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Environmental Law is a Growing Field for Attorneys

September 8th, 2015 10:30 pm

Society’s focus on the environment and being “green” is affecting even our smallest everyday decisions like paper or plastic at the grocery store. Climate change, industrial disasters, and the overall well being of our environment is on the minds of everyone from lawyers to the smallest elementary school child learning the importance of turning off lights. This shift has created an interesting trend in the legal world making environmental law not only a hot topic but a popular field to practice.

Legal minds of all ages and backgrounds are looking towards including environmental law to their skills. Although this field has become a popular one and is growing quickly, it has actually been around for a very long time. Going as far back as the 1960s and 70s, you can begin to see the hallmarks of what is fundamentally environmental law with the passage of statutes that regulated land use and protected National Parks. That was only the beginning. The sector is actively working on creating statutes on a wide range of policies such as controlling pollution, the protection and development of land, as well as managing our resources with a focus on conservation.

Environmental law, once described as a “niche” area, has become a massive body of law that reaches into many social issues. So, it is no wonder that this is such a vastly growing field when you think about the complexities of the industry and the various policy issues that are encompassed within environmental law. Attorneys entering the field are thrust into some of the most pressing issues of today, issues that have broad reaching implications both domestically and internationally. The excitement of dealing with policy creation that not only impacts environmental issues, but also affects foreign trade, global economics, and natural resources is now a constant draw among attorneys looking for diverse ways to effect positive change.

What has become known as the “green movement” has opened the door for attorneys to jump with both feet into a very exciting sector. The wave has brought about a change to the legal landscape, resulting in a drastic increase in opportunities within the field. As firms grow and branch out into other areas, it is unusual to not have at least one practitioner of environmental law. Some of these firms even employ entire departments to serve the needs of their clients. There are opportunities at all levels of the government and nearly every law school is adding multiple levels to their teachings of environmental law. The opportunity is growing so fast, the need for more specializing in environmental law is going to grow as well. But perhaps the biggest draw—beyond the thrill of saving Mother Earth, or the satisfaction of thwarting big business—is the sense of autonomy given to many of the practitioners within environmental law. So complex is the landscape, so dense is the maze of regulations, that many attorneys are unleashed to pitch their own battles in one of the many up and coming environmental issues. As new issues arise such as urban sprawl, restructuring our energy sources, and pollution, there will be a greater need for attorneys that are environmentally-minded. A growing field, indeed.

Legal Malpractice Insurance Cost

September 8th, 2015 10:29 pm

Having malpractice insurance makes certain that you are covered for whatever happens in your profession, and for your personal protection, although not all states require it. Practicing law is a business that carries a high risk, and just one disgruntled client can disrupt your business and your life even if you have not done anything wrong. Statistics predict that each and every attorney will have to defend one malpractice suit, at least, during her or his career. It will cost your time and high legal fees to establish your innocence regardless of whether you are validated. For that reason, it just makes good sense to fully protect yourself in every way both for your career and your personal life.

Even though certain specialities in law such as financial securities and real estate carry a high liability risk, the field in which you practice is not really relevant in whether or not you will ever face a lawsuit. Since lawsuits against attorneys are increasing, it has become more prudent in recent years to carry larger amounts of insurance regardless of the legal malpractice insurance cost. Even if the person’s claim is found to be without merit, you may need a minimum of $300,000 for your legal fees in your defense. If you should lose the case, the costs could very well be significantly higher than that amount.

In order to keep your overall costs low and get the maximum protection for your personal efforts in taking out legal malpractice insurance, there are precautions you can use. Every document in your professional files in your office must be treated as though they will be scrutinized one day in a court of law. In every state, under Rules of Discovery, complete access is permitted to each and every document in your files. You can make giant strides toward protecting yourself if you behave at all times as if you know a legal malpractice attorney is looking over your shoulder. Everything should be kept, including printing out and keeping emails in your client’s files. Keep in mind that, just as in Miranda, anything can be used against you that you say, at some future time, and keep careful documentation of your work for every moment on each case. Even your personal notes about your clients should be professionally and carefully chosen and worded. Preventative actions such as this can lower your legal malpractice insurance cost, by doing as your insurance carrier advises.

Be careful with your dates and calendar, since statistics show that 20 percent of all malpractice lawsuits involved missed deadlines. Every meeting, every event and every deadline should be recorded in writing whether you put it in your palm pilot, your DayTimer, or write it on your napkin at lunch. Do not throw any notes away, thinking you will never need them again. Do your best to be courteous, friendly and conscientious in order to keep your clientele happy, because unhappy clients are often the beginning of a malpractice compaint. Be professional enough to answer correspondence and emails, and promptly return phone calls. A client who feels ignored is more likely to file a lawsuit in order to “get your attention.”

If you do not feel right about taking a potential client, and your intuition is telling you to be cautious, it would be better not to accept them as a client. Sometimes our best friend is the feeling we have that is trying to warn us away. You do not have to accept every client who asks for your help. Talk with a malpractice attorney and get his or her recommendations on what kind of strategies to use in order to guard your professional legal practice. Your insurance agency should have suggestions on ways that you can lower your legal malpractice insurance cost for your business. Certain checks and balances to protect yourself are simple to implement and can save a lot of trouble in the future. If you are wise about protecting your law practice you will have a lucrative and long running career.