Attorney Ryan McKeen Speaking To UConn Law Class

Eighteen years ago, on October 1, 1996, REM’s “Monster” tour rolled into Hartford’s Meadows Music theater.  Opening for REM that evening was a far lesser known band called Radiohead. On that warm early fall evening, I bought my first concert shirt. The shirt was a drawing of a bear in the woods with a question mark over its head. Below the picture was the following quote:

I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. – Jack Kerouac

If I still had the shirt, I’d wear it to UConn Law School on Wednesday night.  I’m serving on a panel of three lawyers for UConn’s Business of Law class. I’ll be discussing building a law practice and offering about 30 students my own confusion.

I’m extremely fortunate to have the clients that I have. Law is about community and people. Focusing a practice on representing individuals and small businesses presents a lawyer with an extraordinary opportunity to connect, improve, and grow relationships with clients.

The process of growing and building a practice is just that. It’s a process. Really it is many processes. At it’s core, building a practice is about letting people know what you do and doing great work for clients.

I hope that sharing my various struggles with the confusion that can come with building a practice can help someone else land clients as good as mine and enjoy the adventure that is small firm practice.

 

 

One

McKeen Law Firm, LLC turns one today. It has been an amazing year. We’ve championed causes at trial, on appeal, and before the General Assembly. Many of our victories have occurred in resolving matters favorably for our clients in ways that don’t grab headlines. We’re proud of our work.

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This year I’ve spent a lot of time and money improving my trial advocacy skills. I’ve attended national seminars and have developed an extensive library of the most cutting edge trial materials available. I’ve invested time and resource into putting technology to work for our clients both in the courtroom and in our office.

The investments have and will continue to pay dividends. This summer, I took a matter to trial 6 days after I was hired, and three days after I filed suit. I squared off against 3 lawyers and a small army of assistants from one of Connecticut’s largest firms. Ultimately, the judge found in favor of the defendants on a question of law that no court had ever addressed. While the result wasn’t what I had hoped for, I’m proud of the fight we put up at trial. Opposing counsel – ever gracious – couldn’t believe that I was able to pull off this kind of trial on such short notice.

There have been victories at trial as well. I’m proud of those but wise enough to know that strong advocacy has little to do with result. We’ll continue winning cases in our second year.

We’ve also invested significant resource into streamlining our real estate closings. The goal is to have the client’s walk out saying “that was easy”. The processes that my team has in place continue to yield satisfied clients and have allowed us to lower our fees on closings.

For the second year in a row, I’m very proud to sponsor the McKeen Law Firm Race To Fill the Pantry on November 9th. Such a great race. Hope to see you there.

As my workload has increased my blogging has suffered. I’m aware of this and working on ways to expand the presence of this site and others.

I’m actively exploring ways to grow and better serve my clients. This next year is going to be big. To reflect this, I’ve changed the cover page of several social media accounts to the lion pictured above.

In year two, “we’re running to roar”. We’re ready to hit our stride.

Many thanks to my family, friends, and clients who have placed their faith in my. I could not operate without you. I am forever grateful.

 

A Little Labor Day Law

Happy Labor Day! Labor Day marks the end of summer. And for many Connecticut students it means back to school. Here’s a little school law post for your holiday weekend.

Connecticut General Statutes Section 1-4 is one of the more interesting statutes on the books.  Check this out:

When any such holiday, except holidays in January and December, occurs on a school day, each local and regional board of education may close the public schools under its jurisdiction for such day or hold a session of the public schools on such day, provided, if a session is held, the board shall require each school to hold a suitable nonsectarian educational program in observance of such holiday. If a holiday in January or December occurs on a school day, there shall be no session of the public schools on such day.

A local school board can decide to hold school on Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans’ Day,  and Memorial Day so long as there is an educational program in observance of the holiday.

However, there can be no school on Martin Luther King Day and Christmas. Educational programs won’t suffice.

Why?

It’s an elaborate tap dance by our legislature to avoid the appearance of endorsing religion (yes, I know Christmas is a secular holiday) and at the same time insure school is not held on Christmas.

Have a wonderful school year and a happy and safe labor day.

McKeen Selected For Hartford Business Journal’s 40 under 40 Class

This morning, the Hartford Business Journal announced it’s 2014 – 40 under 40 class. I’m proud to have been selected.

A year ago yesterday, I began building McKeen Law Firm. I didn’t know where my office was going to be, what my firm was going to be named, or when I was going to open. Life had given me a blank slate.

While my name makes the Hartford Business Journal – my success wouldn’t be possible without the support of many people. I’m most grateful to my family for supporting me. When I needed it the most they were they helped and believed in me. Thank you, Allison and Mom and Dad.

None of what I do would be possible without the assistance of Ruth Deslauries who capably assists me on litigation files and Jackie Pentalow who makes smooth real estate closings possible.

Most of all this wouldn’t be possible without my clients. Thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to earn your trust.

Being selected is great. Now time to get back to work. Thank you.

McKeen Moderating Connecticut Landlord-Tenant Law Seminar

“You’re going to look back and think this was one of the best things that’s happened to you professionally.”

