Don’t Throw Money Away on the Wrong Attorney

This week’s blog post is brought to you by our office manager, Andrea.

Who really understands how to hire an attorney? Prior to my employment here at Adolph Legal, I had a very vague understanding of the legal process, payment options, and how important it is to hire the right attorney for your legal needs. As an office manager, I focus on balancing accounts and human resources so legal expertise is NOT in my vocabulary. Now that I’ve spent almost a year employed here I see that most people are in the same boat that I was in before I was hired. So, for this week’s blog I will share some of the research I’ve done and some of my personal experiences to help guide you through the process of hiring a lawyer.

When someone needs a Criminal or Family Law attorney they have no shortage of stress. A way to minimize your stress is knowing what questions to ask. In my research, I came across an awesome e-book from Legal Match. Below are the writing attorney’s recommended 11 questions to ask and the link to the full article as well.

Here are 11 important questions to ask before agreeing to hire any lawyer:

  1. Is the lawyer a generalist, or a specialist in one type of law?
  2. Has the lawyer handled cases like yours before?
  3. What different outcomes can the lawyer predict for your case, if any?
  4. What alternatives to a lawsuit might be considered?
  5. Should mediation or arbitration be considered?
  6. How long should you expect to retain the lawyer’s services?
  7. How often will you be billed, and what’s the lawyer’s estimation for fees and services?
  8. How will the lawyer inform you of the case’s progress?
  9. What style can you expect from the lawyer: aggressive or open to settlement?
  10. Will others be assisting in the case?
  11. Is the lawyer covered by malpractice insurance?

http://www.legalmatch.com/downloads/Legal-Tips-eBook.pdf

These questions focus on having a thorough understanding of the communication style of your potential attorney. When talking to someone about your legal future, be sure and that they lay out what you can expect and how billing will take place.

Often, billing can cause stress. Let’s not beat around the bush, the bill is almost as important as the quality of representation. Call around to different local offices and get an idea of how they bill. If they won’t give you a generic price quote I wouldn’t hire them! Money is a part of everyday life and it shouldn’t be hidden. After all, you are hiring someone for a highly important service. So, from this office manager, here is an easy guide to the ways you can pay your new attorney. You can have an attorney “on retainer” which means that you pay them monthly or give them a retainer without having a current legal issue. This is done as a preventative measure. It gives you the ability to consult a legal professional about any questions you may have and to expedite progress on a case should one arise. That should not be confused with paying an advanced fee to an attorney to start work on an existing case. Advanced fees are commonly referred to as retainers. Funds from an advanced fee go into a trust account and get billed against as your attorney works on the case. The amount that is billed is at the attorney’s hourly rate and dictates the earned fees, you can find the hourly rate in your fee agreement. You can also pay a flat fee. “A flat fee is a specific, total fee that is decided up front, before the attorney provides any service. A flat fee is usually offered only if your case is simple or routine, such as drafting a straightforward will or bankruptcy filing. Flat fees often limit attorney’s services, so be sure to confirm what services are included in your flat fee arrangement.” This definition as well as many others can be found in this article. http://legalconnection.com/hire.htm It gives an excellent overview of the hiring process as well as a comparison of the different types of firms to consider.

If you choose to hire your attorney on retainer/advanced fee, which most people do, make sure that you are giving them an ample retainer in relation to the overall expected cost. It helps you and your attorney stay current on your bill. It prevents an interruption of service to your case, and the best part is that whatever goes unused will be issued back to you.

Everyone should understand the process of hiring an attorney and how to best develop a quality legal relationship. Here at Adolph Legal we pride ourselves on advocating for our clients, concisely delivering fee quotes, and being forthright and honest with billing practices. These efforts directly link to our client satisfaction and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this company. I’m always interested in feedback, comment or call 920.634.2212. And last, but not least, please share this blog post, because you never know if a friend, family member, or co-worker may need quality representation.

 

 

Divorce Rates Are Not What They Seem

There is still a 50% chance of divorce in America, but it’s not the Millennials that are causing the high divorce rate.

This past Friday, I had the to opportunity to attend a seminar with Attorneys Adolph and Aspenson. I always enjoy expanding my knowledge of family law and being able to better assist Attorney Adolph in her family law cases. The attorneys at Adolph Legal take their continuing education seriously and choose seminars that will best assist their clients. One of the sections of the seminar discussed changes in family law, important updates, and hot tips on how to better serve our clients.

