Attorney Negligence: Did It Cost You Your Case?

Attorney Negligence: Did It Cost You Your Case?

Statistics show that legal malpractice claims have become more frequent for the last three decades. There are several instances where a client loses confidence in the abilities of his lawyer because the latter made matters worse instead of providing a resolution to the problem. If you suffered damages due to your lawyer’s wrongful conduct, may it be due to his negligence or intentional act, you may consider the option of bringing a legal malpractice action. However, proving a legal malpractice claim could be challenging as it often involves extensive search for appropriate arguments and corroborating evidence. Despite the existence of actual damages, there are other factors that need to be examined to determine whether a claim of legal malpractice should be filed.

Damages

If the client can prove that the attorney’s negligence or wrongful act resulted in damages, such damages could be recovered by filing a legal malpractice lawsuit. However, there are cases where damages are not easily ascertainable. In such cases, the California Supreme Court held that recovery of damages could still be awarded even if the existence and the cause of such damages are difficult to determine. On the most part, however, damages that are based on speculation or mere threat of future harm are usually not awarded by California courts.

Clients are likely to be more successful with the recovery of so-called “direct” damages. These are damages that have been the direct result of an attorney’s negligence or misconduct. For instance, in a case where an attorney wrongfully advises his client to file for bankruptcy and sell his home for a lower price than its market value, the court is likely to award the client damages to the extent of what he lost from the sale. In another case, a California court awarded damages to a physician due to the loss of his good reputation and the increase in premiums for his medical malpractice insurance due to his attorney’s negligence.

If the client can show clear and convincing evidence that the attorney can be held liable for fraud, malice or oppression, even punitive damages may be recovered, see California Civil Code § 3294. However, client-plaintiffs who have been denied the award of compensatory damages will not be entitled to punitive damages. In general, it is more difficult to prove the existence of punitive damages as courts usually require specific facts to prove that the attorney acted with oppression, fraud or malice. In one rare case, the court of appeals awarded punitive damages due to an attorney’s “conscious disregard of plaintiff’s safety”. In that case, the attorney, who was also a physician, advised his client to postpone the surgery in order to strengthen their medical malpractice lawsuit even though he knew about the urgency of a surgery.

Furthermore, if the client-plaintiff lost his claim for punitive damages in the underlying action, it is very unlikely that courts will award him punitive damages in a legal malpractice lawsuit. The California Supreme Court held that such damages are based on speculation and plaintiffs should not be entitled to damages that cannot be proven with certainty. Otherwise, lawyers would be exposed to more risks of liability, resulting in an increase in the cost of malpractice insurance.

Attorney Negligence

In a legal malpractice action based on the attorney’s negligence, the courts will look into four factors. First, the client-plaintiff needs to show that the attorney-defendant has the obligation to apply the skill, prudence and diligence required from his profession. Second, there has to be proof that the attorney failed to fulfill the above mentioned duty. Third, the client-plaintiff also needs to show that the attorney’s breach of his duty resulted in the damages he suffered. Lastly, as mentioned above, the client-plaintiff needs to present evidence of the existence of such damages and not just mere speculation. According to the California Supreme Court, client-plaintiffs who are facing criminal charges need to prove their actual innocence before they can bring an action against their attorneys. This way, the clients who have been found guilty by a criminal court would not be allowed to go after their attorneys and recover civil damages. An exception to this rule is a malpractice action that is not based on the quality of legal services provided by the attorney. For instance, a fee dispute between the client and the attorney can still be pursued in court even if the client was charged by a criminal court because such a dispute merely involves the attorney’s billing practices.

Typical Cases of Malpractice

The most common basis of malpractice action is the failure of an attorney to adhere to the deadlines set by the Code of Civil Procedure as well as other statutory filing deadlines. As mentioned above, attorneys are expected to apply the required skill, prudence and diligence in providing legal services. The failure to file a lawsuit, initiate a proceeding or bring an action within the so-called statutes of limitation could constitute a strong claim for legal malpractice.

An attorney can also be held liable if the court in the underlying case issues a default judgment against his client due to his failure to file a pleading, see California Code of Civil Procedure § 585. Furthermore, if he fails to relieve his client from the default by filing a motion in a timely manner, namely within six months after the issuance of the default judgment, the client would have another ground to file a malpractice lawsuit against him assuming that the motion could have been successful.

It is also possible to hold an attorney liable for not raising viable defenses in a legal action. In such cases, however, the client-plaintiff needs to show that the defenses that were not asserted can be proven in court and would have led to a more favorable result. In one case, for instance, a California court denied the award of damages to the plaintiff because the attorney decided to leave out weak defenses.

In general, attorneys have an obligation to adhere to their clients’ preferences particularly with regard to legal decisions involving their substantive rights. The failure to follow these instructions can be a basis for a malpractice action. In one case, for instance, a California court held an attorney liable for his failure to file a complaint despite of his client’s specific instructions to do so.

However, courts have held that an attorney can make decisions without his client’s consent if authority has been given in an agreement. Decisions involving procedural matters are also instances where attorneys can act independently. California courts have not yet drawn the line as to how to differentiate procedural matters and legal decisions. Thus, establishing a legal malpractice action based on the failure to adhere to clients’ instructions could pose several challenges. On the other hand, courts have consistently held that attorneys are not obliged to follow instructions that can result in an illegal or unethical conduct. Furthermore, an attorney can reject a case if he determines in good faith that the case lacks merit.

Another frequent basis for a legal malpractice action involves settlements. According to the California Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney needs to provide his client specific information pertaining to the settlement such as the amount, and the terms and conditions of the offer, see California Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3-510. To be successful with a malpractice action, a client-plaintiff needs to prove three things. First, there has to be evidence showing the attorney’s failure to inform the client about the settlement (or parts of the settlement). Second, the client-plaintiff needs to attest that he would have accepted the settlement offer if he had known about it (or had sufficient information about it). Last, evidence should be presented that the client would have benefited more from the settlement than the actual outcome of the case. The amount of damages in such a case will be determined by the difference between the actual outcome of the case and what the client-plaintiff would have received from the settlement offer.

