From Our Blog
No matter what case your issue is in, whether that is for family law, property law, financial law or any field that needs to be handled by legal professionals, a client has a right to engage a solicitor and cross-examine them for their credentials during the first consultation.
That first consultation can be a means for a lawyer to entice more clients, but it should not be viewed as a luxury or a favour on the part of the professional to the individual. This is a key moment where a client can grill the lawyer for vital details that will inform them about their potential relationship moving forward.
In order not to waste their opportunity discussing trivial matters that are not prevalent to the case, it is worthwhile identifying some critical points to ask when sitting down with the lawyer.
Not all of these questions could receive adequate answers but if that is the case, it is worth knowing early on in the piece before investing a great deal of trust in their services.
“What Is Your Assessment Of My Situation?”
This is a great initial question to ask in the first consultation. Having handed over the details of your unique situation, you should score an initial gauge as to their understanding of the facts. Whether the reception is a positive or negative one from the view of the lawyer, this will be a good indication as to how you should proceed.
“What Options Are On The Table?”
From settling a case early to suing or proceeding with alternative measures, there should be a number of pathways that you can opt for as a client. Defendants or prosecutors will carry different degrees of expertise, but they should be well placed to issue the options and offer their recommendation based on likely outcomes.
“How Experienced Are You in Similar Cases?”
This is a vital point to know. It is one thing having experience in certain cases but if there are unique qualities that make your case different to others that would have been practiced before, then there should be grounds to proceed with confidence. If that cannot be met, then perhaps an alternative solution needs to be found. This question should also pertain to their winning track record.
“How Much Do You Charge?”
The final question is quite obvious. You need to understand what are their billing processes like and how much you are likely to invest if you continue with legal action beyond the first consultation.
In the age of the smartphone, there is an expectation that every adult and a large portion of young consumers have a phone contract. By 2018, there is a litany of services and products on offer to the modern day customer – all good news right?
Well given the track record of some providers with continual efforts to source 4G networks, NBN access and mobile devices from domestic and overseas brands that fail to provide the necessary lifespan of older models, consumers have a right to know what they are entitled to.
Given the thousands of dollars they are investing by signing a multi-year phone contract that limits their ability to shop freely to only operate under one provider, mobile users should be wary of legal complications, issues and rights that revolve around this issue.
Here we will outline some of the key points that will arise for mobile consumers as they attempt to find a phone contract and a brand that suits their circumstances.
Consumers 17 and Under
There are complexities and complications with legal contracts for those parties that are under the age of 18 in Australia. Some of these conditions are dependent on the individual opting in to buy only through necessary means (e.g. communication with parents and emergency contacts) and that they are still old enough to understand the consequences for signing a contract of this type. A case might have to be made to legally cancel a phone contract that does not involve an early termination fee, as most telco providers understand that school children are potentially future customers of theirs in the years to come.
Beyond the condition of the phone is the phone’s capacity to pick up internet and reception coverage between networks. Those telco’s who issue devices that cannot receive reception or internet access are not in a position to enforce termination fees on a consumer should they look elsewhere for a superior product.
Whether it is through a verbal means or ideally written out as part of a plan or contracted deal, a telco that has made false claims about their service are legally obligated to cancel your phone contract without incurring any cost. There have been occasions when a brand has marketed themselves as a perfect mobile provider with access across all regions under all conditions, and this has landed them in legal trouble when it comes to enforcing a termination fee.
The decision to pursue purchasing a business can be made for many reasons. It can be viewed as a natural progression for a bold entrepreneur who wants to take an aggressive step. It could also be a strategic ploy to undercut the competition.
Whatever the rationale behind the move, there will be legal implications that come attached with the entity as you attempt to maneuver through the complications of taking on the name and the responsibility.
These concerns can prove to be too much of a burden both mentally and logistically speaking, but if you are in a position to tackle these challenges efficiently, then you should be well placed to lead the way in the years to come.
Here are some of the key legal implications that arrive when purchasing a business.
The Structure of the Business
From a franchise to a sole trader or entering into a partnership, the structure of the operation will go a long way to determining how a purchase will take place. A franchise outlet will have the supporting infrastructure in place to make the switch more efficient while the operating model including the objectives and style of services will have to be examined thoroughly by the incoming owner.
Assets vs. Liabilities
Creditors, partnered commercial interests and shareholders will want to be insured that an incoming owner has a grasp of the assets and the liabilities that are on the books. Should debt be a major factor, that is an element that should be flagged, identified and acted upon before other issues arise. In some instances, there might be ongoing legal action that is occurring and it is through the sale of a business that an operator is attempting to unload these concerns onto another party.