 

There was a discussion on the increase of divorce among the Baby Boomer Generation. While divorce rates among Millennials are actually on the decrease, the divorce rates for the Baby Boomer Generation have doubled between 1990 and 2012. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-17/boomers-are-making-sure-the-divorces-keep-coming)

There is speculation that the younger generation is more cautious to marry and more couples are opting to reside together without marrying. As for the older generation, it appears that rate of divorce has increased as women have become more independent. The average life span has increased, which means there is more life for couples to live. I imagine the thought would be “Why spend another twenty years unhappy?”

 

There is a unique set of considerations that need to be taken into account for Baby Boomer divorces, such as retirement or disability. One or both parties may be looking to retire within five years of their divorce. The division of marital assets and debts becomes much different when it is known that incomes are going to drastically change in the near future. For younger generations, many couples have twenty working years left before retirement to “catch up” after a divorce. The Baby Boomer generation does not have this luxury.

The attorneys at Adolph Legal have taken the extra steps to learn what challenges are facing the older generations in divorce and how to better prepare people for a successful future after divorce. Please contact Adolph Legal at (920) 634-2212 to schedule a free telephone consultation with one of our attorneys. Let Adolph Legal help you prepare for a secure and happy future.

Attorney Aspenson’s Top 5 Legal Movies

Everybody likes movies, even lawyers. Lawyers especially adore movies about the law. But you don’t have to be a lawyer to love a good courtroom drama with a twisting plot and impassioned dialogue. Here are Adolph Legal’s list of the top 5 legal movies of all time. And please feel free to critique this list without reservations.

 

5) A Civil Action (1998)

This movie, starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall, is based on a true story and is about a brash attorney (Jan Schlichtmann) who represents a group of families that believe their tap water is being contaminated by surrounding industries in Woburn, Massachusetts. Schlichtmann sacrifices everything in his odyssey to provide justice for families who tragically lost loved ones due to the local industry’s negligent handling of waste. The courtroom scenes in this movie are great, and Travolta and Duvall deliver memorable performances.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuaLlyXv_Hk

 

4) To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

Based on Harper Lee’s the classic novel, this movie is a poignant tale about prejudice and the courage required to overcome it. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, has been cemented as one of the best theatrical performances in the history of film. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Peck, and was nominated for eight, including Best Picture. Watch this movie with a box of Kleenex, because it is a tear-jerker. Favorite quote from the movie–“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOocTXKPVVU

3) A Few Good Men (1992)

You can’t handle the truth!” Perhaps the most often quoted line from a movie ever. The courtroom dialogue from this movie is stuff of legend. The final courtroom scene when Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson spar in a battle of egos makes for captivating cinema. Tom Cruise plays a JAG military attorney who has a panache for settling cases without going to trial, but then is given the task of representing two Marines being charged with murdering a fellow Marine. Was it murder in cold blood, or a case of just following orders? Watch this movie to find out, but only if you can handle the truth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_frM44bBMfA

 

2) The Verdict (1982)

Paul Newman plays a washed up, alcoholic attorney, who takes a medical malpractice suit against a Catholic Hospital. Paul Newman is brilliant as always in this movie, and his character oozes with hopelessness until he is reminded of why he became an attorney. Faced with the difficult decision of either taking a lucrative settlement or taking the case to trial, Newman’s character is embattled with a moral dilemma that leads to a personal and professional resurrection.

 

  1. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of our criminal justice system is a defendant’s right to be judged by a jury of his or her peers. In a trial, it is the jury who decides innocence or guilt, and thus attorneys and defendants are at the mercy of a group of people who may come from all walks of life, bringing with them a diverse perspective of what the truth is. Henry Fonda plays the protagonist in this film, and is the lone member of a jury who has reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt. Fonda’s character’s reluctance to find the defendant guilty stems from his ability to be objective and view facts without prejudicial distortion. He is then given the task to persuade his fellow jury members to set aside their prejudicial views to ensure that the defendant in the case is given a fair trial. This movie presents itself much like a play—all of the action in this movie takes place in a small jury room and is driven by masterfully crafted dialogue. “12 Angry Men,” was nominated for three Academy Awards, and today is highly regarded as a classic film.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s almost that time of year! Many will sit down to enjoy some corned beef and cabbage or perhaps a shepherd’s pie served with some Irish soda bread. Of course, all the fare likely washed down with a cold pint of Guinness. Yes, I am talking about St. Patrick’s Day. Imagine this, you have just been out with your friends at the local bar having some Irish car bombs and a few green beers; after spending some time with great company, you make the decision to call it a night. You say goodbye to your friends and get in your car to drive home. As you begin your drive, you think that you are sober enough to drive because you had some water before you left the bar. You are almost home, when you notice red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. An officer approaches your vehicle and asks if you’ve been drinking. You cooperate with the officer and after the interaction, it is determined that you are over the legal limit for blood alcohol content.

