Popular Threads - May 2020

Adding Signature Image to Word Doc

I am trying to streamline some procedures and reduce paper.

Currently, I dictate letters to one of my staff and they type, print and put in my inbox for review. I make changes (usually in pen or another dictation), they redo it, then I sign. Then they scan and email/fax/mail.

Not good.

The plan is that I would dictate, they prepare the document and email me. I pull it up from electronic file and make any necessary changes, then copy my signature onto the document and it can be converted to PDF and emailed/faxed or printed for mailing if necessary.

Question - what is the easiest way to place my signature onto the document?

Usually I cut and paste it from another pdf letter. This takes some time, with opening the other pdf, then placing and resizing the image.

Is there a way to save the image into Microsoft Word so I just have to type a shortcut? What about a Macro? I thought about the built-in clipboard, but it appears the items in the clipboard disappear every time a document is closed, so that won't work.

Thanks.

The way I do it is, many years ago, I had both my signature and my writing "Mike" turned into a custom font, so I can plunk it into any document by choosing the "MAKSignature" font and typing a capital or lowercase "A". What I like about that approach, versus a scanned signature, is that it is a vector graphic and never looks pixelated. In WordPerfect, I have it set to a QuickWord called "/sign". I am sure something of the sort could be done in Word as well.

In Acrobat, I have my signature (and my initials) set up as a stamp, so that I can just choose Stamps/Signatures and add it easily to the document. Those are scanned copies, so look a bit more pixelated than the font, but work great.

In your case, the latter is probably the simplest solution: staff sends you a Word document, you approve, save as PDF, add your signature as a stamp, then send back to staff for transmission. That way the PDF is of better quality than a scan. You also have the option of using a utility called "Flatten" which merges the signature with the underlying graphic, to make it a bit more secure: that does the same thing that printing it to a second PDF would.

Michael A. Koenecke, Texas

Try here:

https://www.docsketch.com/online-signature/

https://createmysignature.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PRJd-_iVqQ

Seth Combs, Kentucky

Creating a signature - my simple method is I scanned an image of my "best" signature to a .jpg (picture) file, and edited it to just include the signature. I saved it in the directory where MS Word looks for images that you want to insert into documents. Then, I insert the image, change the "wrap" to "behind text", and move it to where I want it to be in the document. Done. Easy peasy. Convert the signed document to .pdf and away you go!

Kristi A. Bodin, Massachusetts

That's exactly what I do as well

Seth Combs

I have the same question, but not for Word, but for Google Docs. Any techies that can address that one?

John Helmers

Thank you all for the responses. These are exactly the simple solutions I was looking for. I have saved my signature as an image to insert to a word document.

Looking forward to less paper stacked on my desk!!

Marshall D. Chriswell, Pennsylvania

Rather than saving it as a JPG file, open it in a good graphics editing program, like GIMP, change the file type to PNG, change the background to transparent, and save it. Place the picture as recommended below. That way, if you have any descenders in your signature, they can overlap signature lines. I primarily used a vector file that I had digitized for Acrobat Pro many years ago, but this method works fine for Word.

Mike Phillips, North Carolina

I did what Kristi did to create the signature document. Then I assigned a shortcut in ActiveWords to open the document containing the signatures when I need it. I assume that a macro could be created to open the signature document quickly, if you don't use ActiveWords or an equivalent. The key is not to have to search for the signature document, but to have it easily and quickly available when needed.

I also like the idea of creating an Adobe Acrobat stamp with my signature, and I am going to try that for pdfs.

Caroline A. Edwards, Pennsylvania

How Do You respond to "How can you as a [_X_] lawyer do this despicable [_Y_] thing?"

I'm curious, how do you respond (politely) to a colleague/etc. who calls into question your personal belief or action because of your profession, where "X" is your area of practice and "Y" is your use of a ubiquitous product or service? E.g., "Why would you pay for lunch with your Visa card when you sue credit card companies?", or "How can you post on Facebook when you're a privacy rights advocate?"

Actually, those are valid questions. I get "How can you defend a guilty person?"

I respond that defending a guilty person is relatively easy - you put the prosecution to its proof, make sure your client doesn't get steamrollered, vigorously advocate, and leave it up to a jury. The HARD part is representing an innocent person. Those are the cases that keep you up at night.

