Host a Free Legal Presentation for Your Group

I have extensive experience with public speaking and leading workshops, both as a key presenter and as group leader. I am available to present or consult with your private groups, and in fact, it is one of my favorite things to do.

Over the years, I have presented to groups ranging from three people to 300. Groups I have addressed include Mothers of Preschoolers and other parenting groups, divorce support groups, business networking groups, law students and young attorneys, senior citizen groups, caregiver groups, community leaders, tenants, PTAs, church groups, youth, teachers, caregivers, victims of domestic violence, fathers’ rights groups, persons with mental and physical disabilities and parents of the same, and attendees at a financial planning workshop.

Topics include: Finding Support After Divorce; 7 Covenants of Marriage; Legal Issues for Single Parents; Helping Your Adult Child Facing Divorce; Estate Planning and Issues Facing Seniors; Legislative Updates for Parents; Benefits Update for Persons with Disabilities; Enforcing and Collecting Child Support; 10 Key Legal Issues for Women; Fatherhood and Support Issues.

Contact me to discuss how I may help your group.

New Grant Allows Parents Access to Child Care During Court in Jefferson County

childcare_andersen_law_pc

As a member of the 1st District Access to Justice Committee (ATJ), I help find grants benefitting our courts. Working with excellent, passionate committee members, I have been part of the team winning two recent grants for our district.

Earlier, I worked with Ric Morgan, a private practicing attorney and statewide leader in video conferencing for legal issues, to win a grant that allowed us to improve access to legal counsel for litigants in low-income and rural areas through video conferencing.

Then, hearing concerns from judges and court personnel that child care is a critical need in the courts, I helped Court Administrator Caren Stanley apply for child care funding. Caren and the ATJ surveyed other districts to see how they handle child care. We learned of statewide programs providing child care on site or through voucher programs.

From there, we developed a concept for a voucher program, and in late June, we received word that our funding request was granted.

I’m grateful for the hard work Caren and ATJ put in contacting court personnel and working with me to make court obligations less stressful for parents.

Stay tuned as Jefferson County works to provide parents with vouchers to use with local child care providers. I promise to keep you posted as this initiative rolls into operation.

Evergreen Chamber Community Fund: A new way to give back

View from Evergreen Mountain by Jacquelyn Gutc
The view from Evergreen Mountain

When FEMA officials visited my beautiful hometown of Evergreen, Colorado after our recent floods, they said that we could expect a major disaster every four years or so. Reflecting on recent blizzards, floods and fires, this sounds accurate. And the resulting devastation can be enough to prevent local families and businesses from thriving.

This is why a core group of committed Evergreen residents created the Evergreen Chamber Community Fund, a nonprofit 501c3 charitable organization designed to help businesses and families in the time of disaster.  The Fund is NOT limited to Chamber members or even Evergreen residents. It includes our entire mountain community because we ARE a community devoted to helping each other in times of trouble.

Our intent is to have the nonprofit structure in place to allow fundraisers, grants and whatever else it takes to move into action when disaster strikes. We will interview applicants and disburse the funds where appropriately needed, as well as operate programs to make sure the relief is effected. We are more than a foundation; we are an organization that can do anything from putting on a relief concert, handing out sandwiches to volunteers, applying for national grant money, to … well, you name it.

I am honored to serve alongside Susan Hammond, Kelly Breuer, Angela Ryan and Lynne Lyons in ushering this good idea to its reality — but we are only the current participants. Many individuals including the Chamber staff of past and present — Philip Levy, Dean Haave and others — worked on this endeavor.

Give me a call in order to join us in protecting Evergreen proactively with a nonprofit that is by us and for us! We do so much to take care of others and now we have another great way to take care of our own!

The Future of Family Law: Pairing Mediation & Unbundled Services

andersen law pc courtroom

Your divorce, support and parental responsibilities cases involve the most critical issues in your life: your family, your finances and your future. And yet 75 percent of parties in the first judicial district do not have an attorney in their domestic relations case. This is akin to wandering into a hospital to perform surgery by yourself with no assistance.

What will you do when you cannot get a piece of evidence admitted? When you do not how to read and distinguish case law? When the opposing party’s attorney or the judge or mediator asks you a legal question and you have no idea what they are talking about? Terrible results can happen, including an unenforceable parenting agreement or a financial mistake that costs thousands.

