What is a Notary and When Do I Need One?

 

A notary public is a person appointed by a state government, whose primary role is to serve the public as an impartial witness when important documents are signed.   Notaries help deter fraud and verify the authenticity of important documents.  The notary also makes sure that the signers are entering into agreements knowingly and willingly. When you see a notary’s seal on a document, it means a notary public verified that the transaction is authentic and properly executed.

But when do you need a notary?   Any time you have a document that could potentially need to be upheld in court, it is a good idea to have it notarized.  Some of the most common documents that should be notarized are the following:

Sworn Statement

Quitclaim Deed

Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title

Power of Attorney

Bill of Sale

Rental/Lease Agreements

Parental Consent for Travel

Medical release forms

Wills/Trusts

Advanced directives

Executorships

Custody and guardianship agreements

Articles of incorporation

Vendor contracts

Commercial leases

Employment contracts

Loan agreements

These are just a few of the documents a notary can sign.  If you need a document witnessed by a notary, make sure to bring a valid form of photo ID (driver’s license, State issued ID, Passport, etc.) and the unsigned documents.  In most cases, the notary will need to witness your signature.  Unsure whether you need a notary?  Call or email our office.

 

 

Must Haves for Every Attorney: Practice Management Software

This week we are starting a series of must-haves for every attorney but what separate this list from the many others is that it will be solely focused on actionable and practical must haves as opposed to the standard subjective material. Similar to any other profession, there is a list of must haves for attorneys. We are going to continue the series with touching on a tool that has been deemed a necessity over time: practice management software.

Practice Management Software:  

The stereotypical visual of an office being swamped in papers filling every nook and cranny is typically used to depict the lifestyle of an attorney. Now whether or not this stereotype holds true to your office, there is always room for improvement! Improvement can mean many things for many different people however there is an overwhelming consensus on the need for optimized organizational practices when it comes to practice management.

Similar to any landscape, there is plenty of competition when it comes to platforms that offer cloud based organization tools. Clio, CosmoLex and Practice Panther are among the highest rated options. From legal practice management to client intake and client relationship management, these platforms offer an incredible variety of methods for organizing your practice. No matter the size of the firm, organization will always be a key in ensuring the success of a growing practice.

At first, it can seem a little overwhelming integrating a new platform into your daily routine as an attorney. But the initial lift of transferring everything to one of these platforms increases your efficiency exponentially in the long run. Before you decide whether or not this is something you’re interested in, take a moment to analyze your current workflow. Use this time to discern what works for you and what doesn’t then remain conscious of these factors when selecting a platform.

Now you can say your last goodbyes to offices drowning in paper work and endless walls of filing cabinets!

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Must Haves for Every Attorney: Court Reporters

This week we are starting a series of must-haves for every attorney but what separates this list from the many others is that it will be solely focused on actionable and practical must haves as opposed to the standard subjective material. Similar to any other profession, there is a list of must haves for attorneys. We are going to start off the series with describing one of the most fundamental components on the list of must haves: a court reporter.

Go-to Court Reporter:

One of the biggest benefits of having a surefire and reliable court reporter is the fact that they ease the stress that comes along with the deposition process. However, you must select a court reporter that ensures high quality and accurate results in their transcripts. The value of having a transcript that you can mark up for future review and research purposes is invaluable. Additionally, having real-time capabilities mitigates jumbled memory or misinformation in regards to any occurrence during a deposition.

The importance of having a go-to court reporter in your back pocket manifests during those times when you are swamped with client and research related work, things sometimes slip through the cracks right after trial that is necessary for preparing things like motions. The role of court reporters is incredible at creating a safety net for all parties involved in the deposition. They do this through the process of creating a central repository of information that can be accessed by almost all parties involved in the deposition. The access of having a transcript improves accountability and accuracy in numerous ways also.

The question now becomes: “how do I go about finding a decent court reporter?” The good news is you don’t even have to leave this website to find a phenomenally reliable and high quality court reporter! Select Court Reporters offers a wide variety of services that can greatly contribute to your success! Please take a moment to browse the site and contact us here at Select Court Reporters! We’d love to hear from you!

 

Select Court Reporters You Can Count On!  Covering all of Central Florida including but not limited to Orlando, Orange County, Florida, Kissimmee, Osceola County, Sanford, Seminole County, Florida, Winter Garden, Ocoee, Winter Springs, Oviedo, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Longwood and all of Central Florida.

 

Life Hacks for Every Attorney: Batching your email time

Email is by far one of the biggest time sucks for the modern professional. Hours can swiftly pass by while trying to catch up on an ever growing inbox. As an attorney, you are often sifting through emails from clients in conjunction with correspondence from other audiences aiding you in your case related pursuits. It can take hours just trying to decide what requires your immediate attention and what can wait. The common nature of this time suck has inspired the creation of the following list of tips to help you avoid giving half your work day to checking and responding to emails!

