Here are some legal insights that can help you protect your interests and increase your chances of finding and hiring “The Right Attorney.”

2/6/2020 – My Friend, the Accountant

The other day I received a document from the tax authority. I didn’t make sense to me, and I felt my heart race. I sent a WhatsApp message to my friend, an Israeli Accountant. Within a few moments, he acknowledged that he got my message and said he’d get back to me. Later that day he sent me a message, “It’s nothing…don’t worry about it. Enjoy your day.” Just like that, no issue. Thank G-d. My day was better. No more thoughts of having to go down to government offices. No more of it nagging in my head. Poof. Gone. It’s nice to be the bearer of good news. Similarly, in my daily law work, clients often reach out to me with an issue that’s bothering them. More times than not, a quick strategy session results in the client not having any real issue or concern and instead of getting a good night’s sleep. Reach out with a legal issue, and I hope to be able to respond as a bearer of good news.

8/19/2019 – Advantages of Having Your Personal Attorney Help You Retain a Specialty Attorney

Recently, a client retained me for Concierge Legal Services, more specifically, he was seeking reliable legal information regarding his specific immigration issues. The client initially accrued “unlawful presence” in the United States for entering without an inspection, and overstaying for more than 180 days. He voluntarily left the US and now wanted re-enter lawfully to visit some friends. He had passed the ten (10) year bar created as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA)/Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and wanted to know what the process of obtaining a travel visa would entail. We created a written summary of the pertinent facts of the client’s particular case and forwarded the same to attorney candidates that expressed an interest in assisting the client. The client and I interviewed two (2), separate attorneys to see what they suggested and their fees for assisting the client. Both attorneys essentially had similar strategies. They suggested assisting the client in creating a travel visa application that proved that he had significant ties in Israel and had no interest in remaining in the US beyond the permissible time. One attorney suggested ordering the client’s immigration file through a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) to have a “heads-up” on anything else they should know, before applying. Before ending each call, I made sure that the client understood the advice and didn’t have any further questions. After each call, the client and I had a debriefing where we discussed what we learned and made sure we were on the same page. In the end, this client did not choose to retain either attorney and has decided instead to proceed pro se. While many people choose to retain attorneys that we consult with, the client is certainly under no obligation to do so. This is a major benefit in having your personal attorney assist you when you are considering hiring an attorney for a specific issue. All in all another satisfied client.

5/29/19 – Lawyer Review Sites and Unfavorable Reviews

I know many exceptional lawyers across the globe. Some are listed on Attorney Review sites with basic profiles, others pay for a more detailed listing. The problem is that registered attorneys on the site may not be able to dispute unfavorable reviews. One attorney was disciplined by their Bar Association after she responded to a client’s unfavorable review on the legal directory Avvo. While online reviews may be helpful to some extent. they certainly should not be the primary consideration for hiring a particular attorney. Link to Article

5/29/19 – Lawyer Awards and Accomplishments

Yesterday, I received a call from a company that does lawyer advertising. For a flat-fee rate, I was promised that I would be at the top of the Google searches. I could also pay more to buy a glass award plaque with my name on it, that they could use for my advertising and for my profile picture on their custom ad. The problem, of course, is that I hadn’t won their award. If I pay, then I win, if I don’t pay, I can’t use their award. Don’t get me wrong, some legal awards are real. There are also special certifications that attorneys can get through accredited agencies or bar associations. This advertising agency was neither. Look beyond the awards and recommendation stars, in determining who is a good attorney for you.

5/20/19 – Where can a Lawyer Practice?

Generally, an attorney is only permitted to practice within the jurisdiction that he/she has been licensed. Some states do provide “reciprocity” for other state licenses, which means it may be fairly easy for an attorney to get approved in one state if the lawyer is in good standing in another state. There are some special cases (“pro hac vice“) where an attorney can receive court permission to appear in a foreign jurisdiction, but as a whole, the attorney must only advise clients relating to the jurisdiction where they have passed the bar exam and been approved by the local governing boards.

5/20/19 – To Trial or Not to Trial, that is the Question?

So you’re considering hiring an attorney for a civil matter, let’s say, a personal injury case.  Among other questions, you want to know whether the attorney has ever gone to trial on a civil matter, or if he has just “litigated” cases.  Litigated, does not necessarily mean that the attorney has gone to trial. It means that the attorney has filed some documents with the court, set some hearings, etc.  Trial means that a jury and/or a judge was actually present to hear the evidence and ultimately render an opinion.

5/19/2019 – Who Pays Costs?

So you’ve spoken to an attorney and agreed on a price for legal services.  Not so fast.  Do you have a written agreement?  Emails confirming what work will be done?  Moreover, who will pay for costs?  In personal injury cases, attorneys generally front costs, and pay themselves back from the proceeds of any future recovery.  However, in a civil lawsuit or even a criminal matter, the attorney will likely expect you to pay extra costs, up-front, separate from the quotes legal fee.  These costs can range from a couple of bucks to many thousands of dollars.  It’s a good idea to get the attorney to clarify what the potential costs, could be in writing, as well.

5/19/19 – Are you “really” a lawyer? 

With the advances in modern technology, it is easier than ever to confirm if a lawyer, is really an attorney.  Generally, each bar association in the United States has an online listing of licensed attorneys.  Moreover, attorneys usually have profiles listed therein that also disclose whether they have run into any legal or ethical disciplinary problems.  Here is a sample attorney, from the Florida Bar…more specifically, my profile.

6/2/2016 –  Lawyer Backup

The other day a client contacted me to help him with a project.  He had already retained an attorney to represent him in New York to assist him in a dispute over who owned a particular commercial property.  However, the client wanted to invest in me and retain me on an hourly basis, to help his other attorney to understand some nuances for the case, that would help at trial.  The client and I met.  We reviewed an assortment of documents and he explained how each of them supported his case and/or weakened his adversary’s arguments.  We put together a draft for his attorney, that gave the attorney all the ammo that he needs to complete the battle successfully, G-d willing. Although I generally help clients find attorneys to represent them, across the world, it’s also nice to help clients with special projects and other brainstorming sessions. #MyAttorneyIsAGhostwriter #SecretWeapon

5/4/2016  – Reviewing Proposed Attorney Retainer Agreements

Generally, attorneys can’t predict the future.  However, when we are reviewing a case, we analyze many issues and factors, including how we will get paid for our labors.  No lawyer wants to accept a case for less than he/she perceives is fair.  It makes sense then, that many Attorneys  structure their retainer agreements to be “in their favor.”

Experience has shown that many clients sign agreements without analyzing them properly.    The client just spilled her guts and opened up her biggest fears and personal/private life to someone she just met.  It’s certainly uncomfortable to then question the attorney’s “proposed” agreement, as it seems to disrespect the attorney’s integrity from the start.

Instead, it might be a good idea to ask to take the agreement home to review it.  You can also, at that time, inquire as to how the attorney expects to be paid (credit card/check, etc.) inferring that you are seriously considering retaining the firm.   If you have a long trip from the office back to your home, you might advise that you have some other business in the area and that you might be able to come back, later in the day with any final questions.  This will give you time to review the agreement in detail, send it to your “life-lines” to see what they think, and decide if you should move forward.

In your final moments leaving the attorneys office you might ask the attorney if the fee he/she quoted is the best that he/she can do.  Many times, by simply asking for a break, an attorney will give you a courtesy discount.  Imagine that you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars by simply getting the courage to ask.