Articles

Spam and unwanted faxes

The following advice concerning unwanted fax advertisements was sent by Walter Oney, a Massachusetts attorney, to his clients. It bears further light. Not only are we being subjected to “spam” on the internet, our fax machines appear to be equally at risk.

The response by abusing marketers to the effect that we don’t have to read the material, just toss it into the round can, seems to be as inane as the response that smokers are at fault for being addicted, not the manufacturers who make tobacco products.

“Dear Client:

A very unfortunate change in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)may allow fax broadcasters and advertisers to legally harvest fax numbers from web sites and thereby escape the previous rule that prior express permission was required before transmitting advertisements.

You can minimize the danger of receiving unwanted ads by removing your fax number from your website. The next best alternative, which may or may not work, would be to add a legend to your web pages to the following effect:

‘[My/our] fax number appears on this web site as a convenience for our [customers/clients] and prospective [customers/clients] who wish to transmit noncommercial material related to our business dealings. No permission may be inferred for any person to transmit an advertisement of any kind.’

You might also want to routinely tell your usual suppliers, in writing, that you do or do not welcome price quotations or other types of announcements by fax.

None of these measures will guarantee you freedom from unwanted fax advertisements, and litigation may be required to establish their efficacy in the face of the change in the law.

If you want to understand how this perverse change occurred, please visit http://www.stopthejunkfaxbill.com.”


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Using Credit Cards to Pay Legal Fees

Accepting credit cards for payment is, I believe, important. We need to make it easy for clients to pay for legal services … and not change the lawyers’ profession, i.e., to that of banker.

However, be careful. Be sure you understand the rules of the credit card companies.

Remember, that one of the benefits of paying with credit cards is that there is roughly a six month window in which to raise a dispute and request the credit card company reverse the charge … at worst, the customer/client has the amount placed in a suspended account … at best, the credit card company reverses the charge, credits the customer and debits the law firm.

However, you can prevent this from happening when you get the client to agree that no dispute with the law firm will be raised with or adjudicated by the credit card company. In other words, the client agrees that the charge is non-refundable! The credit card company, when shown the client’s agreement, will not credit the client nor debit the law firm.

Any dispute between the client and the law firm, then, will be adjudicated in the right forum: the State Bar disciplinary system or the court for a malpractice/negligence action.

Check with your credit card company to be clear as to their policies relating to disputes with your clients/their customers.


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Alliances

A question to Coach Poll:

How can one go about creating an alliance with a law firm in another country such that the second law firm will send client work to the first firm? We have been in alliances with other law firms in Canada for the last fifteen years. Recently my partners have discussed the possibility of associating with a firm in the U.S. How should we approach other firms to create alliances for work both in the United States and in our country?

Response from Coach Poll:

If you don’t want to sell your practice, but merely reach out and create an alliance with a U.S. firm, it seems to me that you would first want to know what U.S. clients you want to represent; then, seek to find the law firms that those clients engage to represent them. Then, you can contact those law firms to determine if they already have Mexico counsel or would like to have Mexico counsel. The firms you would want to associate with also should have some similarities to your firm, both in size and in the nature of your practice and firm culture.

The same principle applies to creating alliances in other cities and in other States.


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Diversify client base for financial security

If you don’t want to get “burned” and lose much time and money, you may want to consider one of the most important axioms of business: Keep all of your clients at less than 10% of your total revenue. Thus, if any one client “forgets” to pay you, the “sting” won’t be so hard to handle. I have seen too many folks focus on a very few, larger clients and be severly damaged when the fees from that client fail to continue … irrespective of the cause, whether not liking the last bill(s), changing attorneys or their own economic hardships. (more…)


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Tips for talking with the media

At a recent trade conference, an editor for a leading legal publication made the following points about dealing with the media:

  • Read the publication before you decide to reach out to it.
  • Have a relationship with the publication before contacting it.
  • Choose your messenger with care.
  • Don’t paper the publication with junk press releases.
  • If you are called to participate in a survey and choose not to do so, give notice to the publication that you’re opting out of a survey.
  • Know the time restrictions and deadlines of reporters who call you for a story.
  • Use your most likeable and articulate people to pitch a story idea.
  • Always assume you’re on the record why you’re talking to the press.
  • Realize you’re not in control of the reporter or the story.
  • Don’t lie.

These are very good points to remember when dealing with the press!


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The Profitable Law Office Handbook Attorney’s Guide to Successful Business Planning

A best-selling, practical guide that enables attorneys to finally take control of their financial futures.

The Profitable Law Office Handbook is loaded with charts and forms, and it presents a clear outline for: understanding the business planning process, identifying personal and law firm goals, creating a marketing plan, and creating a cash flow statement. An optional Windows95-compatible disk with forms and schedules in Excel, QuattroPro, and WordPerfect 5.1 formats.

Click here for The Profitable Law Office Handbook Table of Contents.


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Secrets of the Business of Law: Successful Practices for Increasing Your Profits!

Secrets of the Business of Law: Successful Practices for Increasing Your Profits! Provides attorneys and law firms specific and practical suggestions for being more effective and making more money in the process. This new book is organized in five parts (Planning for success, Client Relations, Financial Management, Law Office Technology, and Office & Management Issues) to help lawyers learn how to:

  • Improve client relations
  • Keep clients
  • Raise revenue and lower overhead
  • Prepare for success by using a business plan
  • And much, much more!

Click here for the Secrets of Business Law Table of Contents.


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Filing “Notice of Unavailability” during litigation

An effective tool of management is to assure that you are allowed to have your vacation without surprise attacks from your opposing counsel. When in litigation, preparing and filing with the Court (and serving opposing counsel) a “Notice of Unavailability” will go a long way to prevent sudden motions or deposition settings, etc. when you plan to be out of town for more than a few days. (more…)


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