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Our firm is committed to one thing: helping people.

To carry out our motto, non nobis solum (“not for ourselves alone”), Minick Law, P.C. of Wilmington has been getting out and helping the community in a number of different ways.

Check out some of our latest updates.

Youth Day Sponsorship

Minick Law, P.C. of Wilmington recently became a sponsor of the New Hanover County Law Enforcement Officers Association’s Youth Day 2019!

Since 1972, the New Hanover County Law Enforcement Officers Association (NHCLEOA) has been dedicated to making New Hanover County a safer place to live and work.

With over 350 members, the NHCLEOA is comprised of active/retired law enforcement officers, including special and associate members. A community service organization, they offer a wide variety of programs for youths and adults alike, including:

  • Law Enforcement Training
  • Outdoor Sports Program
  • Archery Programs
  • Student Scholarships
  • Summer Camps/Programs
  • Hunter/Firearm Safety Training
  • Christmas Programs for Kids
  • And much more!

The Annual Youth Day is just one of NHCLEOA’s many community-based events, open to all youths, ages 6-16.

As a Gold Level Sponsor for the event, Minick Law, P.C. will be helping the Youth Day to remain FREE of charge for all participants. The day’s events will include food, prizes, K-9 unit, archery, and a variety of demonstrations.

For more information about the event, visit the NHCLEOA website.

High School Q&A

Minick Law P.C. of Wilmington has been trying to fulfill our firm’s mission of helping people (non nobis solum) by getting out into our local community.

Just recently, Attorney Gint Krulikas (Minick Law, P.C. of Wilmington) spoke to a group of students at a local high school.

The students at Wilmington Early College High School are currently working on a unit covering the U.S. Constitution and legal system, as part of their curriculum. To help them gain some first-hand knowledge, Gint offered to do an “Ask a Lawyer” session with the students.

He visited the classroom and did a Q&A session with them. It was a big success with the students! Who knows, we may have some future attorneys on our hands!

See some photos from the talk below.

The post Wilmington Updates | Minick Law, P.C. appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Minick Law, P.C. is proud to announce Richard Presley as the January Non Nobis Solum Award Winner!

Richard was nominated by his wife, Denise, for his many years of dedicated service to the community, as both a firefighter and EMT. Here’s a bit of background on Richard and his many accomplishments:

Having grown up in a family of first responders, Richard’s first exposure to the fire service was as a child. His first official involvement began at the Haw Creek Volunteer Fire Department, in November of 1996. This volunteer position officially kick-started his fire service career. Since then, he has volunteered at numerous other departments throughout the state.

Richard served at Fairview Fire Department, where he obtained his EMT certification. In 2007, when he moved to Madison County, he joined Ebbs Chapel Volunteer Fire Dept. and completed his state fire certification.

Since 2012, he has served at the French Broad Volunteer Fire & Rescue. He transitioned to a full-time position and was recently promoted to Lieutenant. In addition to his position at French Broad, he has also worked part-time at Broad River Fire Department, since 2013.

Even amidst his busy schedule, he also drives a school bus part-time for Buncombe County schools.

Richard’s passion and love for the fire service and his community is evident in his 23+ years of service. As a small token of appreciation for all he’s done, Minick Law, P.C. is sending Richard and his wife, Denise, to 131 Main Restaurant for dinner, on us.

Please join us in thanking Richard for his continued service.

Each month this year, Minick Law, P.C. will be sharing 12 amazing stories and giving away 12 great gifts to emphasize our firm’s commitment to one thing: helping people.

Stay tuned! Nominate someone today!

The post January Winner | Non Nobis Solum Award appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Minick Law, P.C. is proud to announce Micah Willard as the Non Nobis Solum Valentine’s Day Award Winner!

Micah was nominated by his loving wife, Kathleen. She shared with us their love story that began with him sweeping the floor at a retreat in college. The rest is history!

As a token of appreciation, he will be receiving a $100 gift card to the restaurant of his choice!

Take a look at Micah’s nomination below:

Each month this year, Minick Law, P.C. will be sharing 12 amazing stories and giving away 12 great gifts to emphasize our firm’s commitment to one thing: helping people.

Stay tuned! Nominate someone today!

The post February Winner | Non Nobis Solum Award appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Minick Law, P.C. is proud to announce Micah Willard as the Non Nobis Solum Valentine’s Day Award Winner!

