Advocate Capital, Inc. Law Firm Financing Blog

Law Practice Management Stories

CAALA Annual Las Vegas Convention


CAALA 2016


Will you be attending the CAALA Annual Las Vegas Convention at the Wynn Las Vegas on September 1-4?


Lynne Cushing and I will be representing Advocate Capital, Inc. at booth #226 throughout the convention. Stop by and discover The Advocate Flexline™, our brand new product combination that gives contingent-fee law firms the most powerful funding solution ever available.


CAALA Vegas Convention is “the largest convention of trial attorneys in the nation.” This convention, hosted at the Wynn Las Vegas, features three and a half days of networking events, over 100 exhibitors and education sessions presented by top trial lawyers, jurists and legal consultants from across the country. Attendees can earn up to 20 hours of MCLE in just one weekend in Vegas!


Don’t forget to visit our booth and enter our raffle for a chance to win a Bose® SoundLink® Mini!


We hope to see you there.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Honor Flight Bluegrass Chapter: B-25 Bomber Event


President and CEO Michael J. Swanson interviews Karl Truman, of the Karl Truman Law Office, about a recent event his law firm sponsored for Honor Flight Bluegrass Chapter featuring a B-25 Bomber flight for World War II veterans.



To learn more about Honor Flight Bluegrass Chapter, visit or call 888.998.1941.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Five Ways to Conquer the Facebook Ad


Copyright : Varin RattanaburiFacebook Ads: they can either work for you or against you. A good Facebook Ads campaign can bring in new prospects, build stronger relationships with existing clients, and boost your firm’s revenue; but a bad Facebook Ad will get you absolutely nowhere. Sound familiar? Well, if you are consistently shelling out time and money to create ads with no return, you may not need to throw in the towel just yet. A team of legal marketing experts at Network Affiliates, Inc. has figured out a solution to this common problem, or rather five of them.


  1. Target Your Followers: Facebook Ads should be tailored and focused on a narrow audience: your followers. They shouldn’t mirror the same marketing message you’d include in a television commercial that reaches far and wide. On Facebook, law firms have the ability to market to people who already value their practice, work or reputation.


  1. Use an Inspiring Image: Images are generally the first thing a follower will notice about your Facebook Ad. There is no golden ticket for which ones work best for every user, but experimenting with different image options can put you on the right track. It’s a faster way to generate more clicks and may save you money down the line.


  1. Don’t Just Test the Images: Trying out different images may give you greater accuracy in what visual elements work for your followers, but testing other aspects of your Ads campaign is also essential. Research and track the success of things like titles, landing pages, text, and demographics.


  1. Act with Immediacy: Once you’ve run tests to see which of your Facebook Ads are generating the most results and conversions, use that method and double your output. Seize the opportunity to capitalize on what’s working for your firm right now.


  1. Adapt with the Metrics: Use metrics to tweak and mold your ads with the shifting trends. Being flexible in this area will keep your firm’s social marketing strategy from waning, even if one of your campaigns begins to underperform.


Network Affiliates, Inc. says a crafting a good Facebook Ad all comes down to balance. If that lies in investing 80% in a campaign you know will deliver results and 20% in testing new content and designs, try that. Or it may be that 50/50 works better for your firm. The agency says the goal is simply to make sure you’re able to compete successfully using this powerful, marketing tool.


To read Network Affiliates, Inc.’s full article, click here.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Photo Credit: Varin Rattanaburi

7 Ways to Integrate Social Media Marketing


Copyright : rawpixelWe’ve been talking a lot lately about how to boost content on your firm’s website and blog, but there is another medium that deserves your attention: social platforms. According to Marketo, leveraging social media can be the best move you make for your firm. You can use it to create valuable business relationships, promote content, or scope out the market and potential buyers. It has become more than a channel or tactic of communication, but a status quo in a business’s digital presence. That means occasionally using your social media pages won’t cut it. Marketo says it has to be a part of every single one of your marketing campaigns to be effective.


“Marketing today is difficult… 44% of direct marketing is never opened. Roughly 99.9% of online banners are never clicked,” says Michael Brenner, Senior Director of Global Marketing at SAP (Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Social Marketing).


According to Marketo, 67.4% of internet users can be found on social media. That’s a huge marketing base that you may be missing out on if you’re only selling your brand through mass advertising, direct mail, tradeshows or cold calling. Since most firms now have their own Facebook and Twitter page, social media is the main driving force of B2B interactions on the web. Back in 2012, Social Media Examiner reported 93% of B2B marketers used social marketing to promote their business, and 74% of marketers received increased site traffic thanks to social marketing. What does that mean for your firm? That the idea of being “social” may actually help turn your practice into a success, but only if you truly take advantage of the social marketing tools at your disposal to increase buyer engagement, revenue and new business.


