What to Expect From Your Law Firm’s IT Support Company

Having the right IT support and consulting firm on your team can increase productivity, while reducing cost and security risks.

Busy law practices can’t afford computer network security breaches or downtime, and having a trusted IT partner has a dramatic impact on the performance and profitability of your law firm.

Here’s a look at what law firms should demand from their IT support partner, and the results you should expect.

Increase your productivity and profit. Your managed services partner should have a dedicated network engineer who will analyze your IT assets on a regular basis and check them against industry best-practices to ensure that you are protected from security and productivity problems.

Identifying and correcting vulnerabilities pro-actively means your employees can continue work without interruption. Ask yourself this – what does one hour of downtime cost the firm in lost revenue? Two hours? A day? A comprehensive, fixed-cost IT support firm should include this best-practice analysis on a regular basis, as well as unlimited remote and on-site tech support.

Secure your remote & mobile users. With so many devices, apps and files being accessed and shared from home computers and mobile devices, it is vital that you protect and secure your data and systems.

Ask your IT service provider about how you can provide secure access to corporate data and systems from smartphones, tablets and home computers while still enabling users to get access to what they need and when they need it. A good mobile file access system will not allow files to be viewed outside of a secure app, which will protect from unauthorized access or distribution of data. This also helps when an employee abruptly leaves the firm for a competitor – they can leave, but can’t take your data with them.

And in the event a mobile device is lost or stolen, you need to be able to quickly delete all of its contents (known as a remote wipe.)

Maintain Internet at all times. Redundant internet connections in your office will ensure employees are always connected. If one connection goes down, your Internet traffic should automatically fail over to the secondary ISP and avoid downtime that can bring your operations to a halt – impacting both revenue and profit. The relatively small expense of having this second ISP will have tremendous ROI in the event of a connectivity failure.

Manage your IT assets. What happens when an employee abruptly leaves your law firm – do you know what company-owned IT assets they have and where they are?

Your IT partner should maintain as asset list of all of your devices, software, vendors, and systems. This will enable them to move quickly and effectively in an emergency, as well as pro-actively help you plan your yearly IT budget for replacements and upgrades.

Provide a virtual CIO. The rate at which technology changes increases dramatically every year. The amount of new technologies that have emerged in just the past 10 years is staggering.

Your IT partner should provide you with timely IT consulting services to pro-actively manage your systems, discuss areas of risk, as well as new technologies and how they impact your business – basically, your IT support firm should act as a Chief Information Officer for your law practice.

Reduce your downtime and risk. Proactive monitoring and maintenance of your IT systems avoids lengthy service disruptions or loss of data. Not to mention peace of mind knowing your backup is always maintained, tested, and verified daily.

When a hardware, internet, or power failure happens, your IT service provide should know immediately so they can take corrective action.

Nightly system maintenance ensures your system will continue to run as expected, and patch security holes as they 24/7 system monitoring helps IT techs discover small problems before they become big enough to take down your network.

A full-blown power outage can be devastating to your operation but even minor brownouts can cause issues with your computing, especially if you have an on-site server. Having sufficient battery backup (and knowing what you have so you’re prepared) is very important. Make sure your battery backup provides sufficient run time to handle any power blips that may occur – or, avoid them altogether with either an on-site generator or by moving your IT systems to the Cloud.

Use the Cloud wisely. Migrating some of all of your IT systems or data to the Cloud can improve uptime and security – if you chose the correct Cloud solution for your needs.

It can also improve mobile and remote access to your systems – or it can create risk and complexity. Your IT consulting partner should be able to talk with you about the pros, cons, and costs of different options and work with you to select the right Cloud solution for your law firm.

How does your law firm’s IT service partner measure up? Are you getting the results you want – and do you know what you should expect? How do you know if you are protected from potential (and expensive) security breaches or network failures? Are your attorneys able to work from anywhere, securely and easily?

Contact us at 973-227-5020 or through our website to find out how you can boost productivity and reduce risk with managed services and Cloud-based computing solutions.

What Are Legal Nurse Consultants?

Legal nurse consulting is the evaluation and analysis of facts and the rendering of informed opinions related to the delivery of healthcare services and outcomes. With a strong foundation based on education and experience, the LNC is qualified to assess adherence to standards and guidelines of nursing practice. LNCs can be successfully used in litigation other than medical malpractice, such as personal injury, toxic tort, product liability, criminal, will disputes, and matrimonial cases.

The LNC is a licensed registered nurse. He or she performs a critical analysis of clinical and administrative practice, healthcare facts and issues, and their outcomes. Services are provided to the legal profession, healthcare professions, consumers of healthcare and legal services, and others as appropriate. The LNC’s services are rooted in his or her expertise as a nurse. The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) has defined legal nurse consulting as a specialty practice of the nursing profession, a position endorsed by the American Nurses Association in 2006.