Micah was nominated by his loving wife, Kathleen. She shared with us their love story that began with him sweeping the floor at a retreat in college. The rest is history!

As a token of appreciation, he will be receiving a $100 gift card to the restaurant of his choice!

Take a look at Micah’s nomination below:

Each month this year, Minick Law, P.C. will be sharing 12 amazing stories and giving away 12 great gifts to emphasize our firm’s commitment to one thing: helping people.

Stay tuned! Nominate someone today!

The post Non Nobis Solum Award |February Winner appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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When it comes to drunk driving accidents in North Carolina, not all counties are created equal.

While the state as a whole has a relatively low percentage of drunk driving accidents, the actual numbers vary wildly across the state. Using data from UNC’s Highway Safety Research Center and the United States Census Bureau, we’ve constructed the following maps to help you better understand North Carolina’s drunk driving landscape.

Number of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

As might be expected, the most heavily populated counties have a much higher number of drunk driving accidents. Just how great the difference is may come as a surprise, however: in 2017, Mecklenburg County had 1,108 alcohol related crashes, while Hyde County had only 2.

Counties with Most Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Mecklenburg – 1,108
  2. Wake – 993
  3. Guilford – 672

Counties with Least Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Hyde – 2
  2. Tyrell – 5
  3. Washington – 7
Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

Another more significant statistic is the rate of alcohol related crashes, which throws the spotlight on counties with an unusually high or low number of crashes relative to their population. For example, in Hyde County there was only one alcohol related crash for every 2,681 residents, while Martin County had a much higher rate of one for every 414 residents.

Counties with the Highest Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Martin – 1 out of every 414 people
  2. Vance – 1 out of every 560 people
  3. Duplin – 1 out of every 568 people

Counties with the Lowest Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes 2017

  1. Hyde – 1 out of every 2681 people
  2. Yancey – 1 out of every 2217 people
  3. Macon – 1 out of every 1737 people
5 Year Difference in Alcohol Related Crashes

Identifying how counties have changed over several years can help show what policies have been effective in combating drunk driving, or what factors lead to an increase in alcohol-related crashes.

The data shows, for example, that while Jacksonville has been labeled North Carolina’s Drunkest City, the surrounding Onslow County has in fact seen the state’s largest decrease in alcohol-related crashes since 2012. Meanwhile, Cabarrus County’s alcohol-related crash count has increased seriously over the same time span.

Counties with the Greatest Decrease in Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Onslow – a decrease of 99, from 290 to 191, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 1015.
  2. Cumberland – a decrease of 72, from 360 to 288, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 1155.
  3. Buncombe – a decrease of 31, from 323 to 292, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 882.

Counties with the Greatest Increase in Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Cabarrus – an increase of 67, from 199 to 266, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 778.
  2. Johnston – an increase of 61, from 225 to 286, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 688.
  3. Iredell – an increase of 45, from 161 to 206, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 853.
5 Year Difference in Alcohol Related Crashes with Teen Drivers

Alcohol-related crashes are even more serious when teen drivers are involved. Some of North Carolina’s counties have seen success in combating teen drinking and driving, while others have struggled. In 2017, Beaufort County had twice as many alcohol-related crashes with teen drivers than it did in 2012, while in Catawba County, the number of such crashes had been cut in half.

Counties with the Greatest Increase in Teen Driver Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Beaufort – from 6 to 12. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 5 of Beaufort’s alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 8 in 2012.
  2. Cabarrus – from 10 to 15. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 18 of Cabarrus’ alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 20 in 2012.
  3. Duplin – from 4 to 8. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 13 of Duplin’s alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 23 in 2012.

Counties with the Greatest Decrease in Teen Driver Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Wake – from 88 to 74. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 13 of Wake’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 11 in 2012.
  2. Catawba – from 26 to 13. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 14 of Catawba’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 8 in 2012.
  3. Mecklenburg – from 80 to 69. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 16 of Mecklenburg’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 14 in 2012.

Population Estimates from the United States Census Bureau.

Crash Data from Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The post Drunk Driving Accidents in North Carolina: The Map appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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In the service industry, a consumer is basing his buying/hiring decision primarily on how helpful you are.

In law, where the product you are selling is information, the client expects that you know what you are supposed to know in order to achieve the desired legal outcome.

The client assumes (hopefully correctly) that you would not take his case if you don’t know what you are doing. The reason the client retains you is not therefore, your legal acumen, but the degree to which you separate yourself from the pack in one category: helpfulness.

