Acquiring another business is such a boss move by business owners, one that has been implemented over time. The acquisition process is often embraced as an opportunity to grow profit margins, and reach out to a broader customer base. However, the process is not entirely free of complexities and challenges.
For a successful acquisition of a law firm, basic steps are necessary for the consideration, for both buyers and sellers. While mergers and acquisitions happen across all fields, these acts are becoming more and more common in the law firm. As a company seeking to expand your territory by acquiring a law firm, here are several steps you need to be aware of:
Coming together of two different entities is not an easy process. Therefore, the very initial process of acquiring a business should be guided by certain principles and goals that motivate the action. Other than the need to improve profit margins, the business owner buying a law firm must have a clear vision articulated as a goal. It is not enough to have a vague goal like to expand your business. The goal-setting process should cover other dimensions like the long-term projections you intend to realize from the acquisition process.
Once you have an Acquisition opportunity, it is important to remember that the process of acquisition is a complex one that requires expert opinions and intervention. Once you are past the setting clear goals for the acquisition of a firm, the ensuing phase of implementing and achieving the goals can get overwhelming.
Ideally, a business attorney would best serve as the expert to guide you through the acquisition process. The essence of this step is to consolidate the proficiency of the acquisition processes, particularly concerning the terms under which a business owner can gain complete ownership over the law firm in question.
Comprehensive due diligence
The acquisition of a law firm requires extensive due diligence from the buyer. It is not enough to believe the information that the seller says about themselves. Before you begin to draft a final purchase agreement and finally close the deal, make sure you indulge in thorough independent checks on their financial records and projections, third parties involved in the law firm to be acquired, among others.
Performing your due diligence comprehensively is beneficial in making informed projections for the future of the venture, eventually affecting the success or failure of the entire transaction.
With the right target for your law firm acquisition transaction, you cannot close the deal until you have had in-depth talks. This stage is crucial in realizing the terms and conditions under which the venture will exist. This step is a critical phase where the involvement of the experts for legal counsel will benefit your entire transaction. The agreements resolved in the negotiations should adequately meet both your short-term and long-term needs.
After you have thoroughly handled this step, you can close the deal and get working on ensuring the successful merger or acquisition.
Overall, the process of successfully acquiring a new company can overwhelm all business owners of any capacity. The important part is to retain the counsel of the experts throughout the process, should any issues challenge you.
Online technologies are shaping the world in a better way! And needless to say, it has also impacted and transformed the legal domain as well. Today, students have a chance to be a part of law schools through renowned universities. Hence, both the law firms that are old and new should make the most of the online marketing to draw in new customers and favorably grow the business.
It is essential to note that online marketing trends are always being welcomed and then transformed for the better. However, it is essential for companies to stay tuned into the new trends. To know more about this, you can browse through https://atomicdesign.net/rochester-web-design-seo/ and others to learn more. Is yours a law firm? If yes, you can opt-in to use the following internet marketing guidelines to reap the best results.
Concentrate on the quantifiable results
You can divine your online marketing budget in a mix of choices, such as SEO, paid social media, pay-per-click, email marketing, content marketing, and distribution and many more. However, if you go ahead with this without a plan, it will boomerang. So, make sure that you account for all the marketing expense and concentrate all your attempts on the outlets that enable you to calculate success. The moment you can evaluate your marketing data, you will know precisely where a new customer walks-in at an optimum cost. Your task is to increase these winning and favorable campaigns. Your firm will experience significant growth in this way.
Utilize paid Facebook ad to increase firm awareness
Social media is here to stay for the longest time! This platform offers you plenty of attention from your customers. And you can plan the way you want to capture the same. Today, Facebook has as many as 1.39 billion monthly users, and the majority log in on a daily basis.
The new age targeting choices Facebook comes with, enable users to place the ads to the notice of an audience that you want to. It will help you enhance your local online marketing activities. You can also put the ads in front of those customers who require your law firm’s service more. It is a smart call to operating an online marketing campaign that addresses the chosen law services your firm provides to create leads. Furthermore, you can use this campaign to develop more awareness within the local community.
Develop a value-packed content as well as downloadable assets
The successful online marketing campaigns that bring increased traffic to your website are a part of the job! The moment the web traffic is on your law firm’s website it is essential for you to create conversions, through either a lead submission form or via an incoming call at your law firm.
A high-quality, informative and value-driven blog is the apt place to start! So you can think of coming up with informative eBooks as well as case studies, that talks about your law firm’s know-how and expertise. It’s best not to make them a part of any promotional ads. Hence, make sure you highlight your firm’s salient points in the form of resourceful content. Offer total value and watch all your leads walk-in favorably.
