Bar Journal Aug. 2015
Complete Bar Journal
You decided to open a new law office. You may have left a firm and taken an established client base with you. You may have left a firm in order to develop your own book of business. You may have left a public office or in-house position with an organizational client and now need to capture private clients in the marketplace. You may have been admitted to the bar and now wish to launch your career from ground zero on your own terms. Or you may be entering or returning to private practice from a previous occupation.
There are a number of ethical issues which must be considered when opening your law practice. The most practical way to begin is to reread the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC). There are a total of 57 rules. As is often the case when reading statutes, some language can be difficult to comprehend. Each rule has a comment section which provides explanatory notes with headings. Each rule is important and as a practicing attorney, you should be familiar with all of them. This article will deal with the more “high profile” rules. The rules are codified in Title 5, Oklahoma Statutes, Appendix 3-A. They can be found at http://goo.gl/EKG0GB.
There’s a lot of ground to cover when opening and running a law firm, and insurance and the costs related thereto are often an afterthought or even overlooked altogether. This article will cover a number of insurance policies available to businesses and individuals to transfer risk for a variety of exposures. Everyone has their own risk tolerance, so some of the insurance policies mentioned may be of little interest or concern to the very tolerant or to the very wealthy who can self-insure. In addition to the list, I’ve included tips to help you do a self-evaluation or discussion with your agent to help determine whether updates or additional policies might be appropriate.
Comparing the opening of a law office several decades ago with today’s requirements can make one feel nostalgic about “the good old days.” Then, you would rent or purchase some office space close to the courthouse or downtown business activity, hire a competent legal secretary, get a typewriter (Does anyone else remember the ubiquity of the IBM Selectric?), round up some office furniture, stop by the office supply store for a few supplies and you were ready to go. Now, you need to do much of that, but also figure out Internet access (and security), purchase computers, figure out what law office software is required, update your mobile phone plan, create the law firm’s website, buy a scanner, develop written procedures for workflow of digital client files and a host of other items.
You’ve passed the bar, you’ve hung out your shingle, you’ve accepted your first client and you’ve received your first retainer. Now what? If you haven’t already, you need to open your trust account where you will deposit any unearned retainer monies from any client going forward throughout your career as an attorney.
At first glance that title may seem harsh, but every occupation, every industry, every profession has something that can be identified as the major exposure from a risk management perspective. For the lawyer, as well as the law firm, it is undoubtedly professional liability. Major exposures faced by law firms include professional liability, data breach/cyber issues, employment practices liability, property and workers’ comp. This article focuses primarily on professional liability, but the growing exposure of cyber liability and also employment practices liability are so closely intertwined that we will touch on those as well.
Before I opened my law practice, I had the benefit of 17 years experience as a paralegal and two years experience working for solo attorneys. Therefore, I was able to observe how to run a law practice from other lawyers.
Building relationships remains one of the most important aspects of starting and maintaining your own law practice. For a new practitioner or someone going out on their own from the umbrella of a firm, it will be necessary to gain experience, develop credibility, obtain clients and keep clients and referrals coming. If you are an established attorney starting a new practice in an area that you are already experienced in, skip to “Gaining Credibility.” If you are a new practitioner or an established practitioner starting off in a new area of law, read on.
I realize this is a new generation of lawyers who do not necessarilywant to take the time for one-on-one mentoring. While there is still a greatdeal of merit in traditional mentoring, especially in a small town, there areother resources readily available.
The following is a summary of some of the changes in Oklahoma tax law enacted by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2015.
Remember the old saying that the cobbler’s children have no shoes? Lawyers seem to suffer from the “cobbler’s syndrome” when it comes to planning for their retirement or succession. While lawyers are well aware of the need to plan for unexpected events and for retirement and, in fact, even help their clients with such plans, they often fail to plan for themselves
As Edmond lawyer Miles Mitzner pulled into the parking lot, he could not believe what he saw. The lot was full including the four handicap spots near the front of the building. However, none of handicap spots were being used for their intended purpose. Instead, they were being occupied by utility and service trucks causing those who were handicapped to have to park farther away and make a long and difficult trek into the building.
The Oklahoma Bar Association announces the 22 participants of its fifth annual OBA Leadership Academy class selected from applicants throughout the state.
Do you use MyOKBar to pay dues, enroll in CLE or check your MCLE credits? You can soon expect big changes when you login to this members-only section of the OBA website! When you login to the new, improved site, what you see will look very different at first. The new system was designed to create a more reliable and easier experience for bar members. Additionally, the new system will increase the ability to promote yourself and your practice to your fellow bar members.