Table of Contents

1. Planning and topics
1A. Envisioning collections
1B. Educational videos
1C. Salesy videos
1D. Sample collection action plans
2. Pattern scripts and examples
2A. Scripted FAQ videos
2B. Partially-scripted videos – Included in Part 2
2C. Prompts for unscripted videos – Included in Part 2
2D. Scripts for list videos – Included in Part 2


For years video marketing has been under-utilized by lawyers, but we are at long last seeing them adopt it as a core marketing tool.

Three big advantages

A. Draws the right clients. Client relationships frequently require that you work with individuals over extended periods.  When those relationships don’t click, the experience can be painful.

Videos let prospective clients get to know you before they call.  If they don’t feel comfortable, they will go elsewhere.  Conversely, prospects who are drawn to your personality and style of lawyering will call your office first.

This process naturally pulls in clients you want to work with, and weeds out those who seek a different personality and style of lawyering.

B. Conveys your distinctiveness.  Lawyers seem to have finally learned that video is the easiest and surest way to distinguish them and their firms from their competition.  

Their websites and ads certainly do not.  Consumers have long been unable to point to any material differences between lawyers based on text copy and still images they find online.  The websites and ads all look and read similarly, despite their creators’ claims to the contrary.

But show prospects your face, let them hear your voice, explain how you approach various legal scenarios, and those prospects will quickly form a distinctive opinion about you.  You will no longer have to struggle with ways to separate yourself from the pack.

C. Great teaching tool. Video also has the advantage of being a hugely popular way to learn.  Prospective legal clients need to get up to speed quickly, and many turn to video to learn about their new challenge.

The more accurately a video addresses the prospect’s situation, the more likely the prospect will conclude that the speaker is the right lawyer to work with.  Consequently, the larger your video collection, the more prospects your videos will persuade that you are the lawyer to call.

This book addresses that challenge head on, showing and telling you how to create a large and diverse collection of videos that prospects will find persuasive, so dive in and learn. 

If you need help implementing any of the book’s content or suggestions, our done-for-you Marketing Amplifier service described at the end of this article can help you create engaging custom videos for your website and social pages.  Many of the examples you find in this guide were shot and edited by us for our Amplifier subscribers.

Kara Prior, Founder
James Amplifier

Creative social media for lawyers

Planning and topics


1A. Envisioning collections
1B. Educational videos
1C. Salesy videos
1D. Sample collection action plans

Just as you or your agency did when you were creating your law firm’s website, you will want to at least partially plan the video library you intend to create.  At minimum, you should list the categories you will begin with, plus what you might next expand into.

You are more likely to build a well organized and complementary set of video collections if you first visualize and outline what you would like to end up with.  This chapter will help you do exactly that.


1A. Envisioning collections

As with every type of online marketing, starting to produce videos and then stopping a short time later will only result in failure.  If you want your videos to generate calls and clients, you need to make producing them an integral and regular part of your marketing efforts.

As a result, you want to plan on building collections of videos.  As when writing a brief, a pamphlet, a lengthy article, or anything of substantial size, your collections will be better organized if you first outline them.  

We do this with the collections we have created by dividing the legal video universe into categories, and then listing potential topics in each category.  If a particular category is large, we add subcategories.

We begin this organizational process by dividing the legal video universe into two camps: educational and salesy.  


1B. Educational videos

These are our favorite videos to produce, for we strongly believe that in online marketing, teaching is more effective than selling.  In the digital world, the most prolific teachers are usually the ones generating clients at the lowest cost.   

We recommend you begin by answering questions commonly asked of you by prospects and new clients.  These videos will be the easiest for you to write and shoot, as you have had prior practice answering the questions.

These videos will also save you time, for you can refer clients to the videos when they have questions.  Additionally, prospects and clients who do their own research will have reviewed these videos before they meet with you, so you won’t have to answer their same basic questions as often as you used to.  

Some potential FAQ topics are:


– How will I know when I need to file bankruptcy?

– What common mistakes do debtors make before filing for bankruptcy?

– How long does a bankruptcy case take?

– Can I keep using my credit cards if I’m planning to file for bankruptcy?

– Will I lose all my property if I go bankruptcy?

– Isn’t a credit-repair company a better option than bankruptcy?

– Which debts are not discharged in bankruptcy?

