Increased Efficiency = More Law Firms Helped = More Justice

 

At Advocate Capital, Inc., we believe in what trial lawyers do.  Whereas most of the general public believes they are in “good hands” with their insurance company, we know better.  And the reason we know better is because of the hundreds of our customers (all trial lawyers) that we interact with every day.  They share the stories of their cases with us and how they are helping obtain justice on their clients’ behalf.  That’s one of the things that make our jobs here so enjoyable.  We are helping good people do good things for others.

 

Over the past few years, we’ve worked hard to increase the efficiency of how we underwrite and service our clients.  The vast majority of our clients now receive funds from us electronically rather than having us Fed Ex them a check.  Our entire credit operation is now paperless, which saves a tremendous amount of paper and natural resources.  And we now send all of our monthly invoices via email rather than printing and mailing them.

 

A major upside to this ability to service clients more cost-effectively is that we are now able to lower our minimum line size for Case Expense Funding.  We have analyzed this matter very carefully and have decided to lower the minimum new Case Expense Funding line size from the current $100,000 down to the new level of $75,000.  Also, we previously have expected clients to maintain an average annual balance of $60,000 for Case Expense Funding.  We have now lowered that to $50,000.

 

I’d like to thank all of our existing clients who make our work so rewarding (and even possible).  And thanks to our terrific team here at ACI for the hard work and positive attitude they have displayed through the many changes.  Our new lower minimum line size is one example of the tangible impact that increased efficiency can have on our efforts to help trial lawyers get justice on their clients’ behalf.  No doubt we will be able to take on some additional smaller law firms as clients now with our new lower minimums, which means we’ll be able to help more law firms and their clients!

 

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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The Trial Bar in Action – Improving Safety on the Roads

 

All too often, the trial bar in America is demonized as being ambulance chasing, greedy, etc.  There is an old adage, “Everyone hates the plaintiff attorney until they need one.”  Well, recent statistics showing that traffic deaths in the United States have dropped to their lowest level since 1949 can be partially attributed to plaintiff attorneys, according to a recent Op Ed piece written by American Association for Justice President Gibson Vance, and published in the Washington Post on April 16th.

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the number of people killed in accidents dropped to 32,788 in 2010, the lowest since 1949.  This drop occurred even as Americans drove 21 billion more miles in 2010 than they had in the previous year.  According to Mr. Vance (and those of us here at Advocate Capital agree), “History shows that litigation and the civil justice system have served as the most consistent and powerful forces in heightening safety standards, revealing previously concealed defects and regulatory weaknesses and deterring manufacturers from cutting corners on safety for the goal of greater profits.”

 

Mr. Vance points out several examples of automobiles and components that originally met government standards, but eventually were proven via the civil justice system to be hazards to drivers and passengers – the Ford Pinto, power windows, etc.

 

The report from the NHTSA can be viewed here.

 

Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer

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Content Marketing, Egocentric to Empathy?

 

Does your firm participate in the realm of online marketing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?  Then you may have found the content on your social media platforms losing momentum.

 

If so, you should consider transitioning your content marketing from “egocentric” to “empathy”. Instead of content marketing that solely consist of your products and services try including topics that are empathic to your clients.

 

Here are some simple tips from Top Rank Online Marketing Blog to refresh your content marketing:

 

  1. Create personas.
  2. Audit your existing content.
  3. Tap into Customer Service and Sales department’s discussion with customers.
  4. Use real-time social media monitoring tools.
  5. Crowdsource content from active customers and fans.

 

To read the full details on transitioning to empathy content marketing click here.

 

Tina R. Burns

Marketing Manager

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How to Check Up On Your Bank

 

Have you ever wondered how financially stable your bank is?  Although most deposits are insured, choosing a good solid bank can help avoid the hassles that can come when a shaky bank is “merged” into another one overnight, as often happens.

 

 

Thanks to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (aka the FDIC), you can find out how any bank is doing because all banks are required to submit detailed quarterly financial reports, which the FDIC then makes available to the public on their web site. 

 

Click here to look up any bank in the country using the FDIC “Bank Find” page.  Once you find the bank you are looking for on that site, you can click on the “Last Financial Information” page to get started. 

 

You do not have to be a trained financial professional to understand the basics.  On the “Income and Expense” report, for example, you can easily see whether your bank is operating at a profit or not.  Are they operating at a large loss?  Could be a problem!

 

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Quiz: The Truth About Credit and Debt

Here’s great quiz to take in order to assess your knowledge and understanding of credit card debt and credit scoresClick here to take the quiz.

What was your score?  I have to admit I only got 7 out of 10 right the first time!

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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The Real Issue: Who Should Decide, Lawmakers or Juries?

