Common Qualities of the Best Law Firms

In my 12 years of practice, I have been employed with a wide variety of law firms. When I decided to open my own practice, I started thinking about the qualities that make up the best law firms. In determining the best law firms do you include things such as employee benefits, firm culture and employee turnover rates? Or do you focus on the qualities that affect a law firm’s most precious commodity – the client? My take on this is that the best law firms employ quality attorneys and staff with the highest of ethical standards and the desire to fight within their ethical bounds for their clients.

One key factor in having a successful law practice is an effective leader. A good leader will have a vision for the firm’s direction, a commitment to serving its clients, and a desire to find like-minded people that believe not only in the clients, but the brand of the firm. I have found in my practice that effective leaders can quickly change with success and growth. They often lose touch with the very people that helped them grow into a successful powerhouse. It is easy to go from a scenario of weekly partner/associate lunches to rarely, if ever, seeing a partner in the office. Effective leaders at the best law firm have a good understanding of the legal work coming out of the office, the overall satisfaction of its clients, and an awareness of the employees’ overall job satisfaction. With success and growth, it is easy to lose touch with these important factors, but good leaders will remain cognizant of these factors, even with exponential growth of the firm.

The best law firms also have compassion for their clients. When attorneys at these firms meet with clients, it’s never about sharing the attorney’s successes. Rather, it’s listening to your clients concerns, determining their overall goal through representation by the firm, and showing empathy towards their situation. Many attorneys look at their clients and see dollar signs. They look at the opportunity to bill or the total fee they will earn on a contingency for a huge settlement. These attorneys fail to recall one of the most basic ethical consideration of attorneys, acting in the best interest of the client. Because at the end of the day, all the billable hours in the world won’t make a practice successful If you don’t satisfy and take good care of your clients. Firms with this mindset often have high turnover rates because they make billing THE priority. They burn their attorneys out and bring in brand new attorneys and start the process fresh with them. This can easily lead to dissatisfaction by clients. They may not know from one month to the next which attorney is representing them.

Another key quality of the best law firms is a narrow focus on a particular area of law. The days of general practitioners is (or should be) gone. Laws are complex and can change in an instant depending on legislation or new case law handed down by appellate courts. The best law firms have focus on one area of law and become very good at it. They are aware of recent changes as well as developing changes in their area of practice. With such a narrow focus, they can change strategy in an instant and become the authority to their clients by showing their knowledge in a particular area of law. Beware of the lawyer who claims to practice in all areas of civil litigation. While it is possible, consider that opposing counsel may have a more narrow focus. They may have that golden nugget of information that can make the case a winner for them and a loser for your client.

There are a number of other factors to consider when trying to determine the best. That may be the discussion for a future article. But those discussed here are, in this author’s opinion, the most important factors to consider when trying to figure out what makes a firm one of the best.

How Does a Debt Settlement Law Firm Work?

I have been working in the debt settlement industry for almost ten years now and have very extensive knowledge as to how it works. Before we begin I want to say this will be a rather long article and if you are not serious about finding a solution to your debt problem then stop reading now. The purpose of this article is to explain to you first how debt settlement works and what the process entails; both the good and the bad. Next I will explain the differences between how a debt settlement law firm works and how it compares to a standard debt settlement company. There are many differences between how this process is handled by the two. Because of this debtors should learn these differences before enrolling into any program. Many people may already know how a debt settlement company works but have no clue as to how a law firm works and this article will explain just that.

First of all, I would like to state that debt settlement as a means of credit card debt relief is not for everyone; some people simply do not have the right state of mind, while others may benefit more from bankruptcy.

To begin with I would like to go over the purpose of credit card debt settlement and how the process works. The purpose of debt settlement is for the debtor to get out of debt quickly without having to file bankruptcy and save a lot of money in the process. The goal of the debt negotiator is to negotiate a one time lump sum payment on the debtors’ behalf at a far reduced amount than what the debtor currently owes.

These benefits are tremendous. The debtor could save themselves close to half of what they currently owe and be out of debt in a few years. However as with most things in life there are drawbacks to this process and there is no way to avoid them.