Can bankruptcy help me if I am behind on my mortgage or my home is in foreclosure?

– Can bankruptcy help if I am behind on my car payments or if my car has already been repossessed?

– Can bankruptcy help me if my wages have been garnished?

Business litigation

– What are the ways in which a party can breach a contract?

– What does a plaintiff have to prove in a breach of contract case?

– In what situations is the plaintiff excused from performing?

– What is a material breach of contract?

– What is an anticipatory breach of contract?

– What is the parol evidence rule?

– What strategies can a defendant use to defend against a breach of contract claim?

– What are some common affirmative defenses to breach of contract?

– What are the remedies for breach of contract?

– If negotiating a settlement before a lawsuit doesn’t work out, what is the first step in formal dispute resolution?


– How far can the police go when conducting a “search incident to arrest”?

– How does the “plain view” exception to the warrant rule work?

– My loved one has been arrested. What should I do? 

– What happens after an arrest? 

– How does a prosecutor decide whether to file charges? 

– What if the alleged victim in my case does not want to press charges? Does that mean the charges will be dropped? 

– What are the possible grounds for a “motion to suppress”?

– How does the judge decide whether to allow or suppress the evidence? 

– If I am offered a plea bargain, should I take it? 

– What rights do I give up if I agree to a plea bargain?


— Do I need to have a certain amount in assets to make a will?

— What property passes under a will and what property does not?

— Can I disinherit a child?

— Will a revocable living trust avoid or reduce estate, gift, and income taxes?

— Will a revocable living trust protect my assets from creditors?

— Do I still need a will if I have a revocable living trust?

— What property should I transfer into my revocable living trust?

— Can I move property in and out of my revocable living trust?

— Why do I need a durable power of attorney?

— Should I have both a living will and a DPOA for health care?


– I want to file for divorce; does it matter who files first? 

– I am afraid my spouse will react harshly to the divorce, what should I do to prevent this? 

– I am afraid my spouse will move out and take the children. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? 

– My ex is not paying court-ordered child support, is there anything I can do? 

– My ex is denying me court-ordered possession of the children. Can I stop paying child support? 

– What happens with the house in a divorce? 

– How do I get a fair share of my spouse’s retirement upon divorce? 

– Can my spouse be ordered to provide for college expenses for my children? 

– What if my spouse spent or wasted a lot of our property during the marriage? 

– My spouse has a history of alcohol and drug abuse. What can I do to protect my children from this? 

Personal injury

— Should I go to the doctor after a car accident? 

— The insurance company told me that I don’t need to hire a lawyer. Is this true? 

— How do you determine the value of my claim?

— What is the difference between personal injury protection and medical payments insurance?

— Can a lawyer settle my case without my consent? 

— What questions will I be asked during my deposition? 

— How long will my personal injury case take? 

— Do I have to be present for court appearances? 

— Will I be able to recover punitive damages for my injuries? 

— Will I have to pay anything in order for you to handle my case?

Social Security disability

– How can I tell if I am disabled enough to apply for Social Security disability benefits?

– Do I have to be unable to do any job to qualify for benefits?

– When should I apply for disability benefits?

– I was unable to work for a while, but my health is improved and I can now

work. Am I entitled to benefits or is it too late for me to apply?

– My claim for disability benefits was denied. How do I appeal?

– Is an appeal worth the effort?

– When is the best time for me to get a lawyer involved in my case?

– How much does a disability lawyer cost?

– What are hearings like?

– How long will it take for a hearing to be held and a decision to be issued?

1C. Salesy videos

These videos are not direct sales pitches, but we put them in the sales category because they address prospects who are further along the decision-making path and closer to placing a call than prospects who are watching FAQ, whitesheet, or takeaway videos.

These following three types of videos are especially powerful persuaders, so we encourage you to seriously consider building collections of each.

(1) Past scenarios.  Prospects are seeking a lawyer who has experience with their situation.  A collection of past-scenario videos helps you show a percentage of your prospects that you have served a client with a situation similar to theirs.  The larger your collection, the greater the odds that a match will arise.

These videos lend themselves to storytelling, since they have a beginning and an end, which will naturally lead to an interesting video.  And you shouldn’t need to prepare a script or even bullets, especially if you shoot the video shortly after completing your service and while your memory is fresh.