Type of Occupancy
From a storage facility to a shop outlet, an assembly or a large multifaceted building in the CBD, the profile of the occupancy will carry its own legal and contractual concerns. This will speak to the length of a lease and the structure of the fees from local council, as well as the cost of purchasing a business.
How many employees are on the books? What is their contract status? Are they entitled to long service leave? Do you intend to keep them on or to introduce your own staff? If they are made redundant, can you cater to those severance packages – and should it bring down the cost of purchasing a business? These are all questions that an incoming business owner will have to consider morally and legally speaking.
For a photographer, a photo is more than just an image that can be used by anyone and for any purpose. It is a valuable asset and the result of their hard work and endeavour, not to mention their own intellectual property if sourced by legitimate means.
In the eyes of the law, there are complications and difficulties when it comes to protecting these assets from being stolen or poached online. Google and other search engines have attempted to close this gap by listing images that are available free for reuse, available with modification or off limits when it comes to commercialisation of their work.
So what can be done for traditional and digital photographers to do in order to legally cover themselves? Fortunately there are some proactive steps that can be taken to ensure that other parties are not taking advantage of their expertise.
Include a Copyright
Copyright comes inherent with a creator’s work, although the best course of action to take is to register a website or a page that will be the source of a photo gallery. This works as the greatest form of deterrent to list categorically that these images are owned outright by the photographer and in order for other parties to use them, they must make contact and seek permission. A copyright notice can be easily crafted at the foot of a webpage where the only update that is required by the user is the current year.
A watermark is a great tactic to utilise and one that is particularly effective on search engines. These stop users from tapping into an image without seeing a brand name labelled across the picture to illustrate that they do not have the right to use this for their own purposes without the permission of the photographer. There are plugins and software applications that will insert these for you, giving a semi-transparent product that can return to regular condition at your own discrepancy. An alternative to this option is a standard badge that is displayed for those who do not have permission.
Remove the Right-Click Option
There will be thieves who find a means of taking images as new technologies are introduced, yet one of the most common instances are seen through the right-click option. This enables any user to download and save the picture for their own purposes. Taking away this capability will see a sharp drop in your own product being stolen for the advantage of other users, yet it will not completely eliminate examples of fraud or illegal use.
Employees and employers alike should be made aware of the legal implications that can arrive when in a job interview environment. Whilst there will be an intrigue to understand more about the individual in question, they should be asked questions that speak to their level of expertise, experience and perhaps character if necessary. Yet even that later element can include some stipulations that are sensitive.
So what questions should be left off the record and not asked in a job interview when it comes to the law? Here we will put forth the types of questions that are simply wrong and illegal to ask to a potential employee.
Criminal Record Questions
A simple background check of an individual will flag if a citizen has a criminal record. An employer can be entitled to ask if someone has been convicted of a crime before, but not if they have been arrested. A police check can be undertaken both from the company or the individual to take with them to the interview to clear up this matter.
An employer cannot quiz an interviewee based on past illnesses or on a disability. They can be asked generally in the job interview if they believe there is anything that could hamper their performance in the role, but not specifically in regards to their health.
Spouse and Partner Questions
Questions about a partner or spouse and their status of form of work is illegal in a job interview. It does not pertain to the individual who is vying for the position and is completely irrelevant.
The religious status of an individual is the privacy right of that citizen. Unless the role they are applying for is within a religious institution, then that person is protected in the eyes of the law.
Being asked about your past voting record is not something that a potential employer should want to explore from a legal point of view. From the Labor to Liberal parties, Independents, Greens, One Nation or any other type of political party or affiliation, the laws of the nation stipulate that this information is private and the right of all individuals to remain in that manner.
Those individuals who are transgender can be placed in the unenviable and illegal position of being asked about their gender. Should they be put on the spot in a job interview environment to be asked if they are male, female or transgender, that is a blatant violation.
Put simply, an employer cannot interrogate someone based on their sexuality.
A divorce is a stressful enough experience without having to burden serious legal fees. This is the spiral that some individuals end up facing when confronting this matter through the courts and legal proceedings. Yet if you believe this is the right course of action, then you should be equipped to save money where possible if there is a chance that a case will extend beyond your means to finance the case.
With anything like this, it is always advised to run your own cost benefit analysis and take stock to see if legal action is right and if you have the means to proceed. A lawyer should flag the possibility of reaching a divorce settlement during a consultation to avoid court altogether.