Russ Carmichael, Pennsylvania

The response is, well it isn't an all or nothing world.

Yes, you can be a privacy advocate, you can even think that Facebook needs to up its privacy and yes you can still use them.

Because it is not all or nothing.

Also, that argument is that because someone acted badly or wrongfully in one instance doesn't mean they are completely irredeemable and without merit. The legal system is not about lawyers eschewing everything else in the word. It is about when there is a problem, helping to solve it

Erin M. Schmidt. Ohio

(1) As someone who does work in this area, I understand the risks and benefits involved in such, and take that into account when engaging in such activity.

(2) In order to properly understand and represent my clients, I have to continue to be familiar with practices in this field. If I were to discontinue doing so, my direct knowledge would become obsolete and my ability to do my job would be impeded.

(3) I am not morally against any of these products/services/platforms existing. I just want to make sure that that client/customer/user rights are respected, and the work I do furthers that purpose.

Cynthia V. Hall, Florida

"I won't tell you how to live your life. Please don't tell me how to live my life."

Or the less polite "Go screw yourself, jerk."

Jonathan Stein, California

I also like to tell people who ask this, "guilty of what? Have they been overcharged?" And sometimes it is more effective to remind people that defense lawyers defend the Constitution when they represent someone who appears to be guilty.

If the person is truly guilty of a heinous crime, the prosecution will be able to prove it. And if there's some doubt, well, that's why we have a Constitution.

Wendy Lascher, California

I get sick unto death of layfolk who say, unable to bolster whatever point they're failing to make or position they're failing to defend, "Well, ^I'm^ not thinking like a _lawyer_." So if the question is "How can you _as_a_lawyer_ do/believe/think X?" that's different from the more general question of "How can you _X_ when you ^Y^?"

Similar to the Schopenhauer resource I shared the other day, both of these questions are perhaps best understood through the lens of Suzette Elgin's "Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" books. While it might seem that a substantive question is being asked, effectively a judgment is being rendered, and one from which there is no rational appeal, and, worse, trying to have a meta-discussion about the gap between the apparent inquiry and the effective judgment only makes matters worse. 

Elgin discusses potential counters to this kind of thing, and they all fit under the heading of "don't play along."

But before Elgin came along, Emerson had your back: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

Robert Thomas Hayes Link, California

I had a FB friend comment on a post related to COVID 19 that because I was a lawyer that I belonged to a particular political party and believed X about issue Y. Only about 2-3 close people know what I believe about Y. I have never commented or posted about it before. He is now a former FB friend.

Eric C. Davis, Alabama

I like none of your business.

As for guilt, I was once asked if I thought OJ was guilty. When I said no, the person asked how I could believe he didn't do it. I told that person that I didn't say I didn't believe he didn't do it. I said that I didn't think he was guilty. The State could not prove what it charged him with.

Mitchell P. Goldstein, Virginia

The billboard for this local attorney has had its share of attention:

https://www.overlawyered.com/2015/03/just-because-you-did-it-doesnt-mean-youre-guilty/

Res ipsa loquitur.

Richard J. Rutledge, Jr., North Carolina

A lawyer ought not ask that question because we are all supposedly educated in the notion that everyone deserves representation, and no assumption should be made about the character of one who represents a client accused of a crime or a company which engages in legal, but perhaps distasteful conduct.

My response, were I to be asked that question by a fellow practitioner is "easy" and no further answer forthcoming.

Barry Kaufman, Florida

Hmm.. by the questioner's logic (if you can call it that), anyone who did car accident cases wouldn't drive, anyone who did med mal wouldn't see a doctor, anyone who did employment cases would work for themselves. We enforce and protect rights when someone breaks the rules. It doesn't mean all credit cards are bad, etc.

Altho.. hmm... since I do Elder Law... I think I'll never get old !

Michael D. Caccavo, Vermont

Outdoor Law Office

So, since the weather in my neck of the woods has finally been improving, and idea came to me the other day that a friend of mine also thought of because he actually went through with it (and people say I'm crazy!)