 

Prioritize before you log in:

What are the most pressing responsibilities on your list of to-dos? Organize them in order of priority and focus on the top 3 subjects. When you first jump into your email, be sure to read and respond to emails only related to them. This can be difficult to do when you’re scrolling through and scanning for the topic so make it easier on yourself by searching within your inbox. Searching and pulling up emails solely related to the topics on your list will keep your efforts laser focused and optimize the use of your time. Searching the topic in your inbox also removes all potential sidetracking emails related to “exclusive deals” and/or any other form of content completely unrelated to your professional line of work.

Put a time block in your schedule to check your email:

Constantly checking your email while on the go maintains constant professional pressure. While this may be motivation in many cases, it can also significantly contribute to burn out. So instead put time on your calendar daily to check your email, take control of your response time and interactions of this nature. The amount of time you block off is completely up to you, some people do one hour while others commit to two and a half hours. The point of this tip is to build the act of checking your email into a workflow that makes things less overwhelming.

Use an email scheduling plug-in:

Okay, scheduling emails has changed the game for everyone that does it. There is a large possibility that you’re never going to go back once you begin to use this practice. Now bear with me when I make this next suggestion: what if you didn’t check your email at all during the day? I know, it sounds insane but get this, we all know there are some emails that don’t require immediate response and attention, things that require thoughtful responses and pondering. Save these emails for later, respond to them at a later time. Now I am not saying you should be responding to emails at 7:00pm, but I am saying you could draft your responses to emails at 7:00pm and schedule them to be automatically sent at 8:00am. The most famous tool for scheduling emails is the Boomerang plug-in for Gmail. Let’s not also confuse this with the idea of extending your work day, it’s more so rearranging your work hours in a sense.

All of these tips were written with the theme of increasing the efficiency seen in an average work day. Of course these aren’t the only options, but they are definitely among the best!

 

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Life Hacks for Every Attorney: The Value of Transfer and Automation

As an attorney, you’re consistently juggling a multitude of responsibilities. Undoubtedly there are many moments that are stressful. Why not explore some ways to alleviate that stress? We’ve put together a list of ways to transfer some responsibility in addition to ways for automating some of the routine processes in your average work day!

 

Transfer of responsibility

  • Hire a secretary / personal assistant / intern

People normally wince at the idea of hiring someone to keep them organized. However, the amount of relief this brings will be invaluable. You wouldn’t believe the amount of time you would save by simply having someone take on the responsibility of answering your phone and/or lightly vetting potential clients. If hiring someone is not an option, bringing on an intern might be. Interns can do the groundwork of obtaining necessary information for your cases so you have more time to focus on the most important components. In addition to that they bring high energy at low cost to you.

  • Outsource

Completing things like lead research, similar case research, the position judges have taken on particular cases can be outsourced to research agencies. From this you can get the public information you need while you hone in the confidential information. It’s okay to let go of some of the responsibilities on your plate, it allows room for more growth on behalf of your business and most importantly you as a professional. Granted, this is much easier said than done but after you reap the benefits of letting go of something on your list, it will begin to get easier as time goes on.

 Automation

  • Using software to schedule your social media posts

There is a plethora of options when it comes to social media management and building them into your workflow can be life changing. It saves HOURS worth of time in terms of planning and posting on social media. It is very easy to jump down a rabbit hole when managing and engaging on social media, so do yourself a favor by cutting down on that time and organizing content for the coming weeks. Not only does this give you breathing room but it also builds out a road of branding that you can manipulate how you see fit as opposed to building on the fly.

  • Email plugins to schedule your response / update emails

Email is always a constant responsibility that looms over the heads of professionals. You never realize how much time you spend responding to emails until you realize half your work day is already gone and you’ve spent the entire time clearing your inbox. Plug-ins that allow you to schedule when your emails will be sent in response helps on a massive scale because it removes the obligation of responding in the moment. In an effort to avoid sending emails at 11:00 pm, instead you can write out the response at 11:00 pm and schedule the email to be sent at 9:00 am the next day. The presence of plug-ins like this transform the way you approach your hours of productivity. These plug-ins exist across most of the mainstream email services (Google, Yahoo, Aol, etc.)

These days it seems like 24 hours is never enough time but with these tools you may start to think that 24 hours is more than enough! Change the way you approach productivity and invite delegation and automation into your operation. Not only will your future self appreciate this, the tools will also be instrumental in building out workflows for your growing practice.

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Choosing your clients carefully

Deciding whether or not to take on a client is one of the most important decisions you make as an attorney. There are a vast amount of considerations people will tell you to make when deciding to take on a client and if you took the time to adhere to all of them, no decision would be reached. So I’ve come up with a list of 3 considerations you should have at the back of your mind when trying to decide whether or not you are going to represent a client.

