Attorneys squeezing savings

Michael W. Hoskins
January 7, 2009
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Economic Impact


Turning away from the traditional way he conducted legal research has saved Indianapolis attorney Steve Terrell about $400 a month.

Instead, he’s using an Indiana State Bar Association program that offers the same resources as a benefit of his yearly membership without having to pay any monthly fees.

That money-saving move can be thrown into the mix with discounts on office supplies and insurance, all ways that attorneys can help cut costs and save their pennies during tough economic times. Bar associations offer some ways to squeeze the most out of money spent and keep more for savings.

“When you’re talking about savings, it’s important to know what’s available out there,” Terrell said. “It’s amazing the wealth of information that’s out there you can tap into to save money.”

For example, Terrell says he’s more seriously looking at ending his subscription for a major legal research service because the ISBA’s Case Maker program continues to improve and offers those services at a lower expense. He knows of many other attorneys considering the same.

By only having to pay his annual dues, Terrell is able to get the same level of service from Case Maker that he currently gets for about $400 a month â?? something that wasn’t available a few years ago, he said.

Aside from using regular networking and bar association discounts, Terrell also uses the Internet to find deals through Listservs and other attorneys. When his printer recently died, he sent out an e-mail on a Listserv, looking for suggestions on good models. He’d recently switched to a Mac, and he tracked down a compatible printer through that e-mail that allowed him to find a great deal. That was on top of the couple hundred dollars he’d already saved after being told about a deal on Microsoft Office for Mac.

In the past, particularly during his time chairing the ISBA’s solo and small firm section, he’d learned about savings on legal education and insurance.

“You need to keep that in mind in your practice... that in tough times you want to be frugal but not cheap,” he said. “Make sure you’re getting the most for your dollar and not being cheap, because that doesn’t end up saving any money in the long run.”

The Indianapolis Bar Association â?? like most throughout the state â?? offers various tools to help attorneys save money. In financially difficult times, spokeswoman Sherri Massa said the most beneficial item might be discounted CLE, free videos each month, and the Lawyer Referral Service.

As health insurance premiums jump and the economy struggles, an increasing number of small business owners and individuals without job-based insurance are trying to find ways to save money on that coverage. Bar associations are one option where premiums can be cheaper and the benefits better than purchasing coverage on your own, since the association may have greater marketing clout with insurers.

The ISBA offers group and individual insurance for health, dental, life, home, and auto. About 1,000 individual attorneys and 81 law firms carry insurance through the agency, according to figures provided. Meanwhile, other bar associations are investigating the possibility of offering insurance in some way to members as a cost-saving option. The IBA has formed a committee to investigate offering insurance and other member benefits. That group â?? like the Evansville Bar Association â?? used to offer a health insurance plan but discontinued it and one isn’t currently offered.

Current ISBA president Bill Jonas said he’d gotten auto and home insurance through the bar association’s agency, the Indiana Insurance Agency. He saved about 20 percent after making the switch about three years ago, Jonas said.

“We can all see from the activities in large firms, that it’s no stretch of imagination that smaller firms and solo practitioners are looking at individual practices and situations to improve bottom lines,” he said. “We can all look at the littlest things for some fairly significant savings.”

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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.