In order for any creditor to be willing to negotiate a debt settlement on a debt the account must fall into default first. There are no creditors in the world willing to negotiate when you are current and up to date on your monthly minimum payments. If they feel you can maintain your monthly minimums than this is precisely where the creditors want to keep you. This is where their profit is made, by just paying the minimum each month you will be in debt for over thirty years, even if the interest rate is not all that high. If your rate is above 20%, you will be stuck in debt for well beyond thirty years and payback the creditors well over ten times the original balance alone in interest. That is exactly where they want you!

So understandably they will not negotiate with you when you are current and they feel they can still bank on your minimum payments for years to come. So the only way to ever negotiate is to fall behind on the monthly payments. Naturally once you do this you will be negatively affecting your credit score and will also be receiving calls from collectors; this is what may put some people off from doing debt settlement, thus why I stated above this process may not be for everyone.

For those people already behind this will not make a difference and their credit will not be damaged any more than it already is, however for those who are current this will adversely affect their credit. It is quite a shame that this point alone may stop some people from using debt settlement; thus dooming them to being financial servants to the creditors for decades to come.

You must also be made aware that this process in the end will begin to help rebuild your credit. Thirty percent of your MyFICO credit score is made up of your debt to credit ratio, which will look a lot better after you get out of debt. Additionally the negative remarks from falling behind will not hold much bearing on your credit score after two years. Your credit score is only a snapshot in time and only uses the last two years of payment history to determine the score.

Now during the process of falling behind your goal is to save up as much money as possible in the quickest possible time. This money is then used later on to pay off the settlement that is negotiated by the debt negotiator. The faster someone looks to save money and complete this process the better for many reasons. For one the faster you are out of debt the more money you stand to save and the less risk you take from the negative aspects of settlement such as lawsuit and further damage to the credit report.

This brings us to the title of the article “How Does a Debt Settlement Law Firm Work?” As I explained above there are great benefits to debt settlement such as saving lots of money and time; and there are also some downsides such as collection calls and the possibility of a lawsuit.

The main differences between how debt settlement is handled by a debt settlement law firm and standard debt settlement company is how they deal with the negative drawbacks. A law firm has much more legal power and is set up correctly to comply with their states’ laws.

Collection Calls

One of the first major differences in how debt settlement is handled has to deal with collections calls. When you first fall behind and your debt is still in the hands of the original creditor there is nothing legally that can be done to stop them from calling. However once the creditor passes the account off to a third party collection agency which will happen anywhere between 3-6 months after falling behind things change. Legally once in the hands of the collectors a law firm will have the power to have all calls to their client stopped, and if the collector continues to call and harass the client legal action can be taken against that creditor seeing as they will be in violation of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practices Act).

So the client’s first advantage by using a law firm will be a much decreased activity in collection calls, and this is very important for some people. Any regular debt settlement companies that claim they can stop the calls are simply not telling you the truth and you should be very weary of them because of this.

Lawsuits

The next major advantage a law firm has concerning debt settlement is how a lawsuit can be handled. In case you are not aware once you fall behind on your credit card debts the creditors/collectors do hold the legal right to pursue you through the courts to collect the debt. However I will mention, that suing is not the mainstay of the collectors and is not exercised very often; reason being it simply costs too much money and time on the creditor’s behalf with no guarantee of getting any money even if they were able to obtain a judgment anyway.

The advantage the law firm has is they can still legally contact and negotiate a settlement with your collector after they have issued a summons to court. A debt settlement company does not have this legal power. The collectors are very willing to negotiate a settlement even after the summons has been issued; they realize they may get very little if anything regardless, so being contacted by a reputable law firm who is willing to offer them money and settle the debt without wasting any time or money with going to court is very beneficial to the collector.

If you get sued and you only have a standard company representing you, you can expect to go to court and try to figure it out yourself. This often results in a judgment for the debtor!

Correct Legal Set Up

Perhaps the biggest advantage the law firm has over a company is how they are set up. The vast majority of debt settlement companies are not legally allowed to work in all the states; many are not even set up correctly to operate in their own state.

