Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

If You’ve Suffered From Salmonella, How Do You Choose a Texas Tomato Lawyer

December 22nd, 2020

Surely when you made that ill-fated tossed salad using veggies from your neighborhood market, you weren’t expecting soon to ask, “How do I choose a Texas tomato lawyer?” The question sounds absurd, right? It’s like asking, “How do I choose a pie-loving doctor?” But in Texas, where almost half of all recent salmonella cases have been reported, it may turn out to be as germane as putting pickles — hold the tomatoes, please — on a freshly grilled cheeseburger.

Since the latest salmonella outbreak from tainted tomatoes began in April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington, D.C., has amassed reports of 707 people being infected with the bacterium, which causes swelling of the stomach and intestines — and makes sufferers frequent visitors to their bathroom due to vomiting and diarrhea.

In sending out its latest SOS, the CDC also indicated that such victims were in 34 states and the District of Columbia. And 293 of them hailed from Texas alone.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has a big “Howdy, padnuh — but no way” for that. It claims that as many as 342 salmonella sufferers are Lone Star state denizens.

Either way, that’s a lot of upset stomachs — and people who are upset about the fact that they were infected in the first place.

That leads us to choosing your Texas tomato lawyer. He or she won’t strictly be a tomato lawyer, of course. They’ll be a personal injury lawyer with skills in handling cases of injuries wrongly inflicted by another’s negligence or wrongdoing. And clearly, someone, somewhere, was negligent in allowing these tainted tomatoes into the consumer pipeline.

If you need a Texas tomato lawyer — well, really a personal injury attorney — be sure to choose wisely. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you pay no fees for their services, but rather only a percent of the award should your case prevail in court. But not all firms work this way. Along with checking out their reputation and credibility, be sure to determine if they work on a contingency basis or not.

And while you’re at it, you might want to steer clear of all tomatoes for the time being. Though the Food and Drug Administration has narrowed its concerns to raw red plum, red Roma and round red tomatoes, and has narrowed the source sites to Florida and Mexico, those tomatoes could be sold anywhere.

In short, it’s always better to be safe than sorry — especially when it comes to your health. And salmonella is a horrid health hazard. Bottom line: Tainted tomatoes are still in the marketplace, which is yet another reason why you might soon be asking yourself, “How do I choose a Texas tomato lawyer?”

New Law for Lawyers in Loan Modification Companies As Mandated by the FTC

December 8th, 2020

The Federal Trade Commission was established in the year 1914 and it has regulated the U.S. economy fairly well since then. One of the many responsibilities of the FTC is to implement practical and effective law enforcement in order to regulate the global marketplace and prevent unfair practices. Recently, the subprime mortgage crisis has resulted in over a million of foreclosures in the United States and desperate homeowners turn to loan modification companies to help rescue their precious houses. Although many loan modification experts do their job in saving homes, fake firms are sprouting virtually everywhere which causes more trouble to homeowners. As a result, the FTC has received so many reports from American borrowers saying that their money was spent in vain.

In response to this, the FTC has made a new rule for all loan modification companies offering their services to the American people. No upfront fees must be collected to their consumers unless a letter from the mortgage lender was sent saying that they agree for a loan modification. However, since lawyers in companies may require up fronts for professional fee, there is also a law regarding the terms of payment.

Lawyers must deposit the advance fees to the client’s trust account which is held or settled in trust. The account must have clear written investment objectives and both parties must come up with the terms of agreement. The reason for such account is to separate the client’s payment from that of the lawyer’s fund. The attorney can only get the money once their agreement has been accomplished. This is important to make sure that the lawyer does his or her job; only with a trust fund can the client be secured of their contract.

The Federal Trade Commission and the state Attorneys General Offices plan on strictly implementing the program by enforcing injunctions, civil penalties, or even imprisonment. Furthermore, any lawyers caught practicing fraudulent activities in the loan modification industry will be sued by the federal government.