Marketo offers seven ways to become adept at integrating social marketing into your existing strategies:


  1. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously: Be sure to show your personality through your posts. It will make your brand more likable.
  2. Inbound is not Enough: Outbound marketing is still a great resource. You never know what the effect of a little paid promotion can do for your firm.
  3. Create Good Content and Solid Offers: Not posting engaging or well-produced content may cause all your other tactics to fail.
  4. Have a Strong Call to Action: Be clear about what is it you want your audience to do after viewing your content or engaging with your firm.
  5. Add Value: Provide some sort of value to your prospects through your social media posts, or the tactic will never work for you.
  6. Remember Social is a Two-Way Street: Broadcast your message, but keep the lines of communication open at both ends. If a user contacts you, respond to them quickly, and be sure to mix up your posts with different types of content and offers.
  7. Be Heard: Peer-to-peer sharing is the best way to get your message across.


To read more about Marketo’s “Golden Rules of Social Marketing,” click here.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Photo Credit: rawpixel

Three Steps to Make Your Website Stand Out


Copyright : christianchanHave you hit a wall trying to get more clients for your firm? According to MAC Design Inc., your website may be to blame. The digital marketing agency says small and large businesses alike can become a victim of their uninteresting or performance lacking website. However, it says there are ways to dig your firm out of the gutter and start attracting new users, and it lies in obtaining a strong in-house web designer or linking up with a professional web design agency.


Step One: Find the Right Web Design Agency


MAC Design Inc. suggests choosing an agency that will meet your firm’s goals, objectives and business strategies. To do this, talk to your prospective designers about important things like what your business is, what direction it’s going in, and what type of brand identity you want it to have.


Step Two: Harness their Power of Design


MAC Design Inc. says firms should take advantage of the latest technologies and design tools to help craft their marketing strategies. Your web design company will use this to create something new and revolutionary and to show off your firm’s business goals in a way that the world will understand.


Step Three: Make a Good First Impression


MAC Design Inc. says explain to your web design agency the vision for your main page. Poor design on the landing page of your website may turn potential clients away. Also, keep your web designer in the loop for other visual elements featured on your site such as banners, graphics, and promotional videos.


MAC Design Inc. says following these practices will ensure your business stays on the right path toward establishing a unique brand and identity, and it will also place you miles ahead of the competition.


To read their full article, click here.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Photo Credit: christianchan

Ross Law Group Makes Change in Employee Pay for Large ISD


Advocate Capital Inc. client Daniel RossCongratulations to the employees of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) on a recent victory in the way employees are paid. Employment Law attorneys, Ross Law Group, under the direction of founder Daniel B. Ross, a long-time champion for the rights of employees, represented sixty employees of HISD in an action brought against the district regarding improper application of wage and hour laws.


Claimants asserted that they were not being paid in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) when performing work at HISD’s athletic stadiums. Attorney Daniel Ross agreed and filed suit against the district in April of 2014. After a long battle, Ross and associate attorney Tom Padgett were able to negotiate a settlement on behalf of the settlement class members.


In addition to the victory on behalf of the members, the action forced the Houston Independent School District (HISD) to change the way employees are paid – a positive change that will impact HISD employees for many years to come.


Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud to support the great work of employment lawyers, like long-time friend Dan Ross, who fight for employees every day, making a real difference in the world in which we live!


Join us in congratulating Attorney Daniel B. Ross on making a difference not only for this specific group of claimants, but for Houston ISD employees for many years to come.


Lisa Wagner

Senior Vice President, Client Services


Special Milestone


Copyright : oleggankoOn August 16, 2016, we reached a very special milestone. We welcomed our 50th new client for the year into our Advocate Capital, Inc. family. These clients (like all of our clients) are the best and brightest plaintiff lawyers from across the country.


Here are some statistics you might be interested in:


•  1.65 million: This is the number of transactions we processed in AdvoTrac® on behalf of our clients in 2015.



  • 50,634: This is the current number of cases we are individually tracking for our clients with our proprietary tracking tool, AdvoTrac®.
  • 388: The number of active law firm clients we serve.
  • 44: The number of states in which we have clients.
  • 16%: The average firm growth rate of first year customers.
  • 25%: This is our growth rate over the past 12 months.


We are a small, boutique company who only serve the needs of plaintiff lawyers from virtually all corners of the United States. We are 38-employees strong, all dedicated to the flawless execution of our mission to help an ever increasing number of plaintiff lawyers get even better results for their clients.


