Radius of Influence

 

What’s your radius of influence?

 

ROI2012 is a relationship marketing conference for trial attorneys, designed to help you expand your influence.

 

Discover identity creation, word – of – mouth marketing, social media and much more during the May 2nd to 5th meeting in Clearwater beach, Florida.

 

While you’re there stop by the Advocate Capital, Inc. booth. Paul Myers and I will be there sharing why it’s not the smartest financial decision to self fund your case expenses and the solution to funding your litigation needs.

 

As an exhibitor at this year’s conference we can offer you a discount to attend, up to $650 off! Contact us for the discount code.

 

Tina Burns

Marketing Manager

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“Herons & Heroes”

Congratulations to ACI friend and client, Cooper Knowles on the recent victory not only for his client but the environment as well!

 

The lawsuit was filed under the citizen suit provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. §1251, et seq.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated the CWA by allowing discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States without a permit and failed to comply with the terms and conditions for such permit.   Also, the defendant’s discharge of fill material into the jurisdictional waters not only interfered with plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of its property but also created a continuing nuisance by altering the natural flow of water.   The jurisdictional waters included a tributary of the Chattahoochee River and a 27 acre wetland adjacent to Sweetwater Creek State Park.

 

After three years of litigation in the United States Northern District Court, the parties settled the case by entering into a consent decree that requires defendants agree to pay just over $500,000 in compensatory damages including attorneys’ fees and expenses and to make substantial modifications to the storm water drainage system on defendants’ property.  However, the real victory in this case was the agreement to preserve the 27 acres of wetlands that house one of the largest Great Blue Heron Rookeries not on the coast.    The Rookery was featured on an episode of the Georgia PB’ program Georgia Outdoors and titled appropriately “Herons & Heroes.”  This televised feature can be viewed here.

 

Attorney Knowles is a founding partner in the law firm of Andrews, Knowles & Princenthal, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia.   While the firm provides representation in a variety of practice areas, Mr. Knowles dedicates his practice to environmental issues.    Significant cases in which the firm has been successful in the environmental torts area can be reviewed on the firm website.

 

“Herons & Heroes” is a true inspiration to us all this week as we celebrate Earth Day!

 

Donna A. Jones

Vice President, Operations

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More Ways to “Go Green”…

 

Last week, in honor of Earth Day, we announced the Advocate Capital, Inc. Green Initiative. The Green Initiative developed by Advocate’s Management Team is an attempt to not only eliminate waste but to live up to a higher caliber of how our business does business.

 

We are dedicated to finding more energy efficient ways to do business, which is why we were very excited when we heard about Blackle. Blackle is a search engine powered by Google Custom Search.

 

What makes it so special? Just as Google is known for their vast amount of “white space”, Blackle is known for their polar opposite “black space”.

 

So what’s so “green” about a black screen? Lots!

 

According to ecoIron, “…an all white web page uses about 74 watts to display, while an all black page uses only 59 watts.” We have to admit, that doesn’t seem like much. However, Google gets about 200 million queries a day so you can imagine how the energy saving can add up very quickly.

 

So far, Blackle has saved 3,069,181.876 Watt hours (and counting)! This number will continue to grow as the word spreads. For instructions on how to add Blackle as your home page visit them here.

 

Tina Burns

Marketing Manager

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Why You Need UIM and UM Coverage in North Carolina

 

Today’s guest blog is from Hull & Chandler, P.A.:

 

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_kadmy'> / 123RF Stock Photo</a>North Carolina requires drivers to maintain a minimum of $30,000 of car insurance per person, and $60,000 per accident.  Liability coverage does not cover injuries to the policy holder; rather it covers injuries caused by the policy owner.  To obtain coverage that will cover you against injuries caused by another driver in a motor vehicle accident, you need both Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) AND Under Insured Motorist Coverage (UIM).  Unfortunately, the acronyms for each type of coverage are very similar and may cause confusion among North Carolina insurance consumers.

 

Under Insured Motorist Coverage (UIM) protects you if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage to pay your claim. Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) can be purchased to protect you if the at-fault driver has no insurance at all.  A UM policy does not cover you if the at-fault driver has any liability insurance.  The problem is that UM and UIM are sold separately on minimum limits insurance policies in North Carolina, meaning you do no automatically have these types of coverage on minimum limit policies.  Since it is estimated only eight percent  of North Carolina drivers are uninsured, UM coverage is rarely applicable.  It is more likely that the at-fault driver will not have adequate insurance, therefore he/she is underinsured and UIM coverage would be required to for compensation.

