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Archive for the ‘virtual’ Category

Free Online Course on Digital Law Practice

06 Feb

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal InstructionThe Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is offering a free online course on digital law practice, primarily for law students and law professors, but anyone can register.

 

I don’t doubt that most law faculty will find these topics to be irrelevant, but its connecting with law students, as over 500 law students have registered nationwide.

For lawyers interested in delivering legal services online, this course would be a good introduction to the subject.

The first session is February 10 at 2-3 EST. Stephanie Kimbro is doing a session on the virtual law office.

Later in the course, Marc Lauritsen is doing a session on document automation, and I am doing a session on “unbundling legal services”.

Here are some of the other sessions:

Week 5: Online Legal Forms in Legal Aid
Friday, Mar. 9, 2-3pm ET
Ronald W. Staudt, Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law

Week 6: Contract Standardization
Friday, Mar. 16, 2-3pm ET
Kingsley Martin, President, kiiac.com & contractstandards.com

Week 7: Free Legal Research Tools
Friday, Mar. 23, 2-3pm ET
Sarah Glassmeyer, Director of Content Development / Law Librarian, CALI

Week 8: Unauthorized Practice of Law in the 21st Century
Friday, Mar. 30, 2-3pm ET
William Hornsby, Staff Counsel at American Bar Association

Week 9: Social Media for Lawyers
Friday, Apr. 6, 2-3pm ET
Ernest Svenson, Attorney at Law

Here is the course description and the registration page:

http://www.cali.org/blog/2012/01/25/free-online-course-digital-law-practice

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James Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering

22 Dec

The James Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering is awarded every year at the ABA TECHSHOW (March 29-31, 2012, Chicago, Illinois). James Keane was the founding Chair of the ABA/LPM eLawyering Task Force., which grants the Award.

Last year the Award was given to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County for their Legal Genie Project.  Another recipient was Stephanie Kimbro for her pioneering work in developing the virtual law firm concept at KimbroLaw.

The purpose of the award is to recognize law firms, private or public, that demonstrate innovative ways of using Internet technology to deliver legal services. Nominees may be any individual lawyer, law firm, or other deliver of legal services to individuals within the United States. The nominees can be a large or small law firm, public or private, or a legal services agency.  Self nomination by the Task Force is encouraged.

Here is a summary of the Award criteria:

  • Absence of precedent – Never been done or done quite this way before.
  • Evidence of action – The innovative idea was transformed into action and not merely reflective of best intentions. The nominee should be prepared to provide evaluation data that documents the effectiveness of the legal service in terms of client satisfaction, revenue enhancement, and/or law productivity. The nomination must provide an analysis of the measures used to define success.
  • Effectiveness of innovation – There is some measurable outcome that would indicate that the innovation is accomplishing what it was intended to do.
  • The project must demonstrate the use of the Internet to deliver legal services.
  • Action must have taken place no more than three years prior to this entry, and the legal service must be operating for at least one year prior to submission of the Application.
  • Additional consideration will be given to projects that focus on the delivery of legal services to individuals of moderate means.
  • The nomination should describe how the service was developed, how it is managed, and how it has been evaluated.
  • The nomination should describe how the service can be replicated by other law firms in terms of development costs, required technology, people requirements, and ongoing maintenance costs.

Click here to go to the ABA Application Page to apply.

The application deadline is February 15, 2012.

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December Law Practice Today Issue Focuses on eLawyering

14 Dec

Virtual Law PracticeThe latest edition of the ABA’s Law Practice Today webzine has good articles on elawyering and virtual practice and a really innovative piece by Marc Laurtisen titled,  Dancing in the Cloud, and an introduction to the elawyering concept by Stephanie Kimbro –  Getting Started With eLawyering).

I also wrote a short article on Document Assembly Over the Internet , which as readers of this Blog will know is an old theme for me.

For our latest analysis on what is working in the virtual law firm space, download our White Paper on Virtual Law Practice: Success Factors.

 

 

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Rejoinder: "Is the Virtual Law Model Coming up Short?"

24 Sep

Jay Fleischman in a blog post entitled: “Is the Virtual Law Firm Model Coming up Short?”  states:

"The ABA elawyering Task Force tells us that, “[t]o be successful in the coming era, lawyers will need to know how to practice over the Web, manage client relationships in cyberspace, and ethically offer “unbundled” services.”

Bull—t.

Jay also states:

"Email doesn’t substitute for a phone call.  A phone call isn’t the replacement for a handshake."

"Those who offer the virtual law firm are selling something most people don’t want.  People want to be able to make a personal connection with other people, to build trust in a lawyer’s expertise.  They don’t want to be met with a password-encrypted firewall and triple-redundant backup systems.".

Unfortunately, like some commentators of a well known news network that make up facts and then offers opinions based on those false assumptions, Jay makes up facts to support his point of view.

Jay is entitled to opinion, but not to his own set of facts.

Here are some of the facts:

1. The ABA/LPM’s eLawyering Task Force

The eLawyering Task Force , of which I am co-chair (with Marc Lauritsen), through it’s web site, publications, and statements has never made the claim that delivering legal services online was the only way that law firms should  connect with clients. The value of an online platform depends on the kind of law practice and the kind of clients served. Clients obviously have preferences that lawyers who serve those clients must respect.