Thank you to all of our clients for partnering with us and for trusting us for your long-term capital needs. We know you do not NEED the capital we provide, but you use it to drive results for your firm and maximize the rate of return for your hard earned gross fee revenues. We could not experience success like this without your loyal business.


We look forward to serving you all for many, many years to come. If you are a successful plaintiff’s firm and we have not talked, we welcome the opportunity to learn about your firm and to see if we can help you meet your goals.


Have a great rest of your summer!


Jeff Glueck

Vice President – Business Development


Photo Credit: olegganko

Your Firm vs. Facebook Changes


Your firm vs Facebook ChangesFacebook is at it again, introducing new changes to one of the driving forces on its website, the News Feed. The social media giant recently announced an update that will keep its users from missing stories from their friends and family, but one that will inevitably also affect the posts and content they see from businesses and brands. Some call it “Facebook Zero,” others call it the “Reachpocalypse,” but they’re all describing the unavoidable consequences of the Facebook ranking algorithm.



Daniel Brophy of Page 1 Solutions says this algorithm can control your Page’s organic reach on Facebook (most of the time in a negative way). He says in the past, shifts in the social media site’s News Feed algorithm restricted the reach of published content by brand pages to 16 percent. They’ve also prioritized the posts of users’ friends and “high quality content” over that of brands. This next go ‘round won’t be much different, actually Brophy thinks it may be much worse. In June, Facebook released the following statement:


Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.


Brophy says if you think of Facebook’s original purpose of its News Feed, you will recall that it has always aimed to show the most relevant content for a particular user, as well as be a means for them to stay connected to friends and family. However, the site has since transformed into more than a social networking site and has become a content distribution and publishing house for businesses. When those brands try to take up some of the already packed real estate in a user’s News Feed, they’re competing with more than just other companies but friends and family, too.


So, what will it take to arm your firm against the Facebook algorithm? That depends on you. The algorithm is governed by what’s called an “Edge”. These can be everything from someone liking or commenting on a post, RSVP’ing to an event, or tagging a photo. Brophy says edges made by friends and family are always at the top, but as long as you post relevant, informative, and entertaining content, your posts can stack up as high as they do. He says making sure you are regularly sharing this content is also key to attracting new clients and keeping your business from becoming an unintended casualty of Facebook’s changing algorithm.


Here’s three more ways Brophy says you can maintain your Page’s organic reach on Facebook:


  1. Understand the Interests, Desires and Behaviors of Your Audience: Figure out what is resonating with your viewers and be open to putting their needs first.
  2. Share Engaging, Informative, and Relevant Content: Think of educational, pertinent, and entertaining content to post. A variety of pictures, videos, and local news will increase your engagement with your target audience.
  3. Take Advantage of Facebook’s Features: Utilize new tools like Facebook Canvas and Live Video. They will capture users’ attention and help build organic and paid social media efforts.


Check out Daniel Brophy’s full article by clicking here.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Photo Credit: tsirik, rvlsoft

Tips to Build a Better Blog


Copyright : Victor CorreiaIf you are a follower of Advocate Capital, Inc. throughout the various social media channels, you know we are very intentional to pass on relevant industry information to you with the hope the content will not only be interesting to you, but help you in your mission of getting better results for your clients.


Last November, Mike Templeman authored an article in Forbes that has some very useful tips to keep your blog fresh and relevant I thought I would share:


  1. Blogs should be interesting and do not have to be directly “industry related”…but things you and others would enjoy reading.
  2. Use Google to see what topics users are looking up…try keywords related to your industry. You might be surprised by what you find!
  3. Utilize a keyword research tool.
  4. Re-use content that was well received on your own social media pages.
  5. Uncover what your competitors are talking about…might be ideas in there for you to use.
  6. Don’t forget about current events as inspiration.
  7. Comments made to previous blog posts are an excellent source.
  8. Brush up on industry forums.
  9. Keep a notebook handy to capture random inspiration that would normally be lost in the day.
  10. Make something “old” new again…maybe even a ‘part two’ or follow up to a prior well received blog.


Blogs are an excellent way to drive consumer engagement…I hope the above tips are helpful to you!


You can read the full article here for more information.


Happy Blogging!


Jeff Glueck

Vice President – Business Development


Photo Credit: Victor Correia

South Carolina Association for Justice 2016 Annual Convention Success


Advocate Capital Inc. Lisa Wagner with Ed BellLast week my colleague, Donna Jones and I had the privilege of heading to Hilton Head Island to attend the South Carolina Association for Justice 2016 Annual Convention, held each year at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa.


It was a fantastic opportunity to visit with existing friends and clients and meet with some of the best trial lawyers in the Country. The convention kicked off on Thursday and included an opportunity for CLE and social activities for trial lawyers and their families.


