Spell Out the Effective Date of Your Fee Agreement

Every contract for legal services should contain a clause specifying the date the agreement will become effective. This date establishes the beginning of the attorney-client relationship and marks the beginning of the attorney’s fiduciary duties toward the client. Continue reading

Highlights of the New California Professional Rules

new rules of professional conductThe following is a guest blog post by Merri A. Baldwin. Merri is a shareholder at Rogers Joseph O’Donnell P.C., where her practice focuses on attorney liability and conduct, including malpractice, State Bar discipline, ethics advice, motions to disqualify and sanctions defense. She is the former Chair of the California State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct.  She teaches professional responsibility at Berkeley Law, and is a certified specialist in Legal Malpractice Law. 

In May, after several rounds and many years of drafting, editing, and consideration, the California Supreme Court approved comprehensive changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers in California to take effect on November 1, 2018. These significant changes bring California rules more in line with the rest of the country.  Here are some highlights of the new rules. Continue reading

What to Tell Clients When Discovery Starts

starting discovery responsesOnce discovery starts, you’ll need to contact your client to help with responses. Here’s a sample letter to explain what is happening and what you need from your client. Continue reading

Who Will Handle Your Law Practice If You Can’t?

decide who will handle your law practice if you have an emergencyNo one likes to think about it, but sole practitioners should take some time to plan for what will happen in the event of their death or disability. Do you have a plan for who will handle your practice if the need arises? Continue reading

Representing Co-Parties? Send This Letter.

lawyers advising co-clients about potential conflicts of interestWhen you represent individuals as co-parties to a case, there’s either an actual conflict or a potential for one. That’s why you need to send a letter like this to both parties.

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The Key to Increasing Lawyer Productivity

lawyers can increase their productivityThe following is a guest blog post by Ritu Goswamy, Esq. Ritu is a lawyer, author, and legal productivity consultant. Ritu’s first book, The New Billable Hour: Bill More Hours, Be More Productive, and Still Have Work-Life Balance, is available for free by emailing her at ritu[at]newbillablehour.com.

“Productivity” is defined as the measure of output per unit of input. To get an increase in productivity, you need greater input efficiency. Here’s how lawyers can apply this principle to increase their productivity and make their practice more rewarding on every level. Continue reading

Do You Know When an Oral Fee Agreement is Enough?

lawyer trying to remember all of the circumstances in which an oral fee agreement is okayAlthough you should always memorialize your attorney-client fee agreements in writing, there are some limited circumstances in which an oral agreement covering attorney fees is legally permissible. How many of those circumstances can you identify? Continue reading

5 Things to Include in Your Email Policy

sending protected email between attorney and clientOne of the first communications you should send to a new client is your email policy.  Explain the dangers involved in emailing privileged information and tell them what precautions to take. Continue reading

How to Drop a Prospective Client Who Doesn’t Pay Your Retainer

Thumbs down icon for turning down a clientYou meet with a prospective client and explain that you’ll need a initial retainer fee to get started. The prospective client doesn’t pay the fee and you’re pretty sure this will be a pattern, so you decide not to take on this person as a client. Now you’ll need to inform him or her in writing.

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5 Ways Lawyers Can Maximize Their Time

lawyer with time pressure and too much to doThe following is a guest blog post by Ritu Goswamy, Esq. Ritu is a lawyer, author, and legal productivity consultant. Her New Billable Hour™ system allows lawyers to expand their time by billing themselves first. Ritu’s first book, The New Billable Hour: Bill More Hours, Be More Productive, and Still Have Work-Life Balance, is available for free by emailing her at ritu@newbillablehour.com.

As lawyers, we may think that there’s not enough time to get everything done. When we feel like we’re “spinning out,” learning the latest time management hack just adds to our stress. We can’t create more hours in the day, but can maximize the hours we have. Consider these five methods to maximize the hours in a day as ways to become more aware and in control of your time. When we are in control, the “spinning out” lessens and our focus deepens. Continue reading