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Why Are Divorce Lawyers Required?

What is divorce? It is the legal act performed by married couples to end their marriage. Divorce is the ultimate step that couples take in marriages that have problems. It is not very favorable, but, in situations where it cannot be avoided; it should be handled with utmost care. Divorces are sensitive issues and leave lifelong scars. The main purpose of a divorce is end the marriage altogether. It can become a messy and long drawn process if it is not handled properly.

In the U.S., each state has its own set of laws regarding divorce. Therefore, Oregon too has its own set of laws.

So how does one go about a divorce? It is not a cheap process and requires a strong mind. If children are involved, the situation gets more complicated. The first thing to be done, when filing for divorce, is to get a good lawyer. It is most important that the client is honest with the lawyer, as the more the lawyer knows about the case the better his appeal will be.

Good divorce lawyers are ones that can handle the case in such a manner that the damage to the people involved is minimal.

Some points are to be kept in mind while appointing a divorce lawyer:

1. It is recommended that a person should consult at least three lawyers before finally choosing one.

2. A good and experienced divorce lawyer should be able to answer any query the client may have regarding divorce proceedings.

3. He should have a good idea of the local laws of divorce.

4. He should be up to date with the recent changes in the law.

5. The fees of the lawyer are another important factor to be kept in mind. Generally the more complicated the case, the higher the fee is.

6. He should not forget that the way in which he handles the case affects the emotions of the people involved.

The other areas that have to be taken care of while filing for a divorce are the custody of the children and the terms of child support. This is one of the most difficult parts, trying to decide what is best for the child. A good lawyer will be able to suggest a path that is beneficial to both parties.

Factors to Consider Before Hiring a Work Injury Lawyer

A workplace accident can happen when one least expects it, which is why employers impose safety precautions that must be adhered to at all times. Even when safety measures are strictly followed, however, an employee can be injured or become ill while on the job. There are times when injuries occur due to the negligence of the injured employee, and there are others caused by the failure of the employer to provide a safe working environment or the negligence of another employee. Being injured at work is devastating, and most often, injured employees do not know what to do after the accident.

All workplace accidents are different. Injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, including the following: slips, trips and falls; falls from elevated areas or ladders; back injuries from carrying heavy objects; cave-ins; electrocution; or being struck by heavy equipment or machinery. Work injuries can result in expensive medical bills, physical pain, emotional trauma, loss of present and future income, and loss of ability to perform daily activities and hobbies. In addition, the injured employee may not be able to perform the same work in the future.

If you are injured at work, you should seek legal help from an attorney familiar with workers’ compensation cases. An experienced attorney will help ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to and are given the ample time to recover from your injuries. Looking for a lawyer requires intensive research to make sure you get the best. Do not just select one just because you recognize the name from television. Instead, research firms on the internet to come up with names of reputable attorneys in your area. Here are a few things to consider before hiring a work injury lawyer:

How many years of experience does the attorney have? Is he a specialist in work-related injuries, or just a generalist? What is his standing in the Bar examination?

What is the attorney’s legal educational background?

What is the lawyer’s track record in work injury cases? If possible, read testimonials from previous clients.

How much does the lawyer charge? Most lawyers operate on a contingent fee basis, which means that you do not pay a legal fee unless you receive compensation in your case.

Once you have narrowed down your list to only four or five names, you need to start contacting each law firm to schedule an initial consultation.

The Tech Savvy Lawyer – Web Technologies And Legal Firms

The Legal Industry & Information Technology

Like all other industries, the legal industry is not insulated from the tremendous changes in information technology over the past decade, and the challenges and opportunities it presents. If anything, the changes have more bearing on law firms & departments because information management is at the core of what they do – consulting with clients, colleagues or experts; increasing compliance & regulation demands, wading through a constantly expanding sea of legislation and case law; managing outsourcing partners; keeping abreast with latest developments; or managing a mountain of matter files.

Recent Trends

Perhaps the most significant change in the legal services industry the decline of “relationship lawyering”.

Recent times have seen increased competition, & changes in underlying market structure. There has been a continuing trend of decline of “relationship lawyering”. Traditionally strong relationships between law firms and corporates are eroding, with more companies opting for in-house legal departments, or “shopping around” for the best deal. Another significant trend is the increasing convergence of legal markets, where competition is as likely to come from a firm in another state or overseas as from a local firm. These & other developments are exerting greater pressures on legal firms to be more efficient, an it is imperative that attorneys spend their time analyzing information, rather than organizing or managing it.