Statutes of Limitation

In general, clients can file a legal malpractice lawsuit one year after the discovery of circumstances that support the malpractice claim or four years after the attorney’s act of misconduct, whichever comes first, see California Code Civil Procedure § 340.6(a). There are, however, exceptions to this general rule that could prolong the periods of limitation, giving plaintiffs more time to file a lawsuit. For instance, periods where the plaintiff is physically unable to bring a legal malpractice action against his attorney will be considered as tolled. The same applies to cases where the attorney-defendant is still representing the client-plaintiff in the same case where the attorney’s misconduct is at issue. In such cases, the time limit for bringing a legal malpractice action could be exceeded.

Seeking Legal Advice

The success of a legal malpractice lawsuit will mainly depend on the evidence and arguments which will support the claim that the attorney has been negligent in representing his client. Even procedural matters such as determining the applicable deadline could pose some challenges as well. Thus, in cases that involve complex issues, consulting a lawyer who is experienced in legal malpractice cases is inevitable in order to prevent the occurrence of further damages to the client.

Sources:
California Code of Civil Procedure
California Rules of Professional Conduct

For further reading:
George Lindahl J.D., California Torts, 2012
Suzan Herskowitz Singer, Attorney Responsibilities & Client Rights, 2003
Robert W. Schachner Esq., How & When to Sue Your Lawyer, What You Need to Know, 2005

Employment Law Is An Important Part Of Business Law

Business law is one of the branches of the huge field of law. There are many things one has to keep in mind when starting a business; let it be a small or a large business. Breaking these laws may land you in deep trouble, so it is always advisable to have some basic knowledge of both small business law and business corporate law. With this knowledge, you are sure of being able to run your business smoothly without any hindrance from the law whatsoever!

One of the most important areas to consider in business law is employment law. If you don’t comply with all the employment laws and regulations, it is highly likely that you will end up in lots of trouble! There are different laws that actually rule the employment basis of both the regular employees and the contract employees of a business. Some of the employment business laws that have to be met by you are FLSA, the Fair Labor Standards Act, The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1966 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. However, these laws are not connected to the various state employment business laws that you may find to your business! These laws are a different thing altogether. To confirm that your business meets all the employment laws, it is always better to checkup with your HR department.
To run a business, it is important to have a business permit or a license. If you do not have one, there is a high possibility of you having to shutdown your business and to pay hefty fines and penalties. Moreover, in addition to federal business law it is required that you meet the state business law regulations too. And if you have an international based business, you have to be aware of the different international business laws and how they can affect your business, you and your bottom line. You at least have to meet the general international business laws, import laws, any specialized export laws and laws of the country you maintain business with.

Those running online businesses may be of the impression that there are no business laws pertaining to the internet. However, this is not so. There are many internet and online business laws that have to be followed to maintain any online business. The reason for these laws is that the internet explosion over the past decade has forced the government to introduce internet compliance laws to maintain some law and regulation over the internet. So if you by any chance run a website make sure that you abide the internet business laws. If you don’t do so, there is a high possibility of your site being shut down and of you, in the mean time, facing criminal prosecution and huge fines.

Remember that it is not advisable for you to try and comply with all the business laws on your own. There are numerous laws, and the best mode of avoiding falling into any trap would be to get the help of some professional business law firm. These tips are just to give you an idea of the types of business laws existing. However, even if you do hire a business law firm, it is also better, and important for you to have some basic knowledge of business laws!

Business Laws Unveiled

Each and every person in this world must have at least once thought about opening some sort of business to increase his or her income. No matter if you are thinking about opening a small family business or a larger company, you cannot do anything but obey the business laws! If you don’t, you and your business can get into serious trouble!

In case you are under the impression that you need to be a graduate of a business law college or have a business law major in order to understand and use some of the basic ideas of small business law and corporate business law, you are making a very big mistake. Perhaps you have heard form the news and the headlines that employment law for business is one of the most dangerous fields, as a person can easily break the business laws and regulations.

The least any business man should know is that he or she must meet the general international business laws. You must also consider the export laws, import laws and but, by all means, one must obey to the specific laws of the country in which your business is situated.

Should you own a company that operates in your home country, then you must get to understand the business laws there. If you cannot manage to get a business permit or license, you can find yourself in a great amount of trouble, as your business can get shut down. Not to speak about the inconveniences due to business and hefty fines and penalties!

If you thought that Internet and online businesses do not need to take these rules seriously, then you can have the unpleasant surprise of getting serious problems. Of course these types of business need to obey the business laws, but they are called Internet compliance laws. Therefore, should you be operating a website of any kind and do not care about all these rules and regulations, criminal prosecution and hefty fines are waiting for you right across the corner.

Well, if all these bad things have made you fear doing business of any kind, you must know that no one expects you to be able to navigate the complexities of any type of business law by yourself! The best option for you is asking for help from a qualified professional of a business law firm. This way you will never get into trouble of any kind!

Associate Attorney Employment Agreement

Most law firms that are made up of more than one person are set up as a hierarchy with Partners at the top and varying levels of Associate Attorneys below them. Partners are generally the owners of the business and Associates are employees. The Associates are often given the opportunity to work their way up the ladder to become Partners and share in the profits of the firm instead of just receiving wages.

It is important to have a written agreement or contract between the Associates and the Firm that spells out everyone’s duties and obligations as well as the conditions under which they may advance. The following is a draft contract between an Associate and a law firm that can be customized to meet the needs of a law firm hiring an Associate Attorney.

This AGREEMENT made of this 21st day of March, 2011, between the Law Offices of at Smith, herein referred to as the “Firm” and Joe Blow, hereinafter referred to as the “Attorney.”