 

Since many drivers are unaware that UM and UIM coverage is not part of all insurance policies, many consumers think they are getting coverage for injuries up to their limit when they may not be. For example, a recent personal injury client of our law firm had a minimum limits liability policy with $1 million in UM coverage.  Our client was in an accident and the at-fault driver had a minimum limits insurance policy. Our client was seriously injured and had medical bills well in excess of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.  Our client thought he was adequately covered for this injury, not realizing he only had UM coverage and not UIM coverage.  In fact, employees at the insurance company were also confused regarding the type of coverage, causing them to verify at one point that our Client had UIM coverage.  Had our client had UIM coverage, his extreme medical bills would have been covered.

 

For policies other than minimum limits policies, the insurance company must provide both UM and UIM coverage up to your liability limits.  Unfortunately, UM and UIM are not required for minimum limits policies.   We advise our clients to make sure they have both UM and UIM coverage and to increase their UM and UIM limits above their liability limits to protect themselves should they be in a car accident in the future. If you have been in an accident or have any questions about UM and UIM coverage, contact our firm at 704-375-8488.

 

Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

 

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Planning Ahead: What is the Value of a Contingent-Fee Law Firm?

 

In Denver this past weekend at the NOVA meeting I got a chance to spend time with attorney consultant Jim Brown.  Jim has a wealth of knowledge and experience running and now consulting for contingent-fee law firms all over the country.

 

I was just reading his blog post “Planning Ahead: Understanding Your Firm’s Value in Preparation for Unforeseen Death, Disability or Planned Retirement” and I think he makes a lot of good points.  For example “prior to retirement, an attorney should learn how to sell the cases on your shelf, your phone number, your web site, your equipment, the referrals that may be coming to you in the future, the goodwill you have garnered throughout your career and yes, even your name.”

 

Check out Jim’s blog and website for more useful info.

 

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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NJAJ Boardwalk Seminar 2012

 

Will you be attending the NJAJ Boardwalk Seminar in Atlantic City, NJ on April 26th and 27th, 2012?

 

Do you know why self funding your firm’s case expenses is not the smartest decision for your firm? Stop by the Advocate Capital, Inc booth (#5) and find out the answer from Donna Jones and Paul Myers.

 

The New Jersey Association for Justice hosts a fantastic annual conference, offering the best continuing legal education programs with an attendance history of over 1,800.

 

We hope to see you there!

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The Advocate Capital, Inc. Green Initiative

 

As seen on Market Watch, Yahoo Finance and The Business Journal:

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Striving to be a Responsible Corporate Citizen


(Nashville, Tenn. – April 19, 2012) – Advocate Capital, Inc. implements their Green Initiative in an effort to be a responsible corporate citizen.

The Green Initiative developed by Advocate’s Management Team is an attempt to not only eliminate waste but to live up to a higher caliber of how their business does business. Advocate’s CEO, Michael J. Swanson, commented “We believe that we have the opportunity and responsibility to do great things.  Being a responsible corporate citizen includes doing our part to care for the environment.”

Humble Beginnings…

In 2010 Advocate Capital became a 100% paperless company for all internal operations. And they also eliminated the need to mail paper invoices. By emailing their clients’ invoices they estimate that they save about 15,000 sheets of paper annually, not to mention the printer ink, postage, and labor savings! The decision was also made to turn their internal operations into a paperless system. Not only did this make good financial and business sense but it sparked what is now the Advocate Capital, Inc. Green Initiative.

The 3 R’s…

Reduce — Packaging is big part in day-to-day operation for many companies. However, more packaging results in more waste. Advocate’s goal is to purchase items with little packaging required and use packaging that’s reusable.

When Advocate needs additional office furniture, they usually opt for used furniture that looks and works just as good as new. They also have opted to only buy and use recycled paper. Lastly, the lunchroom is equipped with dishes, glasses, and utensils to eliminate the need for disposable items like water bottles and paper plates.

Regulate — To eliminate unnecessary usage the Advocate team turns off lights when leaving rooms for extended periods of time.  They also maximize computer efficiency by setting all of their computers to go to sleep automatically when not in use. And they are also pleased to announce that their building now has solar panels in an effort to reduce energy consumption from the power grid.

Recycle — Did you know that recycling one soda can produces enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours? That being said, Advocate is careful to recycle aluminum cans. They also have paper recycling buckets in every employee’s office.

