Hear and See the Webinar: How to Convert More Callers to Clients Without Spending More Money on Advertising

Click the “Play” button below to watch the recording of our webinar broadcast on May 25, 2017, “How to Convert More Callers to Clients Without Spending More Money on Advertising.”

Click http://bit.ly/2qgnffq to see the slides.

By Michael DeLon

Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert

Michael DeLon is an author and marketing coach.

Your #1 problem is not “getting more leads.” You generate leads from advertising. The phone rings and you capture their information in your intake system. Then you follow up with them relentlessly.

  • Why are you not converting more callers to clients?
  • Why aren’t you making more money?

Your #1 problem is not “getting more leads.” Your #1 problem is converting more of the leads you’re already generating.

What’s the Solution?

 If you talk with other attorneys or people in the media, their solution is to do more advertising. There’s some truth to that. But I don’t think it’s the best strategy.

Increasing the sheer volume of leads is not the best answer to your problem. It might work, but it will cost you a lot of money.

If you’re advertising properly and your phone is ringing, then you’re likely getting enough leads. You need to look at the other steps in your process to see where you are losing money.

If you look at your lead conversion process as a bucket that you’re trying to fill, you need to plug the holes in your bucket so you’ll retain more “water” and make more money.

Two of the most common holes we find firms overlooking are in the areas of Intake and Conversion. Legal marketing expert Harlan Schillinger says, “Intake and conversion are the most overlooked part of your business.” So let’s fix that.

Harlan Schillinger is in charge of business development at Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys.

Harlan Schillinger of Paradise Valley, AZ, has 40 years of experience in advertising and law firm marketing.

Why You Lose Clients

What you send your caller after they call you helps you convert them from a caller into a client.

So what do you send them after they call?

  • Your full-color company brochure filled with papers and information about how great you are, how long you’ve been in business, and how much money you’ve helped others receive?
  • Awards you’ve won or events you’ve sponsored?
  • A picture of your building and staff?
  • And don’t forget your refrigerator magnet and business card.

These are all things callers receive. In fact, since they call multiple firms, they receive piles and piles of this stuff. It’s overwhelming and confusing.

Here’s the real problem: It all looks the same. Every firm says basically the same thing. Change the logo and the color of the brochure and they would all be identical.

Why should the caller choose to hire you? When you look like everyone else you will lose more than you win.

Instead of showing up looking like all of your competitors, do something different. Position yourself uniquely. Don’t send what everyone else sends. Put a credibility-builder in your prospect’s hands. You will stand out prominently, impact the prospect memorably, and move yourself to the top of the pile.

Become the Recognized Authority

When asked to name a business and personal motivation guru:

  • Tony Robbins is very often the first name mentioned.
  • Michael Hyatt has burst onto the scene in recent years positioned as your “Virtual Mentor.”
  • Dave Ramsey has created a fortune by positioning himself as America’s personal finance go-to guy.

Now I like Tony and Michael and Dave—but none of them are that much smarter or better than the next guy. In fact, you can get much of what they offer for much less with a little bit of research.

But what they have—that their competitors don’t have—is positioning. We see Tony and Michael and Dave as authorities in their field. We trust what they tell us. And we pay handsomely for it.

They have created a platform for their message, generate a large following, and produce shocking profits.

They weren’t the first ones to the game. Arguably, they might not even be the best. But they are considered the experts in their industries. Since they have this position, they can spend less on advertising, enjoy higher conversions, and generate more revenue.

So how did they create this position for themselves? What made Tony, Michael, and Dave experts?

They each published a Book

It’s that simple. Tony Robbins came onto the scene with his book Unlimited Power. That book made him a national expert and a household name.

Michael Hyatt published Platform and it catapulted him to national expert status.

Dave Ramsey published Financial Peace in 1992 and has gone on to build a media conglomerate generating millions of dollars a year.

All three of these men were once sitting where you are now. They decided to take action and put their thoughts into a book—and the rest is history.

The simplest way to convert more callers to clients is to be The Recognized Legal Authority in your market. And the simplest way to do that is with your own book.

