Dec. 15, 2021 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s law office management assistance program,
Practice411™ – available as a member benefit – offers complimentary, individualized, and confidential assistance on practice management.
Practice411’s elist connects you with peers and those knowledgeable on practice management. As the State Bar’s law practice assistance manager, I regularly post tips to the list and respond to questions. (By the way, if you aren’t a member of Practice411’s elist, it is also complimentary and easy to sign up –
visit the elist’s webpage.)
Christopher C. Shattuck, Univ. of La Verne College of Law 2009, M.B.A. U.W.-Oshkosh 2015, is manager of
Practice411™, the State Bar’s law practice assistance program. If you have questions about the business aspects of your practice, call (800) 957-4670.
Divided by category, here are the top 10 tips from the elist in 2021, covering issues in technology, practice management, and trust accounts:
Downloading Text Messages:
The 411 on Texting for Lawyers outlines helpful do-it-yourself (DYI) methods for downloading text messages, recommends software services for sending text or instant messages to clients, and highlights the
importance of saving communications to the client file.
Identifying Phishing Scams: Lawyers needing assistance with identifying phishing attempts or those looking for training resources for their staff can utilize a
free service from Google that allows anyone to take a quiz in a web browser, which helps to identify potential phishing schemes. (By the way, you do not have to sign up for Google – you may make up a name and email address, and the information does not leave the web browser).
Online Fax Services: If you are looking to retire your physical fax machine and utilize online fax services, lawyers on the list recommended the following services:
SRFax. Whichever service you choose, be sure to comply with the guidance outlined in
Wisconsin Formal Ethics Opinion EF-15-01: Ethical Obligations of Attorneys Using Cloud Computing.
Ransomware: It is important to have a reliable backup system in place in case your firm falls victim to a successful ransomware attack. “Do Not Let Ransomware Win: Back Up Your Data,” from
Wisconsin Lawyer, details how firms can properly backup their own data systems. Another helpful resource, published by Brian Krebs, explains the
common reasons why backup systems fail.
Get Answers to Substantive Law Questions: In the State Bar’s
Lawyer-to-Lawyer Directory, you can search by practice area and contact an attorney that specializes in the substantive area of law that houses your topic area questions. The attorneys listed in the directory agree to share their knowledge in particular areas of law with other lawyers through free, brief consultations by email or phone.
Lawyer Marketing: Practice411 published a series of videos featuring experienced advertising and legal professionals discussing proven marketing tools and techniques for running a successful law firm. If you are interested in addressing negative online reviews, building your own website and social media presence, understanding basic marketing and legal intake, and learning more about other helpful marketing strategies, check out our
Member Benefits: One of the lawyers on the list made a pitch for the member benefit discount offered through
Office Depot. The discount allowed the lawyer’s firm to obtain paper and receive a discount on their transaction. To view additional benefits,
visit our Member Benefits page.
Adding Credit Card Fees to Client Bills: A common question from lawyers is whether they can pass on to their clients the credit card fees charged from payment processing vendors. The answer depends upon a variety of factors, but lawyers should first start by reviewing the type of account they are using to process electronic transactions. The following articles explain when the practice is permitted: “Ethical Dilemma: Can You Add Credit Card Fees to Clients' Bills?,” “Can Credit Card Fees Be Deducted from Payments into Operating Accounts?,” and “Ethical Dilemma: Credit Card Fees – Part III.”
Common Trust Account Mistakes: We took many of the common questions that were asked on the elist and interviewed the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) Trust Account Program administrator. To learn more about lack of fund availability, keeping contemporaneous records, processing trust electronic transactions properly, the prohibition against commingling funds, and unearned advanced flat fees, review “5 Tips: Common Trust Account Violations with Travis Stieren.”
Trust Account Scams: Common trust account scams originate with a potential corporate client using a non-company email address (i.e., @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @msn.com, etc.) seeking the services of a law firm for a collection or contract dispute. The potential client promises a hefty return for the law firm and that the opposing party typically agrees to immediately resolve the dispute with a check made payable to the lawyer’s trust account. Potential corporate client then demands immediate payment, and if the law firm makes the payment before the funds have cleared, usually the law firm is scammed out of the money. For more information on this topic, review “Trust Account Scams Increasingly Target Wisconsin Law Firms.”
We hope you enjoyed these top tips from the elist this year. Remember, the elist is complimentary and a member benefit, so join today (via WisBar.org) to ask questions and stay current on practice management trends. You may also contact the
Practice411 directly for confidential assistance on law practice management related topics. Enjoy the holidays!
Get Practice Tips on Electronic Transactions
If you’re a lawyer accepting credit cards, wire transfers, and ACH transactions, you must be mindful of the applicable Rules of Professional Responsibility. For more advice on handling trust accounts and electronic transactions, don’t miss the upcoming CLE session,
Ethical Requirements for Processing ACH, Wire Transfers, and Credit Card Payments, Dec. 17, 2021.
For more information,
visit the WisBar.org Marketplace and
read the article about the program in the Dec., 1, 2021, issue of