Many firms will have a "virtual component" incorporated into a traditional practice. As Marc Lauritsen puts it,  there will be:

" a shared online environment that is persistent across the life of a matter. For instance, providing interactive questionnaires on their web sites to gather information from prospects and clients, or supplying do-it-yourself document generators, checklists, or calculators.Or opening up a shared space for collaborative deliberation about a particular decision, using interactive visualizations like I ‘ve been promoting under by ‘choiceboxing" idea."

In fact, the firms that are getting the most successful results from the addition of a client portal are those that have a traditional practice and who add an interactive online component. 

We know this from the analysis that we have done from observing over 200 law firms that have subscribed to our DirectLaw virtual law firm service during the past two years. We have also learned why some law firms fail to successfully implement an online strategy. We also know that some lawyers have an unrealistic expectation of what it takes to be successful as a "pure play" virtual law firm.

To read the results of our analysis download our White Paper on Virtual Law Firms: Success Factors.

Also see these blog posts on this topic: Online Legal Services: Is it Hype or a New Way of Delivering Legal Services?;  Framing the Discussion About Virtual Law Firm Practice; and Defining the Virtual Law Firm .

2.    Affordable Legal Service and Access to the Legal System

The work of the eLawyering Task Force has always focused on identifying ways in which lawyers can become more productive and efficient by using the Internet as platform for the delivery of legal services and ways in which clients can benefit from the use of Internet technologies in terms of the fees they pay for legal services.

President Bill Paul of the American Bar Association, who created the Task Force, had the idea that through the use of Internet technologies it would be possible to lower the cost of legal fees to make the legal system more accessible to those who cannot afford typical attorney fees.

Instead, rather than the legal profession responding to this challenge, we see the emergence of companies like LegalZoom, SmartLegalForms, CompleteCase, LegacyWriter, Nolo, and the dozens of other non-lawyer internet-based legal solution providers who are responding to the need of consumers  for a ":good enough" legal result at the lowest possible cost. For millions of moderate and middle class consumers the purchasing of traditional high cost legal services delivered on a one to one basis is no longer an option. Their choice is to do the best they can with a legal solution provided by a non-lawyer provider, (which now may be a court or an online legal aid provider).

Jay seems to imply that if a client can’t afford the profession’s legal fees, then so be it.  Who cares?

Bring me The MoneyMy opinion is that it will be harder to justify the profession’s monopoly on the delivering of legal services when it only serves a tiny portion of the US population.

The reality is that many of us didn’t become lawyers just for the money. We want to serve people and help them with resolve their legal problems. Now there are technologies that can help us do that in a cost effective way and expand the market for legal services.  We shouldn’t ignore these technologies, just because we are not practicing law like the last generation of lawyers.

3.  The "Secure Client Portal" Concept":

Examples of Internet based applications range from web enabled document automation, to paying legal bills online, to the provision of written legal advice online, to simply storing the clients legal documents online so they can be referenced later. All of these functions require that the client have access to a secure client portal within which these functions can take place.

It is indisputable that a secure client portal is necessary for secure and confidential activities and tasks between to take place between lawyer and client. This doesn’t mean that a lawyer should not use email to provide confidential legal advice which I am sure happens all of the time, at whatever the risks.

On the other hand, it is not possible to pay your legal fee by credit card using email, and I have yet to see a web enabled document assembly solution being delivered through email. For legal work to be done securely online requires a secure client portal.

It us for this reason that the eLawyering Task Force included, as part of the definition of  what constitutes a virtual law practice, that the firm make available to its clients a secure client portal. This seems very obvious to us. Communicating with clients using a mobile phone and by email, is not the same thing as using legal applications online that do legal tasks.

Most people use some form of a secure portal everyday. We do our banking online, our stock brokerage online, buy insurance online, book travel online. It’s not rocket science. Except that right now the legal profession is lagging behind every other service industry in the economy in its use of interactive web technology. According to Jay, we should stay where we are and eschew these web technologies. In my opinion, we do so at our peril.

4. Web-Enabled Document Automaton.

Jay seems to think that the use of a web enabled document automation application is not in a clients interest and has little value, or that client’s don’ t want "just forms."  (It is hard to really know what he believes because of the confused logic that is used to support his argument). 

I think he is wrong about this. He can read our White Paper on Web-Enabled Document Automation as A Disruptive Technology and these blog posts: Document Automaton as a Disruptive Technology  and What Every Lawyer Should Know About Document Assembly.

5  The Legal Profession is Losing Market Share.

Solos and small law firms, with existing methods of delivering legal services, are pricing themselves out of the middle class marketplace. This is the real reason that LegalZoom is rumored to be generating more than 100 million in revenues this year.  LegalZoom and other non-lawyer providers continue to increase their market share at the expense of solos and small law firms.  The assertion that lawyers don’t need the people as clients that purchase forms from non-lawyer providers is a misrepresentation of what is really happening in the solo and small law firm marketplace. The clients that are turning away from law firms are clients that law firms need and who they previously served in an earlier, pre-Internet era.

6.     eLawyering Applications are Not Just Tools.

