The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success

Essential Tips to Power Your Practice

Archive for December, 2009

The Fearsome Foresome of Malpractice Pitfalls

December 28, 2009 By: Reid Category: Ethics & Professionalism

The ABA Journal just published an insightful article on what malpractice claims experts commonly refer to as the “Fearsome Foresome” of practice areas–plaintiffs personal injury; real estate; family law; and estate, trust and probate. One of the experts quoted in the article is Busy Lawyer author, Dan Pinnington.

A notable aspect of that pattern is that, regardless of size, “all firms seem to make the same types of errors,” said Daniel Pinnington, a speaker at the ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference in September. “People make mistakes and systems break down, in the same ways regardless of firm size.”

The article highlights an emerging trend that should be sobering to all lawyers: As the economy has worsened, plaintiffs are trying new and unique theories to sue lawyers for malpractice.  We need to be more vigilant than ever to make sure the quality of our work and client relationships does not give rise to these new novel theories. The good news, according to the article, is that

[E]ven with clients becoming increasingly hungry for recoveries against their lawyers when cases don’t turn out their way, many claims can be avoided. Pinnington said 10 years of data for claims handled by his company for lawyers in Ontario indicates that, overall, errors in communication with clients are the leading cause of malpractice claims—followed by missed deadlines and procrastination, followed by inadequate discovery or investigations of fact (AKA not digging deep enough to make sure key issues for client are recognized and dealt with) .

There is no coincidence that many of the tips in The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice are aimed at better client communication, improving workflow management, and malpractice avoidance techniques. The goal of our book is to make sure lawyers not only stay out of trouble, but have more effective, efficient, and profitable practices.

UPDATED & EXPANDED–The 2009 Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers

December 10, 2009 By: Reid Category: Announcements, Uncategorized

I had the opportunity to hit the mall on Black Friday, visit New York City stores on Sunday, and snoop around the Internet on Cyber Monday, so I have added several new gift ideas to the 2009 Gift Guide for Lawyers, at my other blog. The new additions include a cool new dual screen laptop computer, a surprisingly good Christmas album from a surprising source, and several items from lawyer owned and operatedThe Billable Hour Company.

Holiday Gifts from the ABA

December 09, 2009 By: Reid Category: Announcements

ABA Publishing has created a holiday gift promotion featuring books that make great gifts for lawyers this holiday season. The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success is included on the short list of books that would be a welcome gift for any lawyer this year.  Other books in their gift guide include The Little White Book of Baseball Law, The Little Green Book of Golf Law, The Little Red Book of Wine Law, and more.

Keep Your Guard Up: Bogus Cheque Fraudsters Continue To Target Lawyers

December 03, 2009 By: Dan Category: Fraud prevention

Almost every day lawyers send me copies of emails they have received that attempt to dupe them into acting on a matter involving a bad cheque or bank draft. Some of these messages are clearly attempts at fraud; others can look very legitimate. We have seen some one in which a lawyer is contacted and asked to refer the matter to another lawyer, presumably to fool the lawyer getting the referral.

Thankfully, most lawyers seem to recognize when they are being targeted. But we are still seeing some lawyers that are getting fooled – including one just this week on a collection matter.

The fraudsters continue to come up with new scenarios. One we have seen a few times recently involves the collection of outstanding support arrears. Indeed, several lawyers in Oklahoma were targeted over the American Thanksgiving holiday weekend by this exact type of fraud. The fraudsters pose as a potential client seeking to collect outstanding child or spousal support. They usually say that they have already worked out an agreement with their ex-spouses, but want the lawyer to be involved with finalizing the agreement and handling the payment (for a very healthy share of the proceeds of course). If someone wants to pay you five figures to serve as a cheque-cashing service, your internal “too good to be true” alarm should go off.

Keep your guard up. Make sure your client intake and identification processes are on
high alert. Be on the look-out for frauds involving collections, small business loans and real estate or mortgage transactions loans for commercial purposes. Typically, both the client and the lender institution are new to the firm, and the deals and certified cheques will look legitimate. But they will turn out to be counterfeit, leaving a shortfall in the lawyer’s trust account.

Watch for the common red flags on frauds:

  • Client will be new to your firm (or may have retained you previously on a small matter)
  • Source of referral is unknown or not recognized
  • Client will provide only a cell number
  • Client is in a rush to complete the deal
  • You will be instructed to disburse the funds to a third party

How to protect yourself: Check out these and other free fraud prevention resources on the practicePRO fraud page (

Call your insurer if you suspect you have completed or are acting on a matter that appears like it might be a fraud. They can talk you through the fraud common scenarios they are seeing to help you spot red flags and ask the appropriate questions of your client to determine if the matter is legitimate.

Cross posted on Slaw and Avoid A Claim

The Holiday Gift Guide for Busy Lawyers

December 02, 2009 By: Reid Category: Uncategorized

Well, it’s actually a gift guide for all lawyers and anyone who is busy looking for a holiday gift for their favorite lawyer–whether that is their spouse, law partner, brother, friend, or whomever. The gift guide is published on my other blog, ReidMyBlog, and is a public service for our wonderful profession. I don’t make a dollar from it, but I do get the satisfaction of creating it each year, finding some of the best gift ideas in a wide range of price categories for lawyers of all stripes. You’ll be pleased to know The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success made the select list this year–funny how that happened! :-)