The Top Law Firms in the United States

The top law firms in the US are actually not all based in New York or Washington DC, some are in Chicago and Pittsburgh, the main industrial centres, and these firms specialize in helping businesses which have a global market. Some of these are Baker and Mackenzie in Chicago and DLA Piper also in Chicago, along with May Blain in the same city and Kana L Gates in Pittsburgh. These firms are among the law firms with the highest number of attorneys, partners and associates in the US.

Baker and Mackenzie and DLA Piper specialize in commercial and business law with offices in many countries, and Baker and Mackenzie pride themselves on employing people from 60 different nationalities, pointing out that this gives them an edge when it comes to knowing how to deal with the business laws in different countries. They assist businesses which trade in the global marketplace and can advise on the laws in different countries. They also have expertise in the culture of the countries in which they have offices -all 68 of them.

Then there are the law firms which also deal with Pro Bono cases and have a more philanthropic outlook, and the top among these are Latham and Watkins who are based in New York and Skaddon, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom also based in New York. The former also has a Diversity Scholarship Program so that more students from different social and ethnic backgrounds get a chance to become lawyers and both take on Pro bono cases. Latham and Watkins won the prestigious American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award in 2003, a testimony to their commitment to take non-paying clients as well as the more affluent clients. Latham and Watkins feature regularly in Top 10 lists of American law firms for various reasons, not only because they are the fifth largest employer of attorneys in the US. They have stuck to their roots which were in labor law and tax, before they began their global expansion.

A very well-known law firm, Hogan Lovell’s began in 1904 in the US with Frank J. Hogan who successfully won high-profile politically charged cases soon after he established his firm. On 1st May 2010, Hogan and Hartson merged with Lovell’s of the UK to become one of the top10 global legal services providers. This company is based in Washington DC but has offices all over the world.

Medical Records Retrieval for Law Firms

• MODERN MEDICAL RECORDS RETRIEVAL SERVICE – AUTOMATION, COMPLIANCE, SAVINGS

The modern Medical Records Retrieval (MRR) service is a combination of modern web-based technology and a rules-compliant outsource solution. Historically lawyers and their staff would have to set aside a portion of their time, often a lot of time, to capture necessary information for cases that involved medical records. It’s not that the process is complex. Quite the contrary, every attorney, paralegal, and litigation-support person knows exactly what needs to be done.

It may appear simple, but it is a very manually intensive process. Someone at the firm must acknowledge the need for the records. Necessary forms must be completed to ensure compliance with a myriad of laws (including HIPAA), which the firm and often the patient (who may or may not be the firm’s client) would need to initiate a request. Then, the firm must track the progress of the request, and eventually receive, review, and organize the results, or note that there were no medical records available related to the matter.

To support the business of running a law practice, sophisticated and affordable software tools include new client/business intake, workflow automation, and conflicts management. Vendors who provide early case assessment tools and e-discovery-based technology-assisted review have begun to offer solutions for small firm and solo practitioners. In this article, we will show you how you can improve productivity, lower costs, and better manage billing for MRR expenses.

How Medical Records Retrieval Services Work

Here’s how a typical MRR service works for a small firm/solo practice. One of the firm’s employees logs into a secure, encrypted website. He or she then submits an order outlining the patient’s information, the records being requested, and any other data necessary to complete the request. What happens next is truly a game-changing activity. Instead of the firm’s billable resources chasing record requests from hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers, they go back to doing other, productive work, while the MRR process self-executes, and eventually provides you with the requested information and documents or informs you that there were no responsive documents.

Questions Regarding MRR Services

The availability of MRR services presents all attorneys, but especially solo and small firms, with the following important questions:

• How do you start with an MRR service?

• How are the record requests processed?

• Is this process HIPAA-compliant?

• When and how am I alerted to the status of my requests?

• How do I distribute the costs/fees associated with outsourcing medical records retrieval?

Choosing Your MRR Provider

To reduce the risk of choosing the wrong MRR service, consider the following best practices:

1) Ensure that the MRR service can prove secure access to its website (and your records) via a login and password.

2) Understand the MRR service’s processes to ensure protection of privacy.

3) Understand its service level agreements, which explain their process and anticipated turnaround time.

4) Verify that the MRR service has experience with expediting record requests by requesting a list of reference clients.

5) Review the process by which you and/or your staff are notified of updates, including record availability or notice of “no record found.”

6) Ask for the MRR service’s price schedule, preferably in a format that will permit you to do an apples-to-apples comparison of the fees of other MRR services.