Ability to Pay

This consideration may seem like a no-brainer but it wouldn’t be on this list if it was not a frequent problem. You’ll want someone who is straightforward in terms of what they can and cannot afford. This will help in determining whether or not their expectations align with their budget in a realistic fashion. Sometimes clients assume that they do not have to pay the established rate if they do not get the results they desire. Despite how long your relationship with the client will be, you will want to put yourself and your firm in a position that ensures success. And a large part of this assurance is linked to laying out realistic expectations after the client has given you the necessary background information.

 

Mutual Respect

Yet another no-brainer, but what many forget to realize is that people are often in a bit of a fluster when it comes to seeking legal representation. Dealing with any kind of situation in the court of law can drain a lot of energy, cause anxiety and be very expensive. Having said that, it is not uncommon for clients to place a very large amount of pressure on attorneys because of all that is tied to the experience. The very application of this pressure could be accompanied with abrasive and sometimes rude interactions. Do not, I repeat, do not subject yourself to that kind of treatment from a client. You as a service provider are doing your best to nurture their trust and represent them to the best of your ability. Respect and trust within your expertise should be packaged in the agreement and should be present from the beginning.

Their Pitch

There should be an expectation that a client will omit some information that you may later find important when handling their case.However, outside of this, if you begin to notice inconsistencies in their stories throughout the first few meetings, this is generally a big sign in terms of how the experience representing them will be. So take note of any questionable aspects that seem to be making your work a little harder. Of course, context is very important and naturally some situations elicit more emotions than others. Nonetheless it is very important to sift through that to ensure you are getting a consistent story.

Managing a case can bring a slew of difficulties all on its own, you don’t want a difficult client layered on top of that experience. And always remember that vetting your clients is just as important as potential clients vetting you as a possible attorney.

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Practicing Law on Your Own Accord

Is starting your own practice something you’ve always been interested in pursuing? Oftentimes, the answer to that question is yes for high performing professionals practicing law. The biggest appeal of having your own practice is the freedom and flexibility it offers. Operating from wherever your heart desires in addition to having complete oversight on the clients that you agree to represent all sound amazing as well but they do come with their trials (pun intended). For many, the initial stresses that accompany starting your own practice are well worth the freedom and flexibility that quickly follows.

If starting your own practice does not peak your interest, all is not lost. There are many ways one can take more control of the way they practice within an established firm. Practicing law on your own terms within a firm might seem like a far-fetched idea, but there are many ways you can squeeze increased flexibility into the work you do. Get into the right circles at the office and start suggesting increased flexibility to serve as a means of alleviating depleted engagement and/or productivity.

Practicing law on your own terms doesn’t just start and end within the office, the relationship with your clients is always another environment that offers opportunity for you to shape the way you practice. It is not uncommon to have cut-off times for when a client can reach you, even attorneys need time to themselves and it is okay to create that time. Granted, the way you navigate your relationship with your client may be subject to a certain degree of oversight depending on the firm. Naturally, staying within these guidelines but do not be afraid to explore the flexibility within them.

We as professionals find it very easy to become borderline obsessive with our careers, rightfully so considering our livelihood is attached to it. However, what is not attached to it is your health and happiness. There will always be things that we have to do that are the opposite of enjoyable, but they should not outweigh the amount of things that you do enjoy doing.

The most important factor in all of this is the fact that taking control of the way you practice allows the real reason why you decided to pursue a career in law to come to the forefront and shine like never before. Whatever passion you have that is tied to practicing law may be drowned in long drawn out work processes that take up more time than the component that you enjoy the most. Every attorney has a different balance when it comes to how they want to practice law, you just have to find yours and lay out a game plan for pursuing the balance that’s best for you.

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Gaining Autonomy in the Workplace: Law Edition

More autonomy is almost always ranked when it comes to surveying what attorneys desire within the law firm. The wide array of benefits that come with increased autonomy for attorneys in the work place: more flexibility in work style, increased fluidity in work processes and the most important benefit being increased morale and happiness within the firm. We are all too familiar with the stresses that come along with attempting to stay within the guidelines of company workflows, especially when you know of a more efficient and optimized method.

Being an autonomous lawyer is often likened to being a trailblazer. The one adopts a creative take on the law practice, they are much less likely to be confined to the very nature of a law firm that makes it a draining environment. When achieving success in your creative ventures within the firm, leadership will begin to accept your creativity as your method of servicing your clients.

As time goes on, not only will leadership be down your neck less, you will also begin to inspire other attorneys within your firm which transforms the firm’s overall culture.

More importantly, everyone has different work styles and as attorneys, the work you do is incredibly important. Therefore, you should be able to work in environments that are flexible enough for you to integrate the work style that’s most efficient for you and your clients. The increased efficiency and productivity can have profound effects in every professional environment you’re a part of.

This post is designed to inspire you to take that next step in trail blazing a new path for your personal practice within your firm. There is always going to be push back hence challenging the status quo. However, if you open the eyes of leadership to new workflows and efficiencies, this creates a plethora of opportunities for both transformation and advancement. You create opportunities for more than just increased autonomy when you explore creativity in the workplace.

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