Dorothy Secol, CLA
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COMPLIANCE AND YOUR LAW PRACTICE

Your business clients face risks every day, including liabilities arising from government regulation, the environment, capitalization, antitrust and employment issues, changing tax legislation, and insurance coverage. Currently, with the growing global market, technology, multi-state and even international issues, unrecognized risks are created. All businesses operate in a regulated environment, and compliance within that environment should be assessed so that business risks can be minimized. Your individual clients need your constant supervision in compliance as it pertains to their cases as well. Your client base needs you to monitor legal developments and provide assistance in all of their compliance-related areas.

The firm that handles physician and medical staff issues needs to check for compliance in areas such as employment and buy/sell agreements, compensation and employee benefit planning, medical staff by-laws, rules and procedures, managed care contracts, policies and procedures, and credential and personnel files.

The firm that handles business transaction issues needs to check for compliance in areas of billing practices and procedures, leases, proposed business agreements and transaction documents. These are only two areas in which the law firm monitors legal developments and assists its clients in complying with the multitude of laws, both Federal and State.

What we sometimes lose sight of is that for every service that is provided by the law firm, there is a law, rule or regulation that must be complied with. Real estate closings require strict adherence to banking compliance, Federal HUD compliance, environmental compliance, and compliance with various other Federal, State and Local laws and ordinances. Trust and Estate law requires adherence to its own set of laws. In service as a bankruptcy trustee an individual must be in full compliance with many laws and regulations including those of the United States Justice Department. What this all means is that attorneys and their staff must stay on top of changing laws, regulations and rules. Without doing so, costly and time-consuming damages can result.

Mistakes in compliance can be avoided by staying educated. This means that the attorney and staff should read legal articles that pertain to their law practice specialty, and attend continuing legal education seminars and courses. For some clients it may be necessary to create compliance plans so that the risks are minimized. This is an important factor to address when first retained and should be discussed with your client over the course of your representation. Your client will feel comfortable knowing you are current in your knowledge of the laws, and you can offer additional legal services which may be profitable to your firm.

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