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Secretary Cascos reminds voters of Feb. 1 Registration Deadline

Today, Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos reminded Texans that February 1 is the deadline to register in time for the March 1 Primary Election.
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Top 10 from Texas Bar Today: Spiders, Caesar’s Ghost, and the Cornonavirus

Originally published by Joanna Herzik.

To highlight some of the posts that stand out from the crowd, the editors of Texas Bar Today have created a list from the week’s blog posts of the top ten based on subject matter, writing style, headline, and imagery. We hope you enjoy this installment.

10. Of spiders – and viruses.David Coale @600camp of Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst, LLP in Dallas

9. IRS Guidance Regarding High Deductible Health Plans and Expenses Related to COVID-19 – Haynes and Boone Benefits Group of Haynes and Boone, LLP @haynesboone

8. Once More, With Feeling: Business Entities Must be Represented in Court by a Licensed AttorneyKen Carroll of Carrington Coleman Sloman & Blumenthal LLP @ccsblaw in Dallas

7. Social Security May Use Your Social Media Posts to Deny Disability ClaimsLaw Office of Carey Thompson, PC in Fort Worth

6. In A Venue Dispute, Court Held That A Personal Injury Claim Against An Estate Representative Could Be Filed In The County Where The Estate Was PendingDavid Fowler Johnson @TXFiduciaryLit of Winstead PC in Fort Worth

5. ADA and FHA Quick Hits – Great Caesar’s Ghost edition.Richard Hunt of Hunt Huey PLLC in Dallas

4. Netflix Requests for Dismissal of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Trademark Amid LawsuitCris Feldman of Feldman & Feldman, PC. in Houston

3. Coronavirus and the Energy Industry: Drilling into Force Majeure ClausesCharles Sartain, Preston Kamin, and Ryan Frankel of Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C. @GrayReedLaw in Dallas

2. Should Law Firms Market During The Coronavirus Crisis?Stacey E. Burke of Stacey E. Burke P.C. @StaceyEBurke in Houston

1. Law Firms Working Remotely During the Coronavirus ShutdownD. Todd Smith of Smith Law Group LLLP @dtoddsmith in Austin

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Joanna Herzik
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Ag Law: Weekly Round Up

Originally published by Tiffany Dowell.

 

Well…a lot has happened since our last Weekly Round Up.  Currently, all of my programs scheduled through March 31 have been postponed, including our Ranchers Leasing Workshop in Abilene.  We have also postponed our Ranchers Leasing Workshop scheduled in La Vernia.  I will ensure that my “Upcoming Presentations” page remains up to date, so to check on the status of any program, click here.  We are working on some potential online programs, including launching our online Ranchers Leasing Workshop course soon.

Here are some of the ag law stories recently in the news.

*TDA now accepting hemp license applications; regulations finalized.  The Texas Department of Agriculture is now accepting licenses for hemp production. [Click here for more info.]  Additionally, the final Texas hemp regulations have been adopted and are now posted on the TDA website.  [Click here for final regulations.]  We plan to have a revised video and a blog post that provides an overview of the final regulations soon.

*Federal Judge refuses to grant Temporary Restraining Order against Kinder Morgan pipeline.  A federal court judge has rejected plaintiffs’ attempts to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting Kinder Morgan from beginning construction on its Permian Highway Pipeline, which will travel through the Hill Country.  The court found that the plaintiffs failed to show irreparable harm, an element required before a TRO may be issued.  Specifically, the plaintiffs’ argument that the pipeline will harm the habitat of the golden-cheeked warbler, a protected species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, failed to show likelihood of irreparable harm to the species as a whole.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service found the pipeline would impact less than 1% of the warbler’s habitat in the area and offered a number of steps Kinder Morgan can take to minimize the impact.  Thus, the TRO was rejected.  According to KUT, construction on the portion of the pipeline through the Hill Country could begin in a matter of weeks.  [Read article here and Opinion here.]

*Syngenta settlement payments begin. The court has authorized the claims administrator to begin making interim payments to corn producers qualifying under the Synegenta corn litigation settlement.  Initial payments  are set to begin around March 20.  Importantly, to be eligible for payments, producers and crop share landlords must have submitted all required paper work (including the required W-9 form to qualify to receive the interim payment).  For more information, click here.  According to a press release from class counsel, the majority of total payments will exceed $5,000 per farmer

TAMU AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter

*Article highlights potential farm data concerns for farmers leasing land.  A recent NPR article highlights an important issue for farmers, especially those leasing land, to be aware of.  Who has access to your farm data and how might that be used against you?  The article discusses farmer suspicion that companies may be using that data in a way that could result in the tenant losing his or her leased ground.  It is a concerning issue to be sure. [Read article here.]

*Considerations for renting or passing on grazing lease.  Dr. Woody Lane wrote a great article for Progressive Cattleman discussing several critical considerations for producers when determine whether to sign the dotted line on a grazing lease.  These are all topics we discuss at our Ranchers Leasing Workshop, and are helpful for prospective tenants to keep in mind. [Read article here.]

Thank you all for your support of the Texas Agriculture Law Blog. We hope you stay safe and healthy during this time.

 

The post March 20, 2020 Weekly Round Up appeared first on Texas Agriculture Law.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Tiffany Dowell
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Remote Workspaces and The Evolution of Technology in Advanced Personal Injury Firms

Originally published by Alex Hernandez.

Bringing Your Work Home with You:

Remote Workspaces and The Evolution of Technology in Advanced Personal Injury Firms

I’ve been monitoring feedback within articles, news reports, and social media posts written mostly by employees from companies who have responded to the Coronavirus epidemic by sending everyone home to work remotely. One thing I’ve noticed is that overall, it’s a ‘win’ for employers and employees alike. My conclusion of course comes after weighing the positives and negatives. I thought it might be helpful to take some of the most prevalent topics from my reading and comment on them from a personal injury attorney’s perspective. Helpful to whom? Not sure, but any firm who isn’t in the know yet might be wise to not only check out my comments below, but also to do their own research…and fast.

Why did it take so long for firms to make the shift, even without taking COVID-19 into account?

From an employer’s perspective, accountability is the number one issue. From the employee’s, not being micromanaged is important. Good, steady communication can quell both concerns. When I first started employing people remotely, I tried it with my associate attorneys. I assumed they would be perfect for my experiment because they were already used to constant communication needs from senior attorneys, opposing counsel, court staff, and clients. I found for the most part, I didn’t have to remotely “stand over their shoulders” to supervise them. But these employees were used to acting like independent contractors – they didn’t need me to supervise their every move and worked more independently than my hourly staff, like my intake team, my paralegal, my case manager, etc. Of course, I absolutely have to supervise my staff who are not licensed attorneys.

So this was my next step: I started allowing some non-attorney employees to work remotely from home when they had illnesses, an atypical schedule, or school, so they didn’t miss hours or have to take sick leave or put in time-off requests. It did take a lot of trust, I’ll admit, to work through this transition with them. Think about this: as a personal injury attorney, it is an absolute must that my staff answers incoming calls. All of them. I cannot survive in a highly competitive field of practice if I can’t keep up with people’s need for legal services. Of course, accidents and injuries happen every day, so the need is there, always. As soon as I miss a call, potential clients are on to calling the next attorney. So, we had to find a balance that promoted accountability while giving employees the space to work without interruptions from me. The end result was that I was able to track task-completion and monitor incoming call response times by implementing new technology that removed the need for in-person supervision by better-facilitating communication. I’ll get into this more, below.

