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Stories of Recovery: A colleague’s suicide inspires attorney to join the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 15:05

Editor’s Note: The following “Stories of Recovery” post was originally published in September 2017. We are republishing it in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

Another trip, another deposition. This run to Phoenix was so ordinary, except that I was traveling in July, and the temperature would be well above 100 degrees for the few days I was there. When my plane landed, I took 10 steps into the airport, and my client called. I first assumed that he was calling me about the plaintiff’s deposition that would occur the next day, but then I noticed the urgency in his voice. My mind immediately went someplace negative, with thoughts of my client, or one of his close family members, being diagnosed with cancer. My client asked me where I was—in the airport, near a Starbucks—and then asked me to step away from the crowds.

He followed with the unthinkable: his friend and mine, let’s call him Todd, a successful litigator at one of Big City’s most prestigious law firms, had committed suicide. Todd was also my co-counsel on numerous lawsuits for this client. Together, we had a virtual team that involved both of our firms, working collaboratively and effectively to serve our client. Todd was married, had three beautiful children, a sterling academic record, and an enviable career. I was shocked, and suddenly alone in my thoughts in the busy airport.

The next day, the deposition occurred as planned. The plaintiffs’ counsel and many of the defense counsel knew Todd, and they were equally perplexed. During a break in the deposition, I called one of Todd’s law partners, a former law school classmate, to ask him to keep me apprised of the funeral services and, discretely, but less so than I’d hoped, to ask if he knew why Todd committed suicide. He told me that he and his law partners were stunned. Todd’s death was unimaginable to them.

Later that week, I attended Todd’s funeral. I saw his wife, children, siblings, law partners, and friends. I ached, knowing that they all loved Todd and were devastated by his unexpected and tragic death.

I left Todd’s funeral with a profound and deep sadness. Although it was not even noon, I knew I had to go home. I had to see my wife and see my children when they came home from school. I told my wife that the overriding emotion I felt was like someone standing right next to me was struck by lighting and killed. Todd’s death was that close to me, owing to our friendship, working relationship as co-counsel, and, because, he, like me, was a litigation partner in a large Big City law firm.

Unlike me, Todd always seemed like someone who really loved the law, practicing it, and just being a great lawyer. Today, I am very grateful to be a member of the bar, and for the life afforded me by the practice of law, but I certainly understand what it means to struggle with one’s career.

Days later, I called the incoming State Bar president and asked if I could serve on the bar’s Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program Committee. I explained why I wanted to serve and that I wanted to focus my efforts on mental health and suicide prevention for Texas lawyers. Without hesitation, the incoming president agreed to appoint me to the TLAP Committee.

During my service with TLAP, there has been much progress, but, sadly and regrettably, there have been more suicides by lawyers like Todd—men and women who, for a variety of reasons, have seen their demise as the only solution to their darkness. Fortunately TLAP also has tremendous success in preventing further tragedies. In addition to established, confidential, and successful programs to assist Texas lawyers, law students, and judges with addiction, TLAP has spread the message of mental health, wellness, and suicide prevention to law schools, judicial meetings, the State Bar Annual Meeting, and presentations at law firms and bar associations.

Not many years ago, it was unthinkable to consider TLAP coming to a law firm, greeted with open arms, and having a frank, yet hopeful, exchange about mental health and suicide prevention with Texas lawyers. In the past, law schools would shudder at the thought of the next generation of Texas lawyers being offered such information. Yet today, mental health and suicide prevention within the legal profession are discussed, shared, and exchanged at bar association meetings, law firms, law schools, judicial conferences, and the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.

It is too late for my friend Todd to benefit from TLAP’s focus on mental health and suicide prevention. However, it is not too late for other Texas lawyers. I am hopeful that increased access to information and counseling will prevent another needless, painful loss.

For more information on suicide warning signs and prevention, go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at afsp.org or facebook.com/AFSPnational. For the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Stories of Recovery: A colleague’s suicide inspires attorney to join the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 15:05

Editor’s Note: The following “Stories of Recovery” post was originally published in September 2017. We are republishing it in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

Another trip, another deposition. This run to Phoenix was so ordinary, except that I was traveling in July, and the temperature would be well above 100 degrees for the few days I was there. When my plane landed, I took 10 steps into the airport, and my client called. I first assumed that he was calling me about the plaintiff’s deposition that would occur the next day, but then I noticed the urgency in his voice. My mind immediately went someplace negative, with thoughts of my client, or one of his close family members, being diagnosed with cancer. My client asked me where I was—in the airport, near a Starbucks—and then asked me to step away from the crowds.

He followed with the unthinkable: his friend and mine, let’s call him Todd, a successful litigator at one of Big City’s most prestigious law firms, had committed suicide. Todd was also my co-counsel on numerous lawsuits for this client. Together, we had a virtual team that involved both of our firms, working collaboratively and effectively to serve our client. Todd was married, had three beautiful children, a sterling academic record, and an enviable career. I was shocked, and suddenly alone in my thoughts in the busy airport.

The next day, the deposition occurred as planned. The plaintiffs’ counsel and many of the defense counsel knew Todd, and they were equally perplexed. During a break in the deposition, I called one of Todd’s law partners, a former law school classmate, to ask him to keep me apprised of the funeral services and, discretely, but less so than I’d hoped, to ask if he knew why Todd committed suicide. He told me that he and his law partners were stunned. Todd’s death was unimaginable to them.

