Lawsuit Against ExamSoft – Unnecessary Stress for Law Students

Last week thousands of law students who took the bar exam were unable to upload their answers for several hours after they were due because ExamSoft Worldwide Incorporated suffered some malfunctioning server problems.

This is not the crowd to piss off. The Florida-based test-taking software company has received at least three lawsuits from bona fide lawyers who have filed class-action suits against the company because of the technical blunder.

The complaints allege that ExamSoft violated consumer fraud, breach of contract and deceptive trade practices. They also demand that ExamSoft give back the $100 to $150 fee they charged tens of thousands of students to use its software.

The Associated Press reported that one complaint filed on behalf of three law school graduates from Illinois, Maryland and Minnesota by Miller Law LLC in Chicago blames ExamSoft for causing students to waste late-night hours desperately clicking on their computers instead of spending their time as they should have, which was to prepare for the second day of the exam:

The Wall Street Journal blog says, “As a result of the Massive Technical Failure, tens of thousands of test takers were unable to relax and/or prepare for the following day of bar examination testing. For some test takers, the Massive Technical Failure negatively influenced their performance on the second day of the bar examination and thus added to their anxiety in an already high stress environment.” See full article.

This should prove to be a very interesting case, mostly because, if we start suing all the people who make it hard (and sometimes impossible) to relax or prepare for the next day due to the anxiety they caused (intentionally or not), the list is going to be very, very long.

What are your thoughts? Does this make sense to you or do you see this as a frivolous lawsuit?

 

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Are Online Advertising Rules for Lawyers in Florida Too Strict?

The new Florida Bar rules targeting lawyers and lawyer firms in Florida went into effect since May 1, 2013, their objective being the one of better informing the customer. As a result of these rules, lawyers based in this state no longer have the right to advertise their firm/company/services on the internet without providing a full contact name as well as the name of the city in which the company has its headquarters.

Additionally, the new rules state that lawyer firms can no longer make safe assumptions about certain cases in their articles/websites. For instance, one cannot say something like “I will achieve this result” because it’s considered a ready-made assumption. On the other hand, something like “Our firm’s objective is to help you obtain best possible result” is acceptable, since a clear assumption is not being made.

These rules have been questioned by some groups/firms of lawyers. For instance, a lawyer business in Tallahassee filled up a court action few months ago stating that the new rules are too vague and general to apply in the real world. In addition, they believe that the making of these rules leads to a violation of the free speech right as granted by constitution.

The firm claims that even Abraham Lincoln would be suitable for punishment according to the new rules as back in 1852 when the Internet did not exist he made an assumption that his business would handle every case with “promptness and fidelity”. This fact cannot be demonstrated by regular means.

The website of the company who intended the lawsuit says that the firm has 32 years experience in handling “mass” cases, which lead to justice being made for clients in “a variety of circumstances”. Furthermore, they state that their business is one of the few ones out there to successfully represented the victims of herb-based supplements. This statement is considered vague by the new rules in legislation and makes the company apt for a hefty fine.

The lawyers who work at that firm believe this action is unfair as a person’s/company’s website is a private property, unlike the other media channels such as TV, radio or newspaper. Furthermore, they state in their defense that a website can provide much more information to customers than a simple television or radio advertisement could, hence enabling owners to state more information about the services offered and the clients which were already successfully represented in the court.

More and more Florida law firms are finding themselves getting very vague in their advertisements which make it harder to stand out in the over crowded market.

With this being said, the new rules do not deny law firms to provide customer testimonials in their websites, as long as they provide a sub-note saying that “These results may not coincide to the ones of prospective clients”.

Whether or not these new Florida bar regulations are strict or not remains to everyone’s opinion, but they certainly benefit consumers to a certain extent. This happens as readers will always be able to see who the person making statements is and will be better informed over the past results of the company.

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Salary Expectations for Lawyers Based on Practice

According to the American Bar Association, most students graduating with a law degree carry a heavy debt load. Those graduating from a public law school carry an average of $76,000 in debt while those graduating from a private law school carry an average debt of $125,000. With this high debt in mind, it is prudent for a beginning law student to factor in their impending debt when choosing the type of law they wish to practice when they graduate.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for lawyers in all categories is $110,590 per year. However, the salary range is enormous for attorneys. Lawyers in the middle fifty percent will earn between $74,980 and $163,320. However, a law student must also keep in mind that a significant number earn less than $74,980, especially when they are first starting out. Those that earn more than $163,320 are usually more experienced and are working in one or more lucrative legal fields such as patent law, trial law (litigation), and corporate law.

