Advocate Capital, Inc. Law Firm Financing Blog

Law Practice Management Stories

Attorney Dean Gresham Gets Justice for Homeowners

 

Authored By: Iris Garrett

 

Dean GreshamAdvocate Capital, Inc. wants to congratulate our friend and client, Attorney Dean Gresham. The Texas-based lawyer, one of the many who fight for justice at Steckler Gresham Cochran, has just recently helped one Dallas couple win a nearly $250,000 award, a much larger sum than what they had been anticipating after their home was severely damaged during a highway construction project.

 

According to The Dallas Morning News, the LBJ Express project began in 2011 and lasted until 2015. The newspaper says many homeowners living in northwest Dallas and Farmers Branch, Texas were affected by its construction and complained for years that the work caused their homes to be torn apart.

 

Attorney Gresham’s clients, Aurora and Felipe Rodríguez were the first to take their complaints to court, but the newspaper says their case is just one of 223 filed against the project’s head company, Trinity Infrastructure. Despite the hundreds of complaints it received from residents about cracked walls, falling ceilings, and uprooted neighborhoods, the contractors denied responsibility and insisted all was well.

 

Earlier this month a Dallas jury decided otherwise, and after a week long trial, served a winning $248,723 verdict for Attorney Gresham and the Rodríguezes. He told the newspaper if victories like this continue, Trinity Infrastructure could pay more than $65 million in damages. Plus, he says the majority of the other plaintiffs live closer to the LBJ Express site than the Rodríguezes do and were exposed to a lot more damage, a factor that may encourage the company to settle.

 

However, so far that hasn’t been the case; the newspaper says a representative for Trinity Infrastructure announced it plans to appeal, claiming the project followed specifications set out by the Texas Department of Transportation.

 

Only time will tell if the company’s defense will hold up in court. The newspaper says the next case isn’t scheduled until June, and it will be another fight for Attorney Gresham and his second client, Valencia Powell whose mother lost her home of 50 years due to the LBJ Express project.

 

If you would like to read the full article, click here.

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud to support plaintiff attorneys like Dean Gresham who consistently fight for justice and win. Attorney Gresham has a tremendous amount of experience in products liability, class action and whistleblower suits, as well as other business torts, and he has represented victims in these types of cases for more than 15 years.

 

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Mastering Search Engine Optimization without Tricks

 

Authored By: Krista Kemmerly

 

Master Search EngineMany lawyers look to search engine optimization (SEO) when wanting to grow their firm. However, savvy lawyers look to SEO without using any tricks or hacks.

The goal is to be able to market who you are and what you do in order to gain loyal clientele. Aaron Street of the lawyerist.com, shares 8 no-risk tips for online marketing. Below are a few to help you start implementing today.

 

Speak and Teach

Use your area of expertise to be a guest speaker. Whether it be at a law school or client industry event, using said opportunities will be beneficial.

 

Stay Engaged with Friends, Colleagues, Former Clients, Mentors and Mentees

Social networking is always a great way to do online marketing. When you share information or offer help to your network they will, more than likely, be willing to pass along that information to potential clients.

 

Be a Leader in your Community

Do more than your job description. Go out in the community and volunteer, maybe run for local office. Get your name out there in a positive way! Doing so will lead to website listings from a wide variety of organizations.

Serve Clients Well and encourage them to Tell Others about it

A happy client equals a positive reputation. They are the ones who spread the word, they will help get your name out there online and offline. Have your clients write reviews to help your credibility.

These are only a few of the tricks listed to help master SEO. For all 8 visit Aaron’s article here.

 

Photo Credit: Cathy Yeulet 
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Employee Fraud at Law Firms – Are You Protected?

 

Authored By: Barry Epstein

 

advocate capital inc man hiding money

Sometimes, threats to an organization can come from within.  At times, a trusted employee, hired and given financial responsibility, unknowingly has been given the “keys to the kingdom”.

 

In a recent conversation with a plaintiff attorney, I was told that their “trusted employee” had stolen from the firm and the firm’s clients over a fairly long period of time; causing a serious cash-flow problem of 100’s of thousands of dollars when discovered.

 

A quick Google search on Employee Dishonesty at Law Firms returned a sizable number of links to law firm stories – everything from bookkeepers, paralegals and partners helping themselves to funds in the operating cash account and firm trust fund.

 

The search also turned up a good article published in the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, Preventing Theft and Fraud within Your Law Firm – written by Mary Vandenack, of the Omaha firm Vandenack Weaver. The focus of the article is Establishing Control and Prevention and provides some very good tips, including, background checks, monitoring, auditing, evaluating employee actions and obtaining Employee Dishonesty insurance to cover losses and liability.

 

Vandenack recommends for law firms to take a proactive approach by identifying financial vulnerabilities and stopping thefts before they occur.  She also believes creating a work culture that focuses on ethical behavior can help prevent employee fraud.