The American Bar Association has opposed to the new rule set by the FTC saying it interferes with the courts’ regulation of attorneys but the FTC cannot be swayed. Even the chief program officer of the NCRC or the National Community Reinvestment Coalition agreed on the new rule. He said that the abuse of power of lawyers over the desperate homeowners only shows that they are not following their vows of commitment to the American consumers. Fraudulent companies and lawyers must be stopped otherwise thousands of homeowners will continue losing homes which consequently leads to the declining housing market. The FTC has no other way to do this but to be tougher on barring up fronts and disciplining loan modification lawyers.

Why Social Media Can Help Lawyers Survive The Cull In Law Firm Numbers

November 25th, 2020

The recent ‘The Future Of Legal Services’ conference that was held in Birmingham (UK) highlighted the challenges many lawyers face as they try to survive or grow. Many of these have been mentioned in various blogs and articles such as ‘Goodbye to all that’ by Jordan Furlong.

There were a couple of statements made at the conference which really stood out:

As institutional operators and larger practices move onto their patch, some traditional High Street firms will struggle to compete unless they adapt;
Law firms which use technology in the right way will have an edge going forward.

The business model used by many law firms will not help them survive the competitive forces they come against.

Jordan Furlong says lawyers should “…study the means by which you accomplish the work you sell to clients and determine whether and to what extent you can adopt new technologies and processes to be not just more efficient, but also more effective in terms of quality, relevance and responsiveness.”

This brings me to social media, and what lawyers should do about it.

As law firms start to use social media to gain mindshare, deliver better services and build relationships with prospects or clients, it is becoming more and more important for the majority of law firms to consider how they use this media platform within their marketing communications.

Differentiating oneself from competitors and improving the ability to engage with prospects or clients are benefits that result from having well thought-out social media strategies.

The key question lawyers need to ask themselves is “what channels do I need to use to differentiate myself and become the lawyer of choice for potential clients, and does this include social media?”

Basically, lawyers need to figure out what their strategic business goals are, and how they can then use social media or technology to help me achieve those goals.

Many lawyers that simply pick a social media tactic without integrating it into their lead generation or client nurturing programmes will get frustrated pretty quickly. It is not enough just setting up a Facebook page (which looks like the company website), a corporate Twitter handle and LinkedIn profile, or attracting 5,000 followers. Anyone can do this!

Lawyers have to make social media support overall business goals, which means integrating it tightly into measurable lead generation and conversion strategies. If social media does not make it easier for prospects to find you, stick to you because you point them towards content that they are actively looking for and, ultimately, select you for because you have articulated the benefits that result from working with you, then it is pointless!

And, if social media does not make it easier for lawyers to engage with clients more effectively, resulting them in having more time to focus on delivering high-quality services to target niches, then it is time for a re-think.

Social media technology platforms can have a very positive impact on the bottom line and, more importantly, help law firms build positions of authority in an increasingly competitive legal services marketplace.

But, it has to support overall business goals, and be measured in terms of new leads generated, sales made, increase in referrals made and improved client retention rates. It should also result in a marked improvement in the way lawyers handle any negative comments made about the services they deliver and the speed with which they resolve customer problems.

Eria Odhuba helps lawyers implement social media and new online business models to attract more clients to their practices, giving them the chance to be successful and enjoy the things they would like to do but can’t because they have no time or money.

Tips on How to Choose a Good Business Lawyer

November 3rd, 2020

Finding the right attorney for your business can be a daunting task. Whether you are new to the marketplace and are in need of a lawyer for your new business or you are in the market for a new business lawyer, the issues remain the same. You need an attorney with the right experience and who is attentive to your business needs.

Ultimately, you should ask yourself, “Do I trust this person with my business?”

To help you answer this question, below are a few issues and questions you should address in evaluating whether or not a prospective business lawyer is right for your business:

Check out the lawyer’s background.

It should go without saying, but you need to check with the local bar association to determine if the attorney is currently licensed to practice law and whether he or she has had any major disciplinary actions.
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.
Find out what is their area of practice.
You need an attorney who spends most of of his/her time practicing business and commercial law.
When dealing with the health and future prosperity of your business, you want a specialist who can quickly diagnose and efficiently find the solution.
Ask how much of their practice is devoted to business and commercial law.
What areas of business law do they specialize in? In what (and how many) other areas do they practice? – are these areas complementary to your business needs?