Optimize your law firm website for a mobile traffic
Surprisingly, there are legal firm websites that are still not mobile-friendly! And this is a considerable set back considering Google’s mobile first index which has become functional. When your site is mobile-friendly, it scores better results on online searches and also provides an improved user experience.
You might have a team of successful and trained lawyers. However, if people find that your website is not easy to navigate from their Smartphone devices, they wouldn’t browse through your site and get to know the services and attorneys your firm specializes in. So, is your website navigation smooth? Are the online submission forms simple to complete? If not, then you need to work towards it and ensure your website is mobile-friendly. You can add paid traffic with pay per click advertising an Orlando PPC ad agency.
Encourage proactive lead nurturing
When a person submits an online form on your site, chances are they require an attorney urgently! While the other industry verticals can afford to have a slow follow-up, for instance, 15 days and the like, your law firm should have regular follow-ups. Hence, it’s a smart call to create a lead nurturing campaign that instantly sends email to their leads, after a submission to provide with a consultation call on the venue completely free of cost. If you miss doing this, chances are the lead will shift to another market player or your competitor before you get to address their requirement. It is essential to know that not every lead will respond to your initial offer. Hence, make sure that you send an email within 24 hours of the follow-up.
Today most law firms don’t make use of the best benefits of internet marketing! If you want to make the most of online marketing, you can opt-in for the above discussed online marketing strategies and witness the positive differences that it brings about.
If you have never hired a Miami injury lawyer, you may not know what to expect from the experience and that can be a little intimidating. Since this isn’t something you can avoid doing if you’re facing a legal issue, it’s best to find a way to overcome that apprehension and you can do that by learning more about what’s involved in your first meeting. Called the initial consultation, this meeting is an opportunity for you and the attorney to evaluate one another.
The Attorney Will Evaluate Your Case
Possibly the most important aspect of your first consultation meeting is providing the attorney with the opportunity to learn about your case. Depending on the type of situation, the lawyer will attempt to determine if he can help you. He may ask you questions about the situation and request to see documents and photos that support your position. This is also the time to share information about witnesses to the incident. The attorney will need a comprehensive understanding of the situation to evaluate the merits of your case.
Where civil lawsuits are concerned, the initial consultation is an opportunity for the attorney to determine if your situation merits a lawsuit. There are certain criteria you must be able to meet in order to pursue a civil case and the lawyer will use the information you provide to determine if your case qualifies under those conditions. If not, he will let you know that and the meeting will likely conclude at that point.
However, if the attorney does see merit in your case, you will discuss the situation further. While an attorney can’t guarantee you a specific monetary award, he can use his expertise and past experiences to give you an idea of what to expect in your case. This is also an opportunity to learn more about the options open to you in pursuing your case, such as mediation, out of court settlements, or other options. It will be up to you to decide how to move forward, once the attorney has expressed an interest in handling your case.
In other types of cases, such as criminal cases, estate planning, and family law, the initial consultation will go a little differently. You will still have to give the attorney a comprehensive understanding of your situation. Rather than determine if you have grounds for a case, the attorney will use this time to explain what he can do for you. Sometimes, hiring an attorney will have little effect on the outcome of your case and, if this is so, the lawyer will let you know at this time. Otherwise, the lawyer will explain how he would like to move forward in handling the case.
It’s Time For You to Evaluate the Attorney
This first consultation meeting is also an opportunity for you to evaluate the attorney. This is important, because you will be sharing thoughts and feelings that you may not share with anyone else. For that reason, you should feel comfortable speaking with the attorney and you should feel that you can trust the attorney to act in your best interests. While it’s difficult to thoroughly assess someone after just one meeting, you should pay attention to any misgivings you have. There are plenty of lawyers to choose from, so don’t feel that you have to work with this one lawyer.
Finally, your initial consultation is an opportunity to find out what you’ll be expected to pay. Depending on the services they offer, attorneys charge their fees in a variety of ways. In civil suits, lawyers charge a contingency fee, which means the attorney takes a percentage of the amount awarded at the end of the trial. Conversely, their contingency will be subtracted from a settlement in an out-of-court agreement.
Where criminal cases, family law, and estate planning services are concerned, a Miami injury attorney and attorneys may work for an hourly rate or for a flat fee. At the time of your initial consultation, it’s important to make sure you understand how you will be charged, so you can avoid future misunderstandings. By the time you leave this consultation meeting, you should fully understand what the attorney will do for you and what you’ll be expected to pay in return. This will help you make an informed decision and help you and your attorney develop a good working relationship.