 

Advocate Capital, Inc.  understands the work that contingent-fee firms undertake is of great significance. We are proud to partner with plaintiff attorneys who fight for justice on behalf of their clients.

 

To read Mary Vandenack’s article about tips to protect your firm, click here.

 

Photo Credit: olegdudko
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The American Bar Association Cuts Budget

 

Authored By: Rachel Markin

 

ABA BudgetBudget cuts are on the horizon for a national legal organization. The American Bar Association will decrease its general operations budget for fiscal 2018 by nearly $11 million. The ABA announced the plan in a memo, as reported by the ABA Journal, and will merge travel planning and publishing operations, renegotiate the lease of its Chicago headquarters and decrease budgets in several areas of staff operations. The reductions will result in a nearly 10 percent cut in the organization’s 99.7 million general operations budget.

 

The executive director of ABA, Jack L. Rives says the organization is comprised of more than 3,500 entities and “the unfortunate reality is that the association doesn’t have enough resources to continue everything it is doing”. Rives says the organization must make choices and prioritize their efforts. ABA Journal reports the Board of Governors is also evaluating three other cost-cutting ideas, one of which would propose holding just two association-wide meetings each year.

 

Nearly $6 million in “bottom up” cuts were made during a staff budgeting process, as reported by ABA Journal. Although the staff were asked to propose 10 percent budget reductions, it is not expected for all cuts to be enforced. Another $5 million in reductions have been suggested in a “top-down” process. Executive director, Rives says “these top-down initiatives will requires us to do things differently. We simply cannot achieve the required savings and create a sustainable model in a reasoned, strategic manger unless we change some paradigms.”

 

As ABA Journal reports, the top-down cuts include:

  • Renegotiating the lease for the Chicago headquarters.
  • Consolidating staffers who oversee logistical operations of travel for the ABA and its entities into one unit.
  • Reducing funding for general operations travel by 10 percent across the board, except for travel associated with continuing legal education events.
  • Creating a new Periodicals Division in ABA Publishing, and moving the ABA Journal into the division. Though the ABA Journal Board of Editors and staff will continue to have complete authority over Journal content, redundant back-office operations can be merged to save money. The plan is intended to preserve monthly publication of the Journal.

 

The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations with nearly 400,000 members. The national association’s website says ABA is committed to, “serving our members, improving the legal profession, eliminating bias and enhancing diversity, and advancing the rule of law throughout the United States and around the world.”

 

Photo Credit: orhancam
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Grieving Parents Sue Apple

 

Authored By: Rachel Markin

 

Sue ApppleThe Dallas parents who lost their 5-year-old, Moriah Modisette in a tragic Christmas Eve car accident have filed suit against Apple. According to ABC News, James and Bethany Modisette filed the lawsuit against Apple at the California Superior Court, claiming the tech company’s FaceTime app distracted the driver who crashed into their vehicle in 2014. The suit alleges Apple failed to warn users that the product was likely to be dangerous when used or misused.

 

According to the lawsuit, Apple had a patent for a safer version of FaceTime but decided to make a less safe version available with the iPhone 6. The Modisettes say Apple’s decision to release the less safe version ultimately resulted in the death of their daughter. The suit refers to December 2008, when the tech giant sought a patent to lock-out users while driving. The United States Patent Office issued the patent in April 2014. Allegedly, the safer version of FaceTime would have used GPA tracking to gauge the speed of a vehicle to warn users or to shut down the video chat application.

 

James and Bethany Modisette say the deadly Dallas crash occurred when the couple was driving with their daughters Moriah and Isabella, both whom were in the back seat of their car. The family slowed or stopped due to an accident ahead of them. That’s when another driver, Garrett Wilhelm, who was going around 65 miles per hour, collided into the rear of the family’s vehicle. Wilhelm told the police he was using FaceTime and law enforcement found his phone with the FaceTime application still active at the crash site.

 

The wreck resulted in significant damages, putting James Modisette in critical condition and sending Bethany and Isabella to regional medical centers. 5-year-old Moriah was airlifted to a children’s hospital, where she later died from her injuries sustained in the crash.

 

The Denton Record- Chronicle reports Wilhelm was indicted on manslaughter charges and has been out of jail on bail since August. The paper says the case is scheduled for February 27th. Wilhem’s lawyer, Ricky Perritt, issued a statement which said, “..We are confident that after all the facts are brought out in court, it will be shown that the use of a cellular device did not contribute and Mr. Wilhelm did not commit a crime … It was simply an accident.”

 

The Modisette family is seeking economic damages and punitive damages related to injuries from the crash. The lawsuit has gained national attention, as Georgia Attorney Charles Scholle says, whether Apple is responsible for death or injury to motorists because they offer technologies like FaceTime will be important to both tech companies and consumers. For now, Attorney Scholle says the question still remains unanswered: Since Apple sought and was given a patent for a lock out feature that would have stopped drivers from using FaceTime, should the tech company be held liable for injury and death to FaceTime users?

 

Apple has not made a public comment regarding the lawsuit.