Later that week, I attended Todd’s funeral. I saw his wife, children, siblings, law partners, and friends. I ached, knowing that they all loved Todd and were devastated by his unexpected and tragic death.

I left Todd’s funeral with a profound and deep sadness. Although it was not even noon, I knew I had to go home. I had to see my wife and see my children when they came home from school. I told my wife that the overriding emotion I felt was like someone standing right next to me was struck by lighting and killed. Todd’s death was that close to me, owing to our friendship, working relationship as co-counsel, and, because, he, like me, was a litigation partner in a large Big City law firm.

Unlike me, Todd always seemed like someone who really loved the law, practicing it, and just being a great lawyer. Today, I am very grateful to be a member of the bar, and for the life afforded me by the practice of law, but I certainly understand what it means to struggle with one’s career.

Days later, I called the incoming State Bar president and asked if I could serve on the bar’s Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program Committee. I explained why I wanted to serve and that I wanted to focus my efforts on mental health and suicide prevention for Texas lawyers. Without hesitation, the incoming president agreed to appoint me to the TLAP Committee.

During my service with TLAP, there has been much progress, but, sadly and regrettably, there have been more suicides by lawyers like Todd—men and women who, for a variety of reasons, have seen their demise as the only solution to their darkness. Fortunately TLAP also has tremendous success in preventing further tragedies. In addition to established, confidential, and successful programs to assist Texas lawyers, law students, and judges with addiction, TLAP has spread the message of mental health, wellness, and suicide prevention to law schools, judicial meetings, the State Bar Annual Meeting, and presentations at law firms and bar associations.

Not many years ago, it was unthinkable to consider TLAP coming to a law firm, greeted with open arms, and having a frank, yet hopeful, exchange about mental health and suicide prevention with Texas lawyers. In the past, law schools would shudder at the thought of the next generation of Texas lawyers being offered such information. Yet today, mental health and suicide prevention within the legal profession are discussed, shared, and exchanged at bar association meetings, law firms, law schools, judicial conferences, and the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.

It is too late for my friend Todd to benefit from TLAP’s focus on mental health and suicide prevention. However, it is not too late for other Texas lawyers. I am hopeful that increased access to information and counseling will prevent another needless, painful loss.

For more information on suicide warning signs and prevention, go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at afsp.org or facebook.com/AFSPnational. For the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Stories of Recovery: A colleague’s suicide inspires attorney to join the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 15:05

Editor’s Note: The following “Stories of Recovery” post was originally published in September 2017. We are republishing it in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

Another trip, another deposition. This run to Phoenix was so ordinary, except that I was traveling in July, and the temperature would be well above 100 degrees for the few days I was there. When my plane landed, I took 10 steps into the airport, and my client called. I first assumed that he was calling me about the plaintiff’s deposition that would occur the next day, but then I noticed the urgency in his voice. My mind immediately went someplace negative, with thoughts of my client, or one of his close family members, being diagnosed with cancer. My client asked me where I was—in the airport, near a Starbucks—and then asked me to step away from the crowds.

He followed with the unthinkable: his friend and mine, let’s call him Todd, a successful litigator at one of Big City’s most prestigious law firms, had committed suicide. Todd was also my co-counsel on numerous lawsuits for this client. Together, we had a virtual team that involved both of our firms, working collaboratively and effectively to serve our client. Todd was married, had three beautiful children, a sterling academic record, and an enviable career. I was shocked, and suddenly alone in my thoughts in the busy airport.

The next day, the deposition occurred as planned. The plaintiffs’ counsel and many of the defense counsel knew Todd, and they were equally perplexed. During a break in the deposition, I called one of Todd’s law partners, a former law school classmate, to ask him to keep me apprised of the funeral services and, discretely, but less so than I’d hoped, to ask if he knew why Todd committed suicide. He told me that he and his law partners were stunned. Todd’s death was unimaginable to them.

Later that week, I attended Todd’s funeral. I saw his wife, children, siblings, law partners, and friends. I ached, knowing that they all loved Todd and were devastated by his unexpected and tragic death.

I left Todd’s funeral with a profound and deep sadness. Although it was not even noon, I knew I had to go home. I had to see my wife and see my children when they came home from school. I told my wife that the overriding emotion I felt was like someone standing right next to me was struck by lighting and killed. Todd’s death was that close to me, owing to our friendship, working relationship as co-counsel, and, because, he, like me, was a litigation partner in a large Big City law firm.

Unlike me, Todd always seemed like someone who really loved the law, practicing it, and just being a great lawyer. Today, I am very grateful to be a member of the bar, and for the life afforded me by the practice of law, but I certainly understand what it means to struggle with one’s career.

Days later, I called the incoming State Bar president and asked if I could serve on the bar’s Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program Committee. I explained why I wanted to serve and that I wanted to focus my efforts on mental health and suicide prevention for Texas lawyers. Without hesitation, the incoming president agreed to appoint me to the TLAP Committee.