Author Bio: Douglas Pitassi is a freelance writer and small business blogger.
There are currently 1.34 million lawyers in the United States, but that doesn’t mean they’re all good. If you need a lawyer to defend you, whether you were wrongly accused of a crime or to help you settle a divorce, you want to make sure you hired a good one.
Continue reading to learn of 5 telltale signs you hired a bad lawyer and how to avoid it in the future.
1. Lack of Communication
When you hire a lawyer, you’re bound to have questions about your case. A good lawyer should always communicate what’s going on with your case, whether it’s about next steps or whose working on it.
If you can’t seem to get a hold of your lawyer, especially after many phone calls and messages, that’s a bad sign. While lawyers get busy with other cases, they should always put their clients first.
If you can’t reach your lawyer you should be able to reach the office or another staff member who can set up an appointment with you or a good time to reach them. Keep in mind that missed phone calls happen to the best of us, but your lawyer should never ignore you.
Another thing to consider is how your attorney likes to communicate. In such a digital age, one lawyer may prefer email and texting while others stick to an old-fashioned phone call.
The bottom line is, lawyer’s aren’t cheap. You’re not only paying them to help you with a case, but to communicate and give you their best service. If your lawyer isn’t communicating, you might consider switching to a new attorney.
To avoid this in the future, ask your lawyer how the best way to reach them is during the consultation. This way you’ll know if they prefer email over phone calls and you can avoid any miscommunication.
2. Lack of Enthusiasm
One of the biggest parts about being a lawyer is convincing the jury to go in your favor. If your attorney isn’t enthusiastic about your case or seems unsure, that should raise some red flags.
But, another bad sign to watch out for is if they seem overconfident. While it’s good to be enthusiastic about a case outcome, their job is to be realistic and prepare you for any scenario which can occur.
3. Unclear Billing
We mentioned it earlier and we’ll say it again – lawyers aren’t cheap. It’s not always their fault, it’s just the price of the service. But, if you hire a lawyer and you’re seeing excessive or overbilling charges, something’s wrong.
If you lawyer is overbilling you, they could be inflating a task time, also know as “padding time”. Here are some other fees or unclear billing to watch out for:
- Vague billing
- Hidden expenses
- Surcharge on legal expenses
You should never receive a bill with vague information. Each bill should clearly explain what the charge was for, who performed it, when, and for how long.
Some law firms add surcharge fees to simple tasks or items such as postage or copying; these fees are unethical and inappropriate. If you see any billing fees that are unexplained and unclear, don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer what they’re for.
4. Unethical/Illegal Behavior
Although some lawyers may have bad habits such as lack of communication, one of the biggest signs of a bad lawyer is if they practice unethically or even illegally.
As important as it is to win your case, your lawyer should never do so by breaking the law or lying. Getting caught will not only look bad for your case, but both you and your lawyer could get charged with perjury with defense, also known as lying under oath.
A lawyer doesn’t always have to do something illegal to be bad. Here are some other unprofessional or unethical things to look out for:
- Missing or showing up late to meetings and other important appointments
- Not having documents filed by the deadline, filing the wrong paperwork, or filing paperwork incorrectly
- Making important decisions without asking you first
- Not returning your calls
- Having a conflict of interest in the case
- Not working on your case at all
If your lawyer does one or any of these, it’s time to switch lawyers. Use this guide to help you through the process.
5. No Compassion/Empathy
Just as important as it is for your lawyer to get the job done, it’s equally as important for them to empathize with you and understand what you’re going through. Whether it’s a divorce case or a personal injury case, showing no compassion or empathy is a definite sign of a bad lawyer.
The better they understand and empathize with you, the better they’ll be able to communicate that pain and suffering to an insurance company or jury if your case goes to trial. Although you may not love your lawyer, as long as they understand you and your case you’re in good hands.
6. Signs of Respect
Like any job, some lawyers start out on the bottom and need to work their way to the top. Despite what online reviews say, if you notice a lack of respect for your lawyer in the courtroom or by other peers, it’s a red flag.
Your lawyer needs to be respected and taken seriously, especially if your case goes to trial. If you don’t see a sign of respect from other peers, neither will the jury. Take the hint and find someone new.
Telltale Signs You Hired a Bad Lawyer
There are so many things to consider when hiring a lawyer, and once you’ve found one you have faith in and feel confident working with, it’s hard to see some of these telltale signs. If you notice any of these 6 signs, don’t be afraid to switch attorneys and start new.
