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Archive for the ‘Practice Management’ Category

The Avalon Project at Yale

Posted by pbsweeney on June 6, 2007

File this under research and general coolness.

The Avalon Project will mount digital documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government. We do not intend to mount only static text but rather to add value to the text by linking to supporting documents expressly referred to in the body of the text.”

There are digitalized documents available for FREE from the pre- 18th to the 21st century including, charters, treaties, summit documents, trade agreements, executive orders, legislation – you name it and you’ll find it. The full 9/11 commission report in pdf is there too. It’s a remarkable archive with amazing linkage within the text. The oldest document I checked out (now there’s a precedent!) was from 123 B.C.!

Posted in Ethics, Law, Law Lit, Practice Management, Research, work | Leave a Comment »

Informant v Defendant

Posted by pbsweeney on May 22, 2007

Say you’re a criminal defense lawyer with a client facing charges as a result of information provided by an informant who has agreed to work with law enforcement as part of his own plea arrangement in a criminal case. Naturally, you want to know something about this informant in preparing a defense for your client. Armed with the informant’s name and criminal record, you start researching the disposition of his previous arrests. With the ready availability of court records online, wading through files is made somewhat easier. But imagine for a minute, if details of the informant’s plea arrangements were sealed or unavailable – where does that leave you?

The New York Times reports today that “…the Justice Department has begun urging the federal courts to make fundamental changes in public access to electronic court files by removing all plea agreements from them — whether involving cooperating witnesses or not.

“We are witnessing the rise of a new cottage industry engaged in republishing court filings about cooperators on Web sites such as www.whosarat.com for the clear purpose of witness intimidation, retaliation and harassment,” a Justice Department official wrote in a December letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the administrative and policy-making body of the federal court system.”

Could we please solve this problem in a manner that does not trample the civil rights of the entire citizenry by denying access to public record? And by the way, we really wish the Justice Department was as interested in protecting the privacy of the rest of us.

Posted in Ethics, Federal Spotlight, Law, News, Practice Management, Research | Leave a Comment »

Who’s Really a Lawyer & Where

Posted by pbsweeney on May 18, 2007

About 40 states maintain online databases regarding attorney bar status, primarily for consumers who want to find out if an individual they are dealing with is really a lawyer.  But often times, as attorneys, it’s worth a look to see if your opposing counsel is really licensed to practice in a particular court venue. Is He Really a Lawyer is a simple page consolidating links to all the 40 state databases currently available, and it is consistently updated. (While you are there, check that your own status and info is correct!) It saves a great deal of hunting.

Posted in Business, Ethics, internet, Law, Practice Management, Research, work | Leave a Comment »

Estate Planning Strategies – Crisis Pending

Posted by pbsweeney on May 9, 2007

At HamptonsLegal we had read in Forbes & various journals, of a trend toward patenting tax loop holes, but we did not realize the extent to which the patent office has apparently been extending its reach in this area. We’d love to hear from our readers about any litigation pending or thoughts on this trend.

“Imagine, before sitting down with your client to advise her about her legal options, having to consult the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Web site to determine whether someone else already owns the patent to the course of action you want to suggest.

If that’s the case, you’ll have to pay the patent holder so your client can take your advice. But the patent holder also might refuse to sell you the license, limiting your client’s legal options. Then what? Welcome to Dennis Belcher’s world.

In 2004, Belcher—a trust and estate attorney in Richmond, Va., with three decades of experience—learned that patents had been issued on certain estate planning strategies for minimizing taxes. At first, he says, “I thought it was absurd that someone could patent an estate planning strategy.” But now, “I realize how dangerous this matter is, and I follow the topic for professional protection and to keep my clients out of a patent lawsuit.”

For good reason. Since issuing its first patent for a tax strategy in 2003, the Patent and Trademark Office has issued at least 52 patents covering specific tax strategies. Another 84 published applications for tax strategy patents are pending.”

To read this article in its entirety from the ABA Journal, click here….

