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California Desert Trial Academy College Of Law

The CDTA: Still In Business And Going Strong!

The CDTA: Still In Business And Going Strong!

As the California Desert Trial Academy College of Law’s (CDTA) founder and dean, John Patrick Dolan discussed the state of the practice of law with legendary trial attorneys, F. Lee Bailey and Gerry Spence, the three discovered that young lawyers and current law school graduates were lacking the advocacy skills necessary for effectively asserting the rights of clients. Because of these conversations, John Patrick Dolan and Irene Garcia Dolan were inspired to start the California Desert Trial Academy with an emphasis on teaching students the practice of law, rather than just the knowledge of the law. The result is students who develop into...

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Five Things To Avoid During A Hearing

Five Things To Avoid During A Hearing

Whether it is the first time or the hundredth time, it is an exhilarating and nerve-wracking experience to walk into a court hearing. On one hand, an attorney’s attention is directed at asserting and protecting the rights of his or her client. On the other, he or she must act within the decorum required by the court and avoid any mistakes that may be detrimental to a case’s outcome. No lawyer is invulnerable to mistakes but some mistakes are more detrimental than others. The following lists five things that any attorney should avoid when handling a hearing, whether live and in-person...

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The Top Five Qualities That Produce The Best Job Performance

The Top Five Qualities That Produce The Best Job Performance

What do those office managers and upper-level executives – and senior law partners  - want in an employee – and associate? Of course, this may differ by industry and job, yet many desirable qualities are universal in any type of worker for any type of job. It is important to note that these qualities are not necessarily the same qualities that provide success in an academic setting. Many academics and scholars believe that a person’s grade point average (GPA) is not a strong predictor of job performance because it is not a true indicator of intelligence. Business organizations, including law firms,...

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Principles Of Professional Conduct – Dividing Fees With Other Lawyers

Principles Of Professional Conduct – Dividing Fees With Other Lawyers

Complicated issues may arise when attorneys from different firms must divide or split fees from clients. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5.1 applies to fee divisions among lawyers in California. However, a successor attorney and prior attorney are not bound by the fee-division rules outlined in Rule 1.5.1 as this rule solely addresses situations where two lawyers from different firms handle a case concurrently. The Model Rules of Professional Conduct define a division of a fee as “a single billing to a client covering the fee of two or more lawyers who are not in the same firm.” California Rule of Professional Conduct...

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Legal Malpractice Traps, Part Two

Legal Malpractice Traps, Part Two

The following are some common malpractice traps that most attorneys may avoid if they exercise due care and consideration. Ignorance of insurance coverage While attorneys are charged with a duty to advise their clients on the insurance coverage potentially available in a matter, many fail to request and review their client’s insurance policies to conduct a complete coverage analysis. Most attorneys ignore coverage issues assuming that if the insurance carrier accepts the duty to defend, the carrier will retain other counsel to defend the client. If an attorney fails to review an insurance policy and the client expends substantial sums of attorney’s...

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Legal Malpractice Traps, Part One

Legal Malpractice Traps, Part One

We all make mistakes. Even attorneys. Even the best attorneys. Fortunately, most mistakes do not rise to the level of legal malpractice. But there are other problematic attorney practices and habits that often lead to malpractice grievances and claims. The following are some common malpractice traps that most attorneys may avoid if they take the simple, requisite consideration. Poor communication with clients This is the biggest complaint that disgruntled clients typically state when deposed as a plaintiff in a legal malpractice claim. Attorneys must frequently communicate with and provide regular updates to clients personally and not through staff or junior associates. Attorneys...

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Principles Of Professional Conduct – Relationships with Clients

Principles Of Professional Conduct – Relationships with Clients

While lawmakers and courts have ruled that sex with a client during the course of a professional relationship is unethical, many lawyers have continued the practice resulting in state bars frequently taking disciplinary measures against lawyers who engage in sexual relations with clients. Many attorneys believe that what happens between two consenting adults is no business of the State Bar or anyone else. Prior to the 2018 changes to the California Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers in California were banned from engaging in a sexual relationship with a client only if it was an exchange for representation or if it involved...

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Writing Your Office Manual As A Sole Practitioner

Writing Your Office Manual As A Sole Practitioner

For sole practitioners, preparing and maintaining a manual of office policies and procedures is an essential part of any law practice. While it may not be the most compelling literary exercise, the alternative is unthinkable. Anything but a well-drafted manual makes a law firm susceptible to all types of legal claims while providing little guidance to employees regarding their important work-related responsibilities. Taking all the requisite time to formulate and draft an effective office policies and procedures manual avoids countless future misunderstandings, disagreements, and failures. Law firms that have a clear, comprehensive manual will create and facilitate the reliability of employees...

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Utilizing Support Personnel: The Interpreter

Utilizing Support Personnel: The Interpreter

Legal support workers assist lawyers in the many tasks that sustain the functioning of a law firm. There are also many “support” workers such as court reporters and interpreters that are typically independent contractors who assist lawyers as well. While court reporters are exclusively found in courtrooms and deposition rooms, interpreters are common in legal, medical, and immigration settings. However, interpreters who work in a legal context are set apart because of strict ethical and professional standards. Legal interpretation is divided into two main categories, judicial (court interpreting) and quasi-judicial (interpreting in other legal settings). Judiciary interpreters work in courtrooms and...

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Lawyers As Caregivers: Ensuring Client Satisfaction

Lawyers As Caregivers: Ensuring Client Satisfaction

Lawyers are hired to perform services for clients. Whether these services involve drafting a will, negotiating a contract, or providing representation in a criminal defense or personal injury matter, attorneys must do more than perform the task at hand, they must satisfy clients. Most clients perceive hiring an attorney as an act that has serious ramifications, thus requiring attorneys to possess skills that nurture clients over the course of, and often after, an attorney’s representation. Most people do not look forward to an office visit with an attorney. It is perceived as an experience that requires considerable valuable resources such as...

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