Posted In:Legal Archives - Pligg

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Why It’s Important to Perform a Drug and Alcohol Test Before Hiring

April 4, 2018 - By 
drug and alcohol test

It’s a fact that drug use in the workplace causes more accidents, more absences, decreased productivity and higher turnover. This costs employers an estimated $197 billion per year. And workplace drug use is now at the highest level it’s been in the last ten years, especially in the retail, food and beverage and education industries.

Do we really want our food and our children in the hands of someone who may be drunk or high on the job? A pre-employment drug and alcohol test will not only promote a safe and efficient work environment but also increase a company’s positive, trustworthy image.

Read on and we’ll show you why a pre-employment drug and alcohol test is an essential part of the hiring process. Here are the top 5 benefits of testing before employing.

Increased Safety

Workplace substance abuse accounts for approximately 50% of workplace accidents. The annual medical cost of workplace drug and alcohol abuse reaches into the billions. The amount of money saved by maintaining a drug-free workplace is far greater than the cost of testing employees for drugs before hiring.

Increased Productivity

Drug abuse makes it hard for employees to show up to work on time or at all. Employees who work while under the influence are 10 times more likely to be absent than sober employees.

And they display lower-quality work performance. They may come to work so drunk, stoned, or hungover that they are unable to perform properly at their job.

Under-the-influence employees are more uncaring about work and safety and likely to make poor decisions. They are also responsible for 40% of workplace theft. And they may coerce other employees into workplace drug abuse as well.

Pre-employment drug testing will keep these irresponsible applicants from corrupting the workforce.

Less Turnover

Because of their poor performance and attendance, employees who abuse drugs have a 30% higher turnover rate than those who don’t. Testing for drugs before hiring costs less than the time and money wasted on employees who abuse drugs.

Happier Employees

Worst of all, workplace substance abuse makes work more difficult, stressful and unsafe for all the sober employees who do care about their job. The increased chance of accidents that accompany workplace substance abuse puts other innocent employees at risk.

And sober employees have to work harder to make up for the poor performance and frequent absences of the non-sober workers. These factors may increase turnover in the sober employees who will no longer tolerate this stressful work environment.

Also, any company that doesn’t test employees for drugs becomes a target for drug-abusing applicants. Drug abusers who can’t pass a drug test elsewhere will seek employment with companies who don’t test.

Workplace drug-testing will keep the company safe from these hazards and give peace of mind to hard-working, sober employees.

Happier Shareholders

Pre-employment drug-testing also gives peace of mind to customers and shareholders. A company with frequent incidents associated with employee drug and alcohol abuse will develop a bad reputation. It will be seen as uncaring and unsafe, an unwise business investment.

Drug-testing employees shows that the company cares enough to keep drug abuse away from their business.

Drug and Alcohol Test Screening: It’s Worth It!

Whether employers send applicants to a lab or use their own drug testing kits on-site, the benefits are clear: pre-employment drug and alcohol screening is worth the money saved, accidents prevented and reputation earned.

Check out more with What to Expect During a Drug Test and 10 Signs of an Alcoholic.


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Are Lawsuit Settlements Taxable?

March 24, 2018 - By 
lawsuit

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve won a lawsuit settlement and are now sitting on a nice, big lump sum of money.

Unfortunately, however, depending on the specificities of the lawsuit and the type of award you receive, you may have to pay taxes to the government on that award.

After all, 97% of civil court cases are settled without trial, so the government wants to get its hands on that money.

The IRS has a large, wordy document on the ins-and-outs of the tax law regarding court settlements. In the eyes of the IRS, certain settlements are taxable, and certain types of settlements aren’t.

Below, I’ll summarize these different kinds of settlements.

Types of Lawsuit Settlements

The IRS divides the types of settlements that can be awarded to a claimant in a lawsuit into two categories.

One category contains claims that are awarded as a result of a physical injury and the other category contains claims that are awarded as a result of non-physical injury.

The IRS defines a physical injury not just as something like a broken bone, but also physical sicknesses like cancer, or the flu.

A non-physical injury would be something that causes an unquantifiable emotional distress like, defamation of character, for example.

There is also one last type of settlement that could be tacked on to either category, but is treated like a separate entity by the IRS.

This would be punitive damages. Punitive damages is money that a judge rules forces defendant to pay that exceeds basic compensation and exists only to punish the defendant.

For example, if you sue someone for lost wages amounting to $1000 and a judge forces the defendant to pay $2000, that extra $1000 is punitive.

Now that we have these definitions, let’s delve into whether or not any of these types of settlements are taxable.

Physical Injury Settlements

Usually, any money that you receive that adds to your gross income has to be reported to the IRS and thusly taxed.

Typically, this would also include settlements from lawsuits.

However, luckily (or unluckily) for you, IRS has certain exemptions when it comes to physical injury settlements.

If you are awarded a settlement in a lawsuit explicitly because you were physically injured, then you do not have to pay taxes on that income.

But this is only true if the settlement is awarded to replace lost wages or to make up for emotional distress as a result of those injuries.

For example, let’s say you were driving your car and another driver t-boned your car, breaking your neck.

Let’s as a result of the broken neck you can no longer work your hypothetical factory job.

As a result of this, you sue the other drive for lost wages, as well as emotional distress.

Then, the judge rules in your favor and you win a $100,000 settlement. Under the law provided by the IRS, all of that income is excludable from the tax because it was awarded as a result of a physical injury.

Make sense? Now, lets take a look at the other side of the coin.

Non-Physical Injury Settlements

Like I previously stated, in the eyes of the IRS, a non-physical injury is an injury in which there was no bodily harm done to the winner of the settlement.

