External Policies

External Policies

These are the External Policies of the Cohen Healthcare Law Group (“the Firm”).

Definition of “Emergency”

A client “emergency” is a situation that cannot wait until regular business hours, such as an immediate threat to life, liberty or property.  In most cases, during an emergency the client should call 911 before contacting the Firm.

Access to Attorneys

We have an excellent, online calendaring system to facilitate your access to Attorneys through scheduled appointments.  This way your Attorney can be prepared for your appointment.  Please note that we reserve the right to debit your charge card an administrative cancellation/rescheduling fee of $100 if:

  • You cancel and/or re-schedule the Legal Strategy Session within 2 hours of the scheduled call.
  • You are not on the conference line within 10 minutes of the scheduled call.
  • We do not have the signed LSA within at least 2 hours of the scheduled call, as required by Firm policy.

Please note that our attorneys block out and take time to be on the call and to ensure that our procedures are followed so we have a smooth process for you.

 

When you call our office, please identify yourself and the matter about which you are calling.  If you are calling regarding an emergency, please use that word and our staff has been instructed to take every possible step to reach your Attorney.  See External Policy 1 (Definition of “Emergency”).

You may ask our staff about routine questions that do not require legal advice.  Our staff are not licensed to practice law and cannot give legal advice.

We do not text business matters and do not receive texts.  Please do not text any Attorney or member of the Staff for Firm business as we will not respond.  Also, for security and ease of our own work flow, we do not use Google docs or any proprietary software to access documents.

Billing

Understanding our Billing Practices

At Cohen Healthcare Law Group, your legal health and well-being comes first.  To help you get the most out of our professional time, we want to make it easier to understand our billing practices.

Our paramount concern is a healthy relationship with the client—creating enormous value for you, while respecting our professional time.
What time is billable?

Like most law firms, we request an advance against legal services we will deliver, and bill against the advance for all of our work. We bill for all time spent on client matters, as set forth in our Legal Services Agreement (“LSA”) with each client.

Please read this document carefully.  Among other things, it says: “Our hourly rates apply to all time spent on your matter.  We have made no promises about total amount of attorney’s fees to be incurred by you.”

This means that while we give you our best thinking on legal strategies and solutions for your situation, we do not work on a flat fee or promise that we will get X done for Y dollars.  We find these kinds of promises unrealistic, as the scope of work can change when we roll up our sleeves together and dig deep into resolving your legal challenge or deploying our legal expertise to help maximize your business success.

We take pride in working through complex matters.  Often our clients have burned through other lawyers and not gotten satisfactory resolution.  We can only give you our best thinking.  Most clients are very happy with the work and continue hiring us to help resolve their healthcare legal puzzles.

What value will my healthcare & FDA lawyer deliver?

We provide legal strategies and solutions to help untangle the legal and regulatory knots that are holding you back from further business success.  We promise guidance, navigation, advice, good counsel—identifying options and the liability and enforcements risks accompanying each path.

Having said this, please understand that no attorney can make a “guarantee, promise, warranty, or prediction about the outcome.” As we note in the LSA, “legal and regulatory risks in any healthcare venture should not be underestimated.”

While our expertise often can and does cut through legal problems in a way few other attorneys can match, we cannot guarantee compliance, nor the ultimate investment you might be required to make—no matter who you hire—to work through all the legal and regulatory challenges you could potentially face.  A lot depends on the business decisions you make along the way.  Our role is as your trusted advisor.  What we can do is let you know that our skilled and dedicated attorneys are committed to providing you many times the value of your investment in legal services.  We hold a high standard and we hire and retain only the best.

What do I need to know about the invoice?