The highlight for me was the Awards Gala Breakfast held on Saturday morning.  SCAJ President, R. Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick  hosted the ceremony. As a native of the Carolinas, it was a particularly heart-warming experience to hear from each of the speakers and award recipients. These are truly caring men and women who are passionate about protecting the rights of consumers and ensuring the doors of justice remain open to citizens everywhere.


Thank you to SCAJ and its members for making my colleague, Donna Jones and I feel like a welcome part of your organization. You certainly lived up to the long-established reputation of the Southern Hospitality.


Lisa Wagner

Senior Vice President, Client Services


NHTSA Embarks on Road Trip to Fix Recalls


Photo Credit: kurhanCould it be the start of the recall revolution? Right now, employees with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration are touring the South to help more drivers stay safe on the road. According to Consumerist, the agency and a handful of auto manufacturers are stopping by parking lots asking people to fix their recalled vehicles, check their tires and make sure their child car seats are installed correctly.


The NHTSA is calling the initiative the “Safe Cars Save Lives” bus tour. It is the latest attempt in its quest for 100 percent compliance for recalled vehicles. The agency has become increasingly tougher on automakers to fix cars after a recall, but despite their efforts, the response rate from drivers is still very low. Some automakers say they only see 70 percent of recalled vehicles actually make it in for repairs.


The “Safe Cars Save Lives” tour also comes just weeks after a new report by J.D. Power and Associates found at least 45 million drivers are traveling with an unrepaired safety problem that falls under an outstanding recall. Earlier this month, we told you drivers are foregoing fixes because they see them as minor issues, but even major issues are getting overlooked. To read our full blog on unresolved recalls, click here.


So far the NHTSA has made stops in Miami, Tampa, and Tallahassee, FL. Workers are also hoping to catch up with motorists in New Orleans and Mobile, AL before moving through several cities in the Lone Star State. They are paying particular focus on southern states because the weather can become so hot and humid that Takata air bag inflators may pose an even greater risk of rupturing. If your city is not on the list, you can still check to see if your car falls under a recall through your manufacturer’s website or federal listings. All you need is your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and automakers are required to fix your recall-related problems at no charge.


The “Safe Cars Save Lives” bus tour runs through Saturday, August 13th.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Photo Credit: kurhan

What Do I Do If I’m Injured on Someone Else’s Property?


President and CEO Michael J. Swanson recently interviewed Attorney Debi Chalik of the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik about what you should do if you are injured on someone else’s property, such as a parking lot, gas station, restaurant or store.



Tina Burns

Vice President


Federal Sentencing Guidelines are the Tort Reform of the Criminal Justice System


Copyright : garloonWe have blogged many times about the impact that tort reform is having the consumers 7th Amendment right to a trial. The legislation across many states has made it harder and more costly to get civil justice in a courtroom. Far too many consumers are prohibited from pursuing justice due to damage caps, mandatory arbitration clauses, and the like.


A recent article in the New York Times by Benjamin Weiser sheds light on the same dynamic occurring in the criminal justice system. The culprit is mandatory federal sentencing guidelines. The article reports that the national decline in both criminal and civil trials “has been noted in law journal articles, bar association studies and judicial opinions,” but “recently, in the two federal courthouses in Manhattan and a third in White Plains (known collectively as the Southern District of New York), the vanishing of criminal jury trials has never seemed so pronounced.” The Southern District “held only 50 criminal jury trials last year, the lowest since 2004, according to data provided by the court.” The records show that in 2005, “there were more than double the number of trials: 106,” and legal experts said that “decades ago,” the numbers “were much higher.” The Times adds that legal experts “attribute the decline primarily to the advent of the congressional sentencing guidelines and the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, which transferred power to prosecutors, and discouraged defendants from going to trial, where, if convicted, they might face harsher sentences.”


The full article can be read here.


Photo Credit: garloon

Advocate Wellness: Walking to Cleveland…135,000 steps and counting!


David Alford and Lisa Larking Wellness MilestoneOn June 28th, we announced we were, as a company, virtually walking to Cleveland, Ohio from our home office in Nashville, Tennessee with the tracking help of our Wellness Program partner, Walkingspree.



We set milestones along the way to celebrate the accomplishment of our associates. David Alford and Lisa Larkin were the first to reach Bowling Green, Kentucky…135,403 into their collective journey to Cleveland.



David is a Credit Compliance Manager and Lisa an Accounting Specialist with us.


For those of you unfamiliar, Bowling Green is the home of the National Corvette Museum, so what better to reward this milestone then with a Corvette Stingray, of course!


Our next milestone is Louisville, Kentucky. Stay tuned to see which team has turned up the heat on David and Lisa!