Examples of settlements that would fall under this category are settlements that are awarded as a result of a crimes like libel, defamation, slander, trespassing, property damage, and only emotional distress.

If you have won a settlement as a result of any cases like these, that money has to be reported to and taxed by the IRS.

For example, if your coworkers spreads a false, malicious rumor, about you and that leads to your termination, you can sue for lost wages.

However, you must pay taxes on that money, because you simply incurred no physical harm.

What About Punitive Damages?

Unfortunately, any type of punitive damage, whether it is issued as a result of physical or emotional harm, is not excludable in the eyes of the IRS.

There is one exception, though.

In wrongful death lawsuits, punitive damages may be excluded from your taxable income.

However, this rule exists in a legal grey area, as some states have statutes that exempt wrongful death settlements from being taxed and some state don’t.

In these cases, it is best to consult a lawyer or a CPA to determine if you have to pay taxes on wrongful death settlements.

The Tax Rate on Legal Settlements

We should have a good idea on the general rules for what kind of legal settlements are taxable by now.

With those questions answered, the only one remaining is “If I do have to my taxes, on my settlement, how much should I pay?”

In most cases, you pay the normal federal income tax on your court settlements based on your income bracket.

Unfortunately, if you receive a very large settlement, it may push you into a higher income bracket, forcing you to pay a higher percentage in tax.

For example, if you usually just make $35,000 a year and typically pay a 15% federal income tax, but a court settlement pushes your income to $5,000,000 in that year, you’ll have to pay a higher tax.

In this example you’d get pushed to the highest tax bracket, forcing you to pay 39.6% of your income in tax.

On top of that, you’ll also have to pay your local state and city taxes as well.

But remember, if you’ve won a settlement as a result of physical injury, you only have to pay tax on the punitive portion of that settlement.

So if you get a settlement of $5 million because someone broke your leg, but only $1 million of that is punitive, you only have to pay taxes on that $1 million.

Long Story, Short

At its most basic, the rule for whether or not a court settlement is taxable is that if the settlement is awarded as a result of a physical injury, it can be excluded from taxation.

To be extra safe, though, don’t take my word for it.

Contact a lawyer or a CPA to make sure you’re in the clear.


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Resale Roadblocks: 5 Reasons to Not to Buy a Timeshare

February 28, 2018 - By 
timeshare resale

With the average timeshare price running about $20,000 a year, it can be a major investment for most families. If you don’t have the time to enjoy your timeshare, it could seem like a waste of money. This is what has gotten a lot of people interested in timeshare resale in recent years.

The demographic for timeshares is mostly people over 50 years old. With fewer people able to take vacations and more people renting than in the last 50 years, instability has driven younger people to vacation in different ways. Timeshares aren’t quite as attractive as they used to be.

While these changes to the overall economic ecosystem could make prices drop and investments seem like a better idea, you still need to read the fine print. Without a careful eye on the contract you sign, you could get screwed. Here are 5 timeshare resale roadblocks to make you reconsider investing.

1. Value Drops Fast

If you were considering buying a stock or a bond that you knew could be in freefall, you’d think twice. You might know that new cars lose massive amounts of resale value as soon they’re driven off the lot. For some timeshares, the same is true.

The investment returns on timeshare resale just aren’t as steady as other investments. Often a timeshare’s value will drop by as much as half by the time the owner is ready to sell.

The second-hand market, unfortunately, isn’t as large as many people selling timeshares might want you to believe it is. That makes a timeshare investment a pretty dependable way to lose money.

If the value of your investments can’t hold up for years to come, ideally growing, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

2. They’re Not Liquid

It’s really hard to turn any real estate asset into cold hard cash. The number of people trying to sell their timeshares has never been higher. Unfortunately, the people looking to buy are in the absolute minority.

If you offer a bargain price to a potential buyer, you might make your sale a little quicker, but you could lose out big time. Otherwise, you can hold out for awhile in hopes that the market bounces back.

Unfortunately, some major shifts in the overall economic landscape make it seem unlikely that the market will skyrocket anytime soon. While you’re waiting to sell your timeshare, you could be paying all of the fees, taxes, and mortgage costs associated with the property.

This could drive you into a bad position, where you need to take out additional loans from places like Aconsumercredit. You might not have the budget for this and be rolling the dice. Hopefully, someone scoops up your property soon.

3. Broker Scams Abound

With the huge number of people trying to sell timeshares right now, it’s a timeshare resale boon for a certain type of broker. They can be seen trying to prey on unassuming timeshare owners who are frustrated by the state of the market.

They will approach sellers and pose as a broker. After sellers have been positioned on the market for months or even years trying to get rid of a property, these “brokers” guarantee a deal in a few days.

This will, of course, excite the seller and get them to pony up a nominal fee. This fee is promised to be returned once the sale occurs. The problem is, this sale rarely occurs.

The “broker” disappears with the money, never to be heard from ever again.

4. Rental Isn’t Happening

Because you’re the owner of the property, you’re entitled to making attempts to rent out your timeshare as long as you’re paying for it. This works for a few people but raises more issues for others.

Finding a renter can be a massive challenge. There are so many options for renting timeshares since there are so many that are currently up for sale. Your rental income, even when you’re completely booked, may never pay for your annual costs.

With all of the additional maintenance, cleaning, and set up, it makes the whole process not seem worthwhile. You might even find rental restrictions in your lease.

And then there’s the vetting process. You don’t want to rent out to people who might ruin your space. You could be paying thousands out of pocket, basically ending up with a net loss because of carelessness from your renter.