If you're worried about clients coming into your office, my idea was this:

1) Get a small canopy tent, the type you would use for a backyard event or party.

2) Get a folding table and some folding chairs.

3) Run an extension cord for electronic devices.

Put it all in the parking lot or front lawn of your office building. This way, clients can stop by to sign documents in the fresh air and observe social distancing. You'll be able to keep your phone and laptop charged and if you can log on to your wifi from outside, even better.

I'd go one step further and add a banner advertising your law office to hang from the tent or table, so passersby can see your information. I ordered one from Vistaprint recently because they were having a sale. I'm going to use it at least for my wall behind me when I appear on Zoom. I'm a big fan of inexpensive advertising because normally it's so expensive.

If anyone goes through with it, I'd like to hear your results!

I might do it soon myself depending on much longer the emergency lasts.

Jason T. Komninos, New Jersey

Is a regular weekend spot at the local flea market next? :)

Geoff Wiggs, California

I cannot speak to the banners and balloons, but some estate planning attorneys in this area have stayed open during this disaster and have had their documents signed and witnessed in exactly this manner. 

Parking lot, tent and folding chairs. Do you know how hot it is in a tent in southwest Florida when the temperature outside is 91.

Danny E. Meek, Florida

We've been doing our signings outside (on the sidewalk outside the office) for the past 2 weeks. All meetings have been on the phone or video.

Cynthia V. Hall, Florida

We've had a few 'parking lot' signings during this crisis, mostly deeds or POA's, nothing that required much time to sit and explain. The first few times we did it, we had snow flurries!

Now that the weather has broken, I was actually considering a folding table in the parking lot. But Tuesday our governor said we can reopen and see clients on a limited basis, so I guess I won't have to try that.

Michael D. Caccavo, Vermont

Were you drinking when this idea came to you about an outdoors office?

Jim Winiarski 

No...is it that bad of an idea? It beats not getting paid or not resolving cases...

Jason T. Komninos

I love it! I have a very high traffic site....This will get attention and free advertising.

Rinky S. Parwani, Florida

I think it's certainly an idea worth exploring (i.e. try it a few times and see if it works). I mean that sincerely and not as a politically-correct way of saying it's a lousy idea. Things are starting to re-open in California also. Some people are going to rush back in to restaurants, stores, etc. The more prudent course, I think, is to do gradually resume our former lives, just in case corona virus makes a resurgence. During this transition period, there will be a lot of improvisation. It's not like we need an operating room to do our work in.

I analogize this to those pop-up tax booths at Walmart run by Jackson Hewitt and other similar companies. There are desks and booths to try and give some semblance of privacy. Privacy and confidentiality are going to be your big problem, I think. Parking lots are big so maybe that will allow for more spacing than inside a Walmart.

My office in Modesto sort of lends itself to such an idea. The building used to be a house ages ago so there's a big deck outside that has power and Wi-Fi. In the evening, there's about 2 hours of light without heat.

Prior to corona virus, I was planning on getting a big patio umbrella and sticking a desk out there.

Andy I. Chen, California

For client meetings, we are doing them with Zoom.

 For signings, we are putting client chairs outside our office. We are putting a rolling table in the doorway of our office so that clients do not need to enter the office. We are wearing gloves, masks, and have single-use ink strips for fingerprints when we notarize a signature. 

It's working, but wow is this strange !

Linda Silveria, California

I know we are now allowed to somewhat resume, but Michael, isn't it a good excuse to enjoy this lovely weather while doing the signing! We'll have snow flurries again soon enough. __ Have a great holiday weekend!

Tammy A. Heffernan, Vermont

How does the idea satisfy the requirement for client confidentiality? I'm not allowed to tell others that (Famous Person) is my client, but then ask him/her to do a consultation in a public place in full view of anyone passing by? 

Curtis Drew, Arizona

It seems like the appropriate steps to take regarding where to meet where confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship is concerned is somewhat fact specific. If your client is (Famous Person) and the fact that you are doing a consult for them is something that needs to remain confidential, you could go a few steps further and ask whether you should meet with them at a standalone office that has your firm name plastered over the doors, as someone might see them going inside from the street.

