3 Ways to Deal with Client Conflicts

attorney's hand up in stop gesture because there's a conflict of interest between clientsA prospective client comes to you and you discover that there’s a conflict of interest with one of your current or former clients. Or while you’re representing a client, a conflict arises with another client. You’ve got three ways to deal with these types of situations, depending on when the conflict comes to light.  Continue reading

5 Tips for Preparing Defense Closing Statement

man holding up five fingers for the five tips for defense closing argumentLike opening statements, defense counsel should strategically organize the closing argument and reduce it to very simple main points. But unlike an opening statement, a closing argument is an explicit argument rather than a narrative containing an implicit argument. Here are five tips for defense counsel’s closing argument. Continue reading

How to Write Special Interrogatories

woman drafting interrogatories on her computerDrafting special interrogatories is yet another mainstay of litigation practice that’s generally not covered well in law school. Consider this a summary overview to get you started. Continue reading

Checklist: Reviewing an Estate Plan

Attorneys are often asked to review a will prepared by either another attorney or the client who used a self-help book. But review of an existing will really means an estate plan review, including beneficiary designations and powers of attorney. It’s relatively simple to spot improper drafting, but harder to determine whether needed provisions were omitted. This checklist will help you review a will and estate plan to make sure it’s up-to-date and meets your client’s needs. Continue reading

How to Depose Depends on Your Goal

The first thing to do in preparing for a deposition is to think about your goal—what are you trying to achieve with this particular deposition? Your goal should be reflected in your conduct toward the deponent and the scope of your questions. Here’s a look at how three common deposition goals should play out. Continue reading

4 Things to Do When Demurring to a Complaint

You find defects in the allegations in the complaint and plan to file a demurrer. First, consider whether it’s a good tactical move, or if an alternative approach would be better. If you decide to go for it, follow the four steps outlined below to avoid common pitfalls for demurrers. Continue reading

How to Write Effectively

When drafting any document—from a contract to a research memo—always remember: Effective documents are written in a way that the reader can easily read and understand. Here are eight techniques to make your writing as clear, and thus as effective, as possible. Continue reading

Oh, What a Difference Plain English Makes!

Any document you draft—from an email to a settlement agreement—should be written in plain, understandable language. But many attorneys still fall into the trap of using stilted, legalistic language, particularly in contracts and other transactional documents. Compare the following purchase agreement recitals and see what a difference plain English makes. Continue reading

You Should Have a Client File Retention Policy: Here’s a Sample

Attorneys maintain files on their clients’ cases with documents (and sometimes other property) that clients have provided in connection with those cases. These files have to be returned to the client, at a client’s request, when the attorney’s “employment has terminated,” subject to “any protective order or nondisclosure agreement.” Cal Rules of Prof Cond 3–700(D)(1). Given this rule, it’s imperative that attorneys establish an office policy on the retention and disposition (including destruction) of client files, and notify clients of this policy. Continue reading

5 Areas for Questioning an Expert at Deposition

Regardless of an expert’s particular specialty, there are five areas that apply to the questioning of most expert witnesses at deposition. Continue reading