“I give my book to past and current clients, other professionals I work with (i.e. doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc.), motorcycle shops, schools, shows, and anywhere else I can think of. It is far better than giving out my business card since it shows I care about motorcycle safety and society.” — Steve Grover, Grover Law Firm, Alberta, CA,  Author of “Ride Hard, Ride Safe”

The legal market is ultra-competitive. To stand out and be noticed you need to be recognized as an expert. You must differentiate yourself and position yourself as the authority in your market.

“I believe that a book is the ultimate business card. In this competitive market, you either differentiate yourself or you die. Having a book will help you convert leads to clients and put more money in your pocket.” –– Harlan Schillinger

Your book is the most cost-effective tool in your marketing arsenal. It empowers you to convert more callers to clients and earn more money without spending more on advertising.

When you receive phone calls, don’t just mail the caller your brochure and business card. Send them a signed copy of your book. You will immediately stand out in your their mind.

When they pile all the brochures and business cards they’ve received onto their table, your book will be on the top of the pile. As they file brochures and toss business cards, they’ll hold onto your book.

When’s the last time you threw away a book? People don’t throw away books — it’s almost sacrilegiousIt seems so very simple. Yet so few follow this proven pathway of unconventional wisdom. Your book will stay around longer than all your competitors’ brochures and business cards and miscellaneous junk. Your book will speak to your prospects even when they aren’t reading it.

Just seeing your book on their table, desk, or nightstand will remind them of you. They’ll remember your advice. They’ll call you for an appointment. They’ll hire you to represent them.

Creating Your Book

It’s fairly easy to put your name on a book these days.

You can publish one yourself (if you have the time). You can license one that someone else has written (a viable alternative). But nothing compares to having your own book that tells your story in your words.

When you are an author, you establish authority, easily differentiate yourself, and will have people calling to work with you like never before.

Remember Tony, Michael and Dave? This is exactly what they did.

Authority status is the position you need to establish to gain more clients without spending more on advertising. And the fastest way to attain authority status is to become the author of your own book.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Publish your own book.
  • Utilize your book in ALL of your marketing and advertising.
  • Give your book to every lead you receive.

Do that and you’ll stay in front of your leads longerconvert more leads to clients, and make more money without spending another dime on more advertising.

This article was adapted from the soon to be released book Michael is writing with Harlan Schillinger.


Michael DeLon is an author, speaker, marketing coach, and the founder of Paperback Expert, a marketing-centric book publisher for attorneys.

Using their unique Speak-to-Write process, Michael works with you to create your book in just 90 days. Then he teaches you exactly how to use your book to Attract Leads, Convert Clients and Generate Profits.

Michael’s first book, On Marketing, helped him convert leads to clients effortlessly. Now he helps others enjoy this same experience. He believes a book is the best marketing tool to have in your arsenal. It differentiates you, gives you the authority, and builds trust in ways nothing else can. A book really is The Ultimate Business Card.

Contact Michael: Michael@PaperbackExpert.com Direct: (501) 539-0038

 

NTL member Geoffrey Fieger files 2nd sexual assault suit against Michigan attorney

NTL member Geoffrey Fieger is representing a second woman in a sexual assault lawsuit against well-known Michigan plaintiff attorney Mike Morse. Fieger’s client claims she was groped and sexually harassed by Morse while working for him as a receptionist. FiegerGeoffrey Fieger is also representing another woman who has sued Morse alleging he sexually assaulted her. More details are in this story at MLive.

ACLU calls AG Sessions more dangerous than Trump

Who poses a greater danger to the American justice system, President Donald Trump or Attorney General Jeff Sessions? The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union says Sessions poses the more significant threat. The ACLU’s David Cole says Sessions is “…particularly retrograde on criminal justice.” Read the complete analysis at the ACLU’s website. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Under Legal Attack Today

Robert Weissman, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen

“A CFPB with a director serving at the effective pleasure of the Big Banks and the financial industry will be just another captured regulatory agency in Washington, D.C. We already have enough of those,” says said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit hears arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the law that established the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created in the wake of the 2008 financial crash to protect Main Street consumers against Wall Street predators.

The legal question is whether the statute that created the CFPB violates separation-of-powers principles by providing that the CFPB director can be removed by the president only for cause. A divided lower court in October held that the agency’s leadership structure is unconstitutional.

