Family Law Lawyers Reno Sparks NV
Divorce Attorneys Nevada, Child Custody Spousal Support Lawyer, Men’s Fathers Rights Attorney
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BILLING GUIDELINES AND ON-THE-JOB TRAINING OF STAFF
It is each new Legal Staff member’s responsibility to become fully trained in her new job. Since there is no formal training program, it is strictly on-the-job training which means asking all the questions it takes and getting as much help from other Legal Staff members and Business Staff members as necessary. Lack of training is not a valid excuse for lack of performance. Using good judgment in getting the kind and amount of training and specific help on specific casework is expected of each new legal staff member. Therefore the quality of legal work is expected to be good from the beginning.
Each new Paralegal will get training help from the Associates that she works for, from the other Paralegals who are fully compensated for their training time spent, and from the Business Staff. Chantel is especially experienced and helpful in billing procedures.
A. Billing Ethics –
Our billing policies below are much more ethical than that of the medical community that generally bills for everything including small to HUGE mistakes that even lead to death.
B. Billing Philosophy –
C. Billing Times –
(a) The legal staff is to straight bill for phone calls to the nearest minute after a 3-minute minimum for any call including leaving a message. Such 3-minute minimums for leaving messages are limited to two per day.
(c) Because pro bono work and intraoffice work for Marilyn such as “training or upgrading forms” are corporation expenses not covered by Client fees:
(1) Legal Staff should generally bill to the nearest minute but add 1 minute to actual minute(s) to offset the 1 minute it takes to bill. The way to bill this is to add a charge in ML using your name as the bill to client and use Charge Type: “training or upgrading forms”; Add time, leave Default Rate = 0.00.
(2) For Performance Pay “time and a half” bonus pay, that minimum remains at 600 hours per semester but pro bono hours billed are not counted; for example, if a Staffer bills 630 hours in a semester with 10 of them being pro bono, then only 20 hours would be at “time and a half”.
(3) For work that an Associate delegates to Paralegals, a percentage adds to the Associate’s pay except that pro bono dollars billed do not count.
(d) Do not bill tasks separately to Clients merely for the sake of adding 4 minutes to each task in lieu of lump billing; example number (1): for two tasks done in one 10 minute period, the Client should be billed for 10 + 4 = 14 minutes and not twice at 5 + 4 = 9 minutes each; and example number (2): for two tasks separated by legitimately working for another Client in between, then each task may logically be billed separately at 5 + 4 = 9 minutes.
4. If a Legal Staffer wanted to take off 1 extra week a year and still bill 1140 hours/year: Working 45.6 weeks x 5 days a week = 228 workdays a year. 1140 hours billing / 228 days = 5.00 hours per day for the 228 days one could be working.
D. Billing Procedures –
1. Anytime work is done to further a case, that time should be billed to the client. This does not infer that billing is always appropriate when a case is furthered. For example – when the Court, opposing attorney or a client causes completed work to be redone, it’s appropriate to charge for the original work and the new work. If you did work that was wrong and needed redoing, it generally is not appropriate to charge for the original work and the new work. Proactively reviewing documents to keep a case on track sometimes may not further the case at the moment but it is still necessary to ensure nothing is missed. Billing for such reviews is appropriate.
19. High stress work may require frequent and longer breaks. Stress is contagious, increasing stress on one person tends to increase stress on other Staff who are nearby; conversely decreasing stress on one person tends to decrease stress on other Staff who are nearby.
20. Stress has a compounding factor and can reach the intolerable range where a little less stress feels much better and a little more stress feels earth shattering. It is simple: when you can bill more aggressively and work less which means stress less for the same amount of money, you will like your career choice better and enjoy your life more.
E. Billing for thinking, planning, problem-solving, and brainstorming –
ML billing choices such as “draft”, “finalize” and “revise” taken at face value seem to be only for the actual time spent typing on a computer but in reality by necessity they include some thinking, planning, problem-solving, and brainstorming time that should be lumped into the billing.
When preparing for Court, lawyers use ML billing term “prepare for court” which obviously will take thinking, planning, problem-solving, and brainstorming time.
When “Preparing” for a non-client conference (opposing counsel for example), consultation, or phone call, it takes thinking, planning, problem-solving, and brainstorming time especially for a complex situation. Such time is legitimate to bill, can easily be lumped into the event itself and clients generally are accepting (or unknowing).
When “Preparing” for a client conference, consultation, or phone call, it also takes thinking, planning, problem-solving, and brainstorming time especially for a complex situation. Such time is legitimate to bill but clients may criticize it if it is not explained properly when billing. Marilyn suggests combining the explanation and the billed time with the main activity; examples follow: (1) Prepare for client conference, conference 1:10; (2) Prepare for client phone call:10.
