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Congratulations! You have just been hired by the Law Offices of Stella Road as a paralegal. While you tried to explain to the head paralegal, Larry Nason, that you were only in your first week of a college course on legal technology, he quickly deemed you the “law office technology expert” and proceeded to tell the rest of the staff that you would be responsible for transforming the office from an old-school firm to a cutting-edge law office.
Road, a long-time criminal attorney and staunch defender of the wrongfully accused, was extremely happy to hear this. She informed you that she would like to expand the practice by hiring three new attorneys so the firm can branch out to handle both criminal and civil cases. Her goal is to update her practice so that she is better able to serve current and future clients. Attorney Road has asked you to focus your workday on creating a plan to implement new technology that is necessary to bring the practice up to date.
While Stella would like everything done at once, she understands that the process will have to unfold slowly, over a period of time. Throughout the course, you will work with this firm to modernize its approach to the practice of law as well as educate the attorneys, paralegals, and other support staff on the intricacies of the new technology. Please note that while this office is very much behind the times, they do have a basic office computer system and are familiar with email, and each member of the team has a smartphone.
As a new employee of the Law Offices of Stella Road, you are eager to begin your work. After meeting your new coworkers, you decide that the first order of business is to evaluate the billing practices at the law firm. Upon review, you realize that the current firm billing procedures may not meet the ethical standards that govern the practice of law. You also notice that in order to serve new clients with civil matters, the types of fee arrangements offered by the firm will have to be expanded. Finally, because employees are billing their time on paper forms, you decide to implement a computerized billing system.
Your assignment will consist of one memo with two parts. Your mission will be to create a law firm billing system that utilizes current legal technology, adheres to ethical timekeeping and client billing best practices, and may be utilized to serve the needs of clients who come to the Law Offices of Stella Road for representation in both criminal and civil matters.
In part I of this assignment, you will explore the Model Rules of Professional Ethics and this week’s reading to draft a memo to Stella and Larry that addresses the following topics:
Identify and explain the different types of fee arrangements available to prospective clients and be sure to provide an example of a situation where each type of arrangement may be used.
Identify the Model Rules of Ethics that apply to timekeeping and ethical billing practices and provide guidance to the firm as to how they may ensure employee compliance with these rules.
Please cite to the relevant authority as support for your analysis. Be sure to utilize the Model Rules of Ethics that apply to ethical billing practices.
In part II of your memo, you will provide Stella and Larry with your recommendations for implementing a successful billing system. Specifically, you should:
Formulate a client-centered approach to timekeeping and billing that reflects best practices highlighted in this week’s reading.
Identify how legal technology can facilitate timekeeping and billing practices to ensure that clients are billed in a timely, ethical, and accurate manner.
Make recommendations for how to implement timekeeping and billing software as part of the firm’s billing procedure.
Be sure to specify what characteristics to look for when selecting software.
Identify the software that you feel would best meet the needs of the Law Offices of Stella Road and explain why you chose it.
Your memo should be a total of 2–3 pages long.