Law on Your Terms – Become the Lawyer You Want to Be

In the macho environment of the law, to express any lack of confidence, vulnerability or self-doubt has traditionally been regarded as weakness. Many women lawyers who were regarded as reliable and 100% capable suddenly find that their commitment is challenged (through no fault of their own) when they start a family.

So, what would it take for you to become the lawyer you want to be?

Refocus on what is really important to you. Build your resilience and re-energise.

Action Steps

1. Make a list of everything that is important to you about your career. What have you achieved over the last 5 years? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you turn you weaknesses into strengths?
2. What would being a lawyer on your terms look like? How would your life be different? Spend 10 minutes thinking and writing down your goals – short, medium and long term
3. List all the things that are likely to block your progress
4. Separate the blocks into those that you can influence and those that you cannot
5. Decide to let go of everything out of your control
6. Concentrate and only use your energy on those things that you can influence
7. Commit to taking one small step every day towards your goals
8. Remember to be successful you need both technical and “soft skill” expertise
9. Review your progress regularly
10. Enlist the help of a mentor (inside or outside your organisation). Use them as a sounding board and cheerleader to spur you on or give you that extra boost when your confidence dips.

Use these 10 steps to become the lawyer you want to be in 2009!

Virtual Law Firms Offer the Next Big Thing – Online Wills Bundled With Attorney Review

Despite the proliferation of the many opportunities to purchase online legal documents, you should probably think again before buying do-it-yourself wills and the like. After all, legal documents are the most important items you’ll leave behind in the event of your demise. Rather than trust your intuition to handle the many details of a complicated legal document, you may want to take advantage of the numerous benefits of a virtual law firm.

You can buy anything online these days. The Internet offers so many choices, ranging from established, world-wide companies to local, single-owner businesses. In addition to brick-and-mortar stores, every company needs a web presence. Goods of all sorts are sold online, from jewelry to comic books, vintage guitars to designer clothing. After the successful sale of digital downloads for ebooks and music, legal documents were the next logical candidate for online sales.

Famous attorneys attached their names to the first few sites selling legal documents. However, those attorneys were merely representing the company selling the forms. They certainly weren’t there to represent their customers. That means that no matter who was the celebrity spokesperson, you still had to do all the research, enter all the data and take the chances if you didn’t complete the legal forms correctly.

A virtual law firm removes that risk by offering far more than a successful form download and directions. With a virtual law firm, you get valid advice from an attorney licensed in your state – an attorney who can handle all sorts of estate matters like wills, living trusts and powers of attorney. But that’s not all they do. They can also help you prepare living wills, health care proxies and deeds. Their advice is available to their customers for free by email and telephone. They also offer a review of your legal documents for free, adding expertise to the purchase.

Any estate planning is a serious undertaking. While it may be less-expensive to bypass the attorney fees and time spent in appointments, you surely don’t want to trust your will to a novice like yourself, unless your will is going to be as simple as bequeathing everything to one person. If you have a family, you want to be sure your will provides for everyone as you had intended. An attorney can assure your intentions are followed to the letter.

Some firms will even print your forms after you’ve filled them in online. That way, they can check them over for errors or omissions. If you decide you forgot something or want to make a change, most virtual law firms will permit changes and a reprinting of your documents within thirty days from the day of the document’s creation. They use expensive, official-looking paper to give your documents the legal appearance and feel you’d expect.

Like everything, virtual law firms aren’t for everyone. Here are some conditions for which you probably wouldn’t want to use a virtual law firm.

• If your will is likely to be contested.

• If you have substantial wealth.

• If you’re a citizen of a foreign country.

• If you plan to disinherit someone from your will.

• If you own a business that provides substantial income.

• If you want to establish a dedicated fund for a relative with special needs.

• If you are a property owner in a foreign country.

In some of the above instances, there are additional tax issues to consider when planning a will, so it’s best to not use a virtual law firm. In other cases, settling the estate may become complicated – more complicated than an online attorney can handle. But these cases are less common than the estate planning required by most folks, so most people are likely to be able to use an online attorney.

You’d expect that the fee charged for online attorney services is high. It’s not. It’s comparable to the fees charged by non-lawyer websites that offer forms without legal advice.

