Law Office Tips and Tricks

Video: Free Tools to Save Bankruptcy Attorneys Money

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKODW2hfPVQ

This video covers a variety of free online tools that were developed specifically for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtor bankruptcy attorneys. These tools will save attorneys and their law firms money as well as provide as an excellent set of reliable resources when preparing bankruptcy petitions.

DO YOU ENJOY MY VIDEOS?

If you enjoy my short videos specifically designed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing Click on SUBSCRIBE at the top of page

Web Site Design Course for Legal Professionals

Course Number: 06262001 Duration: 2 hours Price Per Student: $35.00 Format: Instructor Led Online Classes CLICK HERE to Register

This 2 hour training course is designed to teach you how to develop your own bankruptcy related website at NO COST. We will use WordPress software and I will walk you through the various settings within WordPress so you can design your own company website within a few hours after attending this one class – guaranteed.

TOPICS COVERED:

Installing WordPress (free) Installing a theme (free) Making your own customized WordPress theme (Artisteer software costs $49) Customizing widgets and sidebars Installing plugins and activating them (free) Other tricks and techniques for personalizing your website

This is an INTERACTIVE web training seminar. This means that you are encouraged to develop your website right along with the class so that you can ask questions and get on-the-spot answers.

I look forward to helping you reduce your web design costs to zero and put the power in your hands so you can better control your legal business website.

CERTIFICATE ISSUED

After you attend this training course you will be issued a Certificate of Introduction to WordPress Web Design, personalized with your name. Print on your color printer and frame for your office. For low cost frames, we recommend purchasing from Office Max or Staples for $5.00 or less.

http://www.bankruptcytrainingproducts.com/home/web-and-teleconference-training/web-site-design-course

Warning: Do Not Get Ripped Off Purchasing Federal Forms

A paralegal working for a bankruptcy attorney in Pennsylvania called today to tell me about her experience with Best Case software.  Her attorney is a registered user of Best Case and the paralegal had called them because they had to upgrade their license from a Chapter 7 to a Chapter 7 and 13.

While the paralegal was on the phone with Best Case, she asked the sales person about preparing petitions for attorneys outside of her area.  The sales lady told the paralegal that she could NOT prepare Chapter 13s for any other district except the district the attorney was in.  Even if she prepared a bankruptcy petition that was not in the same district but within the state of Pennsylvania she would have to pay another $150 to $200 for the Chapter 13 Plan.

The paralegal called me because she felt something was wrong and that Best Case had misrepresented the federal forms.  She asked me how Best Case could do this; so I explained to her the scam some bankruptcy software companies are using to sell federal forms.  Of course this scam is one of those legitimate scams.  In case you did not know, a legitimate scam is one where the customer is still ripped off, but the thief operates the scam legitimately.  Best Case is using this age old scam and eventually it will harm them; but who am I to judge?

What is the Scam?

First, you need to be aware that every federal form pertaining to bankruptcy is provided free by the government because consumers have the right to represent themselves. (This is why the first form in a bankruptcy petition is called a Voluntary Petition; the petition is filed by the debtor voluntarily).

Back to the subject, you should never be required to pay for a federal form.  The bankruptcy software companies like Best Case know this; so they sell the federal forms under the disguise that their forms work with their software.  Big deal!  But they will make you think their forms are the best thing since sliced bread so they can sell them to you and laugh all the way to the bank.

The Proof

You can verify that my statements are true by viewing the FREE federal forms I provide on the Colorado Bankruptcy Training website at:

http://www.coloradobankruptcytraining.com/links_chapter13plans.html

Every one of these forms are fillable; which means that you can open up the document, click on a line and begin typing in the information on your computer.  This is often faster compared to printing out the document and filling it out by hand.  One tip though:  Only Adobe provides software that makes forms fillable; therefore, you must download the free Adobe Reader in order for the fill-in-the-blank capability to properly work.

How To Use the PDF Version Instead of the Paid Version

Prepare the petition in your bankruptcy software as you normally would. For any forms that are blocked out (such as the Chapter 13 Plan) simply download them from the website link above.  Allow the software to still compile the data and figures for the form; but instead of spending $150 or $200 to purchase an unlock code, simply transfer those figures onto the PDF document and you are good to go.  The PDF will need to be filed separately with the court, but who cares?  For most people, spending 2 extra minutes to save a great deal of money is worth it.

