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5. Getting Paid for Your Work

Red flags should go up whenever a prospective client – especially one from out of state – asks you to assist in transferring or collecting a large amount of money. It might be a scam. The internet, email and electronic funds transfers have made online scams easier to perpetrate and harder to detect. Avoid trouble by (a) using checklists, (b) scrutinizing every detail of the proposal, and (c) understanding how your bank holds and distributes funds.
Think twice before sending past-due fee accounts to a collection agency. There is a risk that confidential client information will be disclosed in the process. And when clients are hit with collection actions, they often respond by alleging malpractice as a defense or counterclaim.
Money is at the root of most attorney-client disputes – many of which ripen into malpractice claims and bar grievances. Lawyers who sue for unpaid fees often face allegations of malpractice. The best defense is to avoid fee fights in the first place through (a) good communication, (b) diligent efforts, and (c) following best practices for billing and collections.
You deserve to be paid for your work. But if you’re like most lawyers, you don’t relish talking with your clients about fees. Do it anyway. A simple misunderstanding can ripen into a malpractice claim or bar grievance. Protect yourself by (a) charging a fair fee, (b) putting your agreement in writing, and (c) having a system for time-keeping, billing and collections.



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8.1 Technology and Security

Technology has changed every aspect of practicing law, from landing clients to branding firms. Today, lawyers can work anywhere and at any time. This freedom comes with significant risks. Hackers, thieves and predators abound. Data can be lost or compromised in nanoseconds. Smart firms are vigilant about securing their systems, safeguarding financial accounts and protecting client information.

7.2 The Dangers of Dabbling

All lawyers have their comfort zones. Dabbling in an unfamiliar area increases the odds of a mistake, which can lead to a malpractice claim or bar grievance. The ethics rules permit you to take on a novel matter as long as you take appropriate steps to become competent.

7.1 Keeping Up with the Law

Changes to state and federal laws happen all the time. Stay up on the law to stay out of trouble and provide superior client service. This requires an investment in education and tools. The internet offers a nearly-limitless law library at your fingertips 24/7.

6.4 Case Management Technology

Practice management software and systems are essential to a modern law practice. But with these tools come new risks. Keys to ensuring great representation and avoiding malpractice include (a) staying competent on technology, (b) keeping systems up to date, and (c) training everyone to use them properly.