Tips for Choosing a Criminal Attorney

It is very important to find an attorney who can provide proper representation in criminal matters. You stand a better chance of getting desirable results when you hire an attorney who has been practicing criminal defense for many years. Although every good criminal lawyer we see today had to start somewhere, it is important to find a lawyer with extensive experience. This way, you will not have to gamble on a matter that is as vital as criminal conviction. Furthermore, it is advisable to insist on a lawyer who has handled numerous trials with positive outcomes. The following are some of the tips to consider when choosing an experienced criminal attorney, including:

· Number of trials completed

Just a few of the cases actually end up in trial because most of the cases opt for a reduction (plea bargain), a dismissal or any other outcome. However, some cases require a trial because you have the legal right to pursue a trial, even in circumstances where your lawyer advises against it. Attorneys who have a reputation of not taking cases to trial may not guarantee your case for trial. In such circumstances, the prosecutor has a better advantage in negotiations when he discovers a particular attorney who never takes his/her cases to trial.

· Area of specialization

When choosing a criminal lawyer, it is important to find out whether criminal law is their main area of specialization. Some of the attorneys are “general practitioners” who offer legal services in different areas. However, an area of law that is as important as criminal defense requires a lot of experience. Therefore, it is not advisable to entrust your case to an attorney who handled DUI or divorce case. You may not also want your criminal case handled by a lawyer who prepared your will. Although they may be great attorneys, they do not specialize in criminal cases. The serious charges raised in a criminal case require a specialist in criminal law. Find an attorney who has represented many clients in serious misdemeanor and felony cases.

· Reputation

The reputation on an attorney among previous and existing clients, as well as peers is vital. A good criminal lawyer receives many positive reviews from clients. Although other criminal lawyers may be reluctant to give an honest opinion for a competitor, other professionals including non-criminal lawyers, public defenders and judges will be ready to give an accurate opinion about a particular attorney. Therefore, it is advisable to make inquiries.


How to Become a Paralegal

If you have been pondering how to become a paralegal, first you should be sure you know what the job entails and whether it would be a suitable career for you. Basically, a paralegal is a legal professional who helps attorneys in law offices with tasks such as doing research, writing reports and other important functions. Without paralegals it would be extremely difficult for lawyers to get all the preparation done for trials, hearings and closings. You must get educated and certified to step into this role in a law office, and you must be ready to work hard.

There are numerous institutions that offer paralegal certificates and degrees. It is preferable to choose a school that is approved by the American Bar Association because most law offices prefer graduates from these institutions. You must be a high school graduate to begin a program, whether you choose a paralegal certificate from a vocational school, a two-year associate’s degree program at a community college or a bachelor’s degree program from a traditional four-year university. If you want the most job options you should choose a bachelor’s degree program in the criminal justice department that is geared towards paralegals. You can choose to specialize in fields such as copyright law, corporate law, criminal law or real estate law.

While you’re getting your education, it would be a good idea to complete an internship at a law office to get as much experience as possible. Even if you aren’t hired on at the end of your internship it will look good to have this experience when you go to apply for jobs. You’ll also want to gain a good working knowledge of online computer research and legal software programs during your education.

Once you have graduated you should work on getting certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants through a Certified Legal Assistant designation. Although the average salary for paralegals is around $44,000 per year, having this designation and a bachelor’s degree will help raise your earning potential, so with experience there’s no reason you can’t make well over $50,000 annually.


Tips On How To File For A Lemon Law Case

Ohio Lemon Law covers new passenger vehicles, SUVs, vans, trucks, and motorcycles that are purchased or leased in Ohio. The motorized portions of RVs are also covered, as are used cars that are purchased within one year or 18,000 miles of delivery to the original owner. To be considered a “lemon,” the vehicle must meet the following requirements:

The Ohio Lemon Law is a kind of law that is concerned with passenger vehicles, vans, trucks, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and motorized portion of RVs purchased or leased in Ohio. Used cars are also included but the cars have to be one year old or 18,000 miles. If you want to be a “lemon”, the vehicle should meet these requirements:

1. The vehicle is not under express warranty.

2. Has defects that affects the use, safety, or the value of the vehicle.

3. Has manufacturer defects that happen during the first year of delivery date or 18,000 miles.

4. Has taken in once because of a problem that can cause serious injury; at least eight tunes for miscellaneous problems; or had been out of service for at least 30 days.

