eCourt Malpractice Traps 2017

Polish your Oregon eCourt knowledge and avoid potential malpractice traps with this 2017 CLE update.

Topics include:

  • Relation Back Malpractice Traps – Defining filing “acceptance,” notification of rejected filings, the process for seeking relation back, right to object, judicial discretion, system errors, multiple filing attempts, and what to do if your relation-back request is denied.
  • Ever-changing Rules and Software – Recent out-of-cycle amendments to the UTCRs, proposed UTCR changes for 2017, and upgrades to the Odyssey eFile & Serve software (Silverlight vs. HTML 5).
  • Common Reasons for Rejected Filings – A review of 12 of the most common filing errors and where to find OJD standards for electronic filings in circuit courts.
  • How to Avoid eCourt Malpractice Traps – Where and how to get help with OJCIN, eFiling, and questions about rules plus key resources from the Professional Liability Fund, Oregon Judicial Department, Odyssey, and others.

Date/Time/Location

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time.  This is a live, online webinar. Watch from your desktop computer or mobile device. Connect to audio via telephone or computer/device speakers.

Who Should Attend?

Lawyers, office managers, administrators, and staff.  If you want to avoid common malpractice traps, need a refresher on changes to the Uniform Trial Court Rules or eFiling software, or want to discover the most common mistakes made by Oregon eFilers, attend this CLE.

Does the Program Include Written Materials?

Yes.  Written materials will be distributed electronically to all registered attendees prior to the event.

Ask Questions/Participate in Live Polling

Questions are welcome during the live event.  Attendees are also encouraged to participate in live, anonymous polling.

Registration Fee

$25 – Visit the CLE Events page, click here, or choose the Register button below. Secure payment processing powered by Eventbrite. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Program materials included in the registration price.

MCLE Credits
2.0 Practical Skills/General MCLE Credits pending.

Eventbrite - eCourt Malpractice Traps 2017

Can’t Attend?

Video and audio recordings of eCourt Malpractice Traps 2017 will be available to download along with the program materials following the April 5 CLE. Price: $25. Contact me for more information.

All Rights Reserved [2017] Beverly Michaelis

The October issue of In Brief is Now Online

The October issue of In Brief is now available on the Professional Liability Fund Web site.  Articles and announcements include:

ABA Techshow 2013

Adjusted Tort Liability Limits Against Public Bodies

Check Scams Become Even More Sophisticated and Generally Have No PLF Coverage

Data Breach Coverage Added to 2013 PLF Excess Coverage

Immigration Law Resources

In Brief Returns to Print

Modification to Civil Case Management System in Multnomah County

New Foreclosure Law Requirements and PLF Practice Aids

PLF Claims Attorney Position

Reporting Responsibilities Under Medicare

Tips, Traps, and Resources

Zero Tolerance for eFiling Errors

In April the Oregon State Bar will publish my article, “Zero Tolerance for E-Filing Errors: How to Avoid Committing Malpractice with a Few Clicks of Your Mouse.”  I don’t want to give all my tips away (smile), but here is a small snippet to whet your appetite:

While some courts have excused lawyers for missing a deadline due to an errant spam filter, [1] most are not given a second chance.  Follow these steps to prevent court notices and other important e-mails from getting blocked:

Smart Spam and Junk Mail Filtering

  • Practice whitelisting. Set your spam or junk e-mail filters to allow receipt of e-mails from approved senders or domains. Include courts, administrative agencies, key clients, opposing counsel, and any other senders whose e-mail you don’t want to miss. You may need to make this change at the ISP level and in the settings of your specific e-mail program.  If you aren’t sure how to whitelist a sender or domain, search the Help or Support pages for your e-mail program or provider.
  • Review quarantine summaries daily.  Aggressive spam filters like Google’s Postini® will occasionally block senders and domains you have added to your whitelist if the filter finds content in the e-mail to be possible spam.  Court e-mail addresses and domains can also change, causing new notices to be marked as spam.
  • Check junk mail folders daily.  Approved senders and domains can make it past your ISP or server-level spam filter, then land in your e-mail program’s junk mail folder.  Outlook permits users to disable automatic filtering of junk mail to avoid this problem, but understand that if Outlook believes a message originated from a blocked sender, it will still land in your junk mail folder. The best practice is to check your junk mail folder regardless.