Assess their experience and knowledge.

Make sure your attorney has the right experience and knowledge of your industry.
You need a lawyer who has significant experience with companies like yours so you do not have to pay for the attorney’s learning curve in getting up to speed on the legal issues affecting your industry.
On the other hand, you should want an attorney who is willing to invest the time to understand your legal issues and the challenges facing your business, rather than provide a cookie-cutter solution.

Don’t forget relationship count!

While most of your communication with your lawyer may occur on the phone, through email and mail, a face-to-face meeting is still crucial in an attorney-client relationship.
You need to meet your prospective attorney in person. You can learn many things from a face-to-face meeting that do not communicate well over the phone or email.
Be wary of any lawyer who is unwilling to meet you in person or insists on a “retainer” before your initial meeting and/or any discussion about your business, your particular issues and the scope of their engagement.

Personality can play a key role in how effective a lawyer will be for your business.

You need to be comfortable with your legal counselor.
Would he/she mesh with your executives, managers and your team (i.e., your accountant, financial advisers and other advisers)?
Is he/she the right fit for the job?
Do you want a team player? Or do you need an independent person to review your business and keep your managers and employees in check?
Are they aggressive and outspoken? Or they merely combative?
Do you want a risk taker? Or do you want someone who is conservative and takes the safe and secure route?

To further help you in your search, below is a list of some of the key characteristics of a good business lawyer (in no particular order of importance or relevance):

An Advocate for your Business: An attorney needs to be supportive and not just sympathetic to your cause. You do not want a “yes” man. A good attorney is supposed to tell you where you may be wrong. Can the attorney be straight-forward with you?
Good Business Judgment: Are you comfortable with their business judgment? Do they seem to exercise reasonable and sound business judgment? Or are they too theoretical, impractical and/or out-of touch with your business reality well-thought ideas and reasons.
Readily Available: Do they have adequate time to take on your matters. Make sure to get a commitment from the attorney.
A Great Communicator- No “Legalese” please: Your attorney must be able to explain to you even the most complex issues into terms you understand. Your attorney is supposed to find solutions for you, not mystify you.
Foresight & Proactive: Does the attorney think of ways to help you and your business? Do they seem to understand the problems you are likely to have? Do they have a plan to avoid likely problems?
Exudes Professionalism: Are they organized and handle themselves with professionalism? Are they respectful of your time – were they on time?
Have Resources – Will Travel: Does he/she have the resources and connections you may need to support your business? Do he/she know the players in your industry? Do he/she have contacts within your industry? Does he/she have contacts with your customers or prospects? Ask about their affiliations with accountants, financial advisers, bankers, and other professionals. Can you leverage their resources, connections and referrals?

Finding the right attorney for your business does not have to be overwhelming. With a bit of preparation, you should be able to find a lawyer with the right experience and who is attentive to your business needs.

Find A Lawyer Through An Online Platform

October 27th, 2020

The inevitable change of various services that are going online has facilitated the users to use them easily. Legal services are no exception in this respect. The shift from an offline space to an online platform of legal services have created a unified world of new online marketplaces where a person can get detail about solution of legal issues while sitting at home.

You can contact the lawyer, discuss the case and hire him online. No need to trust the over-hyped advertisements, billboards or a flyer. All you need to do is to log on to your computer and find a lawyer who can advise you.

For the legal firms, especially small firms, the online approach is much more viable option given the low-cost of operation and quick start-up mechanism that internet offers.

If you need a lawyer, here are some of the reasons to opt for online platform which is proving to be a win – win situation for both lawyers and for clients:

1. A client can seek online legal help which saves considerable amount of money and time. Same goes for the lawyer. He can get hired by using online marketing tools which are much more effective compared to traditional methods of advertising.

2. A lawyer can build his reputation by spreading the word about him in the cyber space. His clientele also increase considerably since he is visible to a wider audience all around the globe.

3. Barriers and borders have been broken since the presence of the internet is global. A lawyer can seek a new case from different areas. Similarly, the client can seek legal help online from any part of the world.