5. Has been seized once for a problem that can cause death or serious injury; three times in the same problem; eight times for miscellaneous problems; or is out of service for at least 30 calendar days.

6. The manufacturer is notified in writing for the defect within one year starting from the date of delivery or the first 18,000 as read in the odometer (whatever comes first).

7. Has substantial defects affecting the use, safety or value of the vehicle.

8. The owner has participated in the manufacturer’s arbitration program(if any).


No Lawyer is Above the Law 10 Tips on Suing Errant Lawyers

A lawyer is not god or above the reach of the law. Most countries including the US have laws that declare that lawyers are accountable for the actions they take and as a professional every lawyer must behave professionally, responsibly, and ethically.

Often the lawyer you hire may not be ethical or squeaky clean, in this case you can protect yourself from legal malpractices by suing your lawyer. Before you file a suit you need to know that you are well within your rights to sue your lawyer.

Lawyers can be sued for malpractice, misrepresentation, inappropriate billing, negligence, breach of fiduciary duties, and breach of contract among many other instances.

To sue a lawyer you need to establish clearly that the lawyer had wronged you. The court needs to know in no uncertain terms that the lawyer let you down on a case you would have otherwise won. Suing a lawyer has to be done quickly, find out from your state bar association or court what the time limit is.

Suing a lawyer is expensive so before you take the final step you should try: meeting your lawyer and laying the cards on the table, try and solve matters; complaint to the local Bar Association; or seek arbitration to resolve the dispute. If nothing works and you are confident of the strength of your case go ahead and sue the lawyer.

To effectively sue your lawyer you must:

1. Keep immaculate records of your case, contract with him, and all meetings, phone calls, and so on. The documentation must be airtight.

2. Prove beyond doubt how much the case has cost you in terms of legal fees and other expenses.

3. Establish clearly that the lawyer did not act properly, dereliction of duty.

4. Prove breach of duty and negligence.

5. Have proof that the lawyer’s lack of interest and misrepresentation hurt you financially.

6. Have documentation showing how the case proceeded and where the lawyer slipped.

7. Keep documentations of unreturned calls, canceled meetings, and non-appearance at hearings.

8. Show that the lawyer let your case gather dust while he focused on other clients in spite of your many reminders or urgings. That for the lawyer your case held no commitment or interest.

9. Establish that after agreeing to handle your case personally the lawyer left the case work to an assistant or junior.

10. Have proof that the lawyer has misappropriated your funds, over billed you, or settled the case on your behalf with vested interest in the opponent.

Malpractice and law are related and sadly many lawyers forget the wows they took and practice law that is unethical and unlawful Every citizen has the right to justice and so when you have enough evidence to sue the lawyer you must first find a lawyer who will agree to file a suit against your lawyer. Always take a second opinion from a lawyer who is unknown to your lawyer and unrelated to the case that you are fighting. Suing a lawyer means high expenses as even lawyers who handle cases of suing errant lawyers charge exorbitant fees.


6 Tips For Your First Appearance in Court

You went to law school and clerked for a Judge during the summers. You were offered your dream job at the large firm downtown. You studied for, and passed, the bar exam. You’re a practicing lawyer! But now you find yourself standing outside the courtroom, peering through the window at the intimidating figure in the black robe, wondering why you ever thought this was a good idea.

