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SHEILA BLACKFORD DEE CROCKER BEVERLY MICHAELIS

ETHICS OF  PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
I N   T H E   2 1 S T C E N T U RY

TOPICS

 Trust Accounting  Conflicts  Social Media

 Metadata  Cloud Computing  Ethics Potpourri

+ Bonus Practice Tips!

TRUST ACCOUNTING
KEY   CONCEPTS

“A LAWYER SHALL HOLD PROPERTY OF CLIENTS  OR THIRD PERSONS SEPARATELY…”

1. Retainers 2. Settlement proceeds 3. Overpayments 4. Third party payments

Oregon RPC 1.15‐1

THIRD PARTY PAYMENT RULES

1. Follow Oregon g  RPC 1.8(f) () 2. Redact billing statements 3. Specify who receives refund  of unearned fees

OSB Formal Ethics Opinion 2005‐157

DUTY OF SAFEKEEPING

 Deposit daily  Protect after hours  Issue receipts for cash  Protect other client property

PRACTICE

Smartphone Apps

Desktop Deposit

DON’T SPEND WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE

1. Funds must clear 2. Use the minimum 3‐5‐10 day guideline 3. Be wary of scams

ACCOUNT TO THE CLIENT

BEWARE OF PREPAID FIXED FEES

1. Put it in writing 2. Earned upon receipt 3. Subject to refund

 Use stage of completion  If half the work is done,  refund half the fee  Hourly rate computations  not allowed

How Much Do I Owe You? "New" Guidelines For Fixed And So‐called Nonrefundable Fees
http://www.osbar.org/publications/bulletin/11oct/barcounsel.html

Designation of a prepaid fixed fee  as nonrefundable may be  misleading, if not false,  f Oregon g  RPC 8.4(a)(3) ( )( )  in violation of

PRACTICE

Pros
 Clients like certainty  Easy to budget  Immediate income

Cons
 Bad bargain?  Calculating refunds  Money out‐of‐pocket  Requires timekeeping  Excessive fee? 

Solution? l ?
• Fixed fee in trust • Specify when earned

DIVISION OF FEES
1. Disclosure + consent 2. Total fee cannot be excessive 3. Includes “referral fees” 4. Get it in writing!

See Chapter 12, “Referral Agreement Between Lawyers,”  Fee Agreement Compendium – OSB BarBooks

FEE AGREEMENT MODIFICATIONS

Reason for change  Explanation of effect  Client consent  Objective fairness = Allowable modification

+ + +

OSB Formal Opinion 2005‐97

PROTECT AGAINST THEFT

1. Endorse and lockup p 2. Protect credit card numbers 3. Supervise staff 4. Learn more

RESOURCES
Oregon State Bar
http://www.osbar.org/ethics/bulletinbarcounsel.html General Counsel   Bar Counsel Articles   Ethics Opinions BarBooks – Fee Agreement Compendium

Professional Liability Fund
www.osbplf.org Dee Crocker – Beverly y Michaelis – Sheila Blackford Forms  Books  In Brief articles   CLEs   Confidential Advice

Oregon Law Institute
http://bit.ly/cWEmzS Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct Annotated

TRUST ACCOUNTING
FOR   SOLE   PRACTITIONERS

METADATA
“DATA   ABOUT   THE   DATA”

METADATA IS EVERYWHERE

1 Word processing documents 1. 2. Spreadsheets 3. Database files 4. Videos and photographs 5. Every electronic file!

Path and file names Author Date and time stamps Company or firm name

Inserted text Document versions Comments Headers and footers

Tracked changes Template information Undo and redo history Network or server name

http://bit.ly/voJOnR http://bit.ly/uxhJgW

ACT COMPETENTLY

OSB Formal Opinion 2011‐187

USE REASONABLE CARE
1. 2. 3.

