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LAWPRO Magazine: practising in an e-world

Volume 3, issue 4: December 2004

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FEATURES
Tapping extranet potential
Mark Tamminga discusses why extranets should matter to many firms, and three law firms discuss how they’re harnessing the power of the extranet as a client service tool.
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Googling yourself
How does the rest of the world see you on the Web? And how can you create the kind of presence that will benefit your practice?
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LVTS vs. ACSS: Funds handling in the e-world
It’s time for lawyers to rethink the money-related aspects of closing a real estate transaction. And understanding the two different payment systems that manage the flow of funds is the first step.
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RealtiPLUSWeb: leading edge technology for real estate bar
The fall launch of RealtiPLUSWeb centralizes conveyancing on a single, Web-based platform. The bottom line: Time savings for lawyers and improved service for clients says users of the new leading edge technology.
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Avoid being phished
If you’ve received e-mails inviting you to update your files, you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam by a fraudster seeking to find out your personal information.
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Lucky 13: Tips on managing electronic data
This excerpt from a new practicePRO booklet on managing the Security and Privacy of Electronic Data in a Law Office, outlines 13 simple steps you can take to protect your firm’s electronic data.
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FRAUD UPDATE
Is there a crook in the firm?
This summary of a paper delivered by Susan Elliott at a recent CLE on Fighting Real Estate Fraud outlines how to reassess your firm’s accounting, file processing and staffing/hiring in the fight against inside fraud.
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When the police come calling
Ian Smith provides a primer on the law governing search warrants and the steps lawyers can take if ever the police come calling.
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Is there insurance coverage for fraud?
In what circumstances does the LawPRO policy respond to claims that have a fraud component, and how important is Innocent Party Coverage?
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practicePRO
Tech Tip: Disarming pop-ups
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Newsbriefs
Events Calendar
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LAWPRO holds insurance premium increase to 5% in 2005

Volume 3, issue 3: October 2004

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LAWPRO holds insurance premium increase to 5% in 2005

The base insurance premium paid by most Ontario lawyers will increase to $2,625 per lawyer in 2005 from $2,500 in 2004 -- a five per cent increase.

The $125 increase is the first in 10 years and is the result of increased claims costs and declining premium revenues from transaction levies. Between 1995 and 2004, premium levels fell consistently from a high of $5,600 to $2,500 in 2003 and 2004.

Premiums for many lawyers in 2005 will be significantly below the base $2,625 mark, with some lawyers paying as little as $1,178, depending on the practice and coverage options selected. Premiums for other insurance coverage, transaction levies and discounts will remain the same as they were in 2004.

The increase in the base premium is the result of two diverging trends: Claims costs, which have remained in the $65 million range in earlier years, have increased in 2004. This increase can be traced to fraud-related claims as well as those resulting from incivility, shortcomings in client loyalty and conflicts.

At the same time, premium revenue from transaction levies is expected to continue to decrease. In particular, real estate transaction levies have declined, reflecting an increase in the use of title insurance.

Revenue to meet the forecasted $78.5 million in total costs for the insurance program in 2005 will come from three sources: $48.6 million from base premiums (based on 19,800 insured lawyers); $21.2 million from transaction and claims history surcharge levies; and $8.7 million from the premium stabilization fund.

Law Society-approved indemnification agreements a must for title insurers
The 2005 policy will be changed to more consistently protect lawyers against claims arising out of title-insured transactions.

The policy presently exempts lawyers and law firms from having to pay the $50 real estate transaction levy surcharge for transactions that are title insured, provided the title insurer has waived its rights and agreed to indemnify and save harmless the lawyer/law firm against claims arising under the title insurance policy or policies. This exemption reflects the core insurance program's reduced exposure to claims in situations where this protection is in place for lawyers.

