Phil Mickelson Reportedly Tied to Money Laundering And Illegal Gambling, Per ESPN Reports

ESPN.com is reporting that nearly $3 million transferred from golfer Phil Mickelson to an intermediary was part of “an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events,” according to two sources and court documents obtained by Outside the Lines.

Mickelson, a five-time major winner and one of the PGA Tour’s wealthiest and most popular players, has not been charged with a crime and is not under federal investigation. But a 56-year-old former sports gambling handicapper, acting as a conduit for an offshore gambling operation, pleaded guilty last week to laundering approximately $2.75 million of money that two sources told Outside the Lines belonged to Mickelson.

Gregory Silveira of La Quinta plead guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed “gambling client” of his between February 2010 and February 2013. Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed “gambling client.” Silveira is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips and faces up to 60 years in prison, though the sentence will likely be far shorter.

Mickelson could not be reached for comment. His longtime personal attorney, Glenn Cohen, declined to comment, saying another attorney — whom he would not name — assisted Mickelson in the matter.

Silveira could not be reached for comment directly and his attorney declined to comment.

According to court documents, in March 2010, Silveira — a participant in “an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events” — accepted a wire transfer of $2.75 million, which he knew was part of “illegal sports betting.”

The money, according to the documents, came from a “gambling client” and had been transferred into Silveira’s Wells Fargo Bank account. Three days later, Silveira transferred $2.475 million and then $275,000 into another of his Wells Fargo accounts. The next day, Silveira transferred the $2.475 million to another account he controlled at JPMorgan Chase Bank.

The three transactions constitute the money laundering charges: “At the time, defendant initiated these three transfers with the intent to promote the carrying on of an illegal gambling operation,” according to the plea agreement, which was signed May 1.

Typical of money laundering cases, the nearly $3 million is loosely described as “proceeds” in court documents, though that doesn’t necessarily mean in this case gambling winnings or losings. “Proceeds” also could refer to money simply being moved into an offshore gambling account. Federal officials declined to clarify or provide details.

Court documents do not indicate what triggered the investigation or its scope.

Although the final plea agreement reached between Silveira and the U.S. Department of Justice does not name the “gambling client,” an initial plea agreement signed last month by Silveira and his attorney, James D. Henderson Sr., contained a reference to the “money laundering of funds from P.M.”

After Outside the Lines inquired about Mickelson’s potential role in the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office on June 17 filed a motion to have the original plea agreement stricken. The next day, it filed an amended version minus any reference to “P.M.”

It is standard Department of Justice policy for documents not to mention third parties who are not criminally charged. Henderson, a high-powered Los Angeles attorney whose gambling-related clients have included offshore sportsbook pioneer Ron “Cigar” Sacco, told Outside the Lines he didn’t “know anything about ‘P.M.'” and declined to comment further, citing a nearly four-decade practice of not talking to the media about cases.

Two sources, though, told Outside the Lines that the client was Mickelson.

Mickelson has earned more than $77 million over his three decades on the PGA Tour and also has lucrative endorsement deals with Callaway, Barclays, KPMG, Exxon Mobil, Rolex and Amgen that collectively pay him more than $40 million annually, according to Forbes.

The left-handed golfer is known for rarely shying away from a money match, and his affinity for sports gambling is no secret, either.  Mickelson has won large sums betting on major sporting events like the Super Bowl; three Las Vegas gaming sources told Outside the Lines that Mickelson still bets on sports in Vegas.

Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the PGA Tour, declined to comment on the Silveira matter and the Tour’s gambling policies.

Should you be the target of a federal investigation, please call Meltzer & Bell for a free consultation. There is no-cost until you decide to hire our firm. Let us give you some assistance and peace of mind before you meet with law enforcement personnel.

Baseball’s Latest Drama Likely To Resolve With Indictments, Not Suspensions

Getting Arrested

Make no mistake about it. This will go down as the biggest scandal to hit professional sports since the Black Sox Scandal and the throwing of the 1919 World Series.

Major League Baseball is not going to summon a Ted Wells-like figure to come out with a blue-ribbon fact finding report and issue suspensions and sanctions against the St. Louis Cardinals and members of their front office that might be found to have culpability in this situation.

People are going to go to prison.