Recitals

The Firm is a Sole Proprietorship, operating as a business rendering legal services. If, during the term of this contract, the Firm changes to another form of business organization, this contract will continue to be binding on both the Firm, under it’s new formation, and on the Attorney.

The Attorney is licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.

The Firm and the Attorney desire to have the attorney practice law as an employee of the Firm.

It is agreed by and between the parties as follows:

Section 1. Employment and Duties.

Employment. The Firm employs the Attorney and the Attorney accepts employment as an attorney in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.

Full Time. The Attorney shall devote full working time and attention on the practice of the law for the Firm and the Attorney shall not, without the written consent of the Firm, directly or indirectly rendered services of a professional nature to or for any person or firm except as an employee of the Firm.

Duties and Assignments. The Firm shall determine the duties to be performed by the Attorney and the means and the manner by which those duties shall be performed. The Firm shall determine the assignment of the clients to the Attorney and the Attorney shall perform services for such clients assigned. The Firm determine the rates at which the Attorney’s work shall be billed.

Section 2. Compensation

Salary. For all services rendered by the Attorney under this Agreement, the Firm shall pay the Attorney and annual salary of $58,000, payable weekly or as may otherwise be mutually agreed. The salary may be changed by mutual agreement of the parties at any time.

Bonus. In the addition to the salary specified in 2.1., the Attorney may receive a bonus. The bonus, if any, will be in such amounts as the Firm may determine in its absolute discretion.

Additional Compensation. In addition to the salary and bonus specified in items 2.1 and 2.2, the Attorney will be eligible to receive a percentage of the Firm’s portion of Personal Injury cases. The Attorney will receive 10% of the Firm’s payment from a Personal Injury case, when the Attorney has performed as the primary attorney on that case. Additionally, the Attorney will receive 10% of the Firm’s payment from a Personal Injury case, when the Attorney personally brought the case to the Firm.

Section 3. Partnership. It is the policy of the Firm to employ as attorneys persons who will be given the opportunity to become partners in the Firm. The Firm after a certain number of years will make the determination as to whether the Attorney will be admitted to partnership. The Firm expects to make this determination with respect to this Attorney, no earlier than July 1, 2005, and no later than July 1, 2007.

Section 4. Facilities.

Office. The Firm shall furnish the Attorney with office space, staff assistance, and such other facilities and services as are reasonably necessary to the performance of the Attorney’s duties.

Liability Insurance. The Firm shall maintain professional liability insurance covering the acts and omissions of the Attorney in performance of the Attorney’s professional duties.

Travel. The Attorney may be required to travel on business for the Firm, and shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, provided, however, that a detailed account of such expense is provided to the Firm.

Professional Societies. The Firm shall pay the Attorney’s dues for memberships in The State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association.

Education. The Firm shall pay the reasonable amount of expenses incurred by the Attorney to maintain or improve the Attorney’s professional skills. The Attorney agrees to submit to the Firm such documentation as may be necessary to substantiate such expenses

Section 5. Additional Benefits.

Medical Insurance. The Firm agrees to provide medical coverage for the Attorney, the Attorney’s spouse and dependents under a group accident and health insurance policy, the terms and benefits of which shall be determined by the Firm. The Attorney is currently covered under her spouse’s policy and does not require such coverage currently. That Attorney will notify the Firm at such time that she needs this benefit.

Vacation. The Attorney shall be entitled to three weeks vacation time each year however, the Attorney’s vacation will be scheduled at such time as will least interfere with the business of the Firm. The Attorney is further entitled to time off on all holidays normally celebrated in accordance with the Firms stated policy.

Life Insurance. The Firm may provide group life insurance coverage, in amounts which shall be determined by the Firm.

Retirement Plan. The Attorney shall participate in any Firm qualified retirement plan according to the terms of said plan as amended from time to time.

Disability. In the event the Attorney is unable to perform his or her regular duties as a result of personal disability the Firm will pay the Attorney’s salary during such disability for a total of ninety (90) days in any 24 month period.

Section 6. Operations.

Records and Files. All records, documents, and files concerning clients of the Firm shall belong to and remain the property of the Firm. On termination of employment, the Attorney shall not be entitled to keep or reproduce the Firms’ records, documents or files relation to any client unless the client shall specifically request that its files be transmitted to the Attorney.

Fees. All fees and compensation received or realized as a result of the rendition of professional legal services by the Attorney shall belong to and be paid to the Firm. Any fee or honoraria received by the Attorney for professional services or other professional activities performed by the Attorney shall belong to the Firm.

Section 7. Term.

One Year, Automatic Extension. The term of this Agreement shall begin on the date hereof and continue for a period of one year and shall be automatically extended from year to year unless terminated in accordance with this section.

Events of Termination. This Agreement shall be terminated upon the happening of any of the following events:

The death of the Attorney.

The determination of the Firm that the Attorney has become disabled.

Dismissal for cause of the Attorney as hereinafter provided.

Occurrence of the effective date of termination, notice of which has been given in by either party to the other, so long as there are at least sixty (60) days between giving of the notice and the effective date of termination.

The mutual written agreement of the Attorney and the Firm to termination.

Termination on Disability. The Firm may determine that the Attorney has become disabled for purposes of the Agreement in the event that the Attorney shall fail, because of illness or incapacity, to render for ninety (90) days or more in any two-year period, services of the character contemplated by the Agreement, and thereunder shall be deemed to have been terminated as of the end of the calendar month in which such determination was made.

Causes for Dismissal. The Firm may dismiss the Attorney for cause in the event it determines there has been continued neglect by the Attorney if his or her duties, or willful misconduct on the part of the Attorney, including buy not limited to a finding of probable cause by the Bar for investigation a complaint filed with its discipline system or the filing of criminal charges against the Attorney, which would make retention of the Attorney by the Firm prejudicial to the Firm’s best interest.

Section 8. Miscellaneous.

