June 18, 2019

Archives for October 24, 2011

Tom Matte: Manage the Reputation of Your Law Firm

With tons of information all over the Internet, it’s easy for a competing company or an unhappy person to ruin your firm’s pristine image, so do everything you can to protect and manage your reputation.

Putting your firm on social media isn’t something you can just do then ignore. It’s an interactive process that requires time and effort to manage. Monitoring and responding to comments, especially negative ones, is vitally important. According to an article by Bob Tripathi, called “4 Powerful Strategies for Managing your Online Reputation,” the four most important pieces to reputation management are to monitor, listen, respond and amplify.

Monitor. The first piece, of course, is to monitor your firm’s brand. Find out what your competitors and clients are saying about you. Use tools such as Google Alerts and Analytics, SocialMention and SEOMoz to track conversations and keywords relating to your firm. If you don’t monitor you won’t know what’s being said and how to improve and respond.

Listen. Listen to what is being said about your firm across all mediums. Categorize and prioritize conversations about your firm so you can manage them appropriately. Most companies break down conversations into two sections, those that need “immediate attention” and those that require “active listening.” Immediate attention is just that, something that needs to be addressed now. These are the past clients and competition that are talking poorly of your firm. You must decide how to address the situation or conversation before it blows up into something worse. The active listening bracket is full of clients and others that are casually talking about your firm. You want track these too, and respond as needed, to be actively involved in the conversation.

Respond. Respond and act on most negative conversations about your firm – The reason I say “most” is that trolls should be ignored. Normally all these people want is a fight, but you don’t have to be the person or firm that gives them one. This is a perfect example of good public relations. I recommend you create a policy and system for how to respond to nay-sayers. Few have one, so this will put your firm ahead of the competition and allow you to respond much quicker. Analyze what went wrong in these negative situations and make adjustments so it doesn’t happen again. Don’t give in to the temptation to respond harshly to these people, but offer a sympathetic response and offer to correct anything that you possibly can. In most cases, these carefully worded answers will show others following you that you are responsive and care about your customers. That’s a strong message.

Amplify. Once you have responded to the unhappy client, make sure you tell the world. Make sure you turn the negative situation into a positive, rewarding one. People like to see how you treat your clients and customers, and often decide on which firms to use through reviews and referrals. Do all you can to keep everyone happy, and they will reward you with good reviews in the end.

Interesting side note: In a recent study I read, customers who had encountered a negative experience with a company, but had a positive recovery experience were more loyal – by far – than those that had always had positive experiences within the same company. This doesn’t mean you should go out and start failing clients, but it does demonstrate the power of responding to a negative experience in a positive way. It’s well worth the effort from a reputation point of view, as well as a client loyalty perspective.

Tom Matte is CEO of Max Advertising, and focuses his endless enthusiasm on crafting creative and lasting marketing and advertising for law firms, helping them to ultimately grow their practices. Whether a 10-person firm or one of the Am Law 100, he works with firms of all sizes. Tom blogs at the The Matte Pad, where this post originally appeared on May 17, 2011.

Post-Decree Clinics Continue to Serve Families

Editor’s Note: Pro Bono Week is this week, October 24-28, 2011. The Denver Bar Association has put together several days of events and parties for Pro Bono week, to recognize and celebrate the commitment to pro bono client services. Click here for more information.

More than 10 years after launching its first post-decree clinic with Faegre & Benson, Metro Volunteer Lawyers continues to serve clients whose legal problems arise after permanent orders have been entered in divorce and custody cases.

The first post-decree clinic began in 2000 as a collaborative effort between MVL and Faegre & Benson. It was the first post-decree family law clinic of its kind offered anywhere. Not only did Faegre & Benson make available its staff and attorneys to provide legal services to these clients, they also created and implemented a program to train and supervise attorneys participating in the post-decree clinic.

Over time, the post-decree clinic program has expanded. In an effort to address growing community needs, Faegre & Benson reached out to recruit and collaborate with other well-respected firms, starting with  Holland & Hart for additional clinics in Denver. Later, they worked with The Harris Law Firm to conduct clinics in Adams and Arapahoe counties for a year in order to expand, at least temporarily, the reach of those  who could be served by MVL.

Today, MVL and our partner firms—Faegre & Benson, Holland & Hart, and Johnson Sauer Legal Group—conduct post-decree clinics each month at the Denver and Jefferson County District Courts. Volunteers prepare relevant motions, pleadings, and proposed orders for people who are representing themselves in ongoing litigation. The attorneys simply advise the clients regarding the limited scope of representation and indicate on each document they produce for the clients, per Rule 11, that they have assisted with the preparation of those documents.

To keep volunteers active and interested, Faegre & Benson also hosts and coordinates an annual post-decree training CLE for all post-decree clinic volunteers to better educate the attorneys who provide the post-decree legal services. They also host a volunteer appreciation holiday party each year and feature MVL. The continued success and growth of the post-decree clinics is a true testament to the continued leadership and commitment that the firms that sponsor the post-decree clinics make to MVL to support and provide pro bono legal services.

We at MVL cannot thank our partners and supporters enough for their continued support of MVL, and look forward to our continued partnership and success in the future.

Dianne Van Voorhees is the executive director of Metro Volunteer Lawyers.

The Docket eFile brings features from your favorite Denver Bar Association publication to you digitally. When you see the logo, you’re reading an article from The Docket. You’ll also still be able to read the full issue online at denbar.org/docket.

