It was one of those “oh my God” moments where I realized I had just dodged a bullet.
A potential client had sent an email asking about a wrongful termination matter. We reject about 100 wrongful termination cases for every one we take, but this sounded like it might be the one. I wrote a reply to the potential client’s email, providing my thoughts on the pros and cons of the case, and was just about to hit send, when I looked at the sender’s email address.
She had sent it using her company email.
Yes, the client had sent me the facts of her wrongful termination from the company’s email. Like most employees, she probably has remote access to her email, and has probably come to think of that as “her” email address. Perhaps she had multiple email addresses on her home computer or smart phone and did not even know which account she was using.
Whatever the cause, what a great way to start a case – laying out your thoughts to the other side, while at the same time creating a legitimate basis for the termination, since undoubtedly the employer will have a policy against using company time and email for personal business.
So, before hitting send, look at the email address to which you are replying. If in doubt, and this might not be a bad idea in all cases, send an email that just asks the client if this is an email address for confidential communications.
How to Oppose an Ex Parte Application
I hate opposing ex parte applications.
I'm fine with the process if opposing counsel gives the required 24 hours notice, and I can file my opposition before the hearing and have it considered with the ex parte application. Far more often, however, even if opposing counsel provides the required notice, the basis for the request is so vague that I have no ability to prepare an opposition.
Opposing counsel says he is seeking some unspecified relief regarding some unspecified discovery, and I really don't think you grant him whatever it is he wants.”
Depending on the schedule of the court and its filing requirements, it is often the case that I don't receive the application until late in the day the day before the hearing, with no opportunity to file an opposition until the morning of the hearing. Even if the court accepts electronic filings, affording me the opportunity to file my opposition the night before, it is usually the case that the papers will not work their way through the system prior to the hearing. Continue reading
“Freemium” is a business model that works by offering a product or service free of charge (typically digital offerings such as eBooks) while charging a premium for advanced features, functionality, or related products and services. The word “freemium” is a portmanteau* combining the two aspects of the business model: “free” and “premium”. Thanks Wikipedia.
Freemiums are a great way to promote a law firm. A potential client visits your blog and is greeted with an offer of an essential report for free. And why would you do that? Because you must capture the client's email address in order to provide the free report. This allows you to follow up with the potential client, and the report with all your contact information remains in the hands of the potential client so he or she can contact you when ready.
Clients shop for attorneys. Hopefully your website will be enough to generate a call, but that may not seal the deal. On many occasions a potential client has called, I've wowed them with my fount of knowledge, and sent them back to my assistant to schedule an appointment. A few minutes later, the phone rings again, and it is the same client calling to discuss the case, not realizing she is calling the same firm. She is just working her way down the Google results and calling every attorney she finds. A freemium can distinguish you from the pack of attorneys clients are going to call. Continue reading
Being actively concerned about your clients’ problems will naturally come with the territory if you have a heart. When you are representing someone who is about to lose their home due to fraud, or lose visitation of a child through a custody battle, you can’t help but be awed by the life-altering nature of your representation.
I still lose sleep worrying about my clients’ cases. Sometimes the stakes are just so high I shudder at the potential outcome. I have complete confidence in my own abilities, backed by a great success rate, but you can never eliminate all the vagaries of litigation.
However, I now have fewer sleepless nights because I eventually realized that the stress was coming from two directions, and a roadblock could be placed in one of those paths. There is the unavoidable stress that is going to come from any litigation because you want your client to prevail and are concerned that the judge or jury will reach the wrong conclusion. But there is often another source of stress created by the client. That stress can be eliminated if you are firm with the client. Continue reading
With the downturn in the economy and the upturn in law school tuition, the perfect storm was created for a bumper crop of extremely dissatisfied law school grads, saddled with debt and finding only poor job prospects. On my Internet Defamation Blog, I wrote about the law student from Thomas M. Cooley Law School who was not happy with that institution, and started a blog called Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam, telling tales of wrongdoing. (The school is not happy and is attempting to sue the student for defamation.) Like many newly minted lawyers, he feels the law school lied about the employment opportunities he would find after graduation. (Resentment toward your school after running up big debt and not being able to do anything with the degree is not limited to law school. Read the insightful article, How a Dog Walker Paid off a 37K Student Loan in 6 Years, about the author's “naïve mistake of getting an MFA in creative writing . . . .”)
Today I came across another posting on the topic, although far less vitriolic, on the Above the Law blog, which was in turn reporting on an article in the National Law Journal by Jim Chen. Chen, Dean of the Louisville School of Law, has come up with a formula for determining whether law school was a wise investment. Chen uses qualification for a home loan while paying off student debt as his criteria for “financial viability”. He suggests that your starting salary at your first position after law school should be no less than three times your annual law school tuition if you want “adequate financial viability”. If you want to achieve a “good” level of financial viability, then you need to land a job paying six times the annual tuition. If your job only pays twice your annual tuition, then you have only “marginal” financial viability, according to Chen. All of these calculations are based only on your law school debt; if you have undergraduate debt, then you need to adjust accordingly.
I can only chuckle when I read articles such as this, because they are based on what I consider to be false assumptions. Continue reading