Picture Your First Day As A Solo

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What will your first day as a solo look like? Picture your first day.

Four years ago. I’m sitting here. On a bucket…or maybe it was a step ladder. Or a fixture that had been abandoned by a clothing store that previously occupied the space.

There is dust. There is an old record – maybe Streisand? – in close proximity. There are plans. Lots of plans. There is hope. But mostly there is anxiety. My once stable professional life was in uncharted waters.

This is the day that it got real. There was no more paycheck. No actual office to work in. No staff. Months of planning lead to me being here.

Months of office construction would come to an end. There would be nights assembling ikea. Meetings with clients at Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Outback Steakhouse and Starbucks. An opening would be delayed by a November hurricane.

A year later, I’d be starting over again. A new office to paint. In a new town. A new logo. A new website. A new email. New insurance. New walls to paint. New furniture to buy. New bank accounts to set up.

And two years later I’d find myself in the position of designing a new office.  Adding members to my firm. Adding staff. Filling an office with wonderful colleagues.

But that dusty room is where the first day of the rest of my life happened.

Not all of the plans I had that day went as planned.

I can still smell and feel that day. It’s humid. It’s musty. It’s dirty. It is a day waiting to happen.

It’s a day I go back to.

When you start your journey into forming your own practice. Take a picture of what is in front of you. Maybe it is your bedroom wall. Maybe it is a friend’s conference room.

Take that picture. You’ll cherish it.

Do I Have To Dress Up For Jury Duty?

One of the questions that I’m asked is “do I have to dress up for jury duty?” The answer is: no.

When we interact with jurors we are completely interested in what a prospective juror is telling us. What someone is wearing never factors into the equation.

Wear jeans. Answer questions honestly.

Here’s the official guidance from the Judicial Branch:
Decorum is maintained in the courthouse and jurors should dress accordingly. Shorts, t-shirts, or clothing containing offensive language or imagery are not permitted.

And whatever you are wearing, understand that the lawyers, judges, and court staff are very grateful for your service.

Very grateful.

Injured Playing Sports. Can I Sue?

Last week at the Olympics the USA women’s national team won the silver medal.

In Connecticut, events on the pitch have made it to our high court –  with a friendly between Jaworski and Kiernan.

On May 16, 1993, during a game,  Kiernan made contact with  Jaworski during a recreational soccer game while Jaworski was shielding the soccer ball from the opposition so that the goalie on her team could retrieve the ball. As a result of this incident,  Jaworski suffered an injury to her left anterior cruciate ligament, which caused a 15 percent permanent partial disability of her left knee.

Jaworski then sued Kiernan for her injuries claiming among other things that Kiernan should be found liable for negligence because his actions were in violation of league rules.

The Supreme Court disagreed and offered this analysis of the game of soccer:

Soccer while not as violent a sport as football,  is nevertheless replete with occasions when the participants make contact with one another during the normal course of the game. When two soccer players vie for control of the ball, the lower limbs are especially vulnerable to injury. If a player seeks to challenge another player who has possession of the ball or seeks to prevent another player from gaining possession of the ball, the resulting contact could reasonably be foreseen to result in injury to either player.

The Court went on to find that the defendant could not be held liable for negligence only deliberate, wilful, or reckless conduct:

A final public policy concern that influences our decision is our desire to stem the possible flood of litigation that might result from adopting simple negligence as the standard of care to be utilized in athletic contests. If simple negligence were adopted as the standard of care, every punter with whom contact is made, every midfielder high sticked, every basketball player fouled,  every batter struck by a pitch, and every hockey player tripped would have the ingredients for a lawsuit if injury resulted. When the number of athletic events taking place in Connecticut over the course of a year is considered, there exists the potential for a surfeit of lawsuits when it becomes known that simple negligence, based on an inadvertent violation of a contest rule, will suffice as a ground for recovery for an athletic injury. This should not be encouraged.

