How to Pick the Best Lawyer or a Legal Firm

There’s a myth that you are in a trouble if you need a lawyer. Well, that’s partially true. Lawyers can really help you solve big problems or even avoid them. Yet, you may need legal services in everyday situations, for example when buying or selling real estate or an auto. A good lawyer is like a good doctor: either you are 100% honest with him/her or things may get even worse. So, what are the most important considerations when hiring a lawyer?

Money

Good lawyers are expensive. Well, that’s not quite true. Good lawyers are incredibly expensive. They hourly charges may be just cosmic. Of course, you should clearly understand why you need a legal practitioner and how much money you can save or get by winning the case. So, obviously you do not need a famous barrister who never lost a single case, if it is a $2,000 court suit. Yes, winning such a simple case is a piece of cake for a seasoned professional, but do you really need waste much money just to win? Hourly rates and changes usually depend on complexity of the case and its price (i.e. how much money is at stake).

Experience

Bear in mind that a lawyer specializing in homicides may be helpless at civil court, especially when it comes to monetary claims. Even the best criminal lawyer may lose a simple case concerning personal injury claims, because he/she had no experience in this field. Therefore, you have to pick a lawyer who is great at particular cases. Good lawyers have excellent reputation and personal sites with recommendations from clients and information on their experience. Many lawyers offer 100% guarantees of winning the case, simply because they know they can win. Yes, those specialists can be somewhat expensive, however, it a positive outcome is what you need, you should not economize.

Maybe no lawyer at all?

Yes, some issues may not require professional legal assistance. So, if you perform a good research you can fix the problem all by yourself. Yet, if you know you lack attention to little details, you’d better let professionals to their job. You can get into a big trouble. You’d better not joke with the law and the government!

Sure, the easiest way to look for a good legal practitioner is to go online. As already said above, law firms and individual experts have websites with the most complete information on available services and prices. Finally, let’s get back to a simple rule: be honest with your lawyer!

Hawaii Law Briefing – Hawaii Security Breach Law and Identity Theft Notification

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes committed throughout the United States. Criminals who steal personal information use the information to open credit card accounts, write bad checks, buy cars, and commit other financial crimes with other people’s identities.

Hawaii has the sixth worst record of identity theft in the nation, according to a 2007 report.

I. Hawaii’s Security Breach Law

Identity theft in Hawaii has resulted in significant losses to both businesses and consumers. This epidemic motivated the Hawaii legislature in 2006 to pass several bills whose purpose is to provide increased protection to Hawaii residents from identity theft:

Act 135: Requires businesses and government agencies that keep confidential information about consumers to notify those consumers if that information has been compromised by an unauthorized disclosure;

Act 136: Requires reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to personal information to be taken when disposing of records;

Act 137: Restricts businesses and government agencies from disclosing/requiring social security numbers to/from the public;

Act 138: Permits consumer who has been the victim of identity theft to place a security freeze on their credit report;

Act 139: Intentional or knowing possession without authorization of confidential personal information is a class C felony.

Together, the bills signed into law by Governor Linda Lingle as HRS Chapter 487R impose obligations on businesses in Hawaii to notify residents whenever their personal information maintained by the business has been compromised by unauthorized disclosure.

HRS Chapter 487R does not cover financial institutions subject to the Federal Interagency Guidance on Response Programs for Unauthorized Access to Consumer Information and Customer Notice, or Health plans and providers subject to HIPAA.

The underlying policy behind HRS Chapter 487R is that prompt notification will help potential victims to act against identity theft by initiating steps to monitor their credit reputation. Thus, it is critical that any business subject to HRS Chapter 487R audit the manner in which confidential personal information is maintained and have a security breach team prepared to comply with the notice obligations and effectively deal with any breach of personal information.

II. Security Breach

HRS 487R imposes obligations on the part of Hawaii businesses to notify an individual whenever the individual’s personal information that is maintained by the business has been compromised by unauthorized disclosure and to do so in a timely manner.

Under the statute, “Personal Information” consists of an individual’s first name or first initial AND last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements, when either the name OR the data elements are not encrypted: Social Security Number, driver’s license or Hawaii Identification Number; or an account number, credit or debit card number, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.

The personal information is protected if on a “record.” A “record” is any material on which written, drawn, spoken, visual, or electromagnetic information is recorded or preserved, regardless of physical form or characteristics. Thus, a “record” can be in digital form or on a paper document, which differs significantly from other states that might cover only digital information.