Prevent inadvertent disclosure Limit nature of metadata Limit scope of metadata

OSB Formal Opinion 2011‐187

PRACTICE

Print to PDF

PRACTICE

Agree not to review metadata

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
BEST   PRACTICES

MANAGING CONFLICTS

 Establish a reliable system  Capture all parties  Know how to use your system  Know when to run a conflict check

ESTABLISH A RELIABLE SYSTEM
Manual Systems Software Solutions

The first golden rule

USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE

1. Microsoft Outlook 2. Access or other database application 3. Searchable Address Book

OR BUY A PROGRAM

PC/Windows
 Amicus Attorney  PracticeMaster  ProLaw  Time Matters

Mac
 Daylite  LAWSTREAM  Legal Suite 

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resources/ resources/charts_fyis/casemanagementcomparison.html

USE THE CLOUD OR STAND‐ALONE SOLUTIONS

Cloud
 Clio  Rocket Matter  RTG Conflicts

Stand‐Alone
 RTG Conflicts  Legal Software Systems

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resources/ resources/charts_fyis/coninterestfyi.html

SEARCHING CASE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

CASE MANAGEMENT SEARCH RESULTS

CAPTURE ALL PARTIES

 Clients  Adverse Parties  Related Parties

 Declined Clients  Prospects  Pro Bono Clients  Firm Members

The second golden rule

KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR SYSTEM
 William, Bill, or Willy?  Elizabeth or Liz?  Former Names  SSN or TIN  DOB  123 ABC Street

The third golden rule

Always  document  your file

Add the new  names from  your intake  form 

PRACTICE

Remember to specify  the relationship to the client 

PRACTICE

Circulate  New Matter y Lists Weekly

SCREEN AND PREPARE

 Screen incoming lawyers  Prepare outgoing lawyers  Keep your own list

Check conflicts here!

PRACTICE
1. Update your system at closing 2. Be aware of consent requirements 3. Avoid business deals with clients

KNOW WHEN TO RUN A CONFLICT CHECK

 At first contact  When the file is opened  Whenever a new party enters the case

Fourth

CLOUD COMPUTING
OSB FORMAL OPINION 2011‐188

Ethical due diligence is all about  doing your homework

VET THE VENDOR
 Reputation? p  Duration in business?  Serving other lawyers?

VET THE VENDOR
 Secure facilities?  Geographically dispersed servers?  Meets industry standards?

UNDERSTAND ALL TERMS

Review the terms of service 2. Read the vendor’s privacy policy 3. Is there a “business agreement?”
1.

SHOULD YOU USE THE CLOUD?

 Any browser  Any platform  Any location (with Internet)  Any time  $$$

Source: Up, up and away! The cloud computing way! community.ca.com

RESOURCES
Data protection and cloud backup (video)
http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2013/07/video‐data‐protection‐and‐cloud‐backup‐ for‐any‐size‐firm/

What is cloud computing?
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resources/ resources/charts_fyis/saas.html

Get the book! 
http://apps.americanbar.org/abastore/

SOCIAL MEDIA

PUBLIC INFORMATION

Up for Grabs

OSB Formal Opinion 2013‐189

NON‐PUBLIC INFORMATION

 Represented parties  Non‐represented parties  Jurors

http://oregonlawpracticemanagement.com/2013/03/25/the‐ethics‐of‐using‐social‐media‐ for‐investigation/

YOUR USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media for lawyers: a word of caution
http://www.osbar.org/publications/bulletin/09nov/barcounsel.html

Sorting out social media: tools & etiquette
http://www.osbar.org/publications/bulletin/12may/practice.html

Get the book! 
http://apps.americanbar.org/abastore/ h // i b / b /

ETHICS POTPOURRI

BE MINDFUL OF WHAT OTHERS HEAR
 Inside the office  Outside the office

BE CAREFUL OF WHAT OTHERS SEE

PROTECT CONFIDENTIALITY  DURING DESTRUCTION

Darik’s Boot and Nuke

OFFICE SHARING AND CONFLICTS
1. 2. 3. 4.

Screen for conflicts if you share employees Assure phone messages remain confidential Assure mail remains confidential Retrieve copies, faxes, print jobs

OSB Formal Opinion 2005‐50

Contact Us
PLF Practice Management Advisors
www.osbplf.org b lf 503-639-6911 - 800-452-1639
Beverly Michaelis Sheila Blackford Dee Crocker beverlym@osbplf.org sheilab@osbplf.org deec@osbplf.org

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