Safety First

  • Once you’ve learned how to retrieve docket activity online, consider making it a weekly routine. Every Friday, run a docket activity report for a specified date range or search circuit court calendars online.  Compare the court’s calendar with yours and update your calendar if necessary.
  • Thoroughly train support staff – on CM/ECF systems, proper handling of court notices, and technology in general.
  • If you have no staff, consider creating a secondary e-mail account for yourself to use exclusively for court notices.  Include it in ECF court filings whenever permitted.  If your primary e-mail account goes down, you can check the second account.
  • If you’re experiencing problems, tell the court. The attorney who lost the right to arbitrate in Philadelphia would probably still have a viable $35,000 fee claim if he had just picked up the phone. According to the judge, “A telephone call to [my] chambers might have avoided the whole predicament.”
The full article is 2,498 words and will appear in the April edition of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin.

Copyright 2012 Beverly Michaelis


[1] See Pace v. American Int’l Group, 08 C 945 (N.D. Ill; November 1, 2010) and Shuey v. Schwab, Case No. 08-4727 (3rd Cir. 2009).  For a discussion of these cases, see Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/.  (Posts dated November 4, 2010 and December 1, 2009.)

Running a Successful Law Practice

What does it take to run a successful law practice?  Sound financial management?  A detailed marketing plan?  Absolutely!  And if you want tips in these or related areas, see the links at the end of this post.

But for the law school class of 2012, this may not be the first concern that comes to mind.  For many the real question is: “How do I stay out of trouble?”

The answer?  Get organized!  Establish effective office systems and learn the ins and outs of handling client funds, managing deadlines, and tracking conflicts:

For more tips, see these posts:

Financial Management

Marketing, Networking, and Client Relations

Organization

Staffing

Technology

Some Other Favorites

Copyright 2011 Beverly Michaelis

The Ethics of Unbundling

Call it what you will: unbundling, discrete task representation, or limited-scope representation – the ethical and malpractice issues are the same.  Newly published OSB Formal Opinion No. 2011-183 solidifies the bar’s position on the subject. 

Here is what you need to know:

Oregon RPC 1.2(b) expressly permits unbundling provided:

  • The limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and
  • The client gives informed consent to the limited-scope representation

When is Limited Scope Representation “Reasonable?”

To answer this question, OSB Formal Opinion No. 2011-183 points to commentary from the ABA model rule.  Factors include:

  • The client’s objectives (limited to securing general information about the law?)
  • The nature of the legal problem (common situation, typically uncomplicated?)
  • The time allotted (is it sufficient to yield advice upon which the client could rely?)

What About Informed Consent?

  • Explain the risks of discrete task representation with an eye toward the complexity of the matter and the client’s ability to identify, appreciate or address the critical issues that may arise
  • Review the limits of Oregon RPC 4.2 (communication with represented parties).  Existence of a limited-scope representation agreement may not invoke this rule.  Therefore, if the client “wants the protection of communication only through the lawyer on some or all issues, then the lawyer should be sure to communicate clearly to opposing counsel the scope of the limited representation and the extent to which communications are to be directed through the lawyer.”  OSB Formal Opinion No. 2011-183. (See Footnote 6.)
  • State as fully as possible what you will not do for the client
  • Offer “reasonably available alternatives” such as having a lawyer involved “in each material aspect of the legal matter.”  OSB Formal Opinion No. 2011-183.
  • Get it in writing!   Obtaining the client’s written consent is not required by Oregon RPC 1.2(b), but it is strongly encouraged and will help avoid potential misunderstandings later.  (Remember – certain fee arrangements must be in writing.  Contingent and earned-upon-receipt fees come to mind.)

Are There Any Other Considerations?

Limiting the scope of representation does not limit the scope of your ethical duties to your client.  Lawyers who unbundle services must still provide competent representation, communicate adequately with their clients, avoid neglecting matters entrusted to them, and screen for conflicts of interest.

In addition, lawyers who provide unbundled services must conform with applicable law or procedural requirements, such as submitting a Certificate of Document Preparation pursuant to UTCR 2.010(7) when  necessary.

What is My Malpractice Exposure?

For an overview of the malpractice risks involved in unbundling legal services in a virtual practice setting, read my post.  For a complete discussion of the subject, see Unbundling in the 21st Century: How to Reduce Malpractice Exposure While Meeting Client Needs.

Copyright 2011 Beverly Michaelis