It surely didn’t feel that way at the time. Those were the words of a partner to me in my first year of practice. I was in the middle of one of the nastiest and most difficult cases that I’ve encountered in my nearly 9 years of practice. It was a commercial eviction.

I am representing the landlord. The tenant is represented by two law firms. The tenants lawyers file every motion in the book seeking to delay and/or deny my client possession of their property. I obtain judgment for my client but the case isn’t over.

It’s the day before Christmas Eve. It’s supposed to be an easy day in the office. I plan to have lunch with the partners after exchanging gifts. Except I get served with an injunction, ordering me to refrain from serving a writ of execution. The fax machine starts spewing out paper – motion after motion appears on my desk.

The clerk calls – the Judge wants argument on a Writ of Audita Querela at four o’clock. I’ve never heard of a writ of audita querela. The judge wants a brief in 90 minutes. I frantically research the the issue and respond.

Ultimately, I win a dismissal of the tenant’s case on appeal and gain possession of the premises for my client.

Going through the process was terrible. There were all sorts of motions, hearings, discovery, and challenges. My comfort zone as a young lawyer was being tested every day for months on this case.

Landlord-tenant law has been a part of my practice for 9 years. It is a quirky area of practice filled with pitfalls for the unwary. The very nature of summary process has helped me improve my trial and litigation skills – deadlines are quick and trials happen. I’ve represented both residential and commercial landlords and tenants.

I’m looking forward to moderating and being a panelist at Lorman’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Law Seminar in Rocky Hill on September 23rd. Mostly I’m looking forward to listening and learning from an outstanding group of lawyers.

My presentation focuses on abandoned property. It is an area of significant potential liability for landlords.

If you are interested in attending, please email me: ryan at mckeenlawfirm.com. I can send you a 50% off promo code.

All of my speaking fees generated from the seminar are being donated to Achilles International CT.

 

Helping Those In Need of Pro Bono Foreclosure Counsel

About five years ago, I stopped taking foreclosure defense cases. Defending a foreclosure action is always both frustrating and time intensive – banks lose documents. I made the decision to focus my practice on other areas of the law.

I’ve never lost my desire to help homeowners in a time of crisis. So many people are an illness or job loss away from being a defendant in a foreclosure action. Those who find themselves facing foreclosure are confronted with overwhelming stress.

In 2013, I signed up for the Hartford Judicial District’s volunteer attorney program to assist those facing foreclosure. I signed up in November and the first available date was in July – a testament to the generosity of the Hartford County Bar.

When I arrived at court, I was nervous. Nervous that I wouldn’t be able to adequately help those in need in a quick consult.

In two hours of volunteering I assisted 5 people. Most of them had very simple questions. Others needed basic guidance. For example, a mother an a daughter sat across from the table. A relative had passed away and taxes hadn’t been paid on the property. There was no mortgage. The home had been in the family for 60+ years. The tax liens had been sold to a private party who was foreclosing.

The family didn’t know what to do. I asked if an estate had been opened. They told me one hadn’t. I assisted them in finding the probate court in their jurisdiction, told them that they needed to be appointed as administrators of the estate, and then outlined some options for them in the foreclosure process.

The advice was what I would consider to be very basic.

The barriers that confront pro se litigants are many. Making a difference doesn’t require undertaking a significant amount of litigation for a party at great personal sacrifice. It can be found in lawyers providing the most basic of legal assistance.

 

What Do You Need For A Paperless Law Office?

It’s easy to overlook the small things. I spent two years designing and improving on my paper-less firm. Yet…..just last week, I purchased a low tech piece of equipment that makes a big difference. A power cord.

Taking notes on my laptop is great. However, until battery life significantly improves or wireless charging hits the market – power will always be an issue. While you are busy deciding on hardware and software it is easy to forget about power on the road.

Watch the video below for a $4.99 low-tech must buy tool for your paper-less law office. I carry one of these with me when I know laptop battery may be an issue. Great for your practice, cheap, and it may help you make friends at a conference, coffee shop, in an airport, or at court.

A Connecticut Bicycle Accident Attorney On Protecting Yourself Before An Accident

Not only are drivers distracted – they are often uninsured or underinsured. Watch the video below to find out how you can protect yourself before getting on a bike.

In Connecticut, your automobile policy will cover you on a bike. Having the right insurance makes a big difference in the event of a collision. Ask your insurance agent about maximizing your underinsured coverage and purchasing a conversion policy. Protect yourself – it’s dangerous out there.

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Attorney McKeen represents injured pedestrians, runners, and cyclists throughout Connecticut. Ryan can be reached at ryan@mckeenlawfirm.com. You can read more about CT Bicyclist Accident Law on www.ctroadsafety.com

Buying or selling a home in Connecticut? Three Things You Need To Know.

In many cases, a brief conversation with a client prior to signing a real estate contract can prevent problems. At the very least, attorney review of a contract provides a client with a clear understanding of the terms and conditions.

Contact Attorney Ryan McKeen at McKeen Law Firm ryan@mckeenlawfirm.com or (860) 560-8163. We review contracts with clients within 24 hours. We work weekends. You can read more about our Connecticut Real Estate Law Practice.