legal sonic

legal sonic

How To Save On Legal Fees Without Compromising On Quality

Posted on February 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

Everyone would like to cut expenses, but for many couples going through a divorce, they just keep piling up, especially legal fees. Surprisingly, the experienced attorney with the higher hourly rate may not be the most expensive. When you hire an experienced divorce attorney, he or she will be able to identify the critical issues in your case, set reasonable expectations for the eventual outcome, have the skills to represent you in court, and be able to guide you on where to invest your legal dollars. He or she will have a large database of documents drafted in similar cases to draw upon and customize to fit your needs, saving you time and money. These advantages will likely to save you money over a less experienced attorney.

So where can you find some savings without sacrificing quality?

Since a client is billed based on the time a lawyer spends on their case, anything the client does to cut down on that time will save money. With that in mind, here are some suggestions on how you can reduce lawyer time spent on your case and save on your legal fees:

1. Most people hiring a divorce attorney will be asked to provide their lawyer with copies of their complete financial history, sometimes going back several years. This typically includes copies of all bank records, tax returns, brokerage records, deeds, titles, etc. This can be a very large task, but it is a great way for clients to cut costs by doing the organizing work themselves.

For instance, Client #1, who comes in with a grocery bag full of unsorted papers in response to this request. That client will be paying for the time it takes for an associate or paralegal to sort through and organize those documents, and then have them copied or scanned. If pages are missing, Client #1 may have to pay for the firm to get copies directly from banks and other institutions to fill in missing information. This exercise will take hours of legal work and cost hundreds of poorly spent dollars for Client #1.

Now compare Client #1 to Client #2, who carefully assembles her documents and has them scanned onto a storage device or provides us with neatly indexed and organized binders containing all of the documents requested in chronological order, including both a copy for our firm and one for the opposing counsel. This makes it easy for the lawyer to look over the documents, identify any issues, and then serve the documents on the other attorney. Most importantly, this saves hours of legal work for the attorney and staff. Client #2’s efforts can save her hundreds of dollars, and she earns the gratitude of her lawyer and her staff as a bonus!

2. I long ago lost count of the number of times a client has told me that their future ex-spouse has refused to discuss and issue and told them to have her lawyer take it up with his lawyer. That should never be the approach for dealing with day-to-day issues, which ideally should not involve the lawyers. It is almost always a waste of your money to have your attorney take the time to address minor matters that have no enduring benefit to you or your case. Since saving money is likely a common goal you share with your future ex-spouse, I encourage my clients to try to find a method to handle these issues outside of involving the attorney.

What if your ex will not cooperate? Try to stay focused on the benefits and the costs when deciding whether to ask your lawyer to intervene. For instance, if the issue involves a needed repair in the home, and the cost is $300, should you involve your lawyer, who will involve your spouse’s lawyer, at a likely combined expense that is greater then the cost of the needed repair? Some clients will want to do just that, perhaps in the hope that doing it once will encourage the intransigent spouse to cooperate next time, while others will prefer to make the repair and ask for a credit or offset later. Do what is best for you, but don’t lose sight of the costs and ultimate benefit. The fact is it is never wise to spend hundreds of dollars on an issue with little end reward. Spend your money where it counts.

3. Meeting deadlines is another area where money can be saved. Each missed deadline will have a consequence, from minor to major, and a corresponding expense. While missing some deadlines may be unavoidable, others can be avoided, as can the corresponding expense.

Make no mistake that the client who routinely needs reminders of deadlines, or who needs to be prodded to bring in requested documents, will pay more in legal fees. These delays may require the attorney to take the time to call the client, send out reminder letters, and arrange for extensions of time with the court or opposing counsel. The expenses may be more significant where the client’s failure to meet deadlines despite repeated warnings from the court and lawyers, leading to costly court motions with significant legal consequences.

These legal fees can be saved just by meeting deadlines. As a bonus, your attorney will appreciate having a cooperative client who is on top of their case.

4. During your divorce you may have complaints about the behavior of your future ex, his lawyer, the courts, and the system. Your complaints may be valid, but they will have no legal or practical solution short of bringing your case to its conclusion and getting you divorced. Avoid calling your lawyer when these issues come up unless you want to pay for her to just listen to the complaint. Call someone who will not charge you for the time it takes to hear your complaint!

There are undoubtedly many ways to save money on legal fees that are not included here. As a rule, anything you can do to minimize the time spent on your case by your lawyer will save you money. Your lawyer should be able to identify areas where you can save without sacrificing the quality of services provided. If he or she does have other suggestions on how you can save money, please post them here as a comment and share them with our readers. The advice will be much appreciated!