The salary a law student can expect to earn once they start practicing law also depends greatly on whether they work in the private or public section. Lawyers that get hired by large law firms make considerably more than those who start their own private practice. However, lawyers working in the public sector make even less. These include lawyers who work for city, state, and federal governmental entities as well as those that serve as public defenders. Smaller jurisdictions tend to pay less than larger jurisdictions because it’s just not in their budget to pay more. For example, the average starting salary in San Francisco is $70,000 whereas the starting salary in smaller cities ranges between $40,000 and $50,000.

Corporate lawyers earned a median salary of more than $163,000 and are among the highest paid lawyers. Some industries pay more than others of course. For example, the oil and gas industry pays considerably more than most other industries. On the other hand, an attorney working for a non-profit organization usually earns less than half this salary.

Some legal fields have a wider range of salaries than others. For example, criminal defense attorneys make between $45,000 and $130,000 on average. Those on the lower end of this scale tend to work as public defenders or in small private practices. Those on the upper end of this scale usually work at very large law firms that specialize in criminal defense and have the reputation that gets them hired in higher profile cases and/or cases where the stakes of losing are very high such as felony cases.

Another law area with a considerably wide salary range is family law. This involves divorce cases, adoption cases, and child custody cases. In family law, experience and success rate seems to dictate salary more than anything else. A family law attorney with ten years’ experience and a solid to above average track record can easily make $100,000 more than a family law attorney just starting out.

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Options for Funding a Law Degree

Law school is quite expensive. But there are several options available to help you fund your law degree. These financing options can help you cover the cost of tuition, pay for some textbooks and leave you with something to cover your living expenses. In this article, we will be taking a close look at the route you should take to finance your law degree with minimal debt.

Look for a Scholarship

Undoubtedly, the best means of financing your education is through a scholarship. Scholarships provide “free” money. Generally, you will be able to obtain two kinds of scholarships: merit-based or need-based.

The merit-based scholarships are awarded to you based on your previous achievements. This scholarship will usually offer you a fixed amount of money from some thousands of dollars to the full cost of your tuition.

On the other hand, need-based scholarships are given to students who have shown that their financial needs are greater than those of other candidates. Each law school usually offers this type of scholarship to students from low income families. To apply for this type of financial aid, you will need to go through a lengthy application process that requires filling of various forms including the FAFSA form and another form that is specific to each law school.

Apply for Federal Loans

Federal loans are better than private loans because of low interest rates and friendly repayment options. Hence you should explore all avenues to get one of the three federal government sponsored loans for graduate students before you opt for a private loan.

To apply for these federal loans, you must fill the FAFSA form first. Then you choose a lender. You can obtain your loan directly from the U.S. Dept of Education or through an intermediary such as Student Loan Corp, Sallie Mae or Chase under the family education loan program.

Stafford loans can be subsidized or unsubsidized. If you are given a subsidized loan, your interest will be paid by government while you are in school. However, unsubsidized loans require you to pay all your interest even though payment may be deferred until after graduation. As a law student, you may borrow a maximum of $20,500 per year and only $8,500 of this amount can be subsidized.

Federal Perkins loans are awarded to those who qualify by your law school not the Federal Government. You are allowed to borrow up to $8,000 under this program. The funds are released based on the discretion of your law school.

Grad PLUS loans don’t have any annual or aggregate cap. You can only apply for them after you have applied for a Stafford loan. This loan is usually used by students to cover the remainder of their tuition and other living expenses. To qualify for this loan, you must have gone through at least half of your program and have a good credit score.

Investigate Some Private Loans

Private loans are usually the last option for any law student to consider. They are available from private corporations, banks and credit unions. Their interest rates are usually higher and their payment options are less friendly. Before you take any private loan, make sure you shop around and do some research to discover the best option available to you.

Work in a Law Office

Seeing as you are wanting to work in a law office after law school, why not work in one while you are in school.  Many offices hire interns or assistants to help out during the summer months or even during the school year.  For example a personal injury law firm in Fort Lauderdale routinely gets assistants from a local law school in Florida.  It is a win win for everyone.  The student gets a chance to see first hand the trials and tribulations of being an attorney, while still learning the ropes in school.  In some cases, the interns go on to work in the law firm the worked in part time once they graduate from law school.  Send out some resumes to local law firms that in your area of interest.  Who better to work for than someone who understands the life of a law student.

 

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Top Ten Law Schools in Florida for Personal Injury

1.  Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law – also known as Barry Law.

It’s an academic college of Barry University in Orlando. The school offers several programs for both full-time and part-time students, including a 3-year daytime program and a 4-year extended program in the evening for the working class. This school offers the Juris Doctor (J.D) degree. The degree program consists of 90 semester hours in areas that are important to understanding law.

