Strategic Solutions for Solo and Small FirmsSM 2009

Schedule and Faculty


Sunday, August 9

5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

 "Backstage at the Blues Festival" –
 Opening Event at Grandma’s Sports Garden

Live music and great food in a perfect family-friendly setting. Go "back stage" at the world famous Bayfront Bluesfest as Bluesfest musicians perform just for our group.

sponsored by Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company

(If you register online for the conference, please CALL us at 651-227-8266 or 800-759-8840 to make your reservations for the "Backstage at the Blues Festival" Opening Event.)

Monday, August 10

7:30 – 8:30 a.m.


8:30 – 8:40 a.m.


8:40 – 9:25 a.m.


10 Rules of Legal Innovation
Innovation strategies to help you survive and succeed.

– Matthew Homann; St. Louis, Missouri
LexThink founder and practicing attorney

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.


1. Selecting the Right Business Entity – For Your Clients or Your Practice
Learn the pros and cons of S-Corps, partnerships, limited partnerships, LLCs and LLPs. Factors to be discussed include formation requirements, tax implications, liability issues and more.

– J. Patrick Plunkett


2. Managing Your Next Case Pre-Trial With Ease – Pleadings, Discovery and More

– Phillip Gainsley


3. 10 Rules of Great Client Service
Your professional responsibility and a sound business strategy.

– Matthew Homann; St. Louis, Missouri


4. The Do’s and Don’ts of Starting Your Own Practice

Back by popular demand!

A practical look at how to start a practice without flying by the seat of your pants. Learn tips relating to purchasing, advertising, controlling costs, selecting office space, choosing technology and organizing your new practice.

– Leonard B. Segal


5. Doing Tech Right: The Basics of Law Office Technology 2009
Times have changed and so have the technology systems available to law firms. In this fast-paced program, IT personnel will share with you tech tips for shopping for technology online and finding the deals, choosing the right vendors, making the right choices for telecommunications, networking (including wireless) and connecting remotely using portable technology – all of this on a small firm budget!

– Todd C. Scott & Clint W. Lechner


6. WEST Tech Lab
Productivity tools and services that can help firms increase efficiency and profitability.

– Presenter from West, a Thomson Reuters business

10:30 – 11:00 a.m.


11:00 – 12:00 p.m.


7. Drafting and Negotiating Contracts
Learn effective drafting and negotiating strategies, how to find and deal with hidden traps in any contract involving limitation of damages and liability, cancellation, change orders and more.

– J. Patrick Plunkett


8. The Year in Review
60 minutes of interesting things you ought to know about cases, legislation, rulings and judicial appointments.

– Kent A. Gernander


9. Retirement Planning in the New World…Planning with a Purpose!

Back by popular demand!

Bob and Justin will expand on last year‘s session and look at how perspectives, attitudes and planning have changed since 2008. We have learned that the old rules do not always remain the standard. The session will look at how to create a plan that allows you to plan, invest and retire with confidence.

– Robert Strommen & Justin Rutar


10. UR@RISK: Malpractice and Ethics for the Small Firm Practitioner

1.0 ethics credit applied for

Learn the most common mistakes that lawyers make and how you can avoid them. This panel of experts will examine frequent (and expensive) claims asserted against practitioners in the areas of real estate, family law, personal injury, probate, and corporate business law. Find out how an understanding of the rules of ethics and applying them in your everyday practice can help you avoid everyday errors made by small firm lawyers.

– Steven G. Brady; CEO, Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Ins. Co.
– Timothy J. Gephart; VP Claims, Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Ins. Co.
– Todd C. Scott; VP Member Services, Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Ins. Co.


11. Why Electronic Use Policies Matter!
The legal dangers of inappropriate communications, online etiquette and more.

– Teresa M. Thompson


12. WEST Tech Lab – Social Media Demonstration

– Peter H. Berge & Samuel J. Glover

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

LUNCH (provided to registrants and their families)
With Optional Solo/Small Firm List-Serve Roundtable Discussions and "Speed Networking"


Tour the Great Lakes Aquarium at a special group rate. Depart immediately following lunch at 1:00 p.m. for a 1:15 p.m. tour.

(If you register online for the conference, please CALL us at 651-227-8266 or 800-759-8840 to let us know if your family will be going to the Great Lakes Aquarium. Payment is required at the event.)

1:00 – 1:45 p.m.


10 Rules of Law Firm Billing
Where ethics and good business practices meet. Breaking away from old models.

– Matthew Homann; St. Louis, Missouri

1:55 – 2:55 p.m.


13. The Essentials of Non-Profit Law Practice
The new IRS Form 990; key policies and practices; new disclosure requirements. Sample policies will be included.

