Six Tech Trends to Know Heading Into the New Year

As we look back at 2016 and gear up for a new year, it’s smart to brush up on new trends in the legal industry. By new trends, I mean new technology, because the terms have become almost synonymous.

Technology has impacted our profession dramatically in recent years, and it continues to do so at an accelerating pace. If you’re not on the technology bandwagon, you and your firm will have a hard time staying afloat.

This fact isn’t a revelation. We’ve known for decades that success in most industries comes down to adopting new technology. But doing so in the legal profession comes with its set of challenges.

First, regulations make change difficult. Second, sometimes it’s hard to know which new products and approaches in the legal industry have value, and which are just hype.

Those challenges aside, firms that don’t embrace technology will have trouble attracting the best new legal talent. The revenue at law firms clinging to old school ways will drop off as a new generation of clients takes their business to new-school, tech-savvy companies.

What does it take to join the ranks of the new-school? There are six major trends to be aware of going into 2017.

Social networks

Social networking is the cornerstone of legal industry marketing. This fact shouldn’t be a surprise. Rainmaking has always been about networking, relationship building and word of mouth. It still is; these techniques in their offline form still build practices. But if you’re not working the online component, too, you’re at a catastrophic disadvantage.

Social media has become a factor in how clients choose attorneys, according to a survey taken this year by FindLaw. In 2017, take steps to ramp up your social presence on your website and blog, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Doing so will maximize your online presence and help you grow relationships over time.

Your clients, prospects, and leads are online and checking social media regularly. Being part of the social media landscape isn’t hard, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Invest in expert help this year. Set a goal to get your social marketing plan up and running in 2017.

Virtual Law Firms

These are firms that can operate anywhere: A lawyer’s home, a satellite office, even from inside a Starbucks. Many lawyers have closed their downtown offices and work remotely. Technology lets them do this without hurting service or quality. Remote work can reduce overhead and travel time while increasing flexibility and improving work/life balance. Plus, you have the option to rent offices or meeting rooms as needed.

The leap to virtual doesn’t have to happen overnight. Experiment by working remotely one day a week and see how it impacts your productivity and revenue. It may very well provide the edge your firm needs to succeed in 2017.


Electronically stored information (ESI) is now considered discoverable in court. ESI includes e-mails, texts, instant messages, voicemails and other electronically stored information. What you need to know: This technological reality has changed the face of litigation. Lawyers can (and should) use digital services to access all types of records. And we need to remind our clients that their deleted texts and e-mails are retrievable.

Legal process outsourcing

Outsourcing legal work to a vendor, law firm or overseas resource has become an increasingly favorable trend for law firms. Streamlined by new technology, LPO continues to cut expenses and reduce workload overflow. It can be a huge factor in scaling your business and managing workflow. LPO technology firms that market to the legal industry are on the rise. They’ll be coming after you in 2017 to present their case. When they do, listen.

Reviews and testimonials

Adding positive reviews to Google+, Yelp and Avvo is critical to growing your business and managing your reputation. 72 percent of consumers said they trusted companies more when they have positive customer reviews, according to a BrightLocal survey in 2014. The number of people reading online reviews is increasing, so take steps to post reviews in 2017. If you can’t get customers to go on record, that’s OK. According to the data, consumer trust increases even when the reviews are anonymous.

Portals and online document repositories

Cloud-based online document repositories provide secure, on-demand access to records for you, your clients, and your team members. You can store, organize, view, and change files.

More customers want instant gratification and access to their documents and records. It’s relatively easy to set up, makes for a better consumer experience, and can save you time from fielding emails and sending attachments. Make sure your clients have this access in 2017!

So there you have it. Six new trends that aren’t entirely new, per se, but are increasingly important as our industry ventures forth into the brave new world of 2017.

Lawyers like to err on the side of caution. Many of us are slow to embrace new technology or rock the boat. Historically, we get hung up asking ourselves whether we can afford to take such risks.

But what we need to be asking is: Can we afford not to?

At the end of 2016, the answer is a resounding no.

How Is Healthcare for Children Handled After Divorce?

One very important, yet often overlooked, aspect of the outcome of a divorce is providing healthcare to children. Who’s responsible for the cost, and how is this determined? How do healthcare expenses get weighed among other expenses? Here, we’ll take a broad look at the issue of a child’s healthcare post-divorce.

The most general and common rule of thumb in this matter is that the parent who claims the child or children on their tax return as dependents, is the parent who is responsible for obtaining and paying for healthcare insurance. Keep in mind that the parent claiming the child as a dependent is not always the custodial parent, so that’s another issue to consider on its own.

