Archives - January, 2009

27 Jan 09

When I first joined LinkedIN I thought, “How the HECK am I going to find people who are already on LinkedIN? What am I supposed to do type in the names of everyone I know?” Well, good news! Not only can you connect your LinkedIN to your Yahoo or Gmail account to look for people who are already “IN”, but there’s also a tool bar download for Outlook.

The reason I REALLY love this tool bar actually has nothing to do with LinkedIN. I love it because once installed you can easily add new contacts into Outlook. For example, you get an email from a new potential client and you don’t have one of those fancy CRM programs, well with the LinkedIN for Outlook you can highlight their signature box, move your mouse up to the Outlook tool bar and hit “Grab”. Surprisingly it does a very good and clean job of properly placing names in the name field, company in the company field, etc. Saves SO much time!!

So, if this sounds like something you might be interested in take a look at LinkedIN Toolbar for Outlook.

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27 Jan 09

Summit was pleased to be the Platinum sponsor of the King County Bar Association’s annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon on January 16, 2009. The luncheon was held at the Red Lion Hotel in Seattle, and the keynote speaker was Harvard University Professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Summit guests at the luncheon included King County Councilmember Larry Gossett.

From left to right: King County Coucilmember Larry Gossett, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Richard Mitchell

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14 Jan 09

Here’s a great article I picked up from an email advertisement recently sent to me (original at

Many legal professionals do not like asking for payment or feel uncomfortable discussing fees for their work. Yet, chasing down delinquent payments is no fun! When this occurs you or your office staff spend valuable time, energy and money in the process. To help simplify billing and reduce collections, here are 5 proven tips for collecting fees.

  1. Be proactive and communicate. Set your clients expectations up front. Explain your rates, how time is tracked, your billing process, and the types of payment you accept in your firm. That way there are no surprises!
  2. Accept every form of payment: cash, checks, debit and credit cards. If a client is ready to pay for your services do not turn them away! Provide them with every payment option. If the idea of credit card fees scares you then lower them with a Law Firm Merchant Account or consider offering a 10% cash discount.
  3. Go one step further and explain what your actions will be if payments are late and when a non-payment situation occurs. Spell out if you charge interest on late payments and the disengagement process. Incent your clients to pay promptly by offering a 10% discount if payments are received within 10 days.
  4. Avoid late and no-pay pay clients entirely by including a credit card authorization form with your letter of engagement. State on the form that a past-due balance over 90 days will be charged to the client’s credit card on file. Contact the number below for a sample credit authorization form.
  5. Bill regularly, it is an effective form of communicating your status and value to your clients. Make sure bills are straightforward. Always, include the name of someone whom clients can contact with their questions. Plus, include a field for credit card payment. That way they can pay immediately.

Make it easy to get paid by being upfront and clearly communicating fees, payment options and your billing process to your clients. Follow these Five Fee Tips and you will soon discover how easy it is. If you would like to learn more about accepting debit and credit cards in your practice, call 866.376.0950 or visit the Getting Started page to request more information.

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12 Jan 09

SEATTLE, October 29, 2008 – Michael Thorp, an experienced commercial litigator, has joined Summit Law Group. Thorp recently left Heller Ehrman, LLP’s Complex Commercial Litigation Practice Group to join Summit’s Litigation and Environmental Groups.

“Mike will add strength to our litigation practice, depth to our environmental expertise and stature to our regional and national reputation,” commented Polly McNeill, Summit’s chief executive officer.

Thorp has represented customers in a wide range of environmental and natural resource matters, including natural resource damage claims; Endangered Species Act; salmon, steelhead and other marine resources; toxic tort suits, including class actions, state and federal Superfund, RCRA, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and water rights and issues dealing with natural resources owned and claimed by Indian tribes.

“I am excited to join Summit and bring my litigation experience in environmental cleanups to their customers,” says Michael Thorp. “It is refreshing to join a firm that is first and foremost dedicated to meeting its customers’ needs and providing them with the best counsel available.”

Thorp’s career has been wide ranging and varied, both locally and nationally. Locally, he represented the City of Seattle in contribution actions related to remedial activities at the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site. Nationally, he has represented a number of companies in natural resource damage actions, including: Commencement Bay, Wash.; Los Angeles Harbor; California Gulch (Leadville, Colo.); Murray, Utah; Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex, Mont.; Tar Creek, Okla.; Jasper County, Mo.; Cherokee County, Kan.; and Newton County, Mo.