This does seem like something I'd consider adding to my consult/engagement agreement, though. "I understand that due to COVID 19 we are meeting outside, I understand there is some risk that people will know I'm seeing an attorney for a will but agree to accept that risk as being outweighed by the benefit I receive where the alternative is forgoing a consultation altogether, etc."

Noel French, Michigan

For outdoor signings (which is what I indicated my firm is doing, and what Danny made reference to), it is up to the client as to whether they want for us to do the signing at all, and as long as they understand the circumstances, they can consent to it. Plenty of clients, usually those who are not in my local area, have me prepare the document then find their own witnesses and notary and execute it themselves. I prepared documents for a client in a nursing facility a few weeks ago, and she wasn't able to get them signed there. We can't (and even if we could, we wouldn't) go in there and conduct the signing, and they wouldn't bring her outside. In the end, she was released, and a family member brought her by the office on the way home and she stayed in her car to sign (and was apparently quite chipper for it.) You do the best you can in times like these.

As I mentioned, I am not doing actual substantive consultations outdoors, just document executions, which, in Florida, still require live witnesses and a live notary (live notary really only for another 2 weeks or so.) Virus transmission with more recent reports seems to be predominantly in close quarters and confined spaces. I'm trying to protect my employees here.

Substantive consultations are almost entirely by phone and Zoom only for now. That is difficult for clients who are hard of hearing, and my associate has taken a consultation for such person in the office.

Cynthia V. Hall

Remote Law Practice?

Are there any issues with this? Where the attorney and clients don't physically meet, and do everything through email, phone, and video conferencing. I'm thinking along the lines of say, immigration law or estate planning, anything outside of actual litigation.

Would such a remote law practice have any ethical issues?

Considering I have been doing this for 16+ years, I sure hope not!

Jonathan Stein, California

I rarely meet clients, only if we actually have to be in court or a hearing. Everything is by mail, email, phone

Erin M. Schmidt, Ohio

There are no ethical issues per se. I suspect that the only communications I have had with the majority of my clients in the past few years have been by email. I had two new literary clients call me this week to speak by telephone, and I noticed that this was unusual for my practice.

Bert Krages, Oregon

I have practiced "remotely" (i.e. without a physical office other than an office in my house) for the last 11+ years. Over the past few months, I've actually seen more of my client's faces because suddenly everyone wants a video call. I rarely, if ever, meet clients in person, so the pandemic really hasn't changed my practice at all.

There is no requirement of face-to-face communication with a client.

However, when working remotely you do need to think through data privacy and security issues, particularly if you are hosting client information in the cloud. And you also have to make sure that you ARE communicating, even if such communication is not in person.

Kevin Grierson, Virginia

I too have many, many clients that I never meet in person and many I never see either. I've had no real issues. 99% of the matters involve phone calls and emails. For my practice, many of my clients are out of state, or fairly far away. In fact, I have one in California and one in Oregon. I've had several overseas - as far away as Afghanistan. I've just never had any issues with it. 

I sometimes have to travel though and finally meet the clients. Some do get nervous if meetings are done over the phone so I may travel but I caution them that I do charge for travel time, but it's 1/2 price. I have a lot of clients in DC and I don't charge for travel to DC because that's where the market for my services is. Plus, I have a free place to stay. 

I also use Regus offices. For $15/month I have an office anywhere in the country if I need it. I use the Bethesda, MD Regus office a lot and they know me up there pretty well. But if I need to take a depo in Denver, I just reserve a room with them. I find it best to take my office basically with me (i.e. this computer), and just go to the local Regus and set up shop there for a week. I tried a case in Dallas, TX just like that. Was able to work remotely from there on all of my cases that week. Lots of fun. I've even thought about just being mobile and work remotely from strange places and travel around the country while doing so. Might be fun. 

Sterling L. DeRamus, Alabama

There might be an issue if you are in a different state than where you want to practice, but that varies by state. For example, I am licensed in both Nebraska and New York. My office is in Nebraska. By New York law, I cannot practice in New York unless I have a physical office. Though, if I had a physical office in New York, I suppose I could probably practice remotely.

Bradley H. Supernaw, Nebraska

Erin -- Would you now consider Zoom video calls with clients? (I assume the answer is yes, but I ask because this period has possibly expanded the "acceptable" ways we interact with others.)