Mediation alone will not solve this, but if you have an unbundled lawyer “on call,” you may be able to respond quickly and knowledgeably. My retainer is $500 for unbundled services. I can attend mediation with you or stand by on the telephone, giving advice as needed. Call me to discuss this affordable, creative option.

 

Sharing Unique Aspects of my Practice with Law Students

denver university law school andersen law pc

On April 9, 2015, I was honored to appear with five other panelists to present to Denver University Law School students on entrepreneurial lawyering.

Increasingly, law students are embracing the option of hanging their own shingles rather than waiting for an offer to work for another attorney. The panel pointed out advantages of solo practice including flexibility, the ability to serve clients more efficiently and affordably, the lack of restraints on innovation and the unlimited creative control over the direction of the practice.

Students had several questions and were excited to hear that there are alternatives to the pressures and inefficiencies of traditional practice. I discussed creative billing and representation options such as unbundled legal services and video conferencing. Call me to discuss how this model can best help you with your family law issues.

Running a Law Firm: It Takes a Village

Starting my own practice has been an amazing experience. In just a few months, I have experienced so many of the challenges and joys of being a business owner. The work days are long, but then again, that is a lawyer’s life, not just a business owner’s! And I am fortunate to be able to follow my passion and work in family law every day. But although I am a solo practicing attorney, I don’t do it all on my own. I have an incredible support team that includes my BNI group, accountant, bookkeeper, assistants, partners at Pickard & Ross (whose building my office is in), fellow members of the 1st Judicial District Access to Justice Program, Lutheran Church of the Cross, and even my former employer. And last, but certainly not least, the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce.

I was honored to have recently participated in a ribbon cutting with the chamber, which extended an honorary membership to my firm. As you can see in the photo, the Evergreen Chamber Ambassadors, aka “Green Vests,” were also on hand.

My connection to the chamber is strong, as I am general counsel to the Evergreen Chamber Board of Directors and assisted in the formation of the Evergreen Chamber Community Fund, which helps local businesses and individuals in times of disaster. I appreciate their support! It’s a wonderful organization to be a part of.

There are several other organizations that I volunteer my time with and are important to my success as well. I am sergeant-at-arms for the Evergreen Rotary, a grants representative on the First Judicial District Access to Justice (ATJ) Program, volunteer attorney for the statewide Virtual Clinic program and Sunday school teacher at Lutheran Church of the Cross.

So while it’s great to be proud of having my own business, I couldn’t do it without this village of support that helps me be the best family law attorney I can be, and I will continue to do everything I can to give back.
Thank you, everyone!Beth Andersen at Evergreen ribbon cutting

Legal Video Conferencing Initiative Gets Grant For Expansion

The Virtual Pro Se Clinic (VPC) Program, launched in 2013, was awarded a $12,000 grant from Denver’s Lawrence N. Greenleaf Masonic Lodge to further expand the project that enables video conferencing between attorneys and clients. The VPC Program, which I am proud to be a part of, is an initiative of the 18th Judicial District’s Access to Justice Committee and uses existing public infrastructure at local public libraries, along with local partnerships with bar associations and local courts, to provide monthly free legal clinics to pro se litigants.

On Feb. 5, Ric Morgan, a solo general practice attorney in Elbert County who is the coordinator for the VPC Program, gave a presentation on the program to more than a dozen members of the 1st Judicial District’s Access to Justice Committee, which included judges, attorneys and court staff. Morgan showed how Zoom software can be used between lawyers and clients and explained its power to provide attorney access to litigants throughout Colorado who cannot afford, or otherwise access, a lawyer. His presentation was followed by live conferencing from the Belmar Library where 14 clients with a variety of issues were served through the technology.

Video conferencing is an invaluable technology that allows lawyers to provide pro bono services from the comfort of their own offices, to clients who can be in libraries or even the comfort of their own homes. It cuts out transportation time, cost and other hassles that can be associated with attorneys and clients connecting in person, yet the face-to-face interaction remains intact.

Because there are many clients who may appreciate the access to lawyers through video conferencing yet may be unable to utilize the service from their homes, a team of six volunteer attorneys statewide who support the VPC Program is working with local libraries to bring access to the technology to as many Colorado communities as possible. The VPC Program delivers free monthly legal clinics to 16 public libraries in 14 counties across Colorado. According to Morgan, the 3-year-old program is the first of its kind in the country. Similar programs are in various stages of creation in Utah, California, New York and Illinois.