In PHH Corporation v. CFPB, Public Citizen, together with the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center and Tzedek DC, filed an amicus brief. It explains that Congress created the CFPB as an independent agency to make sure that the agency could avoid political pressure and capture by the industries whose practices it was charged with regulating.

Control by Big Banks?

“Underlying the constitutional issue at stake in this case is a simple question of crucial importance to all Americans: Does the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau work for American consumers or for the Big Banks? With an independent director, the CFPB in a few years has conservatively saved Americans $12 billion and forestalled countless abuses,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “A CFPB with a director serving at the effective pleasure of the Big Banks and the financial industry will be just another captured regulatory agency in Washington, D.C. We already have enough of those.”

Congress determined that failures of existing regulatory agencies were largely attributable to their focusing on the interests and needs of the financial industry they regulated, while giving insufficient attention to the interests and needs of consumers.

As of February 2017, the CFPB has returned nearly $12 billion to more than 29 million consumers victimized by unlawful and fraudulent activity.

The opponents’ proposition that Congress may confer authority on an independent agency only if the agency is headed by a multimember commission finds no support in past U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the groups assert. Nor does the notion that multimember commissions might be better protectors of liberty than agencies directed by single officers bear on the separation-of-powers issue.

PHH v CFPB is a case between a special interest and the American people. Opponents have spent millions to gut an agency that has stood up for military families, students and seniors who have been harmed by financial crimes,” stated Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel at Consumer Federation of America. “The CFPB has returned $12 billion to 29 million consumers. The American people need the CFPB to stand up for them. This case is about pulling the agency down.”

 

Trump Budget Cuts Undermine the Legal System

Linda A Klein, ABA President

ABA President Linda A. Klein says that the proposed budget would also do severe damage to the most vulnerable people in our society by cutting access to food assistance, medical care, housing and the other necessities of life.

Steep budget cuts proposed today by the White House would severely undermine the fairness of the legal system and deny access to justice for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals. These include children, veterans, the elderly, people with disabilities, people in poverty, families suffering after natural disasters, survivors of domestic violence and victims of other crimes. “America must not compromise on the principles that justice is accessible to all and all are equal under the law,” said American Bar Association President Linda A. Klein.

Among the more egregious cuts to the Constitution’s promise of a fair legal process are:

  • Legal Services Corporation: This program provides funding for civil legal aid to those who cannot afford it, serving people in every congressional district. The Legal Services Corporation promotes fair and efficient operation of our nation’s courts, giving low-income people representation in custody disputes, wrongful evictions, denial of benefits cases and other matters. What makes the cuts more outrageous is that more than 30 cost-benefit analyses all show that Legal Services Corporation delivers far more in benefits than it costs. Equal access to justice is the cornerstone of our American justice system and without the LSC, courthouse doors all over the country would slam closed for millions of Americans.
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness: The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program encourages people to work in lower-paying but critically needed jobs that serve the public good. Without loan forgiveness, fewer people would be able to dedicate their lives to public service as prosecutors, public defenders, legal aid lawyers and other justice-related fields, especially in underserved rural areas.

“While these and other programs affecting access to justice have been targeted for harsh reductions, many other parts of the proposed budget would also do severe damage to the most vulnerable people in our society by cutting access to food assistance, medical care, housing and the other necessities of life,” Klein says.

As the budget process moves forward, the American Bar Association urges Congress to reinstate adequate funding for these important and valuable programs. In order to “establish justice,” as our Constitution calls on us to do, these programs must be preserved.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession.

US Supreme Court Strikes Down Racial Gerrymandering in North Carolina

North_Carolina_Congressional_Map_2012-2014WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the redrawing of two congressional districts by the North Carolina legislature after the 2010 census was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

“We are pleased that, once again, the Supreme Court has recognized the pernicious and discriminatory effects of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering on African American and other minority communities,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil rights Under Law.  “Moreover, the Court made it clear that it would not allow states to get away with an unlawful racial gerrymandering by claiming that it’s just politics. This is a critical decision as communities prepare for the 2020 redistricting cycle, where states would still be able to purposely create legitimate majority-minority districts, consistent with this opinion.”

