Are you going trick or treating with your kids (and eating their candy when they are asleep) or giving out candy for Halloween this year? Did you know that many cities have laws restricting what you can and can’t do on Halloween? Here are some of them.
When I was a kid, I often heard this story (urban legend?) of kids finding razor blades in their candy. Pembroke Pines, Florida, decided to write an ordinance in case someone tries to poison children. In this city, it is unlawful to inject or place injurious substances in candy, gum, apples, popcorn balls or any items given to children during Halloween.
In Paris, Illinois, don’t get caught wearing a mask on city streets outside of the city council’s designated days and times for Halloween. You will get fined up to $750 for each violation.
Yes, there are restrictions for haunted houses too, mostly for security and fire reasons. If you have a haunted house in Lincolnton, North Carolina, here are some of the rules you must abide to:
Have you gone trick or treating when you were a teenager? Or worst, collect candies as a grown up with your kids? I am guilty of the first one. In Wilkesboro, North Carolina, only children 12 years of age and younger can go trick or treating.
Apparently, turning on or off lights to indicate whether a house gives candy isn’t enough. Several towns have time restrictions. In Palos Heights, Illinois, kids can’t go trick or treating after 7:00 pm.
Some of these rules are warranted for security purposes, but others go a little too far. Isn’t Halloween supposed to be fun?
Happy Halloween from Your Paralegal Help Desk!
And don’t forget…it’s the only day of the year you're allowed to eat
as much candy as you want.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about Fastcase and Casemaker, two low cost alternatives to Westlaw and LexisNexis for solo practitioners and small law firms. Attorneys and paralegals can use another legal research tool to find case law and legal articles: Google Scholar. And it’s free!
As you’ll read below, you can’t only use Google Scholar to perform legal research and cancel your paid subscription to other legal research providers. But if you want to save your client money, use Google Scholar first to see what you can find. Here are some Google Scholar FAQs for legal research.
What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar is a search engine for scholarly literature covering different disciplines and sources. You can look for articles, theses, books, abstracts and case law from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other websites.
What is the extent of the legal coverage?
Google Scholar covers federal and state cases, plus legal articles.
What are the benefits?
As I mentioned above, it is free. However, if you want to read the full text of legal articles, you may have to subscribe to the academic website. Another advantage of Google Scholar is that it includes limited unreported cases. Email alerts for new cases and the option to create a library are my favorite features.
What are the cons?
Google Scholar does not include statutes. Its citation service is not as good as Shepard’s or KeyCite because it does not show if the case is good law and how subsequent courts have treated it.
How do you search case law?
On Google Scholar’s homepage, type in keywords relevant to your legal issue. Under your keywords, click on case law and select the court(s). When you are on the search result page, you can filter case law by date and again by court. Under each case, you can find how to cite it pursuant to Bluebook rules by clicking on “Cite.” To read a case, click on it. At the top left-hand corner of the case, click on “How cited” to find subsequent authorities that have cited the case. The horizontal bars next to the “Cited by” case names represent the depth of discussion of the searched case.
Unlike Westlaw or LexisNexis, Google Scholar only uses the connector AROUND. According to Eric Voigt from R+W Legal Consultants, you can only use the word AROUND to search for a term that appears after another term. As an example, if you type “email AROUND(5) official AROUND(10) record”, Google Scholar will find cases where “official” appears within 5 words after “email” and where “record” appears within 10 words after “email” and “official.” Eric Voigt also explains that AROUND must be capitalized, have no space between it and the parenthetical and include quotation marks around the entire search string. Lastly, AROUND only connects individual words, not phrases.
How do you search legal articles?
On Google Scholar’s homepage, type in keywords relevant to your legal issue. Under your keywords, click on “Articles.” When you are on the search result page, you can filter your articles by date. Under each article, you can find how to cite it pursuant to Bluebook rules by clicking on “Cite.” You can also find if it was cited by other articles or case law. To read an article, click on it. It will bring you to the publisher or the academic website where you will find whether you have to subscribe.
How do you create an email alert?
Creating an email alert for new case law or legal articles is simple. When you are on the search result page, on the left sidebar, click on “Create an alert” where you will provide your email address.
How do you create a library?
First, you have to enable your library by clicking on “My library” on Google Scholar’s homepage. Then when you are on the search result page, under each case or legal article of interest, click “Save.” Saved cases and articles will appear in your library. Later on, you can create labels to organize it.
Hope this convinced you to try out Google Scholar. It’s simple and it’s free. If you have any questions about using Google Scholar, leave a comment below.
Are you wondering why your law practice is not growing? Do you meet with potential clients without any results? Do you have to go back and forth with clients because you forgot to ask important questions during your initial meeting? You may be one of many attorneys who do not have a procedure for client intake. Not only is client intake important for the reasons mentioned above, but it also helps ascertain whether you should take on a matter. A typical client intake procedure include a client intake form and checklist.
Client Intake Form
A client intake form is a questionnaire completed by the potential client prior to the initial meeting. It usually asks for basic information about the client and the matter: full name, contact information, the reasons for assistance, parties involved, etc. It may also include marketing related questions about the referral source. Questions may vary by matter (probate v. real estate) and client type (individual v. business).
Client Intake Checklist
A client intake checklist is used by the attorney, paralegal or secretary during the initial phone call or meeting. The checklist helps collect all essential information for a conflict check. It also helps determine whether you should take on the matter or not. Below are items to include in a checklist:
Refusing a Client
There are many reasons to refuse a client. Some of which will be revealed by using the client intake form and checklist. The most common ones are:
If you refuse a potential client or refer him to another attorney, it is good practice to send him a non-engagement letter.
Using Potential Client Data
Once you obtain all relevant information about the potential client, store the data in a spreadsheet or practice management program. The data will be used while providing services to your client. You may also use it for marketing purposes. For example, you can find out through which marketing channels your clients find you. You can also use their contact information to send out informative newsletter, announcements and holiday cards.
This is a summary of client intake procedure. If you would like client intake forms and checklists for your law firm, visit the Florida Bar and Michigan State Bar.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Your Paralegal Help Desk's blogger is not an attorney and cannot give legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should immediately seek the advice of a licensed attorney in your state.