When possible, a dedicated MRR service is a better choice than a firm that offers a multitude of legal practice services of which records retrieval is only a small subset of their overall business.

Getting Started with the MRR Provider

Upon choosing your MRR provider, the steps to starting to work with the provider are straightforward and similar to those when signing up with any on-line type of service:

• The firm identifies the approved personnel who are authorized to access the secure system.

• A unique user ID is created for the firm at this time, with a strong password required for all future access.

• Often, this is also the time that billing information is provided, and thus a financial account with the firm and MRR is created for future invoicing.

• Each authorized person completes a new user profile and sign-on request. The user must provide email and phone contact information.

• It is the responsibility of the law firm to notify the MRR as soon as possible in the event that an existing authorized user should be removed from the access control. The MRR should remedy and respond as soon as the user access has been removed.

• While the use of the MRR site should be quite easy for most users with minimal training, additional site support generally is available from the MRR’s services personnel via phone or email request.

Safeguarding Privacy

No matter how beneficial the technology, the firm must ensure compliance of federal and state HIPAA guidelines and any ethical rules about maintaining client confidences. Therefore, they must ensure that the MRR service collects, hosts, and provides access to client(s) records while maintaining compliance with privacy guidelines. Note: This should be part of your due diligence when selecting a provider.

The MRR Service should comply with Federal and state privacy laws. MRR services should keep up to date with changing rules of privacy such as the HITECH Act.

MRR agreements should expressly state that no personally identifiable health information (PHI) can ever be used for non-business related activities such as marketing and/or sales lead generation.

Record Processing

Once you have chosen an MRR service and set up your account, obtaining medical records is relatively straight-forward:

• After you enter a request into the system, the MRR service creates an MRR record request connected to the unique ID of the requester (the specific user at your firm), and confirms receipt of the request via an email.

• A reviewer is assigned to assess the necessary actions to fulfill the request, and will notify the user of any questions regarding the record request. In some states, including California, an electronic request can be executed from the MRR service to the healthcare provider, eliminating the need for paper-based transaction.

• The provider then tracks the request, and conducts any follow-up communication by any means available, including email, telephone or in-person visits if necessary, to acquire clear copies of records requested.

• If the record is available and legible, it is scanned into the secure web-based system for access by the user. Otherwise, a “no record found” is annotated to the request, and communicated back to the user.

Communication Is Key

Nothing can be more frustrating to case management than waiting for needed information from a third party. The MRR service must not only forward the record request to the healthcare provider, but also must provide the firm an ongoing and timely response regarding status. Each record must be tracked in real-time with detailed notes from the MRR agents. The MRR service should send alerts if additional information is required, provide replies via email, and deliver the link to download and/or view completed requests as soon as the records become available. Again, during the selection process, you should ascertain the provider’s practices regarding communications, and include them in the contract.

Speed Is Critical Too

Obtaining the medical records timely is critical, whether to respond to discovery, to make or oppose a motion for summary judgment, to get an expert up to speed, or to settle a case. A reliable MRR service will offer a quick turnaround. They have the experience working with medical locations to obtain records faster than a law firm’s in-house staff. After all, a law firm staff member may encounter (or, in truth, may feel like they have gotten stuck with) the occasional medical record search, but the MRR service is a specialist in the process of collecting information, including “no records found.” So, the MRR service’s very job is obtaining medical records, and therefore will have the process down to a set of specific steps, and can support their clients via a web interface.

Relationships With Healthcare Providers

Sometimes hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other healthcare providers may treat the occasional request by an attorney for medical records as an inconvenience, not respond as quickly or perhaps as completely as the attorney or client would like. A smart MRR service will develop long-term relationships with healthcare providers and their staff to get the data needed promptly and efficiently. This will improve the quality of the document production, reduce its cost, and speed the process up.

Database Strength

Medical records often can be in a different location or city than the healthcare provider. For example, billing records for hospitals are usually in an offsite facility, sometimes in another state. With the advent of electronic records, more healthcare providers are centralizing their records offsite with the umbrella company of their medical group/hospital. Without the information on how and where to request records, in-house staff can waste valuable time sending requests to the wrong locations or having to spend the time to find out where to send the requests. A strong database on where and how to request records from healthcare providers therefore is key to save time, ensure complete result, and save money. MRR services have the incentive and the resources to develop such a database. Law firms, especially solos and small firms, do not.

