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Mountebank last won the day on December 12 2019

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  1. Actually, the real trick is to put "E. & O.E." at the end of all correspondence. If you do that, you can never be sued ever! Sincerely written by and binding upon the undersigned, LS.CA
  2. Cash reserves? In a...law firm. Haha Hahaha AAAAHHHAHAHAAAAAHAAAAA
  3. The non-billable thing seems weird to me. If you have a strict target, why should you not be recording everything? That said, having your hours significantly written down come billing time is not unusual. It's not realistic to expect that junior associate and senior associate have their fee reduced equally on the same matter. And as far as billing clerk time out, that depends a lot on the firm. But at some firms, it looks good if a supervising lawyer is billing out his clerk a lot and that may bear some relevance come compensation time.
  4. How often do clients even inquire about storage of minute books or any other file for that matter? If you tell a client "off-site storage" do you ever get a follow-up? That said, I don't keep minute books as part of my practice so I can't pretend it's something I've thought much about. But in general if you're good about keeping electronic records, you can reduce storage needs a lot.
  5. I think this differs by region, or maybe even courthouse? I'm still getting mine back with some delay.
  6. Probably on the lower end of reasonable, but I agree not terrible in the current market. I doubt the firm will go higher base but maybe they'll give you a higher percentage and you can hustle a bit. It's your hometown after all.
  7. To keep things on the rails, we can go to PM if you want to discuss any further, but I figured I should say publicly that I'm simplifying things. There are many potential discrete reasons why an Estate that looks simple to an outsider could be reasonably delayed. But as a general rule, if you're getting close to a year out since the person died and you haven't been given an explanation, I would suggest your spouse follow-up with the Trustee and find out what's up because a lot of the time delays in Estate matters are due to inaction.
  8. It depends a lot on the Estate and there may well be reasons for delay in specific instances. But in most typical Estates, there shouldn't be any reason for delay. Banks, solicitors, and accountants are still operating. That said, this is an area of law where there is a legal culture of moving at a glacial pace. It also varies depending on where you are. In Toronto, for instance, I understand they're waiting 6 months anyway for a probate. Where I am, it's more like 3 or 4 weeks (plus you're more likely to be able to avoid a probate in the first place if you live outside large cities). My simple Estates (i.e. testate, everyone sui juris and resident of Canada, and assets mainly comprised of marketable securities/cash) from February are now being substantially settled and should be mostly distributed late May/early June.
  9. I'm glad you posted this because I've been having exactly the same thoughts for a couple months now, even before COVID 19. I have kind of a similar personality I think in that the regular office grind wears me down after a while and I also have a young family at home. The practice you're talking about in your third to last paragraph is not so far off to how I envision mine running eventually. It's partially how I run it now, but with only one staff member. What I find works for me, though, is spending mornings at home and then going into the office in the afternoon. I find that I'm very focused in the morning, but will tend to get distracted or end work early if I stay for the afternoon (we had a couple bring sunny afternoons last month on which I enjoyed building a couple new raised beds and cages for a vegetable garden but didn't get so much lawyering done...). I also find if I work in the morning, I actually kind of look forward to going into the office in the afternoon because it provides me with a change of pace and enables me to get those in-person things done. I get driven to distraction somewhat easily and I find splitting the day in half like this helps a lot with restlessness. At the same time, I can still have lunch with my wife and kids and it's easy to cover for my wife for a half hour here and there if she has to go for a doctor appointment or pick up some groceries, etc. Often I can keep working while covering for her (since I'm really just there to make sure the kids don't escape or set the house on fire), so she can run her errand by herself and I can still be productive and be with my family. Most of my client appointments are scheduled for afternoons anyway, since I like to spend the mornings doing lawyerly things like answering emails and reviewing draft docs, etc. regardless of whether I'm at the office. So I don't miss a lot from being at home in my "tiny office" as my eldest son calls it (although I'm writing this post while I'm working from home, so maybe don't completely rely on this...). Finally, the main thing I like about working from home is that it motivates me to work right away. If I'm at home, I'll usually start my workday around 7:30am, whereas if I'm going into the office in the morning I can't seem to motivate myself to leave any earlier than 8:30am and then I can't focus until well after 9:00am. That's a huge amount of wasted time that I end up having to tack on to the end of the day, so instead of leaving work at 5:30pm and coming home in time for dinner, I'm leaving at 7:00pm and the