 

Photo Credit: adrianhancu
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Flint Residents Sue the EPA

 

Authored By: Iris Garrett

 

 

Flint WaterIt’s the residents of Flint, Michigan versus the federal government. According to Reuters, more than 1,700 of the city’s population have sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the water crisis that forced thousands of children to undergo lead poisoning.

 

In the Reuters article, author Dan Whitcomb says the plaintiffs filed the 30-page suit in a U.S. District Court in Michigan earlier this month and are now hoping to reach class action status. He says their suit claims the EPA mismanaged the water crisis, failed to warn residents of the toxic danger, and didn’t help state and local authorities make it right. The residents are seeking $722 million in damages.

 

Whitcomb says Flint’s water crisis erupted back in 2015 when tests showed high amounts of lead in blood samples of some of the city’s children (the population of which is predominately black). A state-appointed emergency manager had switched Flint’s water source (the Flint River) to a more corrosive river, Lake Huron. Its water caused lead to seep off pipes and filter into the city’s drinking water.

 

Exposure to lead can stunt a child’s cognitive development, and no amount is considered safe.

 

Whitcomb says since October 2015, Flint has reverted back to its previous water system, and earlier this month, Michigan State officials reported lead levels in the city’s drinking water had dropped below federal limits.

 

So far, Whitcomb says 13 current and former officials have been charged in connection to the crisis.

 

If you would like to read Dan Whitcomb’s full article, click here.

 

Photo Credit: Mahmoud Victor Moussa 
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Beasley Allen Partners with The Cooper Firm

 

 

 

High-profile Plaintiff’s firm Beasley Allen is expanding into the Atlanta area.  The firm based in Alabama has announced the opening of their new office in Atlanta, Georgia with Advocate Capital, Inc. friend and client, Lance Cooper, becoming a principal.   Beasley Allen handles class action cases and multidistrict litigation throughout the United States.  Lance Cooper is known for his expertise in product liability cases, most notably, the GM faulty ignition switch case.

 

The massive recall started with a single tragic case.  Ken and Beth Melton came to Mr. Cooper after their daughter’s fatal crash in her Chevrolet Cobalt.  Mr. Cooper’s experts discovered the faulty ignition switch that prompted GM to recall millions of defective and dangerous vehicles. The recall included roughly 30 million vehicles, and hundreds of lawsuits ensued across the country.  The Melton case resolved initially for a confidential sum that GM later disclosed as a $5 million settlement.  However, when evidence confirmed that GM committed perjury and hid critical evidence, the case was reopened.

 

Beasley Allen and Lance Cooper worked together in the reopened case and forged a solid foundation for their continued joint efforts for justice for their clients.   We have blogged about the Melton case previously in this space on 2/26/2014 and 5/30/2014.  Wading through the corporate giant’s attempts to thwart liability, Mr. Cooper was successful in proving GM not only knew about the ignition switch defect but did nothing to protect its customers from the deadly consequences.  Advocate Capital, Inc. also shared that GM’s attempts to hide behind their 2009 Bankruptcy were unsuccessful in our July 2016 post.  GM paid a $900 million penalty to resolve criminal charges for hiding the defect.

 

The dynamic pairing of Beasley Allen and The Cooper Firm is good news for consumers across the country.  Mr. Cooper is quoted, “It’s been a good partnership. We’ve been able to help our clients and do greater public good getting companies to recall their products.”

 

Tenacious attorneys like Lance Cooper and those at Beasley Allen hold corporate America accountable for their actions and are champions for those injured by defective products.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

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The Impact of Tort Reform on Wrongful Death Cases

 

Authored By: Iris Garrett

 

The Impact of Tort Reform on Wrongful Death CasesIt was a story that made every amusement park goer rethink their summer plans. Last August, a 10-year-old boy climbed aboard a raft at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kansas and ended up losing his life. According to an article in The Legal Examiner, he had been riding the 168-foot Verrückt water slide with two other women when he became airborne on the second hill, hit the slide’s safety net, and fell into the water below. The park says the raft required a minimum combined weight of 400 pounds, and it is unlikely the group reached that limit. As a result, the boy suffered a fatal neck injury, and the women received minor injuries.

 

In The Legal Examiner’s article, author Mark Bello says this tragedy raised several questions about the lack of amusement park guidelines and whether tort reform would impact the case if the boy’s family decided to sue. As it turns out, regulations for permanent amusement park rides are controlled by each individual state, and Bello says state laws rely on the Department of Labor to adopt rules regarding rides’ certification and inspection. He says inspectors are only required to check rides once a year and when an accident like the one at the Schlitterbahn occurs, but that information is not revealed to the public.

 

Additionally, Bello says Kansas has the most restrictive caps on court-ordered damages in the U.S. For non-economic damages, Kansas law caps the award at $250,000 for wrongful death cases and $300,000 for personal injury cases. So, if the little boy’s family did sue, proved the park’s negligence and sought those damages, the most they could hope to receive is $250,000 even if the jury awarded them more. Bello says Kansas does not limit economic damages, but he says they would be difficult to recover in this particular case since the 10-year-old did not have a job.