Your invoice has two sections.  The first is a detail of the professional work done and time spent, and the total charges on this invoice.  It looks like this:

Date Initials Details Hours Rate Amount
9/9/18 QW Review/Draft
Draft Non-Disclosure Agreement.
  .8 $495 $396
9/9/18 JC Call with John to discuss the Business Associate Agreement.   .8 $375 $300
For professional services rendered 1.6 $696.00
Overhead Amount $13.92
Invoice Amount $709.92
Payment Received $709.92
Balance Due $0.00

In this example, the Invoice Amount (or total charge) was $702.92; the Firm applied the Client’s existing trust account balance to the Invoice Amount (thus, we have a Payment Received), leaving a Balance Due from the Client of zero.

The second part is a description of deposits and withdrawals to your Client Trust Account.  It looks like this:

Client Trust Account Balance (as of 9/9/18)

$4,290.08

Transactions since last invoice

Date Ref# Account Payee Deposit Withdrawal
9/9/18 To Print Trust Acct Cohen Healthcare Law Group $709.92

This lets you know that you have $4,290.08 left as a credit (positive) balance in your Client Trust Account, after $709.92 was withdrawn, because it was applied against the original $5,000 advance.

The math is simple:

Advance – Invoice Amount = Amount remaining in your Client Trust Account

$5,000 – $709.92              = $4,290.08

All of this information is all generated by our billing software, Cosmo Lex, which is designed specifically for law firms. We have professional accountants who specialize in law firm accounting, who review all of our transactions.  The way we handle client trust funds is regulated by law, and by ethical rules governing our professional.  We are scrupulous in our accounting.

Important Invoice Terms to Know

Balance Due: The amount due once the Payment Received is subtracted from the Invoice Amount.

Client Trust Account: Your trust account with our Firm.

Client Trust Account Balance: The amount you have left in the Client Trust Account.

For Professional Services Rendered: Our total time and charges for Professional Services.

Invoice Amount: The total charges for Professional Services plus Overhead for this invoice.

Overhead Amount: The 2% administrative fee we charge for overhead.

Pay Invoice Amount to Replenish Evergreen: Normally the same as Invoice Amount.

Payment Received: The amount withdrawn from the Client Trust Account for this invoice.

What is an “Evergreen Advance,” and what must I ‘replenish’?”

An Advance (sometimes called a “retainer”) is like a security deposit for rent: we collect the Advance at the outset of the representation.  We hold the Advance in your Client Trust Account, and then bill against it as we render professional legal services to you.

Because the original Advance is “evergreen,” this means that our clients “replenish” the original advance whenever they receive an invoice.

In the above example, the client would replenish the evergreen by sending payment for $709.92, thus bringing the Client Trust Account Balance back up from $4,290.08 to $5,000.

Accordingly, our cover letter for the invoice contains a request for you to Replenish the Evergreen.

If you do not replenish, we may stop work.  As well, there are times where our work will exceed the Advance; this is normally limited to situations where the Client’s situation is well beyond normal complexity.  In such case, we may charge your debit or credit card for the overage. We try to keep the overage within reasonable limits.

Again, our paramount interest is a healthy attorney-client relationship, while respecting our professional time. In our experience, happy clients make more money, and our top goal is the promoting the overall happiness and success of our clients.

If you have questions about your invoice after reading this guide, please call our office at (310) 844-3173.  We appreciate your entrusting us as your legal counsel!

Costs vs. Fees

The Firm’s policy regarding costs and fees time is set forth in our Legal Services Agreement with each client.

New developments in cases (both directions)

The Firm will communicate promptly with clients regarding developments in cases and matters as required by the rules of professional conduct for attorneys.

Treatment of opposing parties (values)

The Firm attorneys and staff will treat opposing parties with dignity, courtesy and respect.  We also understand that today’s opposing counsel may be tomorrow’s referring attorney.

Definition of “Honesty”

Attorneys and staff must be honest always.

File retention

All our records are retained in electronic files, for the period of years required under California law.

The Firm does not keep original paper documents.  All documents are scanned electronically.  Memoranda, agreements drafted for the client, and similar documents are sent to clients during the ordinary course of business according to what is reasonable for the representation.  The Firm also maintains attorney notes, research, and the like in the file; these are for internal use only, attorney-client privileged, and not to be transferred to the client, subsequent counsel, or third-parties. For non-criminal matters, California Bar associations generally propose a retention period of 5 years, unless the item is “intrinsically valuable” such as original stocks, bonds wills, deeds, notes, or judgments.  As noted, The Firm does not keep such documents.