The Yin of Legal Resume Writing

Posted on February 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

While it is usually easier for job seekers to focus on what to do “right” on their resume, many tend to forget what they may be doing “wrong” with their resume. When we put on blinders about potential faults in our resumes, we can miss critical errors that make the difference between getting an interview and getting the heave-ho. In an earlier article, we discussed the yang, or must-do elements, to create an effective legal resume (See: “The Yang Of Legal Resume Writing”). Here we will be focusing on the yin of resume writing, or what not to do, when drafting a legal resume.

Do Not Mislead Or Lie On Your Legal Resume

That may seem like an obvious no-no, but you might be surprised to find out how many applicants stretch the truth or simply lie or their resume. The most common offense usually involves some type of misrepresentation or misleading statement concerning degrees, grades, class standing, academic honors, participation on scholarly publications, work history or relevant work experience. While misleading statements can sometimes be unintentional, they can nevertheless lead to serious consequences.

Today, employers have access to a number of tools to verify resume information through both formal and informal channels. Although employers may be receiving a large number of resumes, they typically conduct some form of due diligence on those they have selected to interview. Therefore, avoid making factual misrepresentations of any kind on your legal resume. You should always aim to represent your qualifications, skills, experience, and interests fully and accurately.

Do Not Include Race, Religion, Sex, Age, Or Marital Status

You should never state race, religion, sex, age, marital status, or other personal data that have no relevance to your employment qualifications on your legal resume. Doing so could suggest you are unaware of, or are insensitive to, laws prohibiting discrimination. If your legal resume contains personal information unrelated to your job target, you might also fall victim to discrimination, even if you’re qualified for the position.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. Some federal or state jobs may require this information, in which case you should only include the information specifically requested. Another exception to this rule is if you are sending your legal resume abroad. Sometimes including age, marital status, race, and/or religion is acceptable if the resume is being sent outside of the United States. In that case, you should check with local recruiters as to what is proper to include in the legal resume.

Do Not Use Small Unreadable Fonts Or More than Two Pages

Formatting your legal resume properly is almost as important as the information it contains. If you present an employer with a dense, hard to read document requiring a magnifying glass, you may find that your legal resume will not be getting the attention it deserves, even if its content is outstanding. Instead, use a font the employer can read easily, such as a 12-point font with variable spacing such as Times New Roman or Arial. While you may have to compromise on font size and style to keep your resume to two pages or less, try not to go below a 10-point font on the major sections of your resume.

While your legal resume should be easy to read, it should also be quick to review. Therefore, you should try to limit your legal resume to one page. If you have ten or more years of experience, a two-page resume is perfectly acceptable. If you have a great deal of experience, and would like to highlight your transactional or litigation experience, or list publications and presentations, consider using an addendum. Experiment with different fonts to select one that pleases you, fits the page, and is easy to read.

Do Not Include Irrelevant Or Unnecessary Information

Your resume is a marketing tool designed to land you an interview. It is not a biography. Because the modern resume is a marketing tool, it’s best to keep personal interests, hobbies, and other non-essential materials for the interview process as a way to “break the ice.” If you are keen on listing organizations, affiliations, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities on your legal resume, only list those that are relevant to your practice as a legal professional, or that are directly related to your targeted job. Again, if it’s not related to your practice or the position, do not include it.

Including “References Available Upon Request” on your legal resume is a waste of space and states the obvious. Employers are assuming that you can provide references upon request, so don’t waste precious resume space on something that’s unnecessary. By the same token, there is no need to include computer or technical proficiency (such as Lexis or Word Perfect), unless it is of specific interest to a potential employer. If those skills are not specifically listed in the position description as a requirement, do not include them. Finally, do not include professional skills or work experience that are irrelevant to the type of job you seek or you no longer wish to use (e.g., woodworking).

Listing another language may be appropriate if it adds to your qualifications for the job. In certain cases, knowing a second language is a plus and should be included on your legal resume. When including language proficiency, you may state whether you are “fluent”, “proficient”, or “conversational.” Do not claim language skills unless you can carry out a basic conversation.

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Two Weeks in Hell: Spiritual Lessons From the Green Beret Training Camp

Posted on January 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

Remarkable lessons in our spiritual walk with Christ, in this life can be gained from the Green Beret’s training program. Discovery Channel aired a documentary showing the rigorous qualification testing volunteers must endure in order to prove themselves fit for the famous Green Beret Armed Forces group. They must prove themselves:

• physically fit,
• psychologically able to endure enormous physical demands; however,
• Integrity: able to carry out their mission alone or in a team as instructed when no one is watching,
• a spiritual component shows itself to be a vital quality,

to most recruits who successfully qualify for the grueling two week ordeal where they are either accepted or rejected for the privilege to continue into Green Beret course training.