 

Bello says this tragic incident is a prime example of how tort reform weakens the country’s civil justice system. He says it undermines the rights of individuals to hold wrongdoers accountable for their negligent actions, prioritizes profits over safety, and mocks the seventh amendment. Bello says victims always lose when faced with tort reform and damage caps because they do nothing to prevent injuries or death and ultimately put a wholesale price on their tragedy.

 

In the end, Bello says the family did file a lawsuit against Schlitterbahn’s park owners and operators and the manufacturers of the raft, and they reached a settlement in January 2017. He says the ride that killed that 10-year-old boy is scheduled to be torn down.

 

To read Mark Bello’s full article, click here.

 

Photo Credit: Vitaliy Vodolazskyy
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Public Justice Seeks Nominations for Illuminating Injustice Award

 

Authored By: Iris Garrett

Public Justice

We here at Advocate Capital, Inc. are proud to partner with law firms across the country who fight for justice and help protect our seventh amendment rights. The attorneys we work with represent clients in a variety of areas, whether it’s wrongful death, workers’ compensation, or personal injury; and though they work hard to win every case, not all of their cases have an equal path to justice. Roadblocks like tort reform, mandatory arbitration and preemption often undervalue the efforts of plaintiff lawyers and keep them from helping injured victims and their families get the just compensation they deserve.

 

Public Justice, a law firm dedicated to the public interest, wants to shed light on this subject with its Illuminating Injustice Award. The award recognizes an individual whose case, like many others, didn’t quite pan out due to roadblocks like those mentioned above. If you or someone you know represented a client who suffered a severe injury, but was only able to receive a partial recovery (or none at all), that victim may be eligible to receive the award. Please fill out this form to nominate that victim for this special honor. The deadline for 2017 nominations is Friday, March 31st.

 

Public Justice is hoping the Illuminating Injustice Award raises awareness of these types of unfortunate events and prompts additional monetary help for the winning individual. They will present the award in July at the firm’s Gala and Awards Dinner in Boston, Massachusetts. The winner of Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award will also be announced at the event.

 

If you would like to learn more information on the Illuminating Injustice Award, click here.

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How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

 

How do you choose the right personal injury lawyer for you?

 

Watch Advocate Capital, Inc. President and CEO, Michael J. Swanson talk with Texas Attorney Craig Carlson of The Carlson Law Firm, P.C.  about picking the best attorney to represent your case. View the interview in the video below.

 

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More Truck Crashes Prompt Safety Concerns

 

Authored By: Iris Garrett

 

Trucking AccidentsWe all know driving next to a semi can be a little scary at times. You’re probably wondering whether the truck driver sees your vehicle, if he’s going to accidentally veer into your lane, or if one of the truck’s tires may suddenly blow. Scary, but it could happen. For a long time, instances like these and fatal truck accidents as a whole had been on the decline, but new research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that more crashes have been popping up since 2009, and drivers need to be aware of it.

 

In an article in The Legal Examiner, Melanie VanOverloop says there are three main factors in this rising rate of trucking accidents: inexperienced or low skill drivers, unsafe trucking equipment, and a push to get more “doubles” and “triples” on the road. She says when it comes to drivers, companies are hiring ones with little or no training, working them long hours for minimal pay, and forcing them to forego getting adequate rest. She also says drivers’ repairs often get delayed, referencing a 2009 study that found that more than 28,000 trucking companies were traveling U.S. roads with defective brakes, excessive loads, bald tires, and more.

 

In addition to the new drivers and equipment needs, VanOverloop says the trucking industry is pushing the federal government to make room on the road for more double and triple trailers. She says triples are already banned in several states, and studies show doubles are two to three times more likely to be in an accident than smaller trucks.

 

Yet, VanOverloop says the safety concerns extend farther than just truck drivers, but the people they come in contact with. She says even though trucks are involved in 12.4% of all deadly crashes, the majority of people killed in those crashes are the occupants in the car. She says a person driving a vehicle that collides with a truck is five times more likely to die than the truck driver himself.

 

If you’ve ever been involved in an accident with a truck or know someone who has, you’re probably seen how much that moment can impact their life. Personal injury attorneys also see firsthand the type of physical, mental, and financial toll a crash can have on a victim and their families. Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud to partner with these plaintiff lawyers who work to get injured victims the justice they deserve.

 

To read Melanie Overloop’s full article, click here.

 

Photo Credit: Tomasz Wyszolmirski 
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2017 National Trial Lawyers Summit: Common Misconception

 

 

NTL

Good Morning from sunny Miami Beach Florida. My colleague Tina Burns and I are exhibiting at this year’s 2017 Trial Lawyers Summit.  It is always so nice to visit with our clients and actively support the hard work of so many dedicated lawyers fighting and advocating for justice.

