your desk what you need for that day. Then section off your desk and workspace so that everything has a specific space.
  5. Have a dump day.  Pull everything out, put it in a big pile, sort, and toss.
  6. Schedule a date and time to clean your desk.

Read Dan’s original “six simple solutions” here.

Parting Thoughts

It’s easy to be skeptical of simple solutions.  How could tossing excess pens or hiding cords possibly help?  What difference does it make to clean off my desk?  

Trust me, it helps.

  • Eliminating clutter reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Organizing and prioritizing gives you back a sense of control.
  • Compartmentalizing allows you to plan for what you need to do and when.
  • Freeing up space allows you to breathe, think, and work.

You owe yourself, and you deserve, a pleasant work environment.

If you are a lawyer with depression, consider following Dan’s blog and connect with one of the confidential attorney counselors at the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program.

[All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis]

In Defense of Lawyers Who Write Letters

Is there anything more “old-fashioned” than writing a letter?  I remember posting a Tweet a few years back in which I stressed the importance of documenting your file with a letter to the client if the client chooses to act against your advice.  I was chided by a few followers who asked what a “letter” was.  (In my defense, letters are easily attached to e-mail messages!)

After the virtual laughter died down, I didn’t give the letter vs. e-mail “controversy” any more thought.  Recently, I spoke to a lawyer who told me he purposely prepares letters for all client communication unless the question is very brief – a quick confirmation or yes/no answer.  His reasoning?  E-mail can lend itself to quick, knee-jerk responses that are often regretted after the fact.  This lawyer felt that by taking the time to compose a letter he treated matters more thoughtfully and professionally.  He often sends letters by e-mail, as a PDF attachment, but felt strongly that the process of composing a letter forced him – in a good way – to treat his client communication more formally.  An excellent point, I thought.  And clearly it worked best for him.

There is another reason why you might want to consider writing and mailing a letter via the US Postal Service.

In 2010, the Radicati Group estimated that 294 billion e-mails are sent per day.  If you’re like me, I suspect you have days when you wish e-mail would just go away.  Perhaps there is still a place for a good, old-fashioned letter:

envelope

Copyright 2013 Beverly Michaelis

The Year in Review – Useful Tips You May Have Missed

Thank you readers!  I hope this has been a fruitful year for you.  Just in case you missed a tip or two, here is a list of 2012 blog posts for your perusal:

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

All Rights Reserved 2012 Beverly Michaelis

2012 Oregon House of Delegates – What is at Stake?

The 2012 meeting of the Oregon State Bar House of Delegates is scheduled for November 2, 2012.  The deadline for submitting resolutions has passed, but all bar members are welcome to attend the meeting and participate.  Only delegates may vote, but if you feel strongly about a particular resolution, make your views known to your delegate.  A complete HOD roster is available here.  The following agenda items caught my eye:

  • Increase Inactive Membership dues to $125 per year (Resolution 7)
  • Amend the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct (Resolutions 9, 10, 15, 22, and 23; discussed further below)
  • Establish an “Online Computer Knowledge Base” incorporating all OSB materials that are not privileged or confidential (Resolution 12)
  • Create a Metropolitan Court District combining Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties (Resolution 13)
  • Amend the policies and procedures of the Lawyer Referral Service (regarding removal of referral panel members upon filing of a disciplinary proceeding) (Resolution 14)
  • Recommend to Council on Court Procedures an amendment to ORCP 54E permitting plaintiffs to file Offers of Judgment (Resolution 19)
  • Encourage BOG to study and consider a legislative proposal amending ORS 82.010(1) allowing accrual of prejudgment interest in non-contract cases (Resolution 20)
  • Seek legislative approval for a Centralized Legal Notice System (in lieu of the present system which requires legal notices to be published in a newspaper of general circulation) (Resolution 21)

Proposed Amendments to the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct

Resolution 9 would amend the rules relating to advancement of costs.  “The proposed new language comes from ABA Model Rule 1.8(e) which allows a lawyer to advance the costs of litigation to clients with repayment being contingent on the outcome of the case, and also to pay the costs of litigation for an indigent client…. The BOG believes that this proposed change furthers the bar’s commitment to access to justice. Lawyers routinely waive costs after an unsuccessful outcome.  Under the current rule, lawyers must state in their fee agreements that clients are responsible for costs and expenses of litigation regardless of the outcome of the case, then wait for the outcome to decide whether to waive the costs. The high cost of litigation can discourage clients from pursuing the legal remedies to which they are entitled.”

Roughly speaking, Resolution 10 permits fee-splitting with a “bar-sponsored” or “not-for-profit” lawyer referral service.  The specific proposal seeks to amend ORPC 5.4 allowing a lawyer to “pay the usual charges of a bar-sponsored or operated not-for-profit lawyer referral service, including fees calculated as a percentage of legal fees received by the lawyer from a referral.”

Resolution 15 would amend ORPC 1.1 to add the following language relating to competent representation:  “If a lawyer does not have sufficient learning and skill when the legal service is undertaken, the lawyer may nonetheless perform such services competently by 1) associating with or, where appropriate, professionally consulting another lawyer or expert in the subject matter reasonably believed to be competent, or 2) by acquiring sufficient learning and skill before performance is required.”

Resolution 22 seeks to amend ORPC 3.4 – Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel.  The background explains:  “The purpose of this proposed rule change is make the rule consistent with the prohibition of using criminal prosecution to gain a civil advantage by including the initiation of a bar complaint during the pendency of civil proceeding against a lawyer, thereby precluding any effort to extort a settlement or otherwise gain some other advantage in that proceeding.”

Lastly, Resolution 23 would prevent “runners” or “cappers” from soliciting prospective clients.  The background to this agenda item describes “A ‘runner’ or ‘capper’ (as) any person, firm, association or corporation acting for consideration in any manner or in any capacity as an agent for an attorney at law or law firm, in the solicitation or procurement of business for the attorney at law or law firm; or any person or entity acting for consideration as an agent of a lawyer or law firm.”  The Resolution seeks to amend ORPC 7.3 with language prohibiting use of “runners” and “cappers” in specified settings, such as prisons, jails, detention facilities, hospitals, courts, on public streets or highways, or on any private property.

Questions?

Members who have questions concerning the House of Delegates meeting should contact Camille Greene, Executive Assistant, by phone at 503-431-6386, by e-mail at cgreene@osbar.org, or toll free inside Oregon at 800-452-8260 ext 386.

Making Your Voice Heard

Attend the meeting, debate, and participate or contact your HOD delegate to make your views known. Review the complete Agenda here.