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Can You Still Get Paid Even After Losing a Case?

We've all heard of car insurance, but what about case insurance? Well, that's the basic service being offered by two personal injury lawyers out in Florida who launched their company Level Insurance last month.

It's too soon to tell if this is going to be a golden goose for them, but it does raise some interesting strategy (and ethics) questions. But with the shifting paradigms of litigation financing, we're hardly rattled anymore.

Handling Fee Splitting With an Outside Attorney

There is much confusion out there when it comes to ethically handling fees between lawyers. One of the most common scenarios involves a primary attorney (from the client's point of view) working with another attorney. But the arrangement has its ethical hazards and every practitioner should be aware of potential ethical pitfalls when splitting fees.

We'll go over one scenario here that gets people tripped up: the solo who splits fees with another on a contingency basis.

Why You Should Discuss Litigation Financing With Clients

Your clients may not be aware of litigation finance, but you should be. And you should also be aware that handling litigation finance can be like trying to catch a falling knife. And if that's the case, then you're going to need to know how and why you should talk to your clients about possibly getting a third party to pay for their litigation fees and the pitfalls that come with the game.

Like anything else, it's usually better to set out the parameters at the very beginning rather than to wait for awkwardness later on.

Handling Client Fee Arrangements -- Ethically

If you're like the majority of attorneys, you got into this business to be paid. In an ideal world, you do the work and your clients pay you upon completion -- promptly. Alas, this is not the ideal world.

Fed up with the undeniable costs of having to maintain an accounts receivable, many attorneys have implemented means that just skirt the boundaries of legal ethics in order to defray the costs of lost money and time. But what techniques can you use to ethically handle client fees? We're here to help.

Getting Money From Deadbeat Clients

It's the eternal struggle for solos. We've all been there. You render services, and you don't enforce the strict terms of the agreement. The client can't recharge her retainer because her transmission blew out, she had a family emergency -- we get it. She's out of money, or she has money and withholds payment.

No good deed goes unpunished and being the "nice" lawyer can cost you time and faith in humanity. Your lender certainly couldn't care less about your personal problems and negotiating your arrangement with them certainly won't end as favorably for you as it did your client. So, if you end up serving a deadbeat client who won't pay, what do you do?

What Practice Areas Are Best for Flat Fee Billing?

A good bit of your solo or small firm practice will be devoted to maintaining the books and making sure money is coming in. As times change, the usual practice of taking in about a third of your client's takings is becoming less and less pervasive -- and there's good reason: it costs too much to wait for the outcome of a suit. In the worse case, you might not get paid at all.

It's often preferable to have money coming in consistently. How do you accomplish that? Introducing the menu style of legal practice: flat fee billing.

Flat Fee Confusion: Earned Upon Receipt or Trust Account?

There's a lot of confusion out there (so imagine the level of non-compliance) about the proper way to handle client funds properly, particularly flat fees. Do you place these in an interest-bearing account for the benefit of the client? How do you go about your business in good faith without putting your license and practice at risk?

Unfortunately, the rules are non-universal and can be abstract and ambiguous. Here we'll look at what some sources have to say.

PACER is no one's favorite database. Sure, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records service gives you online access to federal court documents, saving you the hassle of calling a courier or heading down to a courthouse yourself. But the service is not particularly user-friendly, intuitive, or functional. The fact that it nickel-and-dimes you (literally) for every page of public records you view is just icing on the "God, I hate PACER" cake.

And now, a coalition of nonprofits is suing over those fees, arguing that the 10-cents-a-page price tag isn't just excessive, it's illegal.

Everyone's least favorite holiday, tax day, is fast approaching. If your fiscal year matches the calendar year and you (or better yet, your accountant) haven't gotten all your tax filings in order just yet, don't worry. You've still time to get everything together -- and to make sure you're getting all the tax deductions you're entitled to, while avoiding some common law firm tax pitfalls.

To help you out, here's FindLaw's top tax tips for your small firm or solo practice.

Checkpoint Tackles ACA ALE Requirements for Tax Firms, Clients

As lawyers in the field know, a boutique tax firm has many of the same kinds of issues as their fellow professionals -- in the medical field. That's right, a firm that specializes in criminal law will, they fervently hope, never have to deal with criminal acts in their own house. But much like a doc with high blood pressure, a tax firm is often going to have to take its own advice. The new ACA ALE requirements are great examples.

As tax legal professionals also know, advising your clients on changes brought about by the ACA is crucial. As they might be slightly less aware, ACA changes are also crucial for their own business if they fall within the definition of an "applicable large employer" (ALE) under the Act. For 2016, boutique tax firms with more than 50 full time employees are going to have to advise clients wisely and then take their own medicine. Fortunately, a new special report from Thomson Reuters Checkpoint can help. (Disclaimer, Thomson Reuters is the parent company of FindLaw.)