During my service with TLAP, there has been much progress, but, sadly and regrettably, there have been more suicides by lawyers like Todd—men and women who, for a variety of reasons, have seen their demise as the only solution to their darkness. Fortunately TLAP also has tremendous success in preventing further tragedies. In addition to established, confidential, and successful programs to assist Texas lawyers, law students, and judges with addiction, TLAP has spread the message of mental health, wellness, and suicide prevention to law schools, judicial meetings, the State Bar Annual Meeting, and presentations at law firms and bar associations.

Not many years ago, it was unthinkable to consider TLAP coming to a law firm, greeted with open arms, and having a frank, yet hopeful, exchange about mental health and suicide prevention with Texas lawyers. In the past, law schools would shudder at the thought of the next generation of Texas lawyers being offered such information. Yet today, mental health and suicide prevention within the legal profession are discussed, shared, and exchanged at bar association meetings, law firms, law schools, judicial conferences, and the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.

It is too late for my friend Todd to benefit from TLAP’s focus on mental health and suicide prevention. However, it is not too late for other Texas lawyers. I am hopeful that increased access to information and counseling will prevent another needless, painful loss.

For more information on suicide warning signs and prevention, go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at afsp.org or facebook.com/AFSPnational. For the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Austin and Dallas area banks join TAJF Prime Partner Bank program

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 08:00

The Texas Brand Bank of Dallas and the Austin Capital Bank have joined the Texas Access to Justice Foundation’s, or TAJF, Prime Partner Bank program. The program brings together more banks and credit unions to add to available funding to the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, or IOLTA, which helps aid low-income Texans facing civil legal issues.

Partnering institutions pay higher interest rates for IOLTA, where funds are held until they are available to a client. TAJF also uses money in these accounts to distribute grants to legal aid providers in Texas. Each year, IOLTA funds provide legal assistance to more than 150,000 Texas families.

“Many Texans face serious legal issues, such as escaping situations of domestic violence or avoiding foreclosure, and simply do not have the resources to hire an attorney,” said Richard L. Tate, chair of the TAJF Board of Directors. “By paying higher interest rates on IOLTA accounts, Texas Brand Bank is helping ensure that low-income Texans have access to life-saving civil legal services.”

Because of a 70 percent decline in IOLTA revenue since 2007, $140 million in funding has been lost, making Prime Partner Bank vital to efforts in providing free legal services for low-income and disadvantaged Texans. The combined efforts of partners like Austin Capital Bank and the Texas Brand Bank of Dallas pay 75 percent of IOLTA accounts’ federal funds target rate interest.

“Austin Capital Bank was built on a foundation of helping the community it serves,” said bank CEO and president Erik Beguin in a press release. “We are excited to join the Prime Partner Bank program and help make a positive impact on the lives of disadvantaged Texans who need affordable legal assistance.”

More than 5.6 million Texans qualify for legal aid, though many are turned away because providers don’t have the resources to help everyone. Prime Partner banks are vital in reaching those who providers cannot cover.

“Texas Brand Bank, with three offices in the Dallas metropolitan area, is an active supporter of numerous organizations in our local community” said bank president William E. Lowe in a press release. “We are excited to participate in the Prime Partner Bank program to help make an impact on the lives of disadvantaged Texans who need legal assistance.”

For more information on Prime Partner Bank and its nearly 60 participating institutions, go to teajf.org/financial_institutions/prime_partners.aspx.

Sponsored Content: Read These 7 Articles to Improve Your Law Firm

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 23:01

If you’re looking for new ideas to better your law firm, we’ve got you covered with one handy list of articles to read.

Whether you’re looking to improve your law firm’s billing practices, rethink your client intake, or buy a new scanner, this list has something for every firm. Read on for inspiration and ideas to improve your law firm this summer.

1. Improve your billing and collections

According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, 59% of lawyers regularly deal with late payments. Even worse, lawyers are only getting paid for 86% of the hours they bill to clients. Luckily, Amy Mann of LawPay has a few tips to help you collect more, faster. Get her list.

2. Conduct eDiscovery the smart way

How much time does your firm spend on eDiscovery? A streamlined process can help you review documents and find what you need efficiently—with fewer errors and items missed. Casey Sullivan of Logikcull explains how to set up a strong eDiscovery process for any firm.

3. Think through each stage of client intake

There’s more than one step to cover when it comes to client intake. From your initial connection, to your first consultation, to getting your engagement letter signed, every interaction is important for getting hired and onboarding new clients smoothly. Aaron George of Lexicata describes  how to conduct each stage of client onboarding efficiently.

4. Level-up your legal research skills

Legal research can be one of the most time-consuming tasks you face as a lawyer—but there’s no need to spend more time researching than you need to. Jeff Asjes and Brock Foley of Fastcase assemble a list of legal research tips to help you flex your fingertips and get the most out of every search.

5. Experiment with outsourcing

Want to try outsourcing legal services at your law firm, but not sure where to start? Kristin Tyler and Talitha Gray Kozlowski of LAWCLERK share everything you need to know about outsourcing—including examples of tasks to be outsourced and companies to turn to—in one convenient place.

6. Choose a better scanner

It’s a paperless world out there: To embrace the digital revolution, your firm has to have a top-notch scanner that meets its needs. Luckily, the folks at Fujitsu have put together a handy list of considerations for any firm before purchasing a scanner.