Notices. All notices under this Agreement shall be mailed to the parties hereto at the following respective addresses:

Attorney:____________

Firm: ____________

A change in the mailing address of any party may be effected by serving written notice of such change and of such new address upon the other party.

Invalidity. The invalidity or unenforcibility of any provision or provisions of this Agreement shall not affect the other provisions, and this Agreement shall be construed in all respects as id any invalid or unenforceable provisions were omitted.

Arbitration. All disputes, differences and controversies arising out of, under, or in connection with this Agreement shall be settled and finally determined by Arbitration under the then existing Rules of the American Arbitration Association.

The parties have executed this Agreement as of the date and year first above written.

By:____________________________________________________

Criminologists and Why Criminologists are Needed in the Criminal Justice Field

It behooves society to find ways to reduce crime. It makes for a better society and better quality of life. Citizens feel free when there is no or low crime.

One of the professions society entrusts with reduction of crime is criminology. A criminologist studies crime and criminal behavior in an attempt to find solutions that would help combat it. In this article, I will discuss why criminologists are need in the criminal justice field.

First of all, the criminal justice profession and society at large need to understand why certain groups of people commit crime. Understanding why people commit crime helps develop programs to prevent it.

This is where criminologists come in. They will gather the criminal data or record for this group. The criminologist will then analyze this group data to see if there are any trends that could be causing this crime. If he or she does find a trend, he or she can then make recommendations to the criminal justice profession or society on what can be done to combat the crime.

Second, it is said that those that ignore history are bound to repeat it. So, it is in the best interest of the criminal justice system and society to study the history of criminals.

The criminologist plays this role for society and the criminal justice system. The criminologist studies the history of criminals. This study reveals what leads criminals to commit crimes. With this revelation, the criminal justice system and society can develop programs to help people at risk before they become criminals.

Third, the criminal justice profession and society need to constantly evaluate the criminal justice system. An unexamined system can become obsolete.

Criminologists also play this role. They will evaluate the criminal justice system to make sure it is keeping up with the times. With the rapid advancement in technology, it is imperative that the system keep up with this technology.

It is not just technology that needs to be kept up to date. The system of crime and punishment must also meet with the times. Things that were used years ago may not be effective in the modern time.

Fourth, as with any profession, the criminal justice system must develop the staff for tomorrow. Without new blood being pumped into the system, the system will die a natural death.

This is another role the criminologist must play. The ones with advanced degree teach the new students of the profession. They teach the history, theories, and concepts that underlie the system. It is important that the new students understand these history, theories, and concepts.

Finally, the criminal justice system must maintain crime statistics. Without maintaining crime statistics, predicting future crimes will be difficult.

Again, the criminologist is needed here. The criminologist will collect and catalogue crime data. This data will then be analyzed to predict future crimes. This prediction will then be shared with law enforcement agents. The law enforcement agents will then use the information to stop crimes before they happen.

The criminal justice system and society surely need criminologist. If you are interested in becoming a criminologist, you have vital roles to play. You will need to learn more about the profession and all the things that are expected of you. You can find more information on becoming a criminologist by visiting websites that have more information on the subject.

Note: You are free to reprint or republish this article. The only condition is that the Resource Box should be included and the links are live links.

6 Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Forclosure Attorney

The 2008 financial crash put a lot of people out of work. It hurt business owners, emptied personal savings, destroyed American home values and lead to massive foreclosures.

What Many Homeowners Don’t Know

The crony network of big banks, financial institutions, government, politicians, the courts, and their corporately owned media have used propaganda, lies and spin doctors to convince Americans that naïve and greedy homeowners crashed the global credit markets in 2008.

They blamed the crash and current economic chaos on homeowners who bought too much house. Yes, some mortgagers made some people believe they could buy more home then they could afford. However, the blame here is often misleading.

Why? Obscene broker commissions were a big part of originating mortgages. Banks were on a tear to bundle, securitize, sell and re-sell mortgages. It lead to irregular mortgage practices.

The bigger truth has been revealed that there are no mortgages to back the mortgage-backed securities. Thus former treasury secretary Hank Paulson told taxpayers, “We must bail the banks out, or else everything will collapse.”

Iceland Let Their Banks Collapse

In fact, Iceland arrested the financial offenders and put in actual safeguards to restore the capital markets and consumer confidence. We in America got the toothless Dodd-Frank bill that makes it appear legislators are minding the store.

Banking and the financial industry needed major reforms. Instead, after the Wall Street financial crash our American banks actually got 38% BIGGER!

Too Big to Fail and Too Big to Jail

Today banks are bigger than before the economic crash and the Dodd-Frank bill does nothing significant to keep Wall Street from trashing the economy again.

Insanity is doing the same thing you’ve been doing but expecting a different result.

Fast forward and today, these quasi-patriotic cronies continue the lies and prop up the fraud on the taxpayer’s dime. They brazenly continue to cover up their partners’ crimes while still receiving a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers without impunity.

Can You Name One Banker That Went to Jail?

By the way, in 2008 that 800 billion dollar bail out has turned into trillions out the back door of the Federal Reserve straight into bank coufers.

What few Americans realize is that crony capitalists who fleeced institutional investors out of $17+ Trillion, clouded the title on all the mortgages they originated and supposedly sold on the secondary market.

They stole our pension money, wiped out savings and now they’re still after your home. In fact, more than 4.9 million homeowners were foreclosed since the Wall Street crash and there’s more on the way.

American’s need help staying in their home. If the banks and servicers won’t deliver then where do homeowners turn for guidance through this financial maze of fraud and corruption?

Many are programmed to think, “Lawyer, that’s what I need to stand up for me, to sort out the fraud, to keep my family from being kicked into the streets.”

Are Lawyers Best Suited to Standup For Homeowners?

As Americans we’ve been conditioned to believe that the only people who can help us navigate, legal matters are lawmakers and attorneys. Fortunately, in the realm of foreclosure law, there are a few good ones.