He received his B.A. from the University of Washington and graduated magna cum laude from Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, New York Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Thorp has also authored the Handbook of the Law of Natural Resource Damages (2004), Digging Up NRD: Issues In The Application of CERCLA’s Natural Resource Damages (NRD) Provisions to Historic Mining Sites with Barbara J. Goldsmith, 50 Rocky Mt. Min.L. Inst. 15-1 (2004) and The Coeur d’Alene Case: Breathing New Life Into Old Defenses with Kristen Bamford Wynne, 17 Natural Res. & Env’t. 158 (Winter 2003)

About Summit Law Group
Founded in 1997, Summit Law Group continues to revolutionize law practice through a wholehearted devotion to customer success. Non-traditional and innovative, Summit’s value-driven practice works with customers to achieve exceptional returns on their investments in legal counsel. Summit’s services encompass employment and labor; corporate, securities and tax; real estate, environmental and land use; and trial law. Summit’s talented professionals, lawyers and staff alike, provide exceptional customer service and guarantee superior results.

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12 Jan 09

Mitchell to lead Real Estate Asset Group

SEATTLE, November 13, 2008 – Richard E. Mitchell, General Counsel for Governor Chris Gregoire, has announced that he will join Summit Law Group on December 8, 2008. Mitchell is leaving the Governor’s office after four years and will lead Summit’s Real Estate Asset Group, a multi-disciplinary practice involving real estate, land use, environmental, design and construction law.

“We are thrilled to have Richard join our team,” says Polly L. McNeill, CEO. “He combines a deep understanding of public policy and legal issues related to design, construction and real estate that few lawyers can match. Richard’s training and experience in real estate and construction litigation, property transactions, and urban planning and redevelopment brings a wealth of expertise to our team that will enhance our existing strengths.”

Summit Law Group is a fundamentally different type of law firm, formed more than 10 years ago to provide exemplary, value-based legal services to corporate law departments, public sector organizations, emerging and established companies and high-net-worth individuals. Since its formation, Summit has received national recognition for its accomplishments in serving customers in the areas of employment, labor, corporate, securities, tax, environmental and trial law.

Mitchell joins Summit as a member, and will head its plans to launch Summit’s real estate asset practice regionally and nationally. As General Counsel for Governor Gregoire, his responsibilities included serving as the Governor’s designee on several authorities and commissions that issue tax-exempt bonds; recommending judicial appointments; evaluating requests to transfer state real property; reviewing executive orders, directives, and emergency proclamations; and numerous other duties.

“I am excited to join Summit Law Group,” says Mitchell. “The opportunity to serve the citizens of our great state as Governor Gregoire’s General Counsel has been invaluable and rewarding. I am looking forward to the new challenge of building on Summit’s success, broadening its areas of practice, and enhancing its prominence in the Pacific Northwest and nationally. Summit’s Real Estate Asset Group will provide a platform for me to realize a long-held objective of offering a multi-disciplinary practice that fully serves real estate needs from acquisition and development to occupation and sale.”

Mitchell earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree with honors from Cornell University. He then worked in London, England, with British architect Sir Terry Farrell, and Canadian developer Olympia York on the London Docklands Redevelopment in 1989. He received a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Michigan, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Syracuse University’s College of Law.

Prior to Governor Gregoire appointing him as her General Counsel in January 2005, Mitchell was in private practice in Seattle. He specialized in design, construction, real estate, and general commercial disputes. Mitchell has served as a board member on the Washington Low Income Housing Network, Environmental Works, the City of Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and Zion Preparatory Academy. He is currently on Board of the King County Bar Association and International Community Health Services Foundation.

About Summit Law Group
Founded in 1997, Summit Law Group continues to revolutionize law practice through a wholehearted devotion to customer success. Non-traditional and innovative, Summit’s value-driven practice works with customers to achieve exceptional returns on their investments in legal counsel. Summit’s services encompass employment and labor; corporate and securities and tax; real estate, environmental and land use; and trial law. Summit’s talented professionals, lawyers and staff alike, provide exceptional customer service and guarantee superior results.

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10 Jan 09

Many law firms use both Adobe Professional and also eCopy. eCopy is generally integrated with some different copier systems that “scan to desktop”. Many different copiers use “scan to PDF” or “Email PDF”, but the “scan to desktop” is another option altogether.

First, Adobe Professional is a very expensive product, several hundred dollars per desktop installation. That said, it’s also one of my favorite pieces of software IF you use it to even part of its full potential. Many of us are familiar with the “Print to PDF” option that Adobe Professional installs. It installs a printer driver, then when you want to convert a document to PDF you just select that printer driver, hit print, it asks you for the location where you want it saved and name the file and VOILA! Instant, clean PDF file all set for text searchs and printing a copy just as clean as the original document (90% of the time, some graphics or spreadsheet grids do get distorted).

Unlike the well known “Acrobat Reader” there are lots of other ways you can use Adobe Professional. One of my favorite things to do is to create fillable forms! That’s right, you can create a PDF from a Word document, then you can insert fillable fields into the PDF file. This is particularly helpful if you have forms for “reimbursement” or “registration forms” and lots of others. you can insert fields where people can type. You can also insert a “print” button on the form or even an “email this form” button, so that after they fill out the fields it’s easy and seamless to get the form back to you.

