Have you ever wondered why trust account problems remain one of the top reasons attorneys are disciplined in the US? Certainly there have been and will continue to be attorneys whose trust accounting activities were so egregious they deserved to be disbarred. Truth be told, however, this doesn’t account for all of the problems. Are you vulnerable?
The days when a lawyer could send an unencrypted email without worry, remain blissfully ignorant about encrypting a laptop, or use the same easily remembered password for all accounts and devices are over. I believe most lawyers know this, at least at a gut level; but far too many still seem to be confused about what steps they should be taking. If you see yourself as a card carrying member of the “what the heck am I supposed to do” group, perhaps I can help.
Everyone needs a password policy, formal or informal, in order to try and avoid becoming yet another victim of identity theft, and heaven help you if the identity theft turned out to be the identity of one or more of your clients because someone got into your office network. So not good.
A patsy is a person who is easily taken advantage of, especially by being cheated or blamed for something. So, for example, when I look at how successful social engineering as a cybercrime tool is these days, it certainly seems like there are a lot of patsies out there. Here are a few stories about attorneys who were patsies that help explain why I feel the way I do.
Effective client screening is an important practice management tool because it enables you to build a successful and healthy practice. Stop with the excuses. Yes, it may look like a great case, but every legal matter comes with a client and if the two of you can’t work together in a healthy and positive way, then be prepared for a bumpy ride.
Today I started thinking hard it would be if the lawyer actually didn’t really like many of his clients. If he (or she) just found them irritating. My point is this. Such feelings are normal in relationships of all types, so irritation is likely to be part of the picture in some attorney-client relationships. But here they are paying you for results. This makes it different. How do you manage the relationship?
Lawyers as a group are terrible when it comes to properly and thoroughly documenting their files! Of course, not you, but all the other lawyers out there sure are. You wouldn’t believe how bad it can get. I say this because with almost every claim handled we’re having to deal with the lack of documentation of something. This can be a serious problem because now we’re often forced to live with the reality that a word-against-word dispute between a lawyer and his or her client is in play and that rarely ends well for the lawyer. Here’s just one story that highlights the problem.
Over the years I have witnessed a few vigorous debates where the point of contention was over whether the practice of law is a business or a profession. I am sometimes taken aback by the positions some lawyers take.
There are those who really do find the notion of equating the practice of law in any way, shape, or form with the running of a business as an extremely offensive position. In the opposite corner stands the attorney who is in it solely for the money and views the very existence of our rules of professional conduct as a personal affront. Thus, the great debate.
An opportunity to sit on the board of a local nonprofit is finally on the table. Of course, if you accept, the board may ask you to do a little pro bono work from time to time; but hey, it feels like an offer that shouldn’t be turned down. But have you considered all the ethical minefields? We have.
There is no exception in the confidentiality rule that says an attorney needn’t worry about maintaining client confidences if an electronic document is in use. That means metadata. If you don’t know what it is, or you know what it is and having been paying attention to the documents you send, you better read this post.