When the Federal Bureau of Investigation gets involved, and then makes it public, they are advertising the fact that a Grand Jury will soon be convening and that indictments will be handed down. Once the indictments are handed down, the Department of Justice will begin to prosecute those individuals that they believe are guilty of committing these crimes. You will then see the accused scurry to make deals, turn on each other and fight for their freedom.

There are two types of defendants in Federal actions. Those that cooperate with the feds and those that wish that they cooperated with the feds. The feds give out long prison sentences like candy on Halloween.

According to The New York Times, law enforcement officials believe the hacking was executed by vengeful front-office employees for the Cardinals, hoping to wreak havoc on the work of Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager, who had been a successful and polarizing executive with the Cardinals until 2011.

Believing that the Astros’ network had been compromised by a rogue hacker, Major League Baseball notified the F.B.I., and the authorities in Houston opened an investigation. Agents soon found that the Astros’ network had been entered from a computer at a home that some Cardinals employees had lived in. The agents then turned their attention to the team’s front office.

“The F.B.I. aggressively investigates all potential threats to public- and private-sector systems,” an F.B.I. spokeswoman said to the Times. “Once our investigations are complete, we pursue all appropriate avenues to hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”

This is bigger than Deflategate and this is bigger than Bullygate. Ted Wells cannot fix this and he cannot issue a 200-page report to make a recommendation to anyone that will sweep this under the rug. He cannot get with Rob Manfred and make this go away. Once the Department of Justice and the Federal Alphabets get involved and sink their teeth into something, they are like rabid dogs. They do not let go until all of the life is gone and they get what they need to satiate their appetite and see that justice has been done.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch will play the greater role of Ted Wells and she will be armed with a team full of federal prosecutors who will come equipped with subpoenas; they will get to the bottom of this. When they do, people will end up in prison, not with multiple-game suspensions.

This was bound to happen sooner or later. Front office personnel move from team to team and passwords do not get changed as often as they need to be, and teams apparently do not do a good enough job protecting their intellectual property. It is not like the Cardinals used sophisticated equipment. Former employees had passwords and used them surreptitiously and without the consent of their former employer. The Astros trusted that they would have honor and they simply did not.

Is there no honor in baseball any more? Tom Hanks said that there was no crying, but is there also no honor?

Major League Baseball “has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database,” a spokesman for Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a written statement.

According to the Times, the Cardinals personnel under investigation have not been put on leave, suspended or fired. The commissioner’s office will probably wait until the conclusion of the government’s investigation to determine whether to take disciplinary action against the employees or the team.

If they were smart, they would use this time to lawyer up, get their affairs in order and prepare for a short prison term. There is no way that they do not see the inside of the Bureau of Prisons. They also might want to get their resume together, as they will never work in baseball again, unless it is mowing the grass or getting the field ready for play.

The case is a rare mark of ignominy for the Cardinals, one of the sport’s most revered and popular organizations. The team has the best record in the Majors this season (43-21), regularly commands outsize television ratings and has reached the National League Championship Series nine times since 2000. The Cardinals, who last won the World Series in 2011, have 11 titles overall, second only to the Yankees.

From 1994 to 2012, the Astros and the Cardinals were division rivals in the N.L. Central. For a part of that time, Luhnow was a Cardinals executive, primarily handling scouting and player development. One of many innovative thinkers drawn to the sport by the statistics-based “Moneyball” phenomenon, he was credited with building baseball’s best minor league system, and with drafting several players who would become linchpins of that 2011 Cardinals team.

The Astros then hired Mr. Luhnow as general manager in December 2011, just before they morphed into the American League, and he quickly began applying his unconventional approach to running a baseball team. In an exploration of the team’s radical transformation, Bloomberg Business dubbed it “a project unlike anything baseball has seen before.”

Under Luhnow’s direction, the Astros have accomplished a striking turnaround; they are in first place in the American League West division. But in 2013, before their revival at the Major League level, their internal deliberations about statistics and players were compromised, the law enforcement officials said.

The intrusion did not appear to be sophisticated, the law enforcement officials said. When Mr. Luhnow was with the Cardinals, the team built a computer network, called Redbird, to house all of its baseball operations information — including scouting reports and player information. After he left to join the Astros, and took some front-office personnel with him from the Cardinals, Houston created a similar program known as Ground Control.