The notice obligations are triggered when a “security breach” occurs. A “security breach” is defined as an incident of unauthorized access to AND acquisition of unencrypted or unredacted records of data containing personal information, where illegal use of the personal information has occurred, OR is reasonably likely to occur; AND that creates a risk of harm to a person. As the definition indicates many times it is difficult to determine whether information has been “acquired” or to the extent that a “risk of harm” exists.

Several states, including Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, and Florida have devised a risk of harm exception. Such exception generally relieves the business from the notice obligation requirement after consultation with law enforcement. Since Hawaii law has no such exception most incidents of unencrypted/unredacted theft or loss of records containing personal information should carry the presumption that illegal use is likely to occur and a risk of harm. In addition, even if a statutory obligation does not arise other legal obligations may exist with respect to the theft or loss.

III. Notification Obligations

To the extent a security breach has occurred, and personal information has been compromised, the business must satisfy the notification obligations imposed by HRS Chapter 487R. Form notices are made part of this article for educational purposes only. The notice obligations must be satisfied without “unreasonable delay.” The only exception would be if a law enforcement agency informs the business in writing that notification may impede a criminal investigation or jeopardize national security. Once it has been determined that the notice will no longer impede the investigation, the notice must be promptly provided.

Under HRS Chapter 487R, the business must notify the resident (and the Office of Consumer Protection/credit reporting agencies where notice has been provided to 1,000 persons).
The notice must be given to the last available address. The notice may be sent to the resident’s email address only if the person has “opted in” to receive notices in that manner. Direct telephonic notice may be given under the statute, but generally is not the recommended way to notify the resident given the potential legal risk with such form of communication.

Under the statute, “substitute notice” may be provided where the costs to provide if the business can demonstrate that the cost of providing notice would exceed $100,000 or that the affected class of subject persons to be notified exceeds two hundred thousand, or if the business does not have sufficient contact information or is unable to identify particular affected persons.

Substitute notice shall consist of emailing the person when the email address is known, the conspicuous posting of a notice on the website maintained by the business, and notification of the security breach to major statewide media.

IV. Penalties

Statutory penalties can be significant. However, government agencies are exempt from statutory penalties under HRS ยง 487R-3. Under the law, businesses can be fined not more than $2,500 for each violation. Such penalty can add up quickly where hundreds or even thousands of Hawaii residents are not informed that their personal information has been compromised.

In addition, a court may impose an injunction on the business and the business may be liable for actual damages and attorneys’ fees.

V. Final Word

Hawaii and other states have taken significant steps to combat the growing epidemic of identity theft. It is important that both Hawaii businesses and employers, and consumers take reasonable steps to protect their interests and reputations.

For Hawaii employers and businesses:

o Enter into agreements imposing obligations on third-party companies to handle sensitive and personal information of your employees and customers in a reasonable manner and to report security breaches immediately;

o Ensure reasonable administrative, physical, and technical safeguards are placed over the personal information handled both the third-party company and internally;

o Periodically have the IT department conduct a risk analysis over electronically-stored information and computer network systems of the company;

o Have IT draft and periodically review comprehensive security procedures to limit vulnerability of the company’s systems and a plan of action;

o Train and retrain employees on privacy policies;

o Ensure company employees collect only the minimum amount of information necessary to accomplish the business purpose.

For consumers:

o Ask your employer, doctor, bank, etc., what steps are taken to protect against misappropriation of private information;

o Treat your mail and trash carefully; use cross cut shredders;

o Use locked mailboxes;

o Keep private information kept in your home hidden and secure;

o Don’t give out private information over the phone;

o Use care when using your computer; create strong passwords;

o Use common sense and stay alert (for example, write to your creditor as soon as you believe you have not timely received a billing statement);

o File a police report and obtain the police report number when you learn that your personal information has been compromised and close accounts, e.g., credit card, bank accounts, etc.;

o Follow up with law enforcement in writing and maintain a file; dispute bad checks written directly with merchants;

o Place a fraud alert/freeze on your credit files (Equifax, Experian or Transunion);

o Periodically obtain your credit report and look it over carefully; note inquiries from companies you did not contact, accounts you did not open, debts you cannot explain and report such information immediately to law enforcement.

SAMPLE LETTER 1

Data Acquired: Account Number, Credit Card or Debit Number, Access Code or Password that would permit access to Individual’s Financial Account

Dear

We are writing to you because of a recent security incident at [name of organization].
[Describe what happened in general terms, what type of personal information was involved, and what you are doing in response, including acts to protect further unauthorized access.]

To protect yourself from the possibility of identity theft, we recommend that you immediately contact [credit card or financial account issuer] at [phone number] and tell them that your account may have been compromised. Continue to monitor your account statements.

If you want to open a new account, ask [name of account insurer] to give you a PIN or password. This will help control access to the account.