Many recruits did not last the first several hours or even the first day. They had a choice of voluntary exit the program or get eliminated. They operated sleep deprived to simulate the battlefield in this test environment with a few hours of sleep; they were called into action at any time of the day or night. Those who were over-confident or even arrogant were quickly eliminated since they had no idea of the difficulty of the program they were about to endure.

• The Green Beret’s Motto: “To Liberate the Oppressed”

To follow formal reason, the achievement of the above motto requires a personal sense of Apriori mission in the soldier’s heart. It must require a sense of non judgmental thinking as if they “deserved it” somehow, but focusing on the tyrannical injustice to the victim of those circumstances inflicted upon those victims, far above their ability to liberate themselves.

That sense of mission resides in us by that sense of “eternity” planted in our hearts as described in the book of Ecclesiastes and Augustine, to inherently know good and evil on the same standard as our Creator-God, Yahweh who says, “I am the Lord; I change not”.

I fail to see how a non-believer could follow that sense of mission, since his foundation is set on his own subjective sense of good and evil which may change from day to day, week to week or whatever situation he may find himself, a subjective shifting-sand type of right and wrong that is so prevalent in our society as God hating entities continue to ram their Godless agenda down the throats of those who believe through fallacy filled legislation, Constitutional error and Judicial decisions by judges who appoint themselves as legislators, ultimately resulting in the violation of everyone’s First Amendment Rights on a defective premise our God fearing forefathers never intended. A soldier on a shifting- sand faulty foundation could never achieve this mission To Liberate the Oppressed.

Two Weeks: Two Parts – Solo Performance And Team Performance

Week One focused on solo performance. They were taken out into the training environment wilderness in the middle of the night with only rudimentary direction finding equipment – a map and a compass. They were specifically instructed to avoid high traffic routes where they could be ambushed or spotted in a battlefield environment, especially traffic route bottlenecks where the enemy would spot them.

Their route finding required them to cross swamps, trackless wilderness without trail, high risk to parasites and other wild beasts, while avoiding the easier traffic routes as they were instructed, all during the middle of the night.

Although they carried flashlights, they were instructed not to use them since the enemy in a battlefield environment would spot them miles away and reveal their location. They were also given packs weighing 50 to 100 pounds. Should they be caught using a flashlight, it would be cause to immediately expel them from the course.

Vertigo: rolling
Volunteers training included rolling on the ground for long periods of time. The rolling induced vertigo and dizziness where many volunteers got dizzy and vomited. They were instructed not to vomit on the course but rather outside the area. Many got quite sick; some could not continue since they were both sick and disoriented. Not continuing meant they were out of the program. Many were eliminated in this step, which was only in the first day or so.

Climbing
Volunteers were required to climb rope ladders, walls and log devices up to about 50 feet high. Some volunteers were not originally afraid of heights; yet, having gotten up high without any safety net caused some volunteers to freeze and had difficulty getting down. Delays in getting down meant they were scrutinized for possibly getting ejected from the program, depending on how they did in that situation.

Heights
Some who were previously not afraid of heights because a bit freaked out when thy discovered they were 50 feet in the air with no safety rope or net. Numerous obstacles in the course included poles, walls and other obstacles the volunteers were required to scale quickly.

Integrity: Following Orders
The definition of integrity has been described as to whether or not a person does what is right whether or not anyone sees them. In this rigorous program, the volunteers were taken out into the middle of the wilderness, dropped off and given a destination with a time limit to arrive at. They were unaware that the program Officers were observing them using night vision equipment (FLIR), which revealed the activity of the volunteer as if it were noon day. Those that were observed to be using flashlights, sleeping or failing to follow orders were eliminated immediately.

The volunteers were also required to wear Geo-location GPS satellite navigation equipment to monitor their location for safety and monitoring reasons. Some recruits were caught sleeping, some were lost, some lost their sense of direction and did not arrive at their required destination either in the time limit or failed to arrive at all. Both were eliminated. By the end of the first day approximately 50 out of the 250 were eliminated.

Those volunteers who were observed to take the high traffic routes were eliminated immediately. Those routes bottlenecked the volunteers into areas where the enemy could easily ambush them. Although other routes were far more difficult including snake or wild beast infested swamps, deep waters, they were required to take those routes which avoided ambush.

