Of course it’s a “self-serving declaration”! Why else would I file it?!

Frustrated Male Judge With Gavel And BookIf you lose a motion and rail against the stupidity of the judge, that’s just viewed as sour grapes. But today I was in court for a hearing, and it was the case BEFORE mine that raised my hackles, so I can rant with impunity. (And yes I won my motion, so this isn’t indirect sour grapes either.)

I mostly hear this refrain from opposing counsel, but judges sometimes make the same stupid remark. That remark is referring to a declaration as “self-serving”, and arguing that it should be disregarded on that basis. In reality, if you are filing declarations that aren't self-serving, you are doing something horribly wrong.

Let me give you the facts of the case in question so you’ll see what I’m talking about. Continue reading

Judge resigns amid allegations she retaliated after rebuffed Facebook request, exhibited paranoia

A Florida judge has resigned before the resolution of ethics charges alleging she “repeatedly expressed paranoia” and exhibited “inexplicable” and “disruptive” behavior.

Judge Linda Schoonover of the Seminole-Brevard circuit court plans to retire Aug. 31,

Source: www.abajournal.com

The fascinating part of this tragic story is the Facebook incident.

The judge was presiding over a divorce action, and sent a Facebook friend request to the wife. The wife, understandably concerned that she would get a friend request from the judge on her case, asked her attorney what she should do. Her attorney advised her to ignore the friend request.

The judge was not pleased. She allegedly retaliated against the wife by ordering a very unfavorable, and inexplicable, division of the marital assets.

I'm reminded of that scene from Fatal Attraction, where the character played by Glenn Close says, “I will NOT be ignored,” before later boiling the bunny.

Be careful who you fail to friend.

See on Scoop.itCalifornia SLAPP Law

Best Client Call of the Week

Frustrated woman making a phone callMy websites all have contact forms, so that prospective clients can email me a question. The forms require that the prospective client provide an email address and/or a telephone number. How else would I contact them?

So, I received an email from a visitor to one of my websites (let’s call her Jane), and I promptly responded.

The next day, I received another email from the website from Jane, asking the same questions again. I responded again, apologizing that she had not received my earlier response.

On day three I received two emails from Jane, and they made clear that Jane was not pleased that I was ignoring her emails. Jane had never provided her telephone number, so I had no means to contact her other than through the email address she was providing each time. I was sure my email was probably ending up in her spam filter for whatever reason, but I responded each time.

Finally Jane called, and she was hopping mad that she had written me so many times and received no response. I explained that I had responded to every one of her emails, and read back her email address.

“Oh, that’s a fake email address. I always use that when I fill out contact forms. I don’t want to get spammed,” she said.

How to Write Like a Pro in a New Content Niche

Here’s how to pivot your style and approach to write informative, engaging content in a new niche – Content Marketing Institute.

Source: contentmarketinginstitute.com

I want to share this great, very detailed article on creating content for a niche. Although not specific to law firm marketing, the concepts are the same.

One thing you should be doing is to monitor the most popular articles on your own blogs, in order to provide more of that sort of content. In this article, you'll learn how to do the same for other blogs, in order to increase your awareness even further.

If you want to take your firm to new levels with an effective content marketing plan, be sure to read my Niche Marketing Roadmap series.

See on Scoop.itLaw Firm Marketing

Best Client Call of the Week

angry callerA gentleman called about a case, wherein the amount in controversy was about $1,500 – a clear candidate for small claims court.

“Well, this isn't a case I would be able to represent you on because it wouldn't make economic sense to hire me for a $1,500 case, but I’m happy to give you my thoughts on how you could pursue this in small claims court,” I said.

We often get calls about cases that are best handled in small claims court, so I've created a web page that walks callers through the process of suing in that court. When I get these types of calls I’ll take a few minutes to give the caller some tips on how to calculate the damages and what evidence to present, and then I send them to the web page.

This caller was taking advantage of my kind nature, asking very specific questions about how “I” was going to handle the case; which witnesses I would call, which documents I would use. In each instance, I told him that “I” wasn't going to handle the case, because the legal fees would far exceed the amount he was seeking to recover. In all, during the course of the conversation, I told him about six times that it would not be economically feasible to hire me to represent him given the amount in controversy.

He grew a bit curt when I repeated the refrain for the sixth time that I would not handle the case.

“Why do you keep saying that? Why wouldn't it make economic sense?”, he asked.

“Because this is a case that should be pursued in small claims court, and individuals cannot be represented by an attorney in small claims court. For me to represent you, I’d have to file a full-blown action in the Superior Court, with written discovery, depositions, possible motions, etcetera,” I responded. “You avoid all that in small claims court. Also, there is no basis to recovery your attorney fees, so you'd be spending far more on me that you would be seeking to recover. It wouldn't make sense to spend all that money on legal representation for $1,500!”

“But what if I wanted you to represent me? What would it cost?”

Well, I’m $495 an hour, and I require a $10,000 deposit to start.”

“Why the f**k would I pay you $10,000 to get $1,500! Are you out of your f**king mind?”

Click.

Flat Fee Arrangements Promote a Winning Practice

The Practice of Law - Fee AgreementsFlat fee arrangements are amazingly liberating.

Most of my fellow litigators won't take a case on a flat fee, either because they are concerned that they will grossly underestimate the time the case is going to take and end up with an effective hourly rate of $25, or simply because they think they'll make more on a straight hourly basis.