It is not accurate to see state that eLawyering applications are just "tools". In fact they are can be disruptive of the typical law firm business model.  If a consumer can get the result that they want by using a Internet-based legal solution, or "digital legal application" at a fraction of the cost of using an attorney, many will opt for that "good enough" solution. What is important to the consumer, is the legal result, not the fact that they have to go to an attorney to get it.

7.    A  New Generation of Clients is Coming Who Don’t Like to Talk on the Phone or Shake Hands With Their Lawyers.

It’s is true that many clients are not interested in working with their lawyers online, but we think that as a connected generation comes of age and they have legal problems that they will prefer to deal with their lawyers online and prefer to text rather than even talk on the telephone, much less meet with their attorney face-to-face, unless it is unavoidable.  For facts to support this assertion, see books like New Rules of Engagement: Understanding on How to Connect With Generation Y. and the work of Christine Hassler.

In a study conducted last year by YouGov, a UK-based research and opinion firm,  on consumer preferences for legal services, one of the conclusions was that:

"34% of respondents said they would be more likely to choose a law firm that offered the convenience of online access to legal documents over one that had no online capability; 22% disagreed and 37% neither agreed nor disagreed."

 Younger males were the most likely to choose a law firm with online services and access: 44% of 25-to-39 year-old males (and 40% of such women), along with 40% of 16-to-24 year-old males, would choose a law firm offering online access to documents over another law firm."

There is obviously a generational shift happening.  As a younger generation matures to the age where they have legal problems, their desire to deal with lawyers online becomes a requirement, not a preference.

Summary

These are serious issues for the legal profession. The American Bar Association Legal Technology Resource Center reported last year in one of its technology surveys of the legal profession that only 52% of solo practitioners have a web site. That means that almost half of solo practitioners don’t even have a web site. Is it that these practitioners are making so much money that they don’t have to even have a presence on the web? Or are we as a profession so out of touch with contemporary trends, that we will have to race even faster to catch up?

Neaderthal Man = Legal ProfessionSo where are we on this spectrum of evolution? Are we still stuck in Web 1.0 with brochure web sites, or are we evolving to interactive web sites that connect with clients who will want to work with their lawyers online or are we still stuck in Internet circa 2002?

Let’s expand this discussion, so that lawyers, particularly solos and small law firms, can figure out how to utilize these new technologies to expand and sustain their law practices in an environment that will become increasing competitive. 

Disruptive web legal services such as AttorneyFee.com, Law Pivot,  LegalZoom, are not going away. They will expand and proliferate. The "new normal" is here.

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Summary Judgment – The Trap

14 Jul

 

Here’s how to avoid the summary judgment trap! 

Summary judgment can be a good thing – when it’s working for you!

It can mean the end of litigation in your favor, victory without a fight.

It can save months and even years of money-draining litigation sorrows.

But!

If your opponent files a motion for summary judgment against you, the result can be immediate defeat if you don’t apply what I teach you.

Banks and other powerful opponents do this routinely. They start with a laundry list of affidavits by which they wish the court to believe they’ve “proven” the facts of their case (inadmissible affidavits, by the way), and their lawyer points to the paperwork, files a motion for summary judgment, and insists the case has already been proven.

That is almost never the truth.

It’s a trap!

Here’s what you need to know!

Summary judgment is provided by Rule 56 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and by state court rules in every state in our Republic. All the states follow the federal rule closely. There may be a few minor differences but, in general, the rule and the principles are identical.

Either party (plaintiff or defendant) may file the motion.

The motion must allege (and the moving party must ultimately prove) “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”

Danger!

There is almost always at least some “genuine issue as to a material fact” that precludes summary judgment.

But!

If you don’t understand what is meant by “genuine issue” or “material fact”, you will lose … needlessly!

I’ve been an attorney nearly a quarter-century. I’ve read a h— of a lot of cases in those years, believe me. And, in all that reading I discovered that summary judgments are routinely set aside on appeal! That’s right. The majority of summary judgment orders are reversed on appeal.

Don’t believe me?

Go to any online legal research cite and enter the following search terms: precludes w/4 summary (i.e., search the case law in your appellate jurisdiction for the word “precludes” appearing within 4 words of “summary”).

Hit “Enter” and sit back and watch the cases fly onto your screen one-after-another. I just pulled up 151 of them here in Florida’s state appellate decisions.

Read a few dozen and you’ll see what I mean.

Don’t be trapped by summary judgment motions!

The key to winning (whether you’re the one defending or the one filing the motion) is the rule itself and preparation for appeal that’s made simple enough for an 8th grader to understand using my affordable Jurisdictionary step-by-step self-help course.

Read the rule … state or federal.

Also read the cases that explain the rule and how it is applied by the appellate courts to determine if summary judgment is proper or not.

The motion is evaluated on the following grounds: “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,together with affidavits, if any”.

So many of you don’t yet understand the power of your five (5) discovery tools and the importance of firing them off at the first opportunity in your case. By requests for admissions, requests for production, interrogatories, and a deposition or two along with a few subpoenas you can make it clear there are “genuine issues of material fact” in the record … precluding summary judgment.

The other fortress against summary judgment is built by drafting powerful pleadings (whether you’re the plaintiff or defendant). The pleadings (complaint and answer with affirmative defenses) are the first defense against losing on a summary judgment motion, because your pleadings raise the issues that you’re competing for. If you file weak pleadings (plaintiff or defendant) you offer your opponent an opportunity to charge ahead with summary judgment.