 

Tort Reform has been a predominant topic in the news over the course of the last year.   Anyone who has spent time and resources pursuing justice on behalf of people who have been injured because of the negligence of others can’t help but have a passionate response.  The problem is that unless you’re directly involved in the industry of pursing justice on behalf of the injured, or unless you have been seriously hurt by someone else’s negligence, you don’t really understand what is at stake.      

 

The very heart of Tort Reform is an attempt by lawmakers to take away the rights of Americans by taking away the right to having a jury of their peers decide based on the merits of an individual case.   North Carolina legislator, Johnathan Rhyne, Jr. (Lincoln Co. Rep), who is currently fighting to pass Tort Reform in North Carolina was quoted in the Raleigh News and Observer on April 21st, “…dispassionate legislators, not juries swayed by emotion, should decide how much money can be awarded…” His comments speak to the very foundation of the American Civil Justice System.   Is that really what Americans want?  Do we really want a system that allows lawmakers to decide without knowing the facts of a case, how much money an injured person deserves and what the financial penalties should be for those who were negligent?

 

Fortunately, there are still people who disagree with such a system.  ABC News reports that former conservative NC Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake, Jr. said, “Under the North Carolina constitution, only juries have the power to decide verdicts.  Not politicians. Not legislators.  The government cannot overrule juries, but that is precisely what NC Senate Bill 33 does.”

 

North Carolina House members passed a scaled-back version of the medical malpractice reform bill, dropping the near immunity provision that protected emergency room physicians and manufacturers of FDA approved medicine.  The revised bill now moves to the NC Senate

 

Lisa Wagner

Vice President, Client Services

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American Workers are Suing Their Employers at a Record Pace

 

Across the country, American workers and their attorneys are filing more wage and hour, sexual harassment and other employment law cases than ever before.  Some professionals believe the primary contributing factors have been job losses, plant shut downs and a weak economy. Moreover, wage theft became rampant during years of non-enforcement by US Agencies, said Catherine Ruckelhaus, Legal Co-Director of the National Employment Law Project.

Commenting on an article appearing on Cleveland.com, James Stone, managing partner of the Cleveland office of Jackson Lewis Law Firm, a defense attorney, wrote “Recent legislation to limit damage payments in medical malpractice cases has pushed plaintiffs’ lawyers to look for new business in other areas of law.”  The statement sounds more like an attempt to once again make the trial attorneys look like the bad guys, instead of putting the spotlight on American employers who choose to break the rules and take advantage of their own workers.

Also, take a look at some noteworthy statistics from the Department of Labor and a report titled: Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report, compiled by Seyfarth, Shaw, LLP.  There has been a double digit increase of private sector complaints filed across the US involving wage and hour cases, in addition to tens of thousands of past and present employees filing class action cases against their employers in the last 12 months.

Dan A. Taussig

Chairman

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Tennessee Tort Reform Bill Clears Committee in House

As reported here in previous blogs, Governor Bill Haslam’s #1 legislative priority for this General Assembly, in the guise of “job creation”, is a tort reform bill that will limit non-economic damages in negligence and malpractice lawsuits.  Opponents of the bill, including the Tennessee Association for Justice, are facing an uphill battle as both houses of the General Assembly and the Governor’s seat are held by Republicans.

As reported in today’s Nashville City Paper and in The Tennessean, the bill has now cleared the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote.  According to The City Paper, the bill cleared the House committee, “on its way to almost certain passage in the legislature.”  The Senate began hearing testimony on Tuesday afternoon, 4/19/11, with sponsors of the bill in the Senate saying they would delay any Senate vote until next week.  Garnering support from moderate, populist Republican senators appears to be the best bet for opponents of the bill.  As mentioned in a previous blog, Fred Thompson, the former Republican U.S. Senator, lawyer and actor, is actively lobbying on the TAJ’s behalf.

Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer

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New 1099 Reporting Requirement Repealed!

In February, I blogged about the Senate’s repeal of the 1099 reporting requirements imbedded in the Health Care Reform Act.  These changes would impose burdensome paperwork requirements on businesses by requiring all payments greater than $600 to be reported on Form 1099.

As reported by Bloomberg.com, President Obama signed a bill repealing the 1099 mandate on April 14, 2011.

This is great news and a huge relief to business owners and accounting departments across the country!

For more information, click here.

Kelly O’Leary, CPA, MBA, Controller

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An Epidemic of Tort Reform

 

As you’ve seen in our blog many times over the past few months, the wave of tort reform discussions at the federal level and in many states (e.g. Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina) is becoming larger.

 

A recent editorial in the New York Times takes New York Governor Cuomo to task for considering caps on med mal cases.  The editorialist confesses that the system is flawed, but says that capping non-economic awards is not the answer. 

 

Doctors in the obstetrical department at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have just reported a huge reduction in compensation payments for patients alleging malpractice after they instituted a rigorous safety program in 2003.  According to the editorial, “The best solution is to greatly reduce the errors and bad outcomes that can lead to malpractice suits.”

 

Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer

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