However, when it comes to ferreting out truth or fraud in your foreclosure, few attorneys (Real Estate attorneys included) are equipped or have any desire to fight as hard as a regular educated homeowner.

It’s a fact that no one will ever care more about saving your home than you. If staying in your home is not all that important, then most attorneys will do. But buyers beware.

How Do You Choose the Right Lawyer in Foreclosure Matters?

I’ve personally talked with hundreds upon hundreds of homeowners all across America who routinely pay from $1,000 to $30,000+ in attorney’s fees plus monthly retainers and still loose their home. This is more common than you’d think.

I ask homeowners, “What was the attorneys strategy? Was it to help you buy time until you are evicted or actually stay in your home?”

Many homeowners had not thought the end game through. How often do we hire attorneys? There are no Consumer Reports on America’s best foreclosure strategies, fighting bank fraud or attorneys.

Most Americans are busy trying to make a living, caring for loved ones, keeping their heads above water and would rather avoid the legal realms. Who can blame them?

So, unless new information is introduced it makes perfect sense that many homeowners don’t know what to ask to hire an attorney or figure out what makes one effective over the next.

When it comes to defending your home, the following basic questions will get most homeowners started.

The following six questions came from an interview with Justin James. He is the founder of The Foreclosure Relief Network, a company dedicated to helping homeowners stand up for their legal rights.

The company with its network of private investigators, paralegals and law firm was developed to educate and arm the American consumer with the information necessary to protect families and property against the unlawful actions of banks.

Mr. James emphasizes that “Every homeowner who suspects mortgage fraud or are in foreclosure or about to be, needs to be educated.

They need to know upfront if an attorney will work on your behalf or instead see you as a tool to collect fees while they stall things off in court. By asking these basic but key questions, this is knowable.”

You want to interview an attorney just like you would choose a doctor, dentist, CPA or a contractor to work on your home. You want a good fit.

Write Your Questions Down

Mr. James suggests that before you phone or visit an attorney in person, have your questions written down and refer to them.

6 Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Attorney to Get a Modification or Defend Your Home Against Banks

  1. Do you feel that the banks and their servicers commit mortgage security and/or foreclosure fraud? (Yes) Correct answer.
  2. Do you believe that if a bank shows up with a piece of paper that alleges it’s the original Note-do you still believe there’s a chance of winning court? (Yes)
  3. Are you willing to challenge the banks claim of ownership of the note, mortgage, chain of title, etc.? (Yes)
  4. Are you willing to cross exam a witnesses? (Yes)
  5. Will you challenge and call a robo-signer as a witness? (Yes)
  6. Are you willing to be that attorney at the party that went up against the big bankers or challenged a court that seems to lean in favor of big banks? (Yes)

If you get so much as one “no” to the above questions then be aware, your situation may be at cross-purposes with this particular attorney.

To the few that are actually competent and not bluffing their way into your back pocket, these basic but telling questions are not difficult to answer.

Other than the details of your situation, each question does not require you as homeowner to expound any further. Either they know it or they don’t. Either they believe banks can do no wrong or believe in justice for homeowners.

When to Walk Away

Bottom line is that if the attorney interviewed is…

  • Not comfortable breaking down your chain of title if necessary
  • Does not believe the bank is ever wrong about a note or mortgage
  • Not willing to challenge the bank or the courts
  • Not willing to cross examine a witness…

Then why are you there? Why should they take your money? Don’t give them a dime Pack your bags and find another attorney or other expert to interview. Consider…

Who’s Paying Your Bill?

You are paying the attorney for a service. You wouldn’t go into a car dealership and say…

“I’ve got $400 a month to spend on a vehicle. Just give me whatever you got to drive.”

You’d be surprised how many people would accept poor treatment when it comes to attorneys. Why?

Because some homeowners are intimated and think, the lawyer knows more. That’s usually true about civil law matters. That’s when a good educated attorney makes sense.

But when it comes to foreclosure, commercial law and challenging the banks-think again. I would challenge you to think outside the box.

Defend Yourself? Really?

Others will say, “YES BUT you can’t defend yourself against fraud or a foreclosing bank. You must have an attorney.” Many homeowners felt that way in the beginning. However…

We now know plenty of average homeowners who’ve been educated and succeeded with the guidance of companies like The Foreclosure Relief Network.

But, what few homeowners at first realize is that attorneys are not traditionally schooled in banking and finance.

In fact, I’ve interviewed some well informed average homeowners who educate their attorneys.

You Deserve to Know What You are Getting for Your Time and Money

If your prospective attorney is the real deal, they will understand your need to interview. That’s why it’s important to know…

  • What does the attorney actually believe about banks and foreclosure?
  • Make them lay their cards on the table. Time is of essence.

You simply want to insure that you are investing your energy and money wisely into a winning strategy and NOT prolonging what many attorneys feel is an inevitable foreclosure.

It’s a little known fact that if you, as a homeowner are educated and have a complete and correct strategy then foreclosure is NOT always inevitable.

Follow The Money

If you hire an attorney that did not adequately answer these questions, then be advised you, your family and your home may be taken for a professional ride.

According to Mr. James extensive experience with homeowners, banks and courts across America, rare is the attorney who will answer your call, who will fight banks on behalf of your homeowner and constitutional rights.

Most attorneys will not intentionally do you harm because they genuinely believe what they believe. That banks can do no wrong is just part of their many years of education and training.

As important, attorneys take an oath to protect corporations. It’s what they do.

That said… put yourself in the attorney’s shoes for just a minute. They have a lot of competition. A title, though impressive is no guarantee of success. They are businessmen and women and for many economic times are tough like many homeowners.

Yes, attorneys enjoy a measure of prestige but that doesn’t pay the bills. Like you and I, they have to make a living or find a way to survive. Just make sure it’s not at your expense.

Who Has More Money? Influence?