Nurses providing legal nurse consulting can be found as employees in many settings, including in the plaintiff or defense firm, the risk manager’s office, federal and state agencies, and the insurance companies. An equal number of LNCs are self-employed (called “independents”) and provide services to clients on both sides of the bar.

LNCs are not paralegals
Some role confusion exists regarding the differences in preparation and functions of a paralegal versus a LNC. By definition, paralegals and legal assistants are qualified by education, training, or work experience to perform specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. Some legal education is typically a requirement for paralegals. Paralegals learn about general law, legal research, torts, legal writing, civil litigation, and technical litigation support. A simple explanation is that the paralegal has some education about law, and the LNC is a nurse who has developed expertise in assisting attorneys with medical issues.

Although many LNCs have acquired knowledge of the legal system through such experiences as consulting with attorneys and attending seminars, legal education is not a prerequisite for the independent practice of legal nurse consulting. Professional nursing education and healthcare experience make LNCs unique and valuable partners in legal processes.

LNCs are not usually nurse paralegals
Many attorneys, unfamiliar with the term legal nurse consultant or its abbreviation, LNC, may refer to the nurse as a “nurse paralegal”. Unless the nurse has taken a paralegal program, this term is incorrect. The correct use of the term refers to a nurse paralegal is a paralegal who is also a nurse. In contrast, a legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse who consults on healthcare issues within the legal arena. Confusion about roles arises also because in some settings legal nurse consultants perform some of the same work that legal assistants and paralegals do, particularly in small law offices.

While LNCs may acquire knowledge about legal documents, such as complaints, interrogatories, requests for production, and the like, most LNCs have no legal training and are not frequently used to draft legal documents. Their focus does not include wills, real estate transactions, and other areas of non-healthcare-related law which is a typical part of paralegal education. These tasks do not make the best use of the legal nurse consultant’s skills.

Legal education programs offered for nurses by legal assistant or paralegal education programs also cause confusion about roles. To the extent that legal education is provided to nurses by legal assistant or paralegal education programs, it should be considered separate from the education of paralegals and legal assistants because of the differences in their practice in the legal arena. AALNC’s position, therefore, is that LNC education should be developed and presented as specialty nursing curricula by nurse educators in partnership with legal educators.

Rental Holiday Home Tax Laws in the UK

UK Tax Law on Furnished holiday homes is going to change in 2011 and if you rent out holiday accommodation this is going to affect you. So, what are the changes and how do they impact?

Current ‘qualifying tests’ to meet the requirements of a ‘Furnished Holiday Letting’ (FHL) are:

* Must be available to let for 140 days of the year.
* Must be let for a minimum of 70 days a year.
* No let over 31 days in one go is included in the total.

Lets to the same person in one tax year are allowed but they must not exceed 31 days in any one single letting period.

If your property doesn’t qualify as a furnished holiday letting, you will be taxed under the residential property lettings rules. At the bottom of the page are links to further reading on many points in this article.

What if your holiday villa is in the European Economic Area?

From 22 April 2009 HMRC has applied a temporary extension of the current rules to UK taxpayers with property outside of the UK but within the EEA to choose whether they wish to be taxed under:

* The furnished holiday letting rules – if the property qualifies
* The normal rules for property businesses

These arrangements will continue to apply for the 2010-11 tax year but it is this change that has caused further examination of FHL tax rules to bring into line both European and UK holiday properties.

Working out your holiday home taxable profit:

Your profit on furnished holiday lettings is worked out in the same way as for other rental income, except that you can claim ‘capital allowances’.

Read our advice about Capital Allowances further down or for more see the links at the bottom of the article.

For advice on filling our a Self Assessment form read further down the page.

What are the Tax advantages of a Furnished Holiday Letting?

There may be a tax advantage if your property qualifies as a furnished holiday letting and either of the following applies:

* You make a loss on your rental income
* You sell or ‘otherwise dispose’ of the property

If you make a loss:

Any loss can be offset against your other income, not just the property income, reducing your overall tax bill; however this is going to be changed in 2011 removing this tax benefit. You can also carry the loss forward and offset it against future letting profits.

Learn more about offsetting losses in the land and property help notes of the Self Assessment tax return, see the links at the bottom of this article.

What if I sell or ‘otherwise dispose’ of the Furnished Holiday Letting?

You may be able to take advantage of Capital Gains Tax reliefs, such as ‘Business Asset Roll-Over Relief’. For example, if you reinvest the sale proceeds within three years in certain other business assets, you may be able to defer payment of Capital Gains Tax until you dispose of those new assets.

To understand the rules fully visit the links below.