[Designer: insert example of one or two past-case videos here]

[Andrew: those videos can be found on the Creating Great Legal Videos PDF]

(2) First conversations.  Before making a first call to a law firm, prospects are unsure what to expect.  Showing them what a first conversation is like will go a long way in reducing that uncertainty and making it mentally easier to pick up their phones.

As with previously-handled scenarios, these first conversations can be tailored to different fact patterns you commonly handle.  Again, if a prospect sees their scenario they are more likely to figure you know how to handle the prospect’s situation and won’t be learning at their expense. 


[Designer: insert example of a role-playing video here]

[Andrew: those videos can be found on the Creating Great Legal Videos PDF]

(3) Why use an attorney. A portion of your website visitors will be unsure of the value of your service and questioning whether they need representation.  From the perspective of a lay person on the outside looking in, the work you do may not seem that complex.  

A video providing some insight into the pitfalls that await the inexperienced, the work required to surmount the many coming hurdles, and the hard-won knowledge from years of specialized practice can quickly dispel a prospect’s belief that your assistance is unneeded or not worth the money.


[Designer: insert example of finished “this is what I do” video here]

[Andrew: those videos can be found on the Creating Great Legal Videos PDF]

(4) Client testimonial.  These videos are equally persuasive, and you don’t need a lot of them.  In fact, you don’t even need to be involved in obtaining them.  Ask a team member to contact happy clients, learn which ones will let you record and publicize a Zoom session with them.

Then have the team member interview the client.  Don’t worry about constructive criticism being included.  In fact, you want to seek it out, for it will both help you improve and make the video more believable.

If you are just starting out and don’t yet have finished matters with happy clients, ask an attorney friend to sing your praises over a recorded Zoom session.  In exchange, you can do the same for him or her.


[Designer: insert one or two examples of finished testimonial video(s) here]

[Andrew: those videos can be found on the Creating Great Legal Videos PDF]

1D. Sample collection action plans

Pulling this chapter’s recommendation together into six-month action plans, the following outlines provide some potential video-creation templates for you to follow.  

We provide two different plan sizes, which vary in their comprehensiveness and how many videos are required to execute them.  Outlines, scripts, and slides to help you get started on implementation are provided in Chapter 2.

(1) Conservative action plan: two videos/month

— Calendar regular day and time for shoots at the pace of one each month.

— Select two initial categories (recommendation — FAQs and Previously-Handled Scenarios).

— Choose your first two topics (recommendation — an FAQ and your most recent scenario handled).   

— Shoot your first FAQ video and send it to your selected outsourcer for editing.

— Provide the FAQ video to your agency for posting.

— Repeat every two weeks, alternating between FAQ and Past Scenario videos.

(2) Aggressive action plan: four videos/month

— Calendar regular day and time for shoots at the pace of one every other week.

— Select three initial categories (recommendation — FAQs, Past Scenarios, and Testimonials).

— Choose your first two topics (recommendation — FAQ and your most recent scenario handled) and your most recent scenario handled), and identify several satisfied past clients.

— Shoot your first FAQ video and send it to your selected outsourcer for editing.

— Provide the FAQ video to your agency for posting.

— Begin calling satisfied past clients to request testimonials.  If yes, immediately switch over to Zoom and ask them to concisely tell the story of their engagement, from contacting you to completed plan.

— Shoot a new video every week, rotating through FAQs, Past Scenarios, and Testimonials as available.


Pattern scripts and examples

2A. Scripted FAQ videos
2B. Partially-scripted videos
2C. Prompts for unscripted videos
2D. Scripts for list videos

In this chapter we do the hard work for you.  Instead of having to draft your own scripts, we provide a number of ready-to-use, specialty-specific manuscripts.  

If you are already creating videos, simply review our copy and make any changes needed, and then incorporate them into your next shoots.

If you haven’t yet begun to create videos, read chapter 3 for tips on setup, rehearsing, and delivery before getting started with our scripts.

2A. Scripted FAQ videos

The number of frequently-asked questions that you can answer is nearly endless (see section 1B for starter topics).  

We recommend that you begin with broad-appeal questions and then gradually add narrower topics.  Below are several scripts to help you get started.

After you have created a few FAQ videos, you should find that you only need bullets rather than scripts to organize your thoughts and keep you on track during your presentation.