Whether both parents have a full-time employer, and have health-insurance through that employer, also factors in. If only one parent has health insurance from his or her employer, it will in all likelihood be that parent who provides healthcare insurance to the child. If both parents have health insurance policies from their employers, then a primary and secondary policy can be dictated.

Beyond that, there are also additional and related costs to take into account outside of the actual insurance premiums. Consider the costs of co-pays, deductibles, medication, non-covered expenses, and all the rest that factors into a child’s actual health and wellbeing. These expenses may be hashed out as part of the divorce settlement itself.

Another factor to consider is that the cost of healthcare may in some instances be factored in to a Court’s alimony award. Additionally, healthcare expenses for a child will be factored into the Court’s determination of child support pursuant to the state’s specific guidelines. So whether one of the parents is obligated to pay healthcare expenses for the other, as well as the child, and whether those are classified as child support, alimony, or separate matters, are all factors to consider.

Finally, keep in mind that different states may have different requirements or legislation in place which specifically dictate or mandate how healthcare for children after divorce should be handled. Further, the entire healthcare realm in the United States is always ebbing and flowing, and there could be more changes on the horizon, too.

That’s why it’s always important to consult with an experienced and qualified professional in your local area before taking action. He or she will be able to advise you on potential courses of action and what the best decision will be, not only for the parents, but for the children themselves.

5 Surprising Statistics About Gray Divorce

“Gray divorce” is a phrase which represents older couples who embark upon divorce, and it’s become a term used more widely as it has become a more widely used option by such couples. More specifically, gray divorce refers to individuals over the age of 50, who are in their first marriage, or a very long-term marriage. Here are some facts, stats and numbers on gray divorce which may be surprising to learn.

25 percent: Of all people being divorced in the United States, 25 percent of them are over the age of 50. Clearly, gray divorce is on the rise. Exactly how much is it on the rise?

Gray Divorce Has Doubled: Since 1990, the divorce rate for couples who are both over the age of 50 has doubled. And 50 years old isn’t even the only demarcation point of interest either.

65 years old: 10 percent of all individuals being divorced in the United States are 65 years or older. For people who were surprised by the 25 percent rate at age 50, this is likely even a greater surprise. The divorce rate here has more than doubled since 1990.

Half: Half of all gray divorces are from first marriages. As acknowledged above, this is not a de facto “requirement” to be considered a gray divorce, as long-term marriages also apply, but half do fall into the first marriage department.

55 percent: This is the number of gray divorces which are from couples married for longer than 20 years. There’s no exact or hard limit on what constitutes a “long-term” marriage, but it is interesting to note what a high percentage qualify at two decades or longer. Of course, this statistic and the one above on first marriage are not mutually exclusive.

There are many reasons, or theories, on why this type of divorce is increasing, and doing so rapidly. Everything from life expectancies on the rise, to greater opportunities and independence for women, to new thinking on happiness and happy marriages may contribute, among a range of additional factors.

If anything, looking at the latest trends, facts, and information helps to shed light on the subject. For someone who may find themselves in a similar situation, it may also help them to normalize the subject for themselves, or reinforce their beliefs, knowing that others are going through the same things. Of course, anyone considering a divorce should consult with a qualified attorney in your local area who will be able to provide you with more information on the best course of action for someone in your particular circumstances.

Pro-Bono Divorce Attorney

This attorney is one that will represent people with low-income when they are seeking a divorce and does not charge them for their services. In Latin pro-bono means “for the good” and in the legal world it means that divorce attorney will provide all legal services required for the divorce at no cost to their client. Their clients may be referred to them from domestic violence shelters or be a walk-in client. They will handle all areas of the divorce case such as:

• Interviewing their client to gather all of the necessary information to prepare the divorce petition

• Preparing the paperwork for the dissolution of the marriage

• Making sure that the child custody is determined correctly

• Making sure that the property is divided fairly and correctly

• Making sure that the child support is calculated properly

• Performing any other services that pertain to the divorce proceeding

If the reason that their client is seeking a divorce is because of domestic violence the divorce attorney will file an emergency protection order and help their client find emergency shelter. If their client has any bruises from the domestic violence the divorce attorney will usually take pictures of these bruises to use as evidence in the divorce case. They will usually request any hospital records from where the client was treated for various injuries such as broken bones, concussions, etc.