Whether you’re a family attorney or a criminal lawyer, practice business law or represent condominium associations, at some point during your legal career the above scenario will present itself. So what do you do? Here are five things that might help:

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare. There is no defense like a good offense. If it is your first time in court, you can never do too much preparation. I don’t care if you are there for a scheduling hearing and the opposing party is not going to be present. There is always the chance that the Judge will ask you a question about the case. The situation you most want to avoid as a practicing lawyer is not knowing the answer to that question. That’s why you’re nervous in the first place. Know your case and know your client.

2) Dress the part. Most likely you will know several days, weeks or even months in advance of your first courtroom appearance. Have your best suit pressed and dry cleaned, so it is available for that day. You want to look and feel your best, for two reasons. First, you will be more confident knowing that you look good. Second, others will see you and know you are a lawyer. They will look up to you, or at least see you as equal, and respect that you are in the courtroom because it is your job.

3) Be polite. Introduce yourself to the Judge’s law clerk. Make small talk with the deputy. Not only will this make it more likely that they will want to help you, but it will take your mind off the nerves and make you less apprehensive. You may even get some good tips on when a Judge wants a criminal lawyer to speak, or where the Judge wants the divorce attorney to stand when examining a witness, or whatever else you might want to know.

4) Remember that the Judge is a person too. The Jude is intimidating because he or she is accomplished, respected, and sitting above you in a black robe and with authority. But try to picture the Judge as a friend or colleague, someone that you can have a conversation with. You can rest assured that the Judge has a life outside the courtroom, just like you do. Remembering this simple fact can make a world of difference in your confidence.

5) Don’t chew gum. Silence your cell phone. Judges and bailiffs hate both.

6) Enjoy yourself. Remember when your friends all graduated from college and started working for that big company and making what seemed like a ton of cash? You were in the bowels of the law library researching some obscure holding regarding who holds the burden of proof in a pet discrimination case. You wondered why you ever went to law school. This is what you have worked for. You are an attorney!


Car Buying and Lemon Law Tips

Car buying is not a task to be taken lightly. The cost of a new car equals almost what my parents paid for their first home. It’s imperative to do behind the scenes research to ensure you get a great deal.

Do not be in a hurry. Car dealers can detect the scent of desperation a mile away! If you are totally without transportation, rent a vehicle until you find the right car. If you rush your purchase, you will usually end up on the bad end of the deal.

You can uncover the typical retail cost of a specific make and model right on the internet. With a little extra research, you can discover the wholesale cost as well. These two pieces of information give you an edge when it comes to negotiation.

It’s best to work toward a win-win situation with the car salesperson. They need to make some money on the deal, and you want to pay a fair price. You can often negotiate a price that is $500 above dealer cost, or about 20% off the sticker price. Make sure you take your calculator with you when car hunting.

You can often order a car with *custom* option choices. This could save you hundreds of dollars. You might wait a couple of weeks, but why pay for options that you do not need?

Always check with the dealership to see if you can return the car if you do not like it. Many dealerships now offer this option. Some dealerships will give you a three day trial period in which to try the car.

It is a good idea to wait until the end of the month to go car hunting. Salespersons who want to meet a certain quota will be eager to strike a deal.

Knowing the value of your old car makes it easier to negotiate a better price for it. Try not to talk about a trade-in possibility until you get a purchase price. Sometimes this is difficult, as most salespeople will ask upfront about a trade in.

I took my car to one lot, and was told the trade in value was $1,200. Another dealership said they would give me $3,500 for the same car! So do your research to make sure you receive a fair price on your used vehicle. Stick to your guns when it comes to getting the value of your trade-in, especially if you’ve had your car serviced regularly.

A service contract will likely be brought into the negotiation. Most consumer information shows no need to buy an extra contract on a new car, as it’s not likely a problem will occur during the first months of use.

Whatever you do, always read the fine print of any contract before signing it. Ask questions about what certain phrases mean if and when you do not understand something.

Also, just because a car is brand new doesn’t mean you should buy it without asking questions. New cars can land in the lemon category as well as used ones. Keep on your toes during the negotiation process. You will enjoy both getting a new car, AND creating a win-win situation for yourself and the dealer.