Drivers of Technology Adoption by Legal Firms

Possibilities of Technology – The primary driver of greater use of information technology by legal firms is developments in technology itself. New technologies & greater bandwidths allow great possibilities in the arenas of information management, productivity and remote collaboration. Information can be moved over the internet with greater security. And unlike yesteryear, law firms can access these technologies without hefty costs and the need to set up specialized IT departments.

In 2004, Forrester Research Inc estimated that some 39,000 legal jobs will have moved offshore by the end of 2008.

Outsourcing/Offhsoring – Legal firms are now increasingly open to legal process outsourcing of tasks they traditionally held close – research, transcription, coding and even legal research and the drafting of legal documents. It is commonplace to see a NY based law firm, subletting research work to a team of professional lawyers & paralegals in Bangalore, India. This enables firms to majorly cut down costs & concentrate on core legal functions. But it also necessitates a greater need to communicate, collaborate & monitor the functioning of outsourcing vendors hundreds or thousands of miles away. Security is also an issue, since performance of the services often requires access to regulated consumer data or other sensitive data.

In 2004, almost 60% of lawyers worked at multi-office firms and over 10% of lawyers work at firms with ten or more offices.

Geographic Diversification – As mentioned before, there is a distinct movement towards multiple office firms, with offices spread both nationally and globally. US based companies are now serving many foreign clients, or serving foreign interests of domestic clients. There was a significant presence of international clients in even the smallest law firms of 1 to 20 lawyers. There has also been a spate of global mergers and acquisitions of law firms in the new millennia. All this necessitates a greater need for communication, collaboration and information exchange between branches.

Regulatory Compliance – Since the Sarbanes Oxley Act came into effect, records management has become an essential requirement. Organizations are required by law to retain certain documents for predefined periods. Also, the amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect on December 1, 2006, and apply to any firm involved in litigation in the U.S. Federal Court system. The amendments mandate that companies be prepared for electronic discovery. Firms have to drastically alter the way they preserve, retrieve and produce electronic data.

Competition is coming both from firms spread across the nation & the globe, as well as consultants & advisors who were traditionally not considered part of the “legal industry”

Competition – Because of the death of relationship lawyering, and “one stop shopping” by clients, firms cannot afford to be complacent anymore. Moreover, competition is as likely to come from the opposite end of the country or globe, as from local companies. Competition is also coming from other quarters, consultants and advisors who offer services that were previously the purview of lawyers. In this arena of intense competition, lawyers have to double up as “rainmakers” ; networkers (legal business development) in addition to traditional roles.

IT Needs of the Legal Industry

Centralized Document Storage – The legal profession generates a tremendous amount of digital information in the form of case files, contracts, court filings, exhibits, evidence, briefs, agreements, bills, notes, records and other office activity such as email. This information is the firm’s collective knowledge & learning which sets it apart from competition and needs to be retrieved again and again. Compliance also requires certain documents to be stored & retrievable for extended periods of time. Attorneys across different offices need to access and collaborate on this information.

In 2007, 53% percent of lawyers used a PDA outside of the office, 32% to check e-mail.

ABA Law Tech Report 2007

Remote Access – Ready access to crucial documents and information can sometimes be all the difference between a favorable or adverse judgment. Lawyers now have wings on their feet visiting clients, interviewing experts, or attending outstation court proceedings, and are often out of office. It is important that they are able gain LAN like access to documents from the firm’s repository even when they’re not at the office premises.

Document Collaboration – It is not enough to only be able to access documents from the firm’s storage. A single case file may need multiple inputs from attorneys with different expertise, clients, experts, researchers, and other associates spread over the country or even the globe (in case of outsourcing). Therefore it is important to have the ability to concurrently access and work together on the same file, from right where everybody is.

Remote Conferencing – Sometimes the ability to collaborate on a document may not suffice and actual discussion and knocking together of heads might be needed. Web conferencing allows multiple people to get together in a virtual meeting room and discuss issues as effectively as being there in person.

Security – A lot of the information a legal firm handles is highly sensitive client information, which it is bound my business ethics and contracts to protect. Since this information is mostly accessed and distributed over the public network of internet, and often distributed to third parties at some page, security is right at the top as a concern.

