Archive for Law firm

Landlord 101: What You Need to Know to Rent Property

Before you become a landlord, learn your rights as well as the tenant's to save trouble down the road.

Becoming a landlord sounds like a promising and lucrative venture. But before you buy a property or turn one into a rental unit, find out everything that’s involved. You might be surprised to find out that becoming a landlord is about a lot more than just gathering the rent checks and fixing a few things now and then.

Know What’s Involved

Do you really know what’s involved in becoming a landlord? You might be surprised by what you don’t know…and need to know. Check out this eye-opening article in Money listing 6 rookie mistakes to avoid when becoming a rental property owner. For starters, expect expenses to be higher with a rental unit compared to a residence. Depending on where you buy the property, you also could end up paying special taxes, higher insurance rates and dealing with inspections that could turn into major costs if not done properly.

Review Local Law

Before you start renting the property, review your state, city, county and municipal rights as a landlord. And don’t stop there! Knowing a tenant’s rights can save you lots of trouble down the road. Check out the resources we provide for tenants and landlords in Washington state in our recent blog post.

Always Screen Applicants

Before you sign a rental agreement with the tenant, engage in some due diligence. In other words, screen all applicants to determine their ability to pay the rent on time. Money Crashers suggests running a background check and contacting previous landlords to determine an applicant’s suitability. Click here to read Money Crashers’ full list of questions to ask and what to check for.

Be Ready for Eviction

No one wants to think about eviction, but it happens. Preparing and serving an eviction notice protects your rights as a landlord. We offer an eviction kit, complete with all of the forms you need to file and serve the eviction notice, at DoItYourselfLegalKits.com. Click here for more information about eviction kit – the kits are available as an instant download, or you can order a print version we’ll mail to you.

Prepare a Lease

Creating a simple lease agreement sounds easy. But an informative article at CBS News recommends hiring an attorney who specializes in real estate. That way, your rental agreement is in compliance with local and state laws and can’t be used against you when the tenant decides to leave. Click here to see our referral list of real estate attorneys.

 

Small Business: Resources for Handling the Legal Aspects of Your Company

Small business planning includes finding legal resources to help you stay on top of legalities.

Whether you’ve been in business 10 days or 10 years, staying on top of potential legal issues is key to successfully keeping your small business going. If you need to take hours, days or even weeks to handle legal issues you could have prevented in the first place, you could lose money and customers. Plus, the need to drop everything and find an attorney to handle an emergency can be very stressful.

Check out the following resources – each offers tips and links to information you need to stay on top of potential legal issues as well as finding the right attorney for your specific business needs.

Know the basics.

Finding out the legalities involved with your business and industry is better done sooner than later, especially to set up a business structure, handle personal liability issues, know industry regulations or hire employees. Start with “Important Legal Tips for Starting a Small Business” on the Staples website. The list is a good one for startups, but also can act as a reminder for established businesses on staying on top of basic legal issues before they become major. Learn the legal requirements for small businesses through the Small Business Administration’s free 30 minute course. If you don’t have time to watch the video, you can download the SBA Legal Requirements Checklist.

 Deal with vulnerabilities.

Avoiding legal problems in the first place starts with knowing where you are most vulnerable. Check out “7 Tips for Avoiding Small-Business Legal Potholes” by Intuit Quickbooks. This article offers 7 great tips related to staying out of legal trouble when it comes to employees, contracts and intellectual property.

Don’t wait.

Don’t wait until you’re desperate to find an attorney. Set aside time now to find a law firm to have on call when you run into legal challenges. Before you hire a firm, check out these “10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Small-Business Attorney” in Entrepreneur. You can also click here to read our blog post about questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line with a law firm.

Use specialists.

In “5 Legal Tips for Small Businesses and Startups,” Entrepreneur writer Eyal Lifshitz recommends hiring specialists. Besides a corporate attorney to help you set up the structure of your business, you might also need a patent or trademark attorney for your logo/company name or product. Perhaps you need a law firm that specializes in employee issues.
For a list of corporate law attorneys, see our referral list for law firms in Washington state.

 

 

 

Document Scanning: 7 Reasons to Scan Vs. Offsite Storage and Records Management

Document scanning saves time, $$ and resources.

Storing boxes of legal files in offsite storage facilities sounds like a good idea, right? After all, that’s how it’s been done for decades. Savvy law firms are discovering a far more efficient way to secure record management–– they know document scanning allows them to easily retrieve files at a moment’s notice.

While you could say, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” the truth is you’re missing out of a slew of advantages digital documents offer if you still store boxes of documents offsite. We’re talking time, resources and $$ saving benefits you don’t get with conventional storage methods. Here are our top seven reasons for making the switch to scanning:

Eliminate Costs of Records Storage
According to an independent analysis conducted by Legal IT Professionals, an online magazine dedicated to legal technology news, it costs $57.52 to prepare, pack, pick-up, and store one box of files when you send it to an off-site storage facility. Those document storage fees sound reasonable… until you realize they do not include the cost, time and labor of your staff and/or the storage facility to locate and retrieve the box, then return it to the storage facility when you’re done.

No More Lost Documents
No firm wants to be part of the mind-boggling statistic saying 7.5% of all paper documents are lost forever. In a legal firm, that’s practically a crime. Document imaging eliminates this problem. Need we say more?