I sincerely believe it has been the unwillingness of ‘old-school’ firms to consider remote employment that’s contributed to the delay in making the switch. While shaking up the usual and steady routine, switching to remote employment options pushes firms into the future of litigation because it forces firm owners to try new technology, and better communicate with employees, other attorneys, court staff, and most importantly, clients. Ultimately what I learned is what timid firm owners still fear: this is a service industry, you can’t offer great service if you don’t have happy employees, and in regard to the new conditions placed on employees by social distancing and quarantine protocols due the COVID-19 epidemic, you now have the responsibility of offering ways to keep your employees on payroll while at the same time not endangering their health. You need to do make the change or your firm will quickly become obsolete.

What does it mean for your firm if you don’t send your employees home to work remotely?

Other than making a name for yourself as a fuddy-duddy, stick-in-the-mud, and overall mean boss, you may face both substantial economic losses and potential lawsuits. If you don’t give them an opportunity to work remotely under social distancing or quarantine situations, you may be liable for employment-related lawsuits. For instance, the act of requiring employees to come to the office to work, then firing them if they refuse to do, so may be seen as retaliation. Some employees may have conditions covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which you can’t violate by refusing to accommodate them.

Personal injury attorneys should be well aware of the difficulties some of their clients face when seeking medical treatment. It’s going to be infinitely more difficult now for people to get treatment if hospitals fill up with people needing Coronavirus-related testing and medical care. You should be extra sensitive, then, to your employees’ need for safety in the workplace. You don’t need to place them in a position where they may lose their employment because they won’t risk catching the virus. Doing so while knowing how hard it’s going to be to get treatment makes this an almost willful decision to put your employees at risk.

According to a United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration article, person-to-person spread of the novel Coronavirus is thought to occur “mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.” (See more at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/ ). This means that when you pack your office full of people – employees, clients, couriers, etc. – you put every single one of them at risk. There’s too much information out there right now for an employer to deny that risk.

The main lesson here is: stay safe – if you haven’t already done your research, check out the following resources I’ve either considered or implemented in my own personal injury firm that you might find useful as you make the right decision and send your invaluable employees home to work remotely.

What are some great resources for personal injury firms shifting to remote work?

There’s a lot of cool technology out there, but the bottom line technology-wise in most personal injury firms is, as mentioned above, keeping the clients coming in. Whether you’ve made the shift from office to remote work stations, or you’re still thinking it over, you need to assess, and reassess, and triple-assess (I may have just made up that term) what’s out there to help you. And, this isn’t a blog trying to promote or sell any particular software or device, it’s honestly not about that. You may find you’re not happy with the newest stuff out there, but rather the best combination of processes. You want to find a way to streamline any part of your process that’s currently piecemeal.

For instance, there’s the following types of processes in a personal injury firm:

Intake – is it in line with your potential client’s expectations? Do you have a system to capture Every. Single. One? Document storage and organization – can you quickly and efficiently find that crash report or medical record you need? Templates and automation – do you have to reinvent the wheel every time you draft an update letter or create a pleading? Entering time – can you link your emails, documents, and tasks with your time and expense functions so you don’t have to go back and forth between your email account and your case management system each time you respond to a status update request? Invoicing – you’re not creating bills one-by-one still, are you? Correspondence – can you share documents from within the case management system? Send emails? Do you have a digital postal service to timestamp and verify letter correspondence?

There may not always be an all-in-one service that handles each of these processes, but there are some out there that cover a lot-in-one. The changes you need to make when going remote have much to do with taking those functions you typically perform from the office and making them remote-friendly. For instance, mail that absolutely has to go out in letter form can be sent through a digital postal service, with the benefit of a timestamp and verification of sending. Notarization of documents can be done online in many states with a special notary certification. VOIP phone systems with cell phone apps allow employees to place calls from their work phone numbers on their cell phone and, send faxes from their phones or computers. Using the same system, I can meet with my employees and clients from our separate remote locations. Not to mention, for those still concerned with accountability issues related to remote work, I can see when someone is at their desk by an activity light that appears next to their name in our messaging system.

There are tracking tools for computer activity, communication programs that use face recognition to determine when someone is at their desk so that a call can be transferred, adobe and related PDF manipulating programs, simultaneous editing capabilities in word processing programs, screensharing, and so much more.

Look for services like these that combine and streamline functions, check out their free tutorials or demos (done remotely), ask about trials or contract-free subscriptions. You can do this!

How has the Law Office of Alex R. Hernandez, Jr. PLLC prepared itself to represent personal injury clients remotely?

A somewhat consoling prospect in the face of the Coronavirus epidemic is the fact that I’ve been equipping my office personnel with the tools and technology to work remotely, albeit at a somewhat faster pace the last few weeks. I started with making sure everyone had a laptop equipped with the programs we use. I had employees work a day or two a week from home, to come up with a list of snags we needed to work out before going fully remote. This also allowed them time to adjust. I made sure all hard documents were scanned in. I ensured I had updated contact information for all of my clients. And I kept my clients informed about our progress. I was happy to find the majority were supportive. I keep my mind open and continue looking for new technology. Staying alert to the newest trends I remote work technology ensures we can continue providing the best client service possible.

Some tips I’ve gathered from my staff to help avoid snags during the transition from office to remote workspaces:

The biggest reported struggles with working remotely include unplugging after work, loneliness, collaborating, communication, distractions, and motivation. You can see that most of these have to do with a person’s work style, learning style, and personality type. I noticed some of my employees had a hard time adjusting to simply not having a paper document to hold…and this was after my office had been relatively paperless for some time. Something about holding the file in your hand and thumbing through it connected these employees to the task and aided in completion. We were able to resolve this for most with the use of a second screens. They can reference a document on a separate screen while working on their task on their laptop.

The shift to remote work is clearly increasing due to the Coronavirus outbreak. I feel like our firm is ready. Personal injury clients require a lot of communication – they’re going through a tough time, the loss of a loved one, surgeries, other medical treatments, and they need you to be able to keep up with their expectations and needs to a higher degree that clients in other areas of law. I show my clients respect by preparing my team and constantly looking for ways to better serve my clients.

The attorneys and staff at the Law Offices of Alex R. Hernandez, Jr. PLLC hope you stay healthy during this nationwide crisis. If you find yourself needing the assistance of an attorney, please feel free to contact my firm. We’re remote-ready, focusing on our team’s health so we can help take care of YOU.

Alex R. Hernandez, Jr.









The post Remote Workspaces and The Evolution of Technology in Advanced Personal Injury Firms appeared first on Alex R. Hernandez Jr. PLLC | Personal Injury Lawyer | Free Initial Consultation.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Alex Hernandez
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What lawyers can do to take care of themselves during the coronavirus crisis

Originally published by Chris Ritter.

Connect and Debrief. We are not alone. Everyone is struggling. It is hard to know this if we isolate and do not connect. Likewise, if we do not talk to anyone about what we are going through, we do not process the anxiety and we continue to experience ruminating and stress associated with the need to connect and get a healthier perspective. Connecting with others who know firsthand what you are going through can help reduce fear and hopelessness. Fortunately, there are many ways we can connect online and, if you need to talk, check out the many online connection resources on tlaphelps.org or texasbar.com/coronavirus or call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) or text TLAP to 555888.

