The Lawyer Business Coach: Humor Means Health! Are Lawyers ‘Legal Eagles’ Or ‘Legal Beagles’?

Yes, I’m a lawyer. Please don’t hold it against me. Many people don’t like lawyers. They say they seldom return phone calls. Others complain that they charge too much money. Many say they don’t speak plain English, and instead speak what is sometimes called ‘legal gobbledegook.’ Some even think lawyers are all crooks.

Many people think lawyers should be eliminated altogether. But America loves lawyers. We have more lawyers, per capita here, than any other nation in the world. When I passed the bar and started law practice, the registration number I was assigned was 2,386. That’s how many lawyers there were in Colorado, USA. If I were to tell you how many Colorado lawyers there are today you wouldn’t believe me and you would think I was lying. By the way, you do know how to tell if a lawyer is lying don’t you? If his mouth is moving.

Again, many people think lawyers should be eliminated altogether. Shakespeare, in Hamlet, has the line, “The first order of business should be to kill all the lawyers.” Heaven forbid! Pogo, our cartoon philosopher friend, gave us an alternative: “Let’s just shorten their legal pads.” This sounds like a much more realistic idea to me. Doesn’t it to you too?

I write different types of articles: business, spiritual, and human development. I call myself ‘The Lawyer Business Coach,’ and ‘The Gospel Coach.’ Most people can understand me writing law-business articles. But many can’t understand me writing spiritual articles. I’ve had people say, “How can you be a lawyer, and a Christian too? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?”

At a funeral service the minister said, “Here lies a lawyer, and a good Christian man.” One fellow asked the minister: “Did they bury two men in the same grave?” But, yes, I do write spiritual articles. My focus is living daily life in the power of the finished work of the gospel of Jesus.

My purpose in these humor articles is simply to give you a greater fondness for us lawyers. Maybe just a greater tolerance for us? Take your pick. Don’t forget to hug your lawyer today. On second thought, maybe that’s not such a good idea. Ignore that counsel.

Remember, lawyers are people too. Well, at least most of us. And at least most of the time. Whichever is greater. Or least. Or perhaps both.

Those Legal EAGLES (or is that ‘BEAGLES’?)

Lawyers are the legal eagles of society! We are the custodians of liberty!! We are the protectors of the people!!! We are the stalwarts of justice!!!! We are the upholders of the Constitution!!!!! And if you believe this, then I also have some ocean-front property in Denver, Colorado I want to sell you too.

We all know what an eagle is. It’s a large, gorgeous, strong bird that is the symbol of America herself. We lawyers like to consider ourselves legal eagles. We also all know what beagles are. It is defined as a dog who is a small hound, with a smooth, lavish coat, short legs and drooping ears. They also have a wide throat, and produce a deep growl or fierce bark. This describes a lot of lawyers I know.

It’s Hard For Lawyers To Stay Motivated

It’s especially hard for us lawyers to stay motivated because of all the negative lawyer jokes we hear all the time. I wish people would go back to Pollock jokes. But then I’m not so sure about this either, because Sir Frederick Pollock was a famous English lawyer barrister, and jurist.

I feed myself this stuff because it’s so hard for us lawyers to stay motivated. That is, unless we are suing someone. Why? Because we lawyers are the most enthusiastically negative people in the world. But it’s not without cause.

In defense of lawyers (most of whom need a lot of defense), do you have any idea how difficult it is to stay motivated, enthusiastic, or ‘up’ when you face one negative person or situation after another, hour after hour, all day long?

Law offices are negative, because they consist of lawyers. Also, a lawyers’ secretary is often down in the bumps because of her boss. After all, how would you feel if you were a legal secretary and you were ready to leave work for the day. You pop your head into your bosses’ office and say, “Hey boss, have a good day!” He snarls back at you: “Don’t tell ME what to do!”

That’s how it is in most lawyers’ offices. Wouldn’t this negative atmosphere rub off on you too if you had to work in it constantly?