Not everyone wants to be a landlord and not everyone has the wherewithal to fight against problem tenants. Unless that courses through your veins, a rental might not be for you.

5. Opportunity Costs Are High

In a buyer’s market, as it is right now, timeshares aren’t a very strong investment. In a lot of cases, you might lose money on your investment, meaning that just letting your money sit in a bank account might have worked out better.

A timeshare is a real estate investment and there are expectations placed on any kind of real estate investor. Even though it’s lower stakes than buying a house or a commercial property, you will have to perform maintenance and tend to it. If it doesn’t accrue wealth over time, you should consider another kind of investment.

Owning a home is how most American families build any wealth at all. If you’re renting but investing in a timeshare, you might want to consider owning a hope in a place you love rather than investing in a timeshare.

Timeshare Resale Is a Bear Market

As things change for a generation of people who don’t see the value of timeshares, more people are vacationing through apps like Airbnb. That leaves timeshare properties up for grabs and then turns into a lower value for them. Unless you want to devote a lot of time to timeshare resale, you should reconsider investing.

If you’re looking for more tips on investing in real estate, check out our list of must-have real estate apps.


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What You Need to Know Before You Hire a Defense Attorney

February 28, 2018 - By 
hire a defense attorney

When you need to hire a defence lawyer, you really need one. This is not like looking for someone to mow your lawn.

This person is literally about to hold your future in their hands. So you need to ensure they’re smart, hardworking and experienced.

That said, you also need to make sure there’s a good fit, chemistry-wise, if you’re going to have a good working relationship.

Here is what you need to know about a lawyer before you sign your future over to them.

Their Style

You’re going to need to be completely comfortable in how this attorney defends you. You may want a bulldog-type, who’s aggressive and has a real kick-butt style in the courtroom. A fighter, who you’re glad is on your side.

Or, you may want someone with a calmer demeanor, who gives off a feeling of intellect. You may feel more comfortable with this style, as the lawyer calmly makes the intellectual case for your innocence.

There’s no wrong answer here. You’re allowed to be picky when you hire a defence lawyer. You’re allowed to hire or pass on someone if you just don’t feel comfortable with their style.

Their Fees

Nobody likes surprise fees. You need to have a frank conversation about their fees and their payment structure before you sign on to work with them.

This can take place before you even meet them in person. For example, a law firm like Criminal Solicitor Sydney will let you get a quote over the phone before meeting.

You don’t need to pass on an attorney because they cost too much. It’s hard to limit your spending with your future on the line. But you should definitely know what you’re getting into. Again, no surprises.

Their History

One of the biggest factors you need to consider when you hire a defence lawyer is how much confidence you have in their abilities. And one thing that can really put your mind at ease is knowing that they have a history of winning cases.

They also need a proven history of winning cases just like yours. They should be able to go into specifics about how many cases they have won and lost. How many of those cases were settled and how many went to trial? And why?

Don’t be afraid to ask for references from their previous clients. It would be very helpful for you to call the people they have represented in the past, and hear glowing reviews from real people.

Their Online Footprint

Testimonials on a lawyer’s website are great. 76% of people surveyed said they start their lawyer search online. These testimonials can really help you shortlist your candidates when looking online.

Of course, you will want to do some research off of their site as well. Take a look at online reviews as well, on sites like Google, Facebook, or Yelp. 83% of lawyer-seekers said they read online reviews in making their decision.

Don’t let one or two bad reviews turn you off of a potential lawyer. Whether you’re trying to find a dentist or trying to hire a defence lawyer, you’re bound to read some bad reviews from “haters.” And that’s fine.

But if all of the online reviews say the same thing (maybe about a lack of personal service, or surprise fees), this could be a sign you don’t want to work with them.

Their Specialty

Ask them where they specialize. This, again, requires a specific answer. Be very wary if they’re vague or unspecific.

Also beware of lawyers who claim to be good at everything. Being good at everything usually means you’re not great at any single thing.

So, if they claim to be experts in drunk driving charges, they should have fought a number of these cases and won.

Their Plan

This is another area where you don’t have time for vanity or empty promises.

Ask them how they plan to defend you, and expect a complete answer. Again, be wary if they don’t dive into the specifics.

You may assume they’re being secretive because they don’t want you to take their plan and bring it to someone else (or even try it yourself), but that’s no excuse. Your future is way more important than their secret plan.

This is their first real opportunity to build your confidence in them. You deserve the peace-of-mind in feeling that your lawyer has you covered with a rock-solid strategy that has worked in the past.

Their Staff

This is another area where you don’t want to see any surprises. Will they be handling your case personally, or will this person be handing you off to someone else on staff?

If someone else will handle you, why? Is it because this new party has a unique specialty, and can better serve your needs? Or is this attorney just too busy to handle your case personally?

If you have any questions along the way, who should you contact? Who will be the main point of contact once they trial starts?

Also, do they have any specialists they can bring on to help your case? Maybe your defence would benefit from the advice of a retired police officer, or even a private investigator.

This should come up when they’re going over your plan. If they have access to these specialists, knowing this can really help you feel better about your case.

And of course, you need to know if their added expertise is going to be an added cost.

We Can Help You Do More Than Hire a Defence Lawyer

We like to help people make the best buying decisions they can by helping them know what to look for.

We also provide a number of downloadable ebooks on a wide range of topics. You can click here to see what we have to offer.


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Why Lawyer Apps are a Great Way to Reach Clients

January 22, 2018 - By 

With Americans now spending 5 hours a day on their smartphones, an increasing majority of personal business is now conducted through apps. Whether checking bank accounts, ordering food, or monitoring their health, just about every part of our lives can be accessed through apps.