Of course, if you want the convenience of purchasing an unlock code for your bankruptcy software; there is nothing wrong with that.  The part that bothers me is that software companies like Best Case are forcing law firms to believe they cannot even do a Chapter 13 outside of their district unless they purchase a $150 or $200 module of the Chapter 13 Plan.  This is a lie and I would certainly question the integrity of a company that implemented these types of sales tactics just to take money from people.

Want to Know More?

Article:  Free Chapter 13 Plans and Local Forms (explains more about the scam in more detail): http://www.chapter7and13bankruptcyblog.com/archives/139

Article: Which Bankruptcy Software Should You Purchase? http://www.chapter7and13bankruptcyblog.com/archives/145

Pass This Information Along

If the paralegal had not contacted me about this topic today, the law firm could have ended up paying out thousands of dollars for forms they can obtain free from their local bankruptcy court website.

Please pass along this information to any legal or paralegal related groups that you belong to.  Knowledge is power and knowledge in this area will prevent scams like this continuing.  Thanks for your help and support.

How to Gain Knowledge and Obtain Power in Business

Knowledge is not intelligence. Knowledge is something you obtain after repeatedly performing a skill or being trained in a skill. Knowledge has nothing to do with intelligence. You can have an IQ of 212 but you would never have the knowledge about everything there is to know.

But how do you obtain knowledge? Do you read books? Do you watch videos and attend seminars? Do you enroll in training courses? Do you communicate with people who have the knowledge you wish to obtain? The answer is YES to all four questions. But the problem is, many people don’t know how to listen, read and communicate in order to obtain the knowledge provided to them.

Here are some tips to help you increase your knowledge:

Listening Skills

1. Pay close attention to the answer a person gives after you ask them a question. Although this sounds simple to do, the problem occurs when the listener does not listen. Instead, they are contemplating what they are going to say next, or even concentrating on unrelated matters. It takes a little effort to truly listen to what people are saying and putting all your own thoughts out of your mind for a moment so you can learn from them.

2. Maintain eye contact with the speaker. This is a good exercise to get into a habit of doing because it will help you to become less distracted or keep your thoughts from wondering.

3. Avoid the human tendency to jump to conclusions about what is said before the speaker has finished. Instead, you should listen closely even if you think you know what the person is going to say. Think of yourself as a news reporter with unbiased views and gathering as much information as possible so you can write a detailed report later. Once you have fully understood and absorbed what the speaker is saying, you can form your own opinions at that time. But forming an opinion while the speaker is talking does not allow you to absorb knowledge.

4. Make sure you understand the entire concept before offering any advice or suggestions to others. Sometimes people are so eager to show their enthusiasm that they offer suggestions without realizing the speaker would prefer that they listen rather than give advice. This is not to say that suggestions and solutions are not important. Of course they are, if they are offered at the appropriate time.

5. Stop everything you are doing and give the speaker your undivided attention. It is nearly impossible to concentrate on what someone is saying if you are doing something else. You may be able to take in the gist of what it being said, but you will never absorb all the details. Details are the meat and potatoes of knowledge and should never be missed.

Reading Skills 1. When you read a paragraph make sure you can repeat the meaning of that paragraph before you read any further. It is natural for your mind to wander as you are reading a training manual or other reading material. But you need to train yourself to read and understand every paragraph before you move on to the next. This does not mean that you will gain all the knowledge from that paragraph – just that you understand what the writer is saying.

2. Read with an open, unbiased mind until you fully understand what the writer is conveying. You are trying to obtain knowledge that you currently do not have. If you allow your own biased opinions to clutter up your mind while you are trying to obtain that knowledge, you will get little benefit from the knowledge the writer is giving to you.

3. Always read a book with a yellow highlight marker in your hand. Use it to highlight sentences, paragraphs and sections that stick out as important to you. This way, you can go back through the book and immediately find all the highlighted areas during your second review.

Telephone Skills

1. Organize your thoughts before making the call. No one appreciates a telephone call from a person who takes forever to get to the point. Garbled requests for information can only have one result – failure. You need to organize your thoughts before making the telephone call so you can get right to the point and resolve the issue. If necessary, write down a list of the questions you need to ask or what information you need to obtain; then refer to it when you make the telephone call.