Posted in Business, Ethics, Law, Practice Management | Leave a Comment »

Educating the New Litigation Client

Posted by pbsweeney on May 2, 2007

Often, one of the most challenging jobs of any attorney is to educate a new litigation client in being a client of a law firm. Many clients appear for the first time as the result of crisis situation for which they need assistance, and in many cases are hiring an attorney for the first time in their lives. Clients come in completely unaware of the extent of their roll in their own matter, how fees work, how a case is managed, and what are reasonable expectations. Clarity on these issues is very important not only to overall success, but also as it relates to retaining that client for the future.

Spending time on these issues during an initial consultation and during regular follow up thereafter, promotes a sense of partnership for the road ahead. The better your fundamental work here, the easier it will be to create movement in the case through client cooperation, and the happier your client will be even if the inevitable outcome is not in their favor.

The first thing a client needs during an initial consultation once rapport and confidence have been established, is fee sensitizing, as we like to call it. Litigation is expensive in a way that many clients cannot seem to fathom. It makes no sense to them that a 25K rip off will likely cost them the same amount of money to recover, and is simply not worth it. There is little understanding that 50K is a starting point for serious work, so that often even an exaggeration on the costs is a better approach than talking minimal numbers. If this realistic communication about fees is not adequately established, there’s really no point in taking this client on. You’ll only end up spending valuable billable time sorting it out later, or lose the client in the long term, neither of which helps to grow a practice.

Posted in Business, Law, Practice Management, work | Leave a Comment »

H2-B Visa Cap Reached for 2nd Half 2007

Posted by pbsweeney on March 27, 2007

USCIS announced on March 23 that the H2-B visa cap for the second half of 2007 has been reached. If your petition is dated after March 16, 2007, you are out of luck. To read the full press release, click here.

Posted in Business, Federal Spotlight, Immigration, Law, Practice Management | Leave a Comment »

Monkey Scribe

Posted by pbsweeney on March 27, 2007

We came across this fairly hilarious site of professionals acting unprofessionally, with funny gifts for the litigator in your life or you office. Monkey Scribe gave us a good laugh at the end of a long day, particularly when we listened to the infamous voice mail from whence they derived their name. It’s a killer.

Posted in blogging, Humor, Law, Practice Management, work | Leave a Comment »

Supreme Lit Clinics Hungry for Cases

Posted by pbsweeney on March 6, 2007

Here’s an interesting bit of information gleaned from the popular Legal Times column “Courtside” that sometimes reads like a Supreme court gossip column but most often provides interesting sidebars on all things Supreme. Three years ago Stanford Law opened the first Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and the idea was so hot that Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, and others are quickly following suit. Last week alone saw three cases before the court with clinic participation, and the list is growing. Already the very popular litigation clinics have to fight harder to find cert-worthy cases, and have been filing more amicus briefs as a result.

The clinics are an amazing resource! To read more click here…

Links to a few of the clinics are as follows: Stanford, Harvard Supreme & Appellate clinics scheduled to open in the fall of 2007, and Yale which openly invites representation inquiries on the site.

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Law, News, Practice Management | Leave a Comment »

NYS County Clerks List

Posted by pbsweeney on February 1, 2007

So we came across this handy list of all of the county clerks in the state, with full contact info. Certainly beats tracking down by individual county. Print it out, or please note that we’ve added the list to our permanent links at left under real estate & research. It’s current as of January 2007. NYS County Clerks

Posted in Law, Practice Management, Research | Leave a Comment »

More Time to Win

Posted by pbsweeney on January 19, 2007

And the answer is yes, to those of you who wrote asking if we could extend the deadline for entering to win a $20.00 Starbucks gift coupon for the best tip of the new year to improve your practice operations. We’re extending to January 30th, so share the wisdom! Have a nice latte or lunch on us and everyone is happy.

