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Solo and Small Firm Section - Update

E-Newsletter | Summer 2011

A benefit provided by the MSBA Solo and Small Firm Section
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Section News


Solo and Small Firm Section Election Results
During the Section’s Annual Meeting held on June 2, 2011, the following individuals were elected to serve on the Solo and Small Firm Section Council from July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2014:

The following individuals will continue to serve on the Section Council in the coming year:

The 2011-12 Council Members voted to elect the following individuals to officer positions for the term year (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012):

Please join the 2011-12 Council Members and Officers in thanking the Section's outgoing leaders - David Anderson (2010-11 Chair) and Helen Federline (2010-11 Treasurer) - for their commitment and service.

Strategic Solutions for Solo and Small Firm Conference Scholarships
Three conference tuition scholarships to the August 7 – August 9, 2011, will be randomly given to section members who qualify for the MSBA's under $35,000 income membership category.  The drawing will take place on July 1, 2011. Section members who qualify for this category and would like to be included in the drawing, should send their name and contact information to Elyse Farnsworth on or before June 30, 2011. The drawing winners will be responsible for their own travel and hotel costs as the conference is held in Duluth, MN. Drawing entries are confidential. For more information about the conference, click here.   

Divorce Camp Scholarship
One scholarship to the September 22 – September 25, 2011, Divorce Camp will be randomly given to a section member who qualifies for the MSBA under $35,000 income membership category. The drawing will take place on July 15, 2011. Section members who qualify for this category and would like to be included in the drawing, should send their name and contact information to Elyse Farnsworth on or before July 14, 2011. Drawing entries are confidential.

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2010 - 11 Section CLEs and Events

Program Title Date Event Code CLE Credit Number of Attendees
An Endangered Species: The General Practice Attorney 10/26/10 149149 1.0 Standard CLE Credits 19
Solo and Small Firm Holiday Social 12/15/10 NA NA 37
Tools You Can Use Today to Grow Your Practice 1/25/11 151243 1.0 Standard CLE Credits 52
The End of an Era: Closing Down Your Practice 2/23/11 152468 1.0 Law Office Management CLE Credits 18
An Introduction to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy 3/30/11 153977 1.0 Standard CLE Credits 16
Hanging Your Own Shingle: The Practical and Ethical Considerations of Starting a Solo Firm 4/29/11 154574 1.0 Law Office Management CLE Credits and 0.5 Ethics CLE Credits 74
Solo and Small Firm Section Twins Game Social 5/25/11 NA NA 23
Small Firm Practice Issues Affected by Insurance:
Are we really in good hands?
6/2/11 155220 1.0 Standard CLE Credits 38


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Upcoming Section CLEs and Events

Please join your Solo and Small Firm Section colleagues at the 2011 Strategic Solutions for Solo & Small Firms Conference in Duluth, MN from August 7-9, 2011. The Section is a co-sponsor of the event and will be providing breakfast on August 9. Join the Section Council for breakfast in a room adjacent to the buffet to learn more about the Section's plans for 2011-12 and to share your ideas! Remember to register before June 30 for early bird pricing. Click here for more information.

The Solo and Small Firm Section sponsors 4-6 CLE programs and 1-2 social events each year September - June. Visit the Section's webpage frequently for updated event information.

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Articles of Interest

A Free Plain English Writing Guide
Matthew Philion | Matthew L. Philion Attorney at Law

It’s a fact that small-firm and solo attorneys are professional writers. Yet legal writing can easily slip into the trap of legalese, making the written word less clear, less direct, and less effective.

For those looking to freshen their writing skills, a nice, easy-to-use, and free resource is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Plain English Handbook, available at http://www.sec.gov/pdf/handbook.pdf. Created in 1998, it was ostensibly designed to help investors understand disclosure documents. But the handbook’s also a great introduction to plain English for all sorts of people—attorneys, teachers, writers, scientists, legislators, and anyone else seeking to make complex writing more understandable. 