Effective January 1, 2005, the professional liability insurance policy will be changed so that the exemption from having to pay the real estate transaction levy surcharge applies only in situations where the title insurer has entered into a release and indemnity agreement in a form satisfactory to the Law Society. This change will minimize the administration required of lawyers and law firms, and will ensure that the required release and indemnity agreement is in place on a consistent basis.

The bar will be advised of which title insurers have entered into release and indemnity agreements satisfactory to the Law Society. In situations where the title insurer does not provide this type of agreement, lawyers acting on these transactions - even if they are title-insured - will have to pay the real estate transaction levy surcharge.

Filing 2005 insurance application or exemption forms

Application filing deadlines

November 1: e-file deadline
File your 2005 insurance application by November 1, 2004, and you'll receive a $50 premium discount on your next year's insurance premium. Last year, close to 75 per cent of lawyers opted to take advantage of this discount and completed their applications via the File Online option on our Web site - www.lawpro.ca.

November 5: application filing deadline
To avoid paying a late filing surcharge of 30 per cent of the base premium, applications must be filed with LAWPRO by November 5, 2004. Applications can be filed in one of three ways: electronically (e-file), by fax or mail.

Who must file an application?

  • Any lawyer insured under the LAWPRO program in 2004 who intends to continue in private practice in 2005.
  • Any lawyer who was exempt under the program in 2004 but intends to return to private practice in 2005.
  • Any in-house counsel, government or education lawyer, who, in the course of employment or otherwise, provides legal services to third parties.
  • Any lawyer who, although retired from active private practice, occasionally provides legal services.
  • Any Law Society member who, although not resident in Ontario, engages in more than "occasional practice" in Ontario, as defined under the Rules for Exemption Eligibility and does not qualify for the mobility exemption.

How to save on 2005 insurance premiums

E-file to save $50 per lawyer
E-file in 4 easy steps
1. Go to the LAWPRO Web site at www.lawpro.ca and click on File Online.
2. On the Sign-in page, enter your Law Society member number and your unique, confidential password.
3. Select 2005 Professional Liability Insurance Application (renewals) from the list of online filing options. Your online application will be pre-populated with information on your current insurance coverage, as per information in our database.
4. Follow the on-screen instructions for completing your application - in minutes! All of the information on the 2005 insurance program and options is available online.

Pay your premium in a lump sum and save $150 per lawyer
You can choose to pay your 2005 premium in a lump sum, or by quarterly or monthly instalments. But only lump sum payments, made by cheque or pre-authorized bank account withdrawals, qualify you for the $150 per lawyer lump sum payment discount. For more information, go to question #16 on your 2005 insurance application and program guide.

Electronic filing the preferred option for 2005

Based on the resounding success of last year's electronic filing - which saw more than 16,000 of the 19,800 lawyers in practice opt to e-file their insurance application - LAWPRO will again emphasize electronic processes during the upcoming insurance renewal season.

As was the case last year, insurance applications, invoices and policy documents will be delivered primarily via our Web site rather than in printed format through the mail.

By now, all lawyers with an e-mail address on file with LAWPRO should have e-mail notification that the LAWPRO Web site is open for e-filing 2005 insurance applications.

Printed application packages were mailed only to lawyers who have never e-filed, to those for whom LAWPRO did not have a valid and current e-mail address on file, and to those who had specifically requested a printed application package.

All lawyers - whether or not they have e-filed in the past - are encouraged to file their 2005 insurance application electronically, and be eligible for the $50 per lawyer e-file discount (note e-filing must be completed by November 1, 2004).

Law firms of five or more lawyers:
The managing partner, firm administrator and/or insurance contact identified on your most recent online filing will have received e-mail notification that your firm's pre-populated 2005 insurance materials are available online. Firms are encouraged to e-file on a firm basis, to streamline the insurance renewal process.

Filing online will qualify the firm for a $50 per lawyer discount that will be applied to the 2005 insurance premium, if received by November 1, 2004.