4. A new law practitioner can create his “brand name” easily. He does not need to look for a big firm to prove himself in the law fraternity. Online opportunities can offer him the exposure that he requires to excel in coming years.

5. Anonymously stating the case in front of a lawyer at initial stage helps the client to feel less intimidated by not revealing any personal information and hence, he is at better comfort level.

Traditional way to find a lawyer or a new potential client, as the case may be, still works, but now we live in the age of technology that involves “on the go” facility and using it to our advantage is just a better method to do things.

If you are trying to build a relevant online presence as a lawyer, or you are seeking an attorney’s help, different websites will help you accomplish the goal of resolving any kind of problem that you are facing at a particular moment.

Lawyer Search Engine Marketing

October 15th, 2020

The main aim of lawyer search engine marketing is to increase online visibility. People will always need lawyers to represent them in both civil and criminal cases. In most cases, you will find that you do not know the prospective lawyer in terms of professional qualifications. One of the best ways that you can learn more about him is by doing a simple online search.

The internet marketplace is become bigger and bigger. The sooner you make an entry, the better for your future as a professional in law. If your webpage appears of the first page of many search sites once a keyword relating to a specific niche is used, then your website might be said to have fulfilled all SEO requirements. For such websites, lawyer search engine marketing is the lifeline of professional advancement. Many marketing techniques have been proven to work wonders online. Online marketing is desirable to many lawyers since they can present their professional credentials through articles, analyses and presentations. Most importantly, a lawyer can make a video that reveals him as an experienced professional in a certain area of legal expertise. Making a good video might be a daunting task but if this succeeds, the lawyer should witness unprecedented increases in popularity for his firm.

These days, people are using the internet to do just about anything. Online consultations are on the increase. Lawyer search engine marketing information is now more easily accessible than ever before. If you manage to maintain an authoritative online presence, you will have an opportunity to appeal to over 92 per cent of Americans who buy goods and services online. You will be an easy target for people who visit the internet in order to look for a good lawyer.

There are as many lawyer search engine marketing websites as there probably are lawyers in this country. This means that your website is competing for the first page of search engines with thousands of other websites. If you do not make the best use of SEO, you may not survive in online marketing. Many website owners target the first page only because few website visitors click on the second page of any search engine. If they cannot find useful information on the first page, they just change the search item or simply switch to another search engine.

All facets of lawyer search engine marketing require special attention. Each of them has a unique role to play in ensuring a high ranking for your website. These facets include keywords, website structure, dynamism and stability of the website. All you need is to balance all these aspects of internet marketing and simply watch your internet traffic grow exponentially. A website marketing strategy will succeed more easily if other online tools such as blogs and social media are used to bring about more exposure. The layout and content of a lawyer’s website should be a clear manifestation that he has a passion for what he is doing. Once you give this implication to the client, then you need not worry about increased business.

3 Things to Consider When Choosing A Divorce Lawyer

September 26th, 2020

If you are reading this article, you have my condolences. You are probably either about to file for divorce or you have just been served with divorce papers. Divorce is an emotional and extremely stressful time in a person’s life, whether you are filing or responding, as you are dealing with the end of your marriage. During this time, people often reveal their true character. People who are jerks become even bigger jerks because a former loved one is now the enemy. In some instances, the person you thought you married becomes a complete stranger, doing spiteful things you never imagined possible. That adage that, “Hell hath no fury like a woman (or man!) scorned,” holds true in the divorce context. A jilted lover is ever that much more jilted when they’re about to lose half their house and pension. And so, with the battle lines drawn, when you choose your legal champion, consider the following three factors:

1. Communication Is Key

You will probably be on an emotional roller coaster for the duration of the proceedings, so it is important that you find an attorney with whom you can comfortably communicate and express your feelings. (Aside – don’t use your attorney as a therapist! It’s much cheaper to use a counselor.) Many people prefer either a male or a female attorney for whatever reason. Some people prefer their attorney to be one gender or another or to have a certain kind of demeanor, whether it be aggressive or more conservative. The important thing is that you have a feeling of rapport with your attorney and be able to communicate with your lawyer. Using the battle metaphor from above, what’s the point of having a “warrior” if he attacks the wrong target or leaves your important issues undefended? You must not only be able to communicate, but also the attorney must be able to hear what you want to get out of the proceedings and be able to respond to you. A good attorney will listen to you and help you set reasonable expectations about the resolution of your issues and (hopefully) the entire case. Communication is not just taking orders from a client (or the opposite – the attorney telling the client how the case will unfold). If every attorney blindly followed their client’s orders, the courts would be even more crowded than they already are. So true communication between the attorney and client is paramount. In a similar vein, if your lawyer doesn’t return your phone calls and you still have money left in your retainer, that may be a sign that communication is a problem.