Jeff Glueck

Vice President – Business Development


Advocate Capital, Inc. Partners with The Injury Board for Day of Action

As seen on Yahoo Finance and MarketWatch.


IBDayofAction 2016Advocate Capital, Inc. has teamed up with The Injury Board for its 3rd Annual Day of Action to provide in-kind donations of needed school items to the local Boys & Girls Club.


During the month of August, Injury Board firms and sponsors are encouraged to donate and/or volunteer with Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. The purpose of this nationwide event is to bring together plaintiffs’ firms in the effort of working together to better communities from coast to coast.


“Like our clients in the plaintiff bar all across the USA, we take community service very seriously and devote significant time and financial resources to giving back to our hometown. This project supporting the Andrew Jackson Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee is one of our favorites. I’d like to give a hat tip to The Injury Board for encouraging us to participate. The lawyers that make up The Injury Board are service leaders in their respective communities nationwide,” said Michael J. Swanson, President and CEO of Advocate.


Advocate Capital, Inc. has chosen to donate 50 backpacks filled with school supplies to the children at the Andrew Jackson Club in Nashville. The staff will assemble and deliver the items on Thursday, August 11th.


“We are extremely proud to bring our members together for this day of action. To make even the smallest difference is better than making no difference at all,” said Tom Young, attorney-at-law and co-founder of The Injury Board.


The Injury Board is an association of experienced trial attorneys with more than 150 member firms practicing all over the United States and the United Kingdom. IB attorneys are determined to help anyone in need of legal assistance in the areas of personal injury or other civil litigation matters. For more information, visit


Advocate Capital, Inc. is the premier provider of strategic financial products and accounting services for successful trial law firms nationwide. It has served the plaintiff bar for more than 17 years from its headquarters in Nashville, TN and now enjoys a client base that extends nationwide. For more information, visit


More Recalls Go Unresolved


Copyright : Bram JanssensImagine this: driving along the highway with your kids in the backseat, when all of a sudden the steering wheel comes loose or the car’s suspension fails. It’s a scary thought, but according to new findings by J.D. Power and Associates, at least 45 million drivers are traveling with an unrepaired safety problem that falls under an outstanding recall. That’s nearly one in six vehicles licensed to operate here in the U.S. and researchers say there could be millions more.


Recalls are not a new thing. The country has witnessed a tremendous amount of safety-related issues over the years that have forced automakers to pull vehicles off the road. Issues like leaky gas tanks, faulty ignition switches, improperly inflated tires, and most recently air bags that can expel pieces of shrapnel onto passengers in the event of a crash. According to a recent NBC News article by Paul Eisenstein, this is happening because more and more manufacturers are sharing components. Everything from air bags to brakes are moving across hands, causing a recall that would have only affected a couple thousand vehicles decades ago to now cover millions.


Yet, even though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been tougher on automakers and strives for 100 percent compliance, the NHTSA can’t fix recalls by dealing only with the manufacturers. Drivers have to want to get them fixed. Eisenstein says many automakers only see 70 percent of recalled vehicles actually make it in for repairs, and that number can sometimes be as low as 30 percent.


Now, why would a recall not drudge up a larger response rate you ask? Eisenstein says many people are not willing to fix their cars over something they believe is not a major issue, something like the door stickers Honda wanted to replace due to incorrect tire inflation rates. However, even a perceived major issue may not be a big enough incentive for affected drivers. General Motors had to offer gift cards to owners impacted by faulty ignition switches, and that was after the issue left more than 100 dead nationwide. Another example, the Takata air bag recall. News of the defect began circulating back in late 2014, but Eisenstein says it still hasn’t brought drivers through the door. He says only a third of the vehicles affected by the recall have been brought in for repairs, and that’s out of more than 50 million vehicles.


Yet, sometimes the reason for a low response rate is due to a lack of awareness because carmakers can’t get in touch with drivers. This is particularly the case when it comes to older model vehicles. Eisenstein says recall notices often go astray because the car has had more than one owner, but that could soon be a thing of the past. The NHTSA is now pressing companies to not only mail recall notices, but pick up the phone, send a text and email their customers. Eisenstein says this is an important task because after a certain period of time, automakers are not required to keep accurate compliance records. So the 45 million recalled vehicles that haven’t been repaired since 2013 will only grow larger and larger.


There is a bit of good news. Eisenstein says manufacturers are now being required to simplify the steps after a recall. You can find information on their website or through federal listings, and all you need is your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). And another perk, manufacturers are required to fix recall-related problems at no cost to you.