Immediate Access
The biggest benefit of document scanning is instant access. Just imagine – it’s the middle of the night or a long holiday weekend. You need a file, but obtaining storage boxes of files from a facility requires emergency retrieval, adding to the already high cost of the service. On the other hand, once your documents are scanned, there are no future costs. Instead, simply insert the thumb drive or disk containing all of your documents into your computer or upload the documents to your network if your staff needs access, and bingo! You’ve got immediate access with no waiting around. You can even upload the documents to the cloud for access from any computer/laptop with an Internet connection.

Meet Disaster Recovery Goals
The elephant in the room no one wants to talk about is disaster recovery of your files if fire or a natural disaster occurs. If you store your files onsite, you could be facing a huge problem. But with document scanning, you can store the data in the cloud for access from anywhere at anytime, including right after a fire, flood, earthquake or other natural disaster. We recommend keeping multiple copies of the disks or thumb drives in different locations since the devices take so little storage space. Keep one at your home, one in the office and another in your safety deposit box so you keep downtime after a disaster to a minimum.

Avoid Waiting Until Records Are Inactive
Document scanning simplifies the work involved on current cases, too. Rather than searching through hundreds or thousands of pieces of paper, simply review the digital index for that case and access the document immediately. This provides flexibility to work on the case without having to carry heavy boxes of files home or frantically searching for that one file before you can leave the office.

Local and Low Cost in Seattle, Washington
AIB is a locally owned business in Seattle, so it’s easy for us to handle your document scanning needs. We don’t have account managers who lose track of what’s going on with your project. Plus, we don’t have the high overhead costs of nationwide marketing or miles of shelving space to store all of those boxes. So, we pass that cost savings to you. Typically, our clients save up to 40% of the costs the large, impersonal storage facilities charge for similar services.

One-Stop Doc Scan Service
Our clients love the ease of our document scanning services. We handle the job from start to finish, including retrieving the boxes of files, scanning all documents, indexing the contents, providing a device with all of your files on it and destruction of your files, if you so choose. Add the scanned documents to your server for multiple people to work on, or you can work directly from the device we provide to instantly access the documents you need.

Here’s what our clients say about our scanning services:

We think being proactive about paper storage is the wave of the future, and there’s just no need to store hard copies of documents when there’s a more efficient way. That’s why relying on AIB’s digital scanning services was a smart move and a good investment for us. They’re reliable, and it saves storage costs.  Without scanned files, it could take a week to 10 days to get a file. Now, we instantly access the files from the thumb drive AIB provides to us. Plus, their friendly and approachable manner makes it easy to work with them.
Ann Carey
Carey & Lillevik Attorneys at Law

AIB’s scanning services are great! They pick up our boxes about once a year and return with a thumb drive containing all of our files. Everything is organized the way I want it. I upload the scanned files to our secure server, and anyone in the office can instantly retrieve any document. We could do the scanning ourselves, but this way, our staff isn’t tied up at the copier all day. Plus, because of AIB’s custom interface, I can just search for the client’s name or narrow down the results based upon customized criteria that I set up with AIB.  I don’t even have to leave my desk to access the files. Otherwise, to get files out of storage, someone has to drive there, search for the files in a room with one light bulb, and then bring the file back. Now, I just click on an icon, and instantly, I’ve got access.
Frank DeMarco
Principle
Linn Schisel & DeMarco

It’s exciting to find a company that’s as easy to communicate with as AIB. When I use them to document and scan my medical records, I feel valued as a customer. When they were scanning my files, I had a patient request a record. AIB was quick to pull that information, put it on a disk and get it to me so I could hand it to my patient in a timely manner. They’re friendly and very professional. That’s rare today when most businesses rely on a robo phone to do business.
Afia Menke, ND
Cottage Clinic

 

 

Finding an attorney doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow these tips from Attorneys’ Information Bureau

When you need an attorney, how do you go about finding one? Most people wait until they’re in crisis mode to start searching. But a frantic search just adds to an already stressful situation.

“The key to finding a great attorney is to start looking right now, before you need one,” says Grant Harken, Operations Manager, Attorneys’ Information Bureau. AIB is a Seattle-based company that provides legal services to lawyers as well as resources to people who need legal help.

“Look at the process of finding a qualified lawyer the same way you do your primary physician. You need someone you can trust and call when needed,” says Harken. “Otherwise, scrambling at the last minute means you might end up with someone with less experience than you need or who is more expensive than your budget allows.”

AIB recommends searching for a law firm that offers a free initial consultation. This gives you a chance to meet in a relaxed environment and see if the chemistry is right.

“Use the free consultation to ask questions about the lawyer’s experience and background,” recommends Harken. “Ask how the attorney’s fee structure works so you know what to expect when the need arises.”

Identifying firms that offer free initial consultations can be very time-consuming. To make it easier, AIB has set up at website at aibinc.net where you can search by specialty and geographical area, then review listings to see which law firms offer free consultations. The site is sponsored by AIB as a way to promote the attorneys for whom it provides services and to foster the Washington State Bar Association’s initiative to promote Equal Access to Justice.

AIB offers one last bit of advice. “Before you make an appointment for your free consultation, do your homework. Confirm the law firm is in good standing by going to the Washington State Bar Association’s website at www.wsba.org. If you have doubts about one firm, find another one.”