Helpfulness separates your firm from others.

Using the evaluative criterion of helpfulness, a client begins separating your firm from the competition during the initial phone call. Your ability to answer questions, provide information and follow up is critical in converting prospective clients to paying ones. If you don’t answer the phone calls, then your most important hiring decision is your receptionist. This person is the face of your firm and the first “helper” the client meets.

That’s why at Minick Law, our front desk is known as the Help Desk.

Your front desk receptionist tells the potential client your firm is not helpful if he:

  • Is rude or short with the client (i.e. doesn’t have time for the client)
  • Goes straight to pricing (i.e. doesn’t have time for the client)
  • Can’t answer simple questions (i.e. isn’t competent to handle serious matters)
  • Doesn’t explain the next steps for the client to take

Many clients are gauging your office’s helpfulness on primarily one question during the initial phone call: do you have time for them?

If you don’t have time to speak with a client about his case prior to his paying your office money, a client will not be confident you will give him more time once he has paid your office. Many clients will go into a ten-minute breathless explanation of their case as soon as they call your office because they don’t think they will be able to get their story out otherwise.

You’ll win or lose a client on the first call.

A person with a legal problem is highly concerned that if he does not communicate every detail of his case something will go wrong. A good legal receptionist knows how to ask the right questions so that the potential client has the confidence he needs to feel like his situation will be handled correctly.

Your office wins the first impression battle by not rushing or shushing the client during the initial phone call.

You must create an atmosphere in which the client perceives that lack of personal attention will not be an additional hurdle he must face in an already frustrating and confusing legal situation.

Creating a culture of help is the cornerstone of your legal practice because there are a million ways to improve the help and service you provide to clients, i.e. the way you make a client’s life easier.

This culture of help is not some gimmick or façade; it must be genuine: make people’s lives better. Period.

6 ways you can make your client’s experience better:

There are countless ways to make your service and your client’s legal experience better. Just look at the initial phone call and examine ways to improve these areas:

Z

1.  How easy was the client able to get in touch with you? Did they have to leave a VM? Go through an auto-attendant? Be put on hold immediately?

Z

2.  How much information did the receptionist provide to the client?

Z

3.  Did the person answering the phone call ask the right questions to get the necessary contact info and case details?

Z

4.  What next steps was the client given? Consultation/meeting scheduled? Request for important information or documents?

Z

5.  What information was sent to the client following the initial phone call? A confirmation email with a follow up consultation? An informational video about the client’s legal dilemma?

Z

6.  What was the client’s perception of the intangibles of the receptionist? [Ex. Intelligent or confused, friendly or rude, confident or unsure, compassionate or judgmental, etc.]

 These things matter and they can be improved to the betterment of your clients. Put the microscope of helpfulness on every aspect of your client interaction and case management process. What are the solutions you can find to the problems that face your client?

While outstanding helpfulness during the initial phone call will increase your conversion ratio on new leads (i.e. prospective clients), outstanding helpfulness throughout your representation will result in client-based referrals. Create an experience that that is so focused on helping your client, that your client will not be able to keep the experience to himself. Create a client experience that needs to be shared.

Lawyers have an advantage in shattering the expectations of their clients when it comes to helpfulness: most people think lawyers are heartless, money sucking liars.

Show that you are not only more helpful, friendly, and compassionate than other lawyers, but that you also best your client’s doctor, accountant, plumber, dentist, and hair stylist in these qualities. Make your level of helpfulness unforgettable.

Here are some additional ways you can create a culture of help:

I have previously written about creating a culture of help but here are some of the ways to build such a culture: 

$

Don’t complain about clients (or better yet don’t complain about anything), especially in front of your staff. A whining office will quickly deteriorate into an office incapable of being helpful.

Instead: go the extra mile for a client, especially in front of your staff.

$
Ask clients regularly how you can improve your services.
$
Study your craft. Being better at what you do will undoubtedly improve the ways you can help your client.
$
Hire people that smile. Staff and attorneys begin the culture of help with a smile (an outward reflection of an inward YES attitude).
$
Encourage your staff to be involved in making your legal business great.
$
Have regular opportunities for your staff to offer suggestions on improving your services.
$
Have opportunities that involve your staff giving back to the community. Incorporate a spirit of charity at the office.
$

Include your staff in both forming and carrying out the mission of your business. Make every member of your team feel integral to the success of your office, because . . . they are!