Giving Back…

Not knowing where to start or how you can do your part is a typical roadblock for many companies and organizations. That is why ACI has joined the B2B green alliance. B2B purpose is to bring professionals together from different industries to inform them on best practices on how to reduce waste and energy.

ACI also wants to make sure that they are doing their part to help their clients make an impact. Every time that Advocate adds a new client, they donate to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Plant 10 trees in our Nation’s Forest program in their client’s honor.

Advocate Capital, Inc. is the premier provider of strategic financial products and accounting services for successful trial law firms nationwide.  They have been serving the plaintiff bar for over 12 years from their headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. and now enjoy a client base that extends nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.AdvocateCapital.com

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Managing Tax Records

 

The IRS recently released an informative bulletin regarding the management of your tax records.  As a Certified Public Accountant, I am often asked, “How long do I need to keep my tax returns after I’ve filed?”  Here are some of the tips shared from the IRS’ release:

 

  • Normally, tax records should be kept for three years.
  • Some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRA and business or rental property — should be kept longer.
  • In most cases, the IRS does not require you to keep records in any special manner. Generally speaking, however, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return.
  • Records you should keep include bills, credit card and other receipts, invoices, mileage logs, canceled, imaged or substitute checks, proofs of payment, and any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your return.

 

For more information, click here to read the release.  The IRS also recommends reviewing Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals, for more details regarding tax documentation.

 

Kelly A. O’Leary, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CITP

Director of Finance and Administration

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Texas Paper Urges Increase in Cap on Government Liability

 

Copyright: / 123RF Stock PhotoI, and the rest of the Advocate Capital team, have blogged many times in the past about the tort reform movement in Texas.  In a recent editorial, the San Antonio Express-News comes out in favor of raising the current $250,000 per individual cap on the damages available for injuries caused by public employees under the Texas Tort Claims Act.

 

According to the editorial, the purpose of the Texas Tort Claims Act was to give the public, “…the right to recover damages for property, physical injuries or loss of life when … accidents occur.  Tort law is supposed to protect the public in cases of loss or harm.”  The original Texas Tort Claims Act was passed in 1969.  Prior to that act, Texans could not recover damages in cases in which government employees were performing their duties.  The act allowed for damages in these cases, but in an effort to protect taxpayers, the act limited the circumstances in which a governmental entity is liable for compensatory damages and caps those damages at $250,000.

 

Citing the case of a man who suffered brain damage and other series of injuries when hit by a speeding police officer driving on a non-emergency call without siren or lights, the editorial notes that his medical bills alone were over $325,000. It also notes that the “current $250,000 cap has been on the books since 1987. To keep up with inflation, the cap would need to be more than $500,000 to have the same purchasing power in 2012.”  The editorial offers two solutions – (1) raise the cap to an appropriate, inflation adjusted level, or (2) treat tort cases involving governmental liability the same as med mal cases – i.e. no limit on actual damages, but with caps on non-economic damages.

 

According to the editorial, “Such reforms would not burden taxpayers — the vast majority of governmental liability cases are settled well below the cap. They would, however, give Texans the opportunity to seek the compensation they are due in those rare cases where the actions of a government employee cause an extraordinary economic loss.”

 

The full editorial can be read here.

 

Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer

 

Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo
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Lawyers with Business Acumen Set the Pace in Marketing Trends

 

Technology and social media platforms have re-written the book on marketing over the course of the last couple of years.   Marketing is no longer outbound or intrusive.  Access to the internet and the existence of social media platforms have transformed the way consumers are reached by businesses.  Those with great business acumen have adjusted their marketing strategy accordingly.

Los Angeles based trial lawyers Biren|Katzman are a great example of lawyers keeping pace and even staying ahead of the game with new innovative ways of being visible to consumers, without being intrusive.   Biren|Katzman took their marketing strategy to the next level by creating a “family” of websites, in addition to their main website to help highlight particular areas of specialty and expertise:

 

 

These websites are extremely well done, user friendly, and complete with the ever growing popular video content, allowing viewers an opportunity to hear from Matt Biren, himself in a sincere, genuine format.   This marketing strategy serves the Business-to-Business component, as well as the Business-to-Consumer facets of marketing.  Biren|Katzman also uses Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to help promote interaction and share valuable information with consumers and businesses alike.

 

Thanks to ever improving technology, and smart businessmen like Matt Biren, consumers have better access to information when they are injured at someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.

 

If you aren’t already, “in the game,” Advocate Capital has created a few tutorial videos to help you get started.

 

Lisa Wagner

Vice President, Client Services

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