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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of August 5, 2014

LawBiz(r) newsletter

Summer weather rocks, almost literally ... it doesn't matter what part of the country you live in, you are likely to be experiencing unusual weather patterns, from thunder and lightning to flooding to drought and extreme heat.

Does this reflect your law practice as well? With the weather, we have no choice but to "weather it," ride it out and wait until normal times return. In your practice, hopefully you have built reserves to either weather the storm as your practice hits a valley or exploit the peak. Planning ahead is always the key to success. I hope you have a great summer.

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Malpractice Claims Live On ... and On

Even in death, there is no peace. At least not for the families of lawyers. A recent court ruling extended the time period during which a malpractice suit can be filed, so the estates of deceased attorneys are at even greater risk than previously.

In Greenbaum v. Holian, Lawyers Weekly No. 12-049-14, the court gave new meaning to the "long arm of the law." The court extended Massachusetts's one-year statute of limitations against attorneys for malpractice and allowed a plaintiff's claim that was filed twenty-nine months after the attorney's death.

The circumstances of the underlying case are interesting but not outstanding. There is some dispute about whether the circumstances would have sustained a judgment even during the statutory period. However, the court found that the statutory period should be set aside and the claim against the attorney's estate permitted. The court has broad equitable powers; in this case, the court noted, "justice and equity require it." The court further found that there was "no culpable neglect" by the plaintiff in not pursuing its claim sooner.

This case is based on Massachusetts law, but it confirms a similar outcome in a Maine case of many years ago. Analogous cases have appeared throughout the country. Thus, attorneys and their heirs are always at risk when there is a claim of malpractice.

Though gruesome, being buried does not end a lawyer's professional life-and the trail of his assets are subject to claims many months, if not years, later. Estate planning for and by lawyers must take this situation into account. After all, ignoring the need for estate planning means ignoring the needs of your family after your death.

You spent a lifetime building your practice of law; don't allow bad estate planning to expose that business to the risk of a malpractice suit when you're no longer around to defend yourself.

Ed Poll's Life After Law

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With an eye on balancing the professional and personal fronts, Ed guides readers through the steps:

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  • Strategizing the sale or closure of a practice

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Malpractice Claims Live On ... and On

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Video: Technology Malpractice

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Video: Technology Malpractice 

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"In the short time that Ed has been coaching me, his comments and guidance have been invaluable. Within weeks, he has improved my self-confidence immeasurably, guided me to run my law practice more like a business and most importantly, helped me obtain my goal of increasing my income while decreasing the time I spend working. It is a joy and pleasure working with Ed and I look forward to each coaching session. My only regret is that I did not start with you sooner."

Atlanta, GA

"I was initially reluctant to expend the money for Ed Poll's strategic planning session, but knew that in order to grow in an organized manner, I needed to spend the time in a one-on-one session. By the end of the first hour of our session, Ed helped me formulate a plan which, when implemented, resulted in an amazing return on the investment of the session. Ed then proceeded to analyze my financial statements and helped me to see my business in strictly financial terms - something us attorneys don't normally do. If we had concluded our session then, I would have felt that it was extremely worthwhile and would have felt that I had received my "money's worth." But I have now used Ed as my business coach for the past two years and have been extremely impressed with his practical approach to the practice of law. With Ed's encouragement, I find myself coming up with creative ideas regarding how to grow my business. I now feel that I can engage in the business of law, leaving my team to engage in the practice of law."

London, England


Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |   |


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