Sponsorships

In addition to my board involvement. I have been proud to be a sponsor at various community events this past year. Sponsorship is an important way to develop and strengthen community awareness of your product, service or practice.

I was a proud sponsor of the New York State Blues Fest this summer. It was wonderful to see our community gather for such fantastic music. I am looking forward to returning next year as a sponsor.

Engel Law Offices is a proud member of Syracuse First. Syracuse First is a community organization started three years ago  to think about developing a locally first attitude regarding business decisions within the Syracuse area. In that time it has grown to over 300 members and is an exciting grass roots organization in our community.

We have also sponsored the  Jewish Music and Cultural Festival held in September at the Jewish Community Center in Syracuse. This festival highlights Jewish Culture and music of all kinds.

Giving back to the community is key to growing and developing a vital Syracuse.

 

Todd

My Birthday Challenge: Can you help me reach my goal?

On March 28, 2012 I’ll celebrate my birthday.

OMG!

It’s a long standing tradition in my family for the person celebrating a birthday to give something away. We receive gifts, but we always give something as well.

This year , I want to give back to both of the communities I practice in. Syracuse and Saratoga both mean a great deal to me. The people have supported me and my law practice.  For that I am very grateful and believe it is time to give back.

Two organizations near and dear to my heart are the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, which is a non-profit organization in Syracuse dedicated to ending child abuse through intervention and education and Camp TLC, an on the move camping program based downstate that delivers a week of camp to children living in hospitals, group homes, and shelters across the country at no charge.

One of Camp TLC’s programs is a week long camp during the Saratoga thoroughbred race meet for kids of the backstretch employees, grooms, hotwalkers and other stable help who otherwise would not have the ability to send kids to camp for the summer.

Here is my challenge to you:

As I write this, my Facebook page sits at 391 likes. If I can reach 1000 likes by midnight on my birthday – 30 days from now – I will donate $1000, $500 to each organization.

Will you help? Please share this post.

Special Olympic Winter Games

I am proud to be a member of the Special Olympics of New York Games Organizing Committee for the Winter Games being held in Syracuse on February 5th and 6th. Being a part of this team has been an exciting and educational experience and one that I will cherish.

Special Olympics is an important organization that allows athletes with special needs to participate in sporting events across the spectrum and compete against other individuals with disabilities. The Winter Games will be comprised of six events in five locations throughout Onondaga County. I’ll tell you more about them as we go on.

The Games will start with Opening Ceremonies Friday night at 7:00 at the Oncenter. Each athlete participating will march in just like the Olympic Games. They will be welcomed by local law enforcement officers and community dignitaries as they enter the arena. There will even be a Torch Run and the lighting of the Olympic Torch.

Following the Opening Ceremony the Games will start with the Floor Hockey Pairing games. Each team will play to determine their seeding for Saturday morning’s games which will take place at the Oncenter. These games will start at 8:30 at the Oncenter and will be single elimination games throughout the day.

Saturday is the day when the events really start kicking into high gear. The events will at 8:30 in the morning. Figure Skating will be at the Onondaga County War Memorial followed by speed skating. Floor Hockey and the Olympic Village will be at the Oncenter. Snowshoeing will be at Thorden Park. Alpine skiing will be at Toggenburg Ski Center. Nordic Skiing will be at Highland Forest.

Each of the events are free to attend. They will be finished by 2:30 so come out and enjoy the day watching these athletes compete. I hope to see you there!

Todd Engel
[email protected]

What to look for when hiring an attorney

When looking to hire a new attorney there are five things you should always consider.

1. Comfort Level

When you initially reach out to the new attorney, are you comfortable with the manner he or she contacts you? Do you actually have the ability to speak with the attorney who will be handling your matter when you call? Are your initial questions answered? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may want to consider looking at additional attorneys. At Engel Law Offices, you will speak to the attorney representing you immediately, there will be no middle man for intake purposes. You will have access via email to that attorney. At Engel Law Offices, communication is the cornerstone to a good attorney client relationship.