Set Boundaries and Focus on What You Can Control. Boundaries are important for a person practicing self-care. Do you deserve 4% of your life? That is one hour per day of self-care. In order to get any time, we have to calendar it. We also have to consider limits to our work life and disconnect from the anchor of our emails and smartphones. Likewise, our minds will scan to solve every problem if we do not set a limit, such as this: Can I do anything about this issue today? If not, think of something else that you have some control over today. This can be very effective in avoiding anxiety when we have so little control over the frightening developments all around us.

Learn to Relax. For attorneys dealing with practicing during a world pandemic, relaxing can seem impossible. The mind is an instrument, but sometimes the instrument has become the master. Breathing practices have been effective for attorneys who need to relax or “quiet the mind.” TLAP’s website has links to guided meditations and other ways to relax. Whether it is meditation, running, playing an instrument, cooking, yoga, golf, or something else, it is critical that we do something physical after becoming stressed or we will remain in our sympathetic nervous system and experience chronic stress, which leads to depression.

Practice Gratitude. It can almost feel invalidating to hear someone tell you to look at the bright side. That is not what I am suggesting. I lost my wife to cancer last summer, and I cannot tell you how little interest I had in hearing about the “bright side” of anything. That said, I am certain that gratitude is an effective tool, when self-initiated, for a person experiencing complete chaos. It allows us to look at the things that we do have, that are truly good things, and it prevents our positive mind from atrophying. There are endless things wrong and endless things right in this world, so we can exert some choice in what we focus upon, at least if we practice gratitude. Science shows that thinking of three things each day that you are glad to have in your life can increase your happiness by 25%.

Use Online Resources for Well-Being. Technology has mostly been an obstacle to our well-being as we spend many hours each day connected to devices. We check our phones 150 times per day, read 120 new emails and 94 text messages daily. This was overwhelming before the virus hit. Now, aside from doing your essential work, try to limit your use of technology to finding healthy resources. The State Bar and TLAP have put a number of resources at texasbar.com/coronavirus and tlaphelps.org to help you.

If you or someone you know needs some resources for anxiety, depression, an addiction, grief, or any mental health struggle, TLAP is available to provide guidance and support at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) or text TLAP to 555888.

Chris Ritter is the director of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Chris Ritter
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Netflix Requests for Dismissal of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Trademark Amid Lawsuit

Originally published by Cris Feldman.

Intellectual property laws aim to help businesses and creators protect their work from being misappropriated. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents can all be used in different ways to accomplish this. With trademarks, however, in certain cases it can be difficult to achieve this sort of protection when trying to protect a widely used phrase or word. This is true for major streaming platform Netflix, which has found itself in the middle of a trademark lawsuit where it has requested for dismissal of an existing mark.

In January of 2019, the company behind the popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series of the 1980’s and 1990’s – Chooseco, LLC – filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Netflix for its popular film, “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” The film enticed viewers because it was done in a ‘choose your own adventure’ style, where they could determine the decisions of the main character as the show progressed. Chooseco alleged Netflix attempted to make a profit off of the nostalgia connected to the brand’s books without permission, and that a character in the film refers to his own video game creation as a “choose your own adventure” game. Additionally, Chooseco also accused the streaming service of diluting consumers’ goodwill by linking ‘choose your own adventure’ with the “upsetting” images in Bandersnatch.

Netflix filed a motion to dismiss the case entirely, stating the phrase ‘choose your own adventure’ was only used to describe the film. Judge William Sessions III of the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont rejected Netflix’s request, citing more evidence was needed to evaluate the argument that its use of the phrase was protected by free speech concepts. The trademark infringement litigation remains unresolved, as Netflix has requested dismissal of the existing trademark, because the phrase ‘choose your own adventure’ is a generic term.

Understanding Trademark Infringement

A trademark is a method of branding a product to distinguish it from similar products other companies may produce. Trademarks offer legal protections for words, symbols, phrases, logos, designs, or a combination of those that represents a good or service. For instance, the MGM lion’s roar and the Nike swoosh logo are two easily recognizable trademarks.

Trademark infringement refers to the unauthorized use of an existing trademark, service mark, or a substantially similar mark on goods or services that are related and will likely cause confusion with potential clients or customers. In order to determine if trademark infringement has occurred, the following factors are taken into account:

The strength of the mark The similarity of the trademark holder’s goods or services to the alleged infringer’s The similarity of the alleged infringing mark to the trademark being infringed upon The similarity of marketing channels used for goods and services The degree of care likely exercised by those purchasing goods and services The alleged infringer’s intent behind why they selected their mark The likelihood of expansion of parties’ products or services into new markets Actual evidence of consumer confusion

Texas Trademark Infringement Law

Federal trademark law – called the Lanham Act – authorizes a lawsuit to be brought for infringement of either registered or common law trademark rights. Common law trademark rights are acquired automatically when a business utilizes a name or logo in commerce, and are enforceable in state courts.

Texas trademark law is fairly similar to federal trademark law; however, in Texas, one does not have to register their trademark in order for it to be valid. If the business is using the trademark in commerce in connection with goods and services it provides, that gives rise to common law trademark rights. There are still valuable reasons to register a trademark in Texas, however. For instance, registering a trademark puts other parties in the state on notice that a business has ownership rights to the mark in connection with specific goods and services. Registering a trademark also provides the business with proof it owns the trademark and has the exclusive right to use it.

Texas law also requires the trademark be used by the business prior to registering it. This is because when applying for trademark registration, the business must show it is using the mark in connection with a specific good or service. Once registered, the trademark will remain registered in Texas for up to five years.

Houston Commercial Litigation Attorneys

Protecting a business’ intellectual property can be a complex process. Your company’s ideas should be protected and not infringed upon. At Feldman & Feldman, we have successfully litigated business disputes for over 40 years and will fight for your business’ intellectual property rights. If your business is facing a dispute, contact Feldman & Feldman today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

The post Netflix Requests for Dismissal of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Trademark Amid Lawsuit appeared first on Feldman & Feldman.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Cris Feldman
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Once More, With Feeling: Business Entities Must be Represented in Court by a Licensed Attorney

Originally published by Carrington Coleman.

R2Go Transport LLC a/k/a Ready 2 Go Transport LLC v. Xellex Corp.
Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-19-01246-CV (March 18, 2020)
Chief Justice Burns (Opinion, linked here), and Justices Molberg and Nowell
Ken Carroll

The Dallas Court of Appeals reminded us today that business entities in the State of Texas cannot appear in court pro se or through non-lawyer employees or members. Generally, except for the performance of ministerial tasks (like posting bond), only a licensed attorney may represent a business entity in a Texas court. The rule originated with respect to corporations in Kunstoplast of America, Inc. v. Formosa Plastics Corp., U.S.A., 937 S.W.2d 455 (Tex. 1996). It now extends to virtually all “fictional legal [business] entities,” including partnerships and limited liability companies. See, e.g., Sherman v. Boston, 486 S.W.3d 88, 95-96 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, pet. denied). “Allowing a non-attorney to present a company’s claim would permit the unlicensed practice of law.” Id. (trial evidence presented for LLC by non-lawyer “had no legal effect” and was “legally insufficient to support a judgment”). The rule applies in all courts, trial and appellate—other than small claims courts, for which there is an express statutory exception. Tex. Gov’t Code § 28.003(e) (“A corporation need not be represented by an attorney in small claims court.”).