Is My Situation Bad Enough to File Bankruptcy?

[Estimated reading time: 3:08 (621 words)]

Hi, I’m ____ from the Law Offices of ____. We’re a {specialty} firm serving the _____ area. Many clients want to know more about {topic}, so that’s what I’m going to discuss with you today

If you are struggling financially and worried about paying your bills, you might be wondering:  Is my situation bad enough to file bankruptcy? 

As a bankruptcy lawyer, I’m asked that question often, by folks just like you – good, responsible people who find themselves in debt due to unforeseen and traumatic circumstances. I wish I could give you an easy answer, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “Is it time to file bankruptcy?” 

Whether bankruptcy is the right remedy for you at this time depends on your specific circumstances.  There are, though, common benchmarks you can rely on to help guide you in making this important decision.  Let’s review those benchmarks: 

Benchmark #1:  Still Time to Consider Other Options 

In the early stages of financial distress, you may be struggling to pay all of your bills each month, and may even have fallen behind on a bill and been called by a collection agency. You may have little or no savings. You may have lost your job recently and, along with it, your health insurance. 

At this stage, bankruptcy is not your only option, and may not be the best option, but you have to take action to get control of your finances. 

  • At a minimum, you’ll need to cut back on your non-essential expenses, make a budget, and stick to it. 
  • This is a good time to try negotiating with your creditors. Depending on the nature of the debt and the creditor, you may be able to negotiate a reduced payment; a reduced interest rate; or a manageable payment plan. 
  • Finally, it might be helpful to talk with a reputable debt counselor.  
Benchmark #2:  Time To Consider Bankruptcy 

Do any of the following apply to you:  

  • You are two or more months behind on two or more debts.
  • You are paying for necessities with credit cards.
  • You are using one credit card to make the minimum payment on another credit card.
  • You have more credit card debt than you can pay off over five years.
  • You have high medical bills that aren’t covered by insurance.
  • You owe taxes you cannot pay.  

If any one of these factors applies, then your situation has moved beyond Benchmark #1, and it’s time to reassess.  Bankruptcy may be the smart decision. At this point, you should give serious thought to consulting with a bankruptcy attorney to learn more about your rights and legal options.  

Benchmark #3:  Time To File Bankruptcy 

It’s time to file bankruptcy if: 

  • Your wages have been garnished.
  • Your bank account has been frozen.
  • Your home is in foreclosure.
  • Your car has been or is about to be repossessed. 
  • You’ve been sued on a debt. 

If any of these situations applies to you, reach out to a bankruptcy attorney without delay. As a debtor, you have rights, but you have to act quickly to protect those rights.  For example, you have only a limited amount of time to respond to a lawsuit. If you don’t respond, the lawsuit will result in a judgment, and a judgment gives a creditor powers and remedies it might not otherwise have. 

In Closing 

The best advice I can offer you is this: Don’t wait until you hit these last benchmarks of financial distress to reach out for help. If you are struggling to pay your bills, piling up credit card debt and dodging creditors, call us at ###-###-#### for a free and confidential consultation. With time and some advance planning, we can help you protect your home and preserve more of your assets, and if bankruptcy is inevitable, put you in a better position to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy.


Business litigation

How Will a Business Lawyer Evaluate My Case? 

[Estimated reading time 3:10] 

Hi, I’m ____ from the Law Offices of ____. We’re a {specialty} firm serving the _____ area. Many clients  want to know more about {topic}, so that’s what I’m going to discuss with you today

Do I have a case?  

I’m asked that question often, by business owners trying to figure out what exactly they are dealing with. A dispute surely is brewing, but is it a misunderstanding that might be resolved with a phone call or two, or is it a more serious issue that might justify a lawsuit? 

To help you assess whether legal action makes sense, we’ll consider a number of different factors, starting with liability.  Is the other party to the dispute liable – that is, legally responsible – for the harm you and your business have suffered? To put it another way, can you hold the other party accountable under one or more legal theories, such as breach of contract, or unfair competition or fraud? If liability is clear, you have a stronger case. If liability is questionable, or if the other party could raise an affirmative defense or a counterclaim that would excuse it from liability or limit your damages, then your case is weaker.