2. Size of Office

Can the attorney service your needs fairly? Law firms run the gamut from solo practitioners to firms with hundreds of attorneys. A solo practitioner like myself can represent people with all types of legal needs. Smaller offices can and do provide individualized attention to your needs.  Larger offices may fit your need and if that is so, then utilize their services, but please remember that you are hiring the lawyer and need to be able to have a working relationship with him or her. At Engel Law Offices, effective and quick response times are instrumental to our communication with the client. It is important that you feel that your case is important and that the office is available and accessible to you, the client.

3. What are you looking for?

A lawyer in a general practice can and oftentimes does represent an individual in all aspects of their legal needs. Whether it is buying a new home, selling a business, divorce, or estate planning, a general practitioner can handle those needs for you. Attorneys who specialize are great and having a referral network for a general practitioner to utilize makes sense for those situations when the client needs specialization.  A firm should be small enough to know who you are yet diverse to handle your needs. At Engel Law Offices, we strive to build relationships with our clients so that you will feel like you have a life long lawyer.

4. Does the attorney represent individuals with needs like yours?

When you call for an initial intake, do not hesitate to inquire about the lawyer who will be representing you. All lawyers should be candid with their experience level and comfort level with the fact scenario you place before them. At Engel Law Offices if you call with a matter that is not part of our practice areas, we seek to find you a suitable attorney given your situation.

5. Flat fee/ hourly rate

Economics is an important consideration in any relationship. Presently there is a trend for attorneys to move to a flat fee billing system. What this means is instead of charging an hourly rate for certain services, there is a set fee for the legal work determined at the beginning of the working relationship. If that relationship expands, the attorney may revisit the fee, however when a firm does a flat fee billing system, it is rare for that to happen. This benefits the client because their budget is fixed for purposes of legal fees for a certain matter. At Engel Law Offices, we assess your case and if flat fee billing is appropriate, we utilize that method.

A significant portion of our matters can be handled in this way, including certain aspects of commercial litigation, estate planning, estate administration, business matters, real estate matters, and equine matters can all be billed in a flat fee manner. Personal injury litigation is still based on a contingency fee and those fees can be discusses when you call Engel Law Offices.

Should you be searching for an attorney, please consider Engel Law Offices. We are lengths ahead of the field.

Todd Engel

Engel Law Offices

214 N. State Street                                                               1104 Middleline Road

Syracuse, NY 13203                                                           Ballston Spa, NY 12020

315-295-1450                                                                       518-490-1770

[email protected]

www.engelatty.com

www.twitter.com/toddengel

Why I love being a general practitioner

I love being a general practioner!

I represent corporations and individuals in such a wide and varied area of the law. I handle matters involving business planning and ultimate representation, estate planning, civil litigation, personal injury litigation, real estate, and equine law.  I have and do represent people criminally, as well as in Family Court.

Each day and case offers me a new opportunity to expand my knowledge in the law. But more importantly, it allows me to guide and assist my client in a way that is best for them. While each practice area may be different in scope and focus, the goal at the end of the day is always the same; get the best result for the client.

While each practice area has definite differences, they all excite me and keep me interested and involved. I love that one morning I can be working on a complaint in a personal injury matter and that afternoon I can be working with a family to figure out how best to plan their estate.

The saying goes variety is the spice of life. With my practice, my life is therefore definitely spicy! Which is how I like it.

Todd Engel

Engel Law Offices

[email protected]

Moving My Practice

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce that effective December 22, 2009, I will be relocating my practice to 214 N. State Street, Syracuse, NY 13203. My new telephone number will be 315-295-1450. My new fax number will be 315-478-1687. My email will remain [email protected] My Saratoga office remains at 1104 Middleline Road, Ballston Spa, NY 12020.

