Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Law students fight forced arbitration

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the right of companies to enforce employment clauses that require employees to use arbitration to settle disagreements rather than joining class action lawsuits. Research shows arbitration agreements are being used more often by employers, but some employees — and law students in particular — are fighting back, causing some companies and law firms to reconsider the practice, according to CNN. After facing criticism for forcing summer associates to sign arbitration agreements, some law firms have reversed course and ended the practice. However, since the Supreme Court upheld the use of the agreements, even more companies are expected to force potential employees to sign them before they can be hired. CNN reports that more than half of private, non-union employers use arbitration agreements.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

NTL member Cynthia McGuinn representing victims of dump truck accident

Cynthia McGuinnSan Francisco personal injury attorney and National Trial Lawyers member Cynthia McGuinn has been featured in the news discussing updates in a case involving a fiery Santa Rose traffic accident that catastrophically injured her client. The incident, which occurred in early February, involved a defective runaway dump truck that caused a devastating multi-vehicle accident.

Attorney McGuinn is representing 76-year-old Barbara Schmidt, a driver of one of the vehicles involved in the collision, and her family. Just months before, in October 2017, Schmidt and her wife were among the many Sonoma County residents to lose their home in the fires that raged through the area. That tragedy was compounded in February when the defective truck, carrying debris from those very fires down a steep hill on Fountaingrove Parkway, lost control at high speed and crashed into Barbara’s vehicle, causing a fiery collision that injured seven victims in total, including three critically.

As a result of the crash, Barbara suffered severe internal injuries and was rendered paraplegic. As Attorney McGuinn notes, her client’s life has been profoundly and permanently changed, as have the lives of her wife and their daughter. Barbara presently resides in a long-term rehabilitation facility, though she has been re-hospitalized several times since the incident due to complications with her injuries, and her family is still reeling from the emotional and financial consequences of the crash.

New updates into the accident, including a recently released police report, reveal that the collision was preventable, and that the driver involved had committed a vehicle code violation for failing to maintain the truck in working order. According to investigators, several sets of brakes on the dump truck had failed prior to it losing control, and the driver admitted to missing an inspection and adjustment. McGuinn believes that the evidence will show that speed, vehicle overload and failure to comply with industry standards and governmental safety requirements are factors contributing to the crash.  The police report provides further justification for claims filed by Barbara and her family against the company and other entities responsible in the operation of the commercial vehicle.

The findings of investigators demonstrate that the crash was preventable had basic safety requirements been followed.  McGuinn observed that the evidence known to date shows the actions of the trucking company and its employee were particularly egregious and reckless as the truck was transporting large, heavy loads in high traffic areas in knowing violation of safety requirements.   Depending on what further investigation reveals, such activities may support the imposition of punitive damages in a civil action.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn. Further information about the crash and Attorney McGuinn’s comments can also be found on The Press Democrat and ABC 7.

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Why Building A Legal Brand Is Big Business: Is Your Firm A Brand Or A Name?

Some of the country’s most high-profile lawyers and firms now are household names. You could argue that attorney Glen Lerner’s legal brand is not unlike like Ellen or Oprah of the talk-show world.

But do you think those brands built themselves?

Making a name as an attorney does not happen by chance, overnight or without a huge effort. The “magic” is called branding. And the best businesses in the world rely on this active, intentional process to support everything they do and say. In everything they do and say!

What Does Branding in the Law Space Mean?

While you might know you are a great lawyer because you have extensive experience, a caseload that keeps you busy or lots of positive testimonials from former clients, you can’t count on everybody else to know that now — or ever.

Prospective clients won’t know how good you are, what you stand for or why you really matter in the legal marketplace unless you do. That’s what a solidly identified brand does for you in the long run: It sends a consistent message about what kind of lawyer you are and what kind of cases you want to attract. When you see or hear the brand, you know what they do instantly.

Unfortunately, attorneys overlook the importance of brand all the time. They often use excuses like “I’m too busy to think about branding or marketing,” “People already know my name,” or “Aren’t there Law Society regulations about how I can advertise myself?” Here’s the best one, “I already have a brand.”

All of these justifications are short-sighted. Why? Because one day the caseload might not be there. And do you really know the number of people who “know your name” outside of the exclusive legal community? Oh, and, branding isn’t really advertising anyway.

The Unmatched Benefits of Building a Brand

So how do you start to understand the value of building a brand for your law practice? Let’s look at the unparalleled benefits of really starting to make yourself or your firm a household name.

At its most essential level, a brand is the sum of what other people think about you. That sounds simplistic, but it’s really quite complex, especially if you want to be known for something deeper and longer lasting than the best 1-800 number in the state.

Whether you have an established practice or you are a new lawyer trying to compete in the flooded legal sector, remember that name or number recognition is just one element of a brand — a defining descriptor — not the sum of who you are and what you stand for.

A brand must be built, but when it starts paying off it does so in a way that will truly future-proof your legal career. Instead of hoping that clients will come to you solely from referrals or willing it so, you can use your brand to actively attract the kind of cases you really want to work on.

So start to identify your most unique skills, traits, values, and perspectives. These 3–5 essential brand attributes will establish a consistent pathway and platform for all your marketing messages. Maybe you are an expert in the competitive space of injury law, but have a uniquely empathetic way of connecting with clients. Or your research and interest in the area of worker’s compensation is your calling card. Or your firm has mastered personalizing the process of mass torts. Or you’re bilingual and know there is a whole realm of work in advocacy for the underserved.

Whatever you commit to, your brand should represent the values you hold true — a measured mix of where you came from and where you want to go, what you care about and what centers your existing practice. Having a brand with that kind of depth will almost certainly lead to more of everything — new business, new networking opportunities, new speaking engagements and new cases.

While you might not think you have the time or knowledge to establish your personal legal brand, or you think the gap is too wide to play in the same space as the top attorneys, dismiss that line of thinking right now.

Attorneys who take branding seriously and have the foresight to learn and market around what they truly stand for will set themselves up for longevity in an unpredictable industry.

Consider more than just marketing your name and a lawyer who does personal injury versus an entire brand. When you hear a brand, you are instantaneously attracted and know exactly what they do.

Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Harlan Schillinger has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

SEO vs. PPC: Which one’s better?

SEO GoogleDeciding between search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing for law firms is often seen as an either/or decision. Which one is more cost effective? Legal marketing expert Jason Bland writes in Forbes that both offer “significant benefits.” Each method has pros and cons to consider, however. Find out what the pros and cons are in this article at Forbes.com.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Video: Woman sued for $1M over Yelp review

legal news for consumersNew York woman is facing a $1 million lawsuit from a gynecologist over a poor review she gave him on Yelp. Dr. Joon Song filed the defamation lawsuit against former patient Michelle Levine over reviews she made on Yelp and other online rating services. Levine claims Dr. Song overbilled her and falsely diagnosed a medical issue. CNN has more on the lawsuit in this video.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When mistakes lead to unfair trials

courtroom witnessA Louisiana district attorney has decided not to defend before the Supreme Court the conviction of an intellectually disabled teenage boy charged with robbery and murder. The Washington Post reports that prosecutors in the case failed to provide the teen’s attorneys with recorded witness statements that could have undermined prosecution witnesses, including the only person who claimed to be a witness to the shooting. The Post reports that the recorded statements suggested that the teen may have been set up. Mary McCord and Douglas Letter, two litigators and visiting professors at Georgetown University Law Center, examine the ramifications of prosecutorial mistakes and withholding evidence in this analysis at The Post.

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