That brings us to the next factor we’ll consider: your damages. “Damages” is the legal term for the harm your business has suffered as a result of the other party’s wrongful conduct.  If your business suffered no harm, then you likely have no case, even if the defendant’s liability is clear. If the damages are speculative or uncertain, then you may have a case, but your case is weaker than if your damages are readily quantifiable. Lost profits, for example, are easier to quantify than is harm to your business’ reputation. 

A third factor we’ll consider in evaluating your situation is the potential defendant.  Does the potential defendant have assets to satisfy a judgment and/or insurance that might be applied to a settlement? If not, you and I  both could invest a great deal of time, money and effort in pursuing your claim and end up with a “win” in name only, without you ever seeing any actual compensation for the harm done to you. 

Another factor we consider is the strength of your evidence, including your “jury appeal.” Do you have documents that support your case? How strong are your witnesses? How strong of a witness will you be?  To put it more bluntly: Will a jury like you? Even if your case never gets to trial, your jury appeal is important because the insurance company will consider it in valuing your case for settlement.

Forum issues also must be considered. Where would a lawsuit be filed? In federal court or state court? If state court, in which state? This issue may be governed by the terms of a contract or, in the absence of a contract provision, we may have a choice about where to file a lawsuit, which could work to your advantage.  Likewise, if your dispute arises from a written contract, the contract may include an arbitration provision that bars you from seeking relief in court. Even without a mandatory arbitration clause, some form of alternative dispute resolution – like mediation or settlement negotiations between the parties – might be favorable to letting a jury resolve the matter. 

Finally, the last factor we consider in evaluating whether and what type of legal action makes sense is you and your mindset.  Resolving a business dispute can be expensive, time-consuming and physically, mentally and emotionally draining, especially if we have to file a lawsuit. Are you prepared to take this journey? 

If you are dealing with a business dispute, you don’t have to worry over it alone.  Call us at ###-###-####. We can assess your legal options in light of the case evaluation factors we’ve discussed here and help you determine your next best step. 



The Police Are at the Door. Do I Have to Let Them In? 

[Estimated reading time: 3:20]

Hi, I’m ____ from the Law Offices of ____. We’re a {specialty} firm serving the _____ area. Many clients want to know more about {topic}, so that’s what I’m going to discuss with you today

The police are knocking at your door. Do you know what to do? The answer depends on whether the officers have a warrant. So, before you open the door, ask: Do you have a warrant? 

If the officers have a warrant, you cannot refuse them entry or prohibit them from searching. You can, though, take the following steps to protect your rights and ensure that the process of executing the warrant goes as smoothly as possible.  

First, gather information.  

  • Ask for a copy of the warrant. Read it carefully. Does the warrant accurately describe the date, time and place of the search? Is it signed by a judge?
  • Ask for a copy of the “probable cause affidavit.” This is the sworn statement the officers presented to the judge in order to obtain the warrant.  
  • Ask for a business card from the lead officer conducting the search. If more than one law enforcement agency is involved, get a card from each agency leader. 
  • Determine the “what and why” of the search. Ask the officer in charge the reason for the search, its object, and how long it will take. 

Then, say as little as possible

  • Once you have made these preliminary inquiries, stop talking, and stay out of the way. Do not interfere with the officers. The sooner they finish their work, the sooner they will be gone. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, call your criminal defense lawyer at your first opportunity. 

What if the officers at the door do not have a warrant? 

If the officers at your door do not have a warrant, they are not stopping by for a friendly chat. They are investigating criminal activity or a suspicion of criminal activity, using a technique known as “knock and talk.” 

The goal of this technique is to get you to open the door so that the officers can look over your shoulder for evidence of illegal activity in plain view or, even better, obtain your permission to come inside for a chat and a look around. Both of these scenarios allow the officers to conduct a lawful search and/or seizure without having to obtain a warrant

So, how should you respond to that knock at the door when the officers do not have a warrant?  You do not have to open the door, but if you choose to, follow these guidelines to assert and protect your constitutional rights: 

  • Step outside and close the door behind you
  • Tell the officers

I have done nothing wrong, and I would like to help you, but I will not answer any questions or consent to a search without a lawyer present.

  • Once you have made this statement, stop talking. Do not answer any questions; do not consent to the officers entering your home; do not consent to a search of any kind.
  • Go back inside, close the door behind you, and call your criminal defense lawyer.  