And what if you get stuck with a lemon?

By the way, a lemon is usually defined as a vehicle that has a substantial problem which is not fixed after a reasonable number of attempts.
What a reasonable number of attempts actually means is up to interpretation. It is usually four or more attempts. Some states have reduced this to two repair attempts where the defect poses a serious safety threat.


Tips for You When It Comes to Criminal Law

Everyone should have some knowledge when it comes to the law, and most especially criminal law. Some people think that because they are law abiding citizens, then there is no longer any need for them to bother knowing anything about how the law works. They couldn’t be more wrong.

If you take on that kind of attitude then how would you turn out, if you or one of your loved ones were accused of a crime? That can be a very traumatizing experience, but you have to be able to handle it or it could be worse. In order for you to handle it, you need to have knowledge of criminal law.

How Knowledge of Criminal Law Helps

You don’t have to be a legal expert, but some knowledge of criminal law can help ensure that you will not have your rights trampled. The most important thing is for you to know what your rights are and what you are required to do under the law. There are certain things that law enforcers cannot compel you to do even if you are already suspected of a crime.

Criminal Law Tips

The following are some tips that you should keep in mind concerning criminal law. You would find this helpful when you or your loved one is accused of doing a criminal act.

· A policeman cannot search you, your car, and your house if you do not give them permission to do so and if they don’t have a warrant to do it. You can refuse to let them search until you get a lawyer. That is within your rights.

· When you get arrested by the police, you are not obligated by the law to talk to them. You can refuse to say anything because that might be used against you when you have to face trial. You can decide to wait until you have an attorney to help you out.

· If you have been convicted for some criminal act in the past then that might be taken against you. This would especially be the case when your previous conviction is for something related to your current case. That would be seen by the court as a sign that you might not be willing to change your ways and so you can be a risk to society.

· Each crime would have a mandatory sentence that would be the minimum for it. This means that when you plead guilty to an accusation, you might have to face time jail time depending on the case. Be sure that you know what that mandatory sentence is.

· There are cases where criminal records can be completely removed from your files. This would be through the process of expungement.

· If you have been accused of conspiring with others to perform a criminal act, then you will get the same sentence as all the other members would be getting.


How to Market Your Collaborative Law Practice

How do certain ideas, services/ products or messages advance from a position of unfamiliarity in the market to a position of extreme popularity and recognition?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Tipping Point, he provides insight into how messages, ideas, and behaviors can infect a population and spread rapidly just like a virus. This occurs in three ways,

1. The law of the few- a few influential people make a big difference
2. A sticky message- having a message that makes an impact
3. The power of context- people are strongly influenced by their environment

One example is how Hush Puppies®, the classic American brush suede shoe, went from being almost extinct in late 1994, to selling two million shoes in 1996.

What was the reason for Hush Puppies® sudden incredible success? It started with a few hipster kids in downtown Manhattan who infected the fashion industry with their style. Before long, designers across the country were putting Hush Puppy® shoes in all the fashion shows. Famous people started wearing them. Hush Puppies® had exploded. The shoes passed a certain point in popularity and they tipped.

This concept of contagiousness has stuck with me as I work with collaborative law councils and institutes across the country. Is it possible to infect our population with the message of a more solution- focused approach to resolve disputes? Could we create a Collaborative Law tipping point?

Absolutely! But first we will need a focused effort with the right people, the right message and the right context.

One distinction of a tipping is big changes follow small events and these changes happen quickly. Malcolm Gladwell states, “The tipping point is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.”

To achieve critical mass, it will be important to consider how collaborative professionals across the country are spreading the message about collaborative law and individually contributing to the tipping point for collaborative law. We must create the small events that will result in a big change.

The small events include defining and communicating an effective message; executing specific practice growth strategies; and tracking and monitoring your progress.

Define Your Message

It is estimated that half of the prospective clients who truly understand the collaborative process will choose this alternative and benefit from their decision. Yet, despite all the remarkable things that have gone on during the past 12 years, less than 2% of the public is even aware this option exists. This tells us that we need to be more effective in communicating the message about collaborative law.