A homeowner called Mr. James and was livid because he spent over $7,500 on an attorney who believed that his counsel had defected to the bank side.

Even with documented fraud (common today) as the centerpiece of his defense against the bank, this homeowner lost his home.

The homeowner asks, “Who’s got more money here? The Big American Bank or me as homeowner?”

Do you think you’ll ever see this homeowner’s story on the evening news? It’s not likely. Remember who owns and controls media, advertising and reporting.

Of course I don’t expect you to believe any of this. Check it out for yourself.

Bank Walks Away

Speaking of a good homeowner story, while working on this article one of Mr. James clients called about Quiet Title action which forces a bank to produce valid documents.

The banks have to prove they have ownership before they can foreclose. In today’s heavily securtized financial system that’s more and more difficult for banks to validate unless they manufacture documents from thin air. This is known as robo-signing and yes, it’s illegal.

Gary is out of the Midwest. He applied several times for a modification and then found himself in foreclosure. He suspected bank fraud. Gary began looking and found a young and hungry attorney out of law school.

The attorney had not yet adopted “a bank can do no wrong” attitude. However, the first hurdle was overcoming this attorney’s lack of knowledge on foreclosure fraud, banking and securitization, etc.

Remember few attorneys have this profound knowledge, seek it out or even believe it’s possible to help a homeowner to win. It’s not taught in law school.

To compensate, Gary began working with Mr. James to gain the education, knowledge, legal templates and strategies. This also saved him thousands of dollars in attorney’s research fees.

Gary reported that his homework paid off and the bank walked away. Finding a lawyer willing to listen was the exception in this case. However, keep in mind that…

The Courts Are Available to All Homeowners

Remember, you as an American citizen have constitutional rights.

An attorney is not the only way to stand your ground against bad behaving banks. In fact there are far more effective strategies homeowners can and do take every day.

The majority of homeowners do not realize that with the right kind of education they can in fact represent themselves in court. It’s referred to as Pro Se’, a petitioner or simply an American citizen. Often it’s an effective option. Here’s why.

The fact is that the courts cannot hold a regular homeowner to the same standard as they do lawyers. It turns out that with an effective strategy, presented properly, defending yourself against banks often leads to settlements.

Mr. James reports that he sees it everyday and as the courts become more educated, the tides are shifting in favor of homeowners.

Some homeowners combine the idea of Pro Se’ (without an attorney) along with private mortgage investigations to uncover irregularities that stop foreclosures.

Bottom Line-Trust Your Gut

Remind yourself that if your home is worth defending then no one will ever fight for your home like you can.

After interviewing the attorney, if you can’t say yes, then SAY NO FOR NOW.

Keep looking. If the attorney doesn’t feel right-move on. There are viable alternatives. Do your homework.

Finally, if you have a compelling enough why and are willing to do a little legwork, then there are resources that can help you to learn how to stay in your home and prevail even without an attorney.

Assigning Power of Attorney (PoA) With Confidence

Incapacity planning, ensuring that there’s a strategy in place if you ever become incapable of managing your affairs, is important.

We all know that. Yet, it’s uncomfortable to think about and therefore easy to put off doing.

A key part of incapacity planning is assigning power of attorney (a legal document giving someone else the right to act on your behalf), but it’s also the biggest hurdle. Giving extra thought to who you choose, and what powers they’ll be granted, can give you the peace of mind to complete your plan with confidence.

Choosing your lawyer

Choosing someone you trust to assign power of attorney is essential. Acting as your attorney involves significant duties and obligations. Your attorney’s overarching duty is to act with honesty, integrity and in good faith for your benefit if you become incapable.

The law lays out specific obligations for the person chosen to hold your power of attorney. Among other things, they will:

  • explain their powers and duties to the incapable person
  • encourage the incapable person, to the best of their abilities, to participate in decisions concerning their property
  • foster regular personal contact between the incapable person and supportive family members and friends, and
  • keep account of all transactions involving the grantor’s property.

The attorney or attorneys you choose to act on your behalf should know these rules, and be aware of other rules set out in the act as well.

For instance, they’re expected to ensure you have a will and, if so, know its provisions. The main reason for this is that your attorney must not sell or transfer property that’s subject to a specific gift in the will, unless necessary.

The act also contains explicit instructions regarding both required and optional expenditures. Examples of the latter include charitable gifts where an incapable person made similar expenditures when capable and so long as sufficient assets are available. Your attorney should also be familiar with rules covering how or when he or she can resign, what compensation they may be entitled to and the standard of care expected of them.

Safeguarding your estate

You can also build a second opinion directly into your power of attorney documents by appointing more than one person. If you name two or more people, they’ll need to act unanimously unless the document states otherwise.

A joint appointment provides a level of protection in that any appointed attorneys must agree on all actions, while a “joint and several” appointment grants flexibility, allowing any one attorney to conduct business independently.

Many people choose to appoint the same people or trust companies to be both their power of attorneys and their executors. Although you don’t need to do so, the same list of key traits – expertise, availability, accountability and trustworthiness – apply to both roles.

It’s also possible to limit the powers granted to your attorney. If you’d like your attorney to act only for a specified time period (maybe a vacation or hospital stay) or in respect of a specific transaction (the closing of a real estate deal), a limited or specific power of attorney is worth considering.

In the case of a general continuing power of attorney, many people want the document to be used only if and when they become incapable of managing their affairs themselves.

Although the document is effective when signed, it is possible to include provisions in the document itself that defers it to a future date or the occurrence of a specified condition (for example, the grantor has a stroke). These are sometimes referred to as “springing” powers of attorney.

Whichever way you prepare your power of attorney documents, careful consideration of who you choose as well as availing yourself of available safeguards will help ensure your confidence in your incapacity plan.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Making a quick decision: Many people name their PoAs without thinking about their choice’s financial capability, much less their ability to get along with other family members.
  2. Assuming family is always the best choice: It’s far more important to choose someone who truly has your client’s best interests at heart.
  3. Waiting too long: If there’s already a question of diminishing capacity, it’s likely too late to make a power of attorney ironclad.
  4. Not reviewing it: Changing life circumstances and new provincial legislation can make an old PoA invalid.