Weak pleadings followed by delayed discovery opens the door for your opponent to argue, “There are no genuine issues of material fact in the record,” and that’s all he needs to win.

My Jurisdictionary course shows you how to draft powerful pleadings in easy steps with explanations and examples of the forms most commonly used.

The courts are jammed with litigation. In most states, it can take months just to schedule a simple hearing. Most judges welcome opportunities to grant summary judgment, because it clears the case off the docket!

Beware! The judge wants to enter summary judgment. Not because you are pro se. Not because he hates you. Not because he plays golf with the lawyer on the other side. But, because he wants to clear his clogged calendar of pending cases that are backing up because of the glut of litigation that is delaying justice for good people!

You must prepare with lawsuit know-how or lose!

Solid pleadings create an impenetrable barrier to entry of summary judgment orders. They plainly state the genuine issues of material fact. If they are “verified” (as I teach in my affordable 24-hour, step-by-step Jurisdictionary self-help course they should always be) then you have built a protective wall around your case. The genuine issues of material fact are in your pleadings! Your pleadings cannot be changed by your opponent. You state your “genuine issues of material fact” in your complaint or answer and affirmative defenses, and protect yourself from summary judgment motions filed by the other side!

Prompt discovery provides an additional barrier against summary judgment rulings. When the other side cannot produce documents you’ve properly requested according to the rules, and those documents would tend to prove your case, then a “genuine issue of material fact” is established that precludes entry of summary judgment. The same can be said of requests for admissions, interrogatories, answers to deposition questions, and so forth.

And, of course, the importance of arranging in advance to have every proceeding recorded by an official court reporter and to arrange in advance for obtaining a certified transcript afterward to prove everything said or done in court cannot be overstressed! Like the Chinese Laundry operator used to say, “No ticky. No washy.” If you don’t arrange in advance for a certified transcript to be available to you after every in-court proceeding, you’ve telegraphed permission for the judge to do whatever the judge wishes to do … and that include knocking your case off his busy calendar by granting summary judgment, because without a court record the judge knows he cannot be reversed on appeal! No transcript. No appeal.

It breaks my heart to learn how many of you are beaten by summary judgment and other tactics by unscrupulous lawyers who don’t care about truth or justice or fairness or anything beyond a newer sports car and a bigger swimming pool in their backyard.

You don’t have to lose just because you’re pro se!

I receive emails every day from people who believe that lie … people who’d rather complain about their losses and blame anyone but their own unwillingness to learn. This is not the spirit that once made America great, my friends.

Learn Rule 56 (or the corresponding rule in your state court). Read a few dozen cases you can find online using the search terms given above.

Educate yourselves on something other than the insidious silver-bullet nonsense that is so prevalent on the internet these days.

People who say justice is impossible for pro se litigants are misinformed.

Justice most certainly is possible … for those who take my affordable 24-hour, step-by-step Jurisdictionary self-help course.

If you want to learn the rules at the law library and not pay for my course, that’s fine with me. But, please stop believing those who saypro se justice is impossible.

I will say this: Justice IS impossible for those who don’t yet know how to command the courts as I teach.

Finally, please know this about me and my success in court: I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I have never belonged to a country club. I didn’t win cases by being one of the “good old boys”. For most of my life I was common as dirt. I didn’t get my chance to go to law school until I was 39. That was 28 years ago. I won on a regular basis in spite of the odds against me because I believe in the rules of due process and, after 10 years of fumbling around in the dark, I finally learned how to use those rules effectively to control judges and get justice for my clients!

Until I was 42 years old and passed the bar exam, I had to work as hard or harder than any of you just to make ends meet! I was a ferry boat skipper. I ran fishing boats. I swung a hammer and pushed a saw and carried sheets of plywood and 2×4′s. I had a job pulling beers in a southern bar where pickled eggs, pigs feet, and boiled peanuts were the food du jour. I scraped barnacles off boat bottoms. I climbed tall radio towers to replace light bulbs. I once spent weeks inside unfinished sailboats grinding fiberglass in the Miami heat, enduring the itch of fiberglass dust mixed with sweat and occasional blood from the cuts of sharp edges of newly laid fiberglass material. At one point in my long career of unimaginables, I drove a Frosty root beer truck delivering cases of soda to country stores in the farmlands east of Tampa. I worked my way through undergraduate school at Florida State (because my family could not afford to send me to college) installing short wave radios in fire trucks and ambulances. I didn’t make enough to go to an ivy league school. For years I lived in rented one-room apartments and got about on a bicycle, because I couldn’t afford a car or gasoline. For nearly 9 years of my adult life I lived in small beat-up old sailboats, no air-conditioning, no refrigerator, no TV.

I know what most of you are going through!

I want to help you!

But, you need help yourselves and others!

I didn’t win most of my cases by sucking up to the good old boys! I won by learning how to use the rules, and you can learn, too!

We can win the war against corruption in this nation and be the example Adams and Paine and Washington intended us to be … but we must do it according to The Rules of Law and with due process, not foolish fables.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOSE!

Believing internet fables, even if they were true, isn’t going to help you or your family. Joining the crowd that can only complain and point fingers isn’t making things better for any of us.