7. Cover your marketing bases

When it comes to law firm marketing, the sheer volume of information and tactics to try can be overwhelming. From SEO, to web design, to social media, it can be hard to know where to begin. Adam Callahan of ONE400 helpfully lays out the basics, so you can stop wading through marketing articles and start creating a cohesive law firm marketing plan.

Posts featured here were written by sponsors of the 2018 Clio Cloud Conference. Attend the conference to meet them in person!

Houston attorneys, judges reading at 100 schools for Constitution Day

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:00

More than 100 Houston Bar Association volunteers are expected to read to classes in 100 elementary schools in the Houston area today for Constitution Day.

Attorneys and judges are reading and discussing the book Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio to elementary school students at 21 school districts at designated times throughout the day.

Constitution Day commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. Educators are encouraged to teach students about one of the most important and influential events in American history.

The Houston Bar Association each year provides reading programs and other activities in Harris County schools on Constitution Day.

Readings are being held throughout the day at schools in Aldine, Alief, Alvin, Channelview, Conroe, Cy-Fair, Deer Park, Fort Bend, Galena Park, Goose Creek, Houston, Humble, Katy, Lamar Consolidated, Pasadena, Pearland, Sheldon, Spring Branch, Spring, and Stafford school districts, as well as some private schools.

The Houston Bar Association has 11,000 members, making it the nation’s fifth-largest metropolitan bar association. It provides professional development, education, and service programs for the legal profession and the community.

Lawyers: Learn about health insurance options at free Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange luncheons

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 17:07

The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange will discuss health insurance options for 2019 and offer free lunch to all attendees at upcoming meetings in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

Texas Member Benefits, Inc. has launched a new exclusive plan on the exchange that allows small and large firms to pool their risk as one large group for lower fees, regardless if your firm has two or more employees.

The 2019 national open enrollment period for individual health insurance coverage is November 1 through December 15 for a coverage start date of January 1, 2019.

Space is limited. The first 120 respondents for each event will receive a confirmation email. Please submit any questions to memberbenefits@texasbar.com.

All luncheons start at noon and will be held on September 18 at the Texas Law Center in Austin, September 19 at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, September 24 at the Houston Bar Association, and September 26 at the Aloft Dallas Downtown.

Please RSVP to each event by city: Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.

The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multicarrier exchange launched by the State Bar of Texas as a clearinghouse for health insurance choices and other benefits for bar members, their staffs, and dependents.

Dallas Bar Association to hold Diversity Summit

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 08:00

The Dallas Bar Association’s Diversity Summit will promote diversity and inclusion in the Dallas community on Friday, Sept. 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pavilion at the Belo Mansion, 2101 Ross Ave., Dallas 75201.

The legal community, students, and public are invited to attend to give input and suggestions on how to increase diversity across all professions and how to implement programs in their communities.

“The summit will bring together great minds with long-standing careers who have seen the American justice system evolve alongside young minds who deal with today’s social media, perceptions, and techno-society to generate ideas on how we can improve our institutions and our daily lives,” said Diversity Summit Chair Rhonda Hunter. “Talking about our faults and deciding what we can do to overcome them can lead our diverse city to be an exemplary beacon of light for the country. The Diversity Summit will provide an atmosphere of encouragement for each of us to be agents of change for an improved world.”

Speakers include:

• Elizabeth Alvarez, of the Law Office of Elizabeth Alvarez
• Nnamdi Anozie, of White, Wiggins & Barnes
• Dennis W. Archers, of Dickinson Wright, and former American Bar Association president
• Marilyn F. Booker, of Morgan Stanley
• Brittany Barnett-Byrd, of the Buried Alive Project
• Liz Cedillo-Pereira, of the city of Dallas
• CeCe Cox, of the Resource Center
• Lacy Durham, of Deloitte Tax
• Hilda C. Galvan, of Jones Day
• Rhonda Hunter, of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office (Juvenile Division), and past DBA president
• Michael K. Hurst, of Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst, and DBA president
• Regina Montoya, of JMC Strategy Group
• Hon. Tonya Parker, of the 116th District Court
• Sheron C. Patterson, of the Hamilton Park United Methodist Church
• Sandra Phillips Rogers, of Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
• Garcia Sanford, of the Momentous Institute
• Julia A. Simon, of Mary Kay Inc.

“Taking on the critical issues of diversity and inclusion both in our profession and the broader community through this transformative Diversity Summit is paramount during my presidency,” said DBA President Michael K. Hurst. “As the DBA, we need to be loud and proud that we are leaders in these efforts and demonstrate that diversity does not take place without the inclusion of all people regardless of race, gender, color, religion, ethnicity, and orientation. We will discuss and celebrate both our differences and our commonality on September 21 and continue exponentially thereafter.”

Registration is free. For more information, go to dallasbar.org/diversitysummit.

Sponsored Content: Credit Card Mythbusting: 7 Reasons Law Firms Still Resist Online Payments

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 23:01

Credit cards have officially become the preferred way to pay, with people able to make purchases practically wherever they are thanks to smartphones and laptops. While this has been great news for most industries, some lawyers and other professionals are still hesitant to jump on the bandwagon, for a variety reasons. In this post, we’ll dispel seven common misconceptions about accepting credit cards online as payment for legal services.

“Credit cards are too expensive.”