It contained the Astros’ “collective baseball knowledge,” according to a Bloomberg article published last year that was referenced by the Times. The program took a series of variables and weighted them “according to the values determined by the team’s statisticians, physicist, doctors, scouts and coaches,” the article said.

Investigators believe that Cardinals personnel, concerned that Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords used by Luhnow and the other officials when they worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals employees are believed to have used those passwords to gain access to the Astros’ network, law enforcement officials said.

That tactic is often used by cybercriminals, who sell passwords from one breach on the underground market, where others buy them and test them on other websites, including banking and brokerage services. The breach on the Astros would be one of the first known instances of a corporate competitor using the tactic against a rival. It is also, security experts say, just one more reason people are advised not to use the same passwords across different sites and services.

Last year, some of the information from the Astros’ computers was posted anonymously online, according to an article posted on Deadspin. Among the details that were exposed were trade discussions that the Astros had with other teams. Luhnow was asked after the story broke whether the breach would affect how he dealt with other teams.

“Today I used a pencil and paper in all my conversations,” he said.

This story isn’t going to go away, and it’s going to end with real-world punishments. Just what those are remains to be seen.

If you are under investigation for any crime, or are the target of any federal or state probe, call the Law Offices of Meltzer & Bell for a free, no-obligation consultation. We might be able to resolve your matter, or have the charges reduced before they get to the filing stages. Rely on the experience of Lawrence M. Meltzer, Esq. and Steven Bell, Esq. to represent you diligently and zealously in any state or federal court in Florida.

Will U.S. Supreme Court Deliver Another Landmark Decision on Racial Discrimination?

During the jury selection process, a judge may dismiss a prospective juror “for cause” if he or she believes that juror will be unable to decide the case impartially. However, both the prosecutors and the defense attorneys are also given a limited number of “peremptory challenges,” which are the right to strike certain prospective jurors without having to provide any reason for doing so.

This is a powerful right, but the United States Supreme Court has established certain precedents to make sure that peremptory challenges are not abused. One case was the 1986 landmark decision in Batson v. Kentucky, in which James Kirkland Batson, a black man, was convicted of burglary and receipt of stolen goods by an all-white jury after prosecutors struck all four potential black jurors. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled that the striking of prospective black jurors in this case violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Batson decision is one that is likely to be revisited when the Supreme Court hears Timothy Tyrone Foster v. Carl Humphrey this fall. Less than one year after the Batson decision, Foster was convicted of murdering a 79-year-old widow and schoolteacher in Georgia. Foster is black and the victim was white, but notes in documents uncovered by Foster’s legal team show that prosecutors deliberately struck prospective black jurors in his case.

Ordinarily, it can be very difficult to prove that a prosecutor had racist intent in striking prospective jurors for criminal cases involving capital offenses such as violent crimes. However, some of the notes that were discovered through an open records request seem to make the prosecution’s intent remarkably clear. On four different copies of the jury list, the name of every black prospective juror was highlighted in green. The word “BLACK” was circled next to the question about race on the juror questionnaires of five black prospective jurors. Furthermore, prosecutors not only ranked each black prospective juror against the others in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors,” but created strike lists that contradict the “race-neutral” explanation provided by the prosecution for striking those jurors.

While Justice Lewis Powell wrote the majority opinion in Batson, Justice Thurgood Marshall authored a powerful concurring opinion:

I join Justice Powell’s eloquent opinion for the Court, which takes a historic step toward eliminating the shameful practice of racial discrimination in the selection of juries. I nonetheless write separately to express my views. The decision today will not end the racial discrimination that peremptories inject into the jury-selection process. That goal can be accomplished only by eliminating peremptory challenges entirely.

Misuse of the peremptory challenge to exclude black jurors has become both common and flagrant.

Nearly 30 years after Batson, we are hopeful that the Roberts Court will similarly establish legal safeguards that ensure that every American—regardless of his or her race—has the right to a fair trial.

Florida Supreme Court overturns lengthy sentences for juvenile offenders

teen in handcuffs

In four separate rulings, the Florida Supreme Court handed down decisions last week that set new limits on the sentences a juvenile can face for a serious offense.

