Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Online Car Insurance Quote Primer

Getting online car insurance quotes is easy and can save you hundreds. Follow these tips to make sure you get the right quotes as conveniently as possible.

First, you'll want to make sure you get at least three quotes from different companies. This is because auto insurance rates can vary tremendously from one company to the next. When you get a variety of quotes, you can see which company is the lowest. One of the most convenient ways to do this is by using an insurance comparison site. These types of Web sites allow you to enter your information once, and then provide several quotes back.

Next, get some information ready to make the process go quicker. Some of the information you'll want includes make and model of each vehicle, driver's license and Social Security numbers for each driver, and the coverages and deductibles you'll want. If you are just shopping around to look for a better deal (a good idea) and have a current auto insurance policy, you can use that for your information.

Make sure to take notes about your quotes to help you compare and decide. You can just jot down information on a sheet of paper, such as the amount of the quote, deductibles and coverage limits plus the name and contact information for each company or insurance agent.

Once you've found a quote you like, it's a good idea to check into the company's financial stability. After all, you want to make sure the company will be around when you need them most -- during a claim. There are several organizations that rate insurance companies, such as Weiss, Standard & Poor's and A.M. Best. They may have ratings on the company you're interested in on their Web sites. You can also check with your state's insurance department to see if there have been any complaints about the company.

Also, when you are looking for quotes, and after you've found a quote you like, ask about available discounts. Discounts such as multi-policy, Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS), anti-theft devices, low mileage, and good student can lower your premiums anywhere from five to 20 percent.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Law Offices of Austin

Why do so many criminal defense lawyers, who are solo practitioners mostly, insist on getting a DBA or incorporating as “The Law Offices of [John Smith]” plural? Instead of “The Law Office of [John Smith]” singular?

Actually it’s not just those in the criminal defense bar I notice doing this; it’s solos of all kinds. I suspect they want to project an image of a big law firm where tons of attorneys are running around doing all sorts of busy criminal defense work all day. That’s what will attract clients (the theory goes).

In fact, the reason most of us are solos is that you need one attorney, not many, to handle all important aspects of your case.

I office with two other Austin defense lawyers, Lance Stott and Dax Garvin, but we’re not partners, we are criminal defense lawyers who share some office space a few blocks from the jail. Well, we’re friends to, but from a business standpoint, we are all solos.

And we occasionally “handle” a court setting for each other if necessary, but it’s almost always the type of setting where nothing really happens. The case just gets reset. Most of those times it’s when the client’s appearance is not even required.

Or it might be that the resolution to a case has already been determined (plea of no contest for probation or backtime, or turn in a counseling certificate to get a dismissal, etc.) and one of us is wrapping up the case for the other because we have to be somewhere else.

But we all work substantively on our own cases. We don’t share the work load of a criminal defense case. (The exception to that is sometimes it’s helpful to run a PC affidavit or an indictment past a colleague to bounce ideas off of them. “Hey, so you see anything wrong with this charging instrument?”)

Another exception of course is in “big” cases. Big big cases sometimes require multiple lawyers. And it’s always helpful to have someone around to second chair a jury trial, even if it’s “just” a misdemeanor.

But none of these are reasons to call yourself “The Law Offices” of So-and-So, when really it’s just you, the one attorney, and your staff.

And when you explain to a potential client that you, the human being sitting in front of them, will be the one “handling” all of the important settings in their case, you’ll find out that most people appreciate that. So there’s no need to project the image of the multiple busy lawyer law firm with hundreds of attorneys, spread out over several law offices, possible several states plural.

It’s perfectly OK to be the “Law Office of”… Just you, one lawyer, who knows every aspect of each client’s case.
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