kids are now in bed. I know this is a personality defect more than a law practice logistical issue, but I've seen the most success personally from working from home in the AM and from the office in the PM (my office is about a 6 or 7 minute drive for me; I get that this wouldn't work as well for everyone). I agree that taking short breaks periodically and moving to another space helps a lot (if I'm trying to work through something ponderous, I'll sometimes walk around my meeting room or reception area and talk it out to myself to the horror, I'm sure, of my assistant. Thank God I'm my own boss). I think I've already posted ad nauseum about my tech setup, so I'll spare you. But in terms of feeling more connected with the "big office", I've been toying with the idea of having a virtual meeting space setup through Microsoft Teams (which is part of my 365 subscription) so that my assistant and I can talk face-to-face at any time just like if I were in-office (i.e. not video calls, but an ongoing video conference room we can check in and out of as we please). I think this would require a hardware upgrade for my assistant's computer, but it would feel more immediate and personal than her having to phone or email and it would be secure. I think there are still a couple of practical, non-personality based barriers to total work from home. One of them is the appearance of legitimacy. Most of my clients are older and I think they would be uncomfortable without a real, brick and morter presence and in-person meetings. But this kind of thing is wearing away over time - I'm pretty sure some of my young clients wouldn't care too much if I worked out of my car. That said, there are always going to be reasons for someone to be in-office during the day (accepting deliveries, taking payments from clients, etc.). In terms of trust and bank stuff, I think that's solvable. Use the LVTS where possible and print and sign your own trust cheques from home where necessary. The staff member who would be making the bank run anyway can stop by home and pick up the cheques (or you could make a single delivery to the office yourself if you're nearby). Printing cheques is one of those admin tasks that I do myself and I find it takes almost no time at all if your're: a) proficient with the software; and b) using alternatives to cheques, where possible. Alternatively, a staff member can just prepare the cheque electronically and email it to you for printing at home (although this solution could create additional admin/bookkeeping headaches). Obviously, having a partner would help here a lot (likewise for helping to supervise transactions if you have a deal closing and you're working from home). I hope you're able find a more permanent WFH solution for yourself. Luckily, it's the kind of thing that can be done in stages and a lot of people are getting a baptism by fire right now. My setup is still evolving all the time and some weeks for one reason or another I actually end up doing no WFH. But for me, it's about having the flexibility to do it relatively easily whenever I want (I usually make the decision after breakfast. I rarely know when I wake up that I'll be spending the morning at home). But there are days when I'm sure it has improved my productivity and enjoyment of my job plus I've seen benefits in my home-life.
  10. My biggest area is Estate Admin. I saw a depression in March/April but things seem to be moving well now again. It's not the most lucrative area of law, but people keep dying so yay for me. The work coming in now is partially people who put things off in March/April but figure they can't put it off any more. This applies to new and existing files. For instance, where I would have expected to bill out Johnson Estate for work related to making a distribution to the beneficiaries in March, the client decided to hold off for a bit. Now in May we're doing that March distribution. Even though you know the work absolutely has to get done at some point, there aren't a lot of strict timelines in this area, so you kind of go at the client's pace. I've been following up with Estate clients more than normal to see if they want to advance their files (normally I would wait a few months anyway to hear from them). This has been great for getting some more billable work going as some of them I think kind of assumed we wouldn't be able to get it done right now with the shutdown. I should probably do this more often (the timing helped in that most of them finalized the taxes last month which is a natural point at which you would proceed to the next step in the administration). I haven't made any moves to expand into a new practice area, but I have taken on some work within my area that I may have historically passed on (eg. cohab agreements). But that's really just a natural extension of my planning practice and probably something I should have already been offering.
  11. They were FOOLS not to article later!
  12. I think the conventional wisdom is both. But also don't forget about insurance (life and critical illness anyway. Possibly disability for some). These are another kind of investment that you or your family may desperately need in future and every year that goes by they'll cost you more.
  13. Of course they don't want to be a stepping-stone. Nobody does. But employees don't make vows to their firms. Associates leave all the time and get fired all the time. Attrition is part of the business model (to the extent that firms have business models...).
  14. Don't forget about that sweet, seven-figure costing new logo!
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