Before the redistricting, the two districts did not have a majority of African-American voters, but had consistently elected candidates who were the preference of most African-American voters.  In affirming the ruling of a three-judge District Court, the Supreme Court found that racial considerations predominated in the drawing of the lines of both districts. The justices also found that the State had not met its burden of justifying its line-drawing by showing it was narrowly tailored to a legitimate state interest.

The Lawyers’ Committee, together with its pro bono counsel Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, filed an amicus curiae brief in the matter.

“The Supreme Court rightly found that North Carolina had unlawfully drawn these congressional districts in such a way as to separate citizens into different voting districts on account of race,” said Bradley Phillips, partner for Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.  “That’s wrong and unconstitutional.”

Read the full opinion here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-1262_db8e.pdf

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

Jeff Sessions — The Incompetent New Sheriff In Town

By Farron Cousins.

This article is reprinted from the Spring 2017 issue of The Trial Lawyer, which can be read online here.

In spite of the recent chorus of people in the United States clamoring for an alternative to status quo politicians, party loyalty still counts for everything among the elite of Washington, D.C., on both sides of the aisle. There is no better example of what loyalty to your own party can get you than the story of Jeff Sessions.

For two decades, our new Attorney General served as a U.S. Senator from the state of Alabama, where he was one of the most consistent and loyal members of the Republican Party. At every given opportunity, Sessions voted against civil rights, against expanding social safety net programs, and he stood firmly against every justice that former President Obama attempted to appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court. During the George W. Bush administration, he served as a loyal lackey for the Republican Party, standing firmly in his support for a ban on same-sex marriage and in favor cutting taxes on the rich and sending our troops to die in a war based on lies.

Sessions’ loyalty prevented him from ever becoming a target within his own party, something that even longstanding Republicans like John McCain and Mitch McConnell haven’t been able to avoid. That should paint a clear enough picture as to why current President Donald Trump tapped the Senator and former Attorney General of Alabama to be the new Attorney General of the United States. Unwavering party loyalty is always rewarded, especially when both major political parties appear to be fracturing from the inside.

But who exactly is America’s new top law enforcement officer, and what can we expect under his rule? The best place to start when trying to predict the future is to look at the past, so let’s start with the most glaringly obvious of Sessions’ faults.

The Racist Skeletons in The Closet

During Sessions’ confirmation hearings, both Senate Democrats and the media were buzzing with stories of Jeff Sessions’ racist history. But for the most part, few outlets ever took the time to really expand upon that singular talking point, opting instead to just throw out the racist label without offering the full context of just how bad a Sessions appointment would be for African Americans in the United States. While he was a U.S. Attorney in Mobile, Alabama, Sessions was discussing a case with some of his colleagues that involved two members of the Ku Klux Klan who brutally murdered a black man and hung his body from a tree. When Sessions learned that members of the Klan had smoked marijuana before the attack, he remarked to his colleagues that he thought the Klan was “okay until I found out they smoked pot.”

It was that very statement that cost him a federal judgeship in the 1980s, when both Democrats and Republicans felt the man, who claimed he was joking when he made that statement, was simply too racist to serve as an unbiased federal judge. The man who testified in that Senate hearing in the 1980s, Thomas Figures, was a black man who worked with Sessions in Mobile. Figures stated that he did not feel at all that Sessions was “joking” when he made that statement about the Klan, and that on countless occasions Sessions would refer to him as “boy” and had once told him to “be careful what you say around white folks.” Figures passed away two years before Sessions’ most recent confirmation hearing.

Meanwhile, other people who worked with Sessions at the same time came forward during that hearing in the 1980s to say that the man was completely unbiased, and without his work the state never would have been able to launch successful prosecutions against Klansmen. But those facts didn’t change the very words that had previously come out of Sessions’ mouth, and his nomination was voted down.

Voter Suppression

Let’s be clear about one thing: Not all racism is overt. Sessions is a man who was born in the state of Alabama during the time of segregation; He was in his formative years when the Civil Rights movement was taking place, and those types of life experiences are certain to have an impact on how one race views another, depending on the type of household they grew up in. While we don’t know if Sessions’ family was pro or anti desegregation, their position on what was happening all around would likely shape how Jeff himself viewed the world. And judging from his actions and words, it is likely that they weren’t welcoming desegregation with open arms. So even if Sessions wasn’t overtly racist, his actions as both a U.S. Attorney and as the 44th Attorney General of Alabama demonstrate a pattern of behavior that was nothing short of hostile towards people of color.