2. Experience Is Vital

At the risk of sounding jaded, it is more likely your attorney went to law school to become rich than to help others. Most of my original lawschool classmates did not drive fancy cars, mostly because it snowed heavily where I originally attended law school and a jeep or other 4 wheel drive vehicle was the practical choice. When I went down to Southern California to finish law school, I was shocked to see a large number of Mercedes and BMWs in the student parking lots, driven of course by kids who had yet to work an honest day in their lives. They had access to money and had a very expensive lifestyle to maintain once they were taken of their parent’s dole. Quite a few fledgling attorneys hang their own shingle after passing the bar and set their hourly rate at $250 or more. It is engaging in a bit of speculation to say, but I would guess that they are merely playing a confidence game and that they get away with it because clients for the most part do not know how to tell how experienced a lawyer is. Well, here’s a litmus test. In California, the lower the bar number, the older the lawyer (in “bar” years). At the time of this writing, bar numbers for new California attorneys is in the 270,000’s (more than 40,000 California attorneys have entered the profession since I was minted). Put another way, you have a 20% chance of hiring a lawyer out there in the marketplace who’s been at his or her job 5 years or less! To put that in perspective, consider how long you’ve been at your job and how good you are at it. Lawyering is a complicated job requiring many different skills. Accordingly, it takes quite a bit of time to develop good lawyering skills. You should be blunt and ask your attorney how many cases of your particular type or with your particular issues have they dealt with. Another word for a generalist is someone who’s done a lot of different things once or twice. Compare that to someone who restricts his or her cases to a particular branch of law. When interviewing a lawyer, don’t be led astray with puffing like, “I’ve never lost at trial.” The logical thing to ask is, “How many contested trials have you had?” How many divorce cases have you handled from start to finish? How many domestic violence restraining orders have you defended? or brought? Experience and expense generally go hand in hand. If your attorney is charging you $300 or $400 per hour, they had better have quality time in the trenches to back up their hefty price tag.

3. Cost Is Always A Factor

Your attorney’s hourly rate should be a function of experience and skill, not of your attorney’s desire for the latest sports car. Once you have established your attorney’s skill level (even as a layperson you should be able to use your common sense to estimate your attorney’s experience and skill), you should ask yourself whether the attorney’s hourly rate is in line with other attorneys of similar skill and experience. A newbie might charge you $150 per hour, but may be charging you for their learning curve. A simple motion to compel, for example, should not take 40 hours of research and drafting. Granted, your newbie might take twice as long to do something as a lawyer who charges $300 per hour, so perhaps you may think you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, and you’ll wind up paying the same total fees for essentially the same “product.” However, this is not true because, if the billing was grossly out of line, (i.e., a reasonable and reasonably competent attorney would have spent half the time), then you have some justification in disputing the bill. You shouldn’t have to pay for something that’s clearly part of the attorney’s learning curve.

Generally, however, the more experienced lawyers will spend their time more efficiently than the less experienced lawyers. So your $400 per hour lawyer (if you’ve satisfied yourself that they are rationally charging such a rate) should be significantly (not marginally) more efficient than your newbie lawyer, etc. It’s up to you where you stand on the continuum of experience versus cost. The mid-career lawyers are probably the sweet spot in the curve for the consumer because they may not have ratched up their fees so high and they certainly know the ropes. In Southern California, it is not uncommon to see veteran family law specialists charging $500 or $600 per hour. (Aside – I once saw a family law specialist who charged $800 per hour. I nearly fainted…then nearly fainted again when I heard his client had paid $50,000 and the divorce was just starting!) With newbies likely charging their time out at $200 per hour and old guard specialists at perhaps $600 per hour, a seasoned “journeyman” lawyer of 10 or so years who may bill you around $300 per hour could be a wise and economical way to bring balance to the force…or, rather, your bank account and still get competent help.