Here, R2Go’s counsel was allowed to withdraw from the appeal. When the LLC did not obtain replacement counsel, despite having been warned and ordered to do so, the Dallas Court dismissed its appeal, because it could not proceed with its appeal without being represented by a licensed attorney.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Carrington Coleman
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COVID 19 and “Electronic” Execution of English Law Documents

Originally published by Energy Legal Blog ®.

In light of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, many organisations are implementing remote working policies and limiting access to offices in order to effect social distancing measures.  Notwithstanding the changes to usual working practices, organisations continue to enter into binding contractual arrangements with their commercial counterparties.

Energy, Litigation
Alastair Young, Oliver Irwin, John Gilbert
view

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Energy Legal Blog ®
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“Zoom”ing into a new era

Originally published by Sally Pretorius.

If there was ever a time to be thankful for technology, it is now. During the novel coronavirus  pandemic, a majority of attorneys are finding themselves practicing social distancing, which means working remotely. Given our professions, many times court appearances, emergency motions, client meetings, and emergencies cannot wait. To be honest, I was skeptical of using technology for court appearances and hearings because I have been taught the value of in-person relationships and the power of in-person advocacy. However, after a call with Elizabeth Lippy from Trial Advocacy & Consulting, my mind was quickly changed. Our clients trust us to make sure we are capable of assisting them with their legal problems, and given our current circumstances, attorneys need to make sure we are able to rise to that occasion.

That being said, many courts (Collin County being one of the leading counties on this front) have begun to conduct their hearings via a platform called Zoom. To ensure we are fully capable of representing our clients in whatever platform is necessary, I dug into Zoom to make sure I was prepared to use it as an advocacy platform should the need arise. Here are some tips that should help you get started.

Zoom Basics

Creating an account

Aside from Zoom being user friendly and intuitive, the great thing about Zoom is that it’s free—for three people for up to 40 minutes. If you need more people on a call or need more than 40 minutes, you will need to pay for a plan. Even if you do need to pay for a plan, the cost is minimal: $14.99, which gets you up to 100 participants and 24-hour time limit per call (which I hope you don’t need for a hearing). To sign up for an account, you simply enter your email address and then Zoom sends you a link to verify and you are in. Once you have an account, you log in to Zoom and you are usually immediately logged in to your profile. This is where you can see the details of your account, including your personal meeting ID. You can now go in and change your profile picture and manage your account to do more advanced things (once you are proficient and ready to advance).

Pro Tip: Pin the Zoom icon/app onto your desktop for easy access.

Scheduling

So now you are logged in and ready to go. If you are scheduling the meeting, at the top of the Zoom screen, there is a link to “Schedule a Meeting.” Click on that link and begin to enter the details for your meeting. As mentioned, Zoom is pretty intuitive, so filling in the details of your Zoom meeting is similar to creating a calendar invite. The nice thing about Zoom is you can make it audio only or you can make it video as well. If you want video, make sure you turn on video for the host and participant. For the audio selection, I recommend keeping both clicked on so people using their computer can have the sound capability from their computers as well.

Pro Tip: If you want to mute participants upon entry so you don’t have endless chatter and lots of distractions, click that option. You can also record the meeting on your computer if you want to make sure you have a record of the call. While Texas is a one-party state, I would make sure to let the participants know that you are recording them as a courtesy. If you are setting up a meeting with a judge, I would absolutely ask permission before recording the conference as many judges have local rules and policies on recording their proceedings outside a court reporter. If you want a court reporter, you can also invite your court reporter so he or she can make an official record of the hearing/meeting/conference.

Next, click “Save” to create the meeting. The meeting is now saved and ready to share. To invite other people, copy and paste the “Join URL” and send it to other participants. I would suggest including this information in a calendar invite so people aren’t searching for the meeting information.

Participating in a Meeting

If someone is scheduling a meeting and inviting you, he or she will send you a link to join the call or send you a meeting ID. At the top of the Zoom screen, click on the “Join a Meeting” link, enter the meeting ID, and click “Join.” You should then be directed into the meeting space.

Starting the Meeting

To access meetings that you have created, click on the link called “Meetings” on the left-hand side of the screen and you will see all of the meetings you have scheduled. You can use this link to edit your meeting, add the meeting to your calendar, and to share the meeting with other people (remember the three-person limit for a free account).

When it is time for the meeting, click “Start this Meeting.” Follow the prompts to run from a browser or download and run Zoom. You will be asked if you want to join audio—click that selection to hear others and participate.

Tips for Conducting a Hearing on Zoom

Join early

Enter the conference early and make sure that everything is working properly and the features are set up to your preference—just as you would arrive early at a new courtroom to check on things and make sure you are good to go.

Witnesses

If you are going to have witnesses, including your client, present, you need the pro version of Zoom to invite them to participate in the hearing because there is a limit on the number of people allowed on a Zoom session under the free version. Invite witnesses and clients to the session just like any other participant (as detailed above).

Share documents

The easiest way to share documents with the group is through the chat feature. There are more advanced ways, but on a basic level, the best way is to use the chat feature. I would recommend having all of your exhibits ready to go in a folder saved to your desktop. If you have your exhibit stickers added on, that would make it best for everyone present to identify the documents and keep a clear record. I would also recommend emailing your exhibits to the court beforehand, so the court is able to maintain a clear record. Once you have your documents ready to go, click on the chat icon on the bottom middle right of the Zoom screen and a chat feature will be populated on the right side. On the bottom right of that chat feature is a file icon where you can upload a document and everyone on the chat can then see the document. You can proceed as though you are tendering to the court.

Pro Tip: There is an option at the bottom of your home Zoom page to screen share when on a conference call to facilitate the exchange of information and documents. As an attorney, I don’t recommend using the screen share feature because I often have chats and emails coming through on my desktop.

Mute Everyone

It is frustrating to be on a call/conference/chat with background noise because someone did not hit mute. Zoom allows you to mute everyone. To mute everyone on a call, go to the three-dot icon on the bottom right that says “More.” Then click on “Manage Participants” and click “Mute All.” You will then be prompted to either allow or not allow participants to unmute themselves.

Turn Off Video

If you don’t want to be seen on a conference call, simply click the “Start Video/Stop Video” icon on the bottom left-hand corner.

Ensuring Uniform Views

When everyone first logs on, ask them to go to their video settings (the up arrow to the right of the video camera icon) and click the box that says “Hide Non-Video Participants.” If everyone does this and your hearing requires the questioning of witnesses, this ensures that everyone does not have to see all of the Zoom participants on their screen. Similarly, if you click “Speaker View” in the top right corner, the person speaking will be the larger screen in the middle.

Pretty Filter

It is nice to have a softening effect to your video. Under “Settings,” go to “Video” and click the box for “Touch Up My Appearance,” which adds a nice “Pretty Filter” to help out with those blemishes.

Pick a Professional Background

When logged in to Zoom, you will see on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen an icon that looks like a video camera and next to the icon a little carrot arrow pointing up. Click on the carrot arrow and select “Choose Virtual Background.” You can then visit a free background website like unsplash.com and download a free background. This way, it looks like you are in a professional background when you are really in your dining room or home office.

Speaking with your client offline

Once you get proficient at Zoom, there is a capability to use breakout rooms; however, on a very basic level, I would recommend setting up a different call with a client or session with your client to have offline conversations.