I acknolwedge that some cases just do not lend themselves to a flat fee because of the unknown factors, but when you have a case with a reasonably predictable time factor, a flat fee is a fantastic way to go, not because it earns you more (although it can), but because it allows you to do more.

This may be counterintuitive to some, and probably blaphemous to attorneys that are only in it for the money, but I'm in it to win and a flat fee gives me greater freedom to do what I need to do to win.

Say you have a case that is crying out for a demurrer. On a straight hourly arrangement, your discussion with the client goes something like this:

You:  “I really think we should bring a demurrer. The third cause of action for breach of contract fails to allege performance, and here they really can't honestly allege performance, so I think that will get rid of that cause of action.”

Client:  “So if you bring this motion the case is over?”

You:  “No, it will just get rid of that one cause of action if we prevail.”

Client:  “How much will the motion cost?”

You:  “With the motion, the reply and going to court, I can probably do it all in ten hours, so $4,500.”

Client: “So I pay you $4,500 and the motion may not work and even if it does it doesn't end the action it just gets rid of one cause of action?”

And what the client is thinking is: “Damn attorneys, he's just trying to run up the bill.”

With a flat fee, all those conversations are eliminated. If I think a demurrer is needed, I bring it. If I think more discovery is needed, I propound it.

And this isn't pure altruism. Yes, I do this to win, but being free to do everything I want to do on a case may allow me to prevail on the action much more quickly, making the flat fee a winning bet for me financially.

A few tips for flat fees: Continue reading

Lawyer App of the Month – Jotbox

Jotbox app

It always seems to happen in the shower.

I come up with a brilliant strategy for one of my cases or remember something that needs to be calendared. (I read once that there is actually some scientific basis for epiphanies in the shower, having to do with ions or something.) I need to get the idea down as quickly as possible before the thought is lost, and I need to make sure I will see whatever reminder I create.

I always have my phone with me (well, not actually in the shower), so I could create a reminder or enter the idea into Evernote, but that assumes I will hear the reminder tone or remember to look at Evernote before the deadline occurs.

Enter Jotbox. I may not check my voice mail or see all the text messages that come to me, but I am always good about checking my email. With Jotbox, I just dictate a quick message on my iPhone, and with a single click the typed message goes off to my email. I also have the options to scribble a message on the screen, or even snap a photo (a picture of an empty shampoo bottle, perhaps, to remind me to buy more).

When I arrive at the office and check my email, I can then deal appropriately with all the reminders.

Incidentally, if you want, you can use your Evernote email address. Instead of showing up in your email, they will show up in Evernote.

I found Jotbox while checking out a similar program called MeMail. The latter program does not have all the same features, and is $2.99, whereas Jotbox is just 99 cents.

Get a FREE Copy of the #1 Law Firm Marketing Book on Amazon

I love e-books, and manage to go through four or five per week, mostly nonfiction. How do I go through so many books in a week? As I explain in more detail here, I use my Kindle’s text-to-speech function, cranked up to two or three times the normal speed (no, there is no chipmunk quality), and listen to books whenever I am commuting, showering, dressing, etc.

The truth is, especially when you read multiple books on the same topic, even a really good book may offer only ten or twenty really good, new to you takeaways. As I’m listening to an e-book at warp speed, I can easily absorb the broad concepts, and if a really good takeaway pops up, I can slow it down and repeat, or have Siri send whatever I want to remember to Evernote.

(Did you know you can have Siri on your iPhone add notes to your Evernote account? Here’s how. Of course you can dictate directly into Evernote, but the Siri method allows you to do it hands free. No distracted driving for you! The next version of iOS will make this even better, because Siri will obey your commands without you even having to push that one button to get her attention. And if you've seen that episode of The Big Bang Theory, you know that Siri is a real woman answering your questions in real time.)

But feeding my brain is not without cost. Even though we live in wonderful times where e-books can be had for a fraction of the price of their printed brethren, going through four or five books per week can still be a costly addiction. Continue reading

How To Get Back a Closed Tab

I might be the only one who does this, but I was very excited to learn this shortcut.

When using Chrome (this also works for Internet Explorer and Firefox), I soon accumulate so many tabs across the top of the browser that I can't tell what's what. I then start closing tabs and occasionally realize that I just closed the tab with the case I found after a long search session. To bring back a closed tab, just hit Ctrl-Shift-T and voilà, it's back.

Best Client Call of the Week

Not the one in question, but can you name the country this flag represents?

A “potential client” called this morning to discuss the case she has going in a foreign country. In order not to offend any of the residents of that country by repeating what she said, I won’t identify the country except to say that it is a small, non-English speaking country that I had to run through Wikipedia to confirm that it is in fact a real country.

Yak

She called to ask a question about a very specific procedural issue in her case. Picture getting a call from someone in Transnistria, asking you the deadline for opposing an application for a writ of attainment, and whether the opposition can be served by yak. That was the nature and specificity of the procedural question.

As I always do when I get a call from someone about a case that has nothing to do with California, I asked why she called me.

“Because all the attorneys are crooks here, and you can’t trust anything they say”, she said.

So the next time you hear someone say something disparaging about attorneys, just remember that our reputation is far better than that of the attorneys in this unidentified country.