The true patriots who are making things better for all of us (or, at least, trying their best to do so) are those who fight for victories over corruption using due process and the Rule of Law for which too many good men and women have already given their lives.

Let us honor those who gave their all for the sake of liberty and due process by renewing our pledge to the cause of Justice … overcoming the corruption in our courts by forcing judges to obey the rules too many have already died for!

Please don’t send me emails telling me the courts are corrupt. I know first-hand about corruption. That’s why I created Jurisdictionary in the first place. I know judges who are so corrupt they should be horse-whipped. I know lawyers who are so corrupt they don’t know how to stop lying, even when they aren’t in court.

But! I also know how to win … and you can, too!

I’d appreciate receiving some emails this week thanking me for Jurisdictionary instead of attacking me for not joining the milieu of madness that has little to offer beyond telling us what’s wrong. Most of us already know what’s wrong. What we need is for more of you to discover that the only way to deal with corruption is to overcome it!

Complaining about corruption alone does not stop it!

When corruption is in the courts, the way to win is to rub the judges’ noses in their very own rules!

Good judges will do what’s right.

BAd judges fear being reversed on appeal.

I didn’t win for a quarter-century by belonging to the “good old boys” network. I don’t belong to any fraternity or secret society. I hate the good old boys for a number of personal reasons I may write about in my autobiography someday, if anyone is interested. I hate all they stand for. I hate their abuse of people who don’t know how to fight back. I hate their cruelty. I hate their arrogance!

So I created Jurisdictionary so YOU can fight back!

The choice is yours, after all.

I cannot make you believe what I say.

You simply need to try my methods and see for yourself what the people who wrote those testimonials at the right have discovered. →

If you already have my course, urge EVERYONE to get the course and stop the courthouse corruption that is destroying our nation and putting your children’s future in peril of being utterly destroyed by the elitist agenda to rule us all by taking away our voice and our right to be heard in court on the public record!

If you don’t yet have my course, order it today and find out for yourself just how powerful you can be with just a little bit of practical lawsuit know-how!

Help us restore due process to our nation, please!

Learn how to use the rules to command justice!

Help us overcome the evil of this age!

Do it for your children!

Dr. Frederick David Graves, JD

Jurisdictionary

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To win in court you must fight tooth-and-nail!

This isn’t a parlor game!

This is war!

The rules of due process are the People’s Power to control the machine we call government and get the redress for our grievances that millions died for!

My profession has hidden the rules of due process from you and from the rest of the public, so lawyers can charge exorbitant fees to do what any 8th grader can do after learning how with my affordable 24-hour, step-by-step Jurisdictionary self-help course.

Due process is your #1 right, because without it none of your other “rights” are enforceable in court!

But! To enforce your rights you need to use the rules!

The Constitution mentions due process. It doesn’t begin to explainwhat due process is or how to use it to control courts … and thereby to control judges, lawyers, giant banks, high-minded government officials, or even angry neighbors!

Can we Americans afford not to learn the rules?

Due process is the power of the people to control their government by controlling the courts!

Jurisdictionary believes it’s criminal for a government to refuse to teach its People how to use due process to enforce the People’s God-given rights! But, our leaders refuse to teach us the rules by which they control us!

Jurisdictionary also believes it’s criminal to promote legal people fables or to urge people to believe justice is impossible! Corruption is real. We know that. But those who know the rules and how to use them get justice for themselves in our courts, if their cause is just!

If you agree with us, please help us by telling others what we teach. If they don’t want to buy my course, that’s fine. Let them go to the law libraries and learn the official rules from the official books. But, PLEASE PROMOTE OUR VISION!

Until we Americans learn the RULES of due process, we cannot possibly hope to control those who hold the reins of government power … and at this critical hour we have very little time to take control of our government!

Some leaders in Congress are hell-bent to enforce laws on us that will totally remove our right to due process!

America needs to go to court!

Every last one of us simply must learn how to control the nonsense coming out of our courts today. Every last one of us must learn how to overcome crooked lawyers using the “official rules”, instead of internet mythology.

It isn’t hard to learn!

It really isn’t.

But, if we refuse to learn it will be US who’ll be to blame when America falls to the powerful elite we are allowing to rob us of our heritage and even our morality as a people.

Please help me promote due process knowledge!

Support Jurisdictionary!

Or, you can follow the advice of the internet nutcases who tell you to challenge the judge’s oath of office, or to claim your NAME IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS isn’t you, or to insist because there’s a fringe on the courtroom flag that the court is operating under admiralty law, or some other absolute nonsense that will end up getting you destroyedand giving even more power to the ruthless lawyers and judges who steal from the poor to give to the rich and rob your children and their future of the moral framework that makes human happiness possible!

If you don’t want lawyers and judges to rule the world, learn the official rules of due process that control them!

We are running out of options!

To learn more, visit my web site: Jurisdictionary.

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You may find this hard to believe, however today’s law schools don’t teach law students what it takes to win! They don’t teach how to use the rules of evidence and rules of procedure to overcome crooked lawyers and control corrupt, arrogant, high-minded judges, because it isn’t “politically correct” to tell the truth about this “profession”. But, knowing how to control judges and overcome crooked lawyers is what it’s all about!