The states’ attorneys and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) are cracking down severely on these companies and shutting them down as fast as possible. When this happens often times the company does not have the money to payback its clients for the fees they paid to a company that will no longer be in business and can no longer help to settle their debts. Now the debtor will be left holding the bag having paid thousands in fees but still be stuck in debt, and this nightmare scenario happens more than you may think. Thus making law firms a much, much safer option!

Another issue that many people have with debt settlement companies is they will not disclose how this process works and will simply sugar coats things and preach about the great benefits but never mention one downside. A law firm legally must disclose everything about how this works before being able to enroll anyone into any structured payment plan. A lot of companies do not have your interest at heart and will say whatever it takes to get you signed up even if they are fully aware that they are setting you up to fail.

Which brings me to my last point; a lot of unscrupulous companies will allow their clients to sign into a program and pay whatever they want and put them into programs that are set up for much longer than they should be. By stretching a debt settlement program out the savings will decrease and the potential for a lawsuit will increase. These companies cannot legally give the client advice or assistance if they get sued; it is considered unlicensed practice of law and this is what I mean by them knowing they will be setting you up to fail. If you can’t get this process done within three years, four max in special situations, then you should seriously consider bankruptcy. A law firm will be strait up and tell this to you, where many shady companies will keep trying to sign you up.

I really hope after reading this article you feel enlightened and now have a much better understanding of how debt settlement works and how a law firm can advantage you the most. I know for the most part I have been focusing on the negative aspects of debt settlement, but I feel it is important for people to understand both the good and the bad, allowing them to make an educated wise financial decision on how to get out of debt. But you must realize just how powerful the benefits of this process are! Saving close to half of what is currently owed and becoming debt free in a few years will be so beneficial to your current and future financial well being. Credit card debt has a way of destroying people’s finances and their lives and debt settlement is the perfect alternative for those who want to escape debt quickly and avoid the embarrassment of filing for bankruptcy.

If you are curious as to whether using a debt settlement law firm can benefit your financial situation then I invite you to follow the link below in the signature box and fill out an application. I welcome the opportunity to review your personal and unique situation to see if debt settlement will be the right fit for you.

Marketing A Law Firm: You Will Need A Law Firm Website

Each year there is more and more online competition for lawyers as law firms reach out to the internet as another mode of marketing a law firm. Lawyers are spending more of their marketing budgets building websites instead of advertising in the traditional ways such as in the phone book.

Traditionally law firms spent a great deal of their marketing budgets on phone book ads. However, it seems that the phone book is becoming obsolete. When was the last time you used a phone book to research a company? Instead of turning to the phone book people now turn to their cell phones, computers, and iPads to research companies and law firms.

Most people these days have access to the internet and most are online multiple times a day. Many use the internet for their work and they sit in front of a computer several hours a day. This means that the rules of marketing a law firm are changing.

It is possible to build a successful law firm using online marketing you just need to have some measurable goals and an understanding of how to get there. Many law firms will pay some web guy to create a website for them. The problem is that just having a website isn’t enough. A pretty website with a great design alone won’t get you business or make your firm more successful.

When people search for something on a search engine such as Google they usually browse over the results on page 1 but most people don’t go much further than that, they don’t click through to see the results on page 2 or 3 and there’s even less of a chance they will click through to pages 5 or higher. If a searcher doesn’t find what they are looking for on the first page or two then they will typically do another search with different keywords. You need to get your site on the first page so that it can be found quickly and easily.

If a law firm just has some web guy create a law firm website they might discover that their website isn’t ranked well on the search engines. Many law firms aren’t even aware of where they rank in Google; they’ve never Googled themselves or asked their web person.

Hiring a professional marketing firm that knows how to bring qualified leads to the firm will give you a big advantage over the firm that just hires a web guy. Thousands of people use the internet to find lawyers. They use the major search engines to type in keywords and search for lawyers in their local area or they search for the best lawyers in a specific field of law. When they do their search, you want to be on the front page when they type in your town or your practice specialty. You want to be as high on the search engines for as many keywords as possible.

A professional website design team will be able to design a site for your firm that not only looks great but one that can be found on search engines and converts site visitors to clients quickly. You want people coming to your site who are looking to hire a firm that specializes in what you do. Hire a web design firm who knows how to get clients to the top of search engines and who has experience in marketing a law firm.