Law Office Management

difference between a partner/shareholder and an associate attorney
Partner/shareholder is an owner of the law firm
While an associate is an employee of the firm & does not share in profits or losses
partners that share in the profit and losses of the firm
what are the duties of a managing partner
Manage or run the operation of the law firm
A lawyer who is salaried employee but does not have ownership interest/share profits in the firm
an associate attorney
How many years associate must be with a firm before considered for a partnership
Partner who is included in some aspect of management of the firm and be entitled to certain benefits
Temporary associate attorney who is hired for a specific job/ period
Contract attorney
attorney affiliated with a firm may have designation of
legal administrators are found in what size firms
Medium & Large
3 areas of responsibility for a legal administrator
General Management
Finance & Accounting
Human Resources, Marketing, and Computer systems
A legal assistant can become an associate member of the ABA
group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services
Legal Assistants
legal ssistants who work as independent contractors byt are still supervised and report to an attorney
Freelance/Contract L.A.
drafting correspondence is the number one duty of most legal assistants
most legal assistants attend depositions and trials
number one specialty area for legal assistants is civil litifation
nearly 69% of all legal assistants are employed in what type of law practice?
according to the United States Department of Labor are legal assistants exempt or non-exempt under fair labor standards act?
why is the U.S. S. C. case of Missouri v. Jenkins important to the legal assistant profession?
The U.S. Supreme Court recognized that legal assistants could bill for their time at the prevailing market rate
Office managers are found in what size firms
4 types of law practices
Legal services/aid
head lawyer of a corporate law department
General Counsel
a nonprofit law office that receives grants from the gov. and private donations to represent disadvantaged
Legal Services/aid office
Majority of lawyers work in what kind of practice
Approximately 48% of all attorneys work in the size office
Sole Practitoner
A small law office that specializes in only one/two areas
4 options from which to choose their legal status.
Professional Corporate
sole proprietorship
Limited liability company
A management structure in a private law firm where on partner is responsible for managing the firm
Managing partner or powerful managing partner
3 types of management structures for private law firms
Managing partner
rule by all partners/shareholders
Management committee
Management decisions related to how a law office practices law and handles its cases
management decisions related to operating a law office including financial and personnel matters
3 basic practice management questions that must be considered
What clients will the law office serve
What services will be offered to the client
What practice systems are needed to provide the agreed upon legal services to the client
It is generally recognized that a good law office strategy is to practice in all areas and subspecialties
11 functions of legal admin.
practice management
financial management
human resources management
marketing management
facilities management
office services management
tech. management
management philosophy that is based upon knowing the needs of each client and allowing those needs to drive the legal organization
Total quality management
What distinguishes poor l.a. from exceptional ones
Quality of their work
the quality of provided l.s. is best determined by
what is the act of motivating or causing others to perform and achieve objectives
What is the process of determining whether the law practice is achieving its objectives?
Setting hourly billing rates, tracking firm assets, and budgeting are responsibilities of
what is hiring evaluating compensating training and directing law office personnel called
human resources management
focuses on the positive aspects of the employee’s performance, and explores alternative ways to improve his/her performance
What employment doctrine states that oth the emplyee and employer are free to enter and serve the employment relationship at any time without reason
describe the family and medical leave act of 1993
50+ employees with at least 1 year of service who worked 1,250 hrs. last year. 12 weeks unpaid leave for birth/adoption of child, care of family member, or the employees’s own serious health condition
What law prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities
Americans with Disabilities Act
Define sexual harrassment
unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature that create and intimidating hostile or offesnsive working environment
process of setting obj. assessing the future and developing courses of action to achieve these objectives
General enduring statement of what the purpose or intent of the law practice is about
Mission statement
What is marketing
The process of educating consumers on the quality legal services that a law office can provide
a manual that governs the policies and procedures of law office
Staff manual or policies and procedures manual
What is the type of management that is responsible for property acquisition, moves, space, planning, and design parking, and security
facilities management
A plan that describes how the law office will react to a catastrophe
disaster recovery plan
What type of management is responsible fr mail & copy room and records/file management
office services
3 problems/errors that can occur when using e-mail
Tech can fail
What you say can be easily forwarded to others
email security can be breached
once email is sent it cannot be retrieved
email can be sent to unintended parties
incorrect attachments can be sent
typing errors can occur
The paperless office is associated with what type of computer program
Document management
What are ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
Self-imposed ethical standards for ABA members, but they also serve as a prototype of Legal ethic standards for state court systems
An attorney can be disciplined for the acts of his/her l.a.