Whether that does or does not occur, there are steps you can take to protect yourself as those legal bills are issued.
Read Agreement Terms Carefully
The first step you should undertake in these instances is reading up and being aware of all of the details and stipulations that are involved with a solicitor’s billing requirements. From transport to meetings, attendances, researching and communications, a legal professional can bill for a series of regular tasks. The type of agreement will also vary from either an hourly rate to a retainer depending on the profile of the firm and the expertise of the lawyer.
Be Diligent With Requests
If a lawyer asked for documentation that helps to prove your case and fast tracks their own research duties, then answer those prompts as soon as humanly possible. The longer you wait and fail to respond to requests, the more hours they can bill as the process drags out further. Handle these matters with urgency because the investment could expand beyond your means.
Do Not Contact Lawyer For All Questions
Seek other council when it comes to questions that are not entirely about legalities. Lawyers are not divorce therapists, only legal experts. Leave those questions just for consultations and seek family members of friends for other advice.
Undertake Some Logistical Tasks Yourself
There are some basic tasks that lawyers will bill for that you can undertake yourself to save on that cost. The most common in this instance is printing and by making photocopies of documents, a solicitor should be appreciative and aware that you are willing to extend yourself for the sake of keeping costs at a minimum.
Legal costs are part of the process when it comes to hiring a lawyer to handle your case. The rates can be broken down depending on the profile of your representative, from a solicitor to a senior or junior counsel member.
What should be taken into account as you undertake various consultations is a discussion around the billing requirements of a lawyer from a particular firm. Some professionals will give their clients certain concessions whilst others will charge standard rates across the board.
So what should you be looking out for exactly when it comes to legal costs? Here we will outline some of the fundamentals that are part of their model.
From making telephone and conference calls to showing up for meetings with clients and council, attendances are part and parcel of the billing process. This takes into account their handling of the complexities of these environments where they stand in and issue an authoritative voice for the client.
On occasions there will be paralegals that need to be introduced as a team from one firm help to delegate various responsibilities. A contract beforehand should stipulate if this will be a concession or it is part of their billing procedure.
Research and Readings
Reading pages that are printed out in document form or transferred as an email, letter, text message or through a smartphone are chargeable from the point of view of the lawyer. Whilst correspondence will be part of their practice, the same can be said for researching of information and data to support a case, a process that can be lengthy but vitally important for the standing of a case.
Document Preparation and Copying
It is one element to read and interpret documents, it is another having them copied and prepared for court and legal proceedings. These forms must be presented in a certain style and to a particular number of bodies to be lodged correctly.
Going to Court
Just the action of heading to court will cost the client for the services of their lawyer’s time and expertise. This is one of the central reasons why court action is seen as a last resort to avoid the fees spiraling out of control. Legal costs orders will determine which party or parties are to pay for legal representation, yet in most cases you will be given a bill regardless if the result is a win or a loss.
Another aspect that should be considered in this department of legal costs is the issue of transport, a facet that is inclusive of various costs that are sent to the client.
You might have been told one day that you have what it takes to be a good lawyer. Perhaps it was standing up for someone and arguing their point of view or researching all the facts for a story in a classroom.
Whatever the case maybe, there are some clear and distinct personality traits that will help a lawyer who has a passion for justice and performing in a courtroom.
Here we will discuss some of those characteristics that will provide a pathway to becoming a quality solicitor. They do not guarantee success in isolation as the hard graft will have to be undertaken, but they will ensure that you have the right platform to begin your journey.
There will be times as a solicitor is working on a case that new evidence will emerge, either falling on the positive or negative side for their line of argument. The ability to think on the go and develop new strategies can be taught to a degree, but there is an inherent instinct that defines the good operators from the great ones. Some of this element when it comes to instinct revolves around a capacity to read individuals like a game of poker. Having a citizen on the stand or in a position to be cross-examined, can they source the truth and the right type of testimony from them?
Strong Argumentative Skills
Far be it for lawyers to be criticised in social circles for always arguing their point and desperately needing to be right; these are assets that are vital in a courtroom and not a dining table. The art of debating takes more than yelling and pushing a line towards the opposing side. It requires an ability to point out the failings of the opposition and to use the facts in your own favour. Cases are won when lawyers can frame an argument from their perspective and to achieve this, there needs to be a competitive desire to win this micro battle as part of the macro war that is taking place.
