Lawyers & Law Firms
Our Lawyers for the Profession®
practice group, consisting of 60-plus lawyers, is devoted to representing and advising lawyers and law firms on all aspects of the “law governing lawyers.” We focus on four broad areas: legal malpractice defense
; ethics and professional responsibility
representation and counseling; law firm organization and structure; and risk management services. We have 12 states well-covered and try lawyers’ cases nationally wherever needed. Our lawyers anticipate and preempt professional problems, but when disputes occur we offer sound solutions or, where necessary, effective advocacy.
Our leading position as lawyers for the profession is further evidenced in the published works of our team, the professional appointments and bar association positions we hold, the frequency with which members of our group are invited to serve as expert witnesses, and the large number of lectures and presentations we are invited to give annually. In fact, we have chaired virtually every bar-related organization and committee concerned with legal ethics and professional responsibility. Three of our partners have served as President of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL), a nationally prominent bar group, and another partner was the former Chief Counsel for New York’s disciplinary system in the First Judicial Department (encompassing more than 100,000 lawyers in Manhattan and the Bronx).
New Business Intake Solution: Client Selection and Conflicts Management Platform
The New Business Intake Solution (NBIS) from Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP and Project Leadership Associates (PLA) is a "made-to-order" system, which combines state-of-the-art information gathering, customized to each firm’s special circumstances and needs, with a workflow process that enables you to make "real time" new business decisions (encompassing new clients and new matters for existing clients).
The NBIS enables you to: make timely and improved judgments; better protect your firm from both ethical and business conflicts as well as client suitability issues; align each intake with your firm’s strategy; and reduce the time it takes to open matters.
"Going it alone" to automate new business intake procedures involves a huge investment in time, effort and money. By starting with a time-tested and proven solution, built on top of established technologies, you can reduce the drain on your intellectual capital, and internal firm resources, and get to a working new business intake/conflicts prototype at a fraction of the time and cost.
All firms have a distinct culture and a varying degree of tolerance for risk. Our NBIS is easily tailored to your needs and includes a personalized risk review by an industry recognized leader recently named one of the "Best Lawyers in America®" in the area of Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law. Hinshaw has teamed with PLA, the leading and largest business and technology consulting provider focused on US-based law firms, to deliver this outstanding client selection and conflict management platform.
As part of the NBIS, Hinshaw and PLA will:
review the firm’s existing client intake policies, procedures and forms;
meet with and advise appropriate members of the firm’s management team, senior administrators and senior risk managers;
advise and assist the firm in developing a comprehensive set of model policies, procedures and forms for adoption by the firm in an integrated client selection and conflicts management digital platform for use throughout the firm;
work with the law firm to identify additional information that would be both useful and feasible for the firm to gather during the client and matter intake process;
build the intake forms to collect the critical and appropriate information relating to conflicts of interest and client and matter suitability generally and customize them for each of the firm’s practice areas;
review the firm’s existing structure for managing and overseeing client and matter intake, and consider what changes in that structure are desirable and feasible in order to enhance the firm’s client and matter selection process;
work with the law firm to determine the appropriate workflows and approval structures and mechanisms for identifying and resolving conflicts of interest and client and matter suitability questions;
develop the reports and workflow processes that will best enable the firm to oversee and manage the new client and matter intake process;
test and deploy the custom designed platform and help train the firm’s key staff members and in-house trainers to facilitate the roll-out, deployment and implementation of the NBIS.
Click here for more information on the New Business Intake Solution.
Hinshaw has long been recognized as a leader in counseling and defending lawyers, law firms and their insurers in legal malpractice cases. The 60-plus Hinshaw lawyers practicing in this area have contributed to shaping the law and litigation of malpractice claims, handling more legal malpractice cases through trial than any other law firm in the country. We are also a leader in the number of published appellate decisions in the area of legal malpractice.
Our attorneys have co-authored the leading treatise in the field, “Legal Malpractice” (5th Ed., West Publishing), and have written the leading book on risk management, “Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms” (American Bar Association).
Additionally, every year Hinshaw holds the Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference (LMRM), which has become the premier annual event focused on important and current developments in the law and litigation of malpractice claims, legal malpractice insurance and risk management strategies.
Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility
When disciplinary complaints are made against lawyers and law firms, they threaten not only an individual attorney’s ability to practice law, but also the firm’s capacity to operate effectively. We understand the nature and potential consequences of disciplinary complaints on every level, and have the practical knowledge and experience to vigorously represent our clients. In particular, we regularly represent and counsel our lawyer and law firm clients with respect to the following matters:
Bar disciplinary complaints
Bar admissions and reinstatements
Sanctions and Criminal Contempt proceedings
Expert consultants and testifying witnesses with respect to all aspects of the law governing lawyers
Law Firm Organization and Structure
Hinshaw lawyers have wide ranging experience counseling law firms from creation through dissolution. Members of our practice group, working closely with our Labor and Employment practice group, have advised law firms on all aspects of mergers, lateral hiring, partner separation and law firm compensation structures.
Selecting and Structuring the Appropriate Business Model
Choosing the legal status of a new or existing law firm can be complex. Compensation structures, liability concerns and tax issues are but a few of the matters that need to be weighed in making the appropriate business model selection. Whatever choice is made, written agreements clearly expressing members’ understanding of all aspects of the firm’s operation and structure are essential. Our Lawyers for the Profession® practice group contains attorneys who are experienced leaders in the field of advising and assisting law firms in selecting a business model and in drafting their basic structural documents. Where a change in a firm’s structure is contemplated or required, as the result of a merger or other significant event, our attorneys are available to guide the firm through the alternative choices in order to arrive at the most efficient and appropriate outcome.
Managing Expansion through Lateral Hiring or Mergers
Our Lawyers for the Profession® practice group provides practical advice in preparing for and managing expansion through lateral hiring. In the case of a full-scale merger, our team helps clients develop processes for the smooth integration of the new individuals or entities into a coherent whole. In all cases, we are mindful, however, that although law firms may outwardly appear similar, each law firm is unique. We tailor our advice to the client, the specific stage of development it has reached and the particular circumstances presented.
Partnership Disputes, Partner Withdrawals and Dissolutions
Partner withdrawals, partnership disputes and law firm dissolutions are an unfortunate but recurring reality in the legal profession. That does not mean that these events need to be “messy.” To the contrary, their potentially negative consequences can often be significantly mitigated. Our Lawyers for the Profession® practice team has broad experience in representing both individual attorneys and law firms in these situations, and in dealing with the many ethical and legal issues that necessarily arise when they occur. Where there is room for negotiated solutions, our team seeks them. In the event of an unavoidable law firm dissolution, our practice group can facilitate the winding-up process so that it is conducted in as orderly a manner as possible. And when there is no choice except to resort to arbitration or litigation, we are there to help.
Advising on Compensation Structures
No single, internal issue is more crucial to a law firm’s success than the way it compensates its members. Properly thought out and implemented, a compensation policy can be the essential glue that binds lawyers to each other, encouraging the success of the organization’s individual attorneys and thereby assuring the success of the enterprise.
On the other hand, a compensation structure that does not fairly reward every constituent group within a firm can be a catalyst to costly defections, or even the premature and otherwise unnecessary demise of the firm. Succession planning and changes in a firm’s compensation model can be essential if the law firm is to survive and prosper as generational changes occur. Moreover, many law firms do not understand how their compensation system can materially affect their exposure to legal malpractice claims. Compensation structures unduly emphasizing billing lawyer credit, without adequate controls, are a primary source of malpractice claims as well as large, unpaid accounts receivable. In contrast, compensation systems designed to provide fair rewards for appropriate contributions to a firm’s success are a mark of an organization that has a strong foundation for maximizing success and minimizing risk.
Recognizing that when it comes to compensation structures, one size does not fit all, or even any given firm at different stages of its existence, our Lawyers for the Profession® practice group members assist clients in reviewing existing arrangements or projected changes, and in designing solutions that meet their needs.
Risk Management Services
Adequately preparing for unanticipated as well as unforeseeable events is vital in today’s complex legal and business world. Doing so benefits law firms by improving both insurability and the quality of services delivered to clients; enhances firm profitability; and minimizes the risk and cost of professional liability and disciplinary complaints.
Helping law firms manage risk is a central focus of our practice. Our comprehensive services in this area set the standard in the industry. They include:
Electronic and hard copy legal malpractice prevention newsletters and timely electronic alerts on noteworthy developments
Access to the Model Law Firm Risk Management Manual, as well as assistance in customizing the manual to accommodate the needs of individual firms, and related training
Access to our lawyers’ risk management website (www.lawyeringlaw.com
), a powerful tool that enables lawyers to complete electronic testing to comply with jurisdictional CLE requirements, houses easy-to-use and useful checklists, forms and information, and is continuously expanded with new legal developments and additional risk management content
Law firm audits
Loss prevention consultations
Seminars, including retreats and practice group presentations, tailored to our clients’ needs
Counseling with respect to lawyers professional liability insurance
We do not purport to tell other lawyers how to practice law or how to run their business, but instead identify systems and policies that can be improved or better utilized. We thereafter remain available to help develop and implement our recommendations; to assist with both continuing and new professional responsibility and risk management issues; and to advise law firm clients on other aspects of the law governing lawyers.
With respect to audits, Hinshaw offers a comprehensive range of risk management audit services, from one-day, on-site visits, through full-scale reviews of a law firm’s systems, policies and procedures. Working with our clients’ risk management counsel and managing personnel, we develop tailored audits. We can also conduct electronic audits of associates and staff to identify the extent of familiarity and compliance with firm risk management rules.
We regularly advise law firms that have identified areas in which they wish to improve their policies, procedures and systems. This work ranges from counseling on targeted projects designed to review and restructure specific elements of law firm risk management, including client intake systems, calendar and docket controls, timekeeping and billing structures, and all of the elements of firms’ risk management manuals, policies and procedures.
About Reputation at Risk
"Reputation at Risk" is a teaching tool--developed collaboratively by Beazley, the Hildebrandt Institute and Hinshaw & Culberston--designed for use by law firm general counsel, risk management and loss control partners and ethics counsel to use in professional responsibility and risk management training to aid their firms in enhancing compliance with risk management policies and procedures. It consists of five professionally produced video vignettes containing storylines based on real professional liability claims, professional discipline complaints and other reputation-threatening events from within law firms. Accompanying the vignettes is a course book offering detailed suggestions on how to lead discussion of the issues portrayed and citing to relevant revisions of the ethics rules, case law and other sources of the law governing lawyers.
The "Reputation at Risk" materials are designed to enable law firms to provide cost-effective training on their own policies and procedures and avoid the pitfalls covered in the materials. The topics covered by the scenarios were originally selected for their relevance by the General Counsels' Roundtable, a group of highly experienced lawyers who meet under the aegis of the Hildebrandt Institute. To learn more about Reputation at Risk, please visit www.reputationrisk.net.