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Talk about a costly mistake: Mark Halpern, a Pennsylvania lawyer, has been found liable for $1.75 million in punitive damages for filing an allegedly meritless lawsuit in a dispute over a family trust. Halpern's client was hit with $300,000 in punitive damages.

The dispute that led to the nearly $2 million award against Halpern started about ten years ago, according to the Legal Intelligencer's Max Mitchell. In 2006, Lynne Boghossian had a dispute with her aunt, Hilda Kilijian, which lead Kilijian to split their joint stocks and set up an irrevocable trust with Lesley Brown as a co-trustee. Lesley Brown is Boghossian's sister and the ex-wife of John Brown Jr., a former Cozen O'Connor lawyer.

It's that time of the year again: the time to see how your salary measures up against everyone else's and how you might do in the year ahead. Robert Half Legal, the legal staffing agency, has released its 2017 Salary Guide, a survey of legal professional salaries across a wide range of careers, practice areas, and years of experience.

So far, 2017 is looking like a decent year to be a lawyer, as most attorneys can expect a fair increase over last year's salary, particularly attorneys with four or more years of experience. Here are the highlights.

Education, skills, experience: these are the bedrock of a good potential hire. But you don’t want to stop there. Finding the best candidate when your firm is hiring means searching for someone who has more than just the basics, someone with the qualities that will make for a stellar hire.

Enter the “six Q’s.” A recent Washington Post article detailed the six characteristics, or “quotients” the best job seekers have — everything from IQ to IMQ, or the ability to adapt successfully to new situations. So here are the Q’s to choose when adding to your law firm crews.

Two years ago, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority discovered that one of its arbitrators was not what he claimed. James Frank had claimed to be a lawyer and member of several state bars. That, however, was not true. But the deception didn't come to light until after Frank had overseen nearly 40 securities arbitration cases over a period of 15 years, involving major brokers and billions of dollars -- all the while maintaining that he was an attorney.

Now those who lost before Frank are seeking to have their arbitration decisions vacated. That puts the winners in the tough spot of defending an arbitration chaired by a fake lawyer, as Citigroup Global Markets discovered this week.

Judges have long complained about lawyers' writing. It's too verbose, too digressive, too freaking long. Lawyers, in turn, bristle at courts' word restrictions, bans on space-saving measures like footnotes, and other frustrating constrictions. It's a battle as old as time -- or at least as old as modern litigation.

Now some courts are limiting attorney briefs even more than before. In December, federal appellate courts will reduce the maximum brief length by 1,000 words. It's a pruning that some judges don't think goes far enough, even as it causes anger among attorneys.

Here's some simple advice: when you're considering referring a client to other attorneys, keep your worst ones to yourself.

If your client has a week case, is difficult to work with, or has a tendency to struggle with timely payment, few attorneys would want you to send them their way.

You can have plenty of clients, unparalleled courtroom success, a stellar reputation -- and your firm can still go belly up. That's because running a law firm requires business skills on top of your legal ones. And many lawyers simply don't know how to tell if their business is doing well or not.

Enter KPIs, or "key performance indicators," signposts that can help you know whether your firm is thriving or diving. You're already familiar with the one that almost all firms use, the number of hours billed. But smart, successful firms need more than just one metric to measure their success.

Why hang your own shingle when you can buy one? If you're looking to be a solo practitioner or run your own small firm, buying an existing practice can be an efficient alternative to building your own book of business.

Sound appealing? Here are some tips on how to get started.

A client company has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Now the real struggle begins. Without access to capital, the most promising businesses may go under before they are able to reorganize and exit bankruptcy. Thankfully, so-called "debtor-in-possession" loans are commonplace.

Commonplace, but not straightforward. For attorneys guiding clients through bankruptcy, understanding DIP financing is essential, from the basics, like strategies for lining up DIP financing and common features in DIP credit agreements, to emerging trends that are impacting everything from who is offering DIP loans to who can secure them.

A man cannot have two masters. But a legal matter can, at least when those two masters are co-counsel.

You've probably heard horror stories about co-counsel situations; anecdotes about overbearing, intolerable co-counsel, about attorneys who steal all the work, or lawyers who are inept, sabotaging your chance for a big payout. (We could go on.) But working with co-counsel doesn't have to be difficult, if you do it right.