law firm

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Cyber insurance: Because the costs of investigating and responding to cyber attacks can be staggering for small firms, some companies are turning to cyber liability insurance. If your business stores data in the cloud, I would certainly look into purchasing. FYI, my friend Chad Ezkanazy over at Morstan General Agency Insurance can help you out.

Texas Bill to Allow Service of Process Via Facebook. Bradley Shir, an attorney based in Washington, DC. reports that Texas recently introduced a bill that would allow for service of process via FacebookTexas House Bill 1989 if enacted would make the Lone Star State the first in the United States to allow for service of process via social media as an alternative means of service. No word if New York plans to allow service of process by Facebook anytime soon.

To Place Graduates, the New York Times reports that Law Schools Are Opening Firms. It is hard to believe that it has come to this. We all know that law schools have been running a scam for decades. With relatively low overhead law schools are a cash cow. They charge more and more each year yet their expenses remain stable. Unlike medical schools, law schools don’t have to pay for expensive lab equipment.

Law schools are now getting into the law firm business and it really is not very helpful. They just add another layer of competition. Since they are able to fund their “firm” through high tuition, they have no profit incentive. They could sell services at a loss. This could have the net effect of killing law firms that could have hired these graduates later. It could drive the cost of law firm salaries down.

I am already seeing the effect of this. The Brooklyn Tech meetup is currently hosted at Brooklyn Law School. A couple of months ago I attended the event. Their legal clinic was giving legal services to start-ups for free. Yes, it is a decent deal for entrepreneurs. Free advice from a law student with help from a professor. Yet, if I were able to nab one of these start-ups, I would be hire these law students and actually pay them for their work. This model simply doesn’t make economic sense for attorneys.

What do you think of Law Schools opening law firms? Is it a good idea to bring legal costs down, or will it further damage the legal industry?

The Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson represents businesses and individuals in New York. If you have a legal question, feel free to contact me at 212-233-0666

 

 

 

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My commute from the lovely North Shore of Long Island to the New York Supreme Courthouse near Chinatown in Manhattan is an hour journey.  I devoured the new business book entitled Rework by @jasonfried and David Hansson in one round trip.

Unlike most business books, Rework is the product of real life successful entrepreneurs.   These guys are not “gurus.” They provide advice that is easy to read and visually appealing.  The visual aspect reminds me of Tom Peters who wrote one of the best business books ever In Search of Excellence.

As a business law attorney, I read this book with an eye towards small businesses and its applicability to the practice of law for small firms.  Feel free to join in and post your thoughts.

  • Make a dent in the universe. You should feel a sense of urgency about this because you won’t be here forever.  As an attorney, your work is your  life’s work.  If you think that it sucks making a living as an insurance company whore (insurance defense attorney) then  quit.  Go work for legal aid if that makes you happy.
  • Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The real question is how you execute. When the economy started tanking you just knew that bankruptcy’s would soar.  But what did you do to go out and get you some of that business? Probably nothing.
  • You can’t recognize the details that matter most until after you start building. That’s when you see what needs the most attention.  If you want to start video blogging about ten things you should know before entering into a contract you should just look into your cam and do it.  You can then graduate to a flip camera. If you are telegenic, you may one day even become a YouTube star.
  • Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for a perfect solution. Decide and move forward. Decisions are progress. Lawyers often agonize over hiring the best web designer for their new blog.  Instead of making a decision, they wait and wait and wait…..and guess what? No decision.  Decide and move on.
  • Quick wins. The way that you build momentum is by getting something done and then moving to the next thing. Don’t spend too much  time lingering on Facebook, checking out your friends artwork. (But you should check out the link which leads you to the work of my friend Michael Sprouse).  After entering your billing, start preparing for tomorrows deposition.
  • If you think a competitor sucks, say so. If you are a solo, tell the world that you hate big law firms. It is a great way to differentiate yourself. Hell, I do.  I especially hate them when I go to court.  They have no clue how to draft a simple order. They love to make useless motions so that they can bill the fuck out of their clients. Sitting through a deposition with a newly minted big law associate is torture.  “When you started your first company at the age of 12, was your mother working as a waitress or a podiatrist?”
  • Don’t spend much time focusing on competitors. Focus on yourself instead. Here in New York City, this would cause serious anxiety due to the plethora of lawyers.
  • Say no by default. If your clients want you to say yes to a deadline that is too optimistic, you probably won’t meet it.   You will lose the client anyway. It is best to explain why their expectations are impossible to meet. If they won’t except it, let the next sucker attorney deal with it.
  • Build an audience. Speak, blog, tweet-whatever.  Share info that’s valuable and you’ll slowly build and audience. Unless you are personal injury or criminal attorney with a Warren Buffet sized war chest, lawyers shouldn’t waste their time on ads.
  • Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or out sponsor competitors, try to out-teach them. Use your blog to teach the world about what you do.
  • Emulate chefs. Share everything that you know. For lawyers, posting all of your documents is your cookbook. Cooks can’t copy Batali.  Why not crush Legal Zoom and post everything for free?
  • Go behind the scenes. Hell, people watch ice road truckers. Lawyers can take a flip camera and with court permission, film.