Of course, clients are usually negative because of the things they are facing – criminal matters, traffic violations, divorces, bankruptcies, corporate problems, contract breeches, and many, many other types of things. When you’re a lawyer, you must handle those negative clients – and then fight with other lawyers and judges on top of that.

At the end of the case you often have to fight your client to collect your fee. Especially if you lose! What a business. It is no wonder lawyers are negative people.

Practicing law is a lot like practicing prostitution. In both cases, the value of services rendered drastically declines – once those services have been performed. It’s because clients don’t like to pay once services have been performed that makes many lawyers collect their fees in advance.

So, we lawyers spend all of our days fighting with everyone we come into contact with. Then we spend our nights worried about the next day’s activities. And you thought being a lawyer was just a lot of fun and games, didn’t you?

Next time we’ll talk about the mixed messages that lawyers often give people.

The Credentials of Any Good San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

The hallmark credentials that you want to see when hiring a San Diego criminal defense lawyer on a serious felony charge are pretty much the same for a criminal defense lawyer anywhere. When you are charged with a serious felony in a state court system where your exposure is many years in prison you don’t want someone “practicing” or dabbling on your matter. You want a consummate talented and respected professional that regularly handles the type of criminal charge that you are charged with.

The bottom line is that you want a lawyer with a winning reputation. The profile that makes up that type of lawyer consists of a number of characteristics. You want a lawyer that is well educated. While the law school a lawyer went to isn’t necessarily the characteristic that makes the difference, the better law schools produce lawyers who understand the theory of the law better which makes them better able to make arguments that persuade judges.

You also want a lawyer who has a good presence and who is respected in the courts. The more respected your lawyer is, the better he will be able to negotiate, win critical motions, and get rulings favorable to your case. A good lawyer who is respected in his community will be respected anywhere he or she goes to handle a case. The prosecutors and the judges get the picture quickly by the way the lawyer handles themselves.

You want a lawyer who has been practicing many years if your case is a serious felony such as murder, vehicular manslaughter, forcible rape, or child molestation. The more years a lawyer has practiced means that he or she has handled more situations, more cases, and more trials. That combined experience means that they will be able to analyze your case quicker and with more accuracy than a lesser experienced lawyer. Years of experience means they know all the moves and how to implement them effectively at the right moment.

Make sure your lawyer has successfully handled many cases of the type of charge you have. If you are charged with murder, for instance, you want a lawyer who has handled and tried several murder cases. A top gun lawyer should be able to cite several examples of jury trial results and favorable settlements in the type of case you have. There is no reason not to hire a lawyer with a long record of winning. Every lawyer has won a case or two. You want the lawyer with a long list of successful results.

In every major community in this country competent skilled professionals exist who are capable of getting you the best results. A little work trying to find one will be worth the effort. If you throw your money away on someone who isn’t up to the task you won’t find out until it is too late. You can always change lawyers but you may have spent all of your resources. Major Tip: Don’t ask people to refer you to a good lawyer. You may just be getting a friend or a business referral. Ask people: “Who are the five or ten best San Diego criminal defense lawyers to handle a serious state court felony trial case?” You will likely get a list of great lawyers. The good lawyers will all talk to you and you will be able to see the difference and choose who you are most comfortable with and can afford.

Online Law Firm Marketing: Are Attorneys Complying With ABA Ethical Rules?

Law is a profession ripe with tradition. This profession is one of the few self-regulating professions and is governed by a myriad of professional rules, ethical opinions, and applicable common law. It is well-known that, historically, the law itself has slothfully adjusted to incorporate technological advances within its parameters. This is true regarding the ethical rules of professional conduct. Yet, as more and more legal professionals are now turning to the internet to market their practice through legal websites, blogs, and other social media outlets, there will become an increased need for further regulation regarding ethical advertising on the internet.

The American Bar Association (“ABA”) has draft model ethical rules for states to adopt and lawyers to follow. Today, these rules are called the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules”) and were adopted by the ABA’s House of Delegates in 1983. These Rules were modified from the Model Code of Professional Responsibility. Additionally, the precursor to both was actually the 1908 Canons or Professional Ethics.