 

I thought I would share a story from yesterday.  Our booth runs a testimonial video that features many of our longstanding clients.  An NTL member came by, watched the video turned to me and said:

“I know these guys!  Boy and am I glad I don’t need companies like Advocate Capital because I have PLENTY of money to fund my cases!”   To this I replied, “Congratulations on the success of your firm and enjoy the rest of the conference!”

 

(You can watch this video here.  Maybe there is someone you know?)

 

Serving firms because of a ‘need’ for money is a common misconception of what we do.  Our clients do not need money.  They all have successful practices with plenty of cash.  Through many conversations with us over time, our clients have come to realize that extending an interest free loan to their cases is not the best way to invest their hard earned firm profits.  They have discovered the freedom of pulling this hard earned cash out of their cases and re-investing this capital throughout other areas of their practice.  This has resulted in significant net worth growth and the pursuit of additional business opportunities (like mass torts for example).

 

Friends, the question is not whether you “need” the money.  The question is really about:

“Is investing my hard earned after-tax profits into my cases at no rate of return the best way to run a business?”

and

“If I had all this cash sitting in my operating account right now is there something I could do with it?”

 

We may not be a fit for your firm, but we do have a better way to help you manage the capital and liquidity of your firm.  Take a moment to watch this 2 minute video.  If this describes you, let’s talk.  We won’t sell you anything.  We will see if we can support your firm’s goals and objectives.

Thanks for doing what you do!

 

Jeff Glueck

Vice President

Strategic Solutions

 

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12 Steps For A Healthier Attorney

 

Authored By: Rachel Markin

 

Healthier Attorney

The necessity of attorney self-care has become increasingly clear as studies documenting the career’s demanding lifestyle continue to be published. Recent statistics indicate lawyers are the most frequently depressed occupational group in the country. The Journal of Addiction Medicine reported more than 20% of its nearly 13,000 attorney participants scored a level consistent with problematic drinking. Despite the evidence, some hesitate to discuss mental health amidst attorneys.

 

Creating an open atmosphere to talk about how lawyers can live healthier, more whole and meaningful lives is something attorney Michael Ethridge of Carlock Copeland LLP in Atlanta has become passionate about pursuing. Ethridge created a blog called Lawyers In Search of Soul and invites readers to self-reflect and explore why the practice of law can be so taxing on those who choose it for a profession. The attorney writes on his website that, “The most intelligently gifted, thoughtful and ethical people I know are lawyers…Nevertheless, our work can be soul killing and our profession is frequently maligned. Why is it that there is so much suffering among those involved in the practice of law?” Ethridge’s effort to discuss and answer critical questions has helped aid a growing national conversation about attorney wellness.

 

Lawyer, author and speaker, Jeena Cho offers training to help anxious lawyers find peace. In an Above The Law article, Cho defines self-care as activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short and long term health and well-being. The trainer notes some lawyers believe practicing self-care will take valuable time away from their work. However, she argues healthy legal professionals perform better than unhealthy ones.

 

Cho suggests 12 practices for creating healthier attorneys and law firm cultures:

 

  1. Have walking meetings. (Check out this TED talk by Nilofer Merchant on how this works.)
  2. Host monthly potluck get togethers. Offer childcare to make it easier for people to attend.
  3. Have a Stress Free Zone room. Encourage everyone to spend 15 minutes per day to recharge and de-stress.
  4. Recognize and praise employees that demonstrate a well developed balance between working hard and taking time for family and self-care.
  5. Start a mentorship program.
  6. Start a monthly wellness challenge. Some ideas: daily meditation, drink more water, or have a goal of taking certain number of daily steps.
  7. Celebrate your employees’ work anniversaries with a day off.
  8. Host workshops or “lunch and learn” sessions on health issues. Invite experts from the community. For example, have a dietitian speak about healthy cooking.
  9. Partner with local college and offer discounted education.
  10. Offer a standing desk.
  11. Host an art participation night. (Creativity is essential for good lawyering!)
  12. Offer flex-time.

 

The 12 practices offer creative ways to manage stress. For more resources to aid attorney wellness, visit the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.

 

Photo Credit:  bowie15 
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Nation’s Largest Student Loan Collector Sued

Student LoansMartha White, with NBC Nightly News recently reported on “startling news concerning the largest student loan collector in the nation.” Navient, “which serves about one in every four student loan borrowers in this country has been slapped with three lawsuits, claiming it misled and cheated customers out of billions.” The report added that Navient “declined to comment on his case, but after thousands of similar complaints, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and several state attorneys general filed suit last week.”

 

According to the report, the CFPB said that Navient collected $4 billion in interest from pushing students into “forbearance”, instead of encouraging them to enroll in income-based repayment programs for which they qualified.  The suit goes on to allege that “borrower who were disabled and suffered financial hardship – including injured and disabled veterans who were trying to earn a degree – had their loans reported to credit bureaus as in default rather than discharged, devastating their credit score.”  The suit also alleges other aggressive collection techniques.