In addition the importance on the database in requesting medical records, it is equally important on the production side. Virtually all medical records are produced in digital format. Records are typically available in PDF or TIFF file format, making them searchable by many document management systems – including on premise, cloud-based, web-based or hybrid systems. They are usually made available for download and/or viewing from virtually anywhere on any device that supports a secure micro-browser. The MRR service maintains the medical records for ongoing access by the user and any authorized personnel.

MRR Costs and other Considerations

The MRR service will charge you for their services. However, because the firm’s resources are freed up to work on activities that generate revenue for the firm, the costs of using an MRR service will be offset at least in part, and perhaps in full. In addition, depending on your fee arrangement with your client, the invoices from the MRR service may be directly billable back to the client or at least accounted for as a recoverable cost. (Many MRR services charge no monthly fees for having an account, and thus the firm only incur fees on a usage basis, which can then be charged to the cases for which they are required.)

Summary

While many firms may continue the “do-it-yourself” approach, solos and small firms should consider using an MRR service. In addition to the higher costs of installing and maintaining one’s own record management system, the soft costs and resource consumption make this a less favorable alternative. A qualified, experienced MRR service offers a cost effective, robust platform for processing, monitoring, and tracking medical records requests. Record management and processing is HIPAA-compliant, always available, and secure-which in-house processes may not be, with the attendant risks. Use of an MRR service does not require capital expense to leverage digitally filed and maintained medical records. Firm resources can be repurposed from tracking record requests to meaningful and fee-generating activities. Client satisfaction may improve as matters are able to be processed more efficiently, and firm business may increase. The results of using an MRR service are measureable and immediate. It’s literally a one-click quantum leap from manual, resource-heavy processes to a modern, digital, secure web based management for your practice.

Getting to Know the People Working at a Law Firm

Legal aid seekers may find it hard to determine whom to talk to regarding their concerns because of the many people who are employed in a law firm, especially the large ones. These frequently happen particularly if the law office lacks an information desk to assist their clients. Hence, this article will try to help you identify those personnel and their jobs for you to know who to approach for your particular case.

In common legal practices, law firms have a certain hierarchal structure. This is to create a smooth flowing relationship among the employees, particularly concerning their task. Here is a typical list of a law firm staff:

1. Law Firm Owners – They are commonly referred to as partners. Usually, the law firm is named after them since they are the most prestigious lawyers in the company. Because of their vast experience and expertise in their field, their service fees are considered the highest.

2. Legal Associates – These individuals are also lawyers. However, they do not share the ownership of the firm. Associates have much lesser experience as compared to partners, but may also be very good in their own specialization. In due time, they may possibly be partners in the firm. Clients may also expect lower charges from them.

3. Contractual Lawyers – If in case the employed lawyers are not enough to handle the upsurge of cases brought by their clients, the law firm may hire contractual lawyers. They serve as supports to the associates and doing they work on a part-time basis. They are being paid based on an hourly rate and mostly getting higher compensation from their other clients outside a firm.

4. “Of Counsels” – Commonly, these lawyers are formerly connected with a law firm who opted to continue his or her relationship with the company after his or her quasi-retirement. Nevertheless, it is up to the owners of the firm to decide regarding their working arrangement.

5. Legal Clerks – Usually, they are law students who are tasked to work on legal researches or to assist the lawyers in setting up their clients’ cases. They also do other jobs that may be assigned to them by the lawyers. This serves as their training ground for their future profession as lawyers.

6. Paralegals – Legally trained individuals but do not have their professional licenses yet. Ordinarily, they are equipped with practical knowledge of the law that may be very useful for the lawyers to whom they work with.

7. Secretaries – Their role is very vital for every lawyer. They help in organizing the schedules, making client calls, and all other tasks that may be appointed to them by the lawyers.

8. Legal Investigators – They are assigned to work in the field, to make an investigation on a certain case handled by the law firm.

9. Administrations Officers – They are in-charge of the internal dealings of the law firm. Depending on their need, law firms may hire a human resource officer, accountant and any other important positions.

10. Receptionists – They are the front-liners of a law firm, assisting the clients about their legal concerns and ensuring them of having a great visit to the office.

Business Laws That Need To Be Known Before Starting A Business

It is essential to know about business laws before starting a business, as it will help you operate your business without hindrances or any trouble. It is better to seek the expert guidance of an accountant and an attorney to learn about the latest business laws that will affect your business.

Business Laws You Need To Know Before Starting a Business:

Business structure laws: There are different laws for different business entities. So make sure you learn about the business laws that govern the kind of business entity that you choose to start, Corporation, if its a C, S or closed Corporation, or an LLC or LLP, Sole proprietorship etc. These are very important business laws you need to know before starting a business.