The post Chapter 7: Cornerstone: A Culture of Help appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Becoming a successful business owner begins with your belief that your business, your product and your people can be great.

Not mediocre.

GREAT!

Great businesses are built on possibilities, on what could be.

Positive thinking is creative and energizing. Thinking positive thoughts about your business needs to be in the very fabric of your business. Positive thinking is contagious, and it needs to be nurtured at every corner.

Beware the “negative Nancy”

BEWARE: There is nothing that will suck the life out of your firm more than a negative Nancy.

Think about some of the people in your life that are negative:

“That will never work.”
“That’s not a good idea.”
“I can’t make that happen on this budget.”

Negative people kill ideas, kill results, and kill collaboration. Your business will die if you allow negative people to be its organs.

$
Biz Tip:

A certified paralegal with years of experience working in the professional legal world with top notch writing skills and expert computer software literacy does not compare to a smart person with a great attitude.

Hire good attitude and fire bad attitude regardless of experience.

6 Benefits of Workplace Positivity

The benefits of positivity in the workplace include:

Z
1. Employee Retention

No one wants a workplace where negativity and complaints reign. The more you fill your office with individuals that believe in your firm’s mission, and carry it out with a spirit of positivity and praise, the happier your entire team will be.

You cannot give a negative person a high enough salary, flexible enough hours, or too much vacation. A negative person will never be satisfied.

Z
2. Freedom to Fail

In the professional legal work environment your clients, co-workers, and supervisors often have the following unreasonable expectation: you will never make a mistake.

Legal professionals spend vast quantities of time trying to avoid mistakes that might lead to angry clients, bar complaints, malpractice claims, and loss of business. Most lawyers really care about their work product and diligently strive for the best results they can achieve for their clients. However, focusing on avoiding failure distracts your team for zeroing in on success.

A legal team with a positive attitude is concerned ultimately with creating systems designed to produce great case outcomes; not systems primarily aimed at eliminating mistakes.

The best possible outcome is a better goal than a mistake free outcome.  

  • Note well: This is not an attempt to advocate reckless behavior. Rather, the goal is to eliminate mistakes by creating the best possible practices through the process of trial and error.
Z
3. New Ideas

When you have a positive mindset, creativity and innovation become the norm. Your team will feed off of the energy that comes with being a part of the brainstorming and problem solving process.

Z
4. Unity

Positive people will work together collaboratively to build something bigger than themselves. Positivity promotes harmony; negativity results in ever widening chasms among your team.

Z
5. Success

If you build a team with players who believe that they can create something magnificent, you will be able to change (more importantly improve) the legal marketplace.

A business of believers measures success in the way they improve the lives of their clients and as a result massive energy will be thrown at how to deliver results better, faster, cheaper, smarter, than what currently exists.

Z
6. Referral Business

Positive energy is contagious. When other professionals and clients see the energy your team exhibits when your firm tackles a problem, they will be attracted to that energy and recommend others to join the experience. Positive energy feels good and people in the community will want to be a part of it.

How do you create an office with positive energy?

Should you go buy posters with motivational quotes and hang them around the office? Try to find an uplifting office theme song to play each morning when you open? Spray champagne all over the office each time you sign a new client?

Positivity in your office starts with YOU.

Don’t expect anyone else to shape the mindset of your law firm. Don’t expect that cheerleading gimmicks alone will bring positive energy to your team. If you are the leader of the organization then you are the primary influencer of the culture and the organizational attitude of your firm.

The first attitude you need to check is your own.

Improve your attitude by:
Ingesting positive thoughts.

Read books and articles on positive thinking.

If you are not a person that sees the glass half full, then the way to change that outlook is by seeing the world through the lens of people that do. So put on the positivity glasses by finding authors that exemplify positive thinking.

Go on a thought diet of positivity . . . every day!

Eliminate complaining.

Complaints are just the vocal expression of negative thoughts. When you complain you are just letting negative thoughts slip from your mind into the outside world through your mouth.

Eliminating complaining may not immediately exterminate negative thoughts but that result will inevitably come. Complaining is a form of indulging your negative thoughts. You are giving your negative thoughts the ability to express themselves.

Shut them up (use duct tape if necessary). Starve you brain of negativity.

Eliminating blaming.

Blaming is the twin brother of complaining.

Every time you complain you are really putting the responsibility on someone or something else and attempting to relieve yourself of responsibility. Once you start complaining about your circumstances finding a scapegoat will immediately follow. Take ownership of your life by taking responsibility in every situation.

