December 1, 2013 Associate Editor Regular News January Solo and Small Firm Conference focuses on technologyMegan E. Davis Associate EditorThe General Practice Solo and Small Firm Section is encouraging lawyers to save the date as its annual conference, titled “Conquering the Technology Curve” and set for January 24-25 in Orlando, approaches.The conference coincides with the Bar’s Winter Meeting at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista. A primary focus of the conference is technology, which is rapidly revolutionizing the profession, Sean Desmond, conference chair, said.“Technology itself has just absolutely exploded and the impact on the profession is amazing,” he said. “With e-filing, e-discovery, e-service, it’s just becoming more and more important that attorneys know what’s going on in this area. Practice management software and all of these changes in technology are so critical because they can really aid your practice.”Small firms and solo practitioners are especially impacted by changes in technology, Desmond said.“Lots of bigger firms have large IT departments or dedicated servers, where a lot of smaller firms are now moving toward cloud-based servers and storing information in the cloud,” he said. “We have companies and vendors out there targeting small firms, and there’s a large amount of information in terms of services you can get to help compete with larger firms.”The first day, with the theme Conquering the Cloud, includes speakers on a variety of technology-related topics, including Mobile Devices & Remote Computing: “Can I Really Practice Law From Anywhere?”; Generating Documents in a Paperless Office: “Getting Things on Paper and Then Getting Rid of the Paper”; and The Ethics of Cloud Computing: “Is This Really Allowed? Is This Safe?”The second day, titled Conquering the Practice, offers courses on topics like hiring, effective billing, and the Affordable Care Act. The conference also seeks to provide attorneys with networking opportunities, Desmond said.“Networking and referrals are just critical to being able to maintain and grow your practice,” he said. “This conference gives you the ability to interact with other solo and small firm attorneys in a really engaging, fun environment. We encourage people to come, mingle, and get to know folks.”The schedule includes several 15-minute “networking breaks,” as well as an awards luncheon and a reception Friday with entertainment by Tampa Bay’s La Lucha, named Best of the Bay 2013 for “Best Jazz Ensemble.”For more information or to register, visit the section’s website at www.gpssf.org. Discounts are available for GPSSF Section members, full-time law college faculty, paralegals, and full-time law students.The Bar’s Young Lawyer’s Division also plans to award 10 scholarships to cover registration costs for attendees who are members of both the YLD and GPSSF.A large percentage of small firm lawyers and solo practitioners are young lawyers, said Melanie Griffin, YLD president.“Since we know we can’t provide a mentor for every young lawyer, we’ve been looking for tangible ways we can help them get the training that they need,” Griffin said. “This is one more way to do that.”The division is donating a total of $10,000 to the conference, for both the scholarships and additional unspecified support. January Solo and Small Firm Conference focuses on technology
Container volume tonnages increased slightly during the past half year, whilst ro-ro and dry bulk cargoes returned to good growth, of 16.2 percent and 5.0 percent respectively.In the conventional/breakbulk area 5,375,642 tonnes of freight was handled, a decrease of 16.5 percent compared with the same period last year. The drop is mainly due to the lower volume of steel, reflecting the current economic climate. During the first half year 2012 a steel volume of 3,378,612 was handled, which is 23.4 percent less than the 4,410,803 tonnes for the corresponding period in 2011.www.portofantwerp.com
With deadlines looming to renew professional indemnity insurance, desperate brokers are offering insurers books of hundreds of law firms without any scrutiny of their ability to pay out on claims, an insurer has claimed.In an interview with the Gazette, Jason Smart, chief executive of indemnity insurer Elite, lifted the lid on the lengths brokers will go to get insurance arranged for firms. The solicitors’ PII renewal deadline is set to pass at midnight tonight with potentially hundreds of firms still seeking cover. Many will come from the group of 1,300 left without an insurer after they separated from insurers Balva and then Berliner in the past year.Smart said his firm was approached to take on the book of firms en masse – an approach that was immediately refused. ‘We have offered terms to the better risks but we have been very careful not to be the recipient of a bin full of application that were part of a ludicrous situation.‘Berliner was not big enough and the premiums were completely untenable. We were very vocal and resistant to being a dumping ground for everybody else’s mistakes.’Smart said that ‘several’ brokers had tried to push the Berliner book onto his firm, even though it amounted to more than double the £8m Elite was prepared to write in the legal market this year.‘This all stems down to the broker market – they should be less worried about their 25% commission and more worried about selling a product that has some value,’ he said. ‘I even had a text message from somebody I don’t know asking me to take on a £20m book. I don’t think there would have been any scrutiny had we expressed an interest. The broker should look at the financials of the business and how they will meet liabilities.’Smart emphasised that his criticism did not apply to all brokers, several of which are showing due diligence in assessing whether a law firm and insurer was a correct match.Firms that have missed out on securing cover now enter the Extended Indmenity Period, a 30-day period in which a firm can continue to practise and try to obtain qualifying insurance.Several rated and unrated insurers are believed to be still prepared to accept applications from firms in this situation.Smart said the grace period during October, when firms can still practise while they search for an insurer, will be ‘incredibly busy’. In some cases firms will have to accept paying premiums up to 15% of their annual fee income as insurers set prices based on risk created by other firms.
CANADA: A five-month trial of biodiesel is being undertaken in what Canadian Pacific says is its first use with locomotives operating in the cold Canadian climate. Four GE Transportation AC4400 locomotives in dedicated service between Calgary and Edmonton are using a 5% biodiesel blend from November until the end of March 2010. Detailed examination of the locomotives and their FDL-16 engines should determine whether the biofuel has adverse effects on reliability or maintenance requirements. The trials are supported by Natural Resources Canada’s National Renewable Diesel Demonstration Initiative. This funds projects looking into the practical implications of storage, blending and the weather for biofuel distribution and use. The Canadian government hopes to require the use of 2% renewable content in diesel by 2011.