As another aside, flat fee arrangements/unbundled services may be a way for consumers to cut costs of legal fees, but you should understand that you are only engaging someone for “piecework” and not full representation. You should remain alert at the wheel if your “ship” needs to change course or some wrinkle in the case comes up, such as an ex parte hearing. You still represent yourself and are only outsourcing certain tasks.

If possible, see if you can peg your lawyer down to an estimate of what your case is likely to cost. There are never any guarantees of course, because the other side might do something out of left field, but an experienced lawyer should be able to provide a range within which costs are likely to fall.

Of course, as the client, you would probably have some control over costs in that you would either approve or disapprove of a major discovery undertaking or the hiring of certain experts. Do you want to turn over every last stone or just the ones big enough to hid something under? The level of discovery and litigation can add considerable expense to your legal costs. A cost/benefit analysis might be done with your lawyer to assess the risk/reward and necessity of any particular course of action.


The above three factors, the ability of you and your lawyer to communicate, the experience level of your lawyer, and the cost of legal services, are three important things to consider when choosing legal representation. Each person has their own preferences, as one person may value communication more highy than experience and cost. For many people, price is definitely an object, and they’re willing to settle for less in terms of the other two factors. Personally, I wouldn’t settle on communication. There are enough lawyers out there so you can probably find with similar cost and experience profiles. Once you’ve decided on the cost/competence factors, communication does not cost anything extra, so it makes sense to find the lawyer with whom you can really work and with whom you can really communicate, all other things being equal.

Facts Every Lawyer Should Know About Hispanic Marketing

June 2nd, 2020

Hispanics remain one of the fastest growing segments of the population. As a result, Latino communities across the United States have a rising need for legal representation.

Consider these Facts:

1. 75% of Latinos speaks Spanish at home

While roughly 44% of Hispanics report performing their online searches in English, more than half of them stated that they still prefer to do business with companies that offer their services in Spanish, even if they do not require it.

2. Hispanics are the biggest users of mobile devices

Whether streaming, texting or searching online, Hispanics report nearly 10.5 hours per week of smart phone usage, versus the overall average of 8.4 hours for other ethnic groups.

3. Hispanics are the largest users of Social Media platforms

Current reports suggest 75% of Latinos use social media for entertainment and research compared to 68% for the remaining ethnic groups; spending roughly 7 hours per day accessing the various social platforms.

Are you doing enough to effectively market your law firm to the Hispanic community?

Here are a few ways to attract and develop a relationship with Latinos and Hispanics in your marketplace:

1. Advertise on Local Platforms in Spanish

Local radio channels, billboards, bus stops, local magazines and newspapers are still ways to keep your name and face in front of your local community. Bilingual advertisements, or entirely in Spanish, will garner the trust of local Hispanics as a professional who will welcome them and speak to them in the language most comfortable without fear of judgment.

2. Latino Community Participation

Especially in the larger urban areas, more and more cultural groups are organizing street festivals and fundraisers. Be a part of the events. Sponsor a booth or a lunch. Talk with the people around you. They may not need legal services at the moment, but they will remember you were there and took the time to talk.

3. Your Website is your 24-Hour Law Firm

Featuring “Se Habla Espanol” on your website is not enough. If you are a Spanish-speaking lawyer, or if you have staff that can assist with translation, then market yourself in Spanish. Have an entire section, or an entire website dedicated to offering your legal services in Spanish.

Mobile-friendly designs are important. Since statistics are pointing to Hispanics using their mobile devices at a higher rate than non-Hispanics, it is imperative your website be self-formatting to fit any device automatically.

Hispanic marketing businesses like offer website services, translation services and original content writing to help you with your website needs.

4. Build Traffic to Your Legal Practice

There are a few legal directories online that heavily optimize for Spanish and bilingual searches that are trusted within Hispanic communities across the country, such as and Link building from premium sites will help your SEO efforts.