“The VPC Program’s strategic goal is to leverage new technologies to connect volunteer attorneys in the large urban population with pro se litigants across Colorado, in both urban and rural settings,” Morgan said. “At the current rate of growth of five new counties each year, the VPC Program is on track to provide a free monthly legal clinic in all 64 Colorado counties by 2024.”

Morgan said the VPC Program’s team will use the $12,000 grant to support statewide operations, including payment for the software licenses for the televideo conferencing software used by the program.

 

What Makes a Great Attorney?

Gavel and Law Book

Being a lawyer is not just a job to me — it’s my calling. I do not take the responsibility lightly. As a client, you are coming to me for help with personal and critical events like divorce, parenting time and estate planning. These go to the heart of life: your FAMILY, FINANCES, FUTURE. That’s why it’s not enough to be a good lawyer; I strive to be a GREAT lawyer.

GUIDANCE: A good lawyer uses knowledge of the law to help make a good argument for the client. But a GREAT lawyer uses knowledge of the law and wisdom of experience to help the client realize broader goals than the case, to behave appropriately outside the courtroom and going forward. A GREAT lawyer knows legal fees, the stress of litigation and the toll on the long-term relationships are just as important as winning motions and trials.

RESPECT: A good lawyer takes the reins and says “don’t worry about it.” So you don’t until you get the bill or a shocking result.  A GREAT lawyer works collaboratively with you as a two-person team; respects your point of view; and is mindful of your financial and time restrictions.

EXCELLENCE: A good lawyer handles every case similarly based on a time-tested model. A GREAT lawyer realizes that each case is unique and may require additional research, attention or creativity above and beyond the norm. A GREAT lawyer will go the extra mile even if she can’t bill it to the client. She NEVER churns a case just to get a higher fee. She constantly studies, networks and trains to keep pace with the latest legal developments.

ATTITUDE: Many good lawyers see themselves as well educated professionals whose time is precious and who need to be feared and obeyed. A GREAT lawyer has the same education and experience, but realizes that interactions with clients need to be positive, patient and personable. A GREAT lawyer is not afraid to get creative and try things like “unbundled legal services” because they serve clients better and more affordably.

TECHNOLOGY: The legal field moves at a glacial pace when it comes to technology and other basic business developments.  Many good lawyers act as if “snail mail” and checking in with the client once a month are state of the art. GREAT lawyers use online communication, affordable research models and independent contractors to avoid excessive overhead. GREAT lawyers participate in video conferencing and regular online billing to keep you on top of your fees and case progress. GREAT lawyers text, read email, answer their cell phones after hours and act as if we live in the 21st century. You deserve it!

New Family Law Practice Means More Options, Convenience for Clients

Beth Andersen

As you may know, I recently branched out into my own solo practice, Andersen Law PC. Although I am on my own now, with offices in Littleton, my clients are continuing to receive the strong support and guidance that I have always provided.

At my new practice, I’m continuing to practice law I am passionate about, helping clients navigate through family law and estate planning. I have a stellar back office  and network of advisers working as a team for you. Meanwhile, I am your single point of contact. If I take your case, you will be working directly with me; not with a paralegal or junior associate.

Launching Andersen Law PC means that I can offer clients even more benefits than ever before.  I can now be more creative with my billing, offering full service representation with affordable retainers, “unbundled” a la carte legal services — paying as you go — and anything in between.

In order to be available to my clients in ways that are convenient for them, I am always seeking new technology to use as well. For example, I offer video conferencing, online document sharing, e-billing and credit card payment, text updates and automated document organization — all at affordable price points.

My new offices are conveniently located at the intersection of C-470 and Ken Caryl and the building, which says “Pickard & Ross,” can clearly be seen from C-470. You can find me there eager to help with your family law issue or estate planning.

Retainers & Unbundled Legal Services

 

You may have heard someone say, “my lawyer” or have used the term yourself.  More recently, people even say “lawyer up” when talking about hiring a lawyer for a case.