If you need legal help and want to avoid hiring a bad lawyer, check out our website. Contact us and we can help you find the perfect lawyer to help with your case.
The law covers an endless array of subject matter – it only makes sense that those pursuing a career in such would have to specialize in a more condensed, specialized area of study.
For those of you simply looking for a lawyer to aid you with whatever legal issue you are faced with, this can seem daunting – there are so many different types of lawyers that specialize in any and every type of legal issue, so how can you possibly know where to start with your search?
As overwhelming as this vast amount of options may seem, it will truly only benefit you in the end. You will have someone on your side that is educated and experienced in dealing specifically with the type of situation you are in and needing help with.
To get you looking in the right direction, we’ve put together a brief overview of the two main components of law and the different types of lawyers involved in each.
First Things First: Criminal Vs. Civil Lawyers
The first and most basic breakdown when it comes to law is into two categories: criminal or civil.
Criminal law is concerned with the punishment of individuals who commit crimes. Offenders are prosecuted based on Canada’s Criminal Code and various federal laws.
Civil law is the system of law concerned with private relations between members of a community – civil cases are remedied by monetary damages rather than criminal punishments. Civil law revolves around suits and actions, where the plaintiff is the suing party and the defendant is the one being sued.
Criminal lawyers most often act as defense lawyers for individuals who have been accused of committing a crime. They study the case, witnesses’ statements, etc. and present the defense to the court in an attempt to convince the jury of their client’s innocence.
Criminal lawyers can further be broken down into public or private – public being paid by the government and provided to the accused, and private being hired and paid directly by the accused/the accused’s family.
Civil law is much more broad than criminal law in terms of subject specialization.
To give you an idea, here is a list of some of the different types of civil lawyers and civil law services available:
- Divorce Attorney
- Family Law Attorney
- Bankruptcy Attorney
- Immigration Attorney
- Personal Injury Attorney
- Real Estate Attorney
- Estate Planning Attorney
- Tax Attorney
- Employment Attorney
- Corporate Law Attorney
- Intellectual Property Attorney
- Copyright Attorney
Find Your Perfect Match Today
When you are on the hunt for a lawyer, whether simply for legal advice or for help with a more serious legal issue, it is important to remember that there are many differences between each type of lawyer and the area of law that they practice.
Choosing the right lawyer can make all the difference regarding the situation you are in – shop around, read references, ask questions, and you are sure to find the lawyer that is right for you.
5 Things You Can Do with Matter Management Software
In the legal field, Matter Management Software is a great addition to any law firm, though it is not required. Opting for such software can help keep all crucial information pertaining to the job in one secure and convenient place. In fact, there are a plethora of things one can do when going digital, as you’ll soon find out.
1. Import and organize documents electronically
One of the best things about Matter Management Software is that all documents, forms, images, and other potent information can be imported and stored securely. Then when you need to access the information, it is quick and easy to pull up.
In a way, matter management software acts like a manila folder, only allowing you to go paper-free and find everything you need on one single platform. Best of all, if you need to find a document as soon as possible, just use a search bar to find exactly what you need.
2. Engage in quicker communication
Working in the legal field, communication is key. Texting, calling, e-mailing, and the like can all get tedious – especially the more methods of communication you opt for. But with matter management software, e-mails can be organized easily and saved for later.
You can even store and pull up clients’ phone numbers and other contact information as well as manage appointment times, and reschedule if necessary, via matter management software.
3. Manage invoices and expenses
Get paid faster and more conveniently with easier-to-send invoices that you can view at any time. Even track time to ensure you’re accurately charging your hourly rates to your clients.
You can also track or log any firm expenses and view reporting of your firm’s overall process, making both firm decisions and tax reporting that much easier.
4. Tend to legal matter management anywhere you go
67 percent of lawyers and 78 percent of small law firms stated that they believe one of the top benefits of using matter management software is due to the ease of data access from anywhere, according to Law Technology Today.
Because you can access your software both from a desktop or from a mobile device via an app, there’s no need to bring around heavy stacks of documents with you wherever you go as long as you have a working device on you to access what you need digitally.
5. Reduce errors on the job for better profitability
Of course, with a more competent, faster, and systematized way to store information, communication, and the like, this means you can decrease the amount of errors you make on the job, improving your profitability with time.
No more forgetting to e-mail a client back, losing important documents, or losing track of appointments and task due dates. Matter management software ensures you can get things done exactly when you need them to be while providing literally everything you need get it done, all in one realm.