His most egregious act as Alabama’s Attorney General was his ruthless attempt to suppress the votes of African-Americans in the state. This is another issue that helped prevent him from becoming a federal judge in the 1980s. During his time as AG, he brought dozens of cases against African Americans who had been prominent figures in the Civil Rights movement to trial for alleged voter fraud. His office’s investigation originally swept up more than 100 black citizens of Alabama on voter fraud charges, but due to a complete lack of any evidence, those numbers fell down into the 20s in a very short time.

But the few who did end up on trial were taken 160 miles away from the state capital down to Mobile, an area that Sessions knew would give him a mostly white, if not all white, jury (ironically, the jury consisted of seven black jurors and five white ones, so Sessions’ plan backfired beautifully). The courthouse for this trial was surrounded by FBI agents and police officers, all heavily armed and ready to fire shots at anyone outside that became unruly.

Ultimately, the people brought in on charges of voter fraud were acquitted due to an overwhelming lack of evidence. But Sessions didn’t care — he made his point. Those closest to both Sessions and the defendants are very clear when they tell this story — the men were brought to trial by Sessions because they were helping African Americans register to vote, and that’s what Sessions wanted to put an end to in his state. It wasn’t about the alleged fraud (that didn’t exist); it was a message to black activists that they would go through a similar time-consuming, expensive ordeal if they decided to get their communities active. That was Sessions’ plan all along.

Friend of Wall Street

One of the biggest criticisms of President Obama’s Attorney Generals — Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch — was that they were far too lenient (friendly) with Wall Street banking criminals. Holder came from the corporate defense firm of Covington Burling which has made millions representing these banks, while Lynch actually served on the board for the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. This helps explain why the Wall Street bankers who crippled our economy right before Obama took office never saw a day in prison, instead paying paltry fines that were largely written off and paid for by taxpayers. But if those ties to Wall Street gave you shivers then Sessions’ ties to Wall Street bankers will leave you nauseated. During his time as a U.S. Senator, Sessions received a grand total of more than $2.5 million from the finance industry for his campaigns, making them his single largest industry donor. But the direct financing of his political career is only a small piece of the Sessions puzzle, and he has done everything in his power to make sure that the big banks were well taken care of when he had a say in the matter.

In 2007, Sessions was busted trying to push through legislation in the Senate that would have prevented specific banks from having to pay royalties to a tech company that developed technology to convert paper checks into digital transactions. At the time, these banks were paying billions of dollars a year to use the tech firm to use this technology, but Sessions put forth legislation that would have stopped those payments immediately. But what Sessions didn’t tell anyone is that he owned quite a bit of stock in both Citigroup and Compass Bank, two of the banks that would have been allowed to stop paying royalties under Sessions’ legislation.

It is safe to assume that given his history of coddling Wall Street, we will likely endure another four years of Wall Street bankers ripping off consumers with little to no punishment. Even the paltry fines of the Obama years will likely disappear with Sessions at the helm of the Department of Justice.

Potential Perjury

While his positions on the issues are worrisome, those aren’t even the biggest problems facing the newly-appointed Attorney General. The biggest concerns at the moment center around the fact that Sessions likely perjured himself during his confirmation hearing. Amid the growing fervor over Russia’s involvement or non-involvement in the U.S. elections and in the Trump administration itself, Sessions was asked by Democratic Senator Al Franken during his confirmation hearing if he would recuse himself should an investigation into the matter ever manifest.

This is Sessions’ response to that question:

“Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn’t — did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it.”

It is important to note that Senator Franken did not ask Sessions if he, personally, had ever had any contact with the Russians. Sessions offered up that information completely on his own. And he was under oath, another major point to consider.

As it turns out, that voluntary piece of information during his confirmation hearing is what could ultimately prove to be his undoing, because evidence has emerged that shows that Sessions did, in fact, meet at least twice with a Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign, making his statement flat out false.