The obvious advantage to employing a virtual law firm is the same as for any Internet purchase. The convenience results in savings of both time and money – two things everybody can use. Why bother making an appointment and wasting gas and your afternoon by driving into the city to see an attorney? You can enjoy the same advantages of online shopping – 24 hour per day, seven days per week access – by using an online lawyer. You don’t have to miss time at work or sacrifice your weekend.

Of course, if you don’t need any advice or a review of your legal documents, you can simply get the desired legal forms to handle your estate planning on your own. Then, if you find yourself in a bind, you can always ask for assistance or a review of your document. The advice you need is only an email or phone call away.

The virtual law firm is an idea whose time has come. By working online, the attorney fees are lowered but the end-result remains the same – a legally sound document. Online attorneys are regulated by their State Bar. They’re required to follow the same rules as any other attorney in your state. Plus virtual law firms use SSL, the most robust, safest method of transmitting private information online. That guarantees a secure transmission of your personal data.

Unless you have a friendship with your local lawyer, the benefits of using a virtual law firm for your legal needs should be apparent. You can save time and money thanks to the convenience of their 24/7 service. An online attorney can help you make sure your will, power of attorney, deed or living trust is completed properly so it may be executed according to your wishes.

Estate planning is incredibly important. Why take a chance when you can have access to your own virtual law firm? If you’re already planning on buying legal documents online, step up and buy them from a virtual law firm. You’ll get value added to your purchase – the value of the expert advice of an online attorney.

The Case of a Boutique Law Firm Vs A Conventional Law Firm

The legal scene for some time has been changing with increase in specialized cases. These deal with areas like immigration and environmental laws. The economic conditions have also not been very supporting of the bigger firms as they are finding it hard to manage huge administrative overheads. Out of these times has emerged the phenomenon of a boutique law firm. These have usually been formed by practicing lawyers who left bigger firms and started their own practices which focus on niche areas.

Characteristics of a Boutique law firm:

1. It is usually smaller than a general practice law firms. At times it could just consist of one or two lawyers who have come together due to a shared passion for a particular area of law.

2. Most of these have been formed by attorneys who left bigger law firms to start their own practices. A good example is Chicago Law Partners which was started by five attorneys from Chicago law firm of Neal, Gerber and Eisenberg.

3. It focuses on a niche or a few niche areas rather than all aspects of law and order. For example, Chicago Law Partners takes up cases only for not-for-profit organizations.

4. They market themselves as “specialists” in their chosen area like immigration laws or maritime laws.

5. The fees charged by these firms are usually higher than the conventional general practice law firms.

Pros compared to a conventional law firm:

• A firm that handles all kind of cases may not have the depth and knowledge required for specialized cases say a divorce which involves child custody.

• If you find a boutique law firm which is passionate about your cause, you may be able to get their services at lower cost. And the dedication that stems from their passion for the cause is an added bonus.

• A boutique law firm because of its knowledge and involvement may be able to assist with investigating the case besides fighting it on your behalf.

• The staff at a boutique firm tends to provide more than just legal advice. Due to their vast experience, they can also provide personal and professional advice to deal with the issues you may be facing during your legal battle.

Cons compared to a conventional law firm:

• First is the cost of hiring such a firm which will be higher than that of hiring a conventional firm. This may reduce over time given their lower overheads but that is still to be seen.

• They may not have enough staff which could be deterrent at times for the case in hand.

As a concept it looks to be a better option than a conventional set-up especially for handle highly complex and specific cases. But, are firms ready to focus on just one area, is yet to be proven in the long run. Also needs to be proven is the implication that they are more than just small law firms attired in a new garb.

5 Ways to Choose the Best Lawyer for Your Legal Issue

When you are facing a serious legal issue, such as a criminal charge, you need to find someone who can represent your case efficiently and successfully. You are likely already very stressed and even scared, but you need to take the time to make sure that you are choosing the right person to represent you in your time of need. There are a few things to do to make sure that you are hiring the best lawyer to represent you.

Choose someone who is within your price range. It can be tempting to try to hire the first firm that you find in the phone book, but you need to take the time to figure out how much this will cost you. You do not want to run out of legal funds if your case takes longer than expected or if it becomes more complicated than you anticipated. Hire a firm that you can afford for the long term if the need arises.