If you want to do something, do it now. Inspiration is perishable.  What do you think?

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4 Ways to Protect Your Small Business from Fraud

by Fred Abramson on March 31, 2010 · 1 comment

Fraud is not limited to the Bernie Madoff’s of the world.  Because of the recession, it should come to no surprise to learn that financial problems are more likely to lead to more fraud.

Fraud is a huge problem.  According to the Association of Fraud Examiners 2008 report on occupational fraud and abuse, companies lose 7 percent of annual revenue due to this problem. The report also indicates that small businesses are more likely to be victimsthan large companies.

Small businesses are having more difficulty with fraud not only because employees have an increased workload, but also because they have less resources to stop it.

Generally fraud occurs in four primary areas.  I will provide a brief overview and let you know of ways that you can help limit your company from being a victim.

Checks

Altered checks is a major problem for businesses. What out for mistakes from payroll companies and bookkeepers.

Owners should:

  • limit the use of rubber stamps
  • have an outside accountant check your books monthly

Fraud to order

Employees can make fake orders. Check inventory to see if anything is missing.

Owners should:

  • Conduct surprise audits
  • limit access to cash
  • install security cameras

Encourage employees to report Fraud

According the ACFE study, most fraud was uncovered by co-workers.

  • Encourage tips and make sure they reach you.
  • Make it easy for an employee to report the problem anonymously.

Fake employees

This fraud is especially prevelent in the construction industry.  A foreman on a construction site mays say has ten employees and he really has 9.  He collects the 10th  paycheck for himself.  You can avoid this by:

  • handing paycheck personally
  • create a computer program to detect missing hours.

If you or your company is a victim of fraud, contact me at the Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson at  212-233-0666.

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Protecting intellectual property from a cyber attack is something that all companies need to be concerned about. Google recently released information about a targeted attack on their intellectual property and data that occurred in December, 2009. The attack came from China and according to Google, resulted in the “theft of intellectual property from Google.” Apparently they were not the only company that was under a cyber attacks. At least 20 other corporations were hit, including a law firm that was suing China.

Google explained the cyber attack as follows:

The route attackers used was malicious software used to infect personal computers. Any computer connected to the Internet can fall victim to such attacks.

E-mails were targeted at individuals in each company that were made to appear as that they were coming from other people at each company. They attempted to get their target to click on a link or attachment.

Potential Legal Consequences of a Breach

If your company has been subject to a cyber attack and data has been breached, your company may be subject to litigation. There have been an increase in the number of  lawsuits commenced by customers and clients whose data have been compromised. For example, there is currently a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against Heartland Payment Systems, which claims that the company waited to tell consumers about a data breach and failed to protect sensitive information.

Businesses also need to be aware of compliance laws such as Sarbanes Oxley when they lose the personal information of their customers.

Potential Legal Consequences of an Intellectual Property Breach

Cyber Attacks, like the one inflicted against Google, often attempt to steal Intellectual Property.  Trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets, are big targets for cyber criminals.

What companies from selected industries can do to protect their data

  • High-tech: Need to protect source code and engineering design documents.
  • Banks and Financial Companies: Confidential customer information.
  • Pharma and Bio-Tech: Trade secrets such as research and the manufacturing of drugs.

If you have any questions or if you wish to discuss this issue further, please don’t hesitate to contact me at The Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson at 212-233-0666.

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