Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


Getting divorced? Get a lawyer. That's not just good advice for laymen, it's good advice for attorneys too.

Take, for example, the case of Anthony Zappin. A New York appellate court recently upheld sanctions against Zappin after the New York attorney represented himself in his divorce proceedings. Zappin's self-representation ended up a "maelstrom of misconduct," the court found," involving "unprofessional, outrageous, and malicious" behavior. Just how outrageous was it? Let's take a look.

Imitation might be the highest form of flattery, but some legal blogs appear to have taken that imitation a bit too far -- by scraping content from prominent blogs and reposting it on their own.

Is this just part of doing business on the interwebs? Maybe. But these alleged fakes could also have real consequences.

Are Texas Personal Injury Ads Causing Harm to Patients?

Doctors v. Lawyers

No, it's not a lawsuit or an Alien v. Predator movie.

It's a real-life drama unfolding in Texas, where personal injury attorney ads have prompted doctors to fight back. With a survey showing lawyers advertise there more than most places in the country, doctors have mounted their own public relations campaign. Their slogan:

"Don't let a lawyer be a doctor."

Conducted on behalf of the Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse, the survey found that more than eight in ten doctors believe the lawyer advertisements are leading patients to question their medications. Also, apparently one in three patients stop taking their medications and suffer the health consequences.

ABA Task Force Studies Due Process in College Sexual Misconduct Cases

The American Bar Association has formed a new task force to study due process rights in college sexual misconduct cases.

Andrew S. Boutros, co-chair of Seyfarth Shaw's White Collar, Internal Investigations and False Claims Act Team, will lead the task force. It will be comprised of 10 to 12 members, including lawyers, academics, government officials, victim advocacy representatives, and other constituents.

"The Criminal Justice Section is committed to fair and balanced procedural and substantive due process in the criminal justice system," said Matthew Redle, chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section in a press release. "Those same carefully calibrated rights and protections for both the victim and the accused are also critical in the college disciplinary system, where the stakes are exceptionally high on both sides and the collateral consequences of a finding of responsibility are abundantly severe."

Death of the Billable Hour Rumors Are Coming True

According to reports, the billable hour may go the way of the dinosaur.

Still adjusting to market downturns and evolving technologies, law firms need to make changes in their practices that also change the way they bill for services. If they don't adapt, reports say, they will not survive.

The 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market says that the death of the billable hour has been "one of the most potentially significant, though rarely acknowledged, changes of the past decade."

"Although firms still technically bill a majority of their work on a billable hour basis, budget caps imposed by clients mean that as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of law firm work is now done effectively outside of the traditional billable hour model," according to Thomson Reuters, which prepared the report with The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Lawyer Seeks Immunity for Lying Clients. It Fails Badly

Pancy Lin, a partner at Lynberg & Watkins, stepped into harm's way when she arrived to defend Orange County social workers who had lied in a custody case to wrest custody from the plaintiff's mother. Based on their perjured testimony, the trial judge took custody of her children away from her.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, having read the social workers' argument that they were immune from liability in the civil rights action, was ready.

When it comes to assembling legal documents, does font matter?

Yes! Quite simply, fonts influence how your writing appears and is perceived. There's the elegant (and ink-efficient) Garamond, the matter-of-fact Lucida Sans Typewriter, the "I might as well have just written this in crayon" Comic Sans. Beyond that, some courts have a short list of acceptable fonts, from which practitioners can't deviate. So, if you're looking for the best fonts for your legal docs, here are some suggestions.

Workplace Tips for Setting Up Small Law Firms

Tips are like opinions: everybody has one.

That's not a great spin of the original phrase, but at least it's printable. What we're really talking about here is spinning some new ideas on setting up a small law firm. Because, seriously, aren't we a little tired of the same old song?

Here are some twists on the typical tips:

If you've ever sat down to a WordPress blog and started typing out your thoughts on tort reform, legal tech, or the trials of starting your own firm, you've probably wondered: At what point does my attorney blogging become advertising? Sure, you're not posting "10 Reasons to Hire Me Today -- Number 7 Will Shock You!" But you are, perhaps, subtly selling yourself, showing your personality, experience, insight. Does that mean your blog is subject to the same rules as, say, an actual commercial?

Not according to the State Bar of California. The bar association recently finalized a new ethics opinion that will allow lawyers to blog, outside their main law firm website, without having to worry about regulations on attorney advertising.

Prospective Clients Hang up When on Hold, Study Finds

'Thanks for calling. Please hold.'

Click.

That's what happens when you put a prospective client on hold for too long, according to a study by an audio-branding company. And lawyers are some of the worst call-holding offenders.

PH Media Group, which called 2,695 businesses across the country for the study, reports that law firms put their callers on hold for an average of 36.07 seconds--longer than the national average.