What happens now? Being pulled over and being charged with an OWI can be a scary thing. The penalties can be overwhelming and life changing. The Wisconsin Legislature has continually increased the penalties for operating under the influence. The impact on your life can result in the loss of your freedom, loss of your job, loss of your license, and loss of money. Hiring a lawyer to help you through the legal process is a crucial decision. At Adolph Legal, we will work with you to develop a legal strategy that benefits you. If you decide to celebrate the holiday with a few drinks, please be safe and designate a sober driver! If you are facing an OWI charge or any other drunk driving related charges please feel to contact Adolph Legal. We can be reached by phone at (920) 634-2212 or you can email office@adolphlegal.com.

Who Cares? We do!

This week’s blog post is from our office manager, Andrea.

Pheasant soup, venison, rabbit and much more was on the menu at Saint Matthew’s Men’s Club Wild Game Feed this past Thursday. Adolph Legal attended for the third year in a row and helped to raise funds for the school, the softball team, overall maintenance, and other needs. As a staff, we are incredibly lucky that we show support to such a wide variety of causes. I’m sure our regular blog readers have noticed that in the first two months of 2017 we have attended several charity events. We began this year at the Boys and Girls Club A Taste of Wine and Cheese fundraiser at the KI. Next, our group headed to the Show of Strength event at the Jet Air Hangar. The following day we traveled to Denmark’s Beverly Gardens to partake in the chicken dinner and charity auction for Saint Paul’s School and Church. Our charitable endeavors have ranged from children, to women in need, to various community organizations. And we have others in the calendar already!

As we select events and reach out to our community, it reflects the great diversity of our office. Each employee has found events of personal importance for the office to attend and support. By going to these events our staff contributes to strong foundations in the area and Adolph Legal gains in strength as well. Stepping outside of the office together helps our staff maintain balance and fun in what can be a very emotional and sometimes stressful field. We want to foster a healthy community and office so that we can provide the best legal services possible. As the behind the scenes office manager, I get to observe and interact with this small group of people and see how much they care. Adolph Legal cares about being active in charity, cares about each other and cares about our clients. If you have any recommendations of events that we can be involved with or would like to inquire about our services, please contact us by phone at 920.634.2212 or by e-mail at office@adolphlegal.com

Some Things Shouldn’t be Left to Chance

We got a new item at Adolph Legal, which has inspired me to write this blog post.  It is a prize wheel that secretly allows us to feel like contestants on the Wheel of Fortune.  The Adolph Legal Wheel was originally acquired to decide what rewards staff members would receive for a job well done.  Now, we use this wheel to help us make decisions, such as; where to eat lunch, what flavor of coffee to drink, or even which tie to wear to an event.  While this creates a little fun during the day and encourages office bonding, it brings attention to how overwhelming daily decisions can be.  The wheel gives us the freedom to take a mental break.

Making daily decisions can be hard enough, but selecting the right attorney to assist in your legal needs may be overwhelming.   Simply typing “criminal defense attorney” or “family law attorney” into Google will bring up hundreds of options.  It can be tempting to call the top few options, get a quick quote on the retainer and toss up the options on the wheel, give it a spin, and BAM! the wheel has spoken.  However, there are many factors that go into a good attorney-client relationship that extend beyond the most affordable retainer.

When calling law firms, it’s important to take note of how you’re treated by the support staff as they will be your primary point of contact for scheduling, information, etc.  The top question we receive is “What is the attorney’s retainer?”  Please be aware that a retainer is to be considered a down payment towards your legal fees.  This fee is required up front and is placed into a trust account.  The attorney will then bill from the retainer at their hourly rate.  Many forget to inquire on the hourly rate of the attorney.  If one attorney has a lower retainer but higher hourly rate, your retainer will be exhausted quickly; thus, putting you in jeopardy of a possible disruption in representation or facing an unexpectedly large legal bill.