There’s no denying it—if you accept credit cards as payment for your services, you’ll have to deal with credit card processing fees. Why? Plain and simple, there’s a cost to move money in our financial system. Either way, more and more professionals accept that this is simply one cost of running a modern business today. After all, wouldn’t you rather get paid instantly via credit cards instead of waiting for a check to arrive several days later—or worse yet, not at all? The impact of faster payments and increased cash flow offsets late payments and the processing fees associated with credit cards.

This certainly isn’t the first time an industry has had to make changes due to technological advances. However, once most businesses have adjusted to the latest tech, they find that their daily operations are faster and more efficient than before. In fact, lawyers who have made the switch to online credit card payments have told us that, in actuality, the time they save is much more valuable than the fees they pay. Plus, the ability to go paperless will save you both time and money.

“Online payments will only make my practice more complicated.”

You might think adding another way for your firm to get paid will come with a learning curve. The truth is, however, a good online payment solution will actually make running your practice easier than before! By accepting online payments, you’ll be able to quickly send your bills via email and your clients will be able to pay you instantly—no more waiting for checks to arrive in the mail. After using LawPay, Cheryl Ischy, a legal assistant at the Law Offices of Claude E. Decloux, told us, “I sent out bills first thing in the morning and over half were paid by lunch! LawPay made my day!”

While all online payment solutions charge a fee to process payments, the best payment solutions will only debit these fees at the beginning of the following month (rather than on a weekly or even daily basis.) This way, your deposit reports will show 100 percent of the payments you received, which will make reconciliation less complicated.

“My clients have no desire to pay me with their credit cards.”

Think about the world we live in today. More and more customers are shopping online for everything from clothes to paper towels to cars. Ecommerce giants like Amazon and Ebay have completely changed how people prefer to shop and, more importantly, how they prefer to pay. You won’t find a “Mail check” option on their websites. In fact, a recent study showed that as much as 75 percent of customers prefer to pay with a credit or debit card. Studies have also shown that 74 percent of households are now paying all of their bills online, and over half of consumers today don’t carry checkbooks (or rarely do).

The bottom line? Your clients would love the opportunity to pay for your services with their credit cards. Allowing them to make payments online with a few clicks of a button will make it easier for them to pay you, which leads to fewer late payments and more satisfied clients overall. It’s a win-win for both of you!

“Credit cards are for retail, not lawyers.”

This is a bit of an outdated school of thought. When credit cards were still an emerging form of payment, most lawyers saw them as “unprofessional,” being reserved strictly for point-of-sale businesses like restaurants or bars. Of course, as we’ve covered earlier, credit cards have now become the most popular way for customers to pay for goods and services. As much as 79 percent of today’s clients expect professional services to let them pay with their cards, according to a recent study.

In other words, the opposite of this misconception is now true—if you don’t offer clients the convenience of paying for your services online with a credit or debit card, you risk being seen as unprofessional.

“I don’t know enough about computers to accept online payments.”

Despite the numerous benefits of online payment options, you may feel you’re not tech savvy enough to implement an online payment system.

Don’t fret! If you know how to send an email, then you can use online payments. Additionally, if there’s anything you’re unfamiliar with, the best online payment solutions have dedicated and responsive support teams that can answer all of your questions. They’ll even walk you through the steps of setting up a payment page on your website, so your clients can easily pay your bill online at their convenience.

After using LawPay for two years, attorney Deirdre O’Donnell told us that it “just takes the complexity of accepting credit cards right out of the process. We think it saves time for them and it certainly saves time for us. I think our collection rates have really improved since we’ve had LawPay.”

“Online credit card payments are unsafe.”

As a lawyer, you’re already well aware of how important it is to keep your clients’ sensitive personal information safe. Naturally, when you accept credit cards as payments, you’ll need to protect their card data as well. However, keeping such data stored in your office, even on your work computer, can create a security risk.

Thankfully, online payment solutions can keep this data secure so you don’t have to. Look for an online payment solution that’s Payment Card Industry (PCI) Level 1 certified—the highest designation possible. These payment solutions are well equipped to protect payment data and will employ sophisticated security measures that your firm would otherwise not have access to. By letting your clients pay you through a secure online payment solution, you can take much of the liability of data security off your plate and place it in the hands of trusted security professionals. You’ll not only get a payment processor, but a payment data security specialist—all in one!

“I can’t accept credit cards and maintain IOLTA compliance.”

We hear you. You’re concerned about how credit card payments would work in light of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

According to Rule 1.15, lawyers must be careful to ensure earned funds are deposited into an operating account, while a client’s funds go to a trust account. When accepting cash, checks, or other traditional forms of payment, it’s simply a matter of depositing the funds in the right place, but how does this work when using a credit card?

This is how an online payment solution designed specifically for legal professionals can make credit card payments both easy and ethical. For example, when payments are made through LawPay, your earned and unearned fees are always separated and deposited into their proper accounts. You can also rest easy knowing that LawPay will never allow any third-party debiting to occur from your IOLTA account.

If you want to accept credit cards without getting into hot water, your best bet is to use an online payment solution that understands the legal industry and was built from the ground up to anticipate and accommodate your needs.

These days, accepting online credit card payments is an essential part of running a modern law firm. Thankfully, it’s not only easier than ever to offer this option, but the benefits are overwhelming—simpler workflows, increased cash flow, better productivity in your firm, and best of all, happier clients who pay on-time and more frequently. What more could a lawyer ask for?