Preparation
The video showed some volunteers were poorly prepared physically. Upper body strength was lacking to the extent that some volunteers were in such poor shape that they could not finish their mission. Muscles were obviously flabby, big bellies and soft arms like the Pillsbury doughboy.

The Source of Orders
The volunteers orders came only from one source: a white board posted in the middle of camp. Orders were changed and executed any time of the night or day; volunteers were expected to execute them immediately with no delay. Delayed execution of the orders was reason for expulsion.

Team Performance.
Week one focused on individual performance, obedience and personal resolve to execute their mission quickly and efficiently, to simulate the battlefield. In week two, volunteers were placed in groups of 10 – 20.

They were given orders to move a 400 pound, 50 gallon drum of liquid about 7 miles. They were only given 4 poles, several wheels and some ropes. Each team appointed a leader; afterwards they devised a plan to use the poles, wheels and ropes in a makeshift system to move the barrel.

The most efficient teams took their system, filled in for those parts that lacked such as wheels falling off the poles, balancing the drum or whatever. They made their mission in good time.

Some teams lacked good leadership. Their system was poorly designed, causing excessive failures and ultimately low morale. Some gave up and just laid down by the side of the road from exhaustion and hunger. Several men had left their weapon behind and had to backtrack several miles to get it. Not to have a weapon was grounds for immediate expulsion. Inefficient teams argued and engaged in excessive discussion while the other teams worked together, filled their part and made the system work in a way where each man filled a need.

A critical function causing several teams to fail their mission was a lack of navigational skills. Their navigator failed to read the map correctly causing their team to take the wrong road, wasting valuable time in a hard lesson where they were required to move the barrel back several miles to the correct road, expending valuable time and energy.

Eventually, the last team arrived approximately 6 – 8 hours after the first, but long after the deadline had passed to fulfill their mission.

Lessons we can Learn

Personal Integrity v. Self Assured Destruction – S.A.D.
This author finds the lessons we can learn in our daily life, spiritual life, business life remarkable and long lasting. We as Christians are given a mission to “Liberate the oppressed.” We can’t liberate the oppressed until we ourselves are liberated. We liberate ourselves beginning in the times we are alone, when it seems no one is watching, as those volunteers found themselves in the middle of the night, in the middle of the wilderness, with only basic provisions for direction finding and given a mission to complete in limited time. Most failures were self inflicted; therefore, I will coin an acronym: SAD – Self Assured Destruction.

Arrogance and Pride
The first device for SAD is pride and arrogance. Regardless of how well even the few prepared, even the most confident were shaken by the difficulty of the course. Life brings us curve balls, ambushes and unexpected grief many times from our own shortcomings or something we have no control over. Those who successfully endured to the end reaped the prize; the prize and honor of the Green Beret; a heritage to be passed down through the generations of the family and nation. Those who were self absorbed in the glory of their own abilities found themselves SADly mistaken.

Disoriented in the Dark
Like those volunteers, we find ourselves in life seemingly dropped off in the middle of the night, we don’t know where we are and have few resources, save a map which is our Word of God. Self pity would be our second device for SAD.

If we sit down and wait until things are better, like those who hid themselves in a field, covered themselves until daylight, failed their mission, their fellow soldiers and their own integrity. We don’t have forever. The Psalmist says, “teach me to number my days.”

Alone in the dark, secrecy gives us a false sense of our ability to “get away with something”, to cheat the system. What those volunteers failed to know or remember is that their supervising officers were watching their every move, even though it was pitch black in the middle of the night, through their night vision glasses (Infra Red FLIR).

Their every move was being observed through the night vision binoculars, just as God watches us as well. God will hold us accountable for every SAD device we engage in. Jesus said, “What is done in secret will be shouted from the housetop.” Let’s remember to do good things in secret, when no one watches, save God, so those things shouted from the housetop will be a pleasant return of honor, rather than shame and humiliation.

24 Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord.
Jer 23:24 (NLT)

Taking Shortcuts: Another device for S.A.D.
Those volunteers were monitored by GPS – satellite; their every move was known, just as God watches us from his Eye in the sky. If we were outside of His knowing, He would cease to be God. They were instructed not to take routes which led them into a closed area, limited for escape, even though it was a shorter and easier route, where the enemy could ambush them.
Their alternative (and instruction) was to take those paths which assured their safe arrival, if necessary cross swamps, through snake or other hostile environments with their heavy 50 pound or more packs and weapons. Those volunteers who took the short cut were eliminated.

