In the last truly substantive post from us, Bill shared more tips on how to avoid an ethics complaint in Georgia. He wisely advised Georgia lawyers to make sure they use written representation agreements, close out client matters with a high degree of formality, and to make absolutely sure they set up and maintain their trust accounts properly.
To keep with this advice, here are some tools Georgia lawyers can use. A written representation agreement likely exists as a form document on lawyers’ computers, where all it takes is a few keystrokes to generate what the two parties intend. Using the power of word processing programs like Microsoft Word, lawyers can have document assembly templates built in practice management systems to pull client information and representation details into the document at will. No need to just copy and paste anymore. Common practice managers, particularly for smaller law offices include Clio, CosmoLex, MyCase, Practice Panther, RocketMatter, and many, many more. They all have some level of document assembly capability.
Look out for services like DocuSign to manage electronic signatures. These programs and their tracking features can mean having both signatures – yours and your client’s – added to agreements easily and securely. You can even do digital signatures in Microsoft Word. Check out the instructions for adding a digital signature in Microsoft Office files here https://bit.ly/2XaIR91.
Client matter files are now found online in the same practice management systems we keep referencing. They provide client portals for distribution of client documents and information. So when you generate the final bill and the final letter advising of completing a matter, your “closing” of the file can easily be seen in the client’s portal area. Some portals’ ability to create folders within the areas would mean lawyers could have folders for “Open” or “Active Matters” and “Closed Matters.”
The final advice about trust accounting leads us to making sure you use trust accounting software and the attendant reporting systems found in these programs to generate the proper records and tracking of client funds. Again, in practice managers, you can track client trust deposits, withdrawals, and payments to third parties. The reports from these programs can help you reconcile the trust account each month. Natalie’s department can help you with the proper setup, and provide you a booklet for further guidance.
Bill & Natalie