How to hire a lawyer

When starting a new business it is a good move to look for and hire a lawyer. Not only are there tax concerns and legal paperwork to deal with, but having the advice of counsel can come in handy with many businesses. A good business attorney will give you guidance about things such as zoning compliance, trademark and copyright rules, lawsuits and liability.

Like doctors, lawyers have also become highly specialized. When looking for the right lawyer for your business, here are some skills to look for:

  1. Contracts You will need an attorney that can prepare and understand standard contracts. These will include contracts that you need for clients and customers as well as those that other parties may want you to sign.
  2. Business Organization Your lawyer can help you decide the right business organization. Some businesses are an LLC (Limited Liability Corp.) while others are incorporated. This designation is important to your taxes and the way that you will do business.
  3. Real Estate When it comes time to lease a work space you will need an attorney to help you understand and negotiate these documents. Often, leases are in favor of the landlord. The right lawyer may find ways to make the lease more beneficial for you and your growing business.
  4. Taxes and licenses You may have an accountant that is handling your taxes. But your lawyer should be able to register your business for federal and state tax identification numbers and understand how your taxes will be effected by basic business actions.
  5. Intellectual property This skill is coming into more demand with the advent of so many internet businesses. The vastness of IP law means that you may have to consult with a specialist if you have a particular need. Nevertheless, your attorney should be able to advice you when that need arises and have some contacts that can assist you when the time comes.

Now that you know why you should hire a lawyer, where should you start? A great place to begin is the American Bar Association. There are also commercial lawyer referral services that will help you find a lawyer near you.  Hiring a lawyer is crucial to any successful business so don’t wait until its too late to get started.

Article via Entreprenuer

Photo JBC Legal – Business Photoshoot by Siomara M. [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Automate your law practice

David Sparks is famous for being a successful lawyer and a technology geek. He explains how he mixes both law and technology to make a unique practice. “I use technology to make my practice run faster and more smoothly. Nothing that I do is impossible for another lawyer to do and everything I do can be accomplished using either technology or manpower. Technology doesn’t give me something no one else has — but because of it my practice is much more lean, and, among other things, gives me an edge in terms of pricing.”

To keep his law practice running lean, automation is the answer. When asked why he automated his law firm he replied, “First, there’s efficiency—it’s much faster. When you have the computer doing something for you, you no longer have to type out words or take time to manually file documents on your computer. Second, it’s more accurate. The computer is doing the task, so for example, as long as you set up the rules correctly, the computer is always going to name files properly.”

Here are some of the tools that he uses to automate his workflow:

Hazel

Hazel is software for mac that is designed to clean and organize files in the background while you work.

I automate my firm’s documents using Hazel. So when I scan a document into my computer, the document is automatically saved in OCT format and then Hazel reads it and can identify clients, dates, etc., and will name the file and file it away for me in my system,” he says.

TextExpander for Mac

TextExpander allows you to create custom abbreviations that, once typed, will expand to full words or images.

“With TextExpander, when I’m drafting discovery documents — for example the list of 5 contention questions we use in California — I have created text expanders so I can type in the bits that are different in each case and TextExpander automatically creates and generates the questions for me. I was going to hire a paralegal to do this for me, but realized it’d be more efficient and more cost effective for the client to accomplish this task using automation.”

Sparks ends with some advice about bringing more technology into your practice. “My standard advice to lawyers is don’t be afraid of technology. It can make you a better lawyer and can save you a lot of money.”

Article via Above the Law, 23 July 2015

Photo: The Lawyer by Ard van der Leeuw [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Handshake software integrates with Ravel

Handshake Software, a provider of SharePoint-based products and services to the legal market, announced its tech integration Ravel Law, a legal search, analytics, and visualization platform. The move is based on the need to provide a legal search product to law firms that will allow them to be more efficient in their practice.

Glenn LaForce, vice president of global sales & marketing at Handshake Software stated, ““Attorneys are under tremendous pressure from their clients with regards to the billable hour, so bringing together as many data sources as possible into one universal search is paramount for their practice,” he said. “To be able to perform legal research while seeing key financials, internal documents, contacts and internal expertise helps the attorneys become more efficient and effective.

This move is a strategic integration between the two companies products. By combining these technologies, the users Sharepoint experience will include search that allows for all knowledge to be in one place. LaForce confirms this by saying, “Lawyers, CIOs and knowledge management professionals tell us they want one system to deliver one-stop [knowledge management] information to their users. Our integration with Ravel Law is another important aspect of the Handshake Software’s all-encompassing solution that includes integration to online legal research and other major legal applications.”

The goal is to provide and environment where users will have access to critical firm data as well as online law research materials. This allows attorneys to more effectively manage the business and practice of law. We’re excited to bring these technologies to lawyers in one easy-to-find location,” said Nik Reed, co-founder and chief operating officer at Ravel Law.