If the pro-bono divorce attorney finds out that the spouse is not being truthful about their assets they will conduct discovery to find these hidden assets. In a divorce preceding a discovery is through which the spouse is required to make known information by providing copies of financial documents or any other documents and answering questions that are asked for by the pro-bono divorce attorney in regards to the hidden assets. This is done so child support is calculated properly and the client receives an unbiased and fair division of property.

While the divorce is awaiting finalization, if there are children the divorce attorney will file a motion to establish an interim order in regards to the custody of the children and support for them. This type of order is temporary. It is one that the court has entered while the attorneys get the divorce case ready to be presented in court. The divorce attorneys will have a chance to do discovery and may even arrive at a settlement of all the issues that relate to the divorce. If there are particular issues that the attorneys cannot settle they then will present them to the divorce court. The divorce attorney will introduce evidence before the judge and then make arguments in able to obtain a ruling that is favorable to their client.

A Look At Some Of The Major Decisions Made In Divorce Court

Entering divorce court can be extremely stressful as the decisions made by the court can change the course of your future. Getting a divorce is not simply a matter of separating from your spouse. There are several other issues that need to be determined, from the alimony to dividing assets and debts. If there are children involved, it gets even more complex as there are issues of parenting, custody and maintenance issues also that need to be taken into consideration.

These are some of the distinct issues that need to be resolved in any divorce court proceedings.


In the majority of divorce cases, the issue of alimony is very fiercely contested because it is not just a one-time thing. Once the alimony amount is set, the spouse is obliged to pay it for several years or for a lifetime, which can be a scary prospect.

Dividing Assets and Debts

When it comes to dividing assets and debts, the core principle is that all pre-marriage assets of the individual parties are not divided. However all assets that were generated during the marriage are divided between the two parties. It is not all that cut and dried as there are often several other variables that need to be considered before a final ruling is made.

Dividing assets and debts will mean deciding things like who gets the house, the car and the family pet and also who pays the bills.


Custody of the children, maintenance, visitations and all other aspects of parenting come under this category. Both parents are expected to create a very detailed and thorough parenting plan that is in the best interests of the children. This should include every single aspect of parenting in black and white so that nothing is left to be misinterpreted. The children’s schooling, holidays, religion, visitation terms, medical responsibilities and even where they eat, where they sleep and whether or not they can be relocated in case one parent takes up a job in another city or another country. If both spouses cannot agree to the terms, the court will impose the terms on the parents.

There are of course several other issues that will need to be hammered out. It is neither a simple nor a predictable process. Even if you have sufficient knowledge of divorce laws, this can be a hugely emotional time and it can be difficult to stay objective. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney who will stay objective throughout is important so that you and your children can get a fair ruling in all aspects.

Who Is Responsible for the Mortgage After A Quit Claim Deed Is Signed?

Before a divorce can be final in California, couples are required by the court to equally divide all community property, such as bank accounts, personal vehicles, furniture, retirement accounts, pension plans, etc., as well as debts, such as mortgages, car loans and credit card debts, Under California law, separate property debts and assets (usually acquired before or after the marriage) are assigned to the spouse responsible for them. Community property assets and debts must be divided equitably between both spouses. That applies to any real estate or personal property, including the family home, acquired during the length of the marriage. During the divorce, the family home can either be sold, or kept by one of the spouses. Usually, the spouse who agrees to keep the family home will be required to financially compensate the other spouse by “buying out” their share of the house, or relinquish other personal property of equal value.

The spouse who wants to keep the family home will also ask the other spouse to sign a Quit Claim Deed. This removes one spouse’s name from the property title and gives full ownership to the spouse keeping the home regardless of a mortgage or lien. If the house is sold later on, only the spouse whose name is on the home title will be entitled to any proceeds, even if the home’s equity accrued after the divorce. It is very important to realize that, while a Quit Claim deed strips a spouse from all rights of ownership, it does not absolve his/her responsibility for the mortgage. As long as that spouse’s name is still on the mortgage papers, he/she may still be responsible for making loan payments. If the other spouse stops making mortgage payments after the divorce, the mortgage company can take legal action against anyone named on the joint mortgage. That is the reason why the judge normally requests the spouse keeping the family home to refinance the mortgage and remove the other spouse’s name from the loan. As an alternative the spouse keeping the property will provide a “hold harmless” clause in the Marital Settlement Agreement assuring the party relinquishing title that they will “protect” the transferor from any liability should the purchaser fall behind on payments.