You can read Paul Eisenstein’s full article, by clicking here.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Photo Credit: Bram Janssens

2016 Paralegal of the Year, Patti Birdsall


Paralegal of the Year Award Presentation Patti BirdsallIt was recently my special privilege and honor to present the Advocate Capital, Inc./American Association for Justice Paralegal of the Year Award to the 2016 honoree, Patti Birdsall. The presentation was made in Los Angeles during the American Association for Justice Annual Convention.


Ms. Birdsall is “the linchpin of our office” as noted in the outstanding nomination entry prepared by Brian Beckcom, founding partner of Vujasinovic & Beckcom (VB Personal Injury Attorneys) of Houston, Texas.


In addition to providing best in class assistance to the clients and cases she works, Patti’s list of achievements includes taking first-year associates on discovery field trips, teaching best practices to new paralegals at the firm, and helping legal assistants make the transition to paralegals. She mentors the entire firm. In short, Patti Birdsall is not just an amazing paralegal – she is the consummate professional.


Advocate Capital, Inc. and the American Association for Justice are proud to partner for this award recognizing the hard work, dedication and many contributions of paralegals to our civil justice system. Ms. Birdsall and colleagues like her clearly make a difference helping trial lawyers achieve justice for injured clients.


View photos from the award presentation in our Facebook and Google+ albums.


Congratulations Patti Birdsall and keep up the great work!


Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President


Public Justice Cleans Up Dairy Farm Pollution



Copyright : Paul Grecaud and Public JusticeThat cold glass of milk comes with a price: pollution. For years, dairy farms in the Lower Yakima Valley in Washington State had been dumping millions of gallons of manure onto crop fields and contaminating the air and local water supply for the rest of the community. But that’s all changing thanks to the work of our friends at Public Justice, a law firm dedicated to the public interest.  They recently presented their 2016 “Change Maker” award to their team behind their “Yakima Dairy” cases.


In a landmark settlement back in May 2015, lawyers with Public Justice helped get thousands of residents in the Lower Yakima Valley their quality of life back. Families had been dealing with the ramifications of living just down the road from several concentrated dairy farms. Jessica Culpepper, an attorney for Public Justice, says there’s a point along the area’s highway where all you see are cows, but what you also see are loads of their manure spread onto the roads and sprayed into the fields. This, while dairy farmers pump the rest of it into unlined lagoons that leak through the soil and into the groundwater below.


According to the Associated Press, “Cow Palace” just one of the four dairy farms listed in the “Yakima Dairy” settlement, managed 11,000 cows alone. Those animals produced more than 100 million gallons of waste each year. Oregon Attorney Charlie Tebbutt says herein lies the fundamental problem: “Too many animals in too few acres.” In a documentary shown at Public Justice’s Annual Gala, he says dairy farmers were not land-applying the manure their farms created, but instead using the land as a means of disposal. As a result, the groundwater became contaminated with bacteria, dangerous chemicals, and nitrates (which can lead to “Blue Baby Syndrome,” a deadly condition where an infant is born with a reduced capacity to carry oxygen).


However, the actions of the dairy farms had an even wider impact: no safe drinking water for the thousands of people in the Lower Yakima Valley. Environmental groups like the Community Association for Restoration of the Environment say the agricultural area mainly relies on groundwater through wells, and a 2012 study by the Environmental Protection Agency already found that 20 percent of their 331 wells had nitrate levels unfit for human consumption.


So Public Justice brought the issue to the courts. In the documentary, Attorney Tebbutt says prior to this, no citizen suit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act had been successful up against a concentrated animal feeding operation anywhere in the country. Yet, this case would lead to a lot of firsts. It marked the first time a federal court has ruled manure not properly managed will be deemed as waste, and the pollution it causes will have to be cleaned up. Culpepper says before the “Yakima Dairy” case, many farms were exempt from regulation because they claimed their animal waste returned to the ground as fertilizer. However, she says the dairy farms in the Lower Yakima Valley produced so much manure, there was no way they could fall under this exemption, and a judge agreed.


Now, under the terms of the settlement, four Washington State dairies including the “Cow Palace” have to drastically change their operations. The farms must ensure their manure lagoons are lined at all times and provide clean drinking water to residents affected by the pollution. They will also be under strict groundwater monitoring by the EPA and the Department of Ecology. Plaintiff Helen Reddout says “People in the impacted zone will now have safe alternative water until the groundwater poisons go away.” She is right, but Culpepper says the work of Public Justice will also stretch farther than the Lower Yakima Valley and will go on to impact similar cases across the nation.


Right now, Public Justice is preparing for a follow up case scheduled on August ninth in Helendale, California. Culpepper says they hope to bring that community justice, too.


For more information about the Yakima cases, read Public Justice’s article here and click here to watch an excellent video about the topic.