At the end of doing research, lawyers and paralegals bill for winding down, drawing conclusions, making notes (thinking, planning, problem-solving, and brainstorming). But what about at the end of a conference, consultation, or phone call? When “Contemplating” (winding down, drawing conclusions, making notes) after a non-client conference (opposing counsel for example), consultation or phone call takes thinking, planning, problem-solving, and brainstorming time especially for a complex situation. Such time is legitimate to bill, can easily be lumped into the event itself and clients generally are accepting (or unknowing).
At the end of a conference, consultation, or phone call with a client, there is often time spent “Contemplating” (winding down, drawing conclusions, making notes – thinking, planning, problem-solving, and brainstorming) especially for a complex situation. Such time is legitimate to bill but clients may criticize it if it is not explained properly when billing. Marilyn suggests combining the explanation and the billed time with the main activity; examples follow: (1) Prepare for client conference, conference, follow up with an email to opposing client 1:20; (2) Prepare for client’s phone call, phone call, making notes after a phone call :15.
Please chat about these Billing Guidelines with Chantel and Ray, ask questions, get and give opinions, feedback, and suggestions.
F. Words for Associate Lawyers –
Being a lawyer can be overwhelming when helping with the business side along with doing the legal work. This law office offers all the help you will need to succeed on both the legal and business side of each case. On the legal side, you may seek help from Marilyn, her other lawyers, and the paralegals (don’t wait for help to arrive – be assertive in asking for it). On the business side, most activities are done by the business department but you have a small part of the responsibility that is very important: networking to get clients; help with the screening of new clients during the Initial Consult (Icon), convincing the clients that they want to hire you at the end of the Icon; collections and stop working as prudent; doing fine work to get referrals from happy clients; being liked enough by clients to get referrals.
Initial Consultations (Icons) –
G. Words for Paralegals – Being a paralegal can be overwhelming too. Having multiple bosses in multiple cases can be very challenging. This law office offers all the help you will need to succeed. You may seek help from Marilyn, her Associate Lawyers, other paralegals, and the business staff (don’t wait for help to arrive – be assertive in asking for it). Your best role aside from doing good legal work is to ‘Mother’ the lawyers and clients. It is not enough to be a babysitter – you need to make your lawyer’s job easier and help her remember important schedules and commitments. Lawyers going to court with great paralegal support are more likely to be great in court. The same is true for other work the lawyer does. Anything you can do to make the lawyer more successful will make you more successful. On the business side, most activities are done by the business department but you have a small part of the responsibility that is very important: networking to get clients; collections and encouraging the lawyer to stop working for a client when prudent; doing fine work to get referrals from happy clients; being liked enough by clients to get referrals; being liked enough by lawyers to get enough delegated work from them to bill minimum hours.
H. About the Business staff –
I. Words for all – Virtually everything you want comes from other people. To get what you want you have to give enough other people what they want.
Extraordinary Us –
A. Lawyer and Paralegal team topics.
B. Collections https://marilynyork.net/CollectionAttempts.php
Below are some pertinent Website, Office Manual, and Retainer Agreement references – please read.
Dedicated & trained Paralegals who are thorough and patient –
From Office Manual:
WORKING AS A TEAM
LAWYERS AND PARALEGALS TEAMWORK
There exists a mutual kind of a partnership between the lawyer and her paralegals because they make up a team with high continuous expectations that affect the lawyer’s reputation:
1. The lawyer’s client and his family, his loved ones and his friends; Marilyn and her employees; and the courts all expect great legal quality, effort, efficiency and results from mostly the lawyer but partially from the paralegals.
For a lawyer to generally have her own exclusive paralegal, it is a great opportunity but one with great responsibility. For the above high expectations to be realized on a continuous basis – both team members must be highly intelligent, skillful, trained, motivated, have mutually strong team members, and be action-oriented.
In order to accomplish this greatness, the lawyer must accept the leadership role and responsibility for her team. By accepting the paralegal into her team, the lawyer becomes obligated to delegate sufficient work to her paralegal and insure that her paralegal is performing and accomplishing team goals and is given the opportunity and necessities to do so. Personal growth of the paralegal should be a concern. If the lawyer does not have enough clients to support minimum billing for herself and her paralegal, it is the lawyers responsibility to go to the business department and request more initial consults.
The lawyer and her paralegal are more than a legal team. They are also a business team with business expectations such as making minimum billing, % Collections, and pleasing the Client when he compares his legal team’s effort to how much money he spent. This means that the lawyer as team leader must consider many business decisions as well as legal ones (and become a good business person of sorts in addition to being a good lawyer). Common business decisions follow:
1. Deciding when to stop working for a client that is not paying; is abusive; is uncooperative; or is stoned all the time.