If you are not able to turn the officers away (because that is a very hard thing to do), you still have the right to limit the scope of the officers’ movement and activity inside your home. 

  • You can tell the officers, for example, “You’re welcome to come in, but we’re going talk here, in the hall.” 
  • If the officers ask your permission to do anything (e.g., to “look around upstairs” or “take a look in this backpack”), you have the right to say no. Exercise that right. 

A police encounter is unnerving, regardless of why or when the officers knock at your door.  The best way to handle this situation – whether the officers have a warrant or not — is to (a) politely, but firmly, assert your constitutional rights, and (b) reach out to a criminal defense lawyer at your first opportunity.  

We are here to help.  You can reach us 24/7 at ###-###-####.



Do I Need an Attorney to Draft my Estate Plan?

[Estimated reading time — 2:45]

“Hi, I’m ____ from the Law Offices of ____. We’re a {specialty} firm serving the _____ area. Many clients want to know more about {topic}, so that’s what I’m going to discuss with you today.”

Legally, you do not need an attorney to draft your estate planning documents.  Wills and trusts do not have to be prepared or even reviewed by an attorney for them to be valid. However, they must comply with legal standards.

You need to decide for yourself if you feel competent to create your own estate plan or if you would instead be better served by hiring an estate planning attorney.  Here are 8 questions to answer when deciding:

  1. Do you and your spouse agree on how to pass on your joint and individually-owned assets? Owning a mix of marital assets and separate property can be a complicating factor.  Differing views on desired bequests to charities and others may also need to be reconciled.
  2. Do you have minor children? You will need to name guardians, determine at what age the children inherit, and specify how the assets will be managed in the meantime.
  3. Do you have children from a prior marriage and a current spouse or partner?   Ensuring equal distribution to your offspring can be especially difficult with blended families. 
  4. Do you have a child with special needs who will require long-term care?  If the child is receiving public assistance like SSI and Medicaid, a Special Needs Trust may be required to ensure continued qualification for that assistance. 
  5. Do you have a substantial estate? The more dollars to be transferred, the greater the value of professional guidance … both to ensure your wishes are fulfilled and to minimize taxes.  
  6. Are there any reasons your estate might be contested? Maybe you want to disinherit a child or other heir.  An explanation and airtight estate plan will help.
  7. Do you want to leave a portion of your estate to charity? Giving appreciated assets directly or through a trust can save taxes.  Retirement plans can also provide tax-saving opportunities when giving to charity.
  8. Do you own a small business or other business assets?  Transferring a business to the next generation requires preparation, tax planning, and documentation.   

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these 8 questions, you should at least initially consult a knowledgeable estate planning attorney so you fully understand the complexities of your situation.

While form templates can work for organized individuals with small and simple estates, they are not designed to handle the situations listed.  If you have questions or need assistance, you can contact us at ###-###-####. 



Answers to Common Questions About  Your Property Rights When You Divorce

[Estimated reading time – 3:56]

I’m [location] family attorney [name]. In this video, I answer five questions I’m often asked about the division of property during a divorce.

#1. What property will I get to keep once the divorce is over? 

You will get to keep a fair share of your marital property, also known as community property in some states. Marital property is property that you and your spouse accumulated during your marriage. It may include your home, vehicles, investments, personal property, and retirement accounts.

Marital property is usually divided equally between spouses. An unequal division is sometimes appropriate to avoid alimony or provide for a spouse with special needs. 

You will also keep all your separate property provided it has not been so mixed with marital property that it cannot be identified. Separate property is property you acquired before marriage and property you received during marriage as a gift or inheritance.

Earnings from separate property that accumulate during marriage, such as interest or dividends, are marital property that is divided.

#2. What happens to the family home in a divorce?

If one spouse wants the home and can afford it, the equity in the home is credited to that person’s share of the marital property. 

The spouse taking the home must provide the other spouse with equivalent assets or cash in compensation for his or her share of the equity. The equity can be determined by having the home appraised and then deducting any outstanding mortgages.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on who keeps the home, or neither of you can afford it or want it, the usual alternative is to sell the home and split the proceeds. 

If you think you want to keep the family home, ask yourself these questions: Can you afford to buy out your spouse’s interest? Can you afford to pay the mortgage, taxes, and upkeep on your post-divorce budget? Is suitable alternative housing available for a more affordable price?