 

Navient “denies all the allegations, calling them unsubstantiated, unjustified, and politely motivated.”

 

The full report can be read here.

 

Photo Credit: ljupco
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Easy Steps To Connect With Your Website Visitors

 

Authored By: Krista Kemmerly

 

Easy Steps to Connect with your Website Visitors

If you’re still wondering how to attract more clients to your website, Cari Twitchell of the lawyerist.com, shares several mistakes that could be causing your website visitors confusion. Below are a few of the ways you can improve its effectiveness and help you connect with potential clients.

 

Don’t Hide Your Phone Number

We live in a world where everyone has a smartphone. It is important to include this information to create an easy and efficient way to contact you.

 

Break Up Large Blocks of Text

Whether it be on your desktop or when using your smartphone, users want to be engaged. Having too much text can create messages to get lost.

 

Don’t Summarize Your Resume on Your Bio Page

Due to the large amount of traffic that will be directed to this page you want to grasp their attention. Let them know who you are with relevant information in order for them to consider getting in touch with you.

 

Don’t Be Vague About What You Actually Do

Don’t let their imagination run wild by using generic terms. Provide them with the types of cases that you love to take on in order to market your strengths.

These are just a few of the helpful tips on how to improve your website. To view the full list visit Cari’s article here.

 

Photo Credit: Michael Simons
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Students at Charlotte School of Law in Jeopardy

 

Authored By: Iris Garrett

 

Charlotte School of Law

Things may be a little different this semester at Charlotte School of Law. The institution is in the midst of a legal battle with the U.S. Department of Education who has just ruled to cut off federal aid to students enrolled in the law school.

 

In an article in the ABA Journal, author Stephanie Ward says the ruling comes after Charlotte School of Law (CSL) rejected a teach-out plan recommended by the American Bar Association and backed by the department. She says the law school had been directed to utilize the plan because it was out of compliance with certain standards with the ABA (standards include 301(a) concerning a law school legal education program to prepare students to be lawyers and 501(a) and (b) addressing admissions policies). The ABA had informed CSL of their findings in February and July of last year, but the law school appealed and was put on probation in October 2016.

 

Ward says since rejecting the teach-out plan, which would have given CSL financial aid students the opportunity to continue their education at Florida Coastal School of Law and be eligible to receive “refund rights” and law school loan discharge, Charlotte School of Law has vowed to fight the education department’s ruling. In an email to students earlier this month, the institution said “We believe that the department’s action, specifically substituting its judgement for that of the American Bar Association, which continues to accredit the school, is contrary to federal law and the department’s own regulations.”

 

According to the Charlotte Observer, an estimated 700 students attend CSL, but the law school expects to have a smaller enrollment for the spring 2017 semester. The newspaper also says up to two-thirds of the CSL faculty have been fired; however, the law school does remain an ABA-accredited institution.

 

To read Stephanie Ward’s full article, click here.

 

Photo Credit: Serhii Kucher
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Great News for West Virginia

 

 

 

West VirginiaWe have great news for contingent-fee firms in West Virginia.  In response to a request made of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel surrounding the ethical practice of passing through borrowing costs to clients, the Disciplinary Counsel published Opinion L.E.O. 2016-01.

 

The Opinion states:

 

“Based upon a review of these opinions and applicable West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, this Board finds that a lawyer or law firm may obtain a loan from a third party lender to advance the costs and expenses of litigation in a contingent fee matter and that the attorney’s costs and interest associated with the loan may be deducted from the client’s portion of the settlement or judgement provided that certain conditions, prescribed under the Rules of Professional Conduct, are met.”

 

You can read the entire opinion here.

 

Opinions like this from West Virginia are not new to our business.  In fact, there are many other states who have issued similar opinions that allow for the pass through of borrowing costs to individual cases.

 

What does this potentially mean to your law firm?  You no longer have to fund your litigation costs out of your firm’s after-tax profits.  Imagine if you were able to recover what you have invested in your litigation costs.

 

If that money was sitting in your operating account, do you think you could find something productive to do with it?

 

Powered by our proprietary AdvoTrac® software, case-by-case borrowing cost pass through is the cornerstone of our business.  It allows us to deliver capital to our clients at an average cost of less than 1% per year. Click here to learn more.

 

Click here to contact us if you would like a copy of the West Virginia opinion or to see if a similar opinion has been issued for your state.  We are happy to pass it on to you.


Photo Credit: Robert Biedermann
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Going to Miami Beach

 

NTL 2017 Jeff Glueck, Michael J. Swanson and myself are heading to Miami Beach for the National Trial Lawyer Summit on on February 5th-8th.

 

We will be exhibiting with NTL for this first time this year. We have heard great things about this conference and we are looking forward to it.

 

Please stop by and see us at booth #9. Discover how The Advocate Flexline can help you obtain even better results for your plaintiffs.