Posted in Business, Law, Life, Practice Management, work | Leave a Comment »

Who is Where in Riverhead’s New Supreme Court

Posted by pbsweeney on January 17, 2007

riverhead.jpg Hampton’s Legal had reason to be up at the new Supreme Court in Riverhead today. It’s a spectacular addition with additional parking contiguous to the building on Court Street. The three-story, 95,000 square-foot courthouse was erected behind the existing 70 year old buildings and is connected to them by two enclosed bridges. The new courthouse has an atrium lobby, nine courtrooms and chambers, a jury assembly room, jury impaneling rooms, a children’s center, a public cafeteria and conference space. It’s a beautiful space and a welcome addition.

Signage is a little dicey yet, but court personnel are very helpful. Hamptons Legal has obtained a current directory of the offices for individual judges. If you are headed up there, email us and we will let you know who is where.

Posted in Law, Local Cases of Interest, News, Practice Management, Suffolk Courts | 1 Comment »

Best New Year Tip Contest – Win a $20.00 Starbucks Gift Certificate

Posted by pbsweeney on January 8, 2007

Some of us relish the turning of the year; the end of holiday and associated obligations and the end of “wait till after the holidays” laments and delays. Some of us dread returning to the problems that are still sitting around from last year.

So what’s the best way to start the year off? Take a running jump into the work and let everything sort itself out? What about a little review and revise? With the end of the old year fresh in our minds, why don’t we address some of our old or chronic complaints and see if this year might find us in a different place when the year runs out again.

Hamptons Legal says, what’s your best tip on starting off the work year fresh? What have you instituted in your practice that has solved a chronic problem or annoyance? Or what are you trying right now to make the year better? Win a $20.00 Starbucks gift certificate for sharing your tip with the rest of us! Post your tip in the comment section and Hamptons Legal Staff will select one winner to receive a $20.00 Starbucks gift certificate and three winners who will receive a $5.00 certificate for honorable mention. Be sure to provide an email address so we can get the prize to you! Contest closes January 18th, so enter now folks.

Posted in blogging, Business, Humor, Immigration, internet, Law, Life, News, Politics, Practice Management, Real Estate, Research, work | 3 Comments »

Forms Continued LIRX

Posted by pbsweeney on December 19, 2006

While we’re on the subject of forms, here’s another favorite that is listed at the right – the LIRX searchable database of rules, forms and dockets for just about everywhere in the country. Another brilliant search engine that will quickly provide an answer without wading through a tedious state or federal agency website. It’s so simple!

Posted in Forms, Law, Practice Management | Leave a Comment »

forms.gov

Posted by pbsweeney on December 18, 2006

Forms.gov, where have you been all my life? Wading through US government agency websites to find a specific form has been one of my personal pet peeves, as the design and usability is often perplexing, to be polite about it. Enter forms.gov, which is a sweet portal that allows one to enter any US government form number or a logical keyword or two, and generate a search that spans the vast reservoir of extent federal forms. There are options to search by category, agency or most frequently requested. The results are very clear and simple in thier presentation with a nice clean look. A welcome change from the results one is used to wading through on, say, the IRS website. Forms.gov, my only regret is that it’s taken us this long to meet!

Posted in Business, Law, Practice Management, Research | Leave a Comment »

New Google Patent Search

Posted by pbsweeney on December 16, 2006

The recent slaying in Chicago last week of a patent attorney and 2 colleagues by a client who thought his idea was being stolen, only makes the beta premier of Google’s new patent search engine even more welcome. Now instead of trying to mastermind a patent search on the US goverment site, (good luck with that), regular folks can find some clue as to whether their idea is a winner by using the new Google Patent Search. It won’t replace an attorney’s work, but so far there are 7 million patents online and counting. Hamptons Legal sees one of the big benefits to attorneys will perhaps be the reduction of clients who walk into their offices with unrealistic expectations for an idea and have taken their passion around the bend of normal. Maybe some of this will be nipped in the bud with a simple search in a very accessible data base.

Posted in Business, Law, News, Practice Management, Research | Leave a Comment »