REPORT ON LDRC
Happy Spring. The long winter of frozen government and pipes is coming to an end. At least the pipes.
We are going to stop talking about being new and excited about being new, because we are not that new anymore. But, we are excited about not being that new anymore. There, I said it! The state of LDRC is good and we thank you all for your continuing support. We continue to mediate, arbitrate, write, teach and generally enjoy life; and we hope the latter for you.
In this issue, we offer another a piece of our own “Massachusetts Alimony Reform and Divorce Mediation: Is it Information or Legal Advice?”. In it, we explore the murky territory between legal information and legal advice in mediation practice. The former is critical to effective mediation, the latter forbidden; and it is a struggle sometimes to walk the right side of a blurry line. The one-year old alimony statute doubles down on the challenge. We would to love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this challenging subject.
We also start featuring one of our recent blog entries, to welcome you to our shorter form and close to weekly comments. They are quite diverse and we hope interesting. Don’t forget to click the RSS button if you want to receive them in real time.
Then, as always, we have our guest writers. For those of you with professional practices, or who represent those that do, we offer “Law Office Embezzlement -- Are You at Risk?”, an important self-assessment tool that is the work of Rich Streitfeld, CPA, CFE, of Cranston, Rhode Island’s Aaronson Lavoie Streitfeld Diaz & Co (www.alscpa.com). For divorce practitioners and allied referring professionals, we present “At least three roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one less traveled by… Divorce Consultation: A new paradigm”, authored by Attorney Heidi R. Webb, of Lincoln, MA (www.DivorceConsultations.com), a fresh look on evaluating prospective clients’ needs and Heidi’s take on how she helps her clients, and potentially yours. We hope you find them helpful and different.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ENJOY OUR GUEST WRITERS PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SEND ANY PIECES OF YOUR OWN THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE US PUBLISH HERE IN FUTURE NEWSLETTERS. SEND THEM (with head shot and/or logo) TO firstname.lastname@example.org.
At least three roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one less traveled by…
Divorce Consultation: A new paradigm
By: Heidi R.Webb
After practicing family law for over 25 years, I knew something was missing. The traditional legal process of divorce only deals with the legal issues. My clients not only needed legal advice, but life planning strategies, emotional support, and a basic financial overview. Those issues were not traditionally addressed in a lawyer’s office, leaving a gaping hole for the client not only through their divorce, but also once the divorce became final. read more...
Massachusetts Alimony Reform
and Divorce Mediation:
Is it Information or Legal Advice?
By: William M. Levine and Hon. E. Chouteau Levine (Ret.)
Alimony reform, effective March 1, 2012, created a number
of important time sensitivities that did not exist in the spousal
support law of Massachusetts, previously. Addressing these timing
issues in divorce mediation raises important challenges for
the practitioner, one of which is how to find a balance among three
imperatives: mediator impartiality, informed client decision-making,and avoiding giving legal advice. Here, we ask: when we “inform”
clients about particulars of the alimony statute that carry timing perils
or opportunities, are we giving information or legal advice? read more...
Law Office Embezzlement -- Are You at Risk?
By: Rich Streitfeld, CPA, CFE
You work diligently to protect your client’s assets. Are you watching over your own? By definition, embezzlement requires a relationship of trust that has been violated. There is surprise and disappointment as well as anger. Small firms may have fewer of these controls in place; you may be even more at risk.
- There are no signature stamps kept in the office and only partners sign checks.
- The bank statement is mailed to the managing partner’s home or to the company’s accountant.
- The password to the financial program is changed regularly.
- The managing partner reviews all write-offs and adjustments to client accounts.
- Financial staff must take vacations and their duties covered while they are gone.
- Criminal background checks are conducted on potential employees.
- You keep an off-site or cloud back-up of all computer files.
- You distribute interim financial reports to all partners and meet to discuss them (the reports, not the other partners).
- You review the credit card statements.
- The firm’s insurance policy includes coverage in case of employee embezzlement.