Often neither party can afford the home and the only realistic solution is to sell it.

#3. Am I entitled to a share of my spouse’s retirement account if we divorce?

All property accumulated during your marriage, including your spouse’s retirement plan, is subject to division. You will be entitled to a fair share, usually half, of the amount accrued in your spouse’s retirement account from the time you married until you divorce. 

Your spouse could “buy out” your share of the plan by giving you other marital assets or separate assets.  Otherwise, the plan benefits are divided. A court order, known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO may need to be sent to the plan administrator to complete the division. 

Retaining an interest in your spouse’s retirement plan may be important if you are unlikely to secure sufficient retirement benefits otherwise. Alternatively, you may prefer a buy out if you expect to have adequate retirement benefits from your employment.

#4. What can I do to prevent my spouse from taking our possessions and draining our accounts before I file for divorce? 

You’ll want to document what you own so that if your spouse does take or destroy property, you will have proof that the property existed. Take photos; create an inventory; copy title and financial documents.

The court could award you a greater share of the marital property to compensate for missing assets.

When you file for divorce, you can ask the court for orders prohibiting this behavior. A spouse who violates these orders can be punished. 

#5. What if my spouse wasted a lot of our assets during our marriage?

Sometimes one spouse spends marital assets excessively for selfish reasons. Examples include:

  • Spending substantial sums on an extramarital affair; or
  • Spending lavishly on drugs, alcohol, partying, or gambling.

If you did not condone or benefit from the excessive spending, the court may award more of the remaining marital property to you to make up for the wasted funds.

Please give us a call if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss a divorce or other family law matter. We can be reached at: ###-###-####.


Personal injury

Do I Have a Good Case?

[Estimated reading time — 3:55]

Hi, I’m ____ from the Law Offices of ____. We’re a {specialty} firm serving the _____ area. Many clients want to know more about {topic}, so that’s what I’m going to discuss with you today.

If you have been injured in an accident you might be wondering whether you have a strong case.  The answer is “it depends”.  I’m going to talk to you about factors we consider to determine whether or not you have a strong potential personal injury case. 

  1. Liability:  Liability is basically fault. Proving “liability,” that the other person caused the accident & not you, is the first and biggest hurdle in your case.  This is especially true in smaller personal injury cases. Insurance companies have no fear whatsoever about rejecting claims in small cases in which there are serious questions as to liability. To put it another way, if the defendant’s fault or responsibility is unclear, then so is your chance of achieving a favorable outcome in your case. 
  2. Damages: Liability can be clear, but if there are no damages, then you have no case. Damages are the harm that was done to you in the accident, including your past and future medical bills, as well as your pain and suffering and out of pocket loss. Even in the earliest stages of your case, you probably have some idea as to how severe your injuries are. Cases involving broken bones, which show on x-rays are relatively easy, but soft tissue cases, such as neck and back strains, are more difficult because they don’t easily show on x-rays or MRI’s.
  3. Ability to pay:   Does the potential defendant have the ability to pay? If not, you and your attorney may invest a good deal of time, money, effort and emotional energy in the case, but never see a penny in return. Either some type of insurance must cover the incident, or the defendant must have personal assets like property that could be sold to pay the judgment.
  4. Will the jury like you? Will jurors empathize with your situation? On the other hand, what kind of person is the defendant? Will the jury like the defendant? There are some “bad defendants” – the drunk driver, the tire squealer, or the bully. If you have an unlikeable defendant, your settlement range goes up. But even more importantly, if the jury doesn’t like you or doesn’t believe you, your settlement range goes down.
  5. Witnesses:  Your case is only as good as your evidence, and usually your evidence is only as good as your witnesses. If, for example, your only witness to support liability is a relative or friend, your case is weaker than if you had several impartial witnesses. Your doctor might be a witness to the medical part of your case. If the doctor involved has never testified, doesn’t want to testify or cannot testify well, this lowers your case’s settlement value. 
  6. How tight-fisted is the defendant’s insurance company? As lawyers, we are familiar with which companies are the most tight-fisted and will make ridiculous, low-ball offers on cases.  So we might need to file suit. However, if the carrier is fair, and some of them are, we may get a higher settlement offer. 
  7. How much time has passed since the incident that caused your injuries? As a general rule, the longer it takes a case to get to a jury, the less sympathetic the jurors will be. This is particularly true if you experienced pain or other symptoms for a limited time after the accident, but you have fully recovered by the time of trial. 
  8. How much damage was there to the cars involved? In many automobile cases, the actual damage to the automobile may be minimal as car bumpers are made to absorb more impact now than they could years ago. If  there was only a bumper scratch or minor fender damage, the jury will question the extent of the impact and, therefore, the extent of your injuries. On the other hand, if the car in which you were injured looks like an accordion, it will be easier to convince a jury that you sustained serious injuries.

