Why is it Important to Build Trial Teams?

Attorney Tom Metier of Metier Law Firm sits down with Author & Educator, Michael J. Swanson, to talk about why building trial teams is important to your law firm's success and how to build trial teams.

Michael J. Swanson About Michael J. Swanson

Mr. Swanson has over 13 years of senior executive level experience in trial law firm financing. He is the published author of How David Beats Goliath: Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms and has given lectures at seminars and CLE programs nationwide, educating trial lawyers about financial management. Mr. Swanson is also a member of the PILMMA advisory board and ASTC.

Trial Reviews How David Beats Goliath

Trial Reviews How David Beats Goliath

How David Beats Goliath – Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms was reviewed in the June 2012 publication of Trial.  Reviewer Douglass F. Noland gave a very thorough, detailed and fair review of the book.  Here are a few brief excerpts:

“Author Michael Swanson’s How David Beats Goliath is a must-read for any lawyer who works on contingent-fee cases.”

“Swanson explains, in a straightforward way, how to maintain your firm’s cash flow and how to level the playing field against your opponents.”

“If Swanson’s strategy is applied faithfully, lawyers may lessen their worries about financing their cases, so they can concentrate more on the cases themselves.”

To read the complete review, click here. To purchase a copy of How David Beats Goliath, click here.

How to Use Focus Groups to Get Better Results for Your Clients

One of America’s Top Trial Attorneys, Andrew Garza of the Connecticut Trial Firm, sits down with author and educator Michael J. Swanson to discuss the importance of using focus groups on your cases and give tips on how to use focus groups to get better results for your clients.

Michael J. Swanson About Michael J. Swanson

Mr. Swanson has over 13 years of senior executive level experience in trial law firm financing. He is the published author of How David Beats Goliath: Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms and has given lectures at seminars and CLE programs nationwide, educating trial lawyers about financial management. Mr. Swanson is also a member of the PILMMA advisory board and ASTC.

Advocate Capital, Inc.

Advocate Capital, Inc.

Advocate Capital, Inc., is a commercial finance company that was founded in 1999. Our main focus is providing an alternative to the “interest free” loans that most trial lawyers make to their firms for case expenses. We do this through a unique combination of commercial lines-of-credit and specialized accounting services.

Our clients are the best and the brightest of trial law firms from all over the United States. Our typical client-firm is a well established, experienced trial law firm whose partners are high-net-worth attorneys at the “top of their game”. Many are leaders of state and national trial lawyer associations, and quite a few are authors and expert speakers in the profession.

Advocate Capital, Inc., has enjoyed consistent, rapid, profitable growth during its history and now has clients in over 35 states. We look forward to adding you to our family of satisfied clients!

Website: www.advocatecapital.com

Michael J. Swanson

Michael J. Swanson

Mr. Swanson has been working at the senior executive level in trial law firm financing since 2000. He is the published author of How David Beats Goliath: Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms and has given lectures at seminars and CLE programs nationwide, educating trial lawyers about financial management. Mr. Swanson is also a member of the  ASTC.

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Michael J. Swanson

Michael J. Swanson

Mr. Swanson has been working at the senior executive level in trial law firm financing since 2000. He is the published author of How David Beats Goliath: Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms and has given lectures at seminars and CLE programs nationwide, educating trial lawyers about financial management. Mr. Swanson is also a member of the ASTC.

Tracking Emotional Damages Evidence with Genie Harrison

In today’s video, you’ll meet America’s Top Trial Lawyer Genie Harrison of Genie Harrison Law Firm in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Swanson interviews her about tracking emotional damages and her new app that will help attorneys do so.

Michael J. Swanson About Michael J. Swanson

Mr. Swanson has over 13 years of senior executive level experience in trial law firm financing. He is the published author of How David Beats Goliath: Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms and has given lectures at seminars and CLE programs nationwide, educating trial lawyers about financial management. Mr. Swanson is also a member of the PILMMA advisory board and ASTC.

How to Use Video in Mediation & Deposition

In today’s video, America’s Top Trial Attorney, William Ricigliano of Ricigliano & Filopei, and his business partner, Michael Sorrentino of Nationwide Legal Video Services, is interviewed by Mr. Swanson about how to incorporate video into your case strategy, and how that can improve your law practice.

Michael J. Swanson About Michael J. Swanson

Mr. Swanson has over 13 years of senior executive level experience in trial law firm financing. He is the published author of How David Beats Goliath: Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms and has given lectures at seminars and CLE programs nationwide, educating trial lawyers about financial management. Mr. Swanson is also a member of the PILMMA advisory board and ASTC.