Just as Jesus said, 13 ” Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14 “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

Matt 7:13-14 (NASB77)
Although us as Christians may not lose our salvation by taking the easy path; that license for grace cannot be assured since it is God who judges. For the volunteers, the easy path was another device for S.A.D and ejection from the program. Officers intercepted those even in the middle of the night when it was most unexpected, who took the easy path and eliminated them from the program.

Teamwork
The physical, moral, spiritual character and ability of those volunteers shown brightly when teamwork became essential. Leadership qualities each of them demonstrated as a requirement during the 400 pound barrel mission where navigation, map reading and direction finding became essential to complete the mission on time and on course.

As is in our Christian walk, our direction is not subjective, subject to the shifting sands of our whims, moods or societies ever changing standard. Our directives are given to us by our Commander Jesus Christ, they do not change and neither does He. His truths are Apriori- they are true in all times and all places. His truths and Word is a Lamp to our feet and a light to our eye even when it’s dark outside, there is no one around and we don’t know where to go; we can depend on the light of His Word and Spirit to guide us.

When those Volunteers were dropped off in the middle of the night, it appeared they were alone; we too seem like in life’s situation no one is around to help, talk to or guide us; but the Holy Spirit is God’s down payment of the promise He has given us that He will always be with us and never forsake us.

Those Volunteers, when in a team, had no room for ego or arrogance when they were focusing on their mission; neither do we have room for ego or arrogance to accomplish that mission (or purpose) God has given us. The ability to work with other believers is essential to accomplish those purposes.

The timing of the mission also determines a mission successful or a mission failed. Martin Luther King said, “Justice delayed is Justice denied.” If we delay the Justice of God’s directive, we are an accomplice to rebellion. To those Volunteers, bringing in that 400 pound barrel 8 hours behind scheduled mission was a failed mission. To those Volunteers that failure happened by, A) Lack of leadership, B) Lack of direction or navigation, C) Lack of Unity (or ego), D)Lack of preparation (lack of physical, moral or Spiritual strength.

The ability for each team to prevail or transcend their difficult mission, was determined by the ability of each Volunteer to prevail in each person’s Spirit, Soul and body; to focus on the prize of the glory of a mission accomplished and a job well done when they operated days or weeks sleep deprived, hungry, exhausted, doubting their abilities; but their strength of character; self talk must prevail against those inner voices screaming out JUST QUIT!

When David was at Ziklag, he found his wives and children taken captive, his village was burned, his men ready to stone him and Saul was still after him, but David encouraged himself – he made a deliberate choice for encouraging self talk, not to listen to those internal or external voices screaming for our defeat, but he remembered how God had been faithful to provide, protect and meet his every need. When he humbled himself, asking God’s direction; God directed him to go and recover his wives, children and goods. David executed that directive with all of his might like those Volunteers; David did not sleep until his mission was fully accomplished; he continued all night pursuing his enemies… to “liberate the oppressed.”

Our self talk also determines what outcome we will have as well. Like the spies who spied out the promised land; they prophesied their own victory or defeat. Those who said “we are like grasshoppers” were defeated and died in shame in the desert exactly like they professed in their fears. Those who professed they could take the land did exactly that; they went forward and took the land. They watered the Word with faith, on the Word they received from their God who promised them victory. They chose courage, faith and reaped a harvest of honor and victory, ultimately demonstrating the eternal strength of their God in the face of overwhelming circumstances where their enemies were bigger, stronger and were on their home turf.

Summary
It is the opinion of this author that those Volunteers for the Green Beret’s have much to teach us if we stop, look, listen and acknowledge their dedication, strength of character and integrity they demonstrated while in the middle of the dark wilderness, crossing swamps, bearing enormous physical burdens, bearing up alone or with others, while given strict time constraints, sometimes disoriented, puking and exhausted. Prevailing against those burdens require a strength of spirit that prevails over those without a sense of the eternal good and evil. I say it is our forefather’s character in the WWII generation that sometimes overshadows ours.

In contrast we see our societies icons of fame, wealth and power falling like dominoes in shame and humiliation by moral failings where they forgot their fear of God while, dirty deeds done dirt cheap while they were in secret, forgetting that God will shout their unfaithful deeds from the housetop. Many athletes, corporate executives’ fortunes and honor have ended up in divorce court, prison, dishonor or all of the above.

We got it wrong. Our icon’s of the latter are a paper moon of self, immediate gratification. Our real icons we have overlooked are those men and women, who like those who Volunteer for the Green Beret’s, may never be known for fame or fortune; yet, their Apriori strength of character is what gives those iconic failures the opportunity to fail. We as Christians should learn from them.

Let this article honor the demonstrated character of those Green Beret’s… and let us learn from them.

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