Lawyers express themselves on behalf of others for a living, whether the work is done in a courtroom or from behind a desk. As a result, some practitioners would likely be amused or offended at the notion that they might not be effectively communicating with their own clients. Yet, the No. 1 reason for client complaints to the State Bar of California revolves around lack of communication with their lawyer. The truth of the matter is that lawyers get busy. And when lawyers get busy, there is often a rush to get things done, move on to the next project, check boxes, get things filed and go, go, go! Communication — real communication — suffers as a result.
As a business lawyer, it’s not uncommon to find yourself in the position where a client asks you for – or where you want to give – business advice. As a lawyer, our job is to give legal advice, but in the world of business law, the lines are often blurred between “legal advisor” and “business advisor.” In this article, I discuss the differences between legal and business advice, your duty in providing advice to your client, and potential risks (and benefits) in providing business advice to your client.
Skilled word processing staff, particularly for smaller practices and transactional attorneys, are all but gone. Attorneys must increasingly handle their own documents, generally using the not-always-friendly Microsoft WordTM. Battling with automatic numbering is not the highest and best use of your time nor your client’s wallet. With that in mind, I offer a collection of some of my most often used techniques in Microsoft Word.
By Bill Kammer
I wrote recently and suggested that 2017 was the year for encryption. Hacking is very much on the minds of Americans, and lawyers and clients are frequently discussing the need for and manner of encryption to protect client confidences from interception by the man in the middle. Clients previously were concerned with encryption in place on lawyers’ servers and systems but are now focusing on ways to ensure that emails being exchanged over the internet are protected from interception and compromise.
By Marc Adelman
Meeting a client’s expectations on any given matter is the biggest challenge lawyers often face. Failure to meet those expectations will often leave the client wondering if you did your job, kept your promises, or if your actions met the standard of care. Setting the tone for those expectations starts at your very first interaction with the client. You should not underestimate the import of that initial interaction. Becoming familiar with the client, the facts, and articulating the potential direction and potential outcomes of the case is of primary importance. Take the time to accomplish these critical tasks. Be careful not to assure a result and be mindful of the language you include in your fee agreement. For example:
By Denise Asher
It’s hard to be a trial lawyer when you’re hung over all the time. Or wondering how soon you can get finished with that discovery/pleading/deposition/trial day so you can get something — or rather a whole lot of something — to drink. But that’s precisely the life I endured and finally escaped on my birthday: February 27, 2001. Not my belly-button birthday, of course. My sobriety birthday. The first day of a life filled with miracles since I learned how to stop drinking, one day at a time.
Transactional attorneys refer simply to “reviewing” a contract. However, I have identified different modes of review and found that thinking about them can be helpful in improving my review practices. The following are nine modes of review that I, to varying degrees, am adopting as I review an agreement. Some of them overlap and, of course, I very often perform multiple or even all of these modes in a single reading of an agreement. However if time permits, separate readings focused on one or two of these modes at a time can result in a better, more comprehensive assessment and markup of a document.