As noted, the Rules are not actually binding on an attorney until their state has either adopted them or some other related professional rules. Presently, all states except for California have adopted the ABA’s Rules at least in part. Most of the states have adopted the ABA’s Rules in full with slight modifications or additions to them. Other states, like New York, have adopted the ABA’s Rules but included somewhat substantial modifications.

The Rules and each state’s compilations do include provisions related to advertising and solicitation. Depending on the state, the distinction between each of these terms could be minimal or significant. Generally, “advertising” refers to any public or private communication made by or on behalf of a lawyer or law firm about the services available for the primary purpose of which is for retention of the lawyer or law firm’s services. In contrast, “solicitation” is a form of advertising, but more specifically is initiated by or for the lawyer or law firm and is directed to or targeted at a specific group of persons, family or friends, or legal representatives for the primary purpose of which is also for retention of the lawyer or law firm’s services.

Even though the Rules do address advertising and solicitation to the internet, they are unsurprisingly lacking. These gaps are somewhat filled by ethical opinions or case law. But this generally means that an attorney has already gone through the litigation process and, unfortunately, likely been subjected to discipline.

However, the Rules do provide a fairly strong foundation for an attorney or law firm read over. Even if your state’s professional rules do not adequately present internet marketing provisions, you may still consult the ABA’s Rules for guidance.

Within the Rules, the primary place to look is Rule 7. This rule pertains to “Information About Legal Services” and houses the majority of the applicable rules to internet marketing for attorneys. Duly note, that there still will be other provisions scattered throughout the Rules which apply to marketing. This is just the most applicable concentration of provisions an attorney should consult first before looking for those ancillary sections elsewhere.

Rule 7.1 is the first and more overarching provision an attorney should be concerned with. This section is entitled “Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services” and prohibits a lawyer from making “false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A “false or misleading” communication is further defined in the rule and Comments as one that “contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.” Most pertinently, Comment 1 expressly states that Rule 7.1 does apply to a lawyer or law firm’s website, blog, or other advertising because it states that this provision “governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2.”

Under Rule 7.2, which is entitled broadly as “Advertising,” allows attorneys to advertise “through written, recorded, or electronic communication.” Comment 3 confirms that “electronic media, such as the Internet, can be an important source of information about legal services.” Thus, this only solidifies the fact that 7.2 and, therefore 7.1, apply to internet legal marketing.

In addition, Comment 2 for Rule 7.2 provides further information regarding what can actually be included in these advertisements; for our purposes, websites and blogs. It permits the following: Information concerning a lawyer’s name or law firm, address, and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer’s fees are determined, including pricing for specific services and payment or credit arrangements; a lawyer’s foreign language ability; name of references; and a catch-all for all other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.

However, there is a caveat! First, your state may actually have additional requirements. For instance, New York only permits foreign language ability if “fluent” and not just as for a general ability. Therefore, you might be complying with the persuasive ABA Rule, but in violation with the mandatory state rule (in this case, New York). Second, this Comment is also misleading. Sub(c) under Rule 7.2 actually requires that a communication–such as an advertisement which we now know includes an attorney or law firm’s website–to contain the name and office address of at least one lawyer of the firm or the actual firm itself.

Rule 7.3 is entitled “Direct Contact with Prospective Clients” and deals more so with solicitation–as opposed to advertising–to prospective clients. But, if the attorney or law firm has a mailing list or sends out a newsletter via e-mail, this rule can also be applicable to past clients are well! The rule prohibits in-person and live telephone calls to prospective clients, which includes “real-time electronic contact[s],” that involving advertising an attorney’s services in hopes or retention. Further, this rule requires that every e-mail sent must include “Advertising Material” at the beginning and end of the transmission. Moreover, this rule provides an exception for family, close friends, or past clients,

That is, unless another exception applies. Rule 7.3 still prohibits a lawyer from sending, for example an e-mail newsletter, to another person if that person has either 1) “made it known” they do not want to be solicited or if the communication 2) contains “coercion, duress or harassment.” Meaning, if a past client tells you they want to be unsubscribed from an e-mail mailing list, and you fail to do so, you will be in violation of this rule just as much as if you directly communicated with a prospective client!

