10 Safety Tips for Law Firms, Attorneys and Legal Professionals

Violence committed by clients against attorneys and legal professionals is real. It happens in small towns and big cities, and in small and large legal practices. Some practice areas are more volatile than others, such as divorce and family law, dispute resolution, employment law and real estate litigation. Particularly in a bad economy with high unemployment, tempers are short and more people reach levels of desperation.While dramatic cases like shootings at law firms make headlines, the majority of security incidents among attorneys and staff are unreported because they involve harassment and lower level threats. In the privacy of attorney-client meetings, emotional and sometimes irrational individuals lash out at their lawyers. Money is often at the heart of disputes and many attorneys are confronted with disagreements about their billable hours. Clients become upset and irate about how their case is proceeding or the outcome of a case. Meetings that involve elevated voices and foul language can be the precursor to a physical altercation.Receptionists and other staff in law firms also encounter angry, hostile clients. Although experienced receptionists have a thick skin and are sometimes trained in how to manage harassment by clients and opposing parties, there are situations when they are truly threatened and in danger.Law practice management should include systems and procedures that ensure workplace safety and violence prevention for attorneys and staff. All law office employees should acquire the skills to recognize and manage threatening, potentially dangerous individuals. Client-facing legal professionals need tools to protect themselves and prevent early stage situations from escalating into major, dangerous events.Here are 10 safety tips for attorneys and legal staff.1. Create a safe work environment for receptionists. Ensure receptionists have a clear view of the office entry way with little opportunity for people to sneak in or hide, particularly doors, elevators, and all traffic flow. Design the front desk to provide a barrier between receptionists and clients but also allows easy escape. Delineate a clear understanding of where clients are allowed to be in the lobby and front desk area. Remove office objects from the front desk that are potential weapons and keep them stored in drawers or cabinets – staplers, scissors and letter openers. Keep computer screens and family photos away from public view.2. Establish safe meeting areas for clients and attorneys. Safe areas can include windows to allow co-workers to see what is occurring inside but still maintain confidentiality. Meeting areas should have two entrances so attorneys and staff can avoid being cornered. Before entering meeting rooms with potentially threatening clients, remove potential weapons from them.3. Install security technology. Technology helps protect employees, reduces the severity of incidents and provides ways to quickly respond to situations. Consider installing buzzer doors that allow entry only after verification of the visitor. Provide panic buttons for attorneys, receptionists and other staff to discreetly notify others of a potentially dangerous situation before it escalates. Cameras and adequate lighting also help deter assailants.4. Train all attorneys and staff how to handle angry clients. Defusing skills and knowing how to de-escalate hostile behavior are essential for attorneys and client-facing employees. Listening skills, redirecting negative behavior, setting boundaries and assault awareness are all acquired skills that should be continually honed with training and practice. There are many free online resources and security consultants who provide these services.5. Establish a workplace violence policy and procedures. These should include clear instructions on how employees can report any concerns. Just as important as the method of reporting is an environment where all employees feel safe and supported. A danger that occurs in all workplaces, including law offices, is domestic violence spillover. When employees face domestic violence threats they must feel comfortable enough to inform their manager about embarrassing, private matters.6. Provide employee assistance programs. Employee issues also arise from within a law practice. Human resources should provide support programs to employees with disciplinary issues or personal problems. This type of support helps prevent acts of violence and helps create a stronger, healthier workplace.7. Develop risk and threat assessments. When a threat by a client emerges or is identified, a law office needs a process to determine the likelihood and severity of the threat. A process that gathers information, collects and reviews evidence and weighs warning signs is part of a good threat management system. Connections and relationships with local law enforcement and security professionals are paramount to risk analysis. Front desk personnel should be given descriptions of the threat with safety instructions should identified individuals arrive at the law firm.8. Utilize legal resources to increase employee protection. Workplace restraining orders and trespass orders can always be obtained. Misdemeanor charges such as telephone harassment, stalking or property damage can be levied to create a paper trail for a threat, and the charges warn the individual not to harass legal professionals pending the trial. Many states also have a victim notification system that automatically calls any phone number once a person is released from jail.9. Establish emergency response procedures. Should a threat ever become a reality, emergency response procedures help prevent a bad situation from becoming a complete catastrophe. A system that notifies all employees, has escape and lockdown procedures and support mechanisms for emergency response personnel are all components of crisis management.10. Coordinate and communicate with neighboring businesses. It is important neighboring businesses are aware of potentially threatening, dangerous individuals. When a man bent on killing an attorney opens fire, anyone in the vicinity can be a target. Not only can emergency management be coordinated, but the surveillance of individuals and potential risks is increased through such community partnerships.Law firms committed to workplace security ensure safe workplaces through the design of their facilities and the implementation of accessible, sophisticated technology. They train attorneys and employees in basic security skills to help mitigate hostile encounters. Conscientious law firms provide support for employees in need and establish an environment where their concerns can be disclosed. Safe law firms establish and practice threat and emergency management procedures that are vital in maintaining a safe workplace. While shootings in law firms are rare, the much more common hostile encounters with clients are sometimes warning signs that should be taken seriously.These safety tips provide a general framework for establishing a safer law office, but the key requirement is to recognize threats against attorneys and legal professionals are real and can happen anywhere.