Ready to take your first step into the world of credit card payments? Get a head start with LawPay’s sample credit card authorization forms that you can use as part of your client intake forms.

Download now

Sponsored Content: Credit Card Mythbusting: 7 Reasons Law Firms Still Resist Online Payments

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 23:01

Credit cards have officially become the preferred way to pay, with people able to make purchases practically wherever they are thanks to smartphones and laptops. While this has been great news for most industries, some lawyers and other professionals are still hesitant to jump on the bandwagon, for a variety reasons. In this post, we’ll dispel seven common misconceptions about accepting credit cards online as payment for legal services.

“Credit cards are too expensive.”

There’s no denying it—if you accept credit cards as payment for your services, you’ll have to deal with credit card processing fees. Why? Plain and simple, there’s a cost to move money in our financial system. Either way, more and more professionals accept that this is simply one cost of running a modern business today. After all, wouldn’t you rather get paid instantly via credit cards instead of waiting for a check to arrive several days later—or worse yet, not at all? The impact of faster payments and increased cash flow offsets late payments and the processing fees associated with credit cards.

This certainly isn’t the first time an industry has had to make changes due to technological advances. However, once most businesses have adjusted to the latest tech, they find that their daily operations are faster and more efficient than before. In fact, lawyers who have made the switch to online credit card payments have told us that, in actuality, the time they save is much more valuable than the fees they pay. Plus, the ability to go paperless will save you both time and money.

“Online payments will only make my practice more complicated.”

You might think adding another way for your firm to get paid will come with a learning curve. The truth is, however, a good online payment solution will actually make running your practice easier than before! By accepting online payments, you’ll be able to quickly send your bills via email and your clients will be able to pay you instantly—no more waiting for checks to arrive in the mail. After using LawPay, Cheryl Ischy, a legal assistant at the Law Offices of Claude E. Decloux, told us, “I sent out bills first thing in the morning and over half were paid by lunch! LawPay made my day!”

While all online payment solutions charge a fee to process payments, the best payment solutions will only debit these fees at the beginning of the following month (rather than on a weekly or even daily basis.) This way, your deposit reports will show 100 percent of the payments you received, which will make reconciliation less complicated.

“My clients have no desire to pay me with their credit cards.”

Think about the world we live in today. More and more customers are shopping online for everything from clothes to paper towels to cars. Ecommerce giants like Amazon and Ebay have completely changed how people prefer to shop and, more importantly, how they prefer to pay. You won’t find a “Mail check” option on their websites. In fact, a recent study showed that as much as 75 percent of customers prefer to pay with a credit or debit card. Studies have also shown that 74 percent of households are now paying all of their bills online, and over half of consumers today don’t carry checkbooks (or rarely do).

The bottom line? Your clients would love the opportunity to pay for your services with their credit cards. Allowing them to make payments online with a few clicks of a button will make it easier for them to pay you, which leads to fewer late payments and more satisfied clients overall. It’s a win-win for both of you!

“Credit cards are for retail, not lawyers.”

This is a bit of an outdated school of thought. When credit cards were still an emerging form of payment, most lawyers saw them as “unprofessional,” being reserved strictly for point-of-sale businesses like restaurants or bars. Of course, as we’ve covered earlier, credit cards have now become the most popular way for customers to pay for goods and services. As much as 79 percent of today’s clients expect professional services to let them pay with their cards, according to a recent study.

In other words, the opposite of this misconception is now true—if you don’t offer clients the convenience of paying for your services online with a credit or debit card, you risk being seen as unprofessional.

“I don’t know enough about computers to accept online payments.”

Despite the numerous benefits of online payment options, you may feel you’re not tech savvy enough to implement an online payment system.

Don’t fret! If you know how to send an email, then you can use online payments. Additionally, if there’s anything you’re unfamiliar with, the best online payment solutions have dedicated and responsive support teams that can answer all of your questions. They’ll even walk you through the steps of setting up a payment page on your website, so your clients can easily pay your bill online at their convenience.

After using LawPay for two years, attorney Deirdre O’Donnell told us that it “just takes the complexity of accepting credit cards right out of the process. We think it saves time for them and it certainly saves time for us. I think our collection rates have really improved since we’ve had LawPay.”

“Online credit card payments are unsafe.”

As a lawyer, you’re already well aware of how important it is to keep your clients’ sensitive personal information safe. Naturally, when you accept credit cards as payments, you’ll need to protect their card data as well. However, keeping such data stored in your office, even on your work computer, can create a security risk.

Thankfully, online payment solutions can keep this data secure so you don’t have to. Look for an online payment solution that’s Payment Card Industry (PCI) Level 1 certified—the highest designation possible. These payment solutions are well equipped to protect payment data and will employ sophisticated security measures that your firm would otherwise not have access to. By letting your clients pay you through a secure online payment solution, you can take much of the liability of data security off your plate and place it in the hands of trusted security professionals. You’ll not only get a payment processor, but a payment data security specialist—all in one!

“I can’t accept credit cards and maintain IOLTA compliance.”

We hear you. You’re concerned about how credit card payments would work in light of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

According to Rule 1.15, lawyers must be careful to ensure earned funds are deposited into an operating account, while a client’s funds go to a trust account. When accepting cash, checks, or other traditional forms of payment, it’s simply a matter of depositing the funds in the right place, but how does this work when using a credit card?