2. Do not put a caller on hold for longer than 1 minute. If you discover you cannot answer the question or solve the problem during the time the caller is on hold, offer to call them back as soon as you have an answer. Then remember to call them back. Most people will wait for you to call them back if you promised to do so. If you still are unable to get the information to help them within 1 hour after promising to call them back, call them anyway and explain that it will take longer than expected. Then, give the caller an expected wait time for you to get the information or solve the problem.

3. Take notes during the telephone call. When someone calls you, train yourself to write down the name of the person and any other notes pertinent to the conversation. This way, you can refer to the person by name during the rest of the conversation and record important information you will use when you hang up the phone.

4. End the telephone call appropriately. Normally the person who calls should be the one who ends the call. But if the caller continues to talk forever and you need the call to end, be professional. Wait for a pause and say something like: “I am sorry to interrupt but I have another appointment. Perhaps we can talk later but thank you again for calling.”

5. Return all your calls promptly. A hectic and demanding schedule is no excuse for failing to return a telephone call. Have you ever tried to reach someone repeatedly by telephone, only to have them call you back several days later and tell you they had been so busy they could not call you back? If so, you can imagine how a customer or client will feel when you do the same to them.

Business Email Communications

1. Use the subject line of an email message to inform. The importance of an email is often determined by the subject line. Keep the subject line brief and specific. Make sure it relates to the subject matter of your email. If not, the receiver might accidentally delete it or mistake your email as spam or an unsolicited advertisement.

2. Treat emails like business letters. It is better to be more formal than casual in business email communications. You want to make a good impression.

3. Include a signature line. Nothing is more annoying than receiving an email from someone you want to contact but they provide no name, title, company, telephone number or website information. Do not rely on people being able to reply to your email as their only means to contact you. Often, email can bounce (due to internet glitches) through no fault of your own and your email is never received.

4. Never shout at people by using uppercase letters. Typing in uppercase letters is considered CYBER SHOUTING. As an alternative use asterisks to emphasize words, such as: Please contact us “no later” than Friday.

5. Skip the fancy decorations. Vivid colors, flashing symbols of bouncing smiley faces (better known as emotions) should never be used in business communications. These types of effects should only be reserved for personal email, not business email.

6. Keep your email very brief. Writing long emails about how you emotionally feel about a situation does not get your email read. But do not be too brief either. Provide the business with all the pertinent facts so they have enough information to look up your records and resolve the issue the first time. However, if your email is longer than 2 paragraphs, pick up the phone and call the company to resolve the issue.

7. Remember that no email is private. Every email you send passes through 1,000s of servers before it is delivered to the recipient. Additionally, every email you send is likely to be achieved on 1,000s of computers who make it a point to back up their customer’s email data. If you are angry and exhibit irrational behavior in an email, chances are it will come back to haunt you one day.

8. Avoid mood mail. Email messages that convey strong emotions can be easily misunderstood. Never send an email when you are angry. Take time to cool down, count to 100, then go back and re-read your email and edit it before clicking the Send button.

9. Proof every email before sending it to a business. It pays to check your grammar, spelling and punctuation before clicking the Send button. Getting in a hurry does nothing but cost you more time in the long run.

10. Respect the privacy of others. When you send an email that you also want sent to other people, use the BCC (blind carbon copy) function instead of the CC (carbon copy) function. This way, when the person receives your email, there will not be a long list of other email addresses at the top; and they don’t have to scroll down through the list to get to the email message.

11. Be very cautious when you use the “Reply All” button on your email program. If you receive an email that was sent to a multitude of people, hitting the “Reply All” button will send your reply to everyone. Unless you want this to happen, do not use this feature.

12. Do not be a pest. If you do not receive a response within 24 hours after sending an email, either send a different email explaining why you are following up or pick up the phone and call the company.

13. Never send an attachment unless you have permission to do so. Most email servers today will automatically strip attachments because they can be considered spam. Unless the company has specifically requested that you send an attachment, never send one.