Overall, from better document organization to reduction in manual errors, matter management software is worth the cost. In the long-run, paying for legal matter management software can help make your firm more money as you can quickly and more efficiently tend to clients’ needs. In turn, your firm will be viewed as a more reputable legal source.
There are 75,697 attorneys in Florida. That means there are 37 attorneys for every 10,000 people living in Florida. The Professional Rules of Conduct are the statutes that guide an attorney in Florida actions in the practice of law.
By learning the rules of conduct, you will be able to practice law ethically and avoid reprimand from the Florida bar.
Keeping reading for 10 statues that every attorney in Florida should know when practicing law.
1. Fixed Fees
Many lawyers charge a fixed fee for frequent and uncomplicated work.
Items that would fall into this category include uncomplicated wills, simple real estate transactions, and basic traffic violations.
2. Hourly Fees
Often, an attorney in Florida will charge a fixed hourly rate for service to their clients. You determine the total fee by multiplying the fixed hourly rate by the number of hours your work.
You may then add direct out of pocket expenses. These are representation costs such as court costs, photocopy costs, phone charges, and travel expenses.
You should give your client an estimate of how expensive representation will be.
You should also explain any potential complications that could arise and increase the cost of litigation.
Divorce cases have special rules for fees. You cannot charge a contingent fee. Fees are a flat rate for parties who have already agreed to a divorce decree.
A court may also order one party to pay for the other’s attorney fees if the spouses are in an unequal position.
3. Court Determined Fees
Fees Set by a Judge
The judge determines the number of fees based on a variety of factors and can vary greatly. The judge sets the fee by determining a list of factors that are set out in the Code of Professional Conduct, Rule 4-1.5(b).
Some of the things a judge will consider are the complexity of the case, customary charge, the lawyer being precluded from other work, time limitations, relationship to the client, and experience of the lawyer.
Fees Awarded by the Court
You should arrange with your client the possibility of the court awarding attorney fees to be paid by the client and how that affects the responsibility of your client.
4. Contingency Fees
Personal injury, collections, and auto accidents are cases where attorneys can agree to be paid a contingent fee. The lawyer’s payment is based on the amount of money recovered for the client.
This agreement MUST be in writing. It must state how the fee will be calculated and what percentage the lawyer will receive.
The amount you can agree to receive depends on the stage of litigation you are in and the type of case litigated.
You can contract with your client for payment less than the limits set, but if you the court must approve for higher payment.
5. Medical Malpractice Fees
There are specific limits on the amount of contingency fee you can accept for medical malpractice cases. The fees are specifically explained in the Professional Rules of Conduct.
Determining the amount of fee acceptable is based on the amount awarded by the court, the stage of the litigation the case is in. You must provide a copy of the rules to your client.
You may ask your client to waive the limits. You must tell your client they may consult another attorney before waiving the limits.
If your client agrees to the waiver, you must have them agree in writing. In addition to the waiver, you must provide a detailed explanation of the new fee structure.
6. Division of Fees
Your client must agree before you may hire another attorney in Florida to assist in representation.
If the case is personal injury or wrongful conduct with property damage then the approval must be in writing. The main attorney receives a minimum 75%.
The court will have to approve how the fee with be split if the attorneys from different law firms participated equally and want to split the fees more equally.
If the lawyers are being paid by hourly fee then the fee split is based on the work each lawyer does or they can agree on how the fee splits.
You may not split fees with non-lawyers. For example, if you are working with a client’s accountant on a particular case, you may not practice fee splitting with the accountant.
Each party must determine their fee and bill accordingly separately.
7. Naming Your Firm
You may not pick a law firm name that is false, misleading, or deceptive. You cannot imply a connection with a government agency or well known charitable organization.
You may not imply you have a partnership with another attorney if you do not.
You may not imply you are in business with a non-legal service.
You may not use the name of an attorney in Florida who currently holds a public office if that lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm.
If you are merging your sole practice with another firm you may list deceased partners on your letterhead.
8. Sharing Office Space
Attorneys may share office space, but need to be wary of holding themselves out to be partners if they are not. It is acceptable to share a common reception area or library.
If you decide to practice criminal defense, then you should not share office space with public defenders.
Giving the impression of operating a partnership includes actions such as using one letterhead, one official name, one office building directory listing, and unclear language used by a receptionist.
9. Lawyer As a Witness
You don’t need to withdraw from representing your client even if you will be called to testify as a client’s adversary.
This situation occurs if you are representing your client in one matter but then are called to be an adversarial witness in a separate and unrelated matter.