Additionally, you may be able to extrapolate this rule to other aspects of social media. There is a seasonable argument that an attorney who directly sends a Facebook Friend message or “Friend Request” to the prospective client hoping for them to “Like” the attorney’s professional page might constitute a violation of this rule. Even if it does not generally violate this rule, if the prospective client rejects the first request and the attorney sends a second “Friend Request,” is the attorney now in violation of this rule? Arguably it would appear so!

Finally, the last rule that really applies directly to internet marketing such as attorney websites and blogs is Rule 7.5; “Firm Names and Letterheads.” Even though it does not appear that this rule applies, looking at the Comments clearly shows that it does. Specifically, Comment 1 directly remarks that firm names include website addresses. Further, it refers back to Rule 7.1 and reminds us that website addresses cannot be false or misleading. In effect, this means that an attorney or law firm cannot make their domain name “http://www.WinEveryTime.com” or something of that effect.

Yet, the Comments do permit trade names in a website address such as the example “Springfield Legal Clinic.” But duly note, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that state legislation may prohibit the use of trade names in professional practices if they deem fit. So this is another state-specific area for the attorney or law firm to review.

In conclusion, even though law has typically lagged behind in adopting such advancements like technology, there are still ample provisions in the ABA Rules to guide an attorney or law firm to comply with internet marketing. More and more legal professions will branch out on the internet, which will create a greater need for more ethical regulation. Yet for now, with the ABA Rules as a guidepost, a profession should understand their obligations in creating, managing, and promotion their legal practice on the internet through websites and blogs.

Law Firm Ratings and Related Information

Before engaging the services of a law firm, it is necessary to know its background and performance record. To do this, you have to find out the ratings of the firm about its legal ability and standards.

Law firms are rated based on their ability and general ethical standards. There are rating boards across the country which conduct and evaluate law firms based on confidential opinions of members of the bar and the Judiciary. The ratings are given on a five-year interval, usually after a lawyer has been admitted to the bar.

The two components of the ratings system are:

o Legal Ability – This component is graded in three ways: C (good to high), B (high to very high) and C (very high to preeminent)

o The General Ethical Standard Ratings denotes ‘adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria related to the discharge of legal responsibilities’. The general recommendation rating of a law firm must be a “V” which it must first receive in order to gain the legal ability rating.

Ratings Classification

The ratings are typically described as follows:

o CV Rating – An excellent first rating, a statement of the firm’s above average ability and high ethical standard

o BV Rating – Means an exemplary reputation and well-established practice, also indicates that law firm is in mid-career, with a significant client base and high professional standard

o AV Rating – The firm has reached the height of professional excellence, indicates long years of law practice with the highest level of skill and integrity

The Importance of the Rating System

The rating system on lawyers and their firms are conducted to help you determine which lawyer or legal entity is worth hiring. The rating will also show you the level of competence and experience of a law firm as seen on the classification grade. Nevertheless being un-rated does not mean a law firm has no credibility. Many competent and reputable law firms in the country remain unrated or choose not to participate in the ratings. In researching about a firm’s credentials, peers, colleagues and former clients are still the best sources of real information.

Important Characteristics of a Reputable Legal Firms

For a law firm to be respectable, the following characteristics must be observed:

o Professional – Lawyers of a firm must show a high level of professionalism by treating each client with their full attention and support

o Experience – Lawyers must meet stringent practice area qualifications and must be dedicated to the practice of one area of law

o Good Standing – Lawyers must be of good record in the bar associations where they belong and must have no record of disciplinary action against them.

o Respected – The lawyer and the firm he represents must be respected by the community and his peers

Finding a reputable law firm is very much like looking for the right lawyer. Look for the firm that will suit your needs. However, when it comes to choosing the right firm, you should look at afirm’s experience and reputation. These are the two important factors to be considered when selecting a firm that will handle your legal needs.

More information about law firm ratings and information by consulting with California law firm