The Court ruled that a sentence so long that it “ensure(s) these offenders will be imprisoned without obtaining a meaningful opportunity to obtain future early release during their natural lives based on their demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation” is unconstitutional in Henry v. Florida. In that case, a 17-year-old was tried as an adult and convicted for three counts of sexual battery while possessing a weapon, two counts of robbery, and one count each of kidnapping, carjacking, burglary of a dwelling and possession of marijuana.

He was initially sentenced to life in prison for the sexual battery offenses, plus 60 years for the remaining offenses. However, while his appeal was ongoing in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Graham v. Florida, in which it ruled that life in prison without chance of parole violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment when applied to juveniles convicted of offenses other than homicide.

The trial court then changed Henry’s sentences to a 30-year sentence for every charge of sexual battery. The sentences would be served concurrently, meaning at the same time. However, the 60-year sentence for the other offenses would be served consecutively, meaning after the 30-year sentences were served. This meant he would serve 90 years in prison.

The Florida Supreme Court determined that Graham meant such a sentence would also be unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court decided Graham on the basis that juveniles belonged in a special category due to their lesser ability to understand the consequences of their actions, and a “greater potential for change or positive character growth than adults.” Therefore, they could not be constitutionally sentenced to a term of imprisonment that would effectively mean they spend their entire life in prison.

In Gridine v. Florida, the Court also interpreted Graham to mean that homicide meant only that an actual killing had taken place. In that case, a juvenile who was 14 years old at the time was given a 70-year sentence for attempted homicide. Prior precedent specifically said that attempted homicide was a nonhomicide offense. Under the same reasoning as in Henry, a 70-year sentence is unconstitutional.

The other two cases involved interpretation of Miller v. Alabama, a U.S. Supreme Court based on Graham. In Miller, the Court found that a law with a mandatory life sentence without a chance of parole was unconstitutional as applied to a juvenile defendant.

Falcon v. Florida regarded whether Miller applied to people convicted as juveniles already serving a life sentence. The Court ruled that the decision was retroactive. People sentenced before the decision have two years to file to have a court adjust their sentence.

Florida v. Horsley found that a juvenile whose appeal was in process when Miller was decided but whose case was decided before the Florida Legislature amended the statute was entitled to individualized consideration for a new sentence.

While these are positive developments that reflect some leniency for juveniles, there should be no mistake that Florida has harsh laws for young people accused of crimes. Parents of children facing charges should contact an aggressive West Palm Beach juvenile defense lawyer to protect their child’s future.

Resources:

Henry v. Florida

Gridine v. Florida

Falcon v. Florida

Horsley v. Florida

Gun Buyback Program Allows Citizens to Sell Firearms to Local Government

West Palm Beach officials are making an advanced effort to get weapons off the streets by offering a unique gun buyback program to citizens throughout the city this weekend.

Mayor Jeri Muoio has announced the gun buyback program saying the city is offering gift cards from different retailers for up to $100 for people who turn in guns. City officials say it does not matter where the gun comes from. No matter the situation, residents could be eligible to participate in the program.

The mayor said the goal of the program is to reduce the number of firearms owned by civilians and decrease the chances of children who are not skilled in using the firearms being in control of the weapons, according to Palms West Press.  The West Palm Beach buyback program will be held on February 28th from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Union Missionary Baptist Church on Broadway Avenue.

These buyback programs have been used in cities throughout the country. They are similar to drug take-back programs in which local law enforcement officers collect unused medication to decrease prescription drug abuse. The gun buyback program is a way to provide civilians with the chance to sell their privately owned firearms to the government without risk of prosecution.

It is important to remember that various charges can be associated with possessing and using firearms. For instance, a person could be charged with openly carrying a weapon or carrying a concealed weapon. In Florida, these can carry severe penalties with lifelong consequences.

It is illegal for a person to openly carry a firearm or electric weapon unless he or she is licensed to do so, according to Florida Statutes Annotated § 790.053. Violation of this law is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.

However, for a person to carry a concealed firearm in a public place, he or she must have a concealed firearm permit, according to Florida Statutes Annotated § 790.01. If a person carries a concealed handgun without a proper permit to do so, he or she could be charged with a third-degree felony, punishable by up to a five-year prison sentence, up to $5,000 in fines or both.

If a person openly carries a firearm and displays it in a threatening manner, he or she could be charged with improper exhibition of a firearm. In these cases, the prosecution must prove that a reasonable person would feel threatened or offended by the display.