One of the most important strategies to growing your collaborative practice is mastering how you communicate the benefits, value and process of collaborative law. You must convey ultimate confidence to prospective clients and referral sources. Your message must be clear, concise, easily repeated and make an impact. This will require upfront planning and practice. Give considerable thought to the following questions:

o What is collaborative law? (Define with an easy to understand short definition)

o How does the collaborative law process work? (Define in terms of benefits to client or referral source- use stories if possible)

o What distinguishes collaborative law from other methods for divorce? (Define in terms of problems solved)

o What are the key benefits of a collaborative divorce? (Spoken in relationship to the clients key needs)

Develop Specific Strategies

Once you have developed your key message, you will need to develop a strategy that will help you reach your goals. An effective marketing process includes a complement of multiple strategies and repetition. Research shows that people need to hear, see or touch a message nine times before they finally listen.

Consider a combination of speaking, networking and mailings to referral sources and prospective clients. The following are recommended marketing strategies to help you grow your collaborative law practice.

1. Maintain ongoing communication with referral sources- referral sources must be nurtured or they will go away. Rule of thumb in building and strengthening referral sources is to maintain a minimum of 3 purposeful marketing contacts per week.

Action: Make a list of your best referral sources. Schedule time to take them to lunch and tell them about collaborative law.

2. Identify speaking opportunities- Attend conferences and speak at meetings where your referral sources and target market attend.

Action: Organize your experiences and seek out people who could benefit from learning about collaborative law.

3. Networking- Go out and talk to people involved in collaborative law and individuals who might be interested, One attorney I talked to said she turns the table on people who are marketing to her- she takes them up on their offer for lunch and then talks about the benefit of collaborative law.

Action: Make a list of key networking opportunities, schedule them in your calendar and make it a priority to attend.

4. Implement public relations / advertising strategies
o Publish articles in local publications. Write about your experiences in collaborative law.
o Send press releases to your local media. Include information on new trainings you attended
o Advertise in local publications
o Develop a quality brochure and send to all referral sources and prospective clients

Action: Send a press release to your local publications acknowledging your training and involvement in Collaborative Law.

5. Have a presence on the internet- Collaborative professionals with web sites receive referrals. At a minimum have a home page with information about your philosophy and work, include easy linking to relevant sites and information, if possible provide an article of the month on some value added information.


Employment Law Tips for New Business Owners

As an employer employment law is something which you must give due consideration to. If you fail to comply with this area of the law when hiring employees, it could result in costly and time-consuming lawsuits, and could damage your business’ reputation. In this article, we discuss the law surrounding payment and salary requirements.

Broadly speaking, employers are free to pay an employee a wage which they believe corresponds with their role in the company. However, the law states that employers have to pay at least the NMW (National Minimum Wage). The same NMW is applicable for almost all employees, but those under a certain age, or those who are working as apprentices, may be paid a slightly lower amount. In addition to this, employers are required to honour their entitlements of their employees to things like adoption, paternity or maternity pay, and statutory sick pay.

Employer employment law also states that you can only make a deduction from a employee’s wage when you are legally obliged to (i.e. to make National Insurance and PAYE tax contributions) or when you have agreed to do so in advance (for instance, if a deduction agreement is included in their employment contract). Employers have to provide all of their employees with payslips as well.

In addition to ensuring that your employees are paid a fair wage for the work they do, and that they receive all of the benefits they are entitled to, you may also have to address the issue of employee share schemes. These schemes are designed to align the shareholder and employees’ interests, by providing employees with the opportunity to take a direct interest in the company’s financial performance.

These types of schemes are useful for start up and small business owners, who cannot afford to pay very high salaries, but still want to attract and reward employees of a high calibre. Many job seekers nowadays actually prefer to participate in share schemes and get a slightly lower salary offer, as in the long run, owning shares is more profitable. Schemes which have been approved by the HMRC can have tax benefits for both employees and employers, but it’s important to bear in mind that the do come with a considerable administrative burden. Employer employment law allows business owners to develop their own share schemes too, but if these are not approved by the HMRC, then they won’t come with the added tax advantages.