Practice makes perfect

Practice! It is going to take some time getting used to speaking into a computer monitor and looking at the right spot for the camera. Try it out with a colleague or by yourself in a practice session. We can do this. Attorneys are trained to think on our feet and adapt.

Sally Pretorius is a shareholder at KoonsFuller Family Law in Dallas. Her practice focuses on divorce, complex property division, child custody litigation, and child support matters. She is certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has received many notable accolades.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Sally Pretorius
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Coronavirus Legal News Briefing (3.19.20)

Originally published by Amy Starnes.

Editor’s Note: The State Bar of Texas is providing this collection of important links, blog posts, and media stories to keep its members and the public informed of the latest news and resources related to the novel coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the legal community.

Important links

State Bar of Texas Coronavirus Legal Resources Page — Texasbar.com/coronavirus Check the Office of Court Administration’s website for court closures or delays reported to the OCA

Texas Supreme Court coronavirus update — Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht ordered the Supreme Court Building indefinitely closed to the public Wednesday in expanding efforts to thwart spread of COVID-19. The State Preservation Board also closed the adjacent Capitol complex. — Texas Bar Blog

Big Law goes remote: Updates on law firm closures during the coronavirus crisis — Firms across the country are making decisions on whether to keep offices open amid the coronavirus pandemic. We catalog here those firms that have confirmed their plans. — Texas Lawyer

Gov. Greg Abbott on Texas bars and restaurants: Expect an announcement Thursday — “We’re dealing with something … that is not just statewide in scope, not just nationwide in scope, but is worldwide in scope,” Abbott said. — The Texas Tribune

Coronavirus outbreak could postpone Texas municipal elections until November — As the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Wednesday that will allow municipalities to postpone their upcoming May 2 elections until November. — The Texas Tribune

As COVID-19 disrupts Spring Break, Texas Supreme Court resolves a key custody dispute — The COVID-19 pandemic has created urgent disputes among divorced parents about who keeps the children during widespread post-spring break school closures, forcing the Texas Supreme Court to step in with an answer. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

Lawyers are supposed to plan for the worst, so how can you ease COVID-19 anxiety? — Getting out of your own head and thinking about other people’s concerns, rather than only focusing on your own, is a strategy to stay sober in the 12-step community. And it’s a good way to deal with anxiety around the coronavirus, regardless of whether you have an addiction issue, says Bree Buchanan, president of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs. — ABA Journal

From inside the Italian quarantine: lawyering on lockdown — Growing up in New Hampshire, I’m used to a degree of isolation from having to remain indoors during winter months. The isolation I experienced then pales in comparison to the conditions we’re currently facing here in Italy, where the streets are empty and constantly patrolled by Italian polizia and Carabinieri. — Texas Bar Blog

Lawsuits over coronavirus quarantines are unlikely to succeed, experts say — Lawsuits challenging COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions on public gatherings may be doomed to failure. — ABA Journal

In Texas, battles over paid sick leave linger as coronavirus spreads (audio) — Of the 193 countries that in the world, 179 offer some form of paid sick leave so workers can stay home when they’re unwell. The U.S. is not one of those countries. — KERA – Austin

Texas is urging patients to seek remote health care. Some insurance plans won’t pay for it. — As millions of Texans isolate themselves in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, state officials are working to ramp up the use of telemedicine. But many health plans are outside of their regulatory authority. — The Texas Tribune

“It’s going to hurt”: New coronavirus shocks Texas economy as length of public health crisis remains unknown — The novel coronavirus has caught governments unprepared, put people out of work and set businesses on the brink of closure. Congress is working on a federal stimulus package as unemployment claims in Texas are expected to rise. — The Texas Tribune

ICE to stop most immigration enforcement inside United States, will focus on criminals during coronavirus outbreak — United States immigration authorities will temporarily halt enforcement across the country except for efforts to deport foreign nationals who have committed crimes or who pose a threat to public safety. — The Texas Tribune

Texas prisons ramp up coronavirus protection measures — As the number of infections and deaths from the new coronavirus rise across Texas, prison officials are ramping up efforts to prevent an outbreak among the state’s 149,000 inmates. — USA Today Network

COVID-19 scams on the rise — Scams related to the pandemic are emerging, but local state and federal officials are taking action to combat such unscrupulous practices. — Texarkana Gazette

Lawsuit in Dallas federal court accuses Chinese government of creating coronavirus as ‘biological weapon’ — The Florida man filed a class-action federal lawsuit Tuesday in Dallas against the People’s Republic for creating “massive damage.” The lawsuit seeks “an award in excess of $20 trillion U.S. Dollars.” The effort, however, is not expected to be successful in court. — The Dallas Morning News

Law schools adopt pass-fail grades as they move online amid COVID-19 — At least five highly ranked law schools have said they are moving to pass/fail grading this semester—a change that could disrupt the normal law firm summer associate hiring process. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

Summer associate hiring was strong, but COVID-19 prompts uncertainty ahead — While the latest hiring data from NALP shows that 2019 was a strong year for summer associate hiring, the coronavirus is raising questions about whether those summer programs will take place as expected. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

COVID-19 throws a wrench into surrogacy — COVID-19 is affecting every facet of our lives, and the world of surrogacy is no exception. — Above The Law

Government guidelines urge people to work from home. So why are government workers required to come to the office? — President Donald Trump issued guidelines suggesting people avoid groups larger than 10 people. Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott directed state agencies to provide flexible and remote work options to employees. But many government workers still don’t have the option. — The Texas Tribune

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To keep up on the latest legal news from around the state, sign up for the State Bar of Texas’ Daily News Briefing by clicking here.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Amy Starnes
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S Corp Election Terminated by Standard LLC Language

Originally published by 1p21.admin.

If you make an S corporation election and do not fix the standard language that is typically included in the LLC company agreement, you’ll void the S corporation election. This is an issue that is usually identified by during an… Read More

The post S Corp Election Terminated by Standard LLC Language appeared first on Houston Tax Attorney Kreig Mitchell.

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The post S Corp Election Terminated by Standard LLC Language appeared first on Kreig Mitchell LLC – Attorneys at Law.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: 1p21.admin
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TX Privacy Protection Council Mtg

For Additional Information Contact: 512/463-0700

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Top 10 from Texas Bar Today: Keeping Calm, Flipping a Coin, and Reclaiming Your Rights

Originally published by Joanna Herzik.

To highlight some of the posts that stand out from the crowd, the editors of Texas Bar Today have created a list from the week’s blog posts of the top ten based on subject matter, writing style, headline, and imagery. We hope you enjoy this installment.