Generally, an attorney in Florida or their employees may not solicit prospective clients in person when the main motive is a pecuniary gain if that potential client doesn’t have a familial relationship or a former client.
You can send print advertising but you must follow the rules set out. Submit your print materials to the Florida Bar for approval before you send them out to potential clients.
Non-Resident Cost Bond
A non resident cost bond was a bond that non-Florida residents had to pay if they wanted to bring a lawsuit against a Florida resident.
It was important for Florida attorneys to ensure the opposing party posted bond if their Florida client gets involved in a lawsuit with a party from out of state.
The goal of the statute was to protect Florida residents from frivolous lawsuits from out of state litigants.
The Florida Senate repealed the statute in 2016.
Become an Attorney in Florida
Once you are a member of the bar, you will want to start your own law firm. Follow these and the other Rules of Professional Conduct to ensure you have a properly functioning practice.
Read tips on how to grow your small legal firm into a thriving and successful business.
We all encounter the legal system at some point in our lives, maybe for an adoption, a lawsuit, criminal proceedings, or an inheritance. In 2006, a record-setting 102 million cases were heard by state courts.
Even though we all have some level of experience with courts and legal proceedings, most of us do not have a clue how to handle them.
That’s the purpose of legal aid services. Attorneys advise, defend, and guide people through the confusion of the law.
How do you know if you can handle a case on your own or if you need legal aid services? This article will answer that question and help you find services that you can afford.
1. What Types of Legal Cases Are There?
Before we jump into legal aid service specifics, let’s look at what types of legal processes happen in courts.
There are two main types of court cases: criminal and civil. There are also two main types of courts: federal and state. We’ll break these down for you below.
Federal Court Cases
- Criminal– A person is accused of a crime, such as assault or Internet defamation.
- Civil- There is a legal disagreement between two people or organizations (lawsuits).
- Bankruptcy- A person can no longer pay their debts, so the court helps divide their remaining money and property between the people they owe. The rest of the debt is then erased, and the person has a fresh start.
- Appeals- A case that has already been decided is brought back up because something was not done correctly in the trial.
If your case is in a federal court, you definitely must have a lawyer!
State courts hear all of the same types of cases that federal courts hear but often on a smaller scale. Below is a list of all the types of civil cases state courts handle.
- Small Claims Court- People or organizations sue each other for $10,000 or less. No one can have a lawyer in these cases.
- General Civil- People sue one another usually for property damage or injury.
- Family Law- This court helps settle divide assets in divorces, decides custody battles, finalizes adoptions, and assigns child support payments.
- Landlord/Tenant- This type of case is typically a dispute between a landlord and tenant about eviction or getting a deposit back.
- Probate- These cases include wills and handles the estates of people who are unable to take care of themselves.
- Juvenile- This category includes criminal cases for people under the age of 18 (juvenile delinquency) and home placements when someone under 18 can no longer stay with their guardians (juvenile dependency).
30 million cases are heard in state courts every year while federal courts only hear about 1 million. Chances are then, most of your legal encounters will be in state courts.
Attorneys are only appointed in criminal cases. In all other types of cases, the client must pay for their own lawyer or defend themselves.
2. Why Can’t You Represent Yourself?
We’ve all seen television shows where a crazy client tries to represent themselves and all the lawyers are telling them not to. Why is that?
The truth is people often don’t know how to explain themselves. They know what happened, but when it comes to an intimidating courtroom and a judge, they don’t know what to say.
This is devastating when you consider the fact that explaining your case well can lead to reduced sentences or even dropped charges.
Another reason to get legal aid services is that the law is complicated. You can try to study up and understand the legal standing of your case. But wouldn’t you rather have the opinion and advice of someone who went to law school and passed a state law exam?
The Australian court system is pretty similar to America. A recent study there found that the cases of 63% of people who represent themselves are over in 5 minutes. 26% of these cases are done in less than 2 minutes.
Do you think you can adequately explain yourself to a judge in that amount of time?
3. Do You Qualify for Free Legal Aid Services?
You may be eligible for free legal aid services based on the following categories.
- Income- If you can prove to a judge that you are “indigent” or low-income, you may be able to get free or low cost legal representation. Laws vary on this from state to state.
- Health- If you are a disabled veteran, check with your local veterans administration. You may qualify for certain types of legal aid. Also, if you have HIV/Aids, you may be able to get free services or reduced rates.
- Civil vs. Criminal Cases- If you’re accused of a crime, the state is obligated to give you a public defender if you can’t afford a lawyer. The state will only appoint attorneys for criminal cases.