The penalty for improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. An improper exhibition of a firearm conviction will appear on a criminal record as a weapons offense. This conviction could hinder your future opportunities.  

In Florida, there are certain situations in which a person could have his or her right to possess a firearm revoked. Some of these instances include:

  • The person was convicted of a felony
  • He or she committed a felony against the United States
  • The person has been adjudicated of an offense that would have been a felony if it were committed by an adult
  • He or she was convicted an offense in another state or country that would be a felony in Florida

If a person, such as a convicted felon, possesses a firearm without having his or her right to bear arms reinstated, he or she can be charged with a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a fine of to $10,000 or both.

If you have been charged with a firearm offense, it is important to build a strong defense in your case. Contact a West Palm Beach firearm defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. We can help you understand the charges against you and work to have them reduced or dropped. Call (561) 283-3259 to schedule a free case evaluation today. 

 

Florida Legislators Focus on Texting, Cell Phone Use While Driving for Upcoming Session

At least three bills have been prefiled for the upcoming session of the Florida Legislature that pertain to the use of mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle, indicating that the Legislature, or at least some factions, are interested in making the penalties for offenses surrounding distracted driving more severe. Current law prohibits using any handheld device to read or transmit text or character-based communications while operating a motor vehicle. The offense is a nonmoving violation, punishable with a fine. For a second offense, it is punishable as a movable violation with three points assigned to the offender’s driving license.

However, texting while driving is only a secondary offense. This means that police officers in Palm Beach County or Broward County will not pull you over for the offense of texting of driving by itself – if an officer sees you texting and driving, he or she will not pull you over. However, if you are pulled over for another offense, like speeding, running a stop sign or an illegal lane change, and the officer suspects you are texting and driving, he or she may give you a citation.

One of the bills that was been filed would change that. Senate Bill 246, from Senator Maria Lorts Sachs of Delray Beach, would remove the requirement that the offense only be a secondary offense. This would allow police to pull a driver over if they allege he or she was driving and texting or driving and emailing, rather than merely citing the driver if he or she is pulled over for another offense. The bill would also increase the penalties for driving while texting in a school zone, doubling the fines a person could receive for the offense.

The other two bills target safety of minors surrounding distracted driving, but in very different ways. Senate Bill 492, from Senator Geri Thompson, would make it a nonmoving offense for a driver to operate a mobile device to send or read any type of text, email or instant message in a posted school zone or designated school crossing.

Senate Bill 460, from Senator Anitere Flores of Miami-Dade County, prohibits the use of any mobile communications device for any purpose – including texting, emailing, instant messaging and having voice calls – by a person younger than 18 while driving, handheld or not.

It’s not clear whether any of these bills would pass. They must be passed by a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and signed by the governor. However, it is clear some lawmakers are seeking to crack down on cell phone use while driving.

Medical Marijuana Proponents to Give It Another Shot

Medical Cannabis, Sativa

Last month’s defeat of an initiative to allow medical marijuana was a devastating blow to efforts for more sensible policy on drugs in Florida. Amendment 2 came just over 140,000 votes short of hitting the necessary 60 percent, out of more than 5 million votes cast. The loss was the only one in the nation for initiatives and referenda for human marijuana. Legalization measures passed in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, and a medical cannabis measure passed in Guam.

However, the fight is not over in Florida. United for Care, the leading group behind the 2014 effort, has already started raising funds for a new campaign, which could come as early as 2016. The group says that wealthy trial lawyer John Morgan, who provided key financial support, is against committed to assist with the 2016 effort.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the group has learned lessons from the 2014 campaign that it can apply to the next round. For instance, the next campaign will stress that minors cannot obtain medical marijuana without a parent’s consent and that the measure is intended for those with debilitating illnesses.

A ballot measure in 2016 may have a much greater chance of passage. More people vote in presidential years, and the electorate tends to be younger, which are both favorable conditions for marijuana policy.

However, the group says they will not pursue a ballot initiative if they are able to get a good bill through the Legislature in 2015.

Medical marijuana legalization would provide a huge relief to those in Florida using cannabis now to manage pain, seizures or other conditions alleviated by marijuana use. Right now, many are committing felonies. There is no defense provided in the law for those who only possess marijuana for legitimate medical purposes, even if they obtained it in a state where it is legal.