For more than a decade search engines have relied heavily on links to gauge popularity and domain authority. Backlinks from relevant domains are regarded as votes and importance. Search engines use link data and algorithms to evaluate websites as well as individual pages based on this information.

Lawyers’ Professional Liability Insurance for the Distressed Risk

March 17th, 2020

Professional liability insurance is a necessity for lawyers. Unfortunately, not all lawyers are able to secure the coverage they need in the standard marketplace because they are considered to be a “distressed” risk. The question is, what exactly does “distressed” mean?

A “distressed” risk is one that has difficulty securing professional liability insurance because of claim frequency, claim severity or disciplinary complaints or actions. While “distressed” is often used interchangeably with “hard to place”, the two terms are different in that “hard to place” generally means the lawyer or law firm practices in a more risk prone practice category such as Personal Injury Plaintiff or Patent but is usually claim and disciplinary action free. If the term “distressed” describes the loss or disciplinary history of a law firm, the firm faces many more challenges in finding professional liability insurance and generally has to settle for less coverage at a considerably higher premium. The good news is that there are a few markets available, operating on a surplus lines basis, to meet the professional liability needs of the “distressed” law firm.

Surplus lines is often referred to in a negative connotation because the insurance product is not protected by any state insurance guaranty association nor is the policy form and rates charged subject to regulation and approval of the State Insurance Commissioner. However, not all surplus lines insurers are created equal. Surplus lines insurers are subject to review by the insurance company rating agencies such as A.M. Best and are generally published as an “Approved Surplus Lines Company” by state insurance departments. Before committing an insurance purchase to a surplus lines company, law firms should check with their state insurance department to be sure that the company is an approved surplus lines insurer and that it carries an A.M. Best rating of at least A VII. Many admitted professional liability companies will have a surplus lines facility to accommodate those applicants or insureds that do not qualify under their standard program guidelines, but would be acceptable on a surplus lines basis if a more acceptable premium could be charged for the exposure presented. There are several A and even A+ markets to approach in this arena.

To find an adequately rated surplus lines insurer that can be trusted to provide the needed coverage should a claim be presented often involves finding a broker that specializes in professional liability and deals regularly with distressed placements. As a general rule, most brokers that offer lawyers professional liability as a full time product line will have an insurance company or “distressed facility” that they have worked with successfully in the past. It is best to find a broker that is familiar with the policy form and claims handling ability of the company they are recommending.

Here are some valid questions to ask a broker about the insurance company offering coverage:

o Does the insurance company specialize in professional liability?

o Is it an approved surplus lines insurer in the state and rated at least A VII by Best?

o Does the insurance company oversee its own claims handling or farm that responsibility out to an independent adjustment firm or third party administrator?

o Will the claims adjuster provide you with a listing of law firms in your state from which to choose your defense counsel and will the company work with you to consider a firm you recommend?

o Is the insurance company willing to defend a spurious claim in order to protect your reputation in the community, or do they have a “get out the check book mentality” to close the claim regardless?

o Will the insurance company regularly communicate the status of the claim with you and seek your input as to settlement or defense strategies?

Once a viable insurance company has been identified, it pays to examine the policy form and discuss strengths and weaknesses of the coverage provisions with the broker. The broker should provide a list of “coverage highlights” that discuss not just positive marketing advantages, but important coverage restrictions as well.

One of the most important coverage features to be aware of when purchasing professional liability coverage is the availability of prior acts coverage under the policy. Distressed markets often offer terms “retro inception” which means that the policy’s prior acts retroactive date will be the same as the policy’s effective date. On a Claims-Made policy, the act(s) that resulted in the claim must have occurred after the policy’s retroactive date. That situation is also known as a “no prior acts” or “restricted prior acts” policy. If the policy has restricted prior acts coverage, an Extended Reporting Period (ERP) option will need to be purchased from the expiring insurance company. An ERP can be a very economic decision as, often times, the terms will be based on rates that were provided by the standard marketplace and not surcharged for claims or disciplinary problems. A broker should be able to advise the pros and cons of purchasing this option, but two things that should be considered are:

o Is the option cancelled automatically if your license to practice is suspended?

o Will open claims exhaust the limit of liability under the policy?