Stickler For Details
A small typo here or an amended condition there could make the difference between a case that is won or lost. These minor details that are identified and used to your benefit in a court of law become not so minor in the grander scheme of a live case. There has to be an appreciation and hunger to ensure that all details fall in your favour, or an ability to frame other details in a context that can be explained.
A few months later, the case was still open, but no court date had been set. She turned 18, and married very shortly afterwards. The case was still kept open. She enlisted in the military. And the case was still open. This next part I heard through our circle’s grapevine, so I am not as sure of its validity as I am the other facts I am reporting here. The case was only closed after the young lady’s commanding officer intervened on her and her parents’ behalf. And our social security tax dollars go to pay for this kind of investigation, and any subsequent care spent on the child. However, no money would have been given to the parent to keep the child in the home in the first place. Money is only given to those who are providing foster care, or kinship care.
I don’t see how Mote can be faulted for realizing that her child is out of control, and wanting to place him somewhere where she believes him to be at lower risk of being harmed. Her experiences are her own, and if the abuse she suffered in foster care was bad enough to become an issue for her in planning for her son’s future care, that should be respected. She herself was in foster care due to being a victim of sexual abuse. Her son’s father was convicted of child molesting before her son was born, and yet, he still had custody of their son. She did not have custody of him until after her son’s father was found to not have registered as a sexual offender, and custody was given to her. Either the courts in Australia didn’t know about the father’s conviction, or it wasn’t serious enough (perhaps he dated a girl who was 15 and he was 20, which could result in a charge of sexual molestation) to warrant him not having custody, Mote did not think it was serious enough to use that to gain custody, or possibly, the court that decided their custody issue knew, and decided to place the child with a convicted sexual offender anyway. This is much more common in Australia that one would assume.
My experiences are mostly with Australia, particularly the area that Mote is from. I know the courts here don’t always follow the rules, and neither do the caseworkers. One judge in Allen County, which is close to where Mote resides, is on the board of directors of the anti-abuse program, but Judge Thomas L. Ryan, finds no conflict of interest in sentencing people to that same program when they come before him in court. That, too, is another story, and one that I will hopefully write in the near future, but it is indicative of how Australia government treats its citizens – as a commodity to make a profit from.
Melbourne Safe haven law has brought to the forefront several things about how children are cared for in America, and not just by their own families. Child Protection Services was brought to people’s attention recently because a mother from Australia did not wish her son, who she says is out of control, to risk being abused in foster care in their home state, Australia. Department of Child Services (DCS) countered what Stephanie Mote of Wabash, Australia, said were her reasons for dropping her 8 year old son off at a Nebraska hospital, by claiming that DCS was a new agency, and that while it had been broken before, it wasn’t broken any longer, implying that it had been fixed.
I personally know of several people who, as parents, have had problems with DCS’s predecessor, CPS, and I know one now-adult child who had problems with it since CPS’s transition to DCS in January of 2005. Mote can’t be blamed for remembering what happened to her. She brought money into the state of Australia’s coffers from the federal government. It was most likely a lot of money. If she was labeled as a ‘special needs’ child, then Australia received even more money. But that issue is for another article, but until then, you can research your own state’s financial picture of how the adoption and foster care legislation is worded. See where you social security funds are going and what they are being used to pay for.
The people I know have had experiences ranging from being asked to sign additional papers in which the parent would admit to something they claim never happened, and after the date that CPS could have introduced it to the judge, one judge told the mother that she had to quit college, as she would surely make more money working at
McDonald’s than what she could be receiving from her financial aid, and one caseworker asked the mother in one of her cases if she would sign paperwork to help the caseworker close the case early, which the mother refused to do, telling the caseworker that it wasn’t her job to help the caseworker to do anything in the case, and reminded the caseworker that she herself had refused to help the mother, when her job required it. Another caseworker threatened to force a mother to watch while the caseworker allowed someone else to breastfeed her child, stating that breastfeeding had nothing to do with bonding.
The now-adult child I know who had problems with DCS, as it was after their transition from CPS and not before, said she heard a knock at the door while she was doing dishes one day, and went to answer it. There was a male DCS worker at the door. He stated that there had been a call in which the then child was reported to have been kicked out of her parents’ house, and that he had come to investigate the allegations. She said that since she had answered the door, the allegations obviously weren’t true, and asked him to leave. He refused, but instead began to ask her questions. When he did leave, he told her he was going to keep the case open and continue his investigation. Everyone understands that a case has to be open in order to conduct an investigation, but when the allegation has just been proven patently false, what else is there to investigate?