Plan for Incapacity

Your estate plan doesn’t end with an up-to-date will. It should also anticipate possible future incapacity, which usually means preparing powers of attorney for both property and personal care.

Power of attorney, a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf, has two main types: one for management of property, another for personal care.

Will and estate planners generally advise preparing both types of powers of attorney. While they are often prepared at the same time as your will, they can be created at any time.

Personal care

With a power of attorney for personal care, you can authorize someone to make decisions concerning your personal care in the event that you become incapable of making them yourself.

You can give power of attorney for personal care if you’re at least 16 years old, have “the ability to understand whether the proposed attorney has a genuine concern” for your welfare, and can appreciate that the attorney may need to make decisions.

Personal care includes decisions concerning health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene and safety.

Property

A continuing power of attorney for property authorizes someone to do anything regarding your property that you could do if capable, except make a will.

The law says you’re capable of giving a power of attorney for property if you’re at least 18 years of age, know what kind of property you have, along with its rough value, and are aware of any obligations owed to your dependants.

The term “continuing” (sometimes called “enduring”) refers to a power of attorney that may be exercised during the grantor’s subsequent incapacity to manage property. Ensure the document stipulates that you want the power of attorney to be used only if you become incapable.

What you need to know

A continuing power of attorney for property is a powerful document. Unless otherwise stated in the document, it’s effective when signed, granting considerable power.

In fact, the act explicitly requires you to acknowledge this authority can be misused. And, as part of the capacity test for granting a continuing power of attorney, you must also acknowledge the property you own may decline in value if not properly managed.

A financial institution, land titles office or other third party presented with a continuing power of attorney for property with the restriction “effective only in the event of the grantor’s incapacity” will want evidence of the incapacity.

That evidence could be hard to get. One solution is to set out terms of use in a separate document and have all original copies of the power of attorney held by a trusted third party. You could, for example, direct that document be released only if:

  • You tell the attorney you want him or her to start acting;
  • You are legally declared incapable of managing your property;
  • One or more doctors advise that you’d benefit from assistance in managing your affairs; or
  • Certain family members advise the attorney should begin acting.

No direction could be costly

If you fail to prepare power of attorney documents, it may take an application to court before someone can be appointed to make decisions for you. That can leave you scrambling when you’re in no physical shape do so. Having a will doesn’t help because an executor is only authorized to act after you die.

On top of that, court processes can be both costly and time-consuming. Depending on the circumstances, the Public Guardian and Trustee may have to get involved.

You also lose the opportunity to appoint people or companies of your choosing and aren’t able to establish parameters regarding the actions of your substitute decision makers.

No Lawyer Required – Small Claims Court

Your best friend, or someone you thought of as a friend, asked you for a loan of $2,500.00. You had the money, and you liked the guy, so you said okay. Two months have passed, and he bought a new house. You know he’s not hurting. You called him after you heard about the house and asked when he was going to pay you back. He said he had huge expenses now because of the new house. He said soon. Two weeks later you called again. Again he said soon. You just put the phone down. You’re tired of calling. He said soon again. What to do next?

This situation sounds like a case for small claims court. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Letter

Write your friend a letter. Tell him that he has two weeks to pay you back. Tell him you want to resolve his payment to you in a friendly manner, but if you do not receive a check within two weeks, you will see him in small claims court.

We’re hoping that the letter resolves the non-payment problem. If it does not, you’ll have to continue to step two.

2. File a claim

Go to your local small claims court and complete the forms. You can probably download the forms from your county’s small claims website. Submit the forms to the small claims court. The court will schedule a hearing.

3. Service of process

Your friend has become the defendant. He must be served at least 15 days before the hearing date if the defendant lives in San Francisco county. If the defendant does not live in the county, s/he must be served at least 20 days before the hearing date. A capable adult must serve a true copy of the claim. You cannot serve the defendant.

4. Evidence

You next gather all evidence to submit at the hearing. Evidence would include a copy of the cancelled check that you gave your friend and dates and notes of all phone calls that you made to him. You may want to take a photo of his new house.

5. At the hearing

Small claims courts are generally much more informal that other courts. The judge will ask you questions, and then s/he’ll ask your friend, the defendant, questions.

If you have presented the situation with evidence, the judge will probably rule in your favor.

You’ve won your case, and your friend is now going to pay you back, but suppose he doesn’t. Suppose he is a real jerk and has decided that he wants you to have to work just a little harder to get your money back.

6. Collecting a judgment

You have to collect the judgment. The defendant may pay the amount directly to the court. If the defendant does not have the money, the defendant may have to pay installments.

If your friend refuses to pay, you can complete an Application and Order for Appearance and Examination which would require your friend to appear in small claims court to have his income and resources examined.

You could also consider wage garnishment by completing a Writ of Execution. This writ could also levy your friend’s checking or other bank account.

If your friend has a business with a cash register, a sheriff can go to the business for a till tap. The sheriff can take enough money from the cash register to pay the judgment debt. The typical sheriff’s fee for a till tap is $85.00. We hope your friend doesn’t put you in this situation, but if you are ever in this situation, the purpose of small claims courts is to resolve small problems without the expense of an attorney. This is the do it yourself legal remedy.

Disclaimer: This article is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, seek out a licensed attorney. Remember that small claims courts do not require an attorney. If, however, the losing defendant appeals the small claims court’s decision, the new venue is a superior court. In a superior court, you will need an attorney.

Becoming an English Solicitor – The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS)

English law is held in high esteem; London is among the leading legal cities in the world; and talented and qualified lawyers continue to seek to become English solicitors.

