Sometimes a call comes in that I feel compelled to write about and this is one of those times. The question seemed simple enough. Basically, the callers wanted to know if the fact that a solo attorney was going to be added to their firm website as Of Counsel solely for marketing purposes would have any impact on their malpractice insurance premium. Well, as a risk guy, I couldn’t help it. I needed to know more. In response to a few follow-up questions of my own, I learned the following.
The best risk management advice I will ever have to offer is simply this. Don’t ever forget to take care of yourself. I know it sounds simple; but for so many, it isn’t easy. I really do believe that taking this advice to heart can not only make a world of difference in every lawyer’s personal and profession life, it can also be an effective risk management tool.
While crowdfunding models vary, there are primarily two general approaches. One is an investment model where the contributor invests funds in exchange for some kind of benefit. The other model is the donation approach, where the donor has no expectation of a return or benefit, and this is the model I’m going to discuss.
Let’s start with a potential client who has no ability to cover your fees. Would it be ethically permissible to solicit donations through a crowdfunding source as a way to have your fees paid?
Texting is ubiquitous in our culture, which makes it too easy to embrace that reality by texting day and night regardless of the setting just like everyone else does. The question I’d like to ask is this. Is doing so a good thing, particularly for a lawyer? Remember recent rule changes. Comment 8 to ABA Model Rule 1.1 Competency reminds lawyers that they are to “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice to include the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” If you are communicating with clients via text messaging, have you thought about the ramifications of doing so?
A few weeks ago, I had one of those days. You know, a day where things just don’t seem to make much sense. The day started out with a training session on ransomware. Unfortunately, as such programs are apt to do, it made me start to think that selling everything I have, disconnecting from the wired world, and moving to some remote island where I could live out my life selling tapas on the beach might be a really good idea. I suspect more than a few of you might have responded similarly.
Anyway, what got me going was learning about one of the new business models hackers have come up with. In short, after a computer or network is breached and the data encrypted, hackers are starting to offer their victims two choices instead of the normal one, which was to pay the ransom amount in order to obtain the decryption key and get their files back. Now the victim can either pay the ransom or they can help spread the ransomware by sharing a malicious link with two people they know. If those two unsuspecting folks become infected and pay the ransom within seven days, then the initial victim would receive the decryption key and be able to recover their files for free. Now isn’t this a heartwarming development.
If you aren’t already aware, attorneys are increasingly being targeted by scammers hoping to get away with wire fraud. Here’s just one example of how it can play out. Don’t assume because you are a little guy or gal, it can’t happen to you. Not only can it, it’s more likely it will.
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?
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.
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?