Under the Model Rules an attorney does not have to make reasonable efforts to ensure that a l.a. conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the attorney
L.A. must comply with the model codes of ethics from the two major national l.a.a.
In most states you can go to jail for unauthorized practice of law
list five things that a la cannot do without being accused of unauthorized practice of law
Give legal advice
represent clients in court
perform legal analysis
prepare legal documents
evaluate a case
accept or reject a case
set a fee
share a fee with attorney
3 factors that are considered in determining whether a l.a.gave legal advice to a client
Did advice given require legal skill or knowledge
Was the person advised of his/her legal rights
was the advice not normally given by a nonlawyer as part of another business or transaction
legal technician is
a person who markets their legal services directly to the public but who does not work under the supervision of an attorney
what does competent representation require according to the Model Rules
Legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation
a lawyer shall act with reasonable____ and promptness in rep a client
The standard that precludes the disclosure of confidential communications between a lawyer and a client
attorney-client privilage
A lawyer shall not reveal informaiton related to the representation of a client unless the client____
gives informed consent
Conflict of inter of interest occurs
an attorney or legal assistant has competing personal or professional interests with a client’s case that would preclude him/her from acting impartially toward the client
even if a conflict of interest exists, if the affected clients give informed consent, confirmed in writing, the attorney can represent the parties
A technique used to isolate l.a. or attorney with a conflict of interest from having anything to do with a case
Ethical Wall
When an attorney’s conduct in rep a client falls below the standard skill, prudence, and diligence that ordinary attorney would possess
Legal Malpractice
According to Model Rule list at least four things an attorney must do regarding client communication
Reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished
keep client reasonably informed about the statues of the matter
promptly with reasonable requests for information
Explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding teh representation
If an attorney is leaving a firm he/she does not have to contact the client if another attorney at the firm will be taking over the case
an attorney must notify and communicate all settlement offers to a clietn
3 types of conduct that clients typically dislike
Arrogance, rudeness, incorrect billings, calls/e-mails not returned
confidentiality breaches, errors, and poor-quality work
5 strategies for fostering positive relationships with clients
know your client
Treat each client as if he/she is only one
Send copies of all documents to clients
Do not use legalese
Return all phone call and reply to emails and voice mails immediately
Be courteous and professional
respond to clients request and keep promises
technology has yet to play a large role in client relations
what is the number one reason that clients leave law offices or attorneys an take their business elsewhere
They feel the were treated discourteously, indifferently or were simply not given good service
2 strats for dealing with difficult clients
Stay calm and maintain professionalism
document conversations
Be courteous but maintain an arm’s length relationship and keep the attorney informed
4 barriers to communication
differing perceptions
5 of 10 commandments of good listening
Stop talking
put the talker at ease
show the individual that you want to listen
remove distractions
empathize with the person
When the desire for group cohesiveness becomes stronger than the desire for the best possible solution
difference between timekeeping and billiing
Timekeeping is tracking time, and billing is the process of issuing invoices to clients for the time tracked
4 types of hourly rates
attorney or l.a. hrly rate
client hrly rate
blended hrly rate
activity hrly rate
When a lawyer takes a % of the recovery of the case
It is strongly recommended that all fee arrangements be in writing
a flat fee agreement must be in writeing
a retainer that can be deposited in the firm’s or attorney’s operating checking account
an account where unearned client mony are deposited is called a trust account
a retainer for general representation
a case retainer
a cash advance retainer
a plan that can be purchased that entitles the person to receive l.s. either free or at a greatly reduced price
prepaid legal services
a legal billing arrangement that is similar to the type used when you get your car fixed
for what activity do clients file the most ethical complaints against lawyers
fees and billing
what must the attorney do at the end of a case where a contingency feee or agreement was used
Provide a written statement fo the outcomes and show a remittance to the client and the method of its distribution
a contingency agreement can be used in all kinds of cases
if a client signs a contract with an attorney and the fee turns out to be clearly excessive it doesn’t matter because a contract was signed and the contract prevails
False; an attorney can never collect a fee that is unreasonable
4 of 8 factors that courts use to determine if a fee is unreasonable
1. time a labor required then novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the skill requisite to perform the l.s. properly
2. the likelihood if apparent to the client that the acceptance of the particular employment by the lawyer
3. the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar l.s
4. amount involved and the results obtained
5. time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstanced
6. the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client
7. the experience reputation and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services
8. whether the fee is fixed or contingent
Criminal fraud
False representation of a present or past fact
L.a. can bill for time spent copying and other clerical duties
l.s. that are provided free of charge