Instant access to your 2005 invoice and policy documents
Most lawyers who practise alone and opt to e-file, will see their applications processed instantly and will have immediate online access to their 2005 premium invoice and policy documents in a secure section of the LAWPRO Web site.

Lawyers who prefer to receive a printed invoice in the mail will be able to indicate this preference on the application form.

As in the past two years, only those lawyers who do not e-file, and for whom we do not have an e-mail address will receive printed packages of the 2005 policy and the booklet containing forms for transaction levy filings. PDF copies of the 2005 insurance policy will also be available for downloading and printing from the LAWPRO Web site.


The many faces of fraud:

A special report on identity & value frauds: What they look like, how they work and how lawyers can protect themselves
Volume 3, issue 2: June 2004

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Identity fraud
Identity theft, fraudulent documents, imposters and forgery: Wrap them all up and you have a fraud that’s sophisticated yet simple and often difficult to detect. Sidney Troister unmasks identity fraud.

The Land Titles Register and Land Titles Assurance Fund
How do the Register and Fund factor into the fraud equation? Sidney Troister explains the critical doctrines of immediate and deferred indefeasibility, and discusses the role of the Land Titles Assurance Fund in fraudulent transactions.

Warning signs of identity fraud
A checklist of characteristics common to identity frauds.

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Corporate fraud
When fraudsters take on a corporate persona, the stakes are that much higher. Neil Smiley details corporate identity fraud and provides tips on fighting this high stakes type of fraud.

Warning signs of corporate identity fraud
A checklist of characteristics common to corporate identity theft.
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Value fraud
Robert Potts and Mirilyn Selznick detail how fraudsters flip properties to inflate property values and then run – leaving financial institutions and sometimes lawyers holding the bag.

Warning signs of value frauds
A checklist of characteristics common to value/flip frauds.
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FEATURES
Fighting fraud
Lawyers, lenders, insurers, government agencies, law enforcement, the Law Society and others have joined forces to address fraud in the marketplace.

Tips for lawyers
Build a better checklist
Be wary of providing identification services
Protect security of PSPs
Implement internal controls
A collective effort
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The toll fraud takes

A victim’s story
A discipline counsel perspective
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Casebook
Can you ever advise a client to ignore foreign proceedings?
The effects of Beals v. Saldanha
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Pro bono services: Are they covered by LAWPRO?
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DEPARTMENTS
practicePRO
Significant Stats: Communications issues and real estate
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Tech Tip: 10 steps for computer troubleshooting
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Beware the dangers of metadata
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Online COACHING CENTRE: Business development
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Newsbriefs
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Events Calendar
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Taking the guesswork out of client communication

Volume 3, issue 1: Spring 2004

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Fraud alert
The incidence of reported fraud is on the rise -- and no lawyer is immune to being a victim of fraud. This article reviews the principal types of fraud that lawyers should be aware of.
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The inside "scoop"
Who is in a better position to understand what causes claims – and how other lawyers can avoid making the same mistakes – than lawyers who have had a claim? Their consistent observation: It’s all about crystal clear client communication.
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FEATURES
Difficult clients
How can you stay sane and in practice when dealing with difficult clients? Lawyer Carole Curtis provides practical advice in this excerpt from a major paper.
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Preventing Will drafting errors
Ian Hull of Hull and Hull outlines three easy steps that lawyers should take when drafting Wills.
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Limitations Act, 2002
Understand the Act and its implications then communicate information about the Act to both your staff and your clients, says Tim Bates of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.
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TitlePLUS keeps on growing
Why do many lawyers prefer TitlePLUS coverage over any other title insurance options? Four lawyers tell us why they have made TitlePLUS a preferred option.
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Online learning
Online learning benefits lawyers of all stripes – both lawyers at Miller Thomson, LLP and sole practitioners such as Suzanne Dajczak.
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DEPARTMENTS
practicePRO Tech Tip: Use Paste Special
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Newsbriefs
Events Calendar
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