Zoning Laws:

It is essential to know about zoning laws, as certain zones are restricted. It deals with the kind or type of business allowed in certain areas, how the land surrounding a business is used, signboards advertisements, parking etc.

Licensing Laws:

In order to operate a business certain licenses are required and these are some important business laws you need to know before starting a business. If a business operates without these licenses, it may be illegal and the business may be dissolved or forced to close.

Trademark and Patent Laws:

These are laws that deal with ownership; intellectual property rights, inventions etc. are necessary to protect the business.

Employment Laws:

These are laws regarding the hiring and firing of employees, their rights, compensation, safety and work place discrimination and child labor laws, overtime pay structure, disability laws and unemployment laws etc.

Tax Laws:

This section deals with filing of tax returns and depends on the kind of business entity and the State the business operates in, sales tax, franchise tax, income tax and other state and federal tax requirements of a business these are very important business laws you need to know before starting a business.

Environmental Laws:

This law is enforced for the discharge of hazardous waste and recycling laws pertaining to the business.

Health Department Permits:
Is necessary if your business deal with food products to get permits to operate your business.

Fire Department Permits, Air and Water Pollution Control Permits: There are certain laws that certain kinds of business entities have to get permits from these departments to operate.

These are just a few basic business laws you need to know before starting a Business. It is necessary to take precaution that you are not violating any law by operating your business and that all the necessary permits and licenses are obtained from the appropriate authority.
There are firms that offer their services and products to help make the process of starting and running a business very simple and easy.

Law Firm Marketing: How a Bald Move Can Help You Stand Out From the Crowd

Recently, an Atlanta personal injury lawyer has been making waves in the blogosphere with a creative new law firm marketing campaign. The attorney, now – and perhaps forever- has become known as the “Bald Lawyer.” His billboard campaign has attracted attention not only in the ABA Journal, but also on a whole host of other sites, even showing up on the website of a major communications firm in the United Kingdom. With the amount of widespread positive attention he’s receiving, it seems clear that his creative advertising effort was a complete success.

Innovative Law Firm Marketing: Standing Out From Your Competitors

Law firm marketing has become ubiquitous, with a lawyer billboard on every corner and lawyers promising to get you a fast divorce or a big cash settlement during every commercial break. Because there is so much legal advertising going on, it can be very difficult to get potential clients to sit up and take notice.

Lawyers have a special challenge in getting customer’s to pay attention, since unlike selling a sleek and sexy new car or a cool new beverage, lawyer’s aren’t selling a lifestyle. Many of the lawyers who advertise offer aid to people who usually will become interested in their services only when something has gone wrong, and for everyone else, their ads will blend into the background.

Even when someone is seeking a lawyer, clients are going to have a hard time differentiating between one lawyer’s promise to “get justice” or “get results” and the similar promise made by countless others, often all standing in front of the same stock set of law books in the generic law office so popular in legal ads.

Not so for the Bald Lawyer. His eye-catching billboard features the slogan “Injured? Don’t Pull YOUR Hair out!” Below that is a big shot of the lawyer with his bald head, and the address for his website ‘MyBaldLawyer.com.”

What Makes The Bald Lawyer Ad Work

The Bald Lawyer ad works and stands out from other law firm marketing because it is different. It shatters the stereotype of the conservative, unapproachable and uptight lawyer by allowing the attorney to poke fun at himself… yet it does this without undermining the law or the legal profession.

The billboard also stands out because it attracts attention and because it gives the reader a memorable image. That image is accompanied by a website directly related to it, which fixes itself in the viewer’s mind right along with the image, becoming easy to remember.

Clients who see the bald lawyer ad will take more notice of it- even if just for a few seconds out of curiosity- than they would just another lawyer ad. This can translate into the ad staying in their minds, consciously or subconsciously. In turn, when they need a lawyer, they may just be tempted to visit the website they remember from the billboard where the client can learn about the services the bald lawyer offers.

Creating Your Own Innovative Ad

Other attorneys who wish to take their law firm marketing efforts to the next level can take a page out of the bald lawyer’s book. The ad is an important reminder that innovation is key in successful legal marketing, and that by offering clients some way to distinguish you from your competitors (preferably a memorable way), you can stand out from the rest.

When crafting your own marketing campaign, think of what makes you different. What aspects of your law practice management or law firm help you to stand out from the crowd and add value to your clients? If you can identify something that sets you apart and you can present that something in a new and creative way, your law firm marketing campaign is sure to be a great success.