 

Article via LegalTechNews, 12 January 2016

Photo:Assignments by Ryan Hyde [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Making a change in diversity in the legal profession

When it comes to diversity in the law, the status quo is the reigning champion. At the start of the millennium, 88.1% of lawyers were Caucasian. 10 years later, 88.8% were white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in the year 2000 and 2010, respectively. In other words, minorities in this profession have increased by less than 1% percent.

Bryan Stevenson’s TED talk discussion about America’s social justice system gained about 2 million views and a standing ovation. He hit 4 key points that are required for social change:

  1. We need to get proximate to injustice. “The only solutions that work are the ones that are developed when one has an up-close view of a problem.”
  2. Change the point of view. “What is really going on when, say, a 14-year-old black boy lashes out and throws a book at a teacher? Is the solution to incarcerate that child or to ask what happens to a child who has lived for 14 years surrounded by violence?”
  3.  Continue to be hopeful. “We give up on issues that we believe are hopeless, wrongs that we tell ourselves simply cannot be righted. ‘Injustice prevails when hopelessness persists.’”
  4. Get out of your comfort zone. “Whether it is the people who led or joined the civil rights movement (or any other movement that created large-scale change), each and every person made a decision at a critical juncture that they were willing to be uncomfortable and put themselves on the line.”

With diversity being the issue to address in the coming years, people should know that it is not self-executing. The solution is to create advocates and mentors to motivate people from all backgrounds to enter the legal profession. Recruiters should diversify their campus searches and seek intelligent people regardless of economic background. No law school hopeful should be turned away because of financial issues.

Without change, the statistics may stay the same. The next three graduating classes will contribute only about 1% more diversity to the profession. However, the generation of Millennials can breathe life into this homogeneity.

Article via Above the Law, December 11, 2015

Photo: Ceremonial Courtroom, Alfonse D’Amato Courthouse, Central Islip via Douglas Palmer [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Disbarred judge says he will not resign

A disbarred New Mexico Judge is refusing to step down after being disbarred.

Corrales Municipal Judge Luis Quintana was disbarred on July 1st by the New Mexico supreme court. The disbarment was for failing to turn over a settlement check to a client from a workers compensation case. The complaint was filed by Maria Ramos, one of the Judge’s former clients. A committee found that he used the money to pay debts that he owed to other clients instead of paying Ms. Ramos. The Judge contends that his disbarment has nothing to do with his job, therefore he has no intention of resigning.

Judge Quintana told the Albuquerque Journal that the case that resulted in the courts decision to disbar him happened before he was elected. Because of this, Quintana states that he is fully able to carry out his term, which ends in 2016. Despite his claims, the Judge is facing pressure to resign.

“People like myself who are lawyers or retired lawyers are quite alarmed, not only that it happened, but that it’s taken several months for it to become public knowledge…”, says Mayor Phil Gasteyer.  Mayor Gasteyer raised the issue of the disbarred Judge at a recent meeting of the village council. Since Quintana was elected to his position as Judge, he cannot be forced to vacate it. The Mayor plans to ask Judge Quintana for his resignation.

In response to the controversy Quintana stated, “Are people going to be disappointed? Sure. I’m disappointed, too. I’m disappointed because I didn’t serve Ms. Ramos as great as I should have, you know. But that was one instance in 30 years.”

 

Article via ABAJournal, 7 October 2015

Photo: Judges Desk Partial Desat via Matthew Paulson[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Internet of things and risky legal questions

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next revolution in tech. It promises to take devices and connect them together via the internet. Once these devices live together in a network, they will then be able to communicate to each other, machine-to-machine. This level of complexity introduces a new level of legal risk.

As it is today, if something goes wrong with your appliance then you can report to the manufacturer about the faulty product. The Internet of Things will complicate this straightforward matter. In the future, it may be that all parties involved can be held accountable for a product failure. This includes not only the manufacturer, but the internet service provider, the web hosted servers, etc.

This brings up a related issue, user contracts. Due to the legal complications of connecting smart devices, will manufactures for the users to void their contract if their product is connected? At the heart of this concern is data. What will happen if there is a data or security breach? Products connected via Internet of Things will share data. In the event of an attack, who will be legally responsible for the data breach and the fallout?

“The privacy implications are potentially huge,”says Trey Hanbury , an attorney that was interviewed about the formation of Internet of Things ecosystem.

Juniper Research suggest that the internet of things will lead to a more robust security model precisely for this reason. The ideal model would be able to shut down part of the network where an attack is happening without effecting the devices connected to other parts of the network.

What is clear is that lawyers need to get ready for a new period of legal risk and uncertainty due to the IoT revolution. Companies are already heavily investing in building more connected devices. By the year 2020, there is expected to be an infrastructure running that will support a heavily connected world. It will be an exciting time to sort out how the next generation of security and liability will be legally accessed when property has gone digital.

 Article via LegalTechNews, 4 September 2015

Photo: Brooklyn Community Board via Bryan Bruchman[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]