This is how an online payment solution designed specifically for legal professionals can make credit card payments both easy and ethical. For example, when payments are made through LawPay, your earned and unearned fees are always separated and deposited into their proper accounts. You can also rest easy knowing that LawPay will never allow any third-party debiting to occur from your IOLTA account.

If you want to accept credit cards without getting into hot water, your best bet is to use an online payment solution that understands the legal industry and was built from the ground up to anticipate and accommodate your needs.

These days, accepting online credit card payments is an essential part of running a modern law firm. Thankfully, it’s not only easier than ever to offer this option, but the benefits are overwhelming—simpler workflows, increased cash flow, better productivity in your firm, and best of all, happier clients who pay on-time and more frequently. What more could a lawyer ask for?

Ready to take your first step into the world of credit card payments? Get a head start with LawPay’s sample credit card authorization forms that you can use as part of your client intake forms.

Download now

TexasBarCLE receives ACLEA award for outstanding achievement in programming

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 05:45

TexasBarCLE staff members accept the ACLEA award.

The Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) has awarded TexasBarCLE one of only 16 annual awards granted to competitors representing more than 300 organizations.

ACLEA members are professionals in the fields of continuing legal education and legal publishing. The annual ACLEA’s Best Awards are highly competitive, and winning projects represent the highest level of achievement for the staff and volunteers involved.

TexasBarCLE received an Outstanding Achievement award in the Best Programming category for its “CLE Fifteen” and “Best of” online classes on July 31 at the ACLEA Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon.

A few years ago, TexasBarCLE experimented with the concept of bundling top-rated presentations from multi-day courses and offering them as the “Best of” each course when the videos went online. The concept was later expanded to create “CLE Fifteens,” longer classes that had at least 15 hours of CLE, including 3 hours of ethics, in order to satisfy a full year’s MCLE compliance requirement.

These online CLEs offer the busy lawyer the best presentations and most relevant topics from multiple courses in a given practice area – accessible from any computer or mobile device 24/7. MP3s are available as an option for offline listening. Attorneys are able to forego the costs of transportation, lodging, and lost billable hours, and can listen to the presentations at their own pace.

Links are provided for each topic’s video stream, MP3, article, and presentation slides so the attendee can easily navigate through the topics they want to hear and articles they want to read, in any order they choose. Once a program is completed, attorneys can claim credit for it directly from the viewing page.

TexasBarCLE now offers “CLE Fifteen” packages in nearly all practice areas: Administrative/Government, Business, Civil Appellate, Commercial Litigation, Consumer & Creditor, Criminal, Employment and Corporate Counsel, Estate Planning and Probate, Family Law, General Practice, Historical Perspectives, Immigration, Intellectual Property, LGBT Issues, General Litigation Practice, Oil/Gas and Energy, Personal Injury, Real Estate, Technology, and Trial Practice.

“CLE Fifteen” and “Best of” online classes provide expert faculty, deliver extensive coverage of Texas-specific law, and offer research-quality written materials. Check out the CLE Fifteen and Best of online classes on TexasBarCLE.com.

Savings on healthy choices

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 08:00

Your Member Benefit Program can help you make healthy choices for less. Visit the Health & Wellness, Sports & Outdoors, Family, Home & Garden, and Retail pages to start saving.

  • Weight Watchers — Getting started with Weight Watchers is now easier than ever. State Bar of Texas members save up to 37% on two months of Weight Watchers meetings with OnlinePlus in participating areas.
  • Diamondback Bicycles — Diamondback designs and builds performance bicycles for every rider at every level. Save 40% on the bike for you.
  • 23andMe — Discover genetic information about your ancestry, wellness, and more with 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry Service. Get $30 off each Health + Ancestry Service kit.
  • Glasses.com — State Bar of Texas members receive an extra 20% off orders of $100 or more on all brands sitewide. Each order includes free shipping, free CR-39 Plus lenses, and the Glasses.com 100% satisfaction guarantee.
  • Vitamix — Thanks to the Vitamix Employee Discount Program, you can enjoy exclusive savings on Vitamix blenders. For a limited time, buy a Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs blender with pre-program settings and a classic 64-ounce container or a Certified Reconditioned Next Generation with a low-profile container for 34% off the original price.
  • SLEEFS — SLEEFS designs and produces custom compression gear. You can save 25% off all purchases with code BENEPLACE25.
  • American Medical ID — In a medical emergency, a medical ID communicates your condition, medications, and allergies to ensure you receive proper care. Enjoy 10% off your purchase of a stylish medical ID bracelet or necklace.

Current offers provided by Beneplace.

For more information on other discounts you’re eligible for as a member of the State Bar of Texas, visit texasbar.com/benefits.

Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices and more.

State Bar of Texas – Benefits & Services

Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation awards scholarships to Houston law students

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 05:00

From left: Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, Justice David Medina, Judge Caroline Baker, Kay Sim, Raul Peimbert, and Benny Agosto Jr.

The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation held its 13th annual scholarship luncheon that benefits Hispanic law students attending one of the three Houston-based law schools on Wednesday, August 22 at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Houston.

The scholarships were awarded to law students who best exemplify leadership, commitment, justice, and equality within the Hispanic community and beyond.

