Monday, September 29, 2014

Why is My Case Taking This Long?

You've heard about it or experienced it, impatience in waiting for a case to be completed.   If you are anxious to get things over with, it can feel like a case is going on forever, especially if you believe that your case is "simple" or "agreed".

Here is a list of some of the common things that (despite everyone's best efforts) take time, and why they happen:

  1. Delay: Waiting for information-  Examples: The attorney has given the client a detailed information form to fill out and is waiting for it to be returned.   A client has asked specific questions that an attorney must fully research before giving a final answer.  An opposing party has not provided important documents yet.    An home study in an adoption has not been reduced to writing. 
  2. Delay:  Problems Connecting.   Examples: Parties or attorneys playing "phone tag".   Several busy people trying to schedule a meeting, mediation  or hearing around work, travel and family schedules.  
  3. Delay: Waiting for the Court: Courts are busy places and most Texas courts have full dockets and hard-working judges and court staff.   In order to function, courts have to set specific rules for how and when cases are scheduled, procedures are followed and decisions are made. Judges also must have time to go to continuing education and must have time out of the courtroom to tend to other tasks. Once a case is filed, the court's procedure must be respected and followed.
  4. Delay- Waiting for the Document: Once an order is issued in a case, it must be signed by the Judge and imaged by the staff.  Each county has its own procedure and time frame for doing that.   Sending away to a governmental agency for documents (a new birth certificate, a death certificate, etc.) can also take time as there is a process that must be followed and government offices may be backlogged with requests.
  5. Delay- Specific procedural requirements - E-Filing is now a common requirement.  Although the procedure may ultimately be time-saving, it is fairly new and like all new things, requires training for everyone involved.  There are also certain Texas laws that specify that things must be done in a certain order, or that a certain minimum amount of time after notice or service of lawsuit must pass before a case can move forward. 
How you can help- If you are a client who is anxiously waiting for a case to proceed, you can help by making sure that you return requests for information as soon as possible, keep the lines of communication with your attorney and his/her paralegal and staff open, try to be understanding about procedures when you can, and let your attorney or the law office staff know if you will be unavailable at specific times.  

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mediation Isn't Just for Big Cases Anymore!

Mediation as a method of alternative dispute resolution has steadily grown in popularity and use since the 1980s.

Most people are familiar with the idea of court-ordered mediation for civil and family law cases.   But many people don't know these facts about mediation;

  1. If you have a dispute with another party, you can choose to hire an impartial mediator and go to mediation before filing a lawsuit. 
  2. You can find a private mediator on your own or with an attorney's help.
  3. You can ask for a judge to order mediation in a case if it hasn't already been ordered.
  4. There are different types of mediation, and different fee schedules (which depend on a variety of factors).
  5. Yes, it really is confidential.
  6. In some situations, you may be able to get free, low-cost or sliding scale mediation.
  7. Mediation can benefit your case by clarifying the issues, or helping you settle a few of the issues on the list, even if it doesn't lead to a complete settlement. 
  8. Mediation may ultimately save you money. 
  9. In some situations, a court order or contract may require mediation prior to filing a suit.
  10. Mediation and arbitration differ from each other in several important ways, but are both part of the process called Alternative Dispute Resolution.    
Don't miss out on the potential benefits that mediation can offer you.  Going to mediation is not "showing weakness" or "giving up". It is simply another avenue to a solution. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Americans With Disabilities Act - A Quick Summary of Where to Find Information

The Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA") is an important civil rights law. If you have not been involved directly with the law in any way, you may be uncertain about what it is. Even if you have had reason to use or refer to this law, you may want to have a handy summary of the basic points, and a list of links for more information.

If you own a business, you should be familiar with the portions of the ADA which affect your business.  There is a free, excellent governmental publication ("ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business") which can help you do just that. It is well-written and includes examples and illustrations that help make a complex subject understandable.  This primer deals with accessibility in public places, tax credits, service animals and answering telephone relay calls.

