Law Firm Ratings and Related Information

Before engaging the services of a law firm, it is necessary to know its background and performance record. To do this, you have to find out the ratings of the firm about its legal ability and standards.

Law firms are rated based on their ability and general ethical standards. There are rating boards across the country which conduct and evaluate law firms based on confidential opinions of members of the bar and the Judiciary. The ratings are given on a five-year interval, usually after a lawyer has been admitted to the bar.

The two components of the ratings system are:

o Legal Ability – This component is graded in three ways: C (good to high), B (high to very high) and C (very high to preeminent)

o The General Ethical Standard Ratings denotes ‘adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria related to the discharge of legal responsibilities’. The general recommendation rating of a law firm must be a “V” which it must first receive in order to gain the legal ability rating.

Ratings Classification

The ratings are typically described as follows:

o CV Rating – An excellent first rating, a statement of the firm’s above average ability and high ethical standard

o BV Rating – Means an exemplary reputation and well-established practice, also indicates that law firm is in mid-career, with a significant client base and high professional standard

o AV Rating – The firm has reached the height of professional excellence, indicates long years of law practice with the highest level of skill and integrity

The Importance of the Rating System

The rating system on lawyers and their firms are conducted to help you determine which lawyer or legal entity is worth hiring. The rating will also show you the level of competence and experience of a law firm as seen on the classification grade. Nevertheless being un-rated does not mean a law firm has no credibility. Many competent and reputable law firms in the country remain unrated or choose not to participate in the ratings. In researching about a firm’s credentials, peers, colleagues and former clients are still the best sources of real information.

Important Characteristics of a Reputable Legal Firms

For a law firm to be respectable, the following characteristics must be observed:

o Professional – Lawyers of a firm must show a high level of professionalism by treating each client with their full attention and support

o Experience – Lawyers must meet stringent practice area qualifications and must be dedicated to the practice of one area of law

o Good Standing – Lawyers must be of good record in the bar associations where they belong and must have no record of disciplinary action against them.

o Respected – The lawyer and the firm he represents must be respected by the community and his peers

Finding a reputable law firm is very much like looking for the right lawyer. Look for the firm that will suit your needs. However, when it comes to choosing the right firm, you should look at afirm’s experience and reputation. These are the two important factors to be considered when selecting a firm that will handle your legal needs.

More information about law firm ratings and information by consulting with California law firm

Business Laws For Small Businesses

Talking about business laws in microscopic detail would need a couple of months of your time! There is indeed a plethora of legislation that governs small businesses, ranging from state to county laws. Some are relevant to your business even today whereas others are outdated and have not been enforced since the early part of the last century!

It is not possible for any single entity, including your local law enforcement department to know them all. Yet, it is vital that you are familiar with at least the most important laws that pertain to your business. As usual we’re here to help.

Business laws fall into certain categories as listed below:

o Business formation laws – these laws pertain to the structure of the business. For example a sole proprietorship is regulated very differently from a corporation.

o Tax laws comprise laws pertaining to all taxation issues, whether it is the filing of returns or the payment of sales tax, corporate tax and other similar levies.

o Employment laws – these govern recruitment and retrenchment of employees, wages & workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, workers’ rights and related issues.

o Trademark and patent laws – these laws pertaining to ownership of intellectual property such as inventions, trademarks and patents.

o Environmental laws – Companies engaged in the recycling of material and the discharge of hazardous waste must comply with environmental regulations.

o Consumer protection laws – these protect the consumer from fraud or unfair business or advertising practices.

Headache, already? Here are a few tips to help you deal with it.

One size doesn’t fit all. We just talked about some of the important legal categories under which you will find regulations that affect most businesses. In addition, specific laws may apply depending on the type of activity involved. If, for example, you are selling company stocks you will need to adhere to the Securities Law, but for a medical practice, there’s an entirely different set of rules that come into play. State laws may also dictate how contracts and legal documents are to be written and enforced.

Start at the beginning. Just as you craft a business plan in stages, look at the whole legal puzzle bit by bit. Begin with the laws pertaining to the basics of starting a business. Do you need a business license or a special permit? Are you planning to hire employees or will you go it alone? If your business sells goods, it will need to pay sales tax. Look at each business aspect carefully to understand which category of laws apply to it.

Know only what you need to. If you are in business by yourself, for example, you won’t need to bother with laws governing workers and staff until you are ready to hire additional people. Likewise, if you are in a service business, you typically won’t need to bother yourself with removal of hazardous waste.

See the bigger picture. As your business grows, so will the number of applicable laws. Always examine the legal angle when you plan new projects and initiatives. Also, discuss all potential significant legal matters with your advisor.

Ensure compliance. Be unafraid to ask questions of your legal advisor and do not assume something is legal just because it is a common trade practice. Also talk to the local Chamber of Commerce or other business owners to make sure you are on the right side of the law.

Make amends. Finally, should you find that you’ve contravened a law without intending to, take remedial measures. The law is quite lenient with first time offenders – of course, it also depends on the nature of the violation.

Having to deal with laws and legislation may seem a drag, but there’s no denying their importance. Taking adequate steps to ensure that you have to run into them only as much as you need to!

Business Law – Make Sure Your Business is Legally Covered

It is important that if you operate a business you understand what the laws are involved. You need to make sure that you are covered with all business related legal issues that possibly could arise. It can be scary if you do not understand the laws of surrounded business but with a little education you can be up and running in no time. It is important that if you incorporate you fill out the proper forms so that legally you have a business entity. It is important that whatever transactions you have there is proper legal documentation to support them. It is always a good idea to find an attorney they can help you manage legal issues with your business.