Traditionally, this means an attorney hired with a retainer and engagement agreement to handle your case from start to finish.  When an attorney is retained, that attorney is responsible for handling all communications with the court and the opposing party or counsel.  The lawyer is on record with the court and handles every court appearance, court document and court communication.  The lawyer e-files the pleadings with the court right through the computer without having to trek to the courthouse.  Once you retain an attorney, you can call “your lawyer” whenever you want, ask questions and give assignments.  You are the boss.

The “retainer” is the amount you pay up front.  Like a security deposit, the retainer stays with the attorney until the end of the case — when anything remaining is refunded.  The retainer is your money.  The laws about segregating a client’s retainer funds are very strict.  In Colorado, lawyers set up special COLTAF accounts to hold the retainer funds.   As a general rule, an attorney cannot move funds from the client’s COLTAF account to the lawyer’s operating account until the funds have been earned.  The attorney has an obligation to bill the client fairly — either with a “flat fee” (one time payment) or ongoing billing.  Most commonly in family law, the client gets a bill once a month.  The bill breaks down everything the lawyer did that month, the hourly fee and the total due.

Each month, the lawyer will ask the client to “replenish” the retainer.  This is such a lovely-sounding word which means pay your bill so the retainer is back up to its original amount.    For example, if you were Don Corleone, you might have Tom Hagen on a $5000 retainer.  At the end of the month, he sends you a bill saying he spent 10 hours at $200 per hour working on your IRS issue.  He earned $2000 which means there is … wait for it … $3000 left in the COLTAF account (because, of course, Mr. Hagen and Mr. Corleone are scrupulous about honest book keeping.)  Mr. Corleone needs to replenish the retainer back up to $5000 wich means he needs to pay another $2000 into the COLTAF account.

Sometimes a person has a very pressing and important family law issues on the table but doesn’t happen to have the standard $2500 to $5000 for a retainer.  Or a person may have one small legal issue and only needs to meet with the attorney once or twice to do something specific like reading a paper or going to court or mediation.  This person may be a great candidate for “unbundled legal services.”

With unbundled legal service, the attorney is not retained.  The attorney is not on record with the court.  The client can ask the attorney to do something, but both are the boss when it comes to whether the lawyer does it.  The lawyer can do the work or decline it.  The client can ask the lawyer to do something or can do it on his or her own.  Going to court, for example.  The client can go alone or can have the attorney go.  With unbundled legal services, there is no retainer or a small fee (less than $500) to cover ongoing costs.

It’s “unbundled” because the  individual legal tasks can be paid separately.

A client pays up front on an ongoing basis for the work.   If Don Corleone wants Consiglieri Tom Hagen to go to mediation with Virgil Sollozzofor two hours, he can pay the $200 per hour (ie. $400) up front.

One thing to remember with unbundled — a lawyer is not like Superman or Wonder Woman, able to fly into court and save the day on the spot.  Lawyers are mortal and our best work comes from preparation.  We need to read the documents.  We need to know the law.  We need to form a strategy.  All this takes planning.  So a court appearance or mediation is not just the time in court but also an hour or more to prepare.

One of the best uses of unbundled legal services is to review a document and make changes.  The client writes a draft and the attorney gives feedback.  NO ONE should get divorced without an attorney looking over the separation agreement and parenting plan to make sure they are fair.  This could take as little as an hour or less.  But it is critical because these documents are very technical and can last a lifetime.

I work on retainer and unbundled legal services.  Which form my representation takes is not that important to me.  The main thing for me is to tailor the work to the individual client, working with his or her strengths and weaknesses as a team.   If you are good at paperwork, I will suggest you save money by doing it all on your own.  If you procrastinate and hate paperwork, I may suggest our clerical staff takes over.  If you are a good writer, you may do your own first drafts.   If you are good in court, you may want to save money and go it alone.  Most people, however, hate going to court.  They get emotional and stressed and I don’t blame them.  It is a unique process requiring knowledge of the law and the ability to think quickly on your feet.  I certainly would not stroll into Vegas expecting to clean up on the poker tables without training, skill and experience.  Court is not Vegas, but it can feel that way to those who stroll in unprepared.  Even a half hour meeting with an attorney before court can set you on the right track.  Unbundled.

Please call me and let me know if this makes sense.  I am happy to talk to you about unbundled legal services.  They are truly a blessing to clients without money for a retainer.