Florida has some of the strictest laws in the nation regarding cannabis possession. A small amount — 20 grams or less — is a Class A misdemeanor. This is still a very serious charge, and conviction can result in up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. Any more in a felony. Conviction will not only mean possible prison time and major fines, it will keep you from helping medical marijuana become legal — in Florida, felons permanently lose the right to vote.

Those using medical marijuana in Palm Beach County now can have hope for the future. But if arrested now, they should call a West Palm Beach marijuana defense lawyer to talk about their options. No criminal case is hopeless, and we will fight on your behalf to get charges reduced or dismissed.

PROPOSED DUI LEGISLATION-HB-299: VOTE NO!

In an society of social networking, media events, marketing opportunities, social media events and events which are purposely structured to occur at night and occur with cocktails and food, it is natural and obvious that professionals and the like will attend these events, have something to drink and ultimately possibly operate a motor vehicle. It is inevitable that DUI arrests will always continue to be made and will continue to occur at a high rate in the State of Florida due to the police agencies continued effort to combat drunk driving.

Under the current state of the law, when an accused is charged with DUI and alleged to have given a breath or blood over a .08, a jury may presume that the person’s normal faculties were impaired. However, that evidence may be rebutted by other evidence.  This means that evidence can be offered through cross examination or through direct evidence that the defendant’s breath or blood alcohol level was not above a .08 “at the time they were” or “while” driving.

This has been commonly referred to by lawyers as the “time of driving” defense to breath and blood cases.  However, House Bill 299 is proposed and is an outright disaster the constitutional rights of the accused in DUI cases.

The bill proposes that a jury may find that a defendant is guilty of DUI if they find that they had a breath or blood alcohol “any time” after they were driving and after drinking.  There is no rebuttable presumption.  This effectively would mean that an accused can be found guilty of DUI without the ability to offer evidence challenging these results.  Anytime after drinking?  This proposal ignores the fact that alcohol, scientifically is proven to not fully absorb in the human body for potential up to 90 minutes after the final drink.

Should a defendant not have the right to challenge the State’s evidence?  Why don’t we just allow the State of Florida to just file the information and that evidence shall be sufficient to find the defendant guilty?  This bill should not be passed and is overbroad, vague and contrary to all due process principles in our constitution allow the defendant the right to a fair trial in front of a jury of his or her peers.

This bill should not be passed.  Meltzer & Bell, P.A. does not support this bill.  Visit us at www.thetrafficstop.com to read about how we help those accused of DUI and traffic violations.  We are strongly opposed to this bill and hope that those who read it will feel the same way as it eliminates an accused’s right to raise one of the most important issues in a breath or blood case.

CLIENT COMMUNICATION: THE BEST ADVERTISING TOOL!

Often times, we as lawyers are looking for the next best way to advertise.  How do we market ourselves?  What is our brand?  How should we create our logo?  Lets tweak it and make it better.  Where should we open an office?  Is there good signage?  Should we be a storefront firm or an office in a big building?  Should we send out direct mailers?  Or no?  Should we advertise on the radio or tv?  Or both?  Should we search for legal publications to place ads in it? If so, what size and how often should we run the ads?  Should we get on radio shows and/or advertise on the internet?  How do we generate and collect a bank of clients who will drive our business and make us a successful firm? The answer is client contact!  Client communication!  Client satisfication.  Too often we lose sight of the importance of truly listening to our clients and truly talking to them outside of just being a person in a legal jam. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A. we feel that treating our clients like people, and not defendants, is the best advertising tool that we could use.  Our clients don’t feel like a file, but like a person and a party that is cared for and appreciated.  It is so important to communicate with your clients, even if that communication is minimal and a simple update on a matter. Don’t just note your system regarding work you have done.  Send a quick e-mail.  Make sure you have all your client’s emails.  Search through your open cases on a weekly basis and reach out to clients who you think may want to hear from you.  Let them know that you are still thinking of them and that you care about their case. What you will get back in return is such positive satisfaction.  Your clients will tell their friends and family that their lawyer actually cares about them and will recommend you to them for future services.  Forget about them, and they will forget about you!  Best of all, there is no cost on communication with your client.  Nobody is going to bill you.  So remember, reach out and communicate.  What you will get in return will surprise you!