Always make sure you check that all documents are legally correct so that you do not get sued. It is important to have some common knowledge of business law before you go into business for yourself. Once you have started your business you want to find an attorney that specializes in business law. This will help you so that you can keep all of your legal affairs in order. Having a lawyer who is knowledgeable about this area of law is important so that you do not have any legal trouble in your business.

Remember before you start your own business you want to find out a little information about business law. When it comes to doing up contracts and other legal issues you need to find an attorney that can help you with your business. It is a good idea to interview 2 to 3 attorneys before making a final decision on which one you want to use. Try to stick with a lawyer who specializes in business law not someone who is a general attorney.

Law Practice Optimization and Its Place in Today’s Law Firm

Law practice optimization (LPO) is the process of improving the services provided by the Legal Industry to their clients. In today’s modern world, always being connected to your office and your clients is no longer just a luxury it is an absolute requirement. As we all know, the internet has opened the doors for the Legal Industry and allowed Law Firms to market and advertise themselves to the World Wide Web, through business advertising campaigns, which reach tens of thousands and perhaps millions of prospective clients, by just the click of the mouse. It is the servicing of the clients and the ability of the Law Firm to conduct their business in the most efficient manner is where the LPO surfaces its necessity.

As clients awareness of LPO increases, they will in turn drive the Legal Industry to adopt LPO methodology. The Legal Industry can no longer hide behind antiquated methods that are still is use today when dealing with the voluminous amount of paperwork, telephone calls, research, as well as, all communication and document production that is involved when dealing with the resolution of a legal matter. Before LPO, the Law Firm has been able to past the cost of inefficiency directly to the client by way of standard hourly billing. Since LPO, the Law Firms are being held to a higher standard of expectations and efficiency, and with the use LPO, these efficiency savings are being passed down to the client with better service for less money.

The use of today’s modern technology is now being demanded by the client. Having the ability to receive mail electronically, receive SMS messages for reminders or court notifications, is now the standard that is expected in the industry. Older, much antiquated methods like regular mailings, are no longer being accepted by the client who expects more from their Law Firm.

The initialism “LPO” can refer to “legal practice optimization” synonymous with “law practice optimization,” which is a term adopted by an industry of consultants who carry out optimization projects on behalf of individual Law Firms. These consultants or Legal Practice Optimizers or Law Practice Optimizers, perform an in depth evaluation of the current practices of the Law Firm and then provide recommendations as to the lack of efficiency being used within the managerial sector of the Firm. Many times, the LPO consultant finds deficiencies pertaining to the lack of adaptation by the Firm to utilize current technology and software that is available in the current market place. In many instances, the LPO consultant will find the Law Firm has become complacent with respect to the managing of the Law Firm due to their ability to offset any extra costs of being inefficient, directly in their client billing.

Law Practice Optimization does not stop with streamlining the internal practices of the modern law firm. It also covers managing the online exposure and marketing of the firm when appropriate, through the creation of a custom web site for the firm, and in addition the application of the now well established practice of SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This is now a common area of focus for the practicing LPO consultant since legal firms are now relying on new client intake via the internet, a well functioning and effective presence online is now essential.

Common Qualities of the Best Law Firms

In my 12 years of practice, I have been employed with a wide variety of law firms. When I decided to open my own practice, I started thinking about the qualities that make up the best law firms. In determining the best law firms do you include things such as employee benefits, firm culture and employee turnover rates? Or do you focus on the qualities that affect a law firm’s most precious commodity – the client? My take on this is that the best law firms employ quality attorneys and staff with the highest of ethical standards and the desire to fight within their ethical bounds for their clients.

One key factor in having a successful law practice is an effective leader. A good leader will have a vision for the firm’s direction, a commitment to serving its clients, and a desire to find like-minded people that believe not only in the clients, but the brand of the firm. I have found in my practice that effective leaders can quickly change with success and growth. They often lose touch with the very people that helped them grow into a successful powerhouse. It is easy to go from a scenario of weekly partner/associate lunches to rarely, if ever, seeing a partner in the office. Effective leaders at the best law firm have a good understanding of the legal work coming out of the office, the overall satisfaction of its clients, and an awareness of the employees’ overall job satisfaction. With success and growth, it is easy to lose touch with these important factors, but good leaders will remain cognizant of these factors, even with exponential growth of the firm.

The best law firms also have compassion for their clients. When attorneys at these firms meet with clients, it’s never about sharing the attorney’s successes. Rather, it’s listening to your clients concerns, determining their overall goal through representation by the firm, and showing empathy towards their situation. Many attorneys look at their clients and see dollar signs. They look at the opportunity to bill or the total fee they will earn on a contingency for a huge settlement. These attorneys fail to recall one of the most basic ethical consideration of attorneys, acting in the best interest of the client. Because at the end of the day, all the billable hours in the world won’t make a practice successful If you don’t satisfy and take good care of your clients. Firms with this mindset often have high turnover rates because they make billing THE priority. They burn their attorneys out and bring in brand new attorneys and start the process fresh with them. This can easily lead to dissatisfaction by clients. They may not know from one month to the next which attorney is representing them.

Another key quality of the best law firms is a narrow focus on a particular area of law. The days of general practitioners is (or should be) gone. Laws are complex and can change in an instant depending on legislation or new case law handed down by appellate courts. The best law firms have focus on one area of law and become very good at it. They are aware of recent changes as well as developing changes in their area of practice. With such a narrow focus, they can change strategy in an instant and become the authority to their clients by showing their knowledge in a particular area of law. Beware of the lawyer who claims to practice in all areas of civil litigation. While it is possible, consider that opposing counsel may have a more narrow focus. They may have that golden nugget of information that can make the case a winner for them and a loser for your client.

There are a number of other factors to consider when trying to determine the best. That may be the discussion for a future article. But those discussed here are, in this author’s opinion, the most important factors to consider when trying to figure out what makes a firm one of the best.