If you have been injured playing sports whether or not you can sue depends on how your injury occurred. Every situation is unique. If you would like your claim reviewed by an attorney, free of charge, contact us:

Choose Your Own Success

One of the ways you can lose your mind in this business – any business – is to compare your success to others. This is a scarcity mindset. The feeling that no matter what we do that it is not enough.

Scarcity is deeply rooted in the legal profession. Success looks something like go to a big law school, make law review, land the posh summer associateship, get hired at a big firm, toil for a few years and then do the next thing – inhouse or partnership. That’s the path.

When you start your own practice there is no path. It is more like being in an open field. There are lots of ways to go.

My two cents: be bold in choosing your success and let no one else define it for you.

Maybe you are a working parent and you define success as being able work enough to make enough extra money that it makes a difference in your life. You are not trying to win Supreme Court cases. You are not trying to dominate part of the market. Your success is working in a way that makes a difference for your kids.

Success could be leveling a playing field for someone.

Define your own success. And then embrace it.

Change One Thing

The only thing that has been a constant in my life the past 4 years is change. I left a good job. That was the first change. The change that started a lot of other changes.

I have committed to improving my law practice by joining a community of some of the finest lawyers in the country – The Rosen Institute. These lawyers are the cutting edge. From them I learn and share ideas and processes that have immeasurable impact on the services I am able to provide to my clients.

One of the things that I am doing at the institute is an accountability group. The group is comprised of 5 lawyers across the country. We meet bi-weekly and commit to doing some task to improve our practice. We then report back.

Last week, I committed to doing a relatively small task. When I looked under the hood and made the change – I found other changes and then other and then others. I became consumed by my side project. Going to bed way past my bedtime for the past 10 days.

I have also found myself more energized in everything I do.

Whatever improvement you are thinking of making in you practice – make it. Make the small improvement. Once you change anything you may find yourself changing everything.

Driver Who Caused Accident Has No Insurance

Yesterday, I wrote about what happens when a driver has a low insurance policy.

The only worse than a low insurance policy is when the person who hits you has no insurance. You are driving along. Following the rules of the road. And then BAM. Through no fault of your own your life has changed on a dime. It’s not right.

Joe Biden’s car?

What are you going to do?

Your only option is likely to make a claim against your own policy. This is known as an underinsured motorist claim. Your insurance acts as if it was the person’s who hit you. Your liability limits are the amount of coverage available to you.

Do I need a lawyer?

Most likely. Insurance companies have thousands of lawyers. They act to protect their money at all costs. And at the time you were in the accident you went from their customer to an adversary. They are going to try to pay you as little as possible.

What will your lawyer do? Your lawyer will make a claim against your insurance policy the exact same way a claim would have been made against the person who hit you.  Your lawyer will also evaluate a claim to see if the person who hits you has any assets that you can recover. Mostly people without insurance have nothing to attach. But your lawyer needs to explore this.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, contact me. I’m happy to answer your questions.

Lowest CT Auto Insurance Policies

One of the worst conversations that I have with someone who has been severely injured is telling them the person who harmed them has a minimum policy.  I wish lawmakers had to tell folks with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that the most they’ll receive from the person who wronged them is $20,000. And all of that money will go to repay medical bills.

Here are the lowest CT Auto Insurance Policies:

1. $20,000 for injury to or death of a person,

2. $40,000 for injury to or death of more than one person in any accident, and

3. $10,000 for property damage (CGS §§ 38a-335 and 14-112(a)).

It’s just wrong. In today’s world a single ER trip can cost $20,000. The legislature should raise the minimum policy to at least $50,000/$100,000.

If you have been in a car wreck and have questions please do not hesitate to call Attorney Ryan McKeen (860) 471-8333.

Injured? 3 Insurance Company Dirty Tricks

When you are hurt by someone who violates safety rules – big money of insurance companies start acting against you immediately.

I was having lunch with a lawyer who had just wrapped up trial in a serious truck wreck case. A truck driver wasn’t following the safety rules of the road and caused a car wreck. Who does the company call to the scene? Their lawyer. 