Michael J. Swanson

President and CEO


Photo Credit: Paul Grecaud, Public Justice

American Association for Justice 2016 Annual Convention is in the books


AAJ Post Blog 2Lisa Wagner, Donna Jones, Tina Burns and I really enjoyed seeing so many of our valued clients and friends in Los Angeles during the 2016 AAJ Annual Convention.


For us it was a nice break from the oppressive humidity that comes with summer in Nashville. This year’s set up was a bit different than years past, but that allowed us to spend some much needed quality time with so many of our long term customers.


If you stopped by to say hello, THANK YOU! It was great meeting you!


If you intended to, but ran out of time…no worry. We will see you next year in Boston for the 2017 AAJ Annual Convention. Perhaps we could walk the Freedom Trail, catch a Red Sox game at Fenway (a bucket list item for me), or grab some chowwwwda at Quincy Market with you. Chowder is always tastes better with friends!


Either way, we are looking forward to it!


Jeff Glueck

Vice President – Business Development


South Carolina Association for Justice Annual Convention


SCAJ Annual Convention

Will you be attending the SCAJ 2016 Annual Convention in Hilton Head, SC on August 4-6?


Lisa Wagner and Donna Jones will be representing Advocate Capital, Inc. during the convention. Stop by Booth #9 and discover The Advocate Flexline™, our brand new product combination that gives contingent-fee law firms the most powerful funding solution ever available.


The 2016 SCAJ Annual Convention is a three day event at the Westin Hilton Head Resort & Spa combining Continuing Legal Education, Business Networking, and Family Fun. Featuring more than a dozen seminars delivered by leading legal experts, the convention provides members a chance to qualify for 12 CLE credits which includes three ethics credit.


Don’t forget to visit our booth and enter our raffle for a chance to win Bose® SoundLink® Mini!


We hope to see you there.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Are Your “New Tires” Really New?


President and CEO Michael J. Swanson recently interviewed Attorney Debi Chalik of the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik about some important safety information for consumers in the market for new tires.



Tina Burns

Vice President


Making Access to Justice More Affordable


Copyright : Kamil MacniakWe’ve all seen them, television shows like “The People’s Court,” “Judge Judy,” and “Judge Mathis”. They portray cases where plaintiffs have some type of legal problem, but instead of choosing a lawyer to represent them, they opt for the pro se route (acting on one’s own behalf). Yet, these court t.v. shows do not only stem from people shying away from legal representation, they reveal a much larger theme when it comes to access to justice.


Access to justice is an issue lawyers and their potential clients have faced for decades. It can be hindered by everything from a lack of qualified legal protection to a lack of awareness, but the biggest barrier is affordability. Lawyers cost money, and not everyone can pay to get the legal services they offer even when it’s needed the most. So the result is a large gap between the people who can afford a lawyer and the ones who are eligible for free legal help. However, Sam Glover, editor-in-chief of Lawyerist says closing the access to justice gap will mean more than lowering the high cost of legal representation.


According to the American Bar Association and an analysis by TyMetrix Legal Analytics and CEB, the average hourly rate for a lawyer back in 2012 was $370 for associates and $536 for law firm partners. Yet, this is not the sole method of paying an attorney for his or her services. There are also contingent fee arrangements where a client is required to pay if and only if a lawyer is successful in a case (most often one involving personal injury or workers’ compensation). Contingent fees can be a financial relief for clients as there are no upfront costs associated with them. The money comes out the final amount awarded to you, and that means less debt and less headaches during the course of your case.


Many people are not aware of the benefits of choosing a lawyer who offers contingent fees. A recent study by the Federal Reserve found that half of the U.S. is not able to come up with the money it takes to use legal services at the comparable billable rate. Free legal representation may be offered to a person who is below 125% of the poverty line, but the Legal Services Corporation says even they can be turned away when they apply for help.


Could the access of justice gap stretch farther than just affordability? There are many that believe the value of legal services also plays a big role. Glover says there are online legal document services available that give people free tools for their cases, but they are not utilized. He says the majority of people would rather save the money and pay for a lawyer to get the job done, but there are plaintiffs that believe they can do the job just fine themselves. Yet, Glover says the people you see on court t.v. could just as easily not be able to afford a lawyer, as they may not appreciate their value.


Access to justice is not an issue that can be chiseled down to one solution. Lawyers may always be expensive, and there will be times people will need actual representation to solve their legal problems (and making fees cheaper may not make them more accessible). Yet, plaintiff law firms that work on a contingency basis are helping bridge the gap. They are the ones Advocate Capital, Inc. helps get even better results for their clients through strategic financing and our Case Expense Funding product. If plaintiff law firms continue to fight injustice without it being a financial burden on their clients, more people should be able to get the legal protection they need and deserve.