To further protect yourself, we recommend that you review your credit reports at least every three months for at least the next year. Just call any one of the three credit reporting agencies at a number below. Ask for instructions on how to get a free copy of your credit report from each.

Experian Equifax TransUnion
888-397-3742 888-766-0008 800-680-7289

For more information on identity theft, we suggest that you visit the Web site of the Hawai’i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at ______________ [or the Federal Trade Commission at ___________________]. If there is anything [name of your organization] can do to assist you, please call [toll-free (if phone number].

[Closing]

SAMPLE LETTER 2

Data Acquired: Driver’s License or Hawai’i Identification Card Number

Dear

We are writing to you because of a recent security incident at [name qt. organization].
[Describe what happened in general terms, what kind of personal information was involved, and what you are doing in response, including acts to protect further unauthorized access.]

Since your Driver’s License [or Hawai’i Identification Card] number was involved, we recommend that you immediately contact your local DMV office to report the theft. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your license.

To further protect yourself, we recommend that you place a fraud alert on your credit files. A fraud alert lets creditors know to contact you before opening new accounts. Just call any one of the three credit reporting agencies at a number below. This will let you automatically place fraud alerts with all of the agencies. You will then receive letters from ail of them, with instructions on how to get a free copy of your credit report from each.

Experian Equifax Trans-Union
888-397-3742 888-766-0008 800-680-7289

When you receive your credit reports, look them over carefully. Look for accounts you did not open. Look for inquiries from creditors that you did not initiate and look for personal information, such as home address and Social Security number, that is not accurate. If you see anything you do not understand, call the credit reporting agency at the telephone number on the report.

If you do find suspicious activity on your credit reports, call local law enforcement and file a report of identity theft. [Or, if appropriate, give contact number for law enforcement agency investigating the incident for you.] Get a copy of the police report. You may need to give copies to creditors to clear up your records.

Even if you do not find any signs of fraud on your reports, we recommend that you check your credit reports at least every three months for at least the next year. Just call one of the numbers above to order your reports and keep the fraud alert in place.

For more information on identity theft, we suggest that you visit the Web site of the Hawai’i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at _________________ [or the Federal Trade Commission at __________________]. If there is anything [name of your organization] can do to assist you, please call [toll free (if possible) phone number].

[Closing]

SAMPLE LETTER 3

Data Acquired: Social Security Number

Dear

We are writing to you because of a recent security incident at [name of organization]. [Describe what happened in general terms, what kind of personal information was involved, and what you are doing in response, including acts to protect further unauthorized access.]

To protect yourself from the possibility of identity theft, we recommend that you place a fraud alert on your credit files. A fraud alert lets creditors know to contact you before opening new accounts. Just call any one of the three credit reporting agencies at a number below. This will let you automatically place fraud alerts with all of the agencies. You will then receive letters from all of them, with instructions on how to get a free copy of your credit report from each.

Experian Equifax TransUnion
888-397-3742 888-766-0008 800-680-7289

When you receive your credit reports, look them over carefully. Look for accounts you did not open. Look for inquiries from creditors that you did not initiate and look for personal information, such as home address and Social Security number, that is not accurate. If you see anything you do not understand, call the credit reporting agency at the telephone number on the report.

If you do find suspicious activity on your credit reports, call local law enforcement and file a police report of identity theft. [Or, if appropriate, give contact number fur law enforcement agency investigating the incident, for you.] Get a copy of the police report. You may need to give copies of the police report to creditors to clear up your records.

Even if you do not find any signs of fraud on your reports, we recommend that you check your credit reports at least every three months for at least the next year. Just call one of the numbers above to order your reports and keep the fraud alert in place.

For more information on identity theft, we suggest that you visit the Web site of the Hawai’i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at ____________ [or the Federal Trade Commission at ______________]. If there is anything [name of your organization] can do to assist you, please call [toll-free (if possible) phone number].

[Closing]

Is a Lawyer a Debt Collector, and Should You Sue the Lawyer If You Can When Sued For Debt?

As many people know, original creditors are treated differently than debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) applies, by and large, just to debt collectors and gives original creditors a relatively free ride. So where do lawyers fit in? And should you sue them if you can?

Lawyers Can Be Debt Collectors

Lawyers are not protected under the FDCPA. They can be, and as a practical matter the one suing you probably is, a debt collector. However, if the lawyer is representing an original creditor and acting in its name, he will be treated as an original creditor. If you are being sued by a debt collector, chances are good that the lawyer is also a debt collector, you can pretty much count on it. He can be sued for things he does wrong.

Before you go suing the lawyer, though, there are two things you should know: one has to do with your legal rights, and the other is more of a practical consideration.