- Safety – If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may qualify for free legal services. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) has more information.
- Civil Rights- If your legal issue is a civil rights case, you may be able to obtain free legal services. Law firms often like to take on this work pro bono because they can become large lawsuits.
- Immigration Status- Immigrants can often receive free legal assistance for visas, work authorizations, green cards, etc. Check with your local legal services agencies.
- Organizations- If you are a community organization that helps the underprivileged in some way, you may have law firms in your area wanting to support your work. Check with local legal aid services to see if your organization qualifies.
4. How to Find Legal Aid Services?
Legal aid societies offer free legal assistance to people who cannot pay an attorney. Many people do not qualify for their free serves though, because they make too much money. Only about 50%of people who apply for help from a legal aid society receive it.
Lawhelp.org is also a great resource. They offer legal advice and resources for low-income people.
Another place to find affordable legal advice is a law school. State law determines what law students can actually do, but they can always give advice even if they can’t represent you.
Some law schools also have law clinics with reduced rates for people with a low income.
You can also consider contacting your state bar association. They may be able to help you find a lawyer who is willing to do a pro bono case.
Make sure to ask some local lawyers for their rates too. They may not be as high as you think or they may offer discounts.
Some law firms will also only charge you if you win your case. Just make sure you know the percentage they charge if you win before you ask them to represent you! Go and find the Child Support Appeals here.
Remember when asking for attorneys, make sure to find a local lawyer who specializes in the area of the law you need. You can do some research depending on where you are. For Australians, Save U Legal | Tweed Heads Drink Driving + Traffic Lawyers can be a great place to start. You do not want a divorce lawyer representing you on a burglary charge! You don’t want a divorce lawyer representing you on a burglary charge!
Interested in researching specific legal aid services in your area? Start by checking the specialties of attorneys near you.
The law is as broad as there are issues between any two human beings. Whatever your problem is, you are almost guaranteed to find a lawyer who specializes in fixes it. However, while there are hundreds of legal niches, there are only 3 that are common to the average person. In this article you will learn about the three types of lawyers you are likely to need.
Real Estate Lawyers
If you are planning to purchase a home or lease some commercial space, then you will need a real estate lawyer. Real estate lawyers handle the entire transaction process including crafting and reviewing purchase agreements, property transfers, mortgage contracts, and title contracts. Because these documents are complex and legally binding, it is essential to have legal council.
If you are buying a family home, for instance, Brisbane conveyancers will draft all the closing documents, perform a title search, write up title insurance policies and handle fund transfers. The party selling the home will also have their own real estate lawyers handling their side of the contractual obligations. In case of a dispute, the real estate lawyer will provide you legal representation to ensure your interests are well-represented.
Buying property is stressful enough as it is – the last thing you would want is be unrepresented and getting hounded by another attorney. Protect yourself, your rights and your money – use a real estate lawyer.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal injury lawyers represent persons that have suffered any form of harm arising from the negligence or willful action of another party. This harm does not just cover physical harm, but also psychological and mental harm. You will need a personal injury attorney for a broad range of circumstances.
These include slip and fall, vehicle and pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, among a host of other scenarios. Mayhem strikes you under day-to-day circumstances. When this happens, you will need the services of a personal injury lawyer. This also applies if you are the one being sued for causing personal injury. As the defendant, you will need to defend yourself against the allegations brought by the plaintiff.
Whichever side you are on, there are several important duties the personal injury lawyer will undertake. First, they will tell you whether the case is within the statute of limitations. This is the legally-allowed time within which a case can be brought before a court of law. Next, they will undertake discovery. This is to uncover all facts relating to the case. Third, they will try and negotiate an out-of-court settlement. Lastly, if the case does go to trial, they will be on hand to help you navigate the maze of statutes that govern personal injury cases.
As you can see, all three scenarios described above may apply to anyone, regardless of stature in life. Having appropriate legal representation in all cases will ensure your interests are well-represented.
Estate Planning Lawyers
According to the American Bar Association, 50% of Americans die without leaving a will or estate plan. This results is a 40% federal estate tax on the estate plus other family issues that may require probate lawyers and attendant fees. Engaging an estate planning lawyer can help you help your family avoid most of this. You may have heard that estate planning lawyers are only for the rich. With the federal death tax exemption rate hitting $10.98 million per couple in 2017, it is easy to see why. However, estate planning is not only about resource allocation, it encompasses a whole lot more.