There are several important things to understand at this point. The first is that we do not know why Sessions was meeting with the ambassador. Defenders have claimed that since Sessions served on the Armed Services Committee it was only natural for him to meet with the ambassador, as this practice is common. However, other members of the Committee have confirmed that, no, this is not normal behavior. But all of that misses the point. The argument is not over what he talked to the ambassador about, the point is that the man lied under oath. For all we know the two could have been discussing the merits of pet ownership — the content of the conversation is completely irrelevant to the fact that Sessions denied the meeting under oath, and therefore likely committed perjury. The content and context of the meetings don’t matter.

In the wake of the scandal, Sessions did finally come out and say that he would recuse himself from any investigations involving meetings between the Trump campaign and Russia, but that didn’t stop Senate Democrats and even a handful of Republicans from demanding that Sessions either step down as Attorney General, or that an investigation into the potential perjury get underway.

Only time will tell at this point if the Democrats have the courage and stamina to bring perjury charges, or if they will tire and move on to other issues.

Future

All of the factors mentioned paint a fairly depressing picture of the future of American justice under our new Attorney General. Jeff Sessions has a disturbing history of consistently being on the wrong of social issues from gender equality to marriage equality to racial equality. Couple that with his willingness to allow the “rights” of corporations to trump those of the American public and we can already predict that the next four years — or however long this man remains at the top position of the Department of Justice — are going to be ones in which American consumers are continuously stepped on as corporations get everything that they could ever want from both Attorney General Sessions and the Republicans who gave him his new power.

 

NTL member Douglas Wigdor representing Fox News employees in racial discrimination lawsuits

NTL member Douglas Wigdor, a New York attorney who represents several current and former employees who have alleged racial discrimination at Fox News in a lawsuit, said he is representing the employee who complained about Bob Beckel, the co-host of the prime time program “The Five.” Beckel was fired on Friday “for making an insensitive remark to an African-American” Fox News employee. Variety has details in this story.Douglas Wigdor NTL member

Notice of Class Action Lawsuit over PACER Fees

If you paid fees to access federal court records on PACER at any time between April 21, 2010, and April 21, 2016, a new class action lawsuit may affect your rights.

Nonprofit groups have filed a lawsuit against the United States government, claiming that the government has unlawfully charged PACER users more than necessary to cover the cost of providing public access to federal court records. The lawsuit, National Veterans Legal Services Program, et al. v. United States, Case No. 1:16-cv-00745-ESH, is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Court decided this lawsuit should be a class action on behalf of a “Class,” or group of people that could include you. There is no money available now and no guarantee that there will be.

Are you included? Records of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts show that you paid to access records through PACER (the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system) between April 21, 2010, and April 21, 2016. The Class includes everyone that paid PACER fees between April 21, 2010, and April 21, 2016, excluding class counsel in this case and federal government entities.

What is this lawsuit about? The lawsuit claims that Congress has authorized the federal courts to charge PACER fees only to the extent necessary to cover the costs of providing public access to court records, and that the federal courts are charging more than necessary to recover the costs of PACER. The lawsuit further alleges that the federal courts have used the excess PACER fees to pay for projects unrelated to providing public access to court records. The lawsuit seeks the recovery of the excessive portion of the fees.

The government denies these claims and contends that the PACER fees are lawful. The Court has not decided who is right. The lawyers for the Class will have to prove their claims in court.

Who represents you? The Court has appointed Gupta Wessler PLLC and Motley Rice LLC to represent the Class as “Class Counsel.” You don’t have to pay Class Counsel or anyone else to participate. If Class Counsel obtains money or benefits for the Class, they will ask the Court for an award of fees and costs, which will be paid by the United States government or out of any money recovered for the Class. By participating in the Class, you agree to pay Class Counsel up to 30 percent of the total recovery in attorneys’ fees and expenses with the total amount to be determined by the Court.

What are your options? If you are a Class Member, you have a right to stay in the Class or be excluded from the lawsuit.

OPTION 1. Do nothing. Stay in the lawsuit. If you do nothing, you are choosing to stay in the Class. You will be legally bound by all orders and judgments of the Court, and you won’t be able to sue the United States government for the claims made in this lawsuit. If money or benefits are obtained, you will be able to get a share. There is no guarantee that the lawsuit will be successful.