Plain English—sometimes referred to as plain language—is an approach to writing that seeks clarity and directness by careful attention to word choice, sentence structure, page layout, typography, and tone. The Plain English Handbook is a model of these principles—readers can see the helpfulness of, say, bulleted lists or short sentences or common-sense vocabulary in the guide’s no-nonsense layout and clear explanations. 

At 75 pages, the handbook is a quick but thorough guide, with emphasis on such important topics as audience awareness, document design, and readability formulas. Also, before-and-after examples show how even the most complex documents can be made more useful for readers. It’s a guide that deserves a spot on every attorney’s bookshelf.

 

Make Conference Calls Like a Pro—for free!  
Mary K. Martin | Law Office of Mary K. Martin

There are some great free conference call providers on the web. These providers do not require a subscription, any special services, or a conference operator.  There are no charges other than regular long distance charges. 

One example of such a service is freeconferencecall.com.  With this service you can set up calls for up to 500 participants.  All you need is a telephone and  a free account and access code that are available from the website.  You distribute the code to the participants, and the participants call the number and enter the access code to participate in the call. 

Other sites that provide similar services are www.freeconference.com, www.totallyfreeconferencecalls.com, and  www.nocostconference.com.


Professional Firms:  Don’t Forget to File Your Reports and Fees With the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility!
Sarah Sonday | Sonday Carlson Law PLLC

If you are starting a new law firm as a professional association, professional limited liability company, professional corporation or professional limited liability partnership, you will need to file a First Report and certain organizational documents and fees with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility pursuant to Chapter 319B before furnishing legal services.  You will also need to file an Annual Report and fee in order to maintain your professional firm status.

Chapter 319B of the Minnesota Statutes, also known as the Minnesota Professional Firms Act, governs professional firms.  The main filing requirements are detailed in Minn. Stat. § 319B.11.

Minn. Stat. § 319B.11, subd. 3 provides the following initial filing instructions:

No professional firm may furnish professional services within Minnesota until the firm files with each board having jurisdiction over the pertinent professional serves: (1) a copy of the firm’s organization document, certificate of authority, or statement of qualification; (2) a report containing the same information as required by subdivision 4; and (3) except as stated in paragraph (b), a fee of $100. 

Minn. Stat. § 319B.11 subd. 4 provides annual report filing instructions:

(a) Every professional firm must file annually on or before January 1 with the board or boards having jurisdiction over the pertinent professional services a report containing the following:


(1) the name and address of the professional firm;
(2) the contents of any amendment made to the firm's organizational document, certificate of authority, or statement of foreign qualification since the filing of the most recent report under subdivision 3 or this subdivision;
(3) a designation of the position or positions within the firm that have governance authority;
(4) the name and address of each owner of an ownership interest and each person occupying a position with governance authority;
(5) a statement as to whether all employees, agents, and independent contractors furnishing professional services within Minnesota on behalf of the professional firm are professionals authorized to furnish at least one category of the pertinent professional services;
(6) except in the case of a professional firm that is organized under chapter 317A or the nonprofit corporation statute of another state, a statement as to whether all owners and persons occupying a position with governance authority are professionals authorized to furnish at least one category of the pertinent professional services;
(7) in the case of a professional firm that is organized under chapter 317A or the nonprofit corporation statute of another state, a statement as to whether at least one person occupying a position with governance authority is a professional authorized to furnish at least one category of the pertinent professional services; and
(8) any additional information as the board may by rule prescribe as appropriate to assist in determining whether a professional firm is complying with sections 319B.01 to 319B.12.

The statement required by clauses (5), (6), and (7) must be made and signed under oath by a professional who is an owner or employee of the professional firm, licensed in at least one category of the pertinent professional services and duly authorized to make the statement on behalf of the professional firm.

(b) For filing each annual report under paragraph (a), each firm must pay a fee of $25 to each board with which the report is filed.

All professional firm owners should familiarize themselves with the Minnesota Professional Firms Act and ensure that their firm is in compliance.  The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility maintains information and boilerplate First Report forms on their website.

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