– J. Patrick Plunkett


14. Mediation Skills – Learn From the Experts

1.0 ADR credit applied for
Hour 1 of a 2-hour session

During this first hour, experts will demonstrate important mediation procedures and strategies using a fact situation, discussing why and how to mediate correctly.

– Richard L. Pemberton & Others


15. Better Client Communications
Kent Gernander returns to demonstrate better, more effective ways to work with your clients using another set of great client communication forms from his newly published Client Relations Deskbook.

– Kent A. Gernander


16. 10 New Rules of Law Firm Marketing
Legal marketing has changed. Find out how!

– Matthew Homann; St. Louis Missouri


17. Ethics and Technology – What You Need to Know When Practicing in a Virtual Office Setting

1.0 ethics credit applied for

– Eric T. Cooperstein


18. WEST Tech Lab – Case Management Tools

– Todd C. Scott

3:10 – 4:10 p.m.


19. Update on Foreclosures, "Short Sales" and Purchases From Foreclosures
A review of the important developments in Minnesota foreclosure law, plus a guide to helping client’s sell or purchase foreclosure property including "short" sales.

– Jennifer L. Carey


20. Mediation Skills

1.0 ADR credit applied for
Hour 2 of a 2-hour session

In this second hour, mediation experts will evaluate and discuss the demonstration mediation conducted during the first hour.

– Richard L. Pemberton & Others


21. The Art of Prospecting – Turning Habits Into Dollars
If you really want to grow your law practice and earn more fees, take the time to learn the habits and best practices of top "prospectors" around the country. Join Tom Driscoll, a nationally renowned expert on marketing and selling professional services. Tom is the former CEO of ONCOR International and currently a Senior Vice President at CB Richard Ellis. (This session does not qualify for CLE credit due to the sales/advertising nature of the topic.)

– Thomas D. Driscoll, Esq.


22. The Biggest Problems With Practicing Solo – And How to Overcome Them
How to stay organized – important tips for solo practitioners.

– Phillip Gainsley


23. Parenting Plans – How to Get Everyone on Board
Tips on how to convince your client to invest in the extra time of a parenting plan. Tactics to use to convince opposing attorneys to use parenting plans. Situations where a parenting plan is not the best way to go – the pros and cons.

– Jason C. Kohlmeyer & Cheryl M. Prince


24. WEST Tech Lab – Probate Strategies for The 21st Century
Automating your probate practice using Minnesota CLEPro. A hands-on opportunity to test for yourself how accurate, efficient and easy to use the Minnesota CLEPro Probate Document Assembly System and Probate Forms really are.

– Holly Garland Langworthy

4:20 – 4:50 p.m.


The Pulse of the Profession – Results of the 2009 Solo/Small Firm Economic Survey
The latest economic data – more important than ever in these trying economic times.

– LaVern A. Pritchard, Karna M. Peters, Michael J. Ford & Todd C. Scott

5:30 – 9:30 p.m.

 Harbor Cruise – Welcome Aboard!

Complete your first day with a Duluth Harbor Cruise aboard the Vista Fleet – cocktails and snacks for registrants and families. Family members welcome, with prior reservations.

Sailings at 5:30, 6:00 and 8:00

(If you register online for the conference, please CALL us at 651-227-8266 or 800-759-8840 to make your reservations for the Harbor Cruise.)

Tuesday, August 11

7:45 – 8:45 a.m.


8:45 – 9:45 a.m.


Practicing in Troubled Times – How to Make Smart Business Decisions That Will Improve Your Bottom Line
In tough economic times it is more important than ever for you to understand your finances and watch your bottom line. Where are your billings and receipts coming from, and what are you spending money on? How can you analyze the business aspects of your legal practice and gain insights on your firm’s cash flow, lawyer productivity, billing realization rates and other measures and use this information to improve revenue, increase efficiency, decrease costs and, ultimately, help you make more money. These suggestions are especially useful during the current economic downturn. This is a "can’t miss" session.

– David Bilinsky; Vancouver, British Columbia
Attorney and Practice Management Advisor for the Law Society of British Columbia

9:45 – 10:15 a.m.


10:15 – 11:15 a.m.


25. The Basics of Criminal Practice
Learn new strategies that can save time and get better results for your criminal clients.

– Frederic K. Bruno


26. Developing Your Niche – How to Create a Niche Practice in a Solo/Small Firm
In other words, how to have a solo or small firm in which you don’t have to take everything that comes in the door. As a solo or small firm attorney, the temptation is to say yes to every potential client who can pay your fee. You do not need to do that to have a successful practice.