Additionally, if the mortgage was in arrears before the Quit Claim Deed was signed, both spouses are responsible for the debt. This means that the spouse who relinquishes the family home will have to settle the debt with the mortgage company before the joint mortgage can be refinanced as a single mortgage. As for property taxes, once a spouse signs a Quit Claim Deed and does not own the house anymore, he/she will not be responsible for any new tax debt accrued after the Quit Claim Deed was signed. However, he/she can still be held responsible for any taxes that were due at the time the deed was signed. This is why it is best to pay off any outstanding debt, such as taxes, at the time the Quit Claim Deed is signed.

Dividing community property during a divorce can be complex and overwhelming for many couples. For much less than the cost of litigation, an experienced divorce mediator can help spouses divide community property and debt fairly and equitably, and solve any other issues, such as child custody, child support, and spousal support.

Family Law Attorney – Their Services

This is a branch of the law that deal with domestic relations and family matters like marriage, adoption, child abuse, child abduction, property settlements, child support and visitation, and more. It is also referred to as matrimonial law. In many jurisdictions, family courts are the ones with the most-crowded court dockets. The attorney who handles these types of cases is called a family law attorney or lawyer. The main two issues that this lawyer would handle are legal separations and divorce. During these issues, the attorney would attempt to dive marital property, advocate the amount that should be paid for alimony and child support, settle child custody issues, and set visitation rights. In divorce and separation cases, each party will have their own family law attorney. If no settlement can be reached for any issues they could be taken into the court and they judge would usually issue the final order on the issues.

Adoption is another field that a family law attorney handles. The attorney will help the couple through the many steps that has to be taken in order to make the adoption legal. In every jurisdiction, the laws are different and may vary according to how old the child is. In some locations the birth parents will always retain some rights while in other jurisdictions, all of their legal parental rights have been given up completely.

Another duty that a family law attorney does is create documents to help prevent foreseeable future issues. One example is creating a prenuptial agreement that will set forth how the assets would be divided if the couple were to divorce. It could also be a post-nuptial agreement that not only how assets would be divided but also how child visitation, custody, and support should be arranged. They may also set up a trust fund in the name of children or a spouse if they have that level of expertise. In some situations, a family law attorney may have to handle criminal issues. The attorney could specialize in specific areas like domestic violence or juvenile law.

A family law attorney can work in a law firm or open their own offices. To become an attorney you will have to attend law school and then pass an exam in order to become a practicing attorney. Before going on to law school, you will have to have a high school diploma or the equivalent as long as it is jurisdiction accepted. While in college, you need to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in any major but it is helpful for preparing for a law career if it is a business major, law-related, or in political science. To help gain some experience work as a clerk or intern in a law firm that specializes in family law.

Getting Divorced? Avoid These Top Financial Mistakes

Divorce is a messy affair that leaves you with half of what you had and can lead to denial of change. You are not only getting emotional distress, but you also can get into financial crisis. Economic implications of divorce last for quite a long time before you get back on your feet. Below are the financial mistakes to avoid during the divorce process.

Underestimating Your Expenses: A lot of people do have an idea of what they earn but can hardly tell where the money goes. Take note of all your expenses and create a realistic budget. As divorce will bring about a change of lifestyle, consider the cost of your future living expenses. Consider the inflation fluctuations of the coming months and factor it into your budget.

Keeping the Family Home: It is normal that the parent who gets more custody time of the children keeps the family home. This is one of the many financial mistakes that a lot of people make. Consider if you can afford to keep the home running. A house comes with many expenses, property taxes, mortgage, home maintenance, amongst other expenses. Avoid getting into financial trouble by considering first if you can afford the house you used to pay as a couple.

Miscalculating the Value of Assets: There are always headaches when you are splitting property. When it comes to the splitting of assets, whose value is changing, you will require a professional to calculate the worth of the assets while keeping in mind the increase or decrease in value over time. This way you will not be left with the short end of the stick and in a financial mess.

Failing To Take Insurance Cover on Alimony: You can only collect child support and alimony if your spouse is in a position to pay. With the death or disability of your partner then the payments will stop. In the settlement hearings, request that your spouse gets life and disability insurance. This works to ensure the payments keep coming even after the death or disability of your spouse. Ensure that your spouse has made all the right designations by reviewing the policy before finalizing the divorce.

There are a lot of financial hurdles to overcome during divorce. Professionals will help you get through the divorce and set you up with a budget to help get your life on track. Bypass many of the financial headaches that can possibly arise after dissolution with proper planning so that you can enjoy a stress-free future.