To recap, the primary factors determining case strength are:

— How clear is the defendant’s liability?

— How large and consistent with your injuries are your medical records?

— Will insurance or defendant assets fully cover your loss?

— Will a jury like you and your actions, and dislike the defendant and his actions?

— Do persuasive and unbiased witnesses support your claim?

— Does the insurer have fair settlement practices?

— Will you be fully recovered by the time of trial?

— And in auto accident cases, how extensively and visibly was your car damaged?

We are available to discuss your situation.  You may contact us at: ###-###-####.


Social Security disability

Will I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

[Estimated reading time – 4:30]

The following 5 questions will assess whether you are likely to qualify for Social Security disability benefits or whether you should have an attorney evaluate your case before you apply.

#1. Are you insured?

To qualify for disability benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs that required you to pay Social Security taxes.

Eligibility is determined by the number of work credits you have earned. You can earn up to 4 credits a year.  If you are disabled at age 31 or older, you generally need at least 20 credits in the 10 years before you were disabled. Significant work in 5 out of the last 10 years usually satisfies this requirement.

Younger workers need fewer credits.

If you have a steady work record, your insured status will lapse about 5 years after you stop work. Your disability must have begun before your insurance lapses. 

#2. Are you working?

You will not be approved for benefits if you are engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” 

Full-time work is typically substantial gainful activity.

Part-time work is substantial gainful activity if your monthly earnings exceed a limit set each year by the Social Security Administration. Recently, it has been around $1,300. 

#3. Do you have a severe medically determinable impairment?

You must have a physical or mental abnormality that can be established by medical tests or examinations. As a rule, if a doctor can make a diagnosis, you have a medically determinable impairment.

Even when doctors disagree about your diagnosis, if medical tests and examinations show abnormalities, you have a medically determinable impairment.

Your impairment is severe if it causes any reduction in your capacity to perform work.

#4. Will your impairment last at least 12 months or result in death?

Your impairment need not be severe for the full 12-months.  If you experience good and bad days or short periods of remission followed by flare-ups, you will satisfy this requirement.

If you can return to work after 12 months, you may be eligible for benefits for a temporary period.

#5. Are you capable of working?

Generally, being able to work disqualifies you from disability benefits. But there are exceptions for older claimants and those with certain conditions. 

If you are younger than 50, you will probably have to prove that you cannot do “past relevant work” or any other work, even a sedentary job. So, if you can still do a job you had in the past 15 years or an easy sit-down job, you will not qualify.

The ability to work is not always fatal to a claim. 

Your impairment might qualify you for benefits under the Listing of Impairments, a list of medical conditions that the Social Security Administration considers disabling, even if you can work. 

If you are over 50, you may be eligible for benefits even though you can do some jobs.  Social Security regulations recognize that older workers with limited education, a history of unskilled work, or no transferable job skills will have difficulty adapting to new work.

Many claimants between ages 50 and 54 are disabled even though they can do sedentary work.  Many claimants aged 55 or older are disabled even though they can do sedentary and light work, that is work that requires significant walking or standing.

In Summary

You should apply for Social Security disability benefits if:

  • You were insured when you became disabled.
  • You are not working or are working part-time but earning below the current monthly limit.
  • You have a mental or physical abnormality that can be documented with medical tests or examinations and that impairs your ability to work.
  • Your condition has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
  • You cannot do the easiest full-time or part-time job you had in the past 15 years.
  • You cannot do other full-time work.

If you can work, but you meet the other requirements, you may want a lawyer to evaluate your case. You may be eligible for benefits based on your medical condition under the Listing of Impairments.  Or you may be eligible if you are over 50 and you would be unable to adapt to new jobs given your employment and educational background.

We are available to discuss your situation.  You may contact us at: ###-###-####.

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