Unique Way to Use Video in Law Firm Marketing

In part two of author and educator Mr. Swanson’s interview with America’s Top Trial Attorney, William Ricigliano of Ricigliano & Filopei, and his business partner, Michael Sorrentino of Nationwide Legal Video Services, they discuss different unique ways to use video marketing at your law firm.

 

Michael J. Swanson About Michael J. Swanson

Mr. Swanson has over 13 years of senior executive level experience in trial law firm financing. He is the published author of How David Beats Goliath: Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms and has given lectures at seminars and CLE programs nationwide, educating trial lawyers about financial management. Mr. Swanson is also a member of the PILMMA advisory board and ASTC.

Apps for Attorneys

Apps for Attorneys

I recently discovered a very informative article called “iPad Apps for Lawyers” published by this group which pares down the somewhat exhaustive list of apps to about 50 that are really useful to trial lawyers.  To review the entire list categorized by function, click here.

While visiting their site, I also learned a lot about their app called JuryPad.

What an amazing tool at a very reasonable price ($19.99 for the iTunes download).  Watch the short promotional video for all the features and tools to assist not only with voir dire but mapping of jury pools, demographics, statistics and trial results.

Donna A. Jones
Senior Vice President

State Law TV

Statelawtv.com is an excellent website for learning more about some of the important issues facing trial lawyers and the citizens they serve.

I recently spoke to StateLawTV.com president, Cindy Speaker, to explain how quickly they can react to current events and produce quality video content that can be deployed for a variety of purposes. You can learn more at Statelawtv.com or by visiting their Youtube channel.

Paul B. Myers

Paul B. Myers

A graduate of the University of the South (Sewanee), Mr. Myers has held several top level management positions with finance and banking companies over the past twenty years, including his role as Senior Vice President of Corporate and Investment Banking at Bank of America for ten years. In 2002, Paul brought his financial expertise and knowledge of credit and underwriting policies to the trial law firm community when he became Chief Credit Officer at Advocate Capital, Inc.

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Law Firm Marketing Magazine – Now Free!

Law Firm Marketing Magazine – Now Free!

Some of you may have heard about the new publication available for the iPad called Law Firm Marketing.  If you have not, I suggest you check it out. It was launched in October of 2012. It is the legal industry’s first interactive, digital magazine and it’s now available for free! It is designed to help you learn the best marketing practices from other successful lawyers as well as some of today’s top legal marketing experts. You can get the latest issue free by subscribing on iTunes or downloading the app by clicking here. Since the magazine is digital, it makes use of video interviews, hyperlinks and other interactive content. You can download the magazine in several different languages as well.

If you do not have an iPad, don’t worry! You can view the recent video interviews feature in the magazine on The Law Firm Marketing Magazine YouTube channel.

In the very first issue, the magazine featured Gerry Spence.  Spence is widely known as one of the best trial lawyers of all time, which is why he was an easy pick to be featured in the first edition of the magazine.  Spence founded the Trial Lawyers College in 1994 and has an amazing record of accomplishments with zero criminal cases lost. Also featured so far in the magazine is current American Association for Justice President, Mary Alice McLarty and well-known marketing guru, Jay Abraham.

Cindy Speaker is the CEO of Speaker Media and Marketing and the developer behind the Law Firm Marketing Magazine. She is known as “The secret weapon of personal injury lawyers and trial attorneys throughout the U.S.” It is no wonder attorneys across the country run to Cindy for marketing advice, she has an extensive list of successful clients as well as a published documentary, “Well of Dreams”. She believes this magazine will help law firms stay on top of an ever-changing marketing landscape.

If you are a trial lawyer (or are involved in law firm marketing) you should download your own copy of Law Firm Marketing right now!

Tina Burns
Vice President

Donna Jones

Donna Jones

Ms. Jones graduated with honors from the Southeastern Paralegal Institute. From there, she went on to gain 14 years of experience as a trial paralegal and was an active member of the Association of Legal Administrators. She is currently Senior Vice President for a law finance company and  a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor. Ms. Jones' years of experience working in and around personal injury litigation gives her a one-of-a-kind perspective into all that is involved in managing a law firm.

Ms. Jones is a proud member of the National Association of Professional Women.

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Paul B. Myers

Paul B. Myers

A graduate of the University of the South (Sewanee), Mr. Myers has held several top level management positions with finance and banking companies over the past twenty years, including his role as Senior Vice President of Corporate and Investment Banking at Bank of America for ten years. In 2002, Paul brought his financial expertise and knowledge of credit and underwriting policies to the trial law firm community when he became Chief Credit Officer at Advocate Capital, Inc.