Colorado Supreme Court: Attorney-Client Privilege Does Not Strictly Apply to Communications by a Child to a Guardian ad Litem

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Gabriesheski on October 24, 2011.

Dependency and Neglect Proceeding—Attorney–Client Privilege—Confidentiality of Communications—Guardian ad Litem—Social Worker—Witnesses.

The People sought review of the court of appeals’ judgment affirming two in limine evidentiary rulings of the district court in a prosecution for sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust in People v. Gabriesheski, 205 P.3d 441 (Colo. App. 2008). Following the district court’s exclusion of testimony concerning the recantation of the defendant’s step­daughter, the alleged child-sexual-assault victim, the prosecutor conceded her inability to go forward, and the case was dismissed. The court of appeals concluded that section 16- 12-102(1), C.R.S. (2010), gave it jurisdiction to entertain the People’s appeal, but it affirmed both of the trial court’s evidentiary rulings.

With regard to the exclusion of testimony by the guardian ad litem appointed in a parallel dependency and neglect proceeding, the court of appeals held that the child’s communications with the guardian fell within the attorney-client privilege, as set out at section 13-90-107(1)(b), C.R.S. (2010). With regard to the exclusion of testimony by a social worker also involved in the dependency and neglect proceeding, the court found her to be both a professional who could not be examined in a criminal case without the consent of the parent-respondent, as dictated by section 19-3-207, C.R.S. (2010), and a licensed professional who could not be examined without the consent of her client, according to section 13-90-107(1)(g), C.R.S. (2010).

The Colorado Supreme Court affirms in part and reverses in part, holding that the court of appeals did have jurisdiction to entertain the People’s appeal, but disapproved of its conclusions with regard to both of the trial court’s evidentiary rulings. The supreme court finds that because a child who is the subject of a dependency and neglect proceeding is not the client of a court-appointed guardian ad litem, neither the statutory attorney-client privilege nor ethical rules governing an attorney’s obligations of confidentiality to a client strictly apply to communications by the child. Further, the supreme court finds that because the trial court apparently understood section 19-3-207 to bar the examination of the social worker in the defendant’s criminal case as long as she qualified as a professional involved in the dependency and neglect proceeding, it failed to make sufficient findings to satisfy the additional statutory requirement that the statements at issue be ones made in compliance with court treatment orders, or to demonstrate the applicability of section 13-90-107, which is limited by its own terms to communications made by a client in the course of professional employment or psychotherapy.

Summary and full case available here.

Finalists Selected to Fill Judgeship in Alamosa County

The Twelfth Judicial District Nominating Commission has nominated three candidates for an Alamosa County Court judgeship created by the appointment of the Honorable Michael A. Gonzales to the Twelfth Judicial District Court, effective October 1, 2011.

The nominees for the bench are Peter Comar, Jason Kelly, and Daniel Walzl. All finalists are from Alamosa and were selected by the commission on Friday, October 21.

Under the Colorado Constitution, Governor Hickenlooper has until November 8 to appoint one of the nominees as County Court Judge for Alamosa County.

Comments regarding any of the nominees can be emailed to the Governor’s Office.

Tenth Circuit: Forest Service’s Roadless Area Conservation Rule Not in Violation of Wilderness Act or NEPA

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in State of Wyoming v. United States Dep’t of Agriculture on Friday, October 21, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s decision. Petitioners, the Forest Service and environmental groups, appeal the district court’s order setting aside and permanently and nationally enjoining the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which the Forest Service promulgated in 2001. In setting aside the rule, the district court held that it violated the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

“Wyoming’s Wilderness Act claim asserts that the Roadless Rule constitutes a de facto designation of ‘wilderness’ in contravention of the process established by Congress in the Wilderness Act of 1964. The district court agreed, holding that the ‘Forest Service, through the promulgation of the Roadless Rule, designated 58.5 million acres of National Forest land as a de facto wilderness area in violation of the Wilderness Act,’ and therefore the rule was ‘promulgated in excess of [the] Forest Service’s statutory jurisdiction and authority.'” The Court disagreed and found that the “wilderness areas governed by the Wilderness Act and IRAs governed by the Roadless Rule are not only distinct, but that the Wilderness Act is more restrictive and prohibitive than the Roadless Rule. Accordingly, [the Court concluded] that the IRAs governed by the Roadless Rule are not de facto administrative wilderness areas; therefore, the district court erred by holding otherwise.” Additionally, the Forest Service acted within the authority that Congress granted to it under the Organic Act and the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act.

Wyoming also asserted that the Forest Service, in promulgating the Roadless Rule, violated NEPA in seven ways. “Specifically, it argues that the Forest Service failed to comply with the NEPA requirements regarding: (1) scoping, (2) cooperating-agency status, (3) consideration of a reasonable range of alternatives in the EIS, (4) consideration of the cumulative impacts of the proposed action in the EIS, (5) preparation of a supplemental impact statement, (6) inclusion of sitespecific analysis in the EIS, and (7) an objective “hard look” at the environmental consequences of agency action, by instead predetermining the outcome of the NEPA process.” The Court disagreed with the state’s contentions regarding NEPA.

The Court therefore reversed the district court’s order and remanded the case for the district court to vacate the permanent injunction against the Roadless Rule.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 10/21/11

On Friday, October 21, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and two unpublished opinions.


United States v. Oakes

United States v. Mata-Rodriguez

No case summaries are available for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.