This has created a need for lawyer apps.

Apps serve the dual function of allowing you to reach your clients through notifications and allowing them to reach you 24/7. If you have clients who are experiencing legal issues for the first time, your app could ease them into the attorney-client relationship.

If you haven’t figure out whether lawyer apps are would be the right fit for your firm, here are 10 ways they can help improve client services.

1. Get Everyone On The Same Page

It can be frustrating for clients to figure out what has been agreed on during the legal process. Emails can be deleted over time, meaning that agreements, forms, and conversations will be lost.

Having an app with a communication portal could catalog communications and forms. This would give clients easy access to forms, contracts, and anything they need to refer to. Having a common place to see everything makes all communication clearer.

Look at how this real estate lawyer in Houston addresses their contact information. Have a “contact us” button on every single page of your app.

2. Offer Extra Services

Your app can be a marketing platform that takes into account the services your client is already using. You can offer extra services that are catered to the needs of your client.

By knowing your client’s case intimately, lawyer apps can send notifications about extra services that are offered by your firm. Your app can be a great marketing tool while offering lots of practical applications.

3. Better Billing Process

Including billing details in your app allows clients to be in control of their billing details at all times. If they’re curious about a charge or need to change services, they can get ahold of you through your app.

You won’t have to have conversations about billing with your client. They can either direct their questions through the app or to your billing department, allowing lawyers to have better communications with their clients.

4. End Email Attachments

Using a client portal connected to lawyer apps, firms can send big documents and contracts to their clients. Using additional tools, clients can sign and approve forms.

After forms are approved, firms can be notified that they can move to the next step. If there are any corrections, they can be addressed through the app rather than sending one attachment after another.

5. Better Client Loyalty

By creating a collaborative environment through your app, clients will feel more connected and more in control of the legal process. The value will increase as client engagement increases.

You can have a record of all correspondence that will help clients make smarter decisions. They will be loyal because of that increased engagement with your firm and your shared ability to reach out to one another so easily.

Clients expect fast responses from law firms and expect to get answers any hour of the day. A shared app will let your staff have more flexible schedules, catered to address the needs of your clients rather than an arbitrary schedule.

6. Easier Auditing

Your app will make it easier in the case that either you get audited or you need to perform a self-audit. Lawyer apps will keep a record of every client document and report so that you can back up any claims that are made.

Your payment portal will keep a record of every payment made and received to allow auditors to see the details of your transaction history. If there are any discrepancies, they will be illuminated through your app.

7. Address FAQs

Apps allow clients to get quick answers to inquiries. Connect your app to the resources that are kept on your site so that your clients can search through for answers to common questions.

Think about setting up a chatbot so that your clients can communicate with either a live 24/7 agent or an AI program jam-packed with legal data. Look at which services are within your budget and run some tests.

You could even integrate an SMS app with your app to allow for customers to contact their attorney directly.

You might find that hiring an answering service or outsourced chat service will help you to communicate with clients better and retain a higher number.

8. Better Work Flow

Setting up document systems through your app allows everyone to be in the loop at the right time. Once the first person has signed off on their part of a document, the next person in line can receive a notification that they need to add their signature.

You’ll be increasing your interoffice efficiency by only forwarding documents to your office when they’re ready to be finalized. You’ll save legwork for your office staff while also ensuring that every t is crossed and every i is dotted.

9. Flexibility

When clients get acquainted with lawyer apps, they will feel better about their relationship with a law firm. They’ll feel like they’re always a part of the conversation by being able to watch everything as it happens.

Your lawyers are used to clients who need a lot of time and energy from them. They’re often overworked and stressed out. They will send paralegals around to collect things that you could be collecting through your app.

Once you’ve installed your app and get clients to start using it, you’ll see that work will breeze by.

Lawyer Apps Increase Client Engagement

Setting up a useful lawyer app doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Consult with developers and construct a list of “must-haves” for your app and then see how you could scale over time.

If you’re interested in finding out how lawyer apps can work for your firm, contact us for more info on how to start designing yours today.


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5 Key Pieces of Downloadable Information About Bail Bonds

November 7, 2017 - By 

Getting locked behind bars for any amount of time is too long.

When you get arrested, you’ll want to know the ins and outs of the bail bond process. This way, you’ll be informed on how you can contact a company that can assist you.

If only there was a resource of downloadable information that lays it out for you.

You’re in luck.

Check out these five tips so that you’re more informed about the entire process of getting bail bonds.

5 Points Of Downloadable Information Pertaining To Bail Bonds

#1: Learn How The Bail Bond Process Works

It’s not enough to download a few e-books to know everything about the bail bond process.

Instead, you’ll want to figure out the movers and shakers in your area and how these situations are carried out.

For instance, learn all the jails in your city and county and learn which bail bond companies are the most reputable. You should also understand that bail is set based on the severity of a charge and whether the judge feels like you’ll show up for court.

By learning a bit about the prosecutors and attorneys near you, you’ll be prepared should you ever stand for a bail hearing and arraignment.

After a bail hearing is held, you’ll have a specific amount you can pay to be released.

From here, you’ll be able to contact a bail bond company, such as Action Immigration Bonds & Insurance Services in order to get further help.

#2: Shop For Bail Bond Rates

The rates and limits for bail bonds vary depending on where you live.

If you know you’ll require bail, start reaching out to licensed bail bond agents that can give you estimates.

A typical rate you can expect to pay is approximately 10 percent of the bail bond. Always shop until you get the best rates.

#3: Be Sure That A Bail Bond Company Is Trustworthy

You need to contact a bail bond company that you know will deliver on their promises.