Donna Jones

Donna Jones

Ms. Jones graduated with honors from the Southeastern Paralegal Institute. From there, she went on to gain 14 years of experience as a trial paralegal and was an active member of the Association of Legal Administrators. She is currently Senior Vice President for a law finance company and a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor. Ms. Jones’ years of experience working in and around personal injury litigation gives her a one-of-a-kind perspective into all that is involved in managing a law firm.

Ms. Jones is a proud member of the National Association of Professional Women.

Tiger Tactics with Ryan McKeen

In today's video, Attorney Ryan McKeen of Connecticut Trial Firm sits down with Author & Educator, Michael J. Swanson, to talk about the book he wrote with four other attorneys, Jay Ruane, Billie TarascioWilliam Umansky, and Theresa DeGray called Tiger Tactics: Powerful Strategies for Winning Law Firms, which is a book that discusses law practice management strategies.

Michael J. Swanson About Michael J. Swanson

Mr. Swanson has over 13 years of senior executive level experience in trial law firm financing. He is the published author of How David Beats Goliath: Access to Capital for Contingent-Fee Law Firms and has given lectures at seminars and CLE programs nationwide, educating trial lawyers about financial management. Mr. Swanson is also a member of the PILMMA advisory board and ASTC.

A Few Simple Rules for Mediation

A Few Simple Rules for Mediation

 

If you are like most lawyers, you have probably used mediation as a means to resolve a legal dispute. Sometimes it can be in your party’s best interest to avoid trial, though there are a lot of times when you might find it difficult to come out as successful as you would’ve liked. Kendall Reed, a contributor with www.NOLO.com, came up with ten simple rules that can help a lawyer be successful with mediation. Take a look at the first five below. They may seem like common sense, but odds are they will help.

  1. The decision makers must participate.
  2. The important documents must be physically present.
  3. Be right, but only to a point.
  4. Build a deal.
  5. Treat the other party with respect.

Check out Kendall’s full article, Mediation: Ten Rules for Success, to see the other five rules and to get a more in-depth look at all ten.

 Copyright: sakkmesterke

Which Deposition Service to Choose

Which Deposition Service to Choose

 

Are You Having Trouble Choosing Between Deposition Services?

With the number of deposition services out there, at times it can be a bit overwhelming choosing which service to go with it, and which company to choose for those services. It’s easy to simply pick one without giving it much thought, such as simply choosing a court reporter. One must remember that reaching a decision too quickly can sometimes have a negative impact, and a negative impact on a deposition can prove costly during trial.

Deposition Services: How to Choose the Right Provider, an article by Sarah Ballentine, contains a few things to consider when choosing a deposition service provider. They are:

  • The provider’s location.
  • The technologies they offer.
  • The way they screen their employees.
  • The number of attorneys they can supply.

To view the full article, click here.

Copyright : Sommai Larkjit

Sam C. Rumph, III

Sam C. Rumph, III

Sam is an experienced trial attorney and engineer.  As the managing partner for his law firm he has been a driving force for office automation, innovation and efficiency.  It was this relentless quest that led Sam and his law partner Jeff to develop a cutting edge case management system and the formation of Symbioshare.  Sam earned his B.S. degree in Ocean Engineering at the United States Naval Academy and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1993. After completing the Navy’s nuclear power training program, he served aboard a fast attack nuclear submarine as a naval Submarine Warfare Officer and was certified by the Naval Reactors Division of the U.S. Department of Energy as a Nuclear Engineer. Sam holds his Juris Doctor from the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University in Raleigh, North Carolina.  As a partner with Symbioshare, Sam works closely with lawyers in strategic planning to put OnPoint.Legal and its capabilities to work for their businesses.

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Sam C. Rumph, III

Sam C. Rumph, III

Sam is an experienced trial attorney and engineer. As the managing partner for his law firm he has been a driving force for office automation, innovation and efficiency.  It was this relentless quest that led Sam and his law partner Jeff to develop a cutting edge case management system and the formation of Symbioshare.  Sam earned his B.S. degree in Ocean Engineering at the United States Naval Academy and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1993. After completing the Navy’s nuclear power training program, he served aboard a fast attack nuclear submarine as a naval Submarine Warfare Officer and was certified by the Naval Reactors Division of the U.S. Department of Energy as a Nuclear Engineer. Sam holds his Juris Doctor from the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a partner with Symbioshare, Sam works closely with lawyers in strategic planning to put OnPoint.Legal and its capabilities to work for their businesses.