10. Lateral Partners and Associates: What Do You Know About Your Potential New Firm?Cordell Parvin @cordellparvin of Cordell Parvin LLC in Dallas

9. Can A Flip of The Coin Be a Part of Mandatory Pre-Suit Insurance Dispute Mediation Process?Chip Merlin of the Merlin Law Group @MerlinLawGroup

8. Can Application Programming Interfaces (“APIs”) Be Protected Under Copyright Law? – Peggy Keene of Klemchuk LLP @K_LLP in Dallas

7. Keep calm….and make things up!Law School Academic Support Blog

6. New DOL Rules Regarding Tips and Joint Employment Face Uncertainty In CourtsRobert G. Chadwick, Jr. @chadwicklawusa of Seltzer Chadwick Soefje & Ladik, PLLC in Frisco

5. Why Your Law Firm Logo Colors Look Different in Print FormatLisa Hopkins of Stacey E. Burke P.C. @StaceyEBurke in Houston

4. Reclaiming Your Rights as an AuthorCharles Wallace of Creedon PLLC @CreedonPllc in Frisco

3. Keeping Score in Midstream Dedications in Bankruptcy: Midstreams 2, Producers 1 –  Charles Sartain and Lydia Webb of Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C. @GrayReedLaw in Dallas

2. Insider Trading: The New Prohibition Act Finally Defines the TermJohn T. Floyd of John T. Floyd Law Firm @HoustonDefender in Houston

1. Key Contract Issues for Creating or Revising Your Confidentiality, Ownership, and Employment AgreementSuzy Fulton of Grable Martin Fulton PLLC in Austin

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Joanna Herzik
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Why Your Law Firm Logo Colors Look Different in Print Format

Originally published by Lisa Hopkins.

Your law firm’s logo is one of the most important aspects of its brand identity. A logo is the foundation of the firm’s entire design aesthetic, signaling to consumers subliminal messages right off the bat. Is your logo traditional with a serif font – potentially indicating a more conservative or even older law firm? Or…

The post Why Your Law Firm Logo Colors Look Different in Print Format appeared first on Stacey E. Burke, P.C..

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Lisa Hopkins
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Insider Trading: The New Prohibition Act Finally Defines the Term

Originally published by John Floyd.

Insider Trading: The New Prohibition Act Finally Defines the Term

Insider trading takes place quite frequently in the stock market. Anyone, from an everyday investor to a CEO of a successful company, can and do engage in the illegal activity.

 

However, prior to the current year, insider trading was not codified. That made it difficult for federal authorities to go after insider traders because they had to rely on precedent rather than law.

 

In other words, federal prosecutors had to use rulings from other cases to prove their own instead of pointing to specific statutes and legislation.

 

The Insider Trading Prohibition Act was enacted to change this dilemma. Let us explain.

 

What Exactly Is Insider Trading?

 

To better understand the laws regarding insider trading, it is important to first identify what insider trading is. One common misconception is that all insider trading is illegal. That’s not the case. There are in fact both legal and illegal forms of insider trading.

 

Legal Insider Trading

 

Essentially, an “insider” is anyone at a director or senior officer level in a corporation or someone who owns more than 10 percent of a company’s share of votes. That definition ensnares  anyone authorized to trade a company’s shares based on knowledge not available to the public.

 

These insiders are legally allowed to purchase stocks in their firms as well as the subsidiaries that employ them – but these trades must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

Illegal Insider Trading

 

Illegal insider trading is the practice of trading non-public information for profit. This could be done by anyone, even if the person is not directly connected with the company. For example, a waiter could overhear a conversation between two executives of a publicly-traded company who are out for lunch. While this scenario is highly unlikely, if the waiter then sells this non-public information to someone, they could face possible indictment for insider trading.

 

The Insider Trading Prohibition Act (ITPA)

 

The Insider Trading Prohibition Act (ITPA)

The ITPA codifies and defines insider trading in a legal terms. The new legislation specifies that it is unlawful for a person to buy, sell, enter into or cause the purchase of securities when they are aware of any material, nonpublic information (MNPI) related to the respective security.

 

This includes any MNPI that would be reasonably expected to affect the market price of said security. The person must also know or recklessly disregard that the information was wrongfully obtained or used.

 

Other Important Takeaways on Material, Nonpublic Information

 

MNPI must be given for direct or indirect personal benefit.

 

The ITPA prohibits the wrongful communication of MNPI. It codifies the act of “tipping” which has previously existed only in case law. The new Act specifically make the sharing of MNPI information to another person when there is a reasonably foreseeable chance it may be misused.

 

Trading while aware of MNPI would be wrongful if it constitutes: theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach of confidentiality obligations or relationships among other factors.

 

ITPA codifies the SEC’s stance that insider trading, even without an agreement not to trade, is still a breach of confidentiality. It also adds that it is a breach of contract.

 

The ITPA states that a person does not necessarily have to know how the MNPI was obtained or communicated or whether or not there was any personal benefit. They may still be guilty if they were aware and chose to ignore that the MNPI was wrongfully obtained and used.

 

The SEC many grant exemptions to the new trading ban under some circumstances.

 

What Is the Significance of the ITPA?

 

As seen in the analysis above, the ITPA codifies a lot of case law, transforming previous precedents into statutory law, making it easier for prosecutors to go after cases of insider trading.

 

Although this is an important piece of legislation, it also has implications of casting a wider net over those who may be found guilty of insider trading.

 

It is important for individuals who have been accused of insider trading under the new law to understand that they are entitled to their right for legal representation. Since this legislation is so new, it is recommended to find a lawyer who specializes in securities cases.

 

Why? Because the penalties for insider trading are pretty steep.

 

The Penalties of Insider Trading

 

Individuals accused of insider trading may be charged with a securities fraud charge. These charges carry severe penalties.

 

The maximum criminal penalties for insider trading are 20 years imprisonment and/or $5,000,000 in fines. A non-person entity (such as a corporation) can face a fine up to a maximum of $25,000,000.

 

Individuals may also be held liable for civil damages depending on the circumstances surrounding their case.

 

With such steep penalties and in light of new legislation, individuals accused of insider trading need to understand what is at risk. If you are charged with insider trading, don’t face them alone. Find an experienced Texas securities attorney to bring into your fold.

The post Insider Trading: The New Prohibition Act Finally Defines the Term appeared first on .

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: John Floyd
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Texas Bar Journal Must-Reads for February

Originally published by Eric Quitugua.


Check out our highlights from the February issue of the Texas Bar Journal. 

Slicker Than a Boiled Onion
What Texas lawyers need to know about data privacy, the GDPR, and the CCPA.
By Kathryne “Kate” M. Morris

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Eric Quitugua
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Scams continue to target Texas attorneys

Originally published by Joanna Herzik.

Update 2/5/20: We received reports from two more attorneys who received the same scam as the one we reported on January 27, with slight variations in the emails they received. The emails were also from Compass Upstream Services, LLC out of Austin, TX, soliciting help in drafting an equipment lease agreement but were were from a vice president Ryan Johnson. One attorney called the telephone number from the email and website, and no one answered. The call went to an automated voicemail that had a strange sounding ring. There were two different email addresses, a comcast.com email address and a compassupstreamservices.com email address, used for Ryan Johnson in the emails that another attorney received.

Update 1/27/20: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a person named James Marshall, who claimed to be with a company called Compass Upstream Services LLC, based out of Texas. In his email, the scammer stated that his company was going to lease drilling equipment to another Texas company, at the rate of $65,000 per day, and he wanted to know if the attorney could write the lease agreement. In the scammer’s email, he said he needed an attorney in “your state,” which the attorney assumes means Texas.

The attorney was suspicious of the email and found no record of the scammer’s LLC being registered in Texas. The attorney checked the ICANN database for the scammer’s domain name. As of Saturday, the scammer’s domain name and website did not exist, but they do exist as of today. The attorney inspected the scammer’s website, www.compassupstreamservices.com, and found that it looks like an exact copy of the website of another oil company, www.marriottdrilling.com.