Clayton T. Robertson, California

Many of my clients both in the past and present are not that great with technology.

I can certainly do video calls (and have done a few in the past)

Erin M. Schmidt

I do it all the time. Have never met many of my clients. Always, not just since COVID.

Shell Bleiweiss, Illinois

I rarely meet my clients who are all over the country and the world, but make an effort to see the creative ones in their own work spaces, because that teaches me a lot about them and their mindset. I do encourage phone calls because that creates more of a personal connection and trust with the client. 

Sterling mused about a truly mobile office; apparently there are attorneys who live and practice on boats and in RVs - I first heard about them on this Listserve! I am researching and streamlining my practice towards the latter, because then I can take my race car with me and see my kids more often, but it takes a lot of research to make a big change like that. 

Flann Lippincott, New Jersey

I've been doing this for 6 years. If I need to meet a client, there are places to meet.

Barry Kaufman, Florida

Here's a potential wrinkle some of us might run into. How do you know the clients are who they say they are?

For many purposes it won't directly matter - you can draw up a contract for Barney Rubble as easily as you can for John Smith - it's just a name. For bankruptcy purposes, our trustees holding telephonic meetings have asked Debtor's counsel if they have met with their clients and verified the license matches the person in front of them. Theoretically this could also be done via Zoom or other videoconferencing. Since the trustee cannot visually compare the license to the Debtor appearing telephonically, they are relying on counsel as officers of the court to provide that verification.

Corrine Bielejeski, California

Often times we are using other documents that verify. In a SSA practice, for example, SSA will tell me if the name, DOB, and SSA do not match. Plus, I am getting medical records that have info in it and often somewhat of physical description (age, height, weight and so forth). Also, sometimes pictures.

Of you do have this issue, it is fairly easy to have your client take a picture of their ID and text, email, fax it to you

Erin M. Schmidt

Good point Corrine, and something that I keep in mind. Most of my clients come from client referrals, or a few attorneys who know me. If the client is a business then I check on that. I also check their address; but frankly in my practice I see no reason for a client to pretend they are someone else. 

Flann Lippincott

I've begun Zoom calls, if nothing else but to reassure clients about an upcoming hearing. Seems to settle their emotions about court.

I have only had a downtown office for 20 years but since March have practiced from home. Just as busy, more clients. I'm learning.

Reta McKannan, Alabama

I am working on becoming more remote for estate planning. Most of my clients are elderly and many don’t use zoom. Some all emails go to a child. So at some point I need to meet my client. I feel like I need to have some face to face with every client. How do you do an estate plan without ever meeting your client? I often gather information from the third party or one spouse and feel the need to see the person and the nonverbal communication is there a way to solve this?

Martha Jo Patterson, California

You can do that just be minimizing the number of times to meet with the client. For example, you likely need to meet to sign documents, but is it necessary to meet to do the info gathering on every client?

Of course, some you will especially if there is concern that children or someone may be influencing the client inappropriately,

Erin M. Schmidt

That is what I am starting to do.

Martha Jo Patterson

In Ohio, with executing a will the witnesses must be in the presence of the testator to see him/her sign, and the testator must physically watch the witnesses then sign. Can't Zoom a will execution in Ohio. Whitacre v Crowe, 2012-Ohio-2981 App. 9 Dist. 2012.

Julie Mills, Ohio

In person witnesses and notary required in California too. Jonathan how do you handle your signings?

Martha Jo Patterson

I thought Ohio allows remote Notarization but won't work for will?

Nicholas I. Fuerst, Arizona

Remote notarization does not solve the problem with a valid will execution requiring witnesses to be "in the presence" of the testator.

Deborah Matthews, Virginia

Nicholas—yes, I was only considering Will signings. Remote notarizing is permissible in Ohio.

Julie Mills

Vermont has enacted emergency legislation to allow remote notarization and witnessing of wills and durable powers of attorney. The rules aren't perfect - but they are only temporary. I'm in hopes that when we (the bar and the legislature) have some time, we can thoughtfully come up with legislation that will allow it in general. I think it could open up remote practice quite a bit.

