Email Wire Fraud Scams Affecting Lawyers and Their Firms

More and more, scammers are targeting lawyers by sending forged emails to law firms, clients and financial institutions. The wire fraud scams typically involve a compromised email account, which can be the lawyer’s, the client’s or even the bank’s. Scammers monitor the account to uncover pending transactions, such as a real estate purchase, a loan or the settlement of a lawsuit.

At the appropriate time when the parties are expecting a request for funds, the hackers (who often know exactly how much money is being transferred) will send wire instructions.

The funds are immediately swept from the account, and the hackers disappear. The emails usually originate from an address that appears to be from a legitimate sender but uses a slightly altered domain name.

Sometimes the scammer will request a change to […]

October 21st, 2020|

Forming a Cyber Attack Response Plan

Cyber attacks are common and damaging for law firms and other small and mid-sized businesses. Yet many do not have a sufficient cyber attack response plan of what to do in the event of a cyber attack. Even with the increasing frequency and cost of cyber incidents, as many as 34% of businesses don’t have a formal cyber attack response plan applied uniformly across their entire business.

The lack of a formal incident response plan can create risk for your firm. Confusion over how to respond to a cyber attack could worsen the attack, lead to mistakes by your organization that increase liability and leave you unprepared to address the concerns of your clients and stakeholders.

Developing a plan now before you face a cyber […]

September 25th, 2020|

How to Avoid Creating Confidentiality Through a Firm Website

Visitors to your law firm’s website can quickly form an expectation of privacy and confidentiality, even when the formation of such an attorney-client relationship has not yet been established. To minimize your risk of a malpractice claim, it’s important to understand how to avoid creating confidentiality through your firm’s website.

Law firm websites are designed to be a helpful resource, with many firms sharing information about the firm, its attorneys and ways to contact the company. However, law firm websites are also designed to generate business. As a result, many firm websites include a contact form that includes fields for collecting an individual’s name and contact information, and a brief description of their legal issue, worded similarly to the following examples:

  • “Please provide a brief description of your legal issue”
  • […]

January 22nd, 2020|

Improving Attorney Wellbeing and Why It is Needed

In 2016, the ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation evaluated 12,825 practicing attorneys and revealed some troubling findings about attorney wellbeing. The study found:

  • 28% experience symptoms of depression
  • 19% experience symptoms of anxiety
  • 23% experience symptoms of stress
  • 21 to 36% experience problematic drinking

The study also found that lawyers younger than 30 years of age and those working in the field for less than 10 years reported problematic drinking in a significantly higher proportion than that of their older or more experienced colleagues.

The study concluded that lawyers experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful or otherwise consistent with alcohol use disorders at a higher rate than other professional populations. Lawyers also experience a concerning amount of behavioral health problems.

The Importance of Improving Attorney Wellbeing

Since the study, the ABA […]

November 15th, 2019|

Withdrawing from a Case

Withdrawing from a case usually comes from irreconcilable differences between attorney and client. The manner and means of terminating that relationship can affect the likelihood that a malpractice claim will be presented.

First, know and follow the procedures applicable in your jurisdiction. Many states provide in their own Rules of Professional Conduct when withdrawal is mandatory and when it is permissive. Other states follow the ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility (DR 2-110) or the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 1.16).

When a matter is pending in a tribunal, your jurisdiction will likely have specific requirements to follow. ABA Ethical Consideration 2-32 provides a good overview of the considerations to keep in mind:

Considerations when Withdrawing from a Case

A lawyer should not withdraw without careful consideration and attempt to minimize the […]

October 17th, 2019|

How to Send a Proper Engagement Letter

An engagement letter is a contract between you and your client. Each new client or project, big or small, should start with a letter that is signed by all associated parties. These letters can be used as binding contracts in the event of fee disputes, collection issues and more. Overall, this documentation delivers peace of mind and security to both parties.

Why send an engagement letter?

First and foremost, an engagement letter sets expectations for both parties. Your client will know exactly what to expect from you, as well as what is expected of them. This can help prevent misunderstandings and should strengthen the relationship down the road.

In the rare event of a dispute between you and your client, the legally binding engagement letter can serve as the go-to document for […]

October 10th, 2019|

Do You Follow These Social Media Guidelines?

People’s willingness to disclose personal information on social media can be particularly helpful in the discovery phase of litigation. Snooping on opposing parties, witnesses or jurors through social media can provide a treasure-trove of information that might have once taken a private investigator months to obtain. However, lawyers need to be aware of the emerging ethical violations that could result from their online sleuthing activities.

Before Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct addressing communication with non-clients has less room for interpretation. For example, Model Rule 4.2 advises that “a lawyer shall not communicate with a person known to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has consent or is authorized to do so by law.”1

Trying to interpret how social media’s communication features […]

August 15th, 2019|

10 Loss Prevention Tips for Attorneys

From clear communication to proper documentation, there are many ways you can prevent malpractice claims and the associated loss at your firm. Consider implementing these loss prevention tips at your firm:

Be Prepared

  1. Document

Good file management is critical to avoiding malpractice claims due to poor attorney/client relations. Document the file at the beginning of the relationship and throughout the relationship.

  1. Focus on the Workplace

Like any business, a law firm is susceptible to a damaged reputation caused by poor employee morale, work/life balance issues or erratic behavior by staff or attorneys. Oversight of associates and support staff is critical. Watch for signs of excessive stress, alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness or lapses in concentration.

  1. Don’t Assume You Won’t Get Sued

Malpractice claims can happen to any practicing attorney. Reduce […]

July 17th, 2019|