Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

August 2011 Archives

Attorney Disbarred for 'Closing' Firm Files for Future Solo Clients

Gregory Raymond Keiner was an ambitious personal injury attorney from Maryland.

But, his ambition caught up with him. He is now disbarred after engaging less-than-ethical behavior.

Keiner was an associate at the Law Offices of Evan K. Thalenberg, where he earned a high $268,700 salary, reports the ABA Journal. However, it seemed that Keiner wanted to set up his own personal injury shop. And, he wanted to do it with clients from his current office.

Surfing the Web at Work Makes Employees More Productive, Study Says

Maybe it's time you loosen your law firm internet policy.

Did you know that associates who surf the net at work might actually be getting more work done?

"Cyberloafing," or surfing the web, can increase employee productivity according to a National University of Singapore study.

Managers and partners at firms may think that blocking more "frivolous" websites like Facebook or YouTube are good ways to prevent associates from slacking off. But, maybe letting associates and staff members enjoy an uninhibited internet experience may pay off in the long run.

Clients are More Likely to Hire 'Beer-Worthy' Attorneys

Are you a beer-worthy attorney?

If not, get to it.

In his new book, Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition, Adrian Dayton promotes the idea that clients are more likely to hire attorneys who are beer-worthy--people with whom they want to have a drink, enjoy talking to and strategizing with, and generally like being around when not dealing with professional matters.

How can you convey this image to your potential clients?

CA Plaintiffs Can Only Claim Actual, Not Billed, Medical Expenses

In a landmark win for insurers, the California Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs in personal injury cases cannot recover billed medical expenses over actual medical expenses.

The case started from a personal injury automobile lawsuit. Rebecca Howell was injured in a car crash. She sued Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc., for damages including the amount of her medical expenses.

Howell's bills totaled nearly $190,000. However, due to agreements between her insurance carrier and the treating medical facilities, the total amount paid for medical expenses was closer to $60,000, according to the complaint.

Top 5 Tips on How to Retain Associates

Some 75% of associates leave the firm after five years, according to a National Association for Legal Placement study.

The relatively dismal statistic goes to demonstrate how difficult it is for firms to retain associates.

And, many attorneys can empathize. While associates may love the practice of law, long billable hour requirements and sleepless nights can often leave to associates simply burning out.

Or, some associates may already have their exit strategies in place, looking to only gain experience at a firm for a few years before jumping ship. What can law firms do to combat this trend?

Wisconsin State Bar Sues LexisNexis Over Pillar Icon

Do you think you can confuse LexisNexis with the State Bar of Wisconsin?

One is, well, a state bar. And the other is a research services.

But, if you're simply looking at Lexis' logo website, you might think you're actually looking at the logo used by the State Bar of Wisconsin.

And, lawyers for the State Bar of Wisconsin would tend to agree with you. They say that the logo for one of LexisNexis' website,,  looks strikingly similar to their logo. A little too similar, as it turns out.

So, as expected of an organization made up of lawyers, the State Bar has filed suit against Lexis over the logo.

You Don't Have to Pay CA Law Grads Awaiting the Bar Overtime

California law grads waiting for their bar results are considered "professionals" and are exempt from overtime pay, according to a recent decision by the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

For California firms that employ post-bar clerks, this decision paves the way for a clearer interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act rules.

Workers who are considered "professionals" are often excluded the "overtime pay" requirement under the FLSA.

Jose Baez Complaint: Fla. Bar Investigates Casey Anthony Probation

Winning the acquittal of Casey Anthony may have made him the luckiest attorney in America, but things aren't actually looking too great for Jose Baez. Investigated twice before for his conduct during Anthony's representation, the Florida Bar Association has confirmed that a panel of three appellate judges has launched a third ethics investigation into his behavior. 

With this latest Jose Baez complaint, the governing body is questioning whether Baez violated his duty of candor to the court.

Think You Can You Fit an Appellate Brief into a Tweet?

Can you write an appellate brief in 140 characters or less (including spaces)?

This odd question--and challenge--has been posed by the Appellate Section of the Texas State Bar, which is kicking off its annual meeting in September with a Twitter brief competition, asking members and attendees to test their ability to make it short and quick.

For those yearning to enter--and those who have no clue where to start--here are a few suggestions to get those creative juices flowing.

Courthouse Dogs Are Cute, But You Can't Cross Examine Them

Though they provide comfort to inmates, defendants, and families, courthouse dogs are most prominent for their ability to soothe vulnerable witnesses who otherwise would not be able to testify in court.

One such instance recently occurred in a New York courtroom, where Rosie, an adorable Golden Retriever, gave emotional support to a 15-year-old testifying about the rape and abuse she suffered at the hands of her father.

Convicted, his defense attorneys are now appealing, arguing that Rosie and other courthouse dogs unfairly prejudice juries with their cuteness.

Should You Let your Clients Decide How Much to Pay You?

Have you ever had that awkward scenario when, after billing clients, they call you, enraged at how the cost of your professional services?

When you're billing by incremental times, it's easy to rack up a huge bill that can not only pad your pockets but shock your clients.

Well, one attorney thought up a way to avoid these scenarios. He's asking his clients how much they would like to pay him.

Lawyer TV Ads Aren't Easy: NY Firm's Ad Has City Council Furious

Lawyers get a lot of flack for commercial and radio shoots, with parts of the profession considering it sleazy, and other parts trying to reign in potential misrepresentation.

But lawyer advertisements are important to get the word out and help smaller firms and solo practitioners compete, which is why the New York firm Cellino & Barnes has made them a part of its marketing strategy.

Only now, instead of being scrutinized by the profession, the firm is getting some pushback from Buffalo's City Hall.

To Sidestep Medical Malpractice Caps: File Defective Product Suit

For Plaintiff's attorneys, medical malpractice damages caps are a very real concern. But are there other ways around the caps?

Take the case of the botched circumcision in California.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rex Heeseman has agreed to approve a $4.6 million settlement reached between former Los Angeleno Melanie Hall and Miltex Inc., the medical device company she feels is responsible for her son's botched circumcision.

How Much Should a Solo Lawyer Charge?

Figuring out what to charge your clients is likely a daunting and nerve-wracking step toward setting up a solo practice. How much should a solo lawyer's fees be?

The answer to that question is, of course, partially dependent on what practice areas your firm's practice will be in, as some practice areas charge a higher rate than others.

And, it's also dependent on where your practice is geographically located. Some legal markets generally have higher fees than others.

Scams Targeting Lawyers: TX Bar Warns of Phone Call Scam

The number of scams targeting lawyers seems to be multiplying, with the State Bar of Texas recently warning its members to be on the lookout for fake bar association representatives.

Members of both the Tarrant and Lubbock County bars have reportedly received calls from people who claim to be “from the bar association,” asking for credit card information after explaining that they must pay their dues immediately, or renew their bar cards.

One scammer even offered a free section membership.