I'm always hesitant to just send documents off with instructions on how to sign.

Michael D. Caccavo, Vermont

Ohio's bill has stalled. For now, it's "Porch Signings."

Julie Mills

Although I generally don't worry about a potential client pretending to be someone else, we do have fairly thorough "know your client" rules. For example, with small companies we generally attempt to determine the principals, and run the names of both the company and the individuals through the OFAC Sanctions Search to make sure we are not assisting someone who is not authorized to do business in the US.

Kevin Grierson

That's my worry about a remote law practice for estate planning. How can you determine if the person is who they say they are? How can you determine whether or not the person has legal capacity?

Would videoconference be "good enough"?

Oscar Acuna

Yeah, I think it would be difficult to do T&E work without meeting your clients at least occasionally. Of course, you don't need an actual office to meet clients. You could go to them in their homes. You could also keep a Regus or similar type office so you have a conference room when you need one. Our firm's brick and mortar locations are all Regus offices.

Kevin Grierson

I've been doing it for 20 years and moving around the world. You want the client to know, to avoid giving a wrong impression.

You need a client base comfortable with working through tech, rather than in person.

I did international business transactions, immigration, government contracting, and even litigation, provided it's the paper shuffling kind.

I've rep'd clients in federal administrative litigation.

Feel free to email me off line if you would like to discuss the ins and outs of a remote (and even portable) law practice.

Vonda Wolcott

I’ll admit I’m an old timer. Would not think of operating a practice out of anywhere other than an established office. I do think a lot depends on the type of law and the age of your clients. Mine is primarily estate planning, probate, real estate and elder law. I feel it is very important to meet with clients in a professional setting. I also think control is an important issue, and should not be turned over to clients. The idea of meeting with clients in a restaurant or at their home bothers me greatly. When I have met with clients in their home, I notice they are much more in charge. Yes, I use email, modern electronics, computers and related items. But there is nothing like meeting in person with clients at my office

Jim Winiarski

Is there any reason that video conference wouldn't be equivalent to, rather than just "good enough," for determining whether a client is who they say they are? You could use the same methods to determine their identity - collect whatever information you need, check a state ID, etc. - over video that you could in person. Using video for determining competency might be less equivalent.

To the general question, my practice is 99% remote since COVID. The 1% is because the post office isn't forwarding my mail like they should be so I still need to go into the office to check it. I was trying to move it that way anyway and was about 60% of the way there already. Personally, I expect COVID to be a persistent if perhaps seasonal problem until there's widespread vaccination and plan to social distance as appropriate until then, but even if COVID is solved tomorrow I'm planning on staying remote for a lot of other reasons. There's a lot of benefits to being remote first, and I don't think there's much benefit to my particular practice in meeting clients in person. I might lose some clients who really, really want face to face time with their lawyer, but I'm ok with that.

Noel French, Michigan

My experience isn't typical, for several reasons, but here goes:

I moved my office home in 2008, so I've been comfortable working from home for some time. I renovated the second bedroom, which already was a home office for my husband, into one that would accommodate both of us, with sufficient cabinet and drawer space, and a special adjustable desk for me, because I work mostly standing up. I had already gone mostly paperless, scanning everything that came in, and maintaining pdf files of whatever I created in addition to the native file format, keeping very little on paper. So over the years, I am left with about 2 small cartons of legacy paper files and one drawer of remaining paper files that are being reduced as time goes by and my need to keep them drops. Normally, after every tax date, a shredding truck comes to my building and there is a shredding event, but of course, that hasn't happened this year. BTW, my beloved husband of over 31 years died the following year, so I've now had that office and my home all to myself for a long time now. During this CV-19 time, I take zoom meetings from about 4 different locations in my home.

My correspondence with clients and OC has been by email, including document exchange. I rarely meet clients, even in better times, except for real estate closings and will document executions. I actually had a real estate closing after the PA lock-down, but I did not attend; I represented the buyer and had ordered title insurance through a trusted title agent, who took care of the settlement and closing documents executions. I have yet to meet the buyer, with whom I've had long and warm conversations and emails.