Speak words of praise in the office.

How many meetings have you had at the office to fix a problem or to address a client complaint?

Probably too many to count.

How many meetings have you had for the sole purpose of celebrating the good work of an employee or your entire team? A positive office mindset is about pushing the attitude needle toward positivity so don’t let opportunities to celebrate your team’s (and your own) creativity and innovation.

Celebrate good times, c’mon!

Surround yourself with positive people.

Both in your own office and in your professional associations develop relationships with people that have a positive attitude about their business and their life.

Due to the stress of financial pressures, unreasonable clients, difficult cases and other obstacles in practicing law, many in the legal profession struggle with depression. We need to create a happier profession because . . . well no one else is going to.

If you hang around pessimistic people, you will be guilty of negativity by association.

Hanging out with positive people will enrich your outlook on life.

Culture is key to building a law firm that lasts.

Designing your firm correctly includes designing your firm’s culture. If you allow negativity into the office your legal business will rot from the inside out.

There is no better foundation on which to build your law firm than the solid support of positivity.

The post Chapter 6: Think and Act Positive appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Becoming a successful business owner begins with your belief that your business, your product and your people can be great.

Not mediocre.

GREAT!

Great businesses are built on possibilities, on what could be.

Positive thinking is creative and energizing. Thinking positive thoughts about your business needs to be in the very fabric of your business. Positive thinking is contagious, and it needs to be nurtured at every corner.

Beware the “negative Nancy”

BEWARE: There is nothing that will suck the life out of your firm more than a negative Nancy.

Think about some of the people in your life that are negative:

“That will never work.”
“That’s not a good idea.”
“I can’t make that happen on this budget.”

Negative people kill ideas, kill results, and kill collaboration. Your business will die if you allow negative people to be its organs.

$
Biz Tip:

A certified paralegal with years of experience working in the professional legal world with top notch writing skills and expert computer software literacy does not compare to a smart person with a great attitude.

Hire good attitude and fire bad attitude regardless of experience.

6 Benefits of Workplace Positivity

The benefits of positivity in the workplace include:

Z
1. Employee Retention

No one wants a workplace where negativity and complaints reign. The more you fill your office with individuals that believe in your firm’s mission, and carry it out with a spirit of positivity and praise, the happier your entire team will be.

You cannot give a negative person a high enough salary, flexible enough hours, or too much vacation. A negative person will never be satisfied.

Z
2. Freedom to Fail

In the professional legal work environment your clients, co-workers, and supervisors often have the following unreasonable expectation: you will never make a mistake.

Legal professionals spend vast quantities of time trying to avoid mistakes that might lead to angry clients, bar complaints, malpractice claims, and loss of business. Most lawyers really care about their work product and diligently strive for the best results they can achieve for their clients. However, focusing on avoiding failure distracts your team for zeroing in on success.

A legal team with a positive attitude is concerned ultimately with creating systems designed to produce great case outcomes; not systems primarily aimed at eliminating mistakes.

The best possible outcome is a better goal than a mistake free outcome.  

  • Note well: This is not an attempt to advocate reckless behavior. Rather, the goal is to eliminate mistakes by creating the best possible practices through the process of trial and error.
Z
3. New Ideas

When you have a positive mindset, creativity and innovation become the norm. Your team will feed off of the energy that comes with being a part of the brainstorming and problem solving process.

Z
4. Unity

Positive people will work together collaboratively to build something bigger than themselves. Positivity promotes harmony; negativity results in ever widening chasms among your team.

Z
5. Success

If you build a team with players who believe that they can create something magnificent, you will be able to change (more importantly improve) the legal marketplace.

A business of believers measures success in the way they improve the lives of their clients and as a result massive energy will be thrown at how to deliver results better, faster, cheaper, smarter, than what currently exists.

Z
6. Referral Business

Positive energy is contagious. When other professionals and clients see the energy your team exhibits when your firm tackles a problem, they will be attracted to that energy and recommend others to join the experience. Positive energy feels good and people in the community will want to be a part of it.

How do you create an office with positive energy?

Should you go buy posters with motivational quotes and hang them around the office? Try to find an uplifting office theme song to play each morning when you open? Spray champagne all over the office each time you sign a new client?

Positivity in your office starts with YOU.