Job prospects are decent for lawyers in the UK and by becoming an English solicitor, you increase your employability. Once qualified, you will be able to practise law cross-border, finding employment in England, Europe and further afield in countries including Australia, South Africa and Russia. In addition, you broaden your professional knowledge, understanding and experience which similarly broadens your career prospects.

As a qualified English solicitor, you will be in a stronger position to offer your existing and future clients more legal services. As well as finding employment as a solicitor in England and Wales, your wider career prospects are enhanced when you gain the QLTS. You may choose to practise law in your home jurisdiction, in which case you will benefit from an improved professional track-record and marketability. Or work as an English solicitor in London. Or perhaps even find a role in an international law firm which has a base in the EU, and live and work anywhere in the world.

Whichever career path is right for you, being an English solicitor will bring you more business and greater financial rewards. And this is enhanced by the high standard of competence associated with newly qualified solicitors of England and Wales thanks to the method of assessment – whether you choose the fast-track QLTS route or the domestic route.

Under the existing Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme, the QLTS (previously, the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test, the QLTT), international lawyers as well as barristers in England and Wales, are assessed to ensure they meet the necessary standards required to practise English law. Those admitted to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales through the QLTS have an even greater professional profile thanks to this high level of testing.

The QLTS training places international lawyers on a par with domestic lawyers, making for a more level playing field. The same standard expected of domestic lawyers is expected from overseas lawyers wanting to apply for the QLTS and lawyers who pass the QLTS have the same level of competence as lawyers qualified to practise English law through the domestic route.

Now is certainly a good time to become an English solicitor, as the financial implications of the recession start to ease and the employment markets open up once more. The QLTS offers two major improvements to candidates compared to the QLTT – there is the English language test and the removal of the experience requirement. These are both positive developments for international lawyers wanting to train as English solicitors.

As a result of these enhancements to the QLTS, more confidence is instilled in successful candidates. There is rigorous testing of all applicants’ practical skills as part of the course. This ensures no one experiences discrimination as everyone is treated the same and assessed to the same standard – although of course because the means of testing is objective, issues regarding ages and disabilities of candidates will naturally be taken into consideration. Candidates who meet the necessary standard will be admitted as a solicitor of England and Wales. Clients will therefore know that all qualified English solicitors, regardless of their route to qualification, are competent and have the professional knowledge, skills, behaviours and ethics needed to perform legal duties well.

The QLTS is an affirmative step for all international lawyers, and barristers in England and Wales, seeking to train as English solicitors. The system is fairer but equally stringent and allows only the highest calibre of lawyers to pass the QLTS assessments.

If you want to become an English solicitor, a big factor in determining whether you’ll pass your QLTS course is the course provider itself. Without excellent teaching, informative materials, a support network, and experienced staff to guide you through, passing will be more difficult. The QLTS School programme offers a dedicated approach to the QLTS assessments – and because it’s completely focused on the one test, students really benefit from an array of advice and support that is always available.

The QLTS School is committed to helping international lawyers become English solicitors. Our website has information for every stage of the process, from what you need to do to be eligible for the QLTS to applying for the course. There is advice about careers, the benefits of practising English law, and guidance for every step of the course.

With over ten years’ experience and thousands of international lawyers who have successfully qualified as English solicitors, the QLTS School has an excellent reputation and a high candidate pass rate. The QLTS course is comprehensive and convenient, and you will have all the materials you need to study – including distance learning courses, video and audio lectures, and access to the online study portal – and the freedom to study when it suits you. The study portal lets you communicate with other candidates, as well as access all the teaching tools including videos, audio and PowerPoint presentations.

Created by skilled legal professionals who have worked extensively with international lawyers and understand their needs, the QLTS School programme provides you with everything you need to pass your QLTS assessments and go on to enjoy an extensive career as an English solicitor.

What Is Business Law?

In today’s society, many people are starting new businesses and they need to legally register their company. If a business is not registered, the owners may be breaking the law as they would be accused of running the business illegally. When a company wants to merge with another firm, they should have a written contract which both parties need to sign. These agreements should be drafted by a business lawyer who should guide the firms during the process. Business law covers a wide branch of knowledge across a variety of disciplines.

Business law covers all aspects of trade from the registration of a business to hiring employees and selling goods across the globe. A business may need a lawyer to help with the relevant terms of agreement and sales and present them to the other parties. When a company wants to bid for tender or have a project, the lawyer needs to come up with various proposals to present to the other parties. At times, disputes arise and when there was no binding agreement, the business suffers a huge loss.

There are some companies that do not keep in mind the terms and codes of trade especially within their intentional market. Failing to comply with the law is a serious offense and the company may end up folding as a result. A company should look to hire a lawyer who is aware of the business laws set by the Department of Trade and the lawyer ought to find out how the company performs in their industry without bypassing federal laws.

Business law also covers the partnership aspect of the company. At times, the companies who want to merge but they may still want to maintain their rights and recognition within their market. A good contract should be put in place and both parties should agree to work within the laid down rules and regulations in the contract. Many partnerships have landed in court simply because some codes were not met or the other party had more benefits than the other party did. Some aspects like profits, shares, and investments need to be addressed fully before signing a partnership agreement.

Before someone starts any business, they need to know the codes, laws, and terms of reference. Business law applies to all types of businesses whether it is a corporation, a sole proprietorship, or a company. The law requires that all companies and businesses need to be registered and trade within the law. When someone trades in illegal goods, they are required by the law to stand trial. The codes of trade need to be enforced fully and that every businessman understands what they mean. Business law terms are difficult to understand hence there is sometimes a need to hire a lawyer to interpret the message and ensure that the client know what each business documents entail. At times, some businesses may want to trade with other companies and need advice from their lawyers and other business professionals on the proposed plan. Business law can also cover issues such as privacy, copyright and issues involving tax.

All in all, business law ensures that a company practices in the correct way and that the business runs smoothly and that all the parties involved in the various commerce sectors understand the codes of operation.