Many of my clients, including EP clients are close to my age (did I mention that I'm 79?), and haven't been technology averse at all. All other clients come to me through email or telephone. I haven't had any EP clients since CV-19, so haven't had to deal with execution of documents, but have heard from fellow practitioners of very creative driveway executions with the attorney and her paralegal/notary in one car, some witnesses in another, windows open, and the clients seated up the driveway, everyone in sight and hearing of one another, documents having been sent in advance by email and printed out for each to review in advance, and signature pages in hand to be signed by each and then collected for wet notarization, etc.

Luckily, in December I bought a totally new computer all-in-one system with a built-in camera and 21" wide (24" diagonal) screen, large SSD, so it's fast and has great audio and video, and I have a fairly good internet connection - I hope I'm not jinxing myself. As a solo since 1987, I've worked hard at maintaining bar activities and networks, because being a solo is a lonely practice, otherwise. I also mentor public interest lawyers in my practice area at some of the local agencies and law school clinics.

Since I'm "elderly", I am semi-retired, and a member of an organization called Fit in The City (FitC) that has all kinds of social, fitness, wellness and cultural activities. Since the PA lockdown, it has moved entirely to zoom. I really like the social aspects of "seeing" people on zoom at these meetings as well as the Bar Association meeting on zoom, and have also used zoom for dinner with friends.

As a side-bar, some of my family has also had zoom mini-seders on Passover, one family member sadly lost her brother and his funeral was conducted on zoom, with more than 100 people participating.

I also second the suggestion for the ABA Technology Committee and the Senior publications, all of which give great suggestions and support.

The volume of email and filing it has been getting ahead of me, though.

It's really important to maintain outside contacts and to take breaks while WFH, and to take care of yourself. This response has really gone far afield of remote work, but remote work is more than just remote and work.

Miriam N. Jacobson, Pennsylvania

Miriam, so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. Age doesn't matter; it's just not easy. 

Your description of your practice, and your non-practice life, are inspiring. Keep up the great work.

Wendy Lascher, California

Kevin brought up an interesting point earlier this week that I've been meaning to follow up on... what do other folks who handle civil matters do to "know your client"? (I realize that for criminal or family law matters, things like asset searches may be much more common.) Thanks, Amy

Amy A. Breyer, California

Facetime. Zoom. (Skype in the old days) I also make sure I get a copy of their California Driver's License, but that is part of handling PI cases.

And their insurance card.

But, beyond that, and not just for knowing my client, I google their names, run them through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and then run their phone number and email address through Google. You would be surprised what you can find out about a person - and maybe you don't want them as a client.

Jonathan Stein

What’s Your Favorite Call?

My favorites are the Trust and Estate Litigation potentials that call and explain to me that the decedent's family were never there and that the PC

(1) spent all his time with decedent,

(2) spent all his money on decedent,

(3) was decedent's only source of solace - during decedent's final days and decedent always promised he'd take care of them (but never seemed to put anything in writing).

Geoff Wiggs, California

I love the ones where they ask if I can fix something their other lawyer has done / is doing, and not to charge them so much because they already paid the other lawyer.

Murtaza Sutarwalla, Texas

I don't want to waste your time, or I am not asking for free advice. Then they waste my time and ask for free advice.

Andrea Goldman, Massachusetts

Recently I was contacted on a "False Claims Act" claim, screened through a legit bar referral group. The actual issue was a daughter who was upset because a reverse mortgage lender foreclosed several months ago on momma's house. Said daughter had not supported or cared for momma, her sister had. The real deal was she was unhappy not to get a share of the house.

Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

I get a lot of people who ask me how much I charge before even telling me what kind of case they have. Does anyone else get those?

Jason Komninos, New Jersey

Ahhh yesss, now THIS is a thread I can get on board with! There are sooo many of these - I have nicknamed them "torture calls." Where do I start?