If you cannot afford an attorney, you should have the option to have a public defender look after your case. While this is a great option for someone who absolutely does not have the monetary means to hire an attorney, the best chances of winning your case or getting the best outcome for it will likely come from an established lawyer. Do not dismiss the idea of hiring someone on your own because you think you may be able to get one for free.

Get someone who is experienced with the particular type of case that you have. Not every legal professional is trained with experience in certain cases. Lawyers who specialize in the type of case that you have will be best for your situation and will improve the chances that you will get the best outcome possible. His or her unique knowledge can lead you through the complexities of a courtroom that you may not understand.

Make sure you are able to communicate effectively with the lawyer. When sitting down with someone to talk about your case in a consultation, make sure you note how comfortable you are with the attorney. If he or she does not let you speak your mind or you feel as though you cannot tell him or her everything, then you need to find someone else that you will be comfortable with and who will listen to you.

Avoid hiring someone who is very hard to reach. If it is hard for you just to schedule a consultation with someone, then you need to find someone else who has the time to devote to you. You cannot afford to wait too long before talking to someone about your case. You need to speak with someone as soon as possible in order for work to begin in your defense.

Research the attorney online and see what type of reputation he or she has. It is always a good idea to look at online reviews about particular law firms and attorneys to see if he or she has a positive reputation. You should also be able to find out his or her background and whether or not he or she is very experienced in the type of case that you are facing. Avoid anyone who does not seem legitimate or cannot provide you with credentials when asked.

Do not give up in your search for someone who will defend you professionally. It is never wise to take on your own case, so make sure that you find someone who is experienced, that you can afford, and who will devote his or her time to your particular case.

Is a Lawyer a Debt Collector, and Should You Sue the Lawyer If You Can When Sued For Debt?

As many people know, original creditors are treated differently than debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) applies, by and large, just to debt collectors and gives original creditors a relatively free ride. So where do lawyers fit in? And should you sue them if you can?

Lawyers Can Be Debt Collectors

Lawyers are not protected under the FDCPA. They can be, and as a practical matter the one suing you probably is, a debt collector. However, if the lawyer is representing an original creditor and acting in its name, he will be treated as an original creditor. If you are being sued by a debt collector, chances are good that the lawyer is also a debt collector, you can pretty much count on it. He can be sued for things he does wrong.

Before you go suing the lawyer, though, there are two things you should know: one has to do with your legal rights, and the other is more of a practical consideration.

Respondeat Superior

There is a concept in the law that makes people responsible for the things people who are acting as their agents do. This is known as “respondeat superior.” With a few exceptions, an employer is liable for the actions of an employee. That means a client is responsible for the actions of his or her lawyer. In general, this means that a debt collector is responsible for anything that its attorney does. Or to put it differently, you don’t need to sue the lawyer to attack the debt collector.

Should you do it anyway, though?

Tactical Considerations

Whether or not it makes sense to sue the lawyer is not an easy decision. I know you take the lawsuit personally-it represents a large threat to your personal and financial well-being. Naturally you want to strike back, personally, at the human person you see on the other side. The question is, though, is this the decision most likely to give you the most benefit? Is it most likely to cause them to drop the case and leave you alone?

I don’t know. Most of the time, the lawyers suing you regard your case from a purely business perspective attempting to maximize their profit and minimize the cost of suing you. And much of my approach to debt litigation has been to suggest that people exploit this business perspective by making your case unprofitable. That is relatively easy to do, although of course this isn’t always enough. If you sue the lawyer, you change her motivation. Then, instead of it being a merely business decision, you increase the personal stakes for the lawyer. It makes things unpleasant for the lawyer, no doubt, but it also motivates them to work much harder in many cases. You have multiplied your enemies.

A Final Legal Consideration

If you are suing the lawyer, your claim is not exactly a “counterclaim.” Instead, what you would probably do is counterclaim under the FDCPA against the debt collector and bring a third-party suit (within the same lawsuit) against the lawyer. The pleading is just called a third-party suit and names the lawyer as third-party defendant and states your claim in the same way the counterclaim did. Then the lawyer has to be served a summons. None of this is specially difficult, but it is time-consuming. Given the questionable benefit of suing the lawyer, I rarely thought it was worth spending the extra time. You’ll have to decide what makes sense to do in your case.