 

The National Trial Lawyer summit has planned a great line up of over 60 of the nation’s top speakers. Attendees can earn a year’s worth of CLE credits in 3 days!

 

Attendees and exhibitors will have the chance to mix and mingle with America’s most influential and respected trial lawyers. We are looking forward to seeing clients, getting new referrals and meeting new people.

 

 

It looks to be promising show! We hope to see you there!

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LSAT Tests Administered Increases Nearly 8%

 

Authored By: Rachel Markin

 

LSAT Tests Administered Increases Nearly 8%New statistics could mean more students will apply to law school this year. According to an article on ABAjournal’s website, data released by the Law School Administration Council showed a 7.6% increase in the number of LSAT tests administered in December 2016 from December of last year. The increase is welcome news to many law schools that have seen applications decline over the past years due to a shrinking private legal employment market.

 

The Kaplan Test Prep says the nearly 8% increase is the largest year-over-year growth in administration of LSAT tests since 2009. Jeff Thomas, the executive director of pre-law programs for the prepping company, says to be cautious when drawing conclusions about the increase in tests administered. Thomas says a change in the LSAT’s test date could have contributed to the difference. The fall LSAT test was pushed more than a week earlier than its normal date, a change which Thomas says could have enticed students to take the test in December. However, the test prep company notes another positive statistic: there were 87,954 tests administered between June and December 2016, which is an increase of 2.7 percent over the same period in 2015.

 

December’s peak in LSAT tests administered comes after law schools across the country saw a decline in students. In a story that’s made national news, Indiana Tech School of Law will close its doors in June 2017 due to low enrollment and $20 million in losses. Above The Law reports only one member of the school’s inaugural class passed the bar exam.

 

The dip in enrollment has been so low, that Distinguished Professor of the University of California Hastings College of Law, Frank. H Wu says some law schools are accepting persons with lower LSAT scores (and undergraduate grade point averages) than prior to the “crash.” Wu goes on to say schools like Yale University, which are on the opposite side of the spectrum of Indiana Tech, are not troubled by the downward slope of applicants and still have more qualified applicants than they can accept. Rather, the professor argues that schools who are becoming less selective should consult with students lacking in qualifications to consider whether their investment will be worthwhile.

 

Still the recent 7.6% increase in LSATs administered ignites hope for a possible light at the end of the tunnel for law schools. Jeff Thomas of Kaplan Test Prep says, “..The worst may be over in terms of the rest taking trends and job numbers, there’s still a ways to go before saying that the law school landscape is on solid ground.”

 

Photo Credit: dolgachov
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Texan Attorney Stands Up to State Farm Insurance

Authored By: Rachel Markin

 

Texan Attorney Stands Up to State Farm Insurance

While away on a mission trip, a Texan woman received a frightening phone call. She was told a storm had blown a massive tree into the middle of her house. According to an article on The Flowers Law Firm, P.C. website, the woman’s friends and family rescued as many personal possessions as possible. Unfortunately, the tree was 5 feet in diameter and destroyed both the foundation of her home and many family heirlooms.

 

After the woman returned from her mission trip and saw the damage, she immediately called State Farm Insurance to report her claim. An engineer and adjuster both visited her property, but said they could not finish their evaluations due to tree debris. Four months later, the pair still had not returned to the woman’s home. The insurance company’s hired engineer and adjuster had written a report that called for the foundation of the home to be piecemealed back together. The Flowers Law Firm, P.C. says very few contractors would agree to rebuild a house on that type of fabricated foundation, and if they did, the contractors would not provide warranties for their work.

 

The Texan woman contacted The Flowers Law Firm, P.C and asked Donivan W. Flowers for his help to fight State Farm Insurance.  The firm filed a lawsuit against State Farm for their bad faith insurance practices, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and delays in payment. State Farm Insurance hired a lawyer and only then did State Farm make an attempt to resolve the claim.

 

The Flowers Law Firm, P.C ensured its client received the money she was owed to rebuild her home, pay for damage to her personal property and for additional living expenses. On top of that, the client was able to recover statutory damages for State Farm’s late payments and attorney’s fees.

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. congratulates our client and friend, Donivan W. Flowers of The Flowers Law Firm, P.C. for their success. We are proud to partner and support personal injury attorneys like him. Flowers says he truly enjoys what he does and finds it rewarding to help people during their time of need. He is the recipient of the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, has been selected to Texas Super Lawyers since 2013 and was recognized as the Top 40 Under 40  by the National Trial Lawyers Association.  Visit Donivan W. Flowers firm, The Flowers Law Firm, P.C for more information.

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City Sues Maker of OxyContin

 

OxycontinHarriett Ryan, in the Los Angeles Times reports that the city of Everett, Washington has filed a “first-of-its-kind lawsuit” against Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin, “alleging the company turned a blind eye to criminal trafficking of its pills to ‘reap large and obscene profits’ and demanding it foot the bill for widespread Opioid addiction in the community.”