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Stamp Collecting – A Great Hobby for Kids

You know what it is like when the kids have time off from school and the weather is playing up. They always sit about moping and saying they are bored, even though they have endless video games and toys at their disposal. What they needs is a past-time that has been around for generations, is cheap and easy to get started in and won’t make much mess for the parents to tidy up. Stamp collecting for kids may not sound like the answer to parent’s dreams but with so many possibilities on offer, this is one hobby that is sure to be a hit.Stamp collecting is a great hobby for the kids as it is not an expensive hobby to start with. Every collection starts with one or two stamps and from there, the child can develop their collection how they see fit. There is a perceived wisdom that the hobby is a bit dull and lifeless but the range of stamps available means that stamp collecting for kids can grab attention right away. There are countless stamps featuring their favorite comic book heroes, singers, TV shows and sporting stars which means that stamp collecting for kids can follow on from their existing likes. Stamps are being issued all the time and some of them feature kid’s favorite. The means that they can have a collection without knowing that they are already collecting stamps.Another great benefit of stamp collecting for kids is what the child buys today can be a great investment for their future. There are a number of investors putting money into stamps to guarantee a return in the future and even on a child’s pocket money, a decent collection built in their youth can provide a return when they are older. It may not be enough to put them through college but it can certainly provide a return to allow them to have some fun when they get there. So not only is stamp collecting for kid’s fun, it can provide them with money in the future!One thing that most parents like about stamp collecting is that it is a hobby that will keep them buzy. It is also a hobby that will teach their kids about value and learning how to take care of their things. The kids may think that they are not learning much in this hobby. However, they may not realized that they are cultivating the responsibility of taking care of a collection. This trait will serve them well in the future. That is one reason why many parents like to see their children to take up stamp collecting. It is even better if they have some friends with the same hobby as it will allow them even more interaction as they can swap and collect together.Stamp collecting for kids may not be the most exciting hobby in the world. Most kids would rather play video games. However, it is a hobby that will still provide fun, instill responsibility and allows interaction with other people. This should be a great hobby that all parents should encourage their kids to adopt.

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Streaming Events – Good Idea Or Waste of Money?

As the moderator for the live broadcast of jvAlert Live in Las Vegas in 2008, I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people I would never had met before. In fact, my Twitter following increased by close to 600 in the span of one week because of the event.More and more events are being streamed, and lots of event planners are seriously looking at the pros and cons of streaming an event. After all, they are trying to fill seats to cover their costs. If profit is a motive (in most cases, it is) then the case against streaming is that it will detract from event ticket sales. Not only that, but when a speaker is offering a package for sale, people watching online either cannot afford it or do not have a means to purchase it.So should you stream your event?When you want to get good information out to the world, streaming is a great idea. I offer that it should not always be free to watch. After all, you are charging your attendees a good amount of coin to sit in that seat, why should someone watch the event without paying? What message are you giving to the audience? “You can pay me $600 for the ticket, another $800 in airfare and hotel while this guy online can get the same information for no charge.”Speakers have been weighing in on this as well, as they don’t like to show people who have no way of purchasing their coaching what they are selling at events, because most speakers will offer way more than they do on their own website to the attendees at events. So if speakers are not happy about displaying their wares to the public at large, what is an event planner to do?My recommendation is to stream the event, but charge an admission fee to access the live event, and offer an upsell to give access to the recordings for a period of 2 weeks following the event. Depending on the price of the event, you can choose to offer the live streaming access for $20 – $50 and the recorded access for $30 – $100 with a discount that can be applied to the DVD set for those who choose to prepurchase at that time.By offering access in such a way, the value of your event is preserved, your profits are increased and you are not compromising the sales of your DVD sets after the event. You are also telling your attendees that they are getting the best value, because they get to attend the event, access to the speakers and the networking that the people who are paying to watch online do not get.As far as the offer that they make for the attendees, speakers can create a lower priced package in the $50 to $200 price range that they can record a short video to present on the sales page. With a script like Rapid Action Profits, you can have a way for online attendees to purchase products from the speakers, and the sales page can be set up in a few minutes during the event. The video sales message would be an explanation of the package and a call to action.I have found that products in the lower price ranges have done better in the events I broadcast, but other events have had great results with full priced packages. It is a good idea to test different price points to see which converts best for you.What do you need for a good broadcast? More than one camera is a good idea, because different angles make for a better view. If you are recording the event for a DVD, the camera you are using should be the one you use for the streaming, too if you can attach that camera to your broadcast laptop without messing up your DVD recording. You should also use a lavalier microphone that you can add into the broadcast audio as well, through a mixing board.With the above considerations, your next event can be one that includes an audience at home and a happy audience in the hotel, while still making money from the online crowd. Putting on an event should please the most people, including your bank account. So make your next event count and broadcast it live!

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