Professional Responsibility for Small Law Firms - Strategist
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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.

Black children are regularly viewed as older and more suspicious than they are, leading to harsher treatment at the hands of authority figures. When imaging powerful figures, women rarely come to mind as often as men. Yet, pretty much everyone this side of Archie Bunker believes such biases are wrong. So why do they persist?

One of the answers is implicit bias, the subtle, often-unconscious associations connected to race, gender, and age that reinforce discriminatory stereotypes, often without our being aware of them. To counteract implicit bias, the Department of Justice recently announced that all of its law enforcement agents and prosecutors would receive training on unconscious bias. Should the rest of the legal profession follow?

Things just got a bit snitchier in the Empire State. In a recent ethics opinion, the New York State Bar Association has said that lawyers must report co-counsel's mistakes to their client, should the other attorney's error or omission rise to the level of potential malpractice.

Here's how the reasoning goes.

Does Your 3-Way With a Client Count as Sex? It Depends.

You know, there are times when you think you've read it all, but then history taps on your shoulder politely to remind that you haven't. Take for example, the old gem of In re Inglimo, which asks the question: "does a three-way with a client count as sex with a client?"

The answer, it turns out, depends on your interpretation of "with." Thanks to Eugene Volokh for reminding us.

Law Firm Succession Planning Registry Approved in Wisconsin

Do you sometimes wonder who will take over your practice when you become incapacitated or pass away? The Wisconsin Board of Governors has addressed that problem recently by approving a succession planning registry.

As it stands, nothing mandates that lawyers within the state participate, but the working group charged with attacking the succession problem has recommended that a mandatory registry ought to be created sometime in the near future.

NJ Lawyers Get Sanctioned for Facebook Spying

When news came out that two New Jersey defense attorneys had spied on a plaintiff through Facebook, there was obvious buzz within the legal community over bright-line rules and attorney ethics. Just what qualifies as an "unauthorized" communication?

Lawyers should always take steps to tread carefully in these "novel ethical issues." First impression or not, you don't want to end up being the poster child.

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.

Improve Your Therapist Skills to Be a Better Lawyer

In the past, we've stressed the importance of maintaining a certain detached yet professional relationship with your client. Lawyering is a tiring job and being too heavily invested emotionally in your client's case can have a detrimental effect on both your health and performance.

At the same time, being a good lawyer requires at least some emotional investment in your client's case. No, you don't need to actually consider yourself a therapist. But understanding how to effectively counsel a client will ultimately make you more effective as a lawyer.

When Do Law Firms Have to Disclose a Data Breach?

Now that you're on high alert over your client data because of the revelation of Olera's hacking into some of the nation's most prominent law firms, you're probably beginning to wonder: "Do I have to disclose a data breach to my firm?"

That's an excellent question, and it deserves an excellent answer. Unfortunately, an excellent answer is not easy to come by.

A Happy Client a Day Keeps the Malpractice Suit Away

Malpractice is the potential danger to every attorney that should be regarded with deadly seriousness. If you're a rash go-getter, this can both be good and bad for you. Your personality can be good at the negotiating table in pushing up settlement figures for your client. But it can also have a tendency to make you arrogant and flip. Such lawyers tend to also run legal-mills.

Know this: only dissatisfied or unhappy clients sue you for malpractice. You became an attorney to sue others, not get sued yourself. So take the time to polish up your best practices guide with regards to handling and treating your clients with kid gloves. Sometimes, prevention is can be your best bet.