Don’t expect anyone else to shape the mindset of your law firm. Don’t expect that cheerleading gimmicks alone will bring positive energy to your team. If you are the leader of the organization then you are the primary influencer of the culture and the organizational attitude of your firm.

The first attitude you need to check is your own.

Improve your attitude by:
Ingesting positive thoughts.

Read books and articles on positive thinking.

If you are not a person that sees the glass half full, then the way to change that outlook is by seeing the world through the lens of people that do. So put on the positivity glasses by finding authors that exemplify positive thinking.

Go on a thought diet of positivity . . . every day!

Eliminate complaining.

Complaints are just the vocal expression of negative thoughts. When you complain you are just letting negative thoughts slip from your mind into the outside world through your mouth.

Eliminating complaining may not immediately exterminate negative thoughts but that result will inevitably come. Complaining is a form of indulging your negative thoughts. You are giving your negative thoughts the ability to express themselves.

Shut them up (use duct tape if necessary). Starve you brain of negativity.

Eliminating blaming.

Blaming is the twin brother of complaining.

Every time you complain you are really putting the responsibility on someone or something else and attempting to relieve yourself of responsibility. Once you start complaining about your circumstances finding a scapegoat will immediately follow. Take ownership of your life by taking responsibility in every situation.

Speak words of praise in the office.

How many meetings have you had at the office to fix a problem or to address a client complaint?

Probably too many to count.

How many meetings have you had for the sole purpose of celebrating the good work of an employee or your entire team? A positive office mindset is about pushing the attitude needle toward positivity so don’t let opportunities to celebrate your team’s (and your own) creativity and innovation.

Celebrate good times, c’mon!

Surround yourself with positive people.

Both in your own office and in your professional associations develop relationships with people that have a positive attitude about their business and their life.

Due to the stress of financial pressures, unreasonable clients, difficult cases and other obstacles in practicing law, many in the legal profession struggle with depression. We need to create a happier profession because . . . well no one else is going to.

If you hang around pessimistic people, you will be guilty of negativity by association.

Hanging out with positive people will enrich your outlook on life.

Culture is key to building a law firm that lasts.

Designing your firm correctly includes designing your firm’s culture. If you allow negativity into the office your legal business will rot from the inside out.

There is no better foundation on which to build your law firm than the solid support of positivity.

The post Chapter 6: Think and Act Positive appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. An entrepreneur’s job is to build the foundation.

 – Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb

Every business has a modus operandi.

This way of operating is the habitual way in which business is done. Designing or determining the modus operandi at your business puts you in the role of psychologist determining the deep-rooted basis for the actions of your office.

The modus operandi can be in regards to your systems (which we discuss in a later part of this series); but, more importantly, the business also has a cultural modus operandi.

Yes, your law firm has an attitude, a culture, an atmosphere that can be felt and perceived by everyone who comes in contact with it.

Discover the modus operandi of your firm

The cultural method of operation for a business can be seemingly more difficult to define, because most businesses do not spend time shaping and developing the culture of their business. The culture is developed by chance and chaos, not with purpose and thought.

Discovering the modus operandi of your business gives you the opportunity to conduct an attitude check on your office:

=
Internally

Determining the attitude of your team working with each other.

=
Externally

Determining the attitude of your team towards clients.

Professional Checkup: What is your legal team’s modus operandi?

Lawyers as a group have an ego problem when it comes to attitude.

The mindset that “you should be grateful to have me as your lawyer” needs to be replaced with “we are grateful to have you as a client.”

Attorneys that allow this entitled attitude towards clients to fester will think:

$

My clients are too demanding.

$

My clients never pay on time.

$

My clients are a time suck.

$

My clients are speed bumps on my road to success.

$

My clients are my problem.

In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Firms must always remember one thing: service

Lawyers seem to forget that law firms are in the service industry.

In any service industry only one thing that wins: attitude.

At the end of the day, the way you deliver your services (i.e. the process of delivery) is more important than the actual legal products you render. The value of your delivery process is grossly disproportionate to the legal work performed.

Attorneys, and their staff, occupy a unique position of trust with the client. At every turn that trust should be cultivated by outstanding service.

  • How do we greet a client?
  • What information do we provide to the client?
  • Ho do we follow up with the client after he leaves the office?
  • Do we show the client the work being performed on his behalf?
  • How do we maintain contact with the client and keep the client updated about his case?
Clients are assessing your firm’s “intangibles”

A firm’s modus operandi is comparable to sports analysts talking about the “intangibles” of a star athlete.