By touching base with plenty of different bail agencies, you’ll have the chance to see what they’re all about. Even if you’ve never dealt with a bail bond agency before, it’ll be pretty easy to shop around.

For instance, you can conduct a quick search to get a feel for the agencies in your area. Pay attention to the details. For instance, you should know who they are and what they’re all about from the logo design to the theme, to the handshake when you speak to them in person.

#4: Always Show Up To Trial

The worst thing you can do is go through all the trouble of arranging for bail, only to blow your court date.

Not only will you then be responsible for the money, with interest, you’ll also have a warrant put out for your arrest. You will be in the best position to move past this unfortunate incident by simply fulfilling your obligations.

#5: The Bail Bond Industry Is Growing

It’s important that you never settle when it comes to hiring a bail bond agent.

This just happens to be a field that is always healthy, and it has grown in recent years. Even though you’re ready to get out of jail, take your time when finding the best agency.

Visit our site for more downloadable information and blog posts related to the legal field.


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5 Secure Websites Where You Can Access Legal Document Downloads

September 22, 2017 - By 
document downloads

Hiring an attorney is expensive, even for simple legal needs like petitioning for a change of name. Did you know that most legal needs can be resolved on your own with legal form document downloads?

All you need to do is find the proper form for your legal needs, fill it out and pay the required filing fee at your local courthouse.

Even when dealing with complex legal issues like establishing a DBA (doing business as) or filing for divorce, you can still handle things on your own with the right document downloads.

In this article we’re going to cover the top 5 secure websites where you can access all the legal document downloads you’ll need.

Not only will this save you money, it’ll end your legal stress.

1. US Legal Document Downloads

This is one of the most helpful and comprehensive online legal forms services available.

This service boasts over 36,000 legal forms that are state-specific, as well as a host of non-legal documents. US Legal covers more areas of law than any other legal form document download website.

US Legal’s range of documents is so extensive that it’s unlikely you’d need to look at any other site to find what you’re looking for.

They even have the documents you’ll need when you learn how to apply for income based repayment navient on student loans.

One negative is that they don’t have any presence on social media.

2. FindLegalForms, Inc.

This is also a very comprehensive service with almost any legal form you could need. They allow you to download your chosen forms directly into an MS Word document so you can enter all your personal information.

You can also choose PDF downloads if you’d like to fill out the forms by hand before filing.

FindLegalForms gives you great support options that make it a top pick.

On the downside, you can’t access immigration forms on this site. But other than that, it’s quite good.

3. Rocket Lawyer

One of the best features of Rocket Lawyer is that you can speak with an attorney for free as a part of their service.

That’s a unique option you should definitely take advantage of.

They also have most of the forms you’ll need for personal and business needs. However, you won’t be able to access lien forms or certain immigration forms like the I-485 (to apply for permanent residency).

They do have a very extensive list of real estate, business and financial forms that make it a good choice.

4. Legal Zoom

At Legal Zoom, the forms are simple to locate and fill out.

You’ll get easy questionnaires to help you find the legal forms you need. You also get the option of previewing them before making a purchase.

They’ll auto-check your forms for errors and spelling mistakes to make sure everything is done right.

Unfortunately, they don’t offer any bill of sale or loan agreement forms.

5. Law Depot

This is another easy-to-use service with state-specific forms for business, real estate, finance and personal legal issues.

For each form, you’ll be given step-by-step instructions within an interview format.

Completed forms are then saved, printed or emailed off to be signed and filed with the court.

You’ll notice that they don’t offer any bankruptcy documents.

You should utilize these free options before going after the more expensive versions.

When it’s time to resolve legal issues, check out this article on hiring an attorney.


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The 5 Best Lawyer Movies for Attorneys (and Film Buffs!)

August 28, 2017 - By 

The courtroom is a favorite setting of filmmakers. It’s easy to see why: by the time litigation has been reached you have a high-stakes situation on your hands.

Real lawyers may know the profession as something less-than-cinematic. But in a movie, it’s easy to show the boring parts by showing the beleaguered protagonist hard at work.

Throw in the occasional scene filmed with wacky hijinks or a lawyer growing as a person, and you have a hit.

But what films do the genre best? Here are our choices, from wacky comedies to gripping thrillers.

Our 5 Best Lawyer Movies

My Cousin Vinny

Whether you’re a homicide prosecutor or a personal injury lawyer, you know a courtroom is a serious place. That’s what makes it so annoying to watch legal comedies a la Liar Liar that make the court room look like a great place to try your next improv routine.

The only legal comedy that shows you that a real life judge will not “yes and’ anybody is the fish-out-of-water film My Cousin Vinny. Without giving too many of the jokes away, this film includes Joe Pesci’s character being arrested for contempt precisely because of the hijinks that win trials in most films.

Subversion of Hollywood courtroom schtick is precisely what makes this one of the best lawyer movies for actual lawyers.

Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich is Rocky for attorneys.

In spite of the film’s depressing lack of epilogue, it does make it abundantly clear that good lawyers can have an incredibly positive impact on people’s lives.

In this film, Julia Roberts plays a paralegal that defends a small-town against the pollution cover-up of a massive corporation. While the reality may have been a bit more complicated, the film represents the real and inspiring possibility that lawyers can change lives.

12 Angry Men

Plenty of films deal with lawyers and judges, but very few deal with juries. This is odd, considering the jury is the group actually responsible for deciding innocence and guilt.

12 Angry Men is fascinating because it heightens the persuasion-based drama we expect from the best lawyer movies. Only instead of focusing on the attorneys, it focuses on the drama between members of the jury with opposing ideological views.