If you have been injured here are 3 dirty tricks insurance companies may play:

  1. Getting You To Make A Statement To Them: You have the right to remain silent when the other party’s insurance company contacts you. Anything you say can and will be held against you.  When they call you and ask “how are you today” they are not asking because they care. The only thing insurance companies care about is their bottom lines. They are asking the question hoping you will be polite and say “fine” or “good”.  Then they hope to use that statement against you.
  2. Tricking You Into Signing A Medical Release: Insurance companies often demand all sorts of things they are not entitled to. Specifically they often request your medical records or a release to go fishing in your records. You do not have to give it to them. We only turn over your records when we’re ready – on our terms.
  3. Offering You Quick Money: Clients often come to me with insurance companies having offered them a tiny fraction of what their claim is worth. They may tell you not to go to an attorney because then you’ll get less. They don’t want you to have anyone on your side looking out for your interests.

If you are injured and have questions please do not hesitate to contact me (860) 471-8333 or ryan@cttrialfirm.com . We’re happy to turn the tables and stop their dirty tricks in their tracks.

Lawyers Taking Credit Cards. Put This In Your Fee Agreement.

Lawyers taking credit cards – read this – put this in your fee agreement.

Credit cards can be all kinds of good for you and your clients. They may allow your client to come up with a retainer that may otherwise be difficult for them to do. It may allow them to pay more quickly. It may net your clients some Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. There are many, many, reasons from convenience to expedience to take credit cards.

At some point along your journey you will be hit with a chargeback. Chargeback is the ultimate 4 letter word.

You won’t have done anything wrong. Yet a decent chunk of change will come flying out of your operating account.

Resolving a chargeback takes many hours.  Way too many hours. For purposes of this post, just know that a chargeback can happen even when you take every precaution.

If you are accepting credit cards, it is essential that your fee agreements contain language that says you will only refund money on the card that you were paid on.

Imagine a client gives you a $10,000 retainer. You’ve set up everything properly so the $10,000 goes into your client funds account and the fees come out of your operating funds account. The client then cancels the card the paid the retainer on. The client then fires you. You go to refund the money on the card but you can’t but it is closed. Your client insists on being paid immediately. You cut the client a check from Client’s funds. The client then makes a chargeback instantly resulting in $10,000 out of your operating funds. This is the way it happens. Without warning. Without anything the money is ripped from your account until the dispute is resolved.

This could happen. You could be left holding the bag.

It is possible to have the a chargeback 4 months after a charge.

You can dispute the chargeback. It can take months to resolve. In the meantime, you are out $10,000. You can show the credit card company your check. You can stand on your head. Good luck talking to a person.

You do not want to be in this position. Not for a second. Save yourself a headache and insist on refunding directly to the card so there’s no issue with the credit card company. Write this down. Put this in your fee agreements.

First 3 Things To Do When Starting Your Law Firm

When I started my firm there were a lot of ideas. Lots of ideas.

I know the feeling. This.

My moment of inspiration occurred when I was on vacation. I was reading the Steve Jobs biography. It spoke to me. It spoke to my desire to build a firm. To make the transition from working in the business to working on the business.  The ideas were intoxicating. I could do this or this or this or that. There were many this and that’s. It was all kind of fun.

The scary part was acting on those ideas. Acting felt like treason (I was employed at the time). Acting was scary. Acting limited my options.

Figuring out where to start was a tough nut to crack. This post is about translating your ideas to action.

Here are the first 3 things you should do:

1.Register Your Domain: Before you file your incorporation documents – register your domain. So enterprising person somewhere in the world has a bot scanning corporate name filings in hopes of cybersquatting and making a quick buck. Don’t pay their ransom. Register your domain. If you are working at a firm and wish to keep you registration private – register your domain privately. Pay the extra fee. You can register your domain at sites like GoDaddy or Register.com

2. File Your Articles of Organization: Incorporate. For many reasons, a law firm should incorporate. Do this. File your articles of             organization

3. Obtain Your FEIN: You are going to need a Federal Tax Id. Get this for free online from the IRS. 

These are the first 3 things you should do. This is where you start. It is unsexy. It is practical.

Thing 4 – read this post on opening bank accounts.