You can check out Sam Glover’s full article on Access to Justice by clicking here.


Tina Burns

Vice President


Photo Credit: Kamil Macniak

Pharmaceutical Company Held Liable for Side Effects of Generic Prescription Drugs?


Copyright : dreamerbUnder current Food and Drug Administration laws, generic drug manufacturers are required to use the same label as the brand-name equivalent.


What happens when the brand-name manufacturer fails to warn the consumer of dangerous side effects? Is the brand-name manufacturer liable for side effects of the generic equivalent?


This is a complex question and state rulings on this topic vary. In California, the answer is yes. However, that may change potentially affecting millions of consumers.


Leslie Brueckner with The Legal Examiner discusses this issue, which is currently before the California Supreme Court. In her article, Defending the Rights of Generic Drug Victims in the California Supreme Court, Leslie states:


The risk of tort liability creates an incentive for drug companies to change their labels when new risks emerge. But when drug companies know they can’t be sued for failure to warn, all bets are off. Unless there’s a risk of liability in the courts, there’s little incentive for drug companies like Novartis to change their labels to warn of newly discovered risks.


The case in question is T.H., a Minor v Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. The case involves two minors who suffered brain injuries in utero because their mother took a generic version of “Brethine.” Novartis manufactured and labeled Brethine before it sold the rights to another drug company. The Plaintiffs argued Novartis knew the drug and the generic forms could cause fetal brain damage but chose not to include this on the warning label to continue profiting from the drug. The lower court agreed. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is challenging the ruling, arguing they are not liable for side effects of the generic version of their patented product.


At Advocate Capital, Inc., we strongly believe in the rights of the consumer and support Plaintiff attorneys across the US in the work they do in protecting these rights. Will big pharma prevail again? We will continue to follow this case for the potential impact it may have on consumers.


Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President


Photo Credit: dreamerb

Asbestos Litigation Expert Simona Farrise Speaking at American Association for Justice Convention


FarriseSimona Farrise, founder of The Farrise Law Firm, known as one of the top 50 Female Lawyers in California, a nationally sought after public speaker in the areas of law, and likely most well-known for her success in Asbestos litigation, will be speaking at the American Association for Justice Annual Convention in Los Angeles.


Attorney Farrise’s topic will feature Cross-Examination of the Purveyors of Doubt Science as part of the Asbestos Litigation Group CLE Program held during the 2 – 5:10 p.m. session today.


Attorney Farrise has been representing victims of asbestos-related disease for more than two decades and the CLE program provides an opportunity for her to share her experience and expertise in this important area of the law.


In addition to her success in asbestos litigation, Attorney Farrise is also well-known for holding corporate giants accountable, as in a recent $8M verdict she was able to achieve in a wrongful death case against Janssen Pharmaceutical involving the use of Risperidone, an injectable form of Risperdal.


We look forward to visiting with many friends and clients as AAJ kicks off. AAJ members can click here to see the full event schedule.


Lisa Wagner

Senior Vice President, Client Services


Legal Videos: Tips to Increase Effectiveness


Copyright : venimoIn 2016, video marketing allows law firms to speak directly to their prospective clients and referral sources. Whether you are just getting started or looking to create fresh content, how do you know if the finished product will be effective?


In a recent article, Crisp Video Group President Michael Mogill shares ways to help your law firm “create legal videos that help you capture new clients and cases.”


Below are a few of his tips:


  • Storytelling: “Effective legal videos build trust and engagement by telling the story of your practice, encouraging viewers to trust you in their time of need. But highly effective videos do this by emphasizing the why of your firm — not just the what.”
  • Production Value: In today’s world of HD and 4K videos, high-quality production is worth the investment. “Your video is a direct reflection of your brand, and it will be the first impression many prospective clients have of your law firm. According to Brightcove, 62 percent of consumers are more likely to have a negative perception of a brand that published a low-quality video, and 23 percent would hesitate to buy from the brand.”
  • Part of a Bigger Strategy: Where to Share It: “One of the biggest mistakes law firms make is forgetting to consider how video content will tie into their overall marketing strategy.” Sharing on your website, YouTube, social media and email marketing will allow you more opportunities to connect with prospective clients.


(View the full article, “Five Characteristics of Highly Effective Legal Videos”)


If you want to start increasing your video marketing effectiveness, follow Mr. Mogill’s advice, “Contemplate how video ties into your overall strategy, focus on your audience, consider your unique value proposition, communicate this message with stories, and convey it all with well-produced video content.”


Tina Burns

Vice President


Photo Credit: venimo

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