Harlan Schillinger

Harlan Schillinger

Harlan Schillinger is a thirty-nine year veteran of the advertising industry. He joined Network in 1985 to lead their attorney marketing efforts. Prior to joining Network Affiliates, Harlan was Vice President and one of the founding partners of Madison, Muyskens & Jones, in Lakeville, Connecticut. Along with his partners, Harlan founded the first syndication TV  production firm's for retailers, creating television commercials that aired throughout the United States.

When asked about his approach to legal marketing and client relationships, Harlan says, "Creating opportunities and increasing market share for our advertising law firm clients is my #1 priority."

To that end, Harlan is committed to understanding each client’s business and discovering new opportunities for their growth. Throughout the year, Harlan attends  many attorney meetings, conventions, and prominent roundtable forums throughout the country as a speaker and contributor, in order to help clients stay on top of the legal marketing world. He is on the National Trial Lawyers Association executive committee that puts together  their annual summit each year in South Beach, FL. Harlan is both a speaker and moderator.

Harlan  Schillinger is an avid motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys being a member of the most unique and prestigious custom motorcycle club in the world, the Hamsters USA. His passions are building and riding custom motorcycles and  trying to play golf. Harlan sits on the Board of the Children's Care Hospital in South Dakota (http://cchs.org ), a special needs hospital dedicated to help special needs children from all parts of the country. He is co chairman of the Hamsters USA effort each year in their fund raising effort for this charity. Together with his motorcycle friends, they have raised well over 2 million dollars over the past 8 years.

Specialties:

Creative, polished and successful advertising, marketing, public relations and consulting for clients that want to flourish in their practice.

" If your not rubbin, Your not Racin"……….DEjr.

Vice President, Director of Marketing

Connect:email
T: 800-525-3332 x275 | C: 303-817-7313 | W: netaff.com
Network Affiliates | 940 Wadsworth Blvd, Suite 300 | Lakewood, CO 80214

Harlan Schillinger

Harlan Schillinger

Harlan Schillinger is a thirty-nine year veteran of the advertising industry. He joined Network in 1985 to lead their attorney marketing efforts. Prior to joining Network Affiliates, Harlan was Vice President and one of the founding partners of Madison, Muyskens & Jones, in Lakeville, Connecticut. Along with his partners, Harlan founded the first syndication TV production firm’s for retailers, creating television commercials that aired throughout the United States.

When asked about his approach to legal marketing and client relationships, Harlan says, “Creating opportunities and increasing market share for our advertising law firm clients is my #1 priority.”

To that end, Harlan is committed to understanding each client’s business and discovering new opportunities for their growth. Throughout the year, Harlan attends many attorney meetings, conventions, and prominent roundtable forums throughout the country as a speaker and contributor, in order to help clients stay on top of the legal marketing world. He is on the National Trial Lawyers Association executive committee that puts together their annual summit each year in South Beach, FL. Harlan is both a speaker and moderator.

Harlan Schillinger is an avid motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys being a member of the most unique and prestigious custom motorcycle club in the world, the Hamsters USA. His passions are building and riding custom motorcycles and trying to play golf. Harlan sits on the Board of the Children’s Care Hospital in South Dakota (http://cchs.org), a special needs hospital dedicated to help special needs children from all parts of the country. He is co chairman of the Hamsters USA effort each year in their fund raising effort for this charity. Together with his motorcycle friends, they have raised well over 2 million dollars over the past 8 years.

Specialties:

Creative, polished and successful advertising, marketing, public relations and consulting for clients that want to flourish in their practice.

"If you're not rubbin', You're not Racin'"……….DEjr.

Vice President, Director of Marketing

Harnessing the Power of Tax Deferral for Contingent Legal Fees

Harnessing the Power of Tax Deferral for Contingent Legal Fees

Today’s guest blogger is Jason D. Lazarus, Esq. of Synergy Settlement Services.  I invited Jason to explain a few techniques that I’ve seen many successful contingent-fee lawyers use to help manage their income stream, tax burden and even plan for retirement.  I hope this is helpful to you.

By Jason D. Lazarus, J.D., LL.M.