The paralegal must perform at a high enough level to earn the lawyers trust and respect so that the lawyer finds it advantageous to delegate work to the paralegal. If the paralegal makes too many errors and her work quality does not generally please the lawyer, the ideal relationship described here may never exist.
If the lawyer prefers to have no paralegal on her team or to use a paralegal part-time as needed (subject to availability) where the lawyer has significantly less responsibility to the paralegal, that alternative should be open for discussion.
These are very high expectations indeed, but Marilyn has high expectations for herself and for others. Being part of her law office requires high standards with hopefully high rewards such as being paid well, feeling good about your work ethics, personal growth, work quality and results in helping others.
For a lawyer to become a good delegator she must over delegate, push the paralegal’s limits, delegate beyond reason and be daring until the optimum current level is discovered. Then next week or maybe next month shoot for a higher delegating level. By over delegating, it will cause the lawyer some extra work in training more and consulting more with your paralegal, but there should be a benefit to the team’s ability to be flexible and effective. (Don’t law schools push law students? Isn’t a paralegal a law student of sorts?) When your paralegal becomes highly trained and effective, she will be proud of her skills and be appreciative of your efforts.
As a matter of good practice, Lawyers should delegate work to no more than 2 paralegals and Paralegals should not work for more than 2 lawyers.
From Retainer Agreement –
“Returning phone calls promptly by an attorney under the above-described pressures is desirable but sometimes not possible. Additionally, when an attorney is preparing court documents and working on cases, interruptions can shatter attention spans and continuity in the work and a day of continuous interruptions can cause insanity. Therefore this Law Office’s message handling policy has evolved as follows:
This policy allows Client to get answers quicker and at less cost. It reduces the amount of time Attorney is on the phone or on short consultations thereby allowing Attorney to do better quality and more productive work for each client because of fewer interruptions.
It is important that Client, Attorney, and Attorney’s staff work as a team and are courteous and understanding with each other. Clients that express meanness or become insulting are generally asked to find another Law Office that might suit them better.
Because Client agrees to pay Attorney in advance, if Client’s Retainer Account has a balance due regardless of any Deposit amount, the balance due is considered past due (delinquent) and a breach of his Retainer and Payments in Advanced Agreement. Any such balance due is the responsibility of Client to pay Attorney and it should be paid immediately to insure continued representation. Sending out Client Retainer Status Reports mid-month and end month help keep Clients informed about charges and status of their retainers, credits, and balances. Finance Charges (.75%) are added to Client accounts at mid-month for balances from the end of the prior month that were not received by mid-month. Additional Finance Charges (another .75%) are added to Client accounts at end of month for balances from the mid-month that were not received by end of the month. All Attorney and Paralegal services for Clients stop as accounts have a balance due. Such Clients will no longer be able to communicate with Attorney or Paralegals about his/her case until a sufficient new amount of retainer is paid to the Office Manager. This Law Office cannot afford to make loans for legal services and costs. As with other businesses, services without paying should not be expected. Clients who need to borrow money to solve their legal problems need to borrow in advance from friends, relatives, and banks and not from Attorney.
Attorney agrees that summary statements for legal services and costs called “Client Retainer Status Reports” will be itemized to include hours expended and description of such services and costs and mailed twice monthly.
Attorney makes no warranties or representations concerning the successful conclusion of this claim or the subject matter of this agreement; nor does Attorney warrant the favorable outcome of any legal action that may be filed. All statements of Attorney on these matters are statements of opinion only and are not a warranty of success. Attorney does not warrant or guarantee that she will obtain reimbursement for Client for any of Client’s costs, attorney’s fees or expenses resulting from this civil action.”
Charities We Support
Nevada Youth Empowerment Project (NYEP) – http://nyep.org
Truckee Meadows Housing Solutions (TMHS) – https:// truckeemeadowshousingsolutions .org/
Nevada Humane Society – https://nevadahumanesociety. org/
Good Shepherd Clothing Closet – http://www.gsccreno.org/
Res-que – https://res-que.rescuegroups. org/
Lexie’s Gift – https://www.lexiesgift.com/
Solace Tree – http://www.solacetree.org/
The family law and divorce information on this Reno-Sparks, Nevada (NV) website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. We are child custody, visitation, spousal support, and, men’s and fathers’ rights lawyers. We serve Reno, Sparks, Fernley, Fallon, Carson City, Minden, Gardnerville, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Yerington, and Incline Village.