Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

November 2011 Archives

Should the ABA Attack the 'Unauthorized' Practice of Law?

Many attorneys believe that the unauthorized practice of law is something that can both hurt a lawyer's business and consumers.

LegalZoom, a provider of legal forms and documents like wills, recently settled a class action lawsuit originating in Missouri. Missouri alleged that LegalZoom violated a law prohibiting non-attorneys from preparing legal documents.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Feeling less ambitious lately? You may not be alone. A new survey suggests professional women's ambitions are waning, and that most would prefer flex time over a pay raise.

The survey by More magazine did not focus specifically on female lawyers, but it offers some insight into what professional women -- with college degrees, between 35 and 60 years old, and making at least $60,000 a year -- are thinking in general.

It's also being met with some criticism. As one website points out, the results only seem to promote stereotypes that women have worked hard to overcome.

Among the survey's key findings:

Could Junk Food, Sugar Addiction Be the Next Big Practice Area?

Junk food addiction may become your firm's new practice niche.

That is, if it catches on.

One Yale professor seems to think it might. Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity says that she thinks new scientific finding about junk food could change the legal landscape.

Winning Is Everything, Claims Firm that Settles 97% of its Cases

Personal injury firm Jacoby & Meyers' new advertising campaign emphasizes one thing: winning.

Apparently, winning is everything to the firm. At least that's what they've said in their recent commercials.

"Remember that guy? Who came in second in the last New York Marathon? Neither do we. Winning is everything," said one text-only commercial.

All this is coming from a firm with a 97% settlement rate.

Google Update May Harm Your Firm's Search Rankings

Small firms who maintain an Internet presence may wonder: what does the recent Google update mean for their law firm's website?

Just let Google do the explaining. Apparently, their most recent algorithm update puts an emphasis on "the most up-to-date results."

Just 8 months ago, Google unveiled its "Panda" update which is said to have affected 12 percent of searches. This most recent update is said to impact 35% of searches. What can law firms do to stay afloat of this recent change?

Will Lawyers Soon Be Drafting Wills at the Supermarket?

The debate surrounding nonlawyer ownership in law firms is heating up, and with some potentially drastic consequences.

Personal injury firm Jacoby & Meyers is currently suing New York for the right to accept capital investments from nonlawyers. The American Bar Association appears favorable to this request, as it is proposing an amendment to the similar Model Rule 5.4.

But then we have England, where such ownership is allowed. Lawyers there are now providing services in grocery stores.

Should Posthumously Conceived Children Get Survivor Benefits?

Old law and new technology are heading to the Supreme Court sometime soon, and family law and estate planning attorneys might be interested.

The Court has agreed to hear Astrue v. Capato, which asks whether posthumously conceived children should receive survivor benefits under the Social Security Act.

More specifically, the Court will determine whether such children are eligible for survivor benefits even when they cannot collect under the state's intestacy law.

Children Lose Attorney-Client Privilege in CO Ad Litem Cases

Attorneys often stand in as guardians ad litem. But in Colorado, all guardians ad litem must hold a license to practice law.

Despite this requirement, a recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling states the attorney-client privilege does not apply to guardians ad litem. Confidentiality between a guardian and an abused or neglected child does not exist.

Guardians are not advocates, explained the court. Their job is to represent the child's best interests, not the child's interests.

The Unfinished Business Doctrine Can Haunt Attorneys

The unfinished business doctrine: it can happen to you. And it's happening to the now-defunct Heller Ehrman.

When the firm disbanded and filed for bankruptcy three years ago, partners took their business and fled to new firms. But now the bankruptcy trustee is going after those partners and their firms, seeking payment for Heller's debt.

Turns out that the unfinished business doctrine prevents debt from disappearing even when a law firm no longer exists.

Defense lawyers always have to stay sharp for their clients. That is, unless your client has a penchant for making his points with sharp objects.

For the third time this year, accused killer Joshua Monson stabbed his court-appointed lawyer at a hearing last week. The attorney, Jesse Cantor, was not seriously hurt.

But the third attack was not the charm for Monson, whose matter was declared a mistrial after he stabbed his two prior lawyers in the case.

NY Foreclosure Firm Apologizes for Homeless-Themed Halloween Party

Law firms everywhere, here's some unsolicited advice: Don't throw a Halloween party that makes light of your firm's work. This is especially true if your firm deals with serious legal actions like foreclosures, such as Steven J. Baum's New York law firm.

It can cost you goodwill and your reputation.

Baum's firm specializes in foreclosures. It's what many describe as a "foreclosure mill." Surprisingly, in 2010 some of the firm's employees decided to throw a Halloween costume bash that poked fun at foreclosed homeowners. They put together a homeless-themed party.

Supreme Court Veteran Paul Clement to Argue Obamacare Before Justices?

The Supreme Court has scheduled a November 10 conference to consider five of the six Obamacare appeals. By November 14, the country will know which cases, if any, have been accepted for oral arguments.

The facts suggest that the justices will accept an appeal from the 11th Circuit. That case, found in favor of Florida and 25 other states, created a circuit split and has been appealed by the federal government.

It would also be argued by former solicitor general, Paul Clement.