Update 11/14/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a Japanese company named Kuraray Co. Ltd, which appears to be a real company. The email used a fake email address, and stated that the Japanese company had a claim against a Grand Prairie company for unpaid invoices and wanted to hire the attorney. The attorney ignored the email but eventually received a fake settlement check that appeared to come from the Grand Prairie company, but the check was mailed from Canada. The attorney was invited to deposit the check and take out the attorney’s fee, even though the attorney never negotiated or requested the fee. The attorney took the check to their bank, and the bank spotted several problems with the check and confirmed it was fake, as did the real Grand Prairie company.

Update 9/18/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a scammer using the name of a law firm from Texas but with an email using a domain address from Australia: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The email states that the attorney is being sued by the scammer’s client, must download a link to find out the details of the “immense psychological suffering” the attorney caused with their words, and that the scammer and the client will see the attorney in court.

Update 9/3/2019: A Texas attorney today reported that someone falsely claiming to represent the State Bar of Texas called her to request payment of bar fees. The call came from the number 888-270-4815, which is not associated with the State Bar. Fortunately, the attorney realized she was being targeted by a scam and reported it to the bar. Legitimate messages regarding State Bar of Texas fees will come via mail or email from the State Bar Membership Department. Attorneys can contact the Membership Department at 800-204-2222 (ext. 1383) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to verify whether a communication is from the State Bar.

Update 6/27/2019: We received reports of two more scams. An attorney reported two scams he has received via email. In the first one and the one he receives most often, he receives an email from “Alexis Berger.” The email generally contains the following information: “I am seriously in need of your legal assistance. i lent my brother-in-law some money and has refused to pay back i checked your profile and find your firm capable of assisting me in my legal issue. Here is my email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Mr Alexis Berger.”  The email address usually varies by the numbers at the end of the scammer’s name and is always at gmail.com. This scam has also been reported by numerous attorneys in the United States and Canada. The second email the attorney received is an email from “Shin Okura” with Tokai Electronics, a Japanese company, apparently looking to bring a claim against a local Houston company for unpaid invoices. Invoices and documents were also provided which looked very suspicious and altered. This scam has also been reported by law firms in Canada.

Update 6/24/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney was contacted by a scammer who requested to retain the attorney’s representation for a dog bite case. The scammer claimed they were bit by a dog, that the dog’s owner had agreed to pay a settlement for medical expenses, and that the dog owner had not yet paid. The attorney was also contacted by the person claiming to be the dog owner, who was part of the scam. The dog owner claimed to want to pay the settlement to the scammer through the attorney and out of court. The scammer also used photos from a news story in the UK that they claimed showed the dog bite. This same scam has been reported in other states, with the scammer using different cities where the dog bite incident occurred.

Update 5/31/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney was recently made aware that an unknown individual going by the name Simon Grant has stolen the attorney’s name, bar number, and publicly available contact information. The scammer contacts victims by email and is using the attorney’s information to defraud individuals by claiming to be the attorney or be employed by the attorney. The scammer also created a false website which has since been taken down.

Update 3/13/19: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received an email inquiry for a new case through the attorney’s firm website. The scammer requested to retain the firm for help in getting repayment for a loan. A copy of the supposed loan agreement was sent to the firm. The address used for the loan borrower is local to the firm’s location. The address the scammer listed as their own is located in Hong Kong. The scammer used the name Mr. Zhang Chang. A similar scam by someone with that name was previously reported by two Ontario law firms.

Update 1/30/2018: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney recently received an email that is part of an ongoing scam directed to attorneys in which the scammer is attempting to get the attorney to wire real funds after receiving fraudulent payments (bad checks or fake credit cards). The text of the email is as follows:

Hello,

I am in need of your legal assistance regarding a breach of loan agreement I provided a friend of mine in the amount of $750,000. He needed this loan to complete an ongoing project he was handling last year. He now resides in your jurisdiction and the loan was for 24 months with interest accrued at the rate of 7.5%. The capital and interest were supposed to be paid May last year but he has only paid $50,000 which was in October.

Please let me know if this falls within the scope of your practice, so that I can provide you with the loan documents and any further information you need to know.

Thanks,

Scott Steinberg.

Update 1/25/2018: We received a report of another scam. A Texas law firm received an inquiry through their website asking if they could draw up a contract for the sale of used construction heavy equipment. The firm responded asking for more details, and the “seller” in Florida sent a detailed appraisal and photograph of the equipment, complete with serial number and a signed letter of intent from a buyer in Texas. The “seller”, “buyer,” and “broker” information all checked out online in Florida, and the “buyer” information also checked out on the Texas Secretary of State website. All were legitimate businesses involved in that type of transaction.

The “seller” signed the engagement letter and sent a paper check from New York that looked legitimate and appeared to be issued by the “buyer.” The firm deposited the check into their trust account. Later that week, the “seller” asked them to wire part of the funds for an inspection of the equipment. Because the check hadn’t cleared the firm’s bank and the wire was to a location in Asia, the firm didn’t send the money, and they inspected further.

The firm called the “seller” who answered using the name of the legitimate Florida businessman. He provided a number during that call that went to a recorded voicemail matching the “broker” details. They called a phone number from the broker’s website, and the real broker answered and said they were the second firm that week to call him (the other was from Delaware), that a scammer had ripped off his letterhead and information, and that he was not involved in any transaction like they described. The firm also contacted the “buyer” using an independent number they found, and the local person who answered said that he ran a legitimate business but was not buying any equipment and knew nothing of the transaction.

The firm contacted their bank, and the bank president contacted the issuing check bank. The issuing check bank was a real bank, but the check and account number with that bank were phony.

Update 11/15/2017: We have received a report of another scam. A person in Australia was contacted by a scammer using a Texas attorney’s information. The person who was contacted was scammed previously and lost money, and he believes it is the same scammers who are contacting him again. In the emails, the scammers say they can recover the person’s money for him from a company, Norton Pearce Associates, that has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Update 9/13/17: We have received a report of another scam. A person in New York received a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson, who lives in Texas. She was told that he was in jail and needed bail money. They told her to call (877) 386-6064 for the Bradford Law Firm and ask for attorney Allen Roberts. The phone number has been disconnected, and the Texas attorney Allen Roberts is deceased.

Update 7/13/17: We received a report from an attorney who was contacted through their firm Facebook page and by e-mail by someone who claims that the attorney represents them in a lawsuit in Kenya. The person is not a client of the firm, and they have no record of any previous communication with the person.

Update 6/26/17: We received a report of another scam targeting Texas attorneys. An attorney received a scam email seeking representation to draft a purchase and sales agreement for a boat sale. The scammer sent the email using another attorney’s name in the email address. View the scam email attachment.

Update 5/26/17: We received a report of another scam targeting Texas attorneys.

A lawyer received a call from someone purporting to be from the State Bar of Texas. The caller, who identified the date the lawyer was admitted to practice law in Texas, offered the attorney a half-year free membership and listed associated benefits. After the attorney refused and ended the conversation, the caller attempted to contact another lawyer in his office but was stopped by the receptionist.

The State Bar of Texas Membership Department does not call attorneys with special offers for membership dues.

Update 5/4/17: We received reports of two more scams targeting Texas attorneys.

A law firm received emails from a person asking to hire the firm to collect payment for goods provided to a third party. The firm also received an email from the third party. Both emails were fake. The firm also received a check as a retainer, and upon verification with the Canadian bank listed on the check, confirmed it was fake. View the scam emails and fraudulent check.