Pro bono
l.a. represent a profit center at most law firms
what is e-billing
When law firms bill clients using electronic means such as the internet
Trust account
Escrow account
It is okay to put an attorney’s operating funds in the client trust account
an attorney can put his/her own money in the client trust account to cover bank service charges
An attorney cannot commingle multiple client funds into one trust account
it is alright for an attorney to borrow money from the client trust account as long as it is paid back within one banking day
what two things should an attorny do regarding a client trust account on at least a monthly basis
reconcile it and sen a written account to every client with fund in the client trust account letting him or her know of all deposits and withdraws for the month
according to the model rules an attorney must maintain client trust fund records for at leads ___years after a client’s case is concluded
With an IOLTA the interest money are paid to the client
There are usually two restrictions on the kinds of client funds that can go into and IOLTA account
Nominal amounts funds which will be held a short time
2 Strats for collecting on client accounts
careful selection of client cases obtaining money upfront sending monehly statements withdrawing from cases where the client does not pay suing the client
procedures to set up checks and balances so no one individual has exclusive control of any part of an accounting system
internal controls
what is a legal-specific term for entering, organizing, and controlling appointments, deadlines, and due dates
Docket control
a legal term that usually refers to docket control and other functions including things to do contacting information case notes and document assembly
Case Management
when calculating deadlines what two ways are there to count days
Calendar days and workdays
a statement at the end of a court document that certifies or establishes when a document was sent
Certificate of Service
two major types of manual docket control systems
Card system
a generic computer program that consolidates a number of different functions including calendaring things to do contact and email
Personal information manager
2 features usually found in case management software
Perpetual calendar
Date calculator
Recurring entries
scheduling conflict alert
scheduling multiple parties
automatic reminders
calendaring a series of events from a court rule
case contacts
synchronizing with PIM/PDA.
case diary notes
Document assembly/generation
legal research library
conflict of interest searches
email interface
document management
time and billing/accounting iinterface
Why is the case of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona important
It was the United States Supreme Court case that allowed attorneys to publicly advertise under the first amendment right to commercial free speech
According to the text marketing is the exclusive duty of attorney
false, most experts on law firm ad. encourage support staff to get involved in marketing efforts
what is the diff. b/w marketing and advertising
Ad is simply getting one’s name out in the public domain

marketing includes much more such as providing quality l.s to clients understanding clients needs fosterin a good rep in the community and building good public relations among other things

it is easier to sell a quality product that people want to buy than to sell a product you want to sell
Before a law firm begins to market it is essential that it have
Marketing Plan
what should an effective marketing plan contain
The overall goals of the marketing program
strategies and activities that will be necessary to obtain the goals
the estimated cost of the marketing program and the estimated profit the successful marketing program would bring in
name two ways to obtain research for a marketing plan
study competitiors
interview clients
survey clients
talk to experts on marketing
one of the most important things a law office can do is to actually___what marketing techniques are the most successful and then concentrate resources and funds on those methods
track and study
When it comes to law firm websites___is king
5 ways what type or king of advertisement/marketing, any public advertising communication by a lawyer cannot be found to be
web site
open house
business cards
public advertising
firm seminars
direct mail
joining associations and community groups
sending info to clients
developing client relationships
thanking clients for referrals and many others
ability to bring new clients to a law firm
a law firm ad can guarantee future results based on a recent victory of the film
false this would create an unjustified expectation that the same result could be obtained for other clients without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstance of each clients case
according to the model rules a lawyer may advertise services via written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media
any ad or marketing piece an attorney or law firm publishes must have 2 things
the name/address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content
it must contain the words “advertising material”
An attorney may personally solicit legal business from family and people with whom the attorney has had a close personal or prior professional relationship
no matter what type or king of advertisement/marketing any public advertising communication by a lawyer cannot be found to be
3 attributes of an effective file management system
ease of use
ease of learning
2 types of file systems
electronic document management
bar coding
color coding
what does document management software do?
allows for extensive searching of documents
typically in a computer-networked environment
3 advantages of document management software/ the “paperless office”?
the ability to share information across vast distances
excellent tracking and reporting capabilities
reduced instance of misfiling
ability to easily and quickly create a backup copy of the information
reduced space and storage costs
ability to quickly search and sort information
Legal research comes in a number of formats : 2
hard copy
Online services

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