At the end of your life, you will be faced with some of the most important questions of your life. These include: who will make medical-related decisions on your behalf when you are unable to; who will get what when it comes to your assets; how will outstanding debts be paid; how will pending taxes be paid; and a host of other questions. An estate planning lawyer will help you put all the answers down on paper so those you leave behind know exactly what your wishes are.
While very different, in many ways legal firms are like any other business. At some point, you will be just starting out and need to find ways to grow your clientèle and your reputation. You must have a marketing strategy, good client relations and customer service, useful software and technology, and not an insignificant amount of luck to start seeing success. This guide will go into detail regarding some strategies that have proven to be effective in growing a small law firm.
Use Specialized Legal Software
Software is key for a firm operating on a much smaller scale than big firms to reduce paperwork, easily track billable time and to keep various information and materials organized. There is specialized software for law offices, as well as many more general options, such as HR software, that can help a small firm stay on top of things. Having technology to simplify regular office tasks usually results in your legal assistants, attorneys and office staff having more billable time. Why have your paralegals spend the time to go to and search through physical law libraries when they can use an online database instead? Don’t forget that some less popular products might prove to be a helpful asset to your firm. For example, while many law firms are switching over to Microsoft Office, many more still use Word Perfect because of its longstanding connection with the legal industry and the law firm-friendly features it has.
Accounting software is of particular importance. One way you can help grow your small firm is by beginning to automate accounting. A solid invoicing system will help you send out invoices more efficiently to clients and contractors. The ability to accept electronic payments online will also ensure that you get paid faster and make it less likely your clients will forget to pay. You will also want a program that can easily track billable time for each client, because your legal firm likely charges by the hour, or at least should be able to offer that option.
Focus On Client Relations
Like most small businesses, legal firms generate most of their new business due to referrals. This means that your firm must dedicate sufficient resources to client relations and provide good customer service at all times. See to it that all new hires get the proper training, and do not neglect the development of a training program to ensure all employees know what is expected of them when interacting with clients. When clients are pleased with your service, they will recommend your firm to others.
A relationship with an attorney is a personal one, and in many cases people come seeking lawyers because something traumatic and stressful has happened to them. Like medical personnel, attorneys and their staff must have excellent bedside manners. If your attorneys and staff are professional, helpful and knowledgeable while still being compassionate, your clients are likely to be impressed with your service and recommend you to others.
Take Care With Marketing and Have An Online Presence
Marketing is trickier for legal firms than it is for any other business. Marketing materials and advertisements are controlled with strict regulations to remain ethically compliant. Personal injury firms tend to have the most leeway for advertising, but firms in other areas of law can find ways to make it work for them as well. Giving away free resources to your community, or supporting charitable events, are other good ways to get your name out there and associated with a positive image.
It cannot be overstated how important an online presence is for a small law firm today. Potential clients will likely be Googling law firms with your specialty in their area, and you want to show up on that list. Make sure all content is keyword optimized so your firm will appear higher on the results page. Content marketing is useful for law firms, as it is for most businesses, because it gives you a chance to showcase your professional knowledge about a subject. Interesting, helpful and intriguing content will impress potential clients and make them want to contact you for a consultation. The information should be for a general purpose only, and potential clients should be encouraged to contact you for specialized legal advice about their specific situation.
Create Your Brand
Legal firms should focus on their branding efforts too, just like many other businesses. Your brand is who you are – what people associate with your firm. One way to do this is to find your niche. Most firms focus on just a handful or even one area of law to practice, but it is usually advantageous to be known for catering to a specific type of client. For example, you may focus on discrimination suits within employment law. Having a niche makes it easier to attract your ideal clients and a strong brand will make potential clients think of you when they realize they need legal representation or advice.
Winning prominent cases, when they come your way, should of course be the goal of every small law firm. A prominent case can be just what your firm needs to get your name out there and begin establishing your reputation as consummate legal professionals. It is important to never guarantee or imply you will win a client’s case, but a good history of success for your clients will reflect well on you and more clients will likely seek you out. Consider your brand and values when selecting cases. You are a private firm and can turn down cases you don’t think will be of benefit to your image. This can be difficult for a firm starting out, but it can be hard to attract the clients you want if you build a history of representing the opposite side. For example, if your history becomes filled with representing landlords, it can be harder to convince tenant clients you will be able to meet their needs.
At some point, all firms were small law firms just starting out. It will take time and a significant amount of effort to grow your legal firm, but following the advice above will get you off to the right start. Be sure that all growth strategies you pursue are legally ethical, or your firm could run into serious trouble. You can also seek advice from established firms or attorneys you are on good terms with. Professional legal organizations can steer you in the right direction as well – they offer numerous resources for their members.