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October 2009 Archives

Top 10 Scary Legal Myths for Attorneys

Myth #10: Finally, with the banking and mortgage mess, we've had a crisis that won't be blamed on the lawyers.

As evidenced by emergency warning from the California State Bar, it appears that more than a few of the less scrupulous members of our profession have found ways to prey on those in desperate need. Who says lawyers are blood-suckers?

Myth #9: Legal ethics forbids many romantic relationships with clients, but sleeping with a client's spouse will probably not lead to problems.

Respect for the profession, combined with ethical rules barring relationships that create conflicts of interest, seem reason enough to abstain. If not, perhaps a $1.5 million jury verdict on tort and contract claims will make it crystal clear.

Myth #8: The smoking gun email I inadvertently produced can't hurt my client because it's privileged.

Although Rule 502 of the Federal Rules of Evidence attempts to reduce the waiver of privilege through inadvertent production, it won't help you if you don't take reasonable steps to prevent disclosure and promptly attempt to rectify the error. It also can't help you if you are in state court unless the disclosure came in a federal proceeding. Unfortunately, once the black cat is accidentally let out of the bag, it will often bite you.

Myth #7: In my brief, I can minimize any bad facts or contrary law by putting quotation marks around them.

It is tempting to believe that the written equivalent of air-quotes might neutralize bad facts, contrary rulings, or even ideas with which you simply disagree. But as "disbarred" anti-video game activist Jack Thompson taught us, the technique does not always prove "effective."

Myth #6: Even judges can be held to account for taking kickbacks for each juvenile they send to private detention centers... right?

Perhaps not. It looks like judicial immunity might protect Luzerne County Court Judge Mark "Cash for Kids" Ciavarella, along with others, from private suits stemming from what some have called "one of the largest and most serious violations of children's rights in the history of the American legal system."

Professional-services consulting firm Hildebrandt International has released its Law Department Survey for 2009, providing a new set of benchmarking data related to how companies in the U.S. and worldwide are using both inside and outside counsel. This year, 231 companies of all sizes in a variety of industries participated in the survey.

Predictably, the recession of the past year has affected the way companies hire and use outside counsel. However, despite slight declines in spending measured as a percentage of revenue, overall spending on outside counsel grew in the past year. And firms willing to to negotiate alternative billing arrangements might find their way to more outside-counsel work.

Some highlights from the 2009 Hildebrandt Law Department Survey:
Trying to figure out how to make your firm's website stand out? Wondering how to attract qualified clients online? Join a free webcast next Tuesday, October 20, to learn more about standing out from the crowd.

The one-hour webcast will show you how to make more out of your online presence, attract more clients and grow your practice. Topics to be covered include:

  • Best practices for creating a powerful law firm brand and differentiating your firm from the competition
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  • Print directories and the shift to online search

James H. Chalat and Linda J. Chalat, of Chalat Hattan & Koupal, will lead the seminar. Read more, and register, using the links below.

Beyond the Basics -- Standing Out From the Crowd
  • FREE one-hour webcast
  • Accessible from any computer with internet access
  • Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Register here for the 11AM CDT time slot

Register here for the 3PM CDT time slot