Lawyers who earn contingent legal fees have a unique ability to control the timing of their income with either attorney fee structures or deferred compensation arrangements.  While many lawyers fail to consider these vehicles due to lack of information, it is easy to see once one understands the options how powerful this can be for contingent legal fees.   Through these mechanisms, a lawyer can forego taxation of fees earned in one tax year and spread out the income over a number of subsequent tax years.  It allows a contingent fee to be paid out over time and taxed in the years each payment is received instead of in year one.  This method was born out of the landmark tax decision in Childs v. Commissioner[1].  In the Childs case, the IRS challenged just such an arrangement.  The IRS ultimately lost in the 11th Circuit.  Since it was decided in 1996, Childs has not been challenged by the Service and has even been cited by the IRS as a precedent in a recent Private Letter Ruling[2].  According to Robert Wood, the preeminent expert on taxation of damages, “the IRS has begun uniformly citing Childs favorably, and is apparently quite comfortable with this.[3]

The benefits of using an attorney fee tax deferral program regularly are significant.  First, it allows a trial lawyer to even out what usually can be uneven cash flows.  Controlling timing of income is a huge advantage over other professions where it can’t be controlled.  Since a lawyer can defer only part of their fee if they so choose, there is complete control over the income a lawyer takes in any given year.  In addition, there is no requirement that the client structure their monies or participate in any way with their attorney.  Second, fees are invested pre-tax allowing one hundred percent of the money to earn interest and no tax is due until distributions begin.  Third, it can help lower the overall tax burden by spreading taxation out over a longer period of years when hopefully the lawyer is in a lower tax bracket.  It can also possibly avoid application of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).  Fourth, the future periodic payments from the fee structure or the nonqualified deferred compensation arrangement can be planned out to match future needs such as college tuition for children, large expenditures or retirement.  The periodic payments can also be paid in the short term to assist with immediate cash flow.  .  Lastly, there are no limits on the amounts to be deferred or restrictions on distributions like qualified retirement plans.

There are two different mechanisms that can be used to defer taxation of fees.  The first is an attorney fee structured settlement and the second is a nonqualified deferred compensation plan using a CaR trust.  For an attorney fee structure, the fee is deferred through either a qualified or non-qualified assignment.  A qualified assignment utilizes a fixed annuity and pays out over a specific time period or life depending on the plan selected by the lawyer.  A non-qualified assignment may use a fixed annuity, high yield fixed payment rights or securities.  With any type of fee structure, the fees must go directly from the defendant to the assignment corporation like a traditional structured settlement.  Special language must be included in the release and an assignment document must be executed.  The terms of the lawyer’s future periodic payments from the fee structure must be contained in the release.

With a nonqualified deferred compensation plan using a CaR trust, the fee is deferred by having the defendant pay the fee to the plan administrator.  The investments inside the trust may be selected by the attorney and can include securities based investments as well as high yield fixed payment rights.  The deferral program goes for 20 quarters with the first payment deferred 5 quarters.  Each quarterly bucket is credited with investment earnings.  When it is due to be paid, it can either be paid out in full, partially or deferred.  If it is deferred, it goes to the end of the line of the 20 quarters worth of buckets.  This allows a lawyer to elect not to receive payments at any given time if their current income necessitates more deferral.  For example, a lawyer has a great year and can then decide he does not want any buckets in that particular year.  With a nonqualified deferred compensation plan there is no need for an assignment or special language in the release.  The details of the arrangement do not have to be disclosed in the settlement documents.  The defendant would still have to make out a check to the deferred compensation plan.  A nonqualified deferred compensation program can be used to retain key lawyers in a firm and potentially can be used for borrowing purposes.

The beauty of both fee structures and nonqualified deferred compensation plans is that there are no limits on the amount you can defer or participation requirements like with qualified plans.  An attorney can also develop a strategy using a portion of each fee earned to create a significant amount of pre-tax and tax deferred investments.  For example, a firm I work with takes a small portion of each fee ($25 to $50k) and sets up deferred fee structures.  Over a 10 year period they accumulated over $1 million in deferred attorney fee structures.  However, because both the fee structure and nonqualified deferred compensation plans are complex planning tools, you should employ an experienced planner to walk you through the options and develop a strategy.  Both options have pros and cons.  They both have technical requirements which require the help of experts.  Learn more about how to maximize the fees you earn and harness the power of pre-tax and tax deferred investment options for contingent fees.

[1] 103 T.C. 634 (1994), aff’d without opinion 89 F.3d 856 (11th Cir. 1996).
[2] PLR 150850 (2008)
[3] Legal Fee Structures Can Hedge the Insecurities Many Lawyers Face, Los Angeles Daily Journal (Friday August, 28, 2009) at P. 6.