OPTION 2. Exclude yourself from the lawsuit. Alternatively, you have the right to not be part of this lawsuit by excluding yourself or “opting out” of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you cannot get any money from this lawsuit if any is obtained, but you will keep your right to separately sue the United States government over the legal issues in this case. If you do not wish to stay in the Class, you must request exclusion in one of the following ways:

1. Send an “Exclusion Request” in the form of a letter sent by mail, stating that you want to be excluded from National Veterans Legal Services Program v. United States Case No. 1:16-cv-00745-ESH. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, email address, and signature. You must mail your Exclusion Request, postmarked by July 17, 2017, to: PACER Fees Class Action Administrator, P.O. Box 43434, Providence, RI 02940-3434.

2. Complete and submit online the Exclusion Request Form found here by July 17, 2017.

3. Send an Exclusion Request Form, available here, by mail. You must mail your Exclusion Request Form, postmarked by July 17, 2017, to: PACER Fees Class Action Administrator, P.O. Box 43434, Providence, RI 02940-3434.

If you choose to exclude yourself from the lawsuit, you should decide soon whether to pursue your own case because your claims may be subject to a statute of limitations which sets a deadline for filing the lawsuit within a certain time.

How do I find out more about this lawsuit? For a detailed notice and other documents about this lawsuit and your rights, go to www.PACERFeesClassAction.com, call 1-844-660-2215, write to PACER Fees Class Action Administrator, P.O. Box 43434, Providence, RI 02940-3434 or call Class Counsel at 1-866-274-661, 1-844-660-2215 or www.PACERFeesClassAction.com

Court Rejects Georgia Officials’ Efforts To Block Voting Rights Lawsuit

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee.

A federal district court judge in Georgia agreed that a coalition of plaintiffs representing minority communities has the right to claim the method of electing local officials in Gwinnett County, Georgia denies them from participating equally in electing local officials.

In her opinion in Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections, Judge Amy Totenberg rejected the County’s argument that claims under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act are limited to members of a single minority group. Judge Totenberg noted that the Eleventh Circuit and other courts have held that coalition claims are permissible so long as the racial groups are politically cohesive. The decision was issued on Friday.

“This case is yet another example of how voting discrimination remains rampant across the State of Georgia,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “The court’s ruling recognizes that all minority voters have access to protection under the Voting Rights Act if they are denied an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. From our litigation against Georgia’s illegal registration cutoff for federal runoff elections to its recent racial gerrymander of two State House districts – one of which is in Gwinnett County – much work remains to be done to combat voting discrimination and voter suppression in the state.”

Judge Totenberg also ruled that Gwinnett County’s standing-related challenges are moot because the Plaintiffs filed an amended version of the complaint recently in response to a separate court order. The County will have the opportunity to raise its standing argument again in a subsequent pleading.

Gwinnett County is a majority-minority county according to the 2010 Census, yet no minority candidate has ever won election to a county-level office, including the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on behalf of a coalition of Plaintiffs representing African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans, alleges the process of electing officials to local offices prevents minority voters from having an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

In their complaint, the Plaintiffs allege that two majority-minority Board of Commissioners districts should be drawn to give African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. The Plaintiffs in this case include the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), and nine Gwinnett County voters.

“When minority voters coalesce to form a coalition, they should be protected by the Voting Rights Act,” said Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO executive director. “GALEO is glad that the case moves forward to ensure minority voters in Gwinnett County will be protected against vote dilution.”

“This ruling reaffirms the value of our fusion coalition. Like America, our coalition is black, white, and brown; gay and straight; the faithful and those of no particular faith are united in the belief that working together we can make democracy work,” said Francys Johnson, Statesboro attorney and Georgia NAACP President.

“We are pleased that the Court recognized the broad reach of the Voting Rights Act to protect communities of color that stand together from vote dilution,” said Brian Sutherland of Buckley Beal, the Atlanta-based firm that serves as a co-counsel in the case.

The current Board of Education district map assigns about 74.4 percent of the African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters to District 5 and splits the balance of the minority population across the other four districts where African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans do not constitute a majority of the population. The complaint alleges that the Board of Education districts should be re-drawn to include a second majority-minority district so that minority voters have a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the Board of Education.

The Plaintiffs are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Crowell & Moring LLP, and Buckley Beal, LLP.