Referrals

The Firm welcomes referrals.  We abide by all relevant ethical rules.

Privacy & confidentiality

The Firm respects client privacy and confidentiality.  In addition to duties imposed by law and ethical codes, The Firm maintains a strong internal confidentiality policy and a similar policy in its Employee Handbook for employees.  The Firm also maintains a compliant Privacy Policy on the firm website.

Boundaries and duration of attorney-client privilege

An attorney-client relationship with the Firm is established only after: (1) The Firm has sent the prospective new client a Legal Services Agreement (LSA) after ensuring internally that the matter is appropriate for the Firm and, running a conflict check; (2) the client has signed the LSA and, if required by the Firm, a Conflicts Waiver; and (3) the Firm, through one of its attorneys, has signed the LSA or rendered advice to the client after the client has signed the forms indicated in (2).Prospective clients should be aware that our duties of confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege may not arise until the foregoing has occurred.

The Firm maintains the attorney-client privilege as required by law and ethical obligations.  The Firm indicates who the client is, in the LSA.

The Firm may decline to provide services if a conflict of interest is discovered or if we see a potential conflict and wishes to decline dual representation.  For example, if a management services organization (MSO) and a physician both want to receive legal advice, we may decline dual representation as their interests could be potentially adverse, either at the outset or in the future.

Many times, people call our office asking if multiple persons can be on a legal strategy session or other call.  In very limited cases, we will allow someone other than the client to be on the call (for example, a representative of their outside marketing agency).  However, we need to be clear that our ethical duties are to our client(s) only, and further, the client should understand that: the attorney-client privilege and confidentiality may be waived or lost by the client if a person other than the client is on the call, or if the client shares information or requests that we share the information with the non-client.

Definition of A-F Clients

To ensure that we give clients our best, and attract clients who give their best so they can get the best service, we have our Administrator initially “grade” our prospective new clients on an A-F scale.  Our Staff and Attorneys will downgrade or upgrade a Client during the representation, so that we can make appropriate decisions regarding ongoing representation.

Below is our scale.  The squares highlighted in blue mean that the listed criteria automatically place the client in that grade.  For example:  A prospective new client that pays the retainer, replenishes the evergreen, has reasonable expectations and lets the Attorney do their job, is courteous and gracious (and offers to refer!) is an A client.  These clients are a pleasure and create good karma.  By way of example, one of the Firm’s clients engaged the Firm for a lengthy dispute resolution matter that went to arbitration; the client always sent retainer checks with a hand-written yellow sticky-note that had a smiley face on it.  Ultimately, the client secured a six-figure victory.  That client generated good karma!  On the other hand, a prospective new client or client that annoying and persistently whines about fees, or that doesn’t pay the retainer or amounts past due, is an F client and will be refused or fired).

 

Criterion Grade
  A B C D E F
Type of work
Willingness to Pay & Payment Pays the retainer in advance and replenishes the evergreen on receipt of each invoice. Tries to bargain down the retainer, or fails to replenish (or ‘whines’ by email about) the evergreen. Tries to bargains down the retainer and/or complains about fees. Complains about fees and/or is late making a payment. Complains about fees and/or is late making a payment. Annoyingly and persistently whines about fees; or doesn’t pay the retainer or amounts past due.
Behavior Has reasonable expectations, follows instructions, and lets the Attorney do their job. Is unrealistic or doesn’t listen. Is demanding and/or uncooperative. Demands a specific outcome. Demands a specific outcome. Demands a specific outcome.
Attitude Is courteous, gracious, and respects boundaries. Gives or offers to give referrals. Is courteous and gracious. Displays boundary issues or is discourteous. Is seriously or serially discourteous. Is rude, angry or vengeful. Is rude, hostile, vengeful, obsessed, dependent, secretive, or antagonistic.
Our Policy: Engage. Proceed with caution. Double caution. Consider refusing prospective new client (or firing Client). Refuse (or fire) Client. Refuse (or fire) Client.

