Articles Posted in General

USAA offers a release form for minors in certain situations. If a minor is a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or has a custodial account, USAA may require a release form in order to distribute funds to the minor.

The USAA release form for minors typically requires the signature of the minor’s legal guardian or custodian, as well as the minor if they are of a certain age. The form may require information about the account, the minor’s information, and the purpose of the release.

USAA Minor Release Language

On Monday, I wrote about the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ flawed economic model.

Now, an ABA Journal survey tells us that social media does not help clients find lawyers, and blogs don’t work either. Okay, our law firm is heading back to the Yellow Pages. No, wait, the ABA Journal says the Yellow Pages are beyond awful now (only 8% would use the Yellow Pages).find an attorney

So how do you get cases? Apparently, “trusted sources” are the most popular way for consumers to find an attorney. Forty-six percent surveyed would ask a friend, family member, or colleague for an attorney referral; 34 percent say they would contact someone they know or whom they have used before.

This strategy works great in picking a good movie or restaurant. It is the worst way to pick a lawyer for a serious personal injury case.

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I read an interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday about the downfall of big Washington, D.C. law firm heavyweight Howrey, who closed its doors earlier this month. It is an unbelievably steep fall for a law firm that had $570 million in revenue in firm closing

In my heart, I really wished and wish this law firm and all the people in it the very best. It’s true, scout’s honor. But every plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer gets a little feeling of validation for their career path as news continued to percolate about the demise of big defense law firms.

But that validation got stopped in its tracks when I read this sentence:

Revenue in the litigation business tends to be lumpy. You get paid only when there is a case to be tried and then often only after the trial is over. Howrey, in particular, had come to rely increasingly on revenue from such contingency fee cases, which rose to $35 million in 2008 and then fell to $2 million a year later.

Quickly, I had to jump off my high horse. That’s our business model. Continue reading

A lawsuit has been filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest – fancy name – against McDonald’s in the liberal bastion of San Francisco. The lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s practice of including toys with its Happy Meals is deceptive advertising. From now until the time this lawsuit is dismissed in eight years, people will call it the McDonald’s Happy Meal lawsuit.

Happy Meal Lawsuit Another Foolish Lawsuit

I will focus group this lawsuit. Hold on. I’m back. Jury’s back. Everyone thinks it is stupid. Notably included in that group are mainstream progressives like myself. We are not libertarians. But liberals are Americans, too. (A few tort reformers heads just exploded but let’s move on.) We are a people who are historically opposed to others deciding for us when we have all the facts available for us to make our own decisions and most of us think the behavior is okay.

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The Insurance Journal reports a rise in legal malpractice claims. Incredibly, there has been no hand wringing about increased malpractice rates for lawyers or fears that lawyers can no longer keep their practices open as their insurance rates rise. We have never had a legal malpractice claim yet our rates continue to increase. No one cries for us.

A part of the rise in the number of legal malpractice claims is countersuits against lawyers who are suing their clients to pay their bills. But I think the larger problem is what the article calls “door law,” a phrase I have never heard before but I like. Door law is when lawyers take any client who walks through the door who might generate a fee. When law firms step outside their areas of expertise, bad things will happen. Continue reading

Above the Law provides an interesting link from a South Carolina family law firm that I can bet you is experiencing a real spike in web traffic. The firm lays down the law to its clients on its website, warning them to wait patiently for return calls (they are busy), not to call on weekends, stop by unannounced, or even to expect that they won’t make mistakes.

I have never handled a domestic case in my life. I couldn’t. I could never bear the bitter pettiness that comes with domestic battles. I deal well with people who are suffering from an injury – including emotional injuries that stem from a physical injury or a death. Pain, physical limitation, loss of someone you law firm websitelove? I can get my mind around that. Your bitterness because your husband cheated on you? Day in and day out, that has to be a tough road to hoe. But there was a sign-up sheet out for family law lawyers and these folks signed up. The job description would include dealing with a lot of stressed-out clients who will be upset when you make a mistake and may want to talk to you at odd times.