Another law firm received several scam emails within a few days of each other from different senders from locations in Europe, the Netherlands, Africa, and the United States. The emails were requests for various legal services including help with a real estate loan default, seeking assistance with an investment, and drafting a purchase and sales agreement for a drilling rig. The firm also received a fake out of office reply email from a sender they did not contact.

Update 4/17/17: We received a report of another scam in which a law firm’s accounting department received an email purporting to be from the president of the firm, instructing them to pay a statement for $19,500 for professional service. When accounting requested more information, the president responded that the email was not from him. The address it appeared to come from was This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Update 4/11/2017: We received reports of two more scams targeting Texas attorneys.

An attorney received a phishing email. He tried to open an email which appeared to be from a referring attorney sending documents via DocuSign. Over 20 people on his contact list also received the email. The hackers sent out thousands of fake emails to his contacts which appeared to be coming from him. The hackers also responded to inquiries from his contacts questioning if the phishing email was legitimate.

Another attorney received a fraudulent check. He received a $400,000 check that cleared his bank and was told it was part of a $1,000,000 deal. He also received a second payment. He received instructions to deduct his fee and wire the remaining funds to Kenya. He called his bank to verify the check. The check had a name and address on it that appeared to belong to an oil company but was that of a U.S. insurance company.

Update 3/9/2017: We have received a report of a phishing scam targeting Texas attorneys. The scammer stated they were seeking legal counsel. View a copy of the scam email.

Update: 2/23/17: We have received reports of another scam email targeting Texas attorneys. Some attorneys have received emails that appear to be coming from another attorney. It appears that the scammer was able to access attorneys’ email address books for the purpose of forwarding the e-mail from one attorney to another giving the appearance that it is a referral. It is apparently a scam enlisting attorneys to prepare legal documents upon receiving a cashier’s check deposited in trust accounts with an overpayment of legal fees being returned to the scammer from the attorney’s trust account. The initial payment is fraudulent.

Law firms in Canada and the UK have received similar e-mails.

The scam emails are coming from the following accounts with the name Tijmen Smit: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Update: 9/23/16: A San Antonio lawyer has notified the State Bar of Texas that he received a fraudulent check as part of an attempted scam. View the fraudulent check and scam letter.

Update 2/26/16: We received a report about another fraudulent check scam targeting attorneys.

Update 2/3/16: We received a report of a new scam targeting clients of attorneys. Scammers are “spoofing” phone numbers of attorneys and calling clients to get money. Read the full story.

Update 10/23/15: The State Bar of Texas has been alerted to a potential email scam involving a debt collection. On October 20, a Fort Sam Houston attorney received an email from a sender who claimed that she had lent a sum of money to a borrower, and that the borrower had not yet repaid the loan in full and had since moved to Texas. The sender claimed she was seeking legal assistance in the matter and requested information about the attorney’s fees. The message also included a copy of two checks (here and here) and an alleged loan agreement promissory note.

Update 10/8/15: We received a recent report of a scam targeting attorneys. An attorney was contacted by a company and received a bogus check. Read the details on this fraudulent check scam.

Update 2/26/15. We have received a report of a scam from an attorney who received a request for assistance. She spoke on the phone to the proposed client, who asked that a buyer send the firm a 15 percent deposit from a purchase price to use as a retainer, that the firm bill their fees against it, and return the remainder to the client. Upon further searching, the attorney uncovered a scam.

Update 6/4/14. We received a report this week about a sophisticated scam involving collection with a fraudulent certified check that has affected at least three Texas attorneys. Read the details here

10/18/13. We received a report today that the name of a San Antonio law firm is being used in a debt collection scam, where scammers apparently obtained files from a payday loan company. The scammers are calling people all over the country, saying they are with the law firm, and threatening the people with arrest if they do not immediately pay their debts. Law enforcement and the Secret Service in San Antonio are investigating the matter.

9/17/13

Texas attorneys should be extra-vigilant regarding potential scams involving fraudulent checks or wire transfers. These scams are increasing in sophistication, sometimes involving innocent third parties who seek legal services at the request of a scam artist.

The bottom line is this: Never issue a check from a trust account until deposited funds have been collected.

Scam scenarios include:

a request for help in collecting a divorce settlement from an ex-spouse unsolicited email requests for legal help collecting money or judgments, sometimes apparently coming from actual professionals whose identities have been stolen a real estate transaction for an overseas client (whose identity was stolen by a scam artist) involving an innocent third-party realtor impersonation of law firms by scam artists who issue bogus checks and attempt to charge a fee for the checks to clear a bogus check received by a law firm, purportedly for payment regarding representation of an inmate impersonation of a lawyer and law firm by a scammer “collecting debts” under the attorney’s name

Again, be vigilant and do not disburse funds from your accounts until underlying funds have cleared your bank (and not simply been made “available”).

Cases involving bank fraud are investigated by the Secret Service. If you are targeted, contact an office in your area. Internet fraud should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If a scam has targeted you or your firm, please leave a comment below describing the scenario or tactics the scammer used.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Joanna Herzik
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Can A Flip of The Coin Be a Part of Mandatory Pre-Suit Insurance Dispute Mediation Process?

Originally published by Chip Merlin.

A number of public adjusters and contractors have inquired whether I’ve seen recent forms that require the selection of a mediator by the flip of a coin. I was going over a policy sent from a mid-west public adjuster yesterday and came across the following negotiation and mediation condition in the loss settlement portion of… Continue Reading

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Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Chip Merlin
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Lateral Partners and Associates: What Do You Know About Your Potential New Firm?

Originally published by Cordell Parvin.

Someone asked me recently, why should a lateral partner or associate use a recruiter? It’s a good question. I can answer by sharing a story with you and simply say that I have only placed lawyers in firms I know well from having coached lawyers and interacted with the firm leaders.

When I was at the top of my game, two large international firms heavily recruited me. Both firms offered me substantially more money than I had made the year before.

Business people in a seminar

I didn’t have a recruiter helping me so I had to learn as much as I could about each of the firms. It took hours, and days and a couple of months for me to get beyond the substantial increase in my compensation that both firms offered and learn what it would be like being a partner in each firm.

One of the two firms was considered one of the fastest growing firms in the world. They had previously started a Dallas office, but it wasn’t much (and still isn’t much.) They offered me big time money, but over the time they recruited me I learned that they were ditching as many partners as they were hiring. I might have been the flavor of the month when they hired me, but if I didn’t; meet their unstated expectations, I would be gone as quickly as I had been hired.

The second firm had a substantial Dallas office. Their managing partner described the firm as being like a large air craft carrier that turns very slowly in the water. The firm seemed less entrepreneurial than the first firm, and my then current firm. They seemed more focused on building teams. Some of that appealed to me. But, then I discovered there were several older partners who had retired on the job and were still being compensated as if they were top producers.

Even though my initial compensation with either firm would have been substantially greater than what I was earning, neither firm was the right firm for me. I urge you to learn more about any potential firm you might join before you make a move. A top notch recruiter can discern whether the potential firm is the right one for you.

 

The post Lateral Partners and Associates: What Do You Know About Your Potential New Firm? appeared first on Cordell Parvin Blog.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Cordell Parvin
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Keep calm….and make things up!

Originally published by Academic Support.

If you are taking the February Bar Exam, you have about 2 weeks or so left to study. Don’t panic. There is no possible way to know ALL of the law, so don’t start cramming and trying to figure out …

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Academic Support
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