Welcome to the Legal Strategy Session

Let’s get started!

Making the most of your Legal Strategy Session is easy.

Step 1: Embrace the Legal Strategy Session as the first step in your journey.

We’re excited that you scheduled a Legal Strategy Session with us.  The Legal Strategy Session represents the first, important step in the journey of putting your health and wellness business on a firmer legal footing. It is our first building block together.

Step 2: Head toward the Light.

During the Legal Strategy Session, we assess your situation, identify key legal strategies and solutions, and map out next steps for a deeper dive. This is a discovery process, during which we will also present preliminary options and recommendations.

Our goal is to give you unparalleled advice. We want you to walk away with at least one “aha!” moment, or at least, lots to consider before moving forward. Head toward the Light—look for at least a hint of revelation, as to the next steps or direction.  Foundational decisions may be ahead.

Step 3: There is no “try.”  There is only “do.”

We love Greek philosophy (wait a minute, is that Anaximander, or Yoda?).

We ask that you show up on time, open to exploration, and excited to begin the work of mapping out strategies, solutions, options, and pathways. Again, we’re excited to work with you!  Contact us, as always, if you have any questions.

Some Housekeeping

We record the Legal Strategy Session for quality assurance and training.  Because we want to brainstorm as freely as possible during the session, we only keep this recording internally.  Also, we want to come with a fresh mind, which means any prior research or review will be modest, and we will not review in detail, any documents we might receive before.

We will send you our Legal Services Agreement (subject to a check for conflicts) and an online calendar link with automatic reminders of your phone appointment.  Also, while we expect to roll up our sleeves and work through some hairy legal and regulatory puzzles during our time together, we only have an hour. The healthcare legal and regulatory environment is complex.  Most attorneys normally require next-level work to gather legal research and prepare a more authoritative review. Realistic expectations will best position for a fruitful, high-level encounter.  And let’s unleash that creative flow!

A Personal Note from Michael H. Cohen

When I was a kid, my Dad and Mom used to take us three boys to a Chinese restaurant.  At the bottom of the menu, the owner’s message was like this:

If food is good, tell others, don’t tell Mr. Wong; if food is bad, don’t tell others, tell Mr. Wong.

This is one of those iconic statements that stuck with me—maybe because of the wonderful aromas that accompanied the incredible dishes and that we always ate, family-style.

From a business perspective, Mr. Wong’s message reminded me of the importance of holding to the highest standards of customer service.

As Rabbi Shimon said: “There are three crowns … but the crown of a good name caps them all.”

The other memorable inscription emblazed on my memory from childhood, is the Talmudic story of the two angels who enter the home on Shabbat.

If there is harmony in the home, the “good” angel observes, and says, “Amen, may it always be so;” if there is no harmony, the “bad” angel says Amen to that.  Notwithstanding the little mischief-making between my giggling brothers and I, my mother always lit the candles, my father sang the Kiddush, and I always could hear the good angel, saying Amen.

Our paramount concern is a healthy relationship with the client—creating enormous value through clear and solid advice.  We stand behind our mission statement:

We provide legal strategies and solutions to businesses that accelerate health and wellness.

That is why we put the three steps above: Embrace the first step in your journey with us; Head toward the Light; and Do.

You’re now part of our legal family.  We welcome you – and to that, we trust the good angel is saying, Amen!

Michael

Timing of Work Product

The Firm begins attorney work product for the Client when the Firm receives the Advance and a signed Legal Services Agreement.  Normally it takes about 1-2 weeks to complete work product—sometimes we can work on a slightly more accelerated or more leisurely schedule depending on the client’s need, the relative order in which clients have engaged our services and completed necessary forms, and other matters in our work queue. We work as efficiently as possible.

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