Respondeat Superior

There is a concept in the law that makes people responsible for the things people who are acting as their agents do. This is known as “respondeat superior.” With a few exceptions, an employer is liable for the actions of an employee. That means a client is responsible for the actions of his or her lawyer. In general, this means that a debt collector is responsible for anything that its attorney does. Or to put it differently, you don’t need to sue the lawyer to attack the debt collector.

Should you do it anyway, though?

Tactical Considerations

Whether or not it makes sense to sue the lawyer is not an easy decision. I know you take the lawsuit personally-it represents a large threat to your personal and financial well-being. Naturally you want to strike back, personally, at the human person you see on the other side. The question is, though, is this the decision most likely to give you the most benefit? Is it most likely to cause them to drop the case and leave you alone?

I don’t know. Most of the time, the lawyers suing you regard your case from a purely business perspective attempting to maximize their profit and minimize the cost of suing you. And much of my approach to debt litigation has been to suggest that people exploit this business perspective by making your case unprofitable. That is relatively easy to do, although of course this isn’t always enough. If you sue the lawyer, you change her motivation. Then, instead of it being a merely business decision, you increase the personal stakes for the lawyer. It makes things unpleasant for the lawyer, no doubt, but it also motivates them to work much harder in many cases. You have multiplied your enemies.

A Final Legal Consideration

If you are suing the lawyer, your claim is not exactly a “counterclaim.” Instead, what you would probably do is counterclaim under the FDCPA against the debt collector and bring a third-party suit (within the same lawsuit) against the lawyer. The pleading is just called a third-party suit and names the lawyer as third-party defendant and states your claim in the same way the counterclaim did. Then the lawyer has to be served a summons. None of this is specially difficult, but it is time-consuming. Given the questionable benefit of suing the lawyer, I rarely thought it was worth spending the extra time. You’ll have to decide what makes sense to do in your case.

Finding the Best Lawyer For Your Needs

If you think that finding a lawyer is as easy as ordering food from the menu, then you are getting it the wrong way. Searching for your next lawyer that can help you with your misdemeanor case will not be easy even though you have a phone book in your hand that lists the lawyers in the city. The information that you can get from the phone book or from the yellow pages may not be enough and these sources of information may not help you make an informed and an educated choice.

The best lawyer that you can get cannot be provided by the yellow pages, and your friends and your network are the ones that truly help you. Talking to friends and your network in the community may be a good idea in order to find your next lawyer. Here’s one example on how to find your defender. If you are facing a minor offense like a misdemeanor charge, then you can always ask your friends or the friends of your friends who have these kinds of experiences. You can ask them who their lawyers were and also ask what they think of these lawyers. Try talking to a few of your friends who know these cases and chances are at the end of the day, you can roughly say who are the lawyers are who are not good ideas for your case and who are the likely candidates.

But don’t stop on the recommendations of these people that you’ve talked to in the streets, the bars and the city hall. Different people may say different views about a person. For this reason, you go to your last screening. And that’s to talk personally to the lawyer. Meet the lawyer, discuss your case and decide from there if you feel comfortable with your new-found lawyer.

Acquire Maximum Clients Through The Best Lawyer Website

Today’s professionals from various fields can benefit a lot by establishing or creating a website of their own on the vast internet network. Similarly, the lawyers too can advantage of this new trend in order to market their professional services to the targeted customers. Since the lawyers are such professionals who handle the variety of cases related with different legal issues such as inter personal conflicts or group conflicts or business conflicts or property related matters. In order to get maximum business for the firm, the lawyers need to have a best creative lawyer website design for showcasing the capabilities of them or their lawyer firm.

Due to the complexity of legal field involving various laws and which are continuously changing with the circumstances, the lawyers need to update their skills so as to make them ready to handle different kinds of legal jobs. Thus, a best creative lawyer website design must consider this fact of including or updating the web content with such changing knowledge base so that the lawyers or their clients or anyone accessing it would be benefited. Similarly, the best site must have a provision to include the case results of various legal cases fought in higher courts. It would definitely help the legal professionals in their daily routines while fighting the client cases in lower courts.

Generally, any best creative lawyer website design should consider other various important factors while designing the website. It should showcase the lawyers educational details, the number and variety of cases one has handled, the results of such cases, the professional fees charged, average time durations for fought cases, etc. In general, the content of the website should focus on indicating the overall capability of the lawyer in getting the success for their end clients in stipulated time and budgets, etc. Also, it would be helpful to educate the end clients about the legal issues through such online resources.

Thus, the web designers must consider above points in order to have a creative lawyer website design.