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News Story

Debtor wins rare verdict in federal collections abuse case (access required)

A federal jury has returned a verdict in favor of a debtor whose suit against Absolute Collection Service resulted in what attorneys say was the first-ever Fair Debt Collections and Practices Act jury trial and verdict in North Carolina. Plaintiff Diane Russell's victory in the case may change the way attorneys for debtors and collection agencies handle such claims in the future, said Sanford attorney Angela Martin (pictured), who represented Russell.

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DAs’ PowerPoint budget presentation piques defense lawyers (access required)

Lawyers at Indigent Defense Services, the agency that provides representation to criminal defendants who can't afford attorneys, are fuming over claims by the state's prosecutors that the prosecution is getting the short end of the stick when it comes to state funding. The feud was sparked by a PowerPoint presentation given to legislators by the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys last month. During the presentation, the organization said legislators should consider sparing the district attorneys' offices from budget cuts and look for savings in the office of Indigent Defense Services instead, saying prosecutors were "outspent" every day in court.

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Lawyers In The News: April 25, 2011

David L. McKenzie is joining the Raleigh office of Sands Anderson and will become the lead litigator for the firm’s North Carolina clients. The firm is acquiring McKenzie’s solo practice. McKenzie focuses his work on general civil litigation, intellectual property ...

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Legal Currents: Useful iPad apps for the tech-savvy lawyer

A friend of mine from my Public Defender days who still works at the PD's office recently emailed me and asked to write an article about iPad apps for lawyers. I was happy to oblige - especially since I regularly write about topics like this at my blog, the Legal iPad (www.legal-ipad.com). First off, before you purchase any apps, spend some time with your iPad, think about your workflow and decide whether you plan to create content, consume content or both. This decision will necessarily affect which apps you choose to purchase.

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Coach’s Corner: Your lease is a strategic planning tool, make use of it

I received a call from a lawyer wanting to know what percentage of his gross revenue should be allocated to rent and whether his percentage was in line with other law firms. I cited one study that put the average at 9 percent, but his comeback was that another consultant said the average was 12 percent. Such generic numbers totally miss the point on two levels. First, they allow lawyers to think that they need not try to do better than the average. And second, they obscure the point that the cost of office space is a statement about the law firm itself, raising issues that should be addressed in a strategic plan.

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Drawing boundaries with clients (access required)

While many lawyers pride themselves on client service, few enjoy losing their nights and weekends to client calls and emails. Lawyers must balance their need for personal time with the importance of providing great client service, advises Erik Mazzone (pictured), director of the Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar Association in Cary. That said, "being a lawyer is a hard job and having the time to recharge your batteries allows you to be better at your job," Mazzone says. "I'd go home and ask my spouse: ‘Do I need boundaries?'"

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