A Few Good Men

Best known for Jack Nicholson’s famous “you can’t handle the truth!” speech, this film actually offers so much more than just great quotes. At its core, it offers a compelling story of military law and how we balance the limits of power with the necessity for authority.

While Nicholson’s character is magnetic and inspires a twisted fascination from the viewer, it’s Tom Cruise’s character that is the real moral and intellectual balance of the film. What does it mean to be an authority constraining authority? This film answers that question.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Based on the literary classic, this civil rights film is considered one of the best of all time for a good reason. It deals with the harsh realities of the courtroom beside the moral awakening of growing up. And all of this with a statement that rings true today: the right side of history may be a lonely place, but it’s a place worth standing.

Watch More Movies

One of the best things about being a film buff is that there’s always one more flick to watch. And when you’ve gotten through these courtroom dramas, you should check out some of the great movies we have available for download.

Put some popcorn in the microwave, grab a glass of your favorite beverage and enjoy!


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5 Law eBooks Every Aspiring Attorney Must Read

August 11, 2017 - By 
law ebooks

Practicing law is not for the faint of heart. The law isn’t perfect, so anyone who aspires to become a lawyer should be prepared to be let down by the justice system on occasion.

Those future letdowns will certainly be a lot easier if future law students prime themselves for them. And what better way to prime themselves than by reading a few law eBooks that will put them in the right state of mind?

From fiction to instruction texts, here are five eBooks that aspiring law students might want to check out:

1. 1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell’s 1984 is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of fiction ever written. Because of its subject matter, it is a must-read for future lawyers.

The novel is a dystopian one in which a sort of totalitarian government has trampled on the rights of its citizens. There is no real sense of privacy, and that lack of privacy is one of the book’s overarching themes.

The novel should make future lawyers think about what the scope of the law should be so that they may challenge conventions in the future.

2. Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Dickens, like Orwell, has at least one popular classic novel under his belt, and Bleak House is one of them. The conflict which lies at the center of the novel is a case which involves multiple conflicting wills.

Dickens uses the novel to satirize the then English judicial system, and the takeaway for aspiring lawyers might just be that the process is ineffective sometimes.

3. Letters to a Law Student by Nicholas McBride

Unlike a couple of the law eBooks on this list, Letters to a Law Student is not a work of fiction. It’s an instructional text that aims to help future law students prepare themselves for law school.

Well, at least for their first year of law school. They’re on their own after that, but McBride’s text is still a good one to add to a collection of law-related texts on an E-reader.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

How does an attorney measure success? Does he or she take pride in using a sophisticated custom domain (e.g. johnplaw.com, desalvolaw.com, etc.)?

Or perhaps an attorney measures success by how many cases he or she has won.

The fact of the matter is gauging success in this way is not advisable. As Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird can teach any lawyer, future or present, justice isn’t always done, which means that even good attorneys don’t always win cases for their innocent clients.

5. What About Law? by Catherine Barnard, et al

Similar to Letters to a Law Student, What About Law? is all about…well, law. The book is for teens who are considering going into law in the future.

Its primary purpose is to give its readers some idea of what practicing law entails so that they can decide whether or not it’s something that they want to do for the rest of their lives. For those who are hesitant about going into law, this one is definitely a necessity.

Download These Law eBooks Today

Well, there they are. Five law-related eBooks that should get any aspiring attorney thinking about his or her future in law. After reading some these books, things might look a bit bleak, but attorneys will have good days and bad days.

But the good days will always make the profession worth it.

So if you’re not too spooked, go ahead and start thinking about the future. You can sift through our humble selection of law ebooks in our marketplace.


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5 Reasons Why You Need to Hire an Accident Attorney

August 9, 2017 - By 
attorney

Accidents happen so fast, but in that moment, lives may be changed. Severe injuries can affect your ability to work and provide for yourself.

The demand for personal injury lawyers is growing – because an accident attorney can help you receive the compensation you’re due.

Here are 5 reasons why you need to hire an accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

1. A Good Accident Attorney Will Take Care of Everything

You need to focus on recovery, and having a good attorney is essential for that. You don’t have the time to research and file your case all by yourself.

Simply put, while you’re getting better, you don’t want to be stressing about a legal case.

A good accident attorney such as Stephen Babcock will take control of everything your case involves, so you can relax, knowing you’re well represented and your case is progressing smoothly.

2. Lawyers Will Investigate on Your Behalf

Lawyers will build your case from the ground up. They will collect witness statements for you, identify the cause of the accident and put together a strong collection of evidence which will back up your case.

They use a team of expert investigators to do this, who will make sure every aspect of the case is as well-researched and watertight as it can be.

3. You’re (Probably) Not an Expert Negotiator

Around 95% of personal injury cases are settled before they come in front of a judge. Settling a case involves negotiating with other parties involved in the accident, who may be counter-suing you at the same time your case is ongoing.

This can get very sticky, very quickly. For someone without experience, it can be very difficult to hold your own against aggressive lawyers representing the other side of the case.

Lawyers are trained negotiators, who will not bend to pressure and fight your corner every step of the way. They won’t give in to the other side’s demands and will get much better results than someone who lacks experience.

4. An Expert Will Avoid Common Errors

The legal system is notoriously complicated. There are complex procedures to follow, filing deadlines to meet, and many other difficulties.

Plus, you have to consider both state and federal law to fully understand how your case will be handled. A lack of understanding of the law could see your case thrown out of the court systems – wasting lots of time and money.

An experienced attorney will guide your case through these problems with ease.

5. Legal Strategy is Everything

Having a good legal strategy before heading to court or negotiation means that you have a strong hand.

Knowing exactly what to do and say in court, and how to respond to the other side’s arguments are an attorney’s specialties.