14. Think twice before sending jokes, chain letters or funny messages. Just because you may think something is funny or cute does not mean the person receiving it will feel the same way. In fact, they may even find them insulting. Do not risk your reputation.

15. When posting a response to a message board, remember that your email is forever edged in stone. Many people forget that when they post a message to a message board, that message is archived forever. The main website that archives every web site that has ever been in existence is The Wayback Machine at http://web.archive.org/

Summary

I sincerely hope that you have read this entire article and will use it to improve your communication and listening skills. When you do, you will find that your knowledge will increase and you will become a better asset for the attorneys and business associates you communicate with on a daily basis.

Victoria Ring, CEO Colorado Bankruptcy Training.Com http://www.coloradobankruptcytraining.com

A Solution to Streamline Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcy Law Firm Operations

An option to help bankruptcy attorneys streamline the client intake process and develop consistency within their law firm operations. Read the rest of this entry »

Warning: Do Not Get Ripped Off Purchasing Federal Forms

Free Federal Forms at http://www.713attorney.com/links/forms.html

The paralegal to a bankruptcy attorney in Pennsylvania called me today to tell me about her experience with Best Case software.  Her attorney is a registered user of Best Case and the paralegal had called them because they had to upgrade their license from a Chapter 7 to a Chapter 7 and 13.

While the paralegal was on the phone with Best Case, she asked the sales person about preparing petitions for attorneys outside of her area.  The sales lady told the paralegal that she could NOT prepare Chapter 13s for any other district except the district the attorney was in.  Even if she prepared a bankruptcy petition that was not in the same district but within the state of Pennsylvania she would have to pay another $150 to $200 for the Chapter 13 Plan.

The paralegal called me because she felt something was wrong and that Best Case had misrepresented the federal forms.  She asked me how Best Case could do this; so I explained to her the scam some bankruptcy software companies are using to sell federal forms.  Of course this scam is one of those legitimate scams.  In case you did not know, a legitimate scam is one where the customer is still ripped off, but the thief operates the scam legitimately.  Best Case is using this age old scam and eventually it will harm them; but who am I to judge?

What is the Scam?

First, you need to be aware that every federal form pertaining to bankruptcy is provided free by the government because consumers have the right to represent themselves. (This is why the first form in a bankruptcy petition is called a Voluntary Petition; the petition is filed by the debtor voluntarily).

Back to the subject, you should never be required to pay for a federal form.  The bankruptcy software companies like Best Case know this; so they sell the federal forms under the disguise that their forms work with their software.  Big deal!  But they will make you think their forms are the best thing since sliced bread so they can sell them to you and laugh all the way to the bank.

The Proof

You can verify that my statements are true by viewing the FREE federal forms I provide on the 713 website at:

http://www.713attorney.com/links/forms.html

Every one of these forms are fillable; which means that you can open up the document, click on a line and begin typing in the information on your computer.  This is often faster compared to printing out the document and filling it out by hand.  One tip though:  Only Adobe provides software that makes forms fillable; therefore, you must download the free Adobe Reader in order for the fill-in-the-blank capability to properly work.

How To Use the PDF Version Instead of the Paid Version

Prepare the petition in your bankruptcy software as you normally would. For any forms that are blocked out (such as the Chapter 13 Plan) simply download them from the website link above.  Allow the software to still compile the data and figures for the form; but instead of spending $150 or $200 to purchase an unlock code, simply transfer those figures onto the PDF document and you are good to go.  The PDF will need to be filed separately with the court, but who cares?  For most people, spending 2 extra minutes to save a great deal of money is worth it.

Of course, if you want the convenience of purchasing an unlock code for your bankruptcy software; there is nothing wrong with that.  The part that bothers me is that software companies like Best Case are forcing law firms to believe they cannot even do a Chapter 13 outside of their district unless they purchase a $150 or $200 module of the Chapter 13 Plan.  This is a lie and I would certainly question the integrity of a company that implemented these types of sales tactics just to take money from people.

Pass This Information Along

If the paralegal had not contacted me about this topic today, the law firm could have ended up paying out thousands of dollars for forms they can obtain free from their local bankruptcy court website.

Please pass along this information to any legal or paralegal related groups that you belong to.  Knowledge is power and knowledge in this area will prevent scams like this continuing.  Thanks for your help and support.