I also like some of the PDF editor tools in Adobe Professional. For example you can use the “typewriter” to type onto any PDF form anywhere. I’m not really fond of the typewriter because you can’t choose a font or size or other styles, just one “old fashion” typewriter font. It’s also nice to use the highlighter when reviewing a document. You can also insert notes.

So, lets discuss eCopy. Like I said, the reason I first got eCopy was because it “came with” our copier system. So, instead of just emailing a PDF to my email in box (that is already full of stuff I have a hard time keeping track of) when I “scan to desktop” using eCopy it actually pops up an alert on your desktop telling you there’s a scanned document waiting. You then click on the icon and it shows you a list of documents that have been scanned to you throuh the eCopy system.

So, that’s one part I like. Another important fact is that, just like Adobe Professional, eCopy installs a “print driver” so that any document can be “converted” and opened in eCopy for editing and saving in eCopy format or it also saves in PDF format. The distinct advantage eCopy has over Adobe Professional is that you can print multiple documents to a single eCopy file. When you “print to PDF” via Adobe it saves the file copy immedately. However with eCopy when you “print to eCopy” it just opens the eCopy version in a draft format without yet saving it. This means that you can continue “printing” different documents to eCopy and adding them to the same file without saving each as a separate PDF file first (as is the case with the Adobe PDF printer). Sure, you can combine separae documents in Adobe Professional. This is possible by opening one of them and importing the other separate files into the existing file. Sure, it works, it’s just more steps.

Editing eCopy documents is MUCH easier than in Adobe PDF. That said, you can open PDF files in eCopy and you can edit them too! You can easily white out or black out sections of the documents. You can insert text, in any format, size, font, style, that you want. You create “stamps” (I use this feature for inserting my signature into a document). That said, even though it’s “easier” to use and edit with eCopy, if you actually have to print an eCopy document it tends to pixilate the white background making printed documents look a bit “dirty”.

Which one do I like better? Both. It just depends on the usage for the individual final document. If I know it’s going to be printed or searched, I try to use Adobe Professional. However, if I’m editing, modifying or combining multiple documents I really prefer eCopy.

My understanding is the eCopy can’t be purchased from the manufacturer. It’s distributed directly through scanning/copying companies.

Best of luck! Shoot a comment if you’d like to know a specific use or need you want clarified.

As I’ve said

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8 Jan 09

It’s time for the world to be introduced to THE certification for Legal Administrators! Known in the Association of Legal Administrators as “CLM” this certification should be acknowledged as a milestone for qualifying a new law firm legal administrators.

The program has some very strict requirements such as: 3 years of legal management experience (5 years if you are a functional specialist, Finance, HR, IT, etc), 120 minutes in 5 different areas of pre-qualified educational programs (an additional 15 hours if you are a functional specialist), detailed application process, 4 hour exam, and a recertification program every three years.

Here’s how ALA describes the intention of the program:

To improve the quality of management in legal services organizations; promote and enhance the competence and professionalism of legal administrators and all members of the management team; and represent professional legal management and managers to the legal community and to the community at large.

For more information on the Certified Legal Manager program please take a look at ALA’s official CLM page.

I am honored to be sitting for the exam in May 2009 in New Orleans, LA at the ALA Annual Educational Conference and Exposition!!

Wish me luck!

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7 Jan 09

Since I recently got my new BlackBerry Storm at the end of November and now have SOME access to GPS (Verizon has a habit of locking down features, like GPS was on my former BlackBerry 8830), I wanted to try out some GPS software.

Verizon only unlocks GPS usage for SOME software. Of course they promote their VZNav and though I’ve heard decent things about it, I just have some aversion to paying a monthly subscription for using a technology that’s free (GPS itself is free, you generally pay for the software or device or both).

Well, after helping my boss find a GPS system for his wife, he mentioned to me how much she LOVED her new Garmin! She drove from Seattle to Lake Tahoe and because of the redirecting that Garmin did it saved her 3 hours from her original trip route! All time saved because of closed roads (snow) or extremely heavy traffic (avoided by surface streets through towns).

So, I downloaded Garmin on my BlackBerry and here’s what I found:

PROS: very simple to use, night view/day view (changes background colors so your eyes can adjust easily), search for gas prices near you or near a specific location, very intuitive interface.

CONS: doesn’t accommodate for traffic delays on “arrival time” very well (I’m used to Google Maps for BlackBerry that tells you the standard commute time, then adds on the traffic delay)

Overall, very nice application with very easy to use features. However, still plenty of room for future improvements!

Check out the product at
(List price is $99.99 for a “lifetime of device” license. If you subscribe to their email list they often send out discount coupon codes. I got mine for 25% off! NEW Coupon code “SAVEALOT”)

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