Picking Your Lawyer

Before you choose a lawyer, test your accident attorney’s knowledge with these 5 important questions before handing over your case.

We hope that this guide helps you find the right lawyer for you, and we wish you the best of luck with your compensation claim.


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4 Things to Know About Intellectual Property Protection

July 10, 2017 - By 
intellectual property protection

When it comes to protecting your assets, the first items you probably think of are your material possessions, such as your home and land.

These are the tangible goods that you seek to safeguard against theft and other types of infringement.

Yet, did you know there’s another type of protection designed to keep your non-tangible assets safe?

This is called intellectual property protection. It works to ensure things like your ideas, and the creative and technical products that spawn from them, are rightly attributed to you.

Today, we’re taking a look at four things you need to know about this topic. This way, you can preserve these assets as strongly as you would your real estate or other concrete property.

Ready to get started? Let’s dig in!

There are Four Types of Intellectual Property Protection

Depending on the company and circumstance, there may be up to four types of intellectual property protection. These include:

  • Copyrights: Protect works of by an original author
  • Patents: Protect rights to an invention
  • Trademarks: Protects the characteristics that set a brand apart from its peers (symbol, design, catchphrase)
  • Trade secrets: Protects exclusive processes that contribute to a brand’s success (recipes, software algorithms, business methods)

1. Registration Is Key

You may think that no one out there will steal your confidential secrets to success. Even so, it’s still important to register them in your name.

Even limited companies or those with a domain name already secured and in place can be at risk of having their intellectual property stolen.

To get started, visit the Patent and Trademark Office. Here, you’ll have access to the resources you need to protect such assets. These include patent applications, as well as trademark and logo registrations.

2. You’ll Have to Re-Register Overseas

Even after you go through the regulatory steps in the United States, your property is only protected here in America.

Yet, you may want to ensure that non-tangible assets, such as your inventor patents, are also secured in other countries overseas.

In this case, you’ll need to apply for a patent in those countries as well. Similar steps are also required when you’re applying for a trademark or copyright in foreign lands.

3. You Can Take Your Case to Court

In the event that you believe your intellectual property was compromised, you can hire signal legal experts to support your case.

When cases are taken to court, there are a few rulings that can occur. For one, an injunction can be ordered against the defendant, meaning he or she must stop the malpractice.

Additionally, the court may order repayment for monetary damages. It may also allow the infringer to enter into a license agreement with the plaintiff.

In a nutshell, under this agreement, both parties work together. The infringer continues using the intellectual property, allocating a certain percentage of payments to the original owner.

4. The Digital Age Carries New Implications

As the Internet of Things continues to grow, businesses and consumers are more connected than ever before. In fact, Gartner estimates that this year we will reach about 8.4 billion “connected things.”

Thus, it’s vitally important that in this era of digital sharing, companies safeguard their creative assets.

What does this mean for intellectual property protection?

It means that you’ll now need to take extra steps and precautions to watch over your content, especially once it’s online. From utility patents to design ones, there are myriad ways to protect your digital assets.

The U.S. Trust defines digital assets as falling into four categories. These include personal, social, financial, and business.

To get started, take a sweep of your company. Then, identify items that fall into these sectors and research steps to keep them yours.

Your Digital Download Resource: Info You Can Trust

Are you looking to learn more about intellectual property protection? Would you also like to hear expert tips on everything from lifestyle trends to real estate?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Feel free to browse our helpful articles and let us know if there’s something you’d like to see. Together, we can build a more informed future!


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When You Really Need an Attorney, Here’s How to Find A Good One

July 10, 2017 - By 
lawyer

Are you looking for help after being arrested?

Dealing with an arrest is one of the toughest times someone goes through. Some people think an arrest means automatic guilt but it doesn’t.

A lawyer offers expertise in all aspects of a courtroom trial. These professionals will help you prepare your case every step of the way.

Everyone has the right to a fair trial and having an attorney. Not hiring an attorney increases the likelihood of losing a case. Losing a trial could mean paying fines and jail time.

In this article, you will know how to find out if you need an attorney.

Which Type of Attorney Do I Need?

You’ll want to start looking for a criminal defense lawyer if you’ve been arrested. A criminal defense lawyer offers professional representation in the courtroom.

It is best to go with a private attorney instead of public counsel. One study found clients choosing private over public counsel were 9% less likely to face jail time.

A criminal defense attorney has expertise in working similar cases. The main goal of these firms is to help those who have been arrested.

An attorney will help obtain all evidence and documents surrounding your arrest. You’ll feel more at ease with a professional negotiating on your behalf.

Self-representation might be entertaining in the movies but this is real life. You can’t afford to risk losing a case when your future is on the line.

A criminal defense attorney provides the knowledge, skills, and guidance to help you win your case.

Where Can I Find a Trustworthy Attorney?

One way to find an attorney you can trust is through an employer. It is likely a business has fought through their own legal battles. In certain cases, companies offer free or discounted legal representation for employees.

Another option is to ask family and friends for an attorney recommendation. Asking people close to you ensures you get information you can trust.

Taking to the internet to find a lawyer is a great idea. Browsing lawyer websites will help you learn more about local practices. These websites should have relevant contact information.

Local directories are a valuable source for finding local law practices. Once you’ve found a team of criminal defense lawyers, it’s time to ask a few important questions.

What Should I Ask During Evaluations?

You’ll want to know what kind of law an attorney specializes in. For example, having a divorce lawyer fight a DUI case isn’t the best idea.