How to declare income and expenses from your Furnished Holiday Letting.

You need to declare your rental income from FHL using the land and property pages of your Self Assessment tax return. If you don’t receive one automatically see the links at the bottom of this article. You should also use the same property pages of your tax return to declare income from furnished holiday lettings property in the EEA.

Allowable expenses to offset your profits on a Furnished Holiday Letting.

Expenses and allowances on income from property include:

* Letting agent’s fees
* Legal fees for lets of a year or less, or for renewing a lease for less than 50 years
* Accountant’s fees
* Buildings and contents insurance
* Public Liability Insurance
* Interest on property loans
* Maintenance and repairs to the property (but not improvements)
* Utility bills (like gas, water, electricity)
* Rent, ground rent, service charges
* Council Tax
* Services you pay for, like cleaning or gardening
* Other direct costs of letting the property, like phone calls, stationery, advertising

If your annual income from the letting for the tax year 2009-10 is less than £68,000 (before you’ve taken off expenses) you include the total of your expenses on your tax return; if it’s £68,000 or over you need to provide a full breakdown.

There are different types of allowance you may be able to claim for your capital costs. Capital costs include expenditure you make on assets like furniture and machinery.

If you own a qualifying FHL in the UK or in the European Economic Area you can claim a ‘capital allowance’ for the cost of each item of furniture and equipment you provide with the property or you can claim a ‘renewals allowance’.

How much capital allowance can you claim?

The allowance depends on what you buy. You can usually claim 50 per cent of the cost when you buy it – but sometimes 100 per cent for some environmentally friendly expenditure. Each year after that you can claim 25 per cent of what’s left. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) changes the percentages from time to time. The allowance is deducted along with other expenses in calculating your profits. Once you make a choice for each item, you must keep to it.

So what’s going to change?

These changes are due to come in for April 2011 and are open to consultation until the 22nd October 2010. To take part in the consultation you can email Jacqueline Latter at holiday-lettings-consultation(at)hmtreasury.gsi.gove.uk or visit HM Treasury here to view the consultation document in detail.

The major changes to the current holiday letting tax rules are:

* Increase the period the property is available to let from 140 to 210 days.
* Increase the actual total let period from 70 to 105 days.
* Restrict the loss relief from FHL so that it can only be offset against income form the

FHL business itself. This includes UK FHL being treated separately from EEA FHL. So a loss from a UK FHL can only be offset against a UK FHL and vice versa. The rules allowing offsetting against tax from other areas (like earned income) will be removed.

Make sure you can obtain 105 days occupancy level to maximise your tax benefits in 2011

The rules about Capital expenditure and Capital gains will remain. How long for is open to debate!

What holiday home tax paperwork do I need to keep?

In order to be able to complete the land and property pages of your Self Assessment you need to keep:

* A note of all the rent you receive and the dates you rent out the property.
*
* A record of your business expenses (see the Self Assessment land and property pages help notes for what counts as business expenses)
* Sales receipts, invoices and bank statements.
* Allowable expenses
* ‘Capital’ costs
* All these records for six years after the tax year concerned

If you need help completing the pages, call the Self Assessment help-line on 0845 9000 444 (open 8.00 am to 8.00 pm seven days per week).

What are ‘Allowable expenses’

Your records should include details of all your costs of letting or managing your property. Allowable expenses reduce your taxable profit. They include all or part of these costs:

* Letting agent’s, accountant’s and legal fees
* Buildings and contents insurance
* Property loan interest
* Maintenance and repairs – not improvements
* Utility bills, like gas, water, electricity
* Rent, ground rent and service charges
* Council Tax
* Advertising
* Other direct costs of letting the property, like phone calls

What are holiday letting ‘Capital’ costs?

You can reduce your taxable profit by claiming different types of allowances for the cost of furniture and equipment you provide with the property.

Capital Costs include items used within the property, not used by you personally, such as Washing machines, cookers, cutlery etc.

What if I complete a Self Assessment form?

For the 2009-10 tax year, if your total income from UK property is under £68,000 a year before expenses, you can group the expenses as a single total on your tax return. If it’s £68,000 or more, you’ll need to show your expenses separately.

Your Tax Office can ask to see your records at any time. So hold onto the detailed information even if your income’s less than £68,000.

What if I don’t complete a Self Assessment form?

If you’re employed and your taxable income from property is less than £2,500, your Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax code can be adjusted to collect the tax on your property income. Your Tax Office will send you form P810 to report your income each year.

However, you’ll still need to keep records, to enable you to fill in form P810. Your Tax Office can also ask to see your records to check your figures.

If your income from rent is £2,500 or more you’ll need to complete a tax return.

How long do I need to keep the records?

You’ll need to keep your records for six years after