While the mechanics are important, questions arise about the athlete’s leadership qualities, work ethic, and will to win. These are questions about the athlete’s attitude. The danger comes in believing that such intangibles are the result of chance and not design. The athlete with strong intangibles is not lucky; he is motivated to win and has developed and refined a habitual attitude of winning.

When deciding to retain your services clients are primarily assessing your firm’s intangibles.

Let me repeat that again.

When deciding to retain your services clients are primarily assessing your firm’s intangibles.

Your firm’s intangibles provide you the greatest leverage in improving the delivery of your services because the opportunities to improve your firm’s intangibles are virtually limitless.

The creative ability to improve how your clients receive your services is as vast at the imagination of your team.

Every aspect of client interaction should be examined for ways to improve the delivery of service:

Your firm’s intangibles provide you the greatest leverage in improving the delivery of your services because the opportunities to improve your firm’s intangibles are virtually limitless.

The creative ability to improve how your clients receive your services is as vast at the imagination of your team.

Every aspect of client interaction should be examined for ways to improve the delivery of service:

Initial Phone Call
  • Is phone call answered with a smile?
  • How can we sound more welcoming and helpful on the phone?
  • How can we provide the client with the answers to the questions he has as soon as possible?
  • How can we make this phone call memorable and stand out for the client?
Greeting at the Office
  • How can we greet a client immediately? [Or better: How do we show the client that they are the most important person in our office when they walk through the door?]
  • How are we maximizing the client’s time in the office?
  • How can we make this greeting memorable and or stand out for the client?
  • Is the reception area comfortable? How can we improve comfort level? [Chairs, music, magazine, wifi, and privacy]
  • What is the atmosphere in the reception area? [What inter-workings of the firm does the client see in the reception area]
Consultation
  • How do we make sure that the client does not feel rushed?
  • How are we uncovering the life impact that the case is having on the client? Are we asking the right questions about the client’s case?
  • How can we improve our forecast of how the case will be handled and a timeline for completion?
  • How do we outline the client’s next steps?
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Client Engagement Letter
  • How can we provide better, faster and more information to the client about his case?
  • How are we explaining the means for our client to request and expect follow up about his case?
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Follow up with Client
  • How are we showing to the client the work we have performed on his case? What is the means by which we share work product with the client?
  • How can we use these follow ups as opportunities to share additional helpful information with the client or to remind the client about items needed for the case to progress?
  • How do we create better automation systems for following up with the client and providing additional information?
Courtroom Appearance
  • How can we better prepare our client for the courtroom?
  • Have we set up our client for success by providing guidance on courtroom etiquette and attire?
  • What are ways we can eliminate anxiety about the court process?
  • How can we guarantee that our client shows up at the right courtroom on the right date and at the right time?
Closing Letter
  • How are we offering future help to the client?
  • What suggestions are we making to client about additional steps they can take to finalize matters related to their case in which we are not involved?
  • How are we asking the client for referrals?

These areas for improvement are a drop in the bucket of ways to take your services to the next level.

Now is the time to work on your firm’s intangibles.

Start working on your team’s intangibles and include your team in the brainstorming for improvement. Honing in on the way your services are delivered will immediately change your business for the better.

There will be constant room for improvement because the more you start to examine the way your client’s receive your services, the more potential for improvement you will notice.

This culture of improvement is contagious because it is fun. Finding ways to make the client’s case-experience the best it can be is challenging and interesting.

Make sure your modus operandi breathes life into your clients, your team, and you.

The post Answering the Question: How Do We Do What We Do? appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Photo credit to Tyler Stewart and the publication News and Tribune

The most commonly used device during a DWI investigation is the alcohol screening test device or the portable breath test (PBT).

This device is a tool designed to give officers a tool to validate their decision to arrest a potential impaired driver. It is a hand held device that requires a sample of breath init a straw to determine the presence of alcohol in a person’s body.

Portable Breath Tests and North Carolina Law

North Carolina law does not allow any numeric value from a PBT to be used at trial. North Carolina General Statute 20-16.3 (d) specifically states that:

The fact that a driver showed a positive or negative result on an alcohol screening, but not the actual alcohol concentration result, or a driver’s refusal to submit may be used by a law enforcement officer, is admissible in court, or may also be used by an administrative agency in determine if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the driver has committed an implied-consent offense.

The bold language of the statute is critical.

