Substance Abuse

Alcohol and Drug Policies to Protect Your Business

In a report recently published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8.7 percent of full-time workers in the 18- to 64-year-old age group used alcohol heavily in the previous month, and 8.6 percent used illicit drugs. Not surprisingly, 9.5 percent of workers were dependent on or abused alcohol or illicit drugs in the previous year. Substance abuse in the workplace costs U.S. companies billions of dollars a year in lost productivity, workplace accidents and injuries, employee absenteeism and increased illness.

Dramatically worse are the statistics for lawyers who have substance abuse problems. According to Intervention Strategies 18 percent to 20 percent of lawyers have substance abuse problems, compared to the general population at 8 percent to 10 percent. Some 25 percent of lawyers facing disciplinary actions with the bar association or private legal malpractice actions are found to be abusing alcohol or drugs, and suffering from a mental disorder.

Because the holidays are around the corner, there will be parties, family gatherings and year-end projects that must be finished, all stressors particularly to individuals who have substance abuse medical issues. We write this blog as a reminder to employers to review the laws concerning substance abuse in the workplace, and in the case of our law firm clients, avoid a potential professional liability action. Governing this topic is an interplay of both federal and California law. To review your rights as employer, and to increase your chances of avoiding a disability discrimination lawsuit, look to the federal and state statutes and regulations found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Family Medical Leave Act, EEOC regulations, […]

December 7th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Changes in status quo will disrupt the legal profession — and lower costs

Attorneys and law firms find themselves grappling with a number of big issues that promise to change the way they do business and how their clients consume legal services.

Among the issues are:

Law firm structures that result in a lack of promotion opportunities for mid-level lawyers and discourage business development.
The two-headed monster of technology. Lawyers must not only make sure they understand basic technology, but also incorporate new approaches like e-discovery and workflow solutions that can accomplish some tasks faster and at lower cost than traditional methods.

While these challenges are significant, many observers are optimistic that as these changes occur, the legal landscape will stabilize and offer a better value proposition resulting in stronger relationships for both attorneys and their clients.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the areas mentioned above.


Technology-based changes are lowering costs to clients when software solutions such as electronic discovery or workflow solutions replace billed human hours. . Not only is e-Discovery a less expensive approach to finding information for trial, but it is faster, too.  The other game-changer is workflow productivity software that for many tasks that eat up a lot of human time. Platforms such as Asana, Stack, and Doodle are perfect for project collaboration among a team. Law firms that embrace these changes within their offices can compete effectively with larger law firm competitors and non-legal contractors, especially those who offer e-Discovery as a stand-alone product.

The good news is that younger attorneys are technology “natives” who are familiar with current software and hardware and are not intimidated by the new approaches.  Their influence—to help firms put technology in place efficiently serves clients—can’t be felt too soon.

Probably more important in the long-term is the recent modification of the American Bar […]

September 18th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Insurance Decisions for the Wealthy Protect Against Legal Liability

High net worth individuals have many responsibilities, but one that should be close to their hearts – protection of their assets from people who target the wealthy – sometimes does not get the priority it deserves.

A recent survey by ACE Private Risk Services of people with at least $5 million in investable assets demonstrated that most have not adequately protected themselves from threat of lawsuits that could be prompted by any type of accident involving their homes or other property – or even from volunteering on a non-profit board.

The Top Liability Concerns of the Wealthy

Auto accidents: 47 percent
Worker/household employee injury while on property: 31 percent
Visitor is injured while on your property: 29 percent
Being accused of misdeed or being held liable for incidents in connection with volunteer work: 22 percent
Being sued as a result of a side business on your property: 19 percent

Lawsuits seek the wealthy

While many people face the same risks – auto accidents, employment liability, pets that might bite a visitor to the house – high net worth individuals are more likely to be sued in those situations and to be held liable.

Well-publicized lawsuits over the past several years have resulted in multi-million-dollar judgments against high net worth individuals. And laws allow lawyers representing the aggrieved to zero in on the wealthiest defendant in a suit regardless of whether that person is solely or only partially guilty of a civil offense.

Surprisingly the survey showed that a large percentage of wealthy do not have even basic insurance protection that could cushion large, unexpected settlements and very few have bought enough insurance to protect themselves from life-changing settlement amounts.

