Category Archives: Risk Management

Attorneys: You’re not Fortune-Tellers

Attorneys can’t predict the future. Even the most experienced of us cannot provide assurances about the outcome of our client’s claims and defenses. Sure, we’ll provide some suggestions and list the possibilities but it is the attorney who sets unreasonable expectations that may end up in trouble. Just ask the attorneys in Dallas who fell victim to a malpractice claim for allegedly over-promising a particular result to their former client.

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Unpunished Good Deeds: Pro Bono Considerations

Pro bono work is an important, and often fulfilling, aspect of an attorney’s practice. For those in financial hardship, the pro bono attorney may spell the difference between hope and disaster. However, some attorneys may hesitate to take on a pro bono assignment because they are wary of the potential for malpractice exposure. Indeed, one report found about half of all attorneys surveyed identified lack of malpractice coverage as a factor discouraging participation. This and other concerns are warranted. While pro bono work is to be encouraged in the appropriate circumstance, there are risk factors to consider before doing so.

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Does Bitcoin Make Cents? Evaluating New Payment Options For Your Firm

Recently, a New York law firm made news when it announced that it would begin accepting Bitcoin as payment. The firm will partner with a Bitcoin payment processing company who will host the firm’s payment system and assist the firm in converting digital currency payments into fiat currency. Other professionals are taking notice, and are permitting clients to pay for legal services using Bitcoin. Should you?

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C.E.Oh No. Titles Firms Should Avoid

Attorneys, architects, accountants, engineers, insurance brokers and agents are all business-persons. Some of these professionals balance their professional obligations on the one hand with business obligations on the other. Pay bills, manage staff, execute leases, develop operational strategy. For some professionals overwhelmed by the business side of running a professional organization, an option is to rely upon laypersons for help. Indeed, it is not uncommon for firms to hire individuals to head up operations, some who may be designated with prestigious titles: CEO or COO. But as fitting as these titles are in the corporate world, these designations may be problematic for law firms.

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High Times: Marijuana in Today’s Workplace

America’s evolving perception of marijuana use is impacting the office setting. While the use of marijuana in the US is illegal under federal law, a state may pass laws permitting recreational or medical use so long as it maintains a proper regulatory system. Does this present a conflict amongst the courts and a headache for employers? You bet. Today, twenty-one states and DC permit the use of medical marijuana, and four more states have medical marijuana legislation pending. Given these developments and others on the horizon, employers must adapt to a workplace that may include recreational pot smokers.

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Avoiding Legal Costs of Unpaid Internships

Summer is almost here – the sun, vacations, Coronas, and lawsuits arising from unpaid internships. We’ve previously warned of these risks here and here. Yet, the suits that some call the “new slip and fall case” are more frequent than ever. It seems that every week brings news of another lawsuit filed by unpaid interns. So, another reminder is warranted. Employers must beware of these risks and take precaution to ensure that they are not the next victim of an FLSA class-action claim.

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The “Settle and Sue” Method

They say that a truly good settlement is one that leaves everyone unhappy. There is plenty of truth here. But some settling parties take their unhappiness to a new level by filing a malpractice claim. Whether it be buyer’s remorse, doubt, or the opportunity to reconsider the settlement without the distraction of active litigation, some settling parties determine that they took too little or gave too much away. This may be a part of the uncertainty of compromise and often dissipates over time without much fanfare. But sometimes it does not; some settling parties point fingers at their former counsel claiming that bad advice led to an unjust settlement. The result can be the "settle and sue" malpractice claim, which applies differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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Case Closed! Tips For Properly Closing a File

All professionals should maintain a consistent and carefully considered practice for closing files. Don’t rush to send the file to the shredder. Don’t push the boxes into a dusty warehouse. Rather, best practices mandate that all professionals, notably attorneys, engage in a series of important tasks when closing a file. Poor practices at the end of an assignment can lead to conflicts issues, document retention woes, client confusion or worse. Take for example the attorney in Maryland who was recently disbarred for conduct that could have been prevented with a proper close file checklist.

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Alternative Litigation Financing Sparks Malpractice Claim

A modern-day offshoot of the contingency fee arrangement is "alternative litigation financing." Also known as third-party litigation financing, A.L.F. is the practice of making cash advances, usually to a litigant, to be repaid from the proceeds from the litigation. There is plenty of room for debate the pros and cons of this developing trend. Supporters may argue that this practice allows an injured plaintiff to take an “advance” on an anticipated recovery to address financial hardship before reaching a settlement or verdict. This is particularly useful for injured plaintiffs who cannot return to work. But attorneys associated with litigation financing may be susceptible to claims when something goes awry.

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Closing Arguments: It’s Business, Nothing Personal

If trial is a performance, than the closing arguments is clearly the final act. Attorneys channel their inner-actor and perform for the jury with an eye toward persuading the fact-finders to rule in their client’s favor. Every attorney has a personal style during closings. Some are assertive, some conservative. Many attorneys look for creative ways to convey their points. However, there is significant risk that unusual closings may go too far and jeopardize the case, or worse. Take for example the recent reversal of a $900,000 award due to counsel’s improper attempt to enhance her client’s alleged damages during closing arguments.

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