2. University of Miami School of Law Located in Coral Gables, Florida

The college has a collection of more than 600,000 volumes in print & microform, and also subscribes to the large and the ever-expanding list of electronic resources. Due to the size of faculty, this college is capable of providing an extensive curriculum selection for 2nd and 3rd year students. Law students get the opportunity to combine their J.D degrees with master’s degrees in communications, business, music business, marine affairs and public health. There is also a joint J.D/LL.M program where the students can complete both degrees in 7 semesters in areas of international law, taxation, coastal law and real property development

3. Florida Coastal School of Law

This is a private law school in Florida. The school was established in 1996. In the year 2013, it was ranked by The National Jurist among the top innovative law schools. The school offers several certification programs in some specialized areas of law; it offers environmental law certificate, international comparative law certificate, sports law certificate, advanced legal research & writing certificate and family law certificate.

4. Florida International University College of Law

This is one of the top personal injury law schools in Florida. It’s located in Miami and is accredited by American Bar Association. It’s the only public school in Southern Florida. 4 times in the school’s history, FIU has been ranked 1st in Florida with the state’s highest bar-passing rates (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011).

5. Shepard Broad Law School

Also called NSU law and Nova Law, this is a law school of Nova southeastern University. This school offers both full-time and part-time evening classes. This is a private school with a student/faculty ratio of 14:1:1 requiring 90 credit hours to graduate. This college offers J.D degree in the normal 3-year program, or in a 4-year, part-time evening program for the working class students. Apart from this, the school offers other joint-degree programs; health law, international law, criminal law, business practice and personal injury litigation.

6. St.Thomas University School of Law

This is accredited by American Bar Association and is also a member of the Association of American law schools. The school is located on main campus of St. Thomas University in Miami. The U.S and World Report Diversity index have placed this school in a tie 4th position among all ABE-accredited law schools in its Diversity. This is also the first school in the nation to confer J.D degrees upon Hispanic students.

7. Stetson University College of Law Located in Gulfport

The law school is accredited by American Bar Association and is a member of Association of American Law schools. Programs offered include J.D certificates of concentration in Advocacy, Environmental Law, Elder law, International law, Personal injury and social justice.

8. Florida State University College of Law

The school offers joint degree programs that allow students to earn other degrees in conjunction with J.D, including Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration and Ph.D degrees. In 2005, The U.S News and World Report ranked this college 45th best laws school in the nations and first in Florida.

9. Fredric G.Levin College of Law Located in Gainesville

The school offers a 3-year, full time J.D degree program. The college also offers advanced law degrees including degree programs in international taxation, taxation, environmental law and Personal Injury law. In 2005, U.S News and World Report law school rankings ranked this college 49th best law schools in America and 26th among the public law schools.

10. Florida A & M University College of law

This an ABA-accredited school of law. It’s part of Florida A&M University.

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Career Talk: A Day In The Life Of A Lawyer

A professional attorney is authorized by the state or country to practice law, he or she can give advice to clients and represent their legal matters in a court of law. Lawyers can be designated as an advocate, an attorney, a barrister, counselor and/or solicitor. It is a lawyer’s job to study law and new laws on a regular basis to stay up to date in order to protect their clients. Below is an outline of the basics of a career in law.

A typical day in the life of a lawyer:

1. Travel: Not only do lawyers spend at lot of their time in offices and courtrooms, they are required to travel to meet their clients wherever their home, business or even hospitals or state or federal prisons. These visits can be a fairly regular depending on which area of the law the attorney practices. An attorney is also required to travel to different places for meetings and to gather proof or evidence for their case that they can submit to the courts, legislative bodies, or to other high authorities of the law.

2. Irregular work hours: Working long and irregular hours are the norm for attorneys. Lawyers quite often have irregular work schedules and are required to work for long hours discussing clients needs or preparing the briefs of the case during non office hours.

3. Continual Study: A lawyer acts both as an advocate and an advisor in society. An advocate is a representative of their clients in criminal or civil trials by arguing and presenting evidence to the court. On the other hand advisors give advice to their clients regarding their business and legal personal matters. Both advocates and advisors, have to research the purpose of laws and judicial decisions and apply them in the circumstances faced by their clients. The most important aspect is that an attorney’s job depends on their field of specialization. This requires continual research and study.

Types of Lawyers:

There are 4 main categories of lawyers: Personal Injury, Criminal, Immigration and Family which deal in the following types of cases wrongful death, traffic, tax, software, social security, securities, personal injury lawyers, patent, nursing home, mesothelioma, medical malpractice, malpractice, litigation, international, insurance, injury, fraud, employment, dwi, dui, divorce, defense, criminal, construction, corporate, compensation, car accident, bankruptcy, auto accident, assault and asbestos lawyers.

How to Become a Lawyer

To become a lawyer you must graduate from law school. There are some law schools online that offer that full Juris Doctor [JD] programs which do not require taking the law school admission test [LSAT]. Therefore you don’t need to quit your job in order to study to become a lawyer as there are JD programs for those students who are interested in working at while pursuing their education in the field of law in their spare time.

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