Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog


Should Your Firm Create a Legal Tech Summer Associates Program?

BigLaw generally leads the way in adapting legal tech, but any law firm can teach aspiring lawyers a thing or two about it.

Consider Reed Smith, a global law firm with more than 1,800 attorneys. The firm is offering summer programs for law students to create technology-driven solutions to legal problems.

It's a boon to young workers who otherwise end up in the doldrums of discovery or other mundane tasks, so why shouldn't your firm innovate, too? After all, it's not like teaching old dogs new tricks.

For many attorneys, there is very little concern that a judge will comment on your attire, hair, or overall style. However, it does happen, and unfortunately, more often than not, it will happen behind your back.

When it does happen that a judge calls out a lawyer in their courtroom for some perceived fashion faux paus, an attorney may feel compelled to defend their dressing decisions, but that might not be the right choice. After all, it's the client's case, and if a judge is going to be distracted by an attorney's clothing to the point of commenting, that attorney may want to listen and dress to the judge's expectations, simply to not prejudice their client.

Contempt Is 'Well Deserved,' ACLU Says of Kansas Official

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach "can't be trusted" and deserves to be punished.

That's what the American Civil Liberties Union said, not holding back its contempt for the state official. But the ACLU is not the only one holding Kobach in contempt.

A federal judge has held the secretary of state in contempt for a "history of non-compliance" with court orders. Those words may not break bones, but they will definitely hurt.

How to Make Solo Business Travel Fun and Productive

When it comes to making business travel more fun, who better to ask than a pilot?

After all, pilots have their privileges. They may not disclose all of them, but First Class and the VIP lounge are givens.

Absent the super-secret list of fun things to do when traveling alone, however, here are some suggestions for lawyers:

If a law firm creates an actual physical product, like an easy to use legal guide for non-lawyers, can the law firm sell that guide? Or perhaps more apropos for today, if a law firm buys a program or website that can render legal services without the assistance of an attorney, like generating basic form documents, can a law firm sell those services, ethically speaking? Generally, the answer is an all too familiar: Yes, but ...

When it comes to products that may verge on the practice of law, or may be ancillary or related to actual client matters, there are some significant matters to consider. Naturally, each state's rules of professional conduct may have some rules that loosely apply. For example, California Rule 3-300 prohibits attorneys from acquiring pecuniary interests adverse to their clients. So a lawyer that represents a publisher of legal guides, might want to think twice, and maybe even get client consent, before publishing and selling their own guide.

More Than 50,000 Reasons Not to Take Fees on the Side

Carllene Placide had a good gig, but that deal expired.

She was a partner at Dorsey & Whitney, a big law firm, pulling down a base salary of $225,000 a year. Apparently dissatisfied with her non-equity status, she started doing legal jobs on the side.

That violated firm policy, and led to her termination. She refused to pay back more than $50,000 for the outside work, and that led to the end of her career.

If You Make a Material Error, You Must Tell Current Clients

First, the bad news: you have to inform current clients when you make material errors.

The good news is, you don't have to tell former clients. That's the gist of a recent ethics opinion from the American Bar Association.

So what are we to learn from the "tell-don't-tell" rule? Get rid of those erred-upon clients so you don't have to tell them?

While any attorney that's really thought out their fee agreement knows, filing an appeal costs extra and requires a new agreement.

However, sometimes after a loss, you may need to file the notice of appeal while the client sorts out new counsel. And after some losses, like when a judge refuses to approve an administrative filing due to the judge's own religious beliefs and pens a detailed opinion supporting their decision, you may actually want to file the appeal yourself.

Below, you can find a few examples of when you absolutely need to file an appeal, or at very least, a notice of one.

Is It a Good Idea to Record Client Communications?

Wouldn't it just be weird if Michael Cohen's recordings become President Trump's undoing?

Cosmicly weird because tape recordings are what brought down President Nixon. He refused to give up recordings of conversations with co-conspirators in the Watergate scandal, and the rest is history.

But Cohen's recordings are also lawyerly weird because -- besides Trump saying the attorney-client privilege is dead -- recording client communications is not always a bad idea.

Jury trials can often feel like you're right back in high school trying to win a popularity contest based on proving your nemesis wrong before a group of your peers. And while you might think you benefit by looking cooler, sharper, richer, or simply "better" than your adversary, in the eyes of a jury, your panache, or bling, may be your downfall.

Simply put, yes, jurors care about your attire, but not in the way you might think. Generally, since juries are usually comprised of people from all walks of life, your now-vintage $10K Apple Watch might not impress anyone but tech-folk, while on the other hand, or wrist, a Rolex might send the wrong signals. In short, if your usual attire or accessories reflect your riches, you might consider toning it down for the jury. The jury members aren't your peers, they're your client's peers.