The importance of protecting assets

Even the wealthiest should ask themselves whether they could absorb a damage award […]

July 8th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Who Ya Gonna Call?

It can be as simple as a misplaced mobile phone, a UBS drive that falls out of a pocket, a stolen laptop, or a system breach caused by a criminal. The common factor is data that is no longer in your firm’s control. You can have all the “best practices” in place to avert a cyber crime only to have it happen anyway.

Who ya gonna call: Ghostbusters?

New laws answer that question. State, federal and international laws govern your actions when your company faces a data breach. With the passage of California Assembly bill 1710 on Sept. 30, the list of “Who ya gonna call” includes a fraud alert service. The legislation requires that under certain circumstances an organization or person who experiences a data breach provide identity theft protection services to individuals whose personal information has been compromised. The statute requires a company that loses information to “offer affected individuals identity theft prevention and mitigation services … at no cost to the affected person for at least one year.” This requirement triggers ONLY when an individual’s name is tied to a social security number, a driver’s license number or a California ID number that has not been encrypted and has been acquired by an unauthorized person as the result of a data breach.

The new legislation also expanded the classification of California companies that fall under the statute: those who “maintain” personal information are legally required to implement reasonable security practices “appropriate to the nature of the information to protect data from unauthorized access, distribution, use, modification or disclosure.”

“Maintain” is defined as retention of personal information as part of the business’ “internal client or customer account for the purpose of using that information in business […]

October 31st, 2014|Uncategorized|

If you think Halloween is scary…

Technology infuses every successful business and nearly every function, making us more productive and efficient. But technology also creates a certain unease: We never know what will go wrong, or when.

We can be certain, however, that things will go wrong.

Now is a good time to review the potential issues — and find ways to prevent or protect against them – as October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security:

No one is immune from cyber attack, including the smallest businesses. In fact, they are sometimes more vulnerable because they don’t have staff assigned to information technology. Significantly, businesses with fewer than 250 employees were the target of 31 percent of all cyber attacks.[i]

Data breaches are not a mere annoyance. Nearly 45 percent of cyber attacks involve the loss of clients’ or customers’ names, passwords, and email addresses.[ii] When that happens, they look to you to make them whole. Even if their information was not hacked, they will expect you to protect them by supplying services to alert them if their bank accounts and other information is compromised.

Most cyber security problems are the result of malicious intent, with 76.8 percent of incidents caused by activities by people outside the targeted organization, according to “Risk Based Security, An Executive’s Guide to Data Breach Trends in 2012.

And protecting against that loss, along with the rest of a cyber attack aftermath, is becoming more expensive. One study showed that response costs following a breach — involving legal, regulatory, client identity protection services, among others — reached an average of $1.6 million per incident.[iii]

Breaches are more expensive per capita for smaller organizations, which pay $1,607 per employee, vs. the $437 of larger firms.[iv]

Unfortunately, the […]

October 31st, 2014|Uncategorized|


According to the ABA’s Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability’s Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims 2008-2011 ( 11 % of all legal malpractice claims occur due to faulty research.  It is more than not knowing the law and how it is to be applied. Sometimes a busy attorney just doesn’t keep up with changes in the databases she/uses on a regular basis.  Not a good idea.  Narver Insurance, as part of our blog series for attorneys and law firms, wants to make sure you are aware of the data changes in PACER that could trigger an unfortunate gap in your research and affect the outcome of your conclusions in your legal work product. The latest problem for attorneys, law librarians, paralegals and law clerks is PACER removing documents consisting of docket sheets and closed cases from selected files in August. 2014. The purpose of this blog is to give you specific information about the problem,  the impact of the removal of information, options to access the missing information and how and where to order hard copy of the removed information from each court so your firm will not be put in a position of legal liability.

October 11th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Firms must pay the bill for personal phones employees use for work

While many companies have embraced BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies in their workplace, a new California appellate court decision, Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. (August 12, 2014) has changed the playing field. This important decision ruled that California employers must reimburse employees for their cell phone use for business purposes.  The intent of the decision is to make sure that the employer cannot receive a “windfall” by “passing its operating expenses on to the employee.”

September 7th, 2014|Uncategorized|