– Leonard B. Segal


27. Winding Down Your Practice – At Some Point We All Quit Practicing Law

1.0 ethics credit applied for

The end of your practice, however, does not mean the end of your ethical responsibility. Discussion will include ethical issues that arise when closing a practice and practical advice about how to prepare for and execute the winding down of a legal practice.

– Eric T. Cooperstein & Paul M. Floyd


28. 10 Rules for New Solos
Going solo can be tough. Whether you are just starting out or leaving a firm, here are ten suggestions to help you. This session is designed to enhance your development and performance as a solo. Feel better about your new practice.

– Matthew Homann; St. Louis, Missouri


29. Security and Privacy in Your Practice in a High-Tech World
Lawyers often adopt technologies without fully realizing the risks that go along with the technology. Prudent lawyers need to know where the traps lie and how to practice safe computing in order to avoid committing malpractice via their computer.

– David Bilinsky; Vancouver, British Columbia


30. WEST Tech Lab
Productivity tools and services that can help firms increase efficiency and profitability.

– Presenter from West, a Thomson Reuters business

11:30 – 12:00 p.m.


President’s Address

– Leo I. Brisbois (invited); MSBA President (2009-2010)

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

LUNCH (provided to registrants and their families)
With Optional Solo/Small Firm List-Serve Roundtable Discussion – "Is flat rate billing a viable option?"


OMNIMAX Theatre showing of "Mysteries of the Great Lakes" at special discounted prices. Depart immediately following lunch at 12:45 p.m. for a 1:00 p.m. showing.

(If you register online for the conference, please CALL us at 651-227-8266 or 800-759-8840 to let us know if your family will be going to the OMNIMAX. Payment is required at the event.)

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.


31. Representing the Professional

– Paul M. Floyd


32. How to Do a Consumer Bankruptcy

Back by popular demand!

How to work with your clients under the new bankruptcy code to complete a chapter 7 or 13 case; obtaining the best possible result; what can be discharged and what cannot.

– John F. Hedtke


33. Employment Law Earthquake
ADA Amendments, new FMLA Regulations, and the highly anticipated Employee Free Choice Act are just a few of the many significant developments in employment law during the past few months. This session will discuss these important developments and others, and is a must for every attorney who advises business and employees.

– Leonard B. Segal


34. "Wherefore Hard Times"
Join former Supreme Court Justice John Simonett and Richard Pemberton as they discuss life lessons learned when practicing in recessionary times.

– Justice John E. Simonett & Richard L. Pemberton


35. Social Media Panel
To Tweet or not to Tweet…Our expert panel will discuss the revolution in social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and a glimpse into the future with Google Wave.

– Samuel J. Glover, Todd C. Scott, Peter H. Berge & David Bilinsky


36. WEST Tech Lab – How to Do Legal Research Using the Minnesota CLE Online Library
It’s efficient, comprehensive and free!

– Holly Garland Langworthy

2:10 – 3:10 p.m.


37. Dealing With Difficult Family Law Clients
Tactics to use with high maintenance clients; checklists to use when the clients are calling on a daily basis; keeping them happy and paying their bills – how to do the best work for even your toughest family law clients.

– Jason C. Kohlmeyer


38. More Cocktail Law
More great answers to all those interesting legal questions you’re sure to be asked at your next social gathering.

– Karna M. Peters, Steven L. Reyelts, Cheryl M. Prince & Carolyn Agin Schmidt


39. Crisis Intervention and Stress Management in Tough Economic Times – Our Profession and Our Clients

1.0 elimination of bias credit applied for

This will include a protocol for reaching out to someone who may be suicidal.

– Joan M. Bibelhausen


40. Paperless Office
There are so many advantages to going paperless. It is safer, more secure, more efficient and of course, greener. Eric Cooperstein will discuss how to integrate a paperless routine into your office to better serve your clients, better comply with your ethical obligations of confidentiality and security, and run your practice more efficiently.

– Eric T. Cooperstein


41. WEST Tech Lab – Open Source and Free Legal Practice Software

– Samuel J. Glover

3:20 – 3:50 p.m.


The Smart Use of Technology to Save Money, Save Time and Provide Better Client Service
In this closing plenary session, Dave Bilinsky will share some of his very best ideas for making use of technology in a law practice. He will show you how to use technology that makes sense, that provides a good return on investment, and that cuts down on administrative headaches – allowing you to focus on the efficient practice of law. With so much hardware and software available, it’s hard to know just what you need and how to use it when you get it. This session will focus on indispensable technology for solo and small firm lawyers. Don’t miss this incredibly practical advice-giving session.

– David Bilinsky; Vancouver, British Columbia

3:50 p.m.