I do not intend this blog post to criticize this firm. Any law firm can set any policies for client expectations that they want. I am more interested in the answer to this question: would you ever hire this firm? I have no problem with their policy of not working on the weekends or with some other boundaries they set (except for their mistakes policy, which I will get to in a minute). But the brazen tone and tenor with which they announce these policies strikes me as odd.

You are going through a tough divorce. You think you need someone is really in your corner. What are the chances this firm will go the extra mile for you compared to Firm B? Maybe they would. They might be spectacular lawyers who fight to the end for their clients. But given the limited amount of evidence you have when looking for a lawyer on the Internet, what are the chances this firm, given this introduction, will be your choice?

There is a nice state-of-the-art car wash near my house that I would love to use. But when you pull up, the first thing you see is a huge laundry list – in all caps – of my obligations to them, followed by a clear statement that they have no responsibilities towards me, even if one if its employees comes up and socks me in the face. I’m fine with the terms, actually. And it might be a great car wash and the car wash owners may be very reasonable people who just feel compelled to lay out the rules unambiguously. But I just can’t stand that they are shouting at me before my car touches an ounce of soap. Sadly, my car stays dirty. Continue reading

Personal injury lawyers’ blogs are proliferating the web like Lindsay Lohan’s legal problems. It is hard to find any of us now without a blog.

I think a lot of personal injury lawyers see this and think the door is closed, and that it is too late to build up a readership base and develop a quality presence online. But I think there are lots of room for quality blogging on personal injury-related issues. In fact, I think the quality personal injury lawyer blogs of 2020 will include bloggers who have not yet written a single post. Why? Because most of what is out there is complete junk. There is a real demand for good, high quality personal injury-related blogs. If you are writing one, tell me about it because I’m always looking for new blogs to read.

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  • Above the Law provides us with what will be a Maryland Injury Law Center Top Ten Nominee for craziest lawsuit of the year. (Ignore the fact that there is not such a list.) I can’t believe Overlawyered has not picked it up stories today
  • A former medical malpractice lawyer in Maryland (Montgomery County) is sentenced to 5 years in jail for stealing $1 million from his clients. He has to go to jail for this. But it is a sad story. The insane part of the whole thing is how he got caught, falling for one of those email schemes I get about 10 times a week. The lawyer is asked to collect on a non-existent claim for a contingency fee; he receives a big settlement check, and then sends the client a check. If the lawyer does not wait until the check clears and the scammer gets his portion of the check, the lawyer has made a disbursement on a phony check. Here, his IOLTA account had a bounced check which sent off alarms that lead to his downfall. Think about it: this lawyer steals $1 million from his clients while handling malpractice cases (and I can’t even figure out the scheme), gets away with it for years, and goes down by falling for an insane email scam that fools no one. It can’t be easy for a malpractice lawyer to steal a million bucks. It would be like beating Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in tennis only to lose in straight sets to my 3-year-old son. I feel bad for the guy, I really do. But if he gets out in 15 months when he is eligible for parole, he is getting off pretty lightly for stealing $1 million. This case is also historic because it is the first good thing to come from spam email in human history.
  • An unemployed lawyer goes on a hunger strike. Gets lots of attention. One minor detail: she is not going hungry, and she is not unemployed. Setting these details aside and the fact that the entire thing was inane to begin with, she is a real American hero. But I love how the Huffington Post identifies her law school in the first paragraph as a “fourth tier” law school. The article never elaborates why it applied to the story or who designated the school as “fourth tier.” It had to be U.S. News & World Report, right? Are these rankings such an infallible gold standard that they need no introduction? The irony is – and I subscribe to and enjoy U.S. News & World Report – I bet they would be out of business by now without this ranking of schools gimmick they came up with that everyone agrees is flawed (yet impossible not to read).
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