I will continue to represent individuals and small businesses in the following practice areas:

• Estate Planning and Adminstration
• Trust Drafting and Implementation
• Business Development and formation
• Personal Injury Litigation
• Commercial Litigation
• Equine Matters, including partnership formation, syndication, licensing issues, or any other associated matter.

I look forward to this new opportunity and am excited to continue to provide the quality personal based representation you have come to expect from Engel Law Offices. Please contact me with any questions regarding this move.

Wishing you and your family the best during this holiday season.

Todd

The audacity of people

I realize that the story I am about to share may not compare to the swindling that Bernie Madoff executed, but from my perspective it is actually worse. In today’s Syracuse Post Standard, there was an article detailing the scheme conducted by Jerome Feldman involving those must vulnerable: families in need of a transplant.

Allegedly, Feldman concocted a scheme where he would solicit opportunites to obtain a transplant in the Philippines if money was sent to his bank account in DeWitt, NY. The individual awaiting the transplant was instructed to wire $70,000 into Feldman’s bank account. Medical staff would then be available in the Philippines to conduct the transplant, or so Feldman said. The problem was, once the patient flew to the Philippines, no organ was there and the money was gone.

Feldman preyed upon those individuals who are looking for any hope possible for their loved one. I know, I was there; not one of Feldman’s victims, but a family member of a person on a transplant list. My mother was on dialysis for 15 years, before her death in 2006. She started with home dialysis and progressively needed the centers. She did it three times a week, and it prolonged her life. For about 10 years of the dialysis she was on the transplant lists until she became so compromised with additional illnesses that she had to be removed. Every time the phone rang, we hoped it was the transplant center letting us know that a kidney was there. We came close, but never found that perfect match. So, I know firsthand the desire to gain more time through obtaining a new organ.

Feldman’s acts were not acts of kindness. They were not acts of benevolence from one man to another. He was motivated by one thing: greed. Taking advantage of those people who are looking for any hope necessary is in my opinion the lowest form of the low. For the families who are suffering at the hands of Jerome Feldman, I am deeply sorry. For those of us who were families of people either waiting for or receiving transplants, it proves that we must go through the system for the private market organ transplant is fraught with thieves and miscreants who only want to take advantage of the situation.

Jerome Feldman Story

Todd Engel

[email protected]

Law Office Technology Part 2

My last blog post dealt with some basic technology in order for a practice to hit the ground running. We will now discuss certain additional applications to make running an office more seamless as well as effective.

As I said previously, Microsoft Outlook is the email calendar and task tool that has the market dominance. This is because it is bundled with Microsoft Office. I use it to keep my contacts as well as my calendar and my emails. While stability can be an issue, it is the industry standard. Google has an online calendar system that is pretty good, however being that it is unsecure, I would not recommend it for law office calendar management due to confidentiality issues.

Clients today expect and deserve feedback as quickly as possible. That is one of the many reasons smartphones have become ubiquitous with attorneys. What an individual looks for in a smartphone is an ability to synch with your email, contacts and calendars. There are many flavors, whether it is the Iphone, the Blackberry or the Palm or variations on their theme. The key to me is to be able to have the information not only at my desk but also at my fingertips when I am out of the office.

Document assembly software is important in making sure you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. When your practice has developed a niche, use the appropriate software to generate repeat documents. Hotdocs is a great example of this. I also use Drafting Libraries for various documents. The quality of the document produced is quite good and there is certain customization and flexibility which is important.

Every lawyer wants to be paid for what they do. Therefore invest in a good time and billing package that can be utilized both by you and your assistant. Ideally it should feed into your phone/PDA so that you can quickly capture time outside the office. You should be able to enter fees quickly and easily. You should be able to set whether you are billing on an hourly basis, flat fee basis or contingency fee. You should ideally be able to combine this with a practice management suite which sets forth a conflict search. Try demos of these products, there are many and again, different people like different programs.

Technology is constantly changing and evolving and lawyers have to stay current to best serve our clients. Join the technology group of your local bar. Join the ABA Law Technology section. Read and learn what you can but remember don’t use something without trying it first.