Access Control – Another level of security is the ability to manage who sees what information and what they can do with it. Since multiple parties like attorneys and associates across the company, outsourcing partners, and multiple clients access information from the firm’s central storage this is of prime importance.

Productivity Applications – Although managing documents and information is one of the most important things a law firms IT systems need to do, it is not all. They also need the ability to manage and share schedules, to maintain lists of important contacts, to manage and track different tasks and litigations teams or individual attorneys may be involved with, or billing management.

What They Don’t Need

41% of lawyers had no IT staff at any locations for their firm, while 17% have one person, 8% have two, and 38% have three or more

ABA Law Tech Report 2006

IT Hassles – If getting all the above goodies requires setting up a specialized IT department, installing expensive hardware, and managing ongoing maintenance and upgrades, it might just not be worth it for a small to mid sized law firm. Bigger firms have the deep pockets and incentive to set up dedicated systems, but it might not be sustainable for smaller firms.

Complexity – To ensure that attorneys embrace the IT system, attorneys should be able to concentrate on the information itself, rather than grappling with the nitty-gritties of the system.

Costs – Cost, of course is a top consideration for small to mid sized companies across industries. The ongoing costs and hefty capital investments needed for custom and enterprise systems are just out of reach.

The Software-as-a-Service Advantage for Legal Companies – HyperOffice as a Case in Study

SAAS allows firms to pay for using the software rather than owning it

About eight to ten years back, it was true that access to the above technologies was available only to huge firms whose budget and scale justified dedicated IT departments. Times have changed since then. The software as a service (SAAS) approach, allows even small to mid sized firms easy access to big business technologies, but without having to deal with the messy underbelly and huge costs associated with them.

Benefits of SAAS Solutions

– Low Implementation

– Cost Effective

– Flexible

– Mobile Access

– Enterprise Class Features

– Backup & Security

– Updates & Enhancements

Software as a service (SAAS) is an approach where the software vendor undertakes the burden of creating, hosting, maintaining and securing the application upon himself, and further lets it out to customers over the internet as a service. Customers do not pay for owning the software itself but rather for using it. Some specific benefits of the SAAS approach are as follows:-

No Implementation, No Dedicated IT Department – Since the backend is taken care of by the vendor, users don’t have to bother about hardware, software downloads, server security, configuration etc. Implementation cycles of months are cut down to just a few days. For example, HyperOffice just requires a sign up, and customers can get it up and running within minutes.

Cost Effective: Scale Up & Down as Needed – The cost structure of SAAS solutions is usually a reasonable monthly per user fee. This ensures that minimal costs are locked in, unlike enterprise solutions where tens of thousands of dollars are committed. Moreover, there is no cost uncertainty, as terms are clearly laid out, which allows for greater predictability.

Big Business Features – A range of big business functionality is available to users, but they don’t have to bother about the complex backend which goes with implementing this functionality, since that is the vendor’s headache.

Flexibility & Mobility: Keep Connected Always – These solutions are developed with a view to delivery over the web. This ensures that the system with full functionality is available over simply a web browser, saving users from tiresome downloads or implementations on local workstations. Moreover, since these solutions are children of the internet & mobility era, they also allow access over mobile devices. HyperOffice allows almost full functionality over many mobile device with internet access including iPhone.

User Friendly – Ease of use is of prime importance to a non techie attorney. SAAS solutions are out-of-the-box. Emphasis is on ease of use, with the messy backend taken care of. The entire HyperOffice solution can be managed from a central console and needs no technical expertise at all – truly child’s play!

Backup & Security: Let the Experts Handle It – Ensuring security and disaster preparedness requires effort. Antivirus software needs to be purchased and implemented, the system needs constant monitoring, and physical security of the servers needs to be ensured. Disaster recovery plans also have to be put in place in case of events like fire, natural disasters etc. Backup servers and magnetic tapes have to be maintained, frequency of backups has to be managed etc. Whew!

With SAAS, all this is a part of the messy backend taken care of by the vendor. Moreover, these vendors have developed an expertise hosting and securing applications, since this is their core operation. This is an expertise a mid sized law firm can not, nor would like to develop.

Updates & Enhancements – Since it application resides on the vendor’s servers, the vendor can simply add updates, enhancements and new features at his own end which are instantly available to the users of the application.