5 Useful Tips to Find the Best Lawyer for You

Even though there are millions of lawyers available, finding the right one for you is not easy. You need to find a reputable lawyer to help you solve your legal problems – in the end, the reputation of the legal representative and his skills are essential. Here I will present you several useful tips regarding how to find a lawyer.

1. What will you need the lawyer for? This is definitely the first thing you should think about before searching for legal consultation. First and foremost, you need to determine the subject area: this way, it will be a lot easier for you to find a reputable lawyer. In addition, remember that some lawyers provide free first consultations which can be particularly helpful.

2. Check the Internet. The Internet is undoubtedly the place where you can find anything. Most lawyers have a profile or a Website on the Internet for their clients to get in touch with them. Besides, you can also read reviews and testimonials that can help you make an idea about the skills of each lawyer, therefore it will be easier for you to decide on the one that best meets your needs. Take your time to check several lawyers and compare their background experience and offers before making a decision. In addition, there are many legal sites you can use to find legal consultation;

3. Ask friends and family for recommendations. In the end, nothing is better than word of mouth! Ask your acquaintances about their lawyers and ask for recommendations. As stated above, you must keep in mind that lawyers usually specialize in a particular subject area, so focus solely on those that can handle your legal problem. Recommendations from friends are trustworthy and reliable – besides, they can tell you both the advantages and disadvantages of working with a particular lawyer. After all, having a good lawyer-client relationship is crucial for the success of a legal problem.

4. Check the yellow pages. Although some of us may believe that the yellow pages are old-fashioned (given the fact that we have Internet nowadays), they are still a valuable resource when it comes to finding a reputable lawyer. Most of them choose to advertise here, so this option should not be disregarded either. One of the main advantages is that most lawyers mention their preferred area of practice in their ads. Write down several names and phone numbers and get in touch with them.

5. Last but not least, pay attention to advertisements in the media. Check the local newspaper or the TV/radio advertisements – most lawyers prefer to buy advertising space in the media because of the large audience. However, the main disadvantage with TV or radio ads is that you cannot really check the background and the performance of the lawyer.

In conclusion, these five useful tips can help you find a reputable lawyer to help you. Take some time and see several lawyers before making your choice. It is essential to focus on professionals, since their background experience can influence the success or the failure of a lawsuit.

Taking an In-Depth Look at Court Reporting

An effective stenographer is a necessity in an organization that requires accuracy and keen listening skills. Different states refer to these people with different terms such as court, shorthand, or law reporters, but they all mean the same thing.

Stenographers or court reporters handle the difficult job of transcribing every speech or written communication happening inside the courtroom. The nature of the job requires specialized skill sets and training.

The demands of the position are something many people are unwilling to take on. It takes an extraordinary amount of patience and skill to come closer to the basic requirement for the job. This is the reason law firms and federal agencies go to lengths to make sure they hire the right people for the job. This also makes the business of providing court reporting and stenography service a profitable industry.

Court reporters are some of the most competent people in the business. This is mostly because they are required to perfect their craft through years of training. Traditional stenotype court reporters are highly popular, but the market has grown to include those specializing in voice stenography. The difference is the amount of time spent in acquiring the basic court reporting skill. It takes around two to four years for stenographers to complete their training while voice reporters only need around six months to one year to complete theirs.

Evolving Technologies

In an industry as competitive as stenography, introducing new and better ways to get the job done is necessary. Many court reporting companies now use video technology to record and save legal proceedings on disks for easy reference. It also helps minimize errors and omissions as the video can be played repeatedly to collect the most comprehensive and accurate information for transcription.

Developing litigation support software has also helped make the transcription process less tedious. Litigation support software makes it easy to make revisions or add annotations to any transcripts. It also makes sharing the information more efficient.

Transcription Services Made Easy

Technology has significantly improved transcription management. The availability of different software that can save, print, and search for transcripts in a given database is a welcome convenience. With these technologies, the time needed to complete transcription and data transmission is shorter. This allows everyone involved in the legal process to get the job done in half the time.

With many companies providing the same transcription service, it all boils down to the add-ons you receive. It is important to look into what else you are getting in addition to basic transcription.

America – By the People, For the Lawyers!

In our founding documents it states that the United States of America is a nation built by the people and for the people. Unfortunately most of the laws in our society and civilization have been reshaped by lawyers and sometimes in a self-serving way. One cynical person in our online think tank stated; “America; By the People, For the Lawyers!”

Of course immediately one of the lawyers in the group labeled him a cynical person, which he immediately admitted freely. But he said; “just because I’m a cynic does not mean I am not correct.” So the question is what do you think? This is an article of pure opinion as you can tell.

Are we still a nation built by the people and for the people or are we a modified hybred; being built by the lawyers and for lawyers. If lawyers make our laws and we have to hire a lawyer to tell us what those laws are and then hire another lawyer if those laws are inadvertently or accidentally broken then who are we truly serving; ourselves “The People” or the lawyers to whom we have to pay money to for advice on how to live or run our businesses.

The cynic in the group suggested that in his business, which is a successful construction firm, he had to call his lawyer every time he wanted to use the company restroom to make sure it was okay? Indeed, it has not got that bad yet, but it surely could at the present rate in my humble opinion.

I certainly hope this article is of interest and that is has propelled thought. The goal is simple; to help you in your quest to be the best in 2007. I thank you for reading my many articles on diverse subjects, which interest you.

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]