Knowing the credentials of a law firm is wise. You can ask if the lawyer has received any extra credentials in their field. Many lawyers will have their certifications on display.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends asking lawyers about fee explanations. Certain states require lawyers lists total costs in writing once representation has begun.

Being arrested is a tough time in anyone’s life. It is important to find an attorney to fight in your corner. A lawyer will help fight for your rights ensuring you have a fair trial.


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Can We Expect More Data Breach Lawsuits in the Future?

March 22, 2017 - By 
data breach litigation

A company is never 100% protected from cybercriminals, hackers and nation-state actors, even with proper security measures.

With technology advancing, so is security, but also, so is cyber crime. Are data breach lawsuits going to be a new precedent?

What is it?

A data breach is an incident that involves the unauthorized or illegal viewing, access or retrieval of data by an individual, application or service. It is a type of security breach specifically designed to steal and/or publish data to an unsecured or illegal location.

In recent news…

To the well known Target Store, one of the largest data breaches in history occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013, just as the busy holiday shopping season was underway.

Information from as many as 40 million credit and debit cards was stolen.

Investigators believe the thieves captured the information by installing software on payment terminals customers used to swipe their payment cards at checkout.

Nearly all of Target’s 1,797 stores in the United States were affected.

At least 15 lawsuits were filed by the end of 2013, seeking millions of dollars in damages. The harm was so widespread that the Department of Justice began its own investigation into the breach.

Many of the major data breaches that have occurred within the past few years have faced class-action lawsuits and then settled, never facing time in court.

This is likely because the company that was breached has no defense, like in the case of Target, and settling allows the company to move forward quickly and maybe escape the media spotlight.

Future precedent?

According to various reports, incidences of data breaches and their corresponding litigation are rising by 25 to 30 percent every year.

High-profile lawsuits involving companies such as Target, eBay, and Home Depot have drawn attention to the issue. One Rhode Island attorney says the lawsuits will keep coming this year as plaintiffs lawyers try out new theories of liability.

The precedent set in the Circuit Court could mean more data breach lawsuits will be filed in the future, regardless of whether or not the customer or employee data has been exploited, leading to even higher data breach costs for enterprises.

Who can help

Data breach lawyers have extensive experience in protecting against data breach liability, formulating responses to data breaches, and protecting and advising companies that have been a victim of a data breach. Data breach attorneys can help you with:

  • Data breach liability analysis;
  • Data breach response plans;
  • Compliance with state data breach law;
  • Compliance with international data breach law;
  • Data breach notifications; and
  • Data breach litigation

So…

It doesn’t look good.

Whether hackers are looking for credit card numbers in poorly guarded point-of-sale systems or searching for personally identifiable information in the next vulnerable technology, the influx of data breaches continues and the lawsuits show no signs of slowing down.

To avoid being a victim of data breaching, I’ll leave you with a list of ways to stay safe:

  1. Institute end-user awareness policy
  2. Craft an encryption policy
  3. Install intrusion detection and prevention
  4. STOP drive-by downloads
  5. Perform regular vulnerability assessments
  6. Employ inside prevention monitoring
  7. Back it up!

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Car Accident Got You Down? How an Attorney Can Help

February 8, 2017 - By 
Car Accident

Getting into a car accident is one of the scariest things many people face. It might seem trivial to some, but look at it from another perspective.

Your 4,000-pound metal vehicle just smashed into another 4,000 pounds of steel. That’s nothing to scoff at, and obviously, has the potential to cause bodily harm.

In the aftermath of an automotive accident, most people are just thankful to have survived.

We often see people so shaken by their accidents that they forget all about insurance claims and medical bills.

This is what really comes back to haunt people after a crash. Your broken ankle will heal, but the bills don’t magically disappear.

If you thinking, “This will never happen to me,” you’re not being realistic. Insurance companies estimate that you’ll file a collision claim once every 17.9 years.

It’s important to understand how an experienced car accident attorney can help mitigate your bills after an accident.

Reach Out

The first step in mitigating your bills is finding an accident attorney. It sounds simple, but not every attorney is reputable.

They also aren’t all experienced in your particular area. Hiring a large firm has benefits, but local attorneys usually have working relationships with local courts.

Our recommendation is hiring a local law firm if possible. This way you get the best of both worlds.

Once you’ve found potential lawyers, reach out to them.

Most attorneys offer free consultations where they’ll decide if your case is worth taking, and explain to you what legal battles you’re facing.

What Can An Attorney Do?

An experienced auto accident attorney focuses primarily on determining fault, suing if necessary, and handling your insurance company.

Once you’ve hired an attorney, there are certain steps both yourself and you counsel will take to ensure your fair treatment.

The first thing any attorney does is get all of the details from the accident. They’ll want to know everything you remember and eventually will reconstruct the accident to prove you’re at no fault.

This is very important because fault helps determine what your insurance company is willing to pay. It also plays a part in potential court proceedings.

If your attorney finds that you’re not at fault for the accident, the next step is determining what the other party’s insurance company is willing to pay.

We won’t sugar coat it, they usually make a lowball offer. Sometimes in “no fault” states, the other person’s insurance isn’t liable for more than a certain amount.

If their insurance company refuses to pay (and they’re within their legal rights), then your attorney will file a lawsuit against the other person involved.

These lawsuits primarily cover medical bills, so don’t feel bad about suing. You don’t want to drown in medical debt because of an accident that you didn’t cause.

That’s not just, and most people on the other side of the matter understand this.

An attorney’s final job is to advise you until any lawsuits conclude. The advice can cover anything from worker compensation questions, to when to take a settlement.

If you’re hurt in an auto accident, don’t hesitate to call an attorney. Your rights and your wallet deserve experienced legal representation.


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