Hmm.. two immediately spring to mind:

1. "Do y'all do lemon law cases?" (caller proceeds to describe a scenario where he bought/financed a USED vehicle that's about 8 years old and is now unhappy with the purchase 6mo after purchase) 2. "I need you to draw me up some documents where [PARENT 1] signs over [HIS/HER] rights for [CHILD 1, 2, 3, etc..] to [PARENT 2] --- how much does that cost?" Or another popular variant of this is the "Hey when I pass away, I want to make sure that [FAMILY MEMBER/FRIEND/COLLEAGUE/NEIGHBOR] gets custody of my kids, how much does that cost??" I always like to reiterate that it is 2020 and not 1804 and thus children, as much of a shock as it might come to them, are. not. property!! Nor is there a 'title' to children that would allow them to be freely transferred like a car, real estate, or ATV.

OK now my blood pressure has shot up just by typing those out lol.

E. Seth Combs, Kentucky

"Are yall criminal lawyers?" Well, I think of them as lawyers who handle criminal cases, so yes. Then I said the things noted below.

"Hi, how much do yall charge?" Great that you called. Please tell me what happened to you or what you need a lawyer to handle, and I'll get an estimate from the attorney for you and then we'll make an appointment for you to come in, free of charge, and talk more about it. (I would elicit everything I could from the caller so the boss could give a pretty accurate quote. If it was going to be an hourly billing case, the boss would give me the amount needed to get started and I could explain the rest. We were a pretty well oiled machine, and I was able to get a good 80% of callers to come in. The boss would close the sale.)

"Do yall handle suit cases?" Similar to above.

None of these were annoying, though I did have to remind myself daily that many of these callers had no experience with lawyers. That helped me summon the necessary patience.

Marilou Auer (not a lawyer), Virginia

This reminds me of something that I heard a very long time ago at my very first job. A young woman who was a witness to an auto accident, was trying to tell my boss that she was not going to testify. She was all but shouting over the phone that she was not, no way, no how going to witnify. She would never witnify, ever.

Frank Kautz, Massachusetts

Love it! We had a client return from a monthlong trip to Puerto Rico, her place of origin. She raced into the office and excitedly told our brand new receptionist that she needed to talk with the secretary about her day boast. I recognized her voice. The receptionist had her repeat her request a couple of times and finally came to me and said "Do you know what a Day Boast is?" I said yeah that's the thing you need when you don't like your husband anymore! After that, the receptionist would buzz the appropriate secretary and tell her there was a new day boast on Line 2. I miss that place!

And a new client called one day, mad as a wet hen, complaining that I hadn't sent him a promised email before I left the office the day before like I said I would. I assured him that I had indeed, sent it, around 8 p.m. the day before. He had checked his email at 5 p.m. and assumed I had forgotten. He was very contrite and pleased that we stayed at the office until everything for that day was done. I finished his divorce earlier than promised, and boss and I both got a nice bonus.

Marilou Auer (not a lawyer)

“Somebody stole my idea.”

Flann Lippincott, New Jersey

These were so funny and I thank you because laughter is like gold.

I don’t really have any classics, but I'll play

1. I've been wrongfully terminated - Honey, if you've already figured that out so I can prove it, god bless you.

2. I left my job for 3 months and returned and they wouldn’t give me my job back. Why did you leave? Just to go back to my home country for a visit.

3. When the pandemic started, I called each of my business clients to ask if they had any questions, wanted any support or anything. One kind, old time Greek client responded without missing a beat "wait, they make you do that?" As if it was penance for being an attorney LOL

Tony Minchella, Connecticut

"I need a quick claim deed."

The one I would like to receive is the call from my deceased client's estate attorney about client's will:

"And to my Attorney Jim, I leave $1 million in appreciation for his many years of helpful, professional, personal service."

Jim Pardue, North Carolina

"Can you answer a quick question?"

"Do you give free consultations?"

"What's your hourly rate?"

If the potential client asks this question first, I know who I am dealing with and will adjust my fees accordingly.

Steven Chung, California

LOL @ Jim! I forgot about the classic "quick claim deed" - I get that one frequently as well.

I also enjoy the folks who are adamant about "needing" a deed or a land contract with a level of urgency one might see during an impending nuclear explosion.

Another I enjoy (read: hate) receiving is the caller with an injury case--most usually it's a potential med-mal--in which they spend about 40 minutes telling me the facts and make it a point to abusively repeat the phrase "oh, it's a good case" --- really? if it's so great and good and you know it, then it sounds like you don't need me, buddy!

E. Seth Combs