Monday, April 09, 2012

App1: Genu

Genu is a product we reviewed last week and is currently in beta. Genu is a knowledge management system, designed by the star attorney investigator Chris Hoyer, also a principal at the firm James Hoyer. Really cool interface and usability. The most awesome feature, we think, of this really easy to use, secure tool is that it allows you to build a narrative first, you can continue to load data and corroborate your narrative as you go along. It’s got a facebook like feel and allows users to network and collaborate on the platform allowing for transparency as well. Will totally change the way knowledge is managed in larger cases.

Attorney Support ServicesComplete projects and close cases with confidence. Award winning services.--
The most innovative pricing plan for legal support
Best Corporate Services - 2011
Best Litigation Support Provider - 2010

Monday, December 12, 2011

Best Corporate Services - 2011

Best Corporate Services - 2011LegalEase wins an award for the 4th year in a row
This is getting to be a habit - a good one. LegalEase has been recognized once again for providing best of class services to its clients. Its just an indication that our clients mean a lot to us. A huge thanks to the clients that made this happen and if you haven't so far, go ahead - get your piece of sweetness!

Attorney Support ServicesComplete projects and close cases with confidence. Award winning services.--
The most innovative pricing plan for legal support
Best Corporate Services - 2011
Best Litigation Support Provider - 2010

Monday, June 06, 2011

The rat race has ended …. (well there are alternatives)

Lawyers today have an option, to work at top law firms, have lower billable hour targets, have a life and opt out of the rat race. A recent article in the New York Times highlighted how large law firms have been setting up operations in lower cost semi-urban centers across the States for lawyers who can apply for a ‘career associate’ position. The career associate position will accommodate lawyers who will take on a lower billable hour target and never get on the partner track.

Law firms today are morphing (finally) into how successful corporations operate. There are a few who can bring in the business, manage the firm and perform at the executive level. There are others who are content to practice their profession and don’t require the i-need-to-be-a-partner aspiration as a prerequisite.

This model has some clear advantages. This alleviates the reverse pyramid effect that plagues many midsized law firms where the number of partners to associates tends to grow, having more and more partners do a lot of the work, affect client acquisition and retention and leading to an eventual implosion of the law firm .

The downside to all of this, lower pay grades for career associates, which directly affects the attorney’s ability to service the large law school loans they usually inherit with the degree. Maybe it’s time that law schools reassess their fee structures and look at ways to reduce the cost it takes to become an attorney.

So the market continues to change with law firms reducing billable rates, alternative and flat fee billing arrangements, career associate positions being introduced, legal outsourcing and technology, all playing influential roles in shaping the future of the legal industry. It will be interesting to see how quickly, if at all, a highly insulated industry reacts to the market pressures being put on it and if it has the wherewithal to transform into a lean efficient and effective machine.

Friday, May 13, 2011

So things are getting better…… really?

The AM Law Daily recently reported that April saw an increase of 1500 legal jobs. This combined with the New York Times  article on the American Lawyer report that there is significant growth in 2010 over 2009 seemingly puts the attorney market back on track.
Some other statistics from the American Lawyer report include

  • -          4% increase in law firm revenues
  • -          profits per partner went up by 8.4%.
  • -          Baker McKenzie came out top with $2.1 billion in revenues
  • -          Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz declared $4.3 million in partner profits!
So with all the challenges in the economy the big law firms are seemingly steering their way into profitability and growth.
Meanwhile, Hildebrandt  released a report on May 6th 2011 that Big Law continued to feel the effects of the economic crisis in 2010, with;

  • -    Almost 2,900 fewer lawyers working (in 2010) for the largest 250 firms than the year before. 
  • -        And those losses are on top of the 6,600 lawyer decline in 2009.
  •      Also, the Economist reports “Clients became keener to query their bills—and to demand alternatives to the convention of charging by the hour, such as flat, capped or contingent fees.

So how does one grow revenue, increase partner profits? Cutting 9,500 attorney jobs may be one way. All in all, Big Law has reacted swiftly by cutting jobs, driving overall hourly rates down and creating alternative billing arrangements for their clients. This has obviously started to bear fruit.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Technology Reaching Into The Courtroom

The New York Times recently featured an investigation of how technology -- especially online searches -- is shaping jury selection.

One striking part of the article is how reticent attorneys and jury consultants were to even speak to Reuters Legal on the subject.

"Ten law firms and five jury consultants declined requests from Reuters Legal to observe them building juror profiles, many saying they weren't sure judges would approve."

"Lawyers don't know the rules yet," said John Nadolenco, a partner at Mayer Brown in Los Angeles. "It's like the Wild West."

But while few are talking about it on the record, it's clear that this is a topic begging for official guidelines.

"Jurors are like icebergs -- only 10 percent of them is what you see in court," said Dallas-based jury consultant Jason Bloom. "But you go online and sometimes you can see the rest of the juror iceberg that's below the water line."

While most agree there is a lack of hard and fast rules as of now, one firm did provide access.

Alabam's Wooten Law Firm allowed Reuters Legal access as their paralegal "scanned Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, and used Google searches to find jurors' names on the websites of government agencies, school boards, local companies, and sites that contain property records. Links to each site were assembled in a spreadsheet."

In terms of precedent, a New Jersey Superior Court judge did bar counsel from googling potential jurors in the courtroom because the opposing counsel had not brought laptops to court, ruling that use of the internet provided "an inherent advantage regarding the jury selection process."

However, appellate judges held that the trial judge had improperly prohibited the online research, writing that the "playing field was, in fact, already level, because Internet access was open to both counsel -- even if only one of them chose to utilize it."

As the article summarizes, "the federal courts so far have not addressed the issue of online vetting of jurors, and just two states, Missouri and New Jersey, have said it's acceptable in some forms. But judges and lawyers, even in those states, still seem to be grappling with the practice."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Payment of Attorney’s Fees to Putative Trustee from the Trust under Texas Law

Question : Can a trustee, whose standing as trustee is being challenged by a beneficiary of the trust, use trust assets and income of that trust to pay for its defense of that suit? 
Short Answer: When the suit is to defend the trust property and a trustee acts reasonably and in good faith, the trustee may get reimbursement for the litigation expenses from the trust assets.  However, when defense of the suit does not benefit trust property, such as expenses related to litigation resulting from the fault of a trustee, the trustee cannot get reimbursement for the litigation expenses from the trust assets.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Additional 2011 Projections

Last week we looked at legal market projections from Hildebrandt Baker Robbins in their 2011 Client Advisory.

That report also contains additional data compiled by the Citi Leaders Council Survey and Thomson Reuters.

The Citi Leaders survey comprised 48 large law firms and found:
  • Respondents project using AFA's for 15.4% of their firms' revenues in 2011, up from 12.9% last year.
The Thomson Reuters survey polled the leaders of 78 large law firms last year as part of their Legal Executive Briefing and found:
  • 96% of respondents indicated they expect increased use of AFAs during the next three years.
  • 89% forecast increased use of pre-matter budgets.
  • 71% expect increases in their use of teams to manage matters/projects.
  • 61% percent expect increased use of contract lawyers.
  • 55% expect increased use of non-lawyer project managers.
  • 43% expect an increase in the outsourcing of routine legal activities.

These are significant expectations for evolving business models, and the Hildebrandt Client Advisory summarizes these projections with this:
"We fully expect that the experimentation with new service delivery models and new pricing strategies that we have seen over the past couple of years will continue and expand in 2011. Thus, we believe that firms will continue to focus on project management skills and other techniques for improving efficiency, including the outsourcing of legal and non-legal aspects of their work and the use of technology to automate workflows and to reduce the number of staff required."