Title 1 of the ADA prohibits discrimination in Employment.

The title I employment provisions apply to private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions. Employers with 15 or more employees are covered. 

The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities.

Employment discrimination is prohibited against "qualified individuals with disabilities." This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected. (from

The website also has valuable information about how the ADA applies to state and local government and how it applies to public accommodations, 

Other links about the ADA: 

Main ADA website

U.S. Department of Labor

US Department of Transportation Accessibility 

Federal Communications Commission Disability Rights Office 

Keep this information handy so that you can find quick answers about the ADA when needed!

Kalish Law Office - Family & Business Law - The Woodlands, Texas 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Decisions to Make About Your Will and Estate Plan

If you are making a will for the first time (or updating one for the first time in a long time), this handy list will help guide you. No matter how small or large your estate, the answers to these questions are important.

  1. Who will be the ultimate beneficiary of most or all of your estate?  
  2. What if the person(s) in item #1 dies before you do?  Who will get their portion? 
  3. What "special gifts" do you want to make, if any?  (You can give instructions about your pets or specify who gets an heirloom or a cash gift).
  4. If you have minor children- who would you want to raise them if you are unable?  
  5. If you have minor children - who would you want to take care of their finances?
  6. Who would you like to name as your executor?
  7. Who would you like to name as alternates for guardian, trustee, and executor? 
  8. Do you have any instructions about your funeral, burial, or would you like to specify cremation? 
  9. What is the total value of your estate? 
  10. Do you have a special situation that needs attention?  (For example: step family, common law marriage, same-sex marriage, domestic partnership, property in one or more states/countries, disabled child or adult who is a beneficiary of your will, spouse with dementia, small business depending on you, or any other personal concerns)?
An experienced Texas wills and trusts attorney can help with your estate planning and can tailor the situation to your specific needs.    

Often, visiting the attorney is the easy part. The hard part is going home and making the decisions about what you want. The job can be accomplished by sitting in a quiet place and writing down your desires. Then the attorney can draft an estate plan that works for you. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Five Life Principles to Help you Stay out of Trouble

In several years of practicing law, our firm has seen a lot of people in distress.  

Some problems are simply unavoidable. However, practicing a few basic principles can make you much less likely to get into legal trouble.

  1. Know your rights- If you know your legal rights in a situation you are less likely to give in when you shouldn’t, creating a hassle for later. You are also less likely to aggressively defend a position that is unreasonable (or unprovable).
  2. Choose your battles- another way to say this is “don’t sweat the small stuff”.  Unfortunately when it comes to legal issues, it is NOT all small stuff, but a lot of it is.  You may be “right” but how much energy to you want to divert to proving it? Decide what’s worth it and what isn’t.
  3. Listen to others and try to understand- Many, many lawsuits (and divorces) begin because of a misunderstanding that grows until it leads to huge problems. This is why mediation works so well; it allows people to see the situation the way the other side does.  And this is why paying attention to people’s feelings is a practical, proactive strategy to stay out of hot water and is not a frivolous waste of time.  And why treating people compassionately when you have bad news for them may help prevent them from trying to strike back at you.
  4. Pay Attention.  Read the fine print in contracts, ask questions, ask to get things in writing, ask for clarification and don’t sign or say “yes” until you are sure. If you see trouble on the horizon get legal help before things get out of control and try to stop trouble in its tracks.
  5. Stay organized & informed-   Use all your resources.  There is plenty of information available online to guide you.  For example, this blog is written with the specific intent of providing helpful information to families and businesses.  Other good online resources provide information about governmental regulations, law and risk management procedures.  Docket important dates so that you are aware of expiration dates and filing requirements that affect your personal life and your business or profession.
Avoiding trouble can become a lifestyle, in the same way as healthy living.  Don't ignore simmering problems, and don't hesitate to create strategies to minimize legal risk in your business and personal life.

Kalish Law Office - Family & Business Law - The Woodlands, Texas 
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible!