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SLOW DOWN TO MOVE FORWARD Happy New Year’s! If there’s one thing I learned in 2018, it’s that if you can’t do well professionally, you can’t do well personally. Remembering
didn’t always connect about it until much later. Now we find out where each team member’s focus and energy is heading, and we can adapt. If I’m working on a proceeding and the treatment is getting more complicated, my team either supports me or makes sure the client is able to set up a time to meet when I can give them my full attention. In short, this process helps us better serve our clients. In 2018, we also stated that we want to make sure we’re available for our clients in a way that is more convenient for them. Some clients have difficulty coming to see us in person because of transportation challenges or physical barriers, so we considered how we could offer them another option for in-person meetings. While phone calls are great, some nonverbal communication gets lost when you can’t see each other. If I can see a client’s face, it helps me get a better sense of our connection. I don’t have to wonder, “Is my Puerto Rican Spanish and their Guatemalan Spanish meshing?” In the fall, we started to conduct video conferences in Spanish and English. Now a client can download Skype or a similar application and meet with Andy or me without having to leave the comfort of their home. We also started offering e-signature services for certain documents for our clients’ convenience. We also use text messaging to better meet the needs of our clients. (Did you know you can text our office numbers?) While these products can make it simpler for clients who can’t travel for an office visit, it’s important to me to make sure technology doesn’t replace the quality face-to-face time we offer. During initial meetings, we still meet with clients in person so we can establish the trust that is so important in a client-attorney relationship. Any services we add or changes we make to our processes are done with our clients in mind. During the year ahead, I’m as excited as ever to provide people with the same level of service we’ve offered for the last seven. I’m ecstatic you are a part of it.
this lesson has allowed me to slow down more often. With that in mind, before I jump right into the New Year, I want to take time to celebrate some of the blessings and successes that 2018 brought us.
In October, we celebrated our seventh anniversary as a firm! I’m proud to see how many people we’ve helped over this time. We’ve grown together as a practice and as a team. We continue to serve more clients with each passing year and feel blessed to have their trust. This trust is particularly evident when clients put their families’ and friends’ cases in our hands during a trying time. In the coming year, we plan to provide the same high level of service you’ve come to expect from us. In order to do that, we hope to expand our team and systematize some of our processes in addition to adding some new options for services. In May, we hired the third member of our team, Evelyn. She’s been a great addition and fits in so well with Andy and me! Evelyn contributes to the internal chemistry of our team. She is detail oriented, has so much compassion for clients, and allows Andy and me to focus on what we do best. We’ve implemented a team huddle at the office to connect more with each other and, by extension, our clients. Three times a week, the three of us get together to go through the hot topics for the week. We bring up struggles we are having, any clients who could use some special attention, and anything else we want to discuss. Most importantly, we connect on a more personal level. In each huddle, we share a highlight of the week — for example, seeing the leaves change. These gatherings get us on the same wavelength for our priorities and give us a moment to check in before jumping on the next task. In the past, when something on my list was important to me but maybe wasn’t as high on my team members’ lists, we
–Meliha Perez Halp ern
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SOCIAL MEDIA REMINDERS FOR PARENTS
2. Limit the nudity. Everyone loves a beach day, but think twice before posting swimsuit or skinny-dipping pictures. Opt to post safer photos, like the family posing prior to fun in the sun. 3. Check your settings. Your privacy settings may be exposing your family to more people than you know, and if you feel the need to share every minute of your child’s day online, making these settings airtight will protect your children and their reputations. 1. Tinybeans.com is a secure photo-sharing website for parents of babies and young children. The digital photo album app allows you to share photos with only the people you choose. 2. Create a separate, secure group on Facebook. Family, friends, or coworkers in closed groups can still fawn over their little ones in a personal, safe setting. Despite the dangers your digital life can elicit, you don’t have to avoid the digital world completely. Social media is still a great tool for families to stay connected, as long as you take precautions. Go ahead and brag about your kids online — just be safe and considerate of your child’s wishes. safely where they need to be. Evelyn makes sure our office is running smoothly so Andy can focus on managing the firm and Meliha can focus on the legal aspects for our clients. Evelyn’s experience in the medical field has been helpful because she does a lot of work communicating with medical providers. “I worked at a chiropractic office, so I was used dealing with insurance and calling doctors. That piece is very helpful,” she says. Evelyn’s favorite part of the job is the payoff after she’s requested medical documents for a client. “When I get them in, there’s a great satisfaction in knowing that I’m helping. Without records, you can’t move forward. My job is rewarding because it means we’re getting somewhere in a case,” Evelyn says. When she’s not requesting medical documents and supporting our team, you’ll find Evelyn hitting the books. “If I’m not here, I’m studying,” she says. She enjoys cooking and being outdoors in the summer. “I love hiking and nature. Sugarloaf Mountain is a very big hike, but it’s so rewarding with the views you get,” Evelyn says. Consider some of these safe alternatives to regular public posting:
Social media has been making the world smaller than ever. The distance among cross-country relatives and friends shrinks with each post or Skype call. And instant updates from loved ones are particularly valuable during the holidays. That Christmas morning video call means Grandma and Grandpa get to see their grandkids in their new holiday outfits, but so can online predators. According to digital and safety experts, half of the photos filtered onto the darknet are stolen from parents’ social media accounts. If these predators are privy to your photos, they’re also able to snag your location and other sensitive information, putting you and your children at physical risk as well. On a less disturbing note, social media content is permanent. Even after you delete a post or a photo, it leaves a digital footprint that could follow your child throughout their education and could even affect job interviews or future relationships. It’s still possible for you to foster a sense of privacy in the digital age, but it’s important to respect what your child deems private information. After all, it’s their future. Consider these rules before you share. 1. Ask your child’s permission. If they can speak, then they can speak for themselves. Children love to see photos of themselves, but they may also be aware of what they are and aren’t comfortable with, even at a young age. GET TO KNOW EVELYN! Evelyn is the newest addition to the Perez Halpern team, and she’s been an excellent team member from day one. Since starting with us last spring, Evelyn has jumped in to be there for Meliha, Andy, and our clients. As Meliha says, “It doesn’t seem like she only started in May, because she’s a really good fit. Every morning when I come in, she’s at her desk, happily working, and she has a huge smile on her face. You can see her compassion for our clients.” From the first time she met Meliha and Andy, Evelyn says she felt the same way about the team’s compatibility. “At my interview, there was just a connection between all three of us. They were both so welcoming. I never felt less than them, and that made it really easy for me.” They complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses — a key component in a good team. “Joining a team of two, I’m able to look at each situation from both sides and contribute my opinion. We have a whole circle of ideas.”
THE AWESOME ADDITION TO OUR TEAM
As the person overseeing initial client intake, Evelyn is a bit like the crossing guard of our firm: She helps people get quickly and
Look for this new smiling face at our office the next time you come in. We’re so glad to have her on our team!
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But It’s Not My Fault!
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AFTER AN AUTO COLLISION (EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT FAULT)
• Scratches on the vehicle body expose it to the elements, causing rust. • Driving on a bent rim causes a tire to pop. Unlike Sam, don’t wait for weather damage to turn a small scratch into a bigger issue. After a collision, if your car meets your state’s safety standards and you can drive it, ensure any damage that could worsen over time is handled. Before making any repairs to your vehicle, be sure to document the damages with photos. Then, ensure you cover or repair broken glass, fix or cover scratches, and handle any other issues. Insurance companies won’t do anything until they’ve finalized their claim investigation. If you have collision insurance, you can opt to use your own policy to cover the cost of your vehicle repairs. This should expedite the process, as you don’t have to wait for the insurance company to finish their investigation. It may also help to minimize any subsequent damage. Using your collision coverage to handle repairs to minimize damage to your car is not an admission of guilt and shouldn’t negatively affect your insurance rating.
In this column, Andy shares some of his property-damage knowledge so you can better understand how the process works.
I often talk to clients about their responsibilities in the aftermath of a collision. What surprises many people is that even if you are not at fault for a collision, you have a responsibility to minimize or, as we say in the legal field, mitigate damage done to your vehicle. If you don’t take measures to minimize damage, it could affect the coverage you get from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Here’s how this situation can play out. Let’s say Sam is in a collision. After making sure she’s okay and establishing that her car is drivable, she goes back to her life. There’s a minor scratch on the passenger door, but she isn’t worried about it. However, it rains later in the week, and the exposed metal on Sam’s car begins to rust. She gets it fixed, but because she failed to take steps to minimize the damage to her car, the insurance company may not pay for this repair.
It all comes down to taking the proper precautions. If something is damaged, get it fixed right away.
Here are a few more examples of how weather can further damage a vehicle:
• A cracked windshield allows water into the vehicle, damaging the interior.
Next month, I’ll cover additional topics relating to property damage. Stay tuned, and if you have any questions, please give us a call.
Meliha ’ s Spinach Dip
Ingredients • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided • 1 small onion, finely chopped • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 2 10-ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped • 1/2 cup milk • 6 ounces cream cheese
• 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce • Salt and ground black pepper to taste • 1 tablespoon Adobo (or to taste) • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Directions 1. Heat oven to 425 F (220 C). Grease a 1 1/2 quart shallow baking dish with 1 teaspoon olive oil. 2. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and garlic in hot oil until lightly browned, 4–7 minutes. Add spinach and simmer until spinach is hot, about 5 minutes. Drain any liquid from the mixture and transfer to a bowl. 3. Pour milk into pot and return pot to medium heat. Melt cream cheese into the milk; cook and stir together about 3 minutes. Return spinach mixture to pot with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese; stir to combine. Season the mixture with Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and Adobo. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. 4. Bake in oven until bubbly and golden brown on top, 20–25 minutes.
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inside 2018 in Review PAGE 1
Find us on Facebook! Pérez Halpern, LLC
Staying Safe on Social Media PAGE 2
Meet Our Incredible Team PAGE 2
Andy’s Tips: Minimizing Damage to Your Vehicle PAGE 3
Meliha’s Spinach Dip PAGE 3
Get the Most Out of Your Windshield Wiper Blades PAGE 4
Contact me for all of your auto accident and personal injury needs! Get More Life Out of Your Windshield Wiper Blades
• In cold weather, always clear your windshield of ice and snow before activating your wiper blades. Ice can shorten the life span of most wiper blades significantly. • Every time you gas up your vehicle, take a moment to clean your windshield and the wiper blades. You can run the squeegee sponge over the wiper blade or use a paper towel. • Watch your washer fluid levels and top it off regularly. When you run a cleaning cycle without washer fluid, the wiper blades deteriorate. How do you know when it’s time to replace your blades? The first sign is when they start streaking. However, in some cases, streaking may be caused by dirt or other grime stuck to the blades. If they continue to streak or skip after cleaning, they need to be replaced. Thankfully, wiper blades are typically the least expensive and easiest car part to replace. With this in mind, remember that you get what you pay for, and it pays to do research. There are many different blades on the market. Some are suited for icy conditions and some are designed for sunny weather. Take your time to read product descriptions to ensure you install blades that are right for your vehicle.
When was the last time you replaced your windshield wiper blades? If you’re like most people, you may not remember. As a general rule of thumb, you should replace your wiper blades about once a year, assuming they’ve been through a normal level of wear and tear. However, with a few easy steps, you can make your blades last longer without compromising visibility. • Keep your windshield and wipers clean of debris, dirt, dust, and other particles. Anything on the window or the blades can cause damage. Simply wiping them off with a microfiber cloth can go a long way.
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