 

A Times investigation last year found that Purdue Pharma “had extensive evidence pointing to illegal trafficking across the nation, but in many cases, did not share it with law enforcement or cut off the flow of pills,” prompting the lawsuit. Lawyers for the city of Everett accused the drug maker of “gross negligence, creating a public nuisance and other misconduct and said the company should pay costs of handling the Opioid crisis – a figure that the mayor said could run tens of millions of dollars – as well as punitive damages.”

 

The full article can be read here.

 

Photo Credit: mtsaride 
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How is Your Credit Score?

 

Advocate Capital Inc Credit Report

Here at Advocate Capital, we’ve been reviewing credit reports of plaintiff lawyers every day since 1999.  In that time, we have seen many lawyers’ credit scores that were surprisingly low, and often to the surprise of the lawyer!  You should know your credit score and should spend some time making sure you keep it as high as possible.

 

Your credit score can affect your financial well-being in many ways.  Whether it is obtaining a mortgage, getting the best credit card rate or leasing a car, you will get much better pricing if you have a high score.  Also, many background checks for employment and positions of responsibility include a credit check.

 

So how do you increase your score?  Click here to read an excellent recent article posted by Bankrate called “7 ways to improve your credit score”.

 

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Fela
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Consumer Advocacy Group Takes on Coca-Cola

 

Authored By: Iris Garrett

 

Coca-ColaA new lawsuit filed against Coca-Cola is leaving company executives with a bad taste in their mouths. According to Business Insider, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is suing Coke and another industry group, the American Beverage Association for allegedly misleading customers regarding the health risks of soda and other sugary drinks.

 

Business Insider’s Kate Taylor says that the suit specifically targets Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association’s emphasis on exercise and a “calories in, calories out” method to manage health. The CSPI says that stance goes against scientific evidence about sugar-sweetened drinks and their link to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

 

Taylor says the lawsuit also claims Coke went as far as funding research that downplays the health dangers of sugary drinks to mislead Americans about the risks of drinking soda.

 

In response to the CSPI’s lawsuit, Coca-Cola released this statement: “We take our consumers and their health very seriously and have been on a journey to become a more credible and helpful partner in helping consumers manage their sugar consumption.” The company says it has also improved product nutrition by adding things like front-of-pack calorie labeling and low and no-calorie options.

 

Taylor says the American Beverage Association argues that CSPI’s accusations are “unfounded,” and points out that obesity and diabetes rates have been increasing while soda consumption has dropped.

 

Despite their counterclaims, the CSPI is demanding that both Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association release files on sugar-sweetened drinks and their potential health implications, stop advertising to children, and fund a public health education campaign.

 

Taylor says this isn’t the first time the consumer advocacy group has gone after Coca-Cola or other big beverage giants. She says in October, the CSPI sued PepsiCo over allegedly marketing its “Naked Juice” drinks as more healthy than they actually are.

 

If you would like to read Kate Taylor’s full article, click here

 

Photo Credit: Marcos Calvo Mesa
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DuPont Forced to Pay $10.5M in Malicious Dumping Case

 

Authored By: Iris Garrett

 

 Malicious Dumping CaseIf there is one company in some deep water right now, it’s DuPont. The corporate giant is being forced to pay $10.5 million in punitive damages for a case involving malicious poisoning.

 

According to an article on The Ring of Fire Network, an Ohio U.S. District Court has ordered the money to be paid out to a man whose testicular cancer was allegedly caused by DuPont’s toxic dumping of chemical C8 into the Ohio River. The article’s author, Sydney Robinson says the court had originally ruled a payout of $2 million to the man, but the additional damages will come as a substantial push for DuPont to take action. She says the company has consistently refused to settle complaints or merge them into a mass tort suit, making claimants wait to gather damages while they are sick or dying.

 

Robinson says this case is the third one against DuPont involving the chemical C8, and so far in all three cases, juries have found the company did so knowing it caused cancer and tried to hide the truth from the public. However, this is the first time a jury described DuPont’s actions as “actual malice”.

 

Nine more cases against DuPont are scheduled to go before the Ohio U.S. District Court this year. Robinson says with the combined payouts from the first two and now these additional punitive damages, the corporation has payed $19.2 million. With more than 1,000 cases against them, she says DuPont is bound to be paying out a whole lot more.

 

To read Sydney Robinson’s full article, click here.

 

Photo Credit: Chris Dorney
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Join Our Amazing Team at Advocate Capital, Inc.

 

Copyright : Yong Hian LimAs we continue the growth of our entire team in 2017, we are looking to add a Training Specialist to our Metro Center (Nashville, TN) corporate headquarters.

 

The successful candidate will provide training and support for our proprietary AdvoTrac® software, QuickBooks® and various case management software programs used by law firms. The Training Specialist also participates in the creation of training content including written materials and screen-capture videos.

 

If you are interested in the position or would like to recommend a candidate, please submit a resume for consideration.

 

The job posting is accessible here.

 

To learn more about our amazing company and culture, visit www.AdvocateCapital.com for more details.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

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