Todd Engel

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WHY LAW AND WHY SPECIALIZE?

More often than not, people I meet invariably ask me what I do for a living. It is common place to ask that question, because it allows you to learn more about the person you are interacting with. I always answer that I am a lawyer. Never do I say that I am a certain type of lawyer. I let that conversation develop over time.

I then am asked why you became a lawyer. The short quip is that I am genetically predisposed, after being the third generation in my family to practice law. That is a flippant response that really does not touch on the real reason I became a lawyer. I have a desire to help people and the law offers me that opportunity to help my clients achieve their goals and desires.

So, then the question as to what type of law I practice comes up. For the first ten years of my practice, I said I was a general practitioner. I wanted to be that lawyer everyone went to for issues from cradle to grave. I did divorces, I did DWI’s. I did trusts, estates and probate. I even dabbled in Worker’s Compensation. I was everywhere and spread very thin in what expertise in any subject I could provide. I had a choice to make, I could specialize and find my niche or continue to spread myself across all aspects of the law and not truly have a focus for myself or my clients.

I changed that starting this year. I am now focused on wealth development and preservation. Sounds great Todd, but what does that mean? It means that I am focused on establishing and representing small and closely held businesses from their inception through successful operation. It means that I represent individuals in making sure that their assets are protected for the future. It means that I will make sure that the estate planning necessary for individuals meet their needs and the needs of their family. It means that I will make sure that assets survive for children and future generations. I also will work to determine the best ways to make sure any charitable gifts are done in the best manner.

Todd Engel

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The Importance of CLE

The Importance of CLE

I am on my way to attend the Heckerling Institute put on by the University of Miami School of Law. I will be spending the week in Orlando ( I know, hate me if you must but that’s where they decided to put it) for the next five days learning about Estate Planning, and Trusts for sophviagraticated individuals. I am fascinated by what they will state given the current market situation. I  am really excited to bring back what I learn to my clients and my practice.

In New York, lawyers are required to take 24 hours of Continuing Legal Education, (CLE) every two years. This was enacted so that the public could be sure that attorneys kept up to date on the practice of law. Prior to this regulation, there would be lawyers who would graduate law school and never take another continuing education course until they retired. I believe that is a disservice to my clients and in fact routinely have taken almost double my required hours.  Why would I go to that trouble? Here are five reasons, in no particular order.

1.       KEEP UP TO DATE ON THE LAW: The law is ever changing and evolving.  There are new laws being passed by the State Legislature or Congress that effects your practice. CLE offers the best way to know what is happening and to be able to apply it to your practice.

2.       EXPAND YOUR KNOWLEDGE: CLE  offers an attoney to expand his or her knowledge not only in the practice area  that he or she is specializing in, but in different areas that he or she may not have  considered before. It is a great way to expand your niche.

3.       PICK THE EXPERT’S BRAIN: People who teach CLE courses usually have developed a specialty  that allows them to advise the rest of the bar. Use that opportunity to your advantage. If you have a difficult probate issue and are at a probate CLE, ask the question. Taking advantage of the opportunity presented to you is not overstepping, it is good business sense.

4.       YOU CAN NEVER LEARN TOO MUCH: My father once told me when I was deciding about going to law school, the one thing that they can never take away from you is your education. Go  to seminars. Learn what you can so  you have knowledge. It can never be taken from you and you never know when you’ll need it!

5.       NETWORKING, NETWORKING, NETWORKING. When you go to CLE courses, take the advantage of meeting people. You never know where a referral may come from. You never know what benefit you will gain from that new connection. Every time you go to a CLE you represent yourself and your practice.

This is why I feel CLE is so important. I will continue to attend CLE events and make sure I gain the benefits available to me.

Todd Engel

[email protected]

Engel Law Offices

7222 E. Genesee Street

Fayetteville, NY 13066

Twitter: www.twitter.com/toddengel