I want to encourage those seeking an attorney to ask more questions beyond the cost.  How long has the attorney been practicing that area of law?  How long has the attorney been practicing in the county?  What is the protocol for speaking and meeting with the attorney?  How long do you typically have to wait for a reply from the law firm?  Do not hesitate to be clear on what your expectations are for the outcome of your case as it will help determine if you and the attorney will be a good fit.  Most importantly, you need to hire an attorney who you are comfortable with.

At Adolph Legal, our attorneys offer a free 15 minute telephone consultation. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to speak with their potential attorney before making the important decision of retaining Adolph Legal.  The attorney you choose will help shape your future. It is vital that you trust your attorney throughout the process.  By asking the right questions to the attorneys you speak with, you will better understand your case.

While I would recommend spinning the Adolph Legal Wheel to determine where you should eat lunch next week, I would never suggest allowing the wheel to determine your attorney.  It is an important and lasting relationship that directly affects your best interests in life.  It is a decision that must be about more than cost.

We encourage you to call Adolph Legal and ask the tough questions.  We truly want to be the right choice for you.  Please call us at (920) 634-2212.

Adolph Legal Attends Golden House’s Show of Strength Art Show

This past Friday, Adolph Legal attended The Show of Strength art show and reception at the Jet Air Hangar. The event’s purpose was to raise money for the Golden House. If you are not familiar with Golden House, it is an incredible organization that provides resources for victims of domestic abuse. 

Cheese Sculpture

The Show of Strength event is advertised as an art show, which it is, but it is much more than that. Having attended this event the past three years, I have come to the conclusion that Show of Strength is really a celebration of positive relationships. And what better way to celebrate than with good people, eating good food, all the while being inspired by artistic creations of others. At the event there was food from local eateries like; Café Madrid, T. Bacon’s BBQ, and Ski’s Meat Market to name a few. Also, the attendees were treated by a performance from ArtBeat Live, which is a traveling art performance where an artist creates a painting in less than 8 minutes. The crowd was especially impressed with the artist’s Andy Warhol-esque portrait of Vince Lombardi. At the end of the event I am not sure which felt bigger, my stomach or my heart.   

 Adolph Legal is committed to supporting local organizations that enrich our community. Though a considerable amount of money was raised at the event, it is hard to truly measure the positive impact of an event like Show of Strength has on this community.

 

And yes, that is a picture of me about take a bite out of a statuette made of cheese. 

 

A Taste of Wine and Cheese

On February 10, 2017, the Adolph Legal team was able to attend the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay’s A Taste of Wine & Cheese 2017. Held at the KI Convention Center, the team enjoyed an assortment of hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants, listened to live entertainment, participated in a variety of raffles and took part in the vast silent auction. The event raised funds to benefit the children and programs of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay. We were able to contribute almost $2,000.00 to this great organization. The Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay provides a protective environment for children to thrive. An average of 750 children a day are provided lifetime opportunities at the Club’s facilities.  Adolph Legal is proud to be a supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay.

Attorney Aspenson, Attorney Adolph, Kelsey, and Sovann

 

This year, Adolph Legal is also proud to announce that it has become a Bronze Sponsor of the Gather for Good event supporting the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The event will a fun night of dueling pianos, an auction supporting the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and moving patient stories. For the past 24 years, the Gather for Good event has raised more than $1.5 million dollars to support the patient care programs that families of northeast Wisconsin use. The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is a Level I Children’s Surgery Center and the highest rated pediatric surgical center in Wisconsin. Their mission is driven through care, advocacy, research and education or C.A.R.E. It is through C.A.R.E. that they hope to achieve their vision of having Wisconsin kids be the healthiest in the nation. Adolph Legal is honored and delighted to be a sponsor of this event.

In addition to attending various charity events, Adolph Legal is giving back in other ways. On February 11, 2017, Attorney Jake Aspenson judged the 2017 High School Mock Trial Regional Tournament. At mock trial, students are given the opportunity to analyze and prepare a case, present a witness, argue their assigned role and receive input and feedback from attorneys and judges. The material used is produced by Wisconsin attorneys. The tournament also allows students to learn an improved understanding of the court system. Attorney Tara Adolph has previously been a judge of this tournament for the past 3 years.

Our firm will remain committed to supporting and giving back to the community. We plan on attending the Golden House’s Show of Strength, going to the 34th Annual St. Matthew Men’s Club Charity Wild Game Feed dinner, participating in the St. Paul Lutheran Church and School Annual Auction, volunteering with the Green Bay Miracle League and attending Heritage Hill’s Hops on the Hill. The future holds many wonderful opportunities and possibilities. If you or your organization is in need of support, please contact us via e-mail at office@adolphlegal.com. We will sponsor sports teams, events, provide items for charity auctions, and are open to other forms of support. Contact us today!

For more information regarding these events and organizations, check out the following links:

http://www.bgcgb.org/a-taste-of-wine-cheese/

http://www.chw.org/giving-and-volunteers/events-supporting-chw/gather-for-good/

http://www.showofstrengthgb.com/

http://www.stmattsgb.org/

http://www.stpaullux.org/

http://heritagehillgb.org/

http://www.greenbaymiracleleague.com/

Don’t Let Alternative Facts on Social Media Cause Agitation

As a lawyer, I am often asked about my political affiliations, opinions and beliefs. My answer usually stays the same, “I try not get involved in politics.” I, like everyone else, have my opinions and beliefs regarding political issues, but choose to not argue with others regarding the same. That being said, I am of the opinion that it is our duty as Americans to be informed. This informed natures is what is to guide us in our privilege to vote, understand laws and help our country grow through diversity. With all of the recent changes in the American political climate, it is vital that we are an accurately informed population. This is true regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation or class.

The problem is that technology has made information widely available and more often than not, the information we receive is inaccurate in some way, shape or form. In fact a recent study (more information here: http://www.middaydaily.com/social-media-can-make-users-small-minded/26861/), found that social media narrows our view of the world and allows people to consume and distribute unverified or unverifiable information. We are all aware of the convenience of searching for information on the internet and finding it with the click of a button, which is a wonderful thing. The downfall is that most people do not go past the first click to delve deeper into the source of the information. Social media has become the most popular way for people to communicate. The hope with social media is that users will keep an open mind and share only facts, but social media has the opposite effect – users actually become more eager to share facts based on personal beliefs rather than verified information. The scientist behind the study, Alessandro Bessi, has concluded that users of social media are under the influence of confirmation bias when making posts, tweets, etc. Confirmation bias is the idea of seeking only those facts that prove your pre-existing beliefs. The end result is that people systematically dismiss any and all information that does not confirm their beliefs, even if the truth is available.

To me, this disconnect has become more and more obvious and relevant. Americans are becoming increasingly divided and hostile towards each other with each passing day. These fissures are not the type that will be fixed overnight or maybe even ever. I encourage everyone to take the extra time to verify the accuracy of the information you are receiving or sharing before allowing it to fuel discontent, animosity or hatred. We spend our entire lives interacting with others and it does not benefit anyone to ostracize people, especially based on false information.

On a separate note, you may have noticed that our blog has been more active recently. If you follow us, you will see a new blog post each week posted by our various staff members. Our posts may contain opinions. These opinions are those of our specific authors and may not necessarily reflect the view of Adolph Legal. Please be assured that we are dedicated to offering our clients thorough and effective representation. If there is a specific topic you would like us to address or would like to read more posts by specific staff members, please let us know via e-mail at office@adolphlegal.com.

Drivers Beware!

Here in Wisconsin, we are deep into winter. We have gone beyond the winter wonderland of December with the sparkling lights, happy music and fluffy white snow, and have been catapulted into late January. Winter is anything but magical at this point. It is cold, slushy, wet and icy outside, making driving an unpleasant chore. It is inevitable that there will be accidents in winter due to the less than desirable driving conditions.

It is important that a driver in Wisconsin understand that they have certain duties when involved in an accident. When involved in an accident, a driver has the duty to investigate what was struck, whether it be an object, person, or vehicle. The driver must remain at the scene of the accident until they have provided their name, address, registration number and driver’s license to the person that was struck. Further, a driver has the duty to render aid to any person injured in an accident. If there was damage caused in the accident, it must be reported to local authorities immediately. It may be tempting to leave the scene of an accident, especially if it appears to be minor, but you could face legal ramifications, including criminal charges, for doing so. In turn, if you are struck by another vehicle who does leave the scene of an accident, you must forgo the urge to follow the fleeing driver. This could put you and others at risk. Stay at the scene of the accident and contact the local authorities to report a hit and run.

 

If you have any traffic related questions, please contact our experienced attorneys at Adolph Legal at 920-634-2212 or by e-mail at office@adolphlegal.com.

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