Officers cannot use the numerical value of the PBT in determining whether to arrest a suspected impaired driver.

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Using the Numerical Value

If it can be shown the officer did in fact use the numerical value in making the arrest, then the PBT should be suppressed. However, proving that the officer did in fact use the numerical value in making the arrest can be a herculean task.

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When exactly was the PBT performed?

When trying to determine if the officer did in fact use the numerical value, the facts of each case are very important. Some facts to look out for include whether the PBT was performed immediately or towards the end of the investigation (the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration states clearly in its training material related to DWI investigations that the PBT should only be performed after the any standardized field sobriety tests were conducted in order to validate an arrest decision).

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Were other field sobriety tests administered?

Also check to see if any standard field sobriety tests were actually performed. Did the officer mention any other signs of impairment such as slurred speech, red glassy, eyes, or odor of alcohol? The lack of other evidence of impairment on a police report makes it more likely that the officer used the numerical value in making an arrest decision. 

Challenging the Portable Breath Test Device In DWI Defense

While proving the officer used the PBT numerical value in making an arrest decision is quite difficult, there are also procedural grounds to challenge the PBT device in court. 10A North Carolina Administrative Code 41B .0502 provides guidelines for administering the PBT

1) The officer shall determine that the driver has removed all food, drink, tobacco products, chewing gum, and other substances and objects from the his mouth. Dental devices or oral jewelry need not be removed.

2) Unless the driver volunteers the information that he has consumed an alcoholic beverage within the previous 15 minutes, the officer shall administer a screening test as soon as feasible. If a test made without observing a waiting period results in an alcohol concentration reading of .08 or more, the officer shall wait five minutes and administer an additional test. If the results of the additional test show an alcohol concentration reading more than .02 under the first reading, the officer shall disregard the first reading.

3) The officer may request that the driver submit to one or more additional screening tests.

4) In administering any screening test, the officer shall use an alcohol screening test device approved under 10 NCAC 41B .0503 of this section in accordance with the operational instructions supplied by the Forensic Tests for Alcohol Branch and listed on the device.

The first question should be whether the office used the device correctly. Did the officer check to see if the driver has removed all food and drink from his mouth? Did the officer ask the driver if he had consumed alcohol within the last 15 minutes (to prevent mouth alcohol from disrupting the reading) and if so did the officer observe the waiting period?

A critical, but nuanced point is whether the officer performed just one PBT test. The statute mandates that if a reading over .08 is obtained that the officer must complete another PBT test. If any of the above steps are not correctly taken, the argument should be made for suppression of the PBT.

Was the PBT Properly Calibrated?

Another important question is whether the PBT is properly calibrated. 10A North Carolina Administrative Code 41B .0503 provides guidelines for proper calibration of the PBT:

b) the agency or operator shall verify instrument calibration of each alcohol screening test device at least once during each 30 day period of use. The verification shall be performed by employment of an alcoholic breath simulator using simulator solution in accordance with the rules in this Section or an ethanol gas canister.

c) Alcoholic breath simulators used exclusively to verify instrument calibration of alcohol screening test devices shall have the solution changed every 30 days or after 25 calibration tests, whichever occurs first.

d) Ethanol gas canisters used exclusively to verify instrument calibration of alcohol screening tests devices shall not be utilized beyond the expiration date on the canister.

e) Requirements of Paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this Rule shall be recorded on an alcoholic breath simulator log or an ethanol gas canister log designed by the Forensic Tests for Alcohol Branch and maintained by the user agency.

An often overlooked attack point of the PBT is the calibration requirements.

It is necessary for the PBT to be calibrated every 30 days.

The simulator’s solution itself must also be changed every 30 days or after 25 calibration tests, whichever occurs first. And all of this must be recorded in calibration logs. It is rare that an officer will have the calibration logs or even know the last time the PBT device was actually calibrated.

The language specifies these foundational requirements must be completed for the PBT device to be admissible evidence. If any one of these were not completed by the officer, then there is a great argument for suppression of the PBT.

DWI Defense: Attacking The Portable Breath Test In Trial

Every DWI case is its own creature.

The facts are very important in determining whether the officer actually used the numerical value in making the arrest decision.

The above mentioned statutes provide a great foundation for preparing to attack the admission of the portable breath test at trial so alway start by reading the relevant portions of the statutes.

The post DWI Defense: Attacking the Introduction of the Portable Breath Test (PBT) appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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