5 New York Lemon Law Tips

The New York Lemon Law was enacted in 1983 to provide consumers with legal recourse in the event that they purchase or lease a defective automobile. It has been wildly successful. Thousands of consumers who might otherwise have been stuck with a lemon, have had their vehicles repurchased or replaced.

The requirements of the statute are quite straightforward. In order for a consumer to typically qualify for relief, he must demonstrate that within the first 2 years or 18,000 miles from original delivery of the vehicle, whichever comes first, one of the following two criteria are met:

  • 4 repairs of the same defect, with that defect continuing to persist after the 4th repair attempt, or
  • 30 days out of service for repair

Additionally, the defects complained of must “substantially impair the value of the vehicle to the consumer”, and the vehicle must be used primarily for personal reasons.

That sounds straightforward enough, right? Wrong. There are several strategies that you can use to turn an otherwise losing case into a winner. Here are 5 tips that can help you turn your stinker into a refund or replacement

#1 – Document Your Repairs and Then Some

The importance of documenting your repairs cannot be overstated. If I had a nickel for every time a client with a potential case told me he had thrown out his repair invoices, I still would not be a rich man. But seriously, holding on to the invoices is beginner stuff. You need to do more than that. You need to make sure that the your invoices are accurate. They should, at minimum, accurately reflect the date you brought your vehicle in for repair, the date the repair was completed, the mileage of your vehicle, and the repairs that were performed on your vehicle. If you pick up your car and any of these things are missing, then complain until you get a good invoice.

#2 – If The Dealership Says Your Car Is Fine, Send A Demand Letter

The Lemon Law only takes into account warranty repairs. However, many defects occur intermittently, and it is difficult for the dealership to spot the problem. The problem is, you are not making any progress towards your 4 repair requirement if the dealership says that nothing is wrong with your car. The statute has a special provision for this type of situation. You must send a letter to the manufacturer indicating that you have brought a defect to the attention of a dealership, and after 7 days the dealership has refused to commence repairs on the vehicle. You must then demand that the manufacturer repair your vehicle within 20 days of receipt of the letter. The letter should be mailed via Certified Mail, with Return Receipt Requested. It is advisable to have an attorney assist you under these circumstances. If no repairs are completed after expiration of the 20 days period, you may be able to get a repurchase or replacement under the statute if you can prove in court or in an arbitration that a warrantable defect in fact existed.

#3 – Video Is Your Friend

Another thing you can do when the defect occurs intermittently is to film it with a camcorder. I remember my first camcorder. It came in a huge suitcase. These days, a digital camcorder can easily fit in your glove compartment. Taping the defect when it occurs can help identify the problem for the dealership, which gives you another repair towards your goal.

#4 – Always Get Your Car Repaired

Many people feel like its important that they avoid having their vehicle repaired so they can demonstrate to a judge or arbitrator that there is a problem with their vehicle. There is absolutely no reason to avoid having your car repaired. So long as you meet the criteria I listed at the top of this article, it does not matter if the car is ultimately fixed. In fact, it will always hurt you to avoid having your vehicle repaired. The more warranty repairs, the better your case.

#5 – Get An Attorney Right Away

Most people avoid attorneys because they don’t want to spend money on them. Its understandable. However, that should not be a consideration when you have a potential Lemon Law case. Why? Because in New York, if you have a Lemon Law case, your attorney can recover his fee directly from the manufacturer. That’s right, your attorney fees should be covered in most instances. An experienced Lemon Law attorney can give you a lot of leverage in negotiating a settlement with manufacturers, as the manufacturers do not like having to pay their own attorneys, as well as yours, and end up losing the case anyway. Thus, retaining a free attorney can increase the chances of you settling your case early. Its a no-brainer.