The typical lawyer will play every dirty trick in the book, but it’s not a judge’s job to interfere. The judge is not allowed to interfere. But! You can prevent the lawyer on the other side from getting away with his or her dirty tricks once you know how to force the judge to put a stop to it using the RULES!

There’s a reason why there are more critical jokes about lawyers than all the rest of the professions combined! You cannot afford to let lawyers side-step the rules and destroy your future, your finances, and your family!

Learn how to force the judge to enforce the rules!

Know the truth that law schools refuse to teach!

Learn how to use official court rules in an effective, tactical manner that demands compliance and obtains justice for you!

Jurisdictionary will show you how in just 24 hours!

Law schools teach 3 years of theory, but many professors never practiced law, and those who have any experience in court are teaching instead of doing. Ask yourself why. A good lawyer can make several times what a tenured law professor can pull down teaching. Do the math!

This is good news for you!

In reality, perhaps a majority of lawyers don’t have a clue what they’re doing … so, once you know what the 24-hour Jurisdictionary course teaches step-by-step, you’ll actually have an advantage … becauseyou’ll know what law schools refuse to teach!

Due process isn’t difficult at all, but it is an axe fight!

Sharpen your axe with Jurisdictionary!

Nothing else works!

Even if you have thousands to pay lawyers to go to court for you, Jurisdictionary can save you money by showing you what your lawyer should be doing to earn his or her pay.

If you can’t afford a lawyer (or don’t trust them) then this affordable 24-hour step-by-step course is just what you need to protect your God-given rights from abuse.

Learn the process of due process that lawyers don’t want you to know … and stand up for your rights effectively!

And, nobody makes it easier than Jurisdictionary!

Do what Jurisdictionary teaches, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you find the judge is on your side!

Dr. Frederick D. Graves, JD
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North Carolina Bar Regulates Legal Cloud Computing

02 Jun

Legal Cloud ComputingA  proposed Ethics Opinion of the North Carolina Bar  that provides guidelines for attorneys using cloud computing services, commonly known as SaaS (Software as a Service),  contains language that is troubling because of its potential impact on solos and small law firm practitioners who are creating virtual law practices. The Bar is soliciting comments prior to making the Opinion final. Here are some comments for consideration.

The Opinion states that to comply with the attorney’s duty to keep client data confidential there should be:

"a separate agreement that states that the employees at the vendor’s data center are agents of the law firm and have a fiduciary responsibility to protect confidential client information and client property."

 

DirectLaw is a SaaS vendor that hosts law firm data at a Tier IV Data Center that implements the security controls that a bank or major financial institution uses.  The idea that our data center would enter into an agreement that would make its employees agents of a law firm is not realistic. There is not sufficient consideration to expose the Data Center to this kind of liability, and there is no way that they would modify their terms and conditions to meet the needs of a single SaaS vendor. I doubt that counsel for the Data Center would ever approve such language. The Data Center would just tell us to take our business elsewhere. Amending the contract terms just for SaaS vendors that service the legal industry is not likely to happen.

There are other approaches to providing assurance to law firms that client confidential data is secure and less burdensome.

I think a better guideline would be to suggest or require that SaaS vendors host their data at a data center that is a Tier IV Data Center.  A Tier 4  Data Center is one which has the most stringent level requirements and one which is designed to host mission critical computer systems, with fully redundant subsystems and compartmentalized security zones controlled by biometric access controls methods. The Data Center should also be SAS 70 certified. The Data Center should also have PCI DSS certification if credit card data is stored within the Data Center. With these safeguards in place,  a law firm should be  considered to have undertaken reasonable due diligence to satisfy the obligation to insure that client data will remain confidential.

There are other problems with the North Carolina opinion. Another guideline:

"requires the attorney to undertake a financial investigation of the SaaS vendor: to determine its financial stability."

What does that mean? I am not about to divulge our private financial statements to just any lawyer who inquires. How is it relevant? If there are provisions for data capture and downloading data that is stored in the cloud, and the law firm has access to that data, what difference does it make if the SaaS actually goes out of business?

It would make more sense to simply require that a SaaS vendor carry Internet liability insurance for the benefit of its law firm clients. Law firms will have problems securing Internet Liability Insurance to cover data loss. Data loss as a result of a Data Center outage is not normally covered under a law firm’s malpractice policy. For solos and small law firm’s securing this kind of coverage would be a burden and cost prohibitive. It makes more sense to require the SaaS vendor to secure such coverage and make its law firm subscribers a beneficiary of the coverage.

Another guideline states that:

"The law firm, or a security professional, has reviewed copies of the SaaS vendor’s security audits and found them satisfactory."

How much does such an audit cost? Can solo practitioners afford such an audit? Who qualifies as a security professional? I think this requirement will act as deterrent to solos and small law firms who are seeking cloud-based solutions that they can use in their practice. I think that a less costly and more effective solution would be for an independent organization to issue a Certificate of Compliance to the SaaS vendor indicating that the SaaS vendors has satisfied or complied with well recognized standards. Like the Truste Certificate in the privacy area, this would give solos and small law firms this would provide stamp of approval that minimum standards have been satisfied. This would move the cost burden of undertaking due diligence to the SaaS vendor, rather than to the solo or small law firm practitioner.

Another guideline states:

"Clients with access to shared documents are aware of the confidentiality risks of showing the information to others. See 2008 FEO 5."