Other policy provisions that can be restricted on a distressed policy form are:

o Policy’s consent-to-settle provision

o Specific exclusions for certain practice areas such as SEC

o Specific exclusions for certain types of legal malpractice actions such as a counterclaim as a result of a fee collection suit

o Defense costs are generally included within and erode the limit of liability

o Coverage is generally limited to acts performed on behalf of the named insured named in the policy declarations which can limit predecessor firm coverage, individual prior acts coverage and outside moonlighting activities

o Extended reporting period options are restricted in length to 12 months or 36 months and are considerably more expensive than the standard marketplace

To receive the most favorable terms possible when submitting an application for professional liability insurance, a good point to remember is that you are the best representative of your practice exposure going forward. Underwriters that offer a distressed facility are not so concerned with the number and amount of past claims or even that the firm has been censored by the state bar, but that the underlying problems leading up to the claims or disciplinary ruling have been identified and addressed. A sincere, honest approach with full disclosure on claims or any other problem that has put the firm in this situation is always the best approach. Include a narrative of the systems and procedures that have been put in place to reduce the likelihood of similar claims in the future. Include comments on the merits of the claimant’s claim. Tell the underwriter what was done right during the representation. If at all possible, include loss reports from previous insurers showing actual paid and reserved amounts. If the underwriter has to interpret the value of the claim, it will likely be higher than the actual reserve that the insurance company has set. Take an active interest in the payments and reserves set for the open claim and be informed on the status of the claim on a regular basis.

Marketing, Promoting and Advertising Your Business

February 28th, 2020

One thing that goes without saying in today’s business world, is that regardless of the nature of your home based business, a website is an absolute MUST. Whether you have a product or service to sell, whether local or global, your business will go nowhere fast if you don’t have an online presence. If you need internet marketing help, you’ve landed on the right article. I’ll give you some home based business marketing ideas that will help you promote your business successfully.

The first step is choosing a domain name and getting it registered. You can build your own website (if you have the time) and host it yourself or you can have everything done by another company (if you have the money). Either way, you have many options and tools at your disposal that can align with your business plan and budget. Also note that you can still start your own home based business even if you don’t have a product or service to sell. There are thousands of individuals and companies that have products you can sell for them while earning a commission, called affiliate marketing.

Of the many business marketing strategies known to man, internet marketing is, hands down, the best strategy to use for promoting a home based business as it is the cheapest method and has the potential for reaching millions of people all over the globe. Driving traffic to your site through online resources is like killing two birds with one stone. You can tackle print advertising by writing articles and publishing them to directories and ezines and by submitting ads to the many available (and most of them free) classified ad sites. Online media advertising encompasses writing press releases and distributing them to press release sites. One of the biggest and most popular online advertising trends today is via social media advertising through sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn where you build relationships with your customers. Forums and communities are also great ways to build relationships which helps promote your home based business in the long run. Simply Google your market or industry with the word ‘forum’ or ‘community’ behind it and search for one or two that seem to be the best fit for you.

All of these methods of online advertising contribute to search engine optimization (SEO), which is to say improving your online visibility and escalating in the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Your goal is to claim the #1 spot in the organic search results (the results on the left, not the right side which are paid ads). This is where your traffic will come from. If you are 800 in the list of search results, no one is ever going to see your site because very few people have the time or patience to scroll through 800 search results. Research shows that people typically won’t even scroll past 4 or 5 search results, let alone 800.

Can you grasp the importance of internet marketing for any business? If you are new to the internet marketing phenomenon and don’t know exactly where to start, there are many great programs or systems online that walk you through every aspect of marketing your online business. A lot of these systems were created by online entrepreneurs who have spent thousands of their own dollars trying to figure it all out over the years and finally DID. Their sacrifices have made it easier for newbies to become successful at their own online home based business. If you are new to running your own home based business, I recommend you find a great system (do your research, read reviews, ask questions in forums) and start marketing your home business from there. Don’t waste the time and money that so many of us have in going it alone, without a proven system, as it will just set you back further and hinder your progress.