Had my first formal CLE course in the form of a mandatory Hawaii Professional Responsibility class. I actually found it quite interesting, setting up some unusual hypothetical scenarios which I am starting to feel are very likely situations for me encounter as a solo practitioner. Subsequently, things feel very different when you are facing very real problems; you actually pay attention to all the boring materials.

Right now I’m still trying to prepare my engagement letter and fees, and I’m finding that I’m already getting requests that could be very much in the vein of an attorney-client privilege. For example, when relatives ask if you can write a will for them and ask innocent sounding questions that could easily get blown into ‘hey, you are my attorney’ expectations… And what are you suppose to tell them? Come into my office, it seems.

Relatives also frequently pose other additional problem. Forgetting the issue of fees (how are you going to charge a relative? Do you not have to eat?), conflicts of interest seems like a bigger problem. Write wills for an aunt and her kids? Bam! The problems are just screaming right there – can you imagine having the aunt’s children be your clients, when you owe them substantial duties as their counsel, and have the aunt tell you to write her own children out of the will?

But never mind THAT small conflict. I’m still filling out my malpractice insurance quote forms, and they are not enjoyable to fill out. Nor am I particularly pleased with the 30 minutes time limit at the Hawaii Supreme Court Law Library for access to Westlaw. That’s hardly the best way to conduct legal research. But more about that some other day.

One of the interesting things mentioned today was the importance of backing up your client’s files and protecting the files from being stolen if the files are on a laptop. Besides the rather interesting side note about how off-site online backups are really highly approved, it seems there is also a high demand for people who do forensic work.

Overall, I would have to say I really enjoyed the class, even though it looked like it was boring just about everyone else. It provided some practical pointers that I would definitely have to look into and address. For example, figuring out just what calendaring, case management, and documentation software I’d like to use.

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