This guideline should be clarified because it is not clear what "shared documents" means. This kind of statement is likely to scare clients into thinking that a law firm that stores client data on the the Internet is putting the client’s data at more risk than storing the data in a file cabinet in the lawyer’s office.

As the American Bar American,  through its Ethics 20/20 Commission, and state bar associations adapt ethical rules to deal with the delivery of legal services over the Internet, it is important to consider that the burden of compliance may have a different impact on solos and small law firms, than on large law firms. The rules should not act as a barrier to solos and small law firms exploring new ways of delivering legal services online which are cost effective for both the law firms and their clients.

For a similar point of view see Stephanie Kimbro’s blog post on the same topic.

Disclosure: DirectLaw is a SaaS vendor that provides a virtual law firm platform to solos and small law firms.

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The Online Bar Association Meets 04/29-05/01 in Coral Gables, Fl

26 Apr

A new international bar association was formed last year, based in Miami, Florida, called the Online Bar Association. It is an eclectic group of attorneys some based in the United States and many based internationally, who have come together around a common interest – the online delivery of legal services.

The first inaugural meeting is this weekend, April 29-May 1, 2011 at the Westin Colanade Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida.  Here is information about the meeting and the agenda.

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How safe and secure is your law practice environment?

18 Apr

A new nonprofit organization has emerged to help lawyers assess the safety and security of their law practice environment. The organization is the International Legal Technology Standards Organization and it recently released a set of standards that law firms can used to evaluate:

  1. the law firm’s internal security standards; and
  2. help law firm’s make informed decisions about "cloud computing" vendors and other hosting arrangements where confidential data is stored outside of the physical office of the law firm

The Standards are much more detailed and comprehensive than the ABA/LPM’s eLawyering Task Force publication of Cloud Computing Guidelines for Law Firms.

Disclosure: I am on the Advisory Board of ILTSO and provided some guidance to the development of the standards.

The standards are being circulated for comment before final publication.

The standards offer a sensible definition of "reasonable under the circumstances" by recognizing that different types of law firms have different security needs, although all lawyers are bound to prevent the disclosure of client data. Law firms are categorized into three types of situations:

  • "Bronze – this standard is appropriate in every law practice, including solo practices."
  • "Silver – this standard is typically appropriate for firms of more than one attorney, or where circumstances or resources dictate."
     
  • "Gold – this standard is typically appropriate for larger firms or those with additional IT resources, or where circumstances or resources dictate."

The idea of categorizing law practice environments into these three categories is a new idea, as some of the standards only apply to the Gold and Silver category. The intent is to recognize that law firms have different IT capabilities and the size of the law firm usually determines how the law firm will approach the problem of securing client and other firm data.

At this point of development, the law firm is responsible for undertaking their own self-assessment. Law firms can apply to the standards to their own law practice environment and if in compliance display the ILTSO seal.

ILTSO Seal of ComplianceAt some point, I can see where ILTSO might undertake an independent assessment of a law firm’s security arrangements and if it compliance with the standards, award a certificate like the Truste certification which assesses an organization’s privacy policies. A small fee could be charged for this assessment and it would vary depending on whether the type of law firm practice environment is  Bronze, Silver, or Gold. This would give assurance to clients that all reasonable efforts have been taken to secure the confidentiality of their data.

It will be interesting to see how the organized bar responds to these standards, as their are entities both at the state level, and the American Bar Association that are analyzing these same subjects.

The ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission, for example, has been holding hearings on cloud computing and security of data and has released a working paper on this subject.

Just last week, the Commission released its recommendations on outsourcing, which is a process that has an impact on the confidentiality of client data. The recommendations have not yet been posted on the Commission’s web site, but the ABA Journal reports that:

"The commission proposes revisions to the Model Rules recognizing that electronically stored information, including metadata, is material subject to confidentiality rules. It also proposed revisions directing lawyers to make reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent disclosure of information relating to representation of a client."

ILTSO’s new standards would give concrete meaning to the definition of "reasonable efforts" and provide a detailed framework that could guide attorney assessment of particular outsourcing and cloud computing arrangements.

A positive impact of having this evaluation framework in place might be the accelerated adoption of technologies, such as cloud computing. Compliance with the guidelines would support a law firm’s assertion that the firm has taken all reasonable steps to secure client data to reduce its liability in case of a security breach over which the firm had no control.

An unanticipated consequence might be a slow down in adoption, as the lack of clarity in this area might give many lawyers a reason not to become "early adopters." Many lawyers might choose to wait until standards like ILTSO’s are accepted by a broad base of legal organizations and law firms.

Of course, by then, the "real" early adopters will have acquired a first mover advantage over law firms that are still thinking about the subject, to the those firms competitive disadvantage.

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Online Legal Services: Is It Hype or a New Way of Delivering Legal Services?

09 Apr

We have been evaluating the experience of law firms that have subscribed to our DirectLaw Virtual Law Firm Platform to determine what are the factors that make for success. Subscribers to our service are mostly solo practitioners and small law firms who are experimenting with this new mode of delivering legal services online. We want to share their experiences as we learn from them about what works and what doesn’t work. When we have exemplary examples of success we will develop case studies from which we all can learn.

