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  • InsideTrack
  • December 15, 2021

    Top Tips from the Practice411 Elist in 2021

    From providing tips on protecting your firm from ransomware and trust account scams to finding information on online fax services and answers to substantive law questions, the State Bar of Wisconsin's Practice411 elist offered useful practice information to its members in 2021.

    Christopher C. Shattuck

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    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 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:

    Technology

    Practice Management

    • 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 complimentary videos.

    • 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.

    Trust Accounts

    • 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 InsideTrack.


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