“It is important that we encourage a new generation of lawyers to not only be great lawyers but to also give back to the legal community,” said Benny Agosto Jr., founder and president of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation and partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization that encourages justice and leadership within the Hispanic community.

The scholarship luncheon also honors men and women who exemplify the ideals of the foundation. This year the honorees were: Judge Caroline E. Baker of the 295th Judicial District Court, Harris County (Outstanding Service in the Judiciary); Maria Moncada of BMW of West Houston (Outstanding Service in the Community as a Business Executive); Raul Peimbert of KXLN-TV (Outstanding Service in Media); Harris County Judge Ed Emmett (Outstanding Service as a Public Servant); and Kay Sim, executive director of the Houston Bar Association (Lifetime Award).

Presiding Judge John Frank “Jack” Onion Jr., 1925-2018

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:00

Former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge John Frank “Jack” Onion Jr. died Sunday, September 2, 2018. He was 93.

Onion served as a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals from 1967 to 1970 and as presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals from 1971 to 1988. He was the first presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals to be elected by voters.

“He was a great judge and a great friend, and he loved the Court of Criminal Appeals,” Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller said.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has a news release here.

Texas Bar Journal Must-Reads for September

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 14:00

Check out or editorial staff’s picks for the September issue of the Texas Bar Journal. And don’t forget to catch up on the latest Movers and Shakers, Memorials, and Disciplinary Actions.

Annual Meeting 2018
Coverage of this year’s State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in Houston.
By Adam Faderewski, Patricia Busa McConnico, Eric Quitugua, and Amy Starnes

Annual Review
Texas Legal Answers celebrates its one-year anniversary.
By Adam Faderewski

Coastal Living
A look at a lifetime of practicing environmental law.
By Jim Blackburn

Atticus Reconsidered
Unlocking the legacy of Harper Lee’s iconic character.
By Talmage Boston

Deadline to pay membership fees is midnight August 31

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 08:58

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Membership fees are due on June 1 but must be received by August 31 to avoid suspension of an attorney’s law license and application of a late payment penalty. To check your balance due, pay your fees, and/or claim a Legal Services Fee exemption, go to texasbar.com, log in to your My Bar Page, and then click “Pay Dues/Fees”.  Payments will be accepted online until midnight tonight.

Deadline to pay membership fees is midnight August 31

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 08:58

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Membership fees are due on June 1 but must be received by August 31 to avoid suspension of an attorney’s law license and application of a late payment penalty. To check your balance due, pay your fees, and/or claim a Legal Services Fee exemption, go to texasbar.com, log in to your My Bar Page, and then click “Pay Dues/Fees”.  Payments will be accepted online until midnight tonight.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Conroe

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 08:00

Veterans in need of legal assistance can attend a free clinic in Conroe on Saturday, September 8, from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will be held at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 690 S. Loop 336 W., 77304.

Veterans and spouses of deceased veterans can receive one-on-one advice from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate and tax law, and disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans who qualify for legal aid and are in need of legal representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney from the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

The clinic is sponsored by the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Houston Northwest Bar Association, The Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative.

No appointment is necessary.

For more information on the clinic, as well as the Houston Bar Foundation’s Friday clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, go to hba.org.

To view a list of other free veteran legal clinics around the state, please go to the State Bar’s Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans web page at texasbar.com/veterans.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Conroe

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 08:00

Veterans in need of legal assistance can attend a free clinic in Conroe on Saturday, September 8, from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will be held at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 690 S. Loop 336 W., 77304.

Veterans and spouses of deceased veterans can receive one-on-one advice from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate and tax law, and disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans who qualify for legal aid and are in need of legal representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney from the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

The clinic is sponsored by the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Houston Northwest Bar Association, The Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative.

No appointment is necessary.

For more information on the clinic, as well as the Houston Bar Foundation’s Friday clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, go to hba.org.

To view a list of other free veteran legal clinics around the state, please go to the State Bar’s Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans web page at texasbar.com/veterans.

Cezy Collins, Larry McDougal recommended as State Bar president-elect nominees

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 17:42

The Nominations and Elections Subcommittee voted today to recommend the nomination of Jeanne Cezanne “Cezy” Collins of El Paso and Larry P. McDougal Sr. of Richmond as candidates for 2019-2020 State Bar of Texas president-elect, after interviewing six potential nominees in Austin.

The State Bar Board of Directors will consider the recommendations at its next meeting, on September 28 in Austin. The meeting is open to the public, and anyone is welcome to attend. If the board approves their nominations, Collins and McDougal would appear on the ballot in April 2019 along with any certified petition candidates.

Potential candidates can begin collecting petition signatures on September 1 and have until March 1 to submit their nominating petitions to the State Bar for certification. For information on how to run for president-elect, go here.

This year, the subcommittee considered candidates from non-metropolitan counties (all counties except Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Travis), according to State Bar rules. Click on the names below to read the potential nominees’ interest letters to the Nominations and Elections Subcommittee.

Cezy Collins
Larry McDougal

Nominations and Elections is a subcommittee of the State Bar board co-chaired by Immediate Past President Tom Vick and Immediate Past Board Chair Rehan Alimohammad. To view the full subcommittee membership, go here and scroll to the end of the second page.

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