All kinds of lawyers have subscribed to our DirectLaw client portal which enables the online delivery of legal services:

  • recent law school graduates who can’t find a job and forced to hang out their own shingle;
     
  • lawyers who want to give up on a physical office for one reason or another and want to try working from anywhere, but still see clients face to face when necessary;
     
  • lawyers who think they can copy LegalZoom and get rich quick by simply putting a site up that sells legal forms and documents online;
     
  • lawyers who are in transition because they have been terminated by their law firm employer because of the impact of a constrained economy which is not growing;
     
  • retiring lawyers, with deep experience and expertise, and who want to transition into a part-time practice, rather than give up the law entirely;
     
  • “pure-play” virtual law firms, where the lawyer never sees a client face to face in an office setting or goes to court;
     
  • more traditional law firms, and the experienced lawyers that run them, that want to extend their brand online by adding what we refer to as a “virtual component” or a “virtual law firm platform.”
     
  • Less experienced lawyers who want to compete against older more experienced lawyers with an online service to distinguish themselves from more traditional law firms in their community.

Each of these lawyers see potential in the “virtual law firm” concept acquiring new clients and serving existing clients more effectively.

Almost all of our DirectLaw subscribers hope to acquire new clients by creating a dynamic, and interactive Internet presence that is more than a passive web site, which is no more than an online brochure.

Some law firms are struggling as "virtual law firms" and are not able to generate new clients and new sources of revenues. On the other hand, we know from our own direct experience in running a virtual law firm since 2003, that the concept can work, and our own success in selling automated legal forms directly to consumers through a network of more than 30 legal form websites, indicates that there is real demand for online legal solutions.

So what are the factors that contribute to success?

1. Your law firm web site needs to be findable on the web.

Our analysis indicates that a major cause of failure for law firms trying to market their services online is a poorly constructed front-end website that is not search engine optimized. DirectLaw’s client portal integrates with a law firm’s front end website and it is through the law firm’s web site that the client finds the law firm, and logs on to their own password protected and secure client space.

If the firm’s web site is not findable on the Internet, the site gets little traffic, which translates into no prospects and no new clients. Most lawyers no little about the art and science of inbound internet marketing and the techniques of how to make their web sites findable. Web design firms that create graphically intensive law firm web sites that look beautiful do a disservice to law firms unless the sites they develop are also search engine optimized and the web design firm stresses the importance of  creating new legal content that is practice specific as a magnet for web traffic.

See: Law Firm Web Site Design: Tips and Techniques

2. You need to have a good reputation as a competent attorney in your community with an existing client base if you are going to make it online. There are some exceptions to this rule, but not many.

A major factor that contributes to online success is having a good reputation in a particular area of legal practice. See Case Study

“Pure play” virtual law firms launched by lawyers who can’t quite make it in the real world won’t make it online.

The most successful use of online virtual law firm technology is demonstrated by law firms who already have a successful traditional practice and a base of clients to draw upon. Online law firm technology enhances the experience for existing clients and increases the productivity of the law firm in serving these clients. Word of mouth referral from existing client’s, sends new clients to the law firm’s web site. New online prospects convert to clients because of the credibility of the attorney in the real world, and the potential for a face to face meeting when necessary. The online technology component complements the offline practice, and vice versa. This doesn’t mean that a “pure play” virtual law firm can’t work; it just requires a special type of practice to make a "pure play" business model work. A "click and mortar" law firm model seems to work best, at least during this period of early development of the online legal services concept.

This is a complex subject  that requires more space than can be contained in a single blog post.

For further analysis and discussion of success factors see: Factors That Contribute to the Successful Delivery of Online Legal Services.

 

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Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering Goes to Orange County Legal Aid

24 Mar

The James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering for 2011 is going to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County for their Legal Genie Project, reports the eLawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section of the ABA, the group that makes the Award.

James Keane was the first appointed Chair of the group, and passed away tragically from cancer six years ago.

Legal Genie - Keane Award Winner - 2011

Bob Cohen is the long time leader of Orange County Legal Aid, and provided the leadership for this Project. 

This project combines the use of advanced web-enabled document automation technology to generate Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 documents, as well as California divorce pleadings. It is unique because it involves a network of lawyers who provide legal advice, document review,  and other assistance to clients who use the program. The use of Internet technology makes it possible for the lawyers to be involved, and to also get paid a fee, because the entire transaction is made more efficient. The lawyers who participating get the benefit of the Legal Aid brand, and the marketing that results from promoting the project.

The Project demonstrates how a vertical branded network of attorneys, empowered by a robust technology platform, can provide legal services at an affordable fee to individuals who could not normally afford a lawyer.

This is from the Legal Genie website:

 “Legal Genie is a simple, affordable and reliable online service created by Legal Aid Society of Orange County. It is designed for people who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford the services of an attorney. It asks simple questions and puts answers on the forms in the correct place.

"Legal Genie is different from other services because it connects you to a licensed attorney on our Lawyers Referral Service panel. The LRS attorney will give you telephone consultations, review your documents and give you legal advice. Legal Genie combines the magic of technology with the help of a professional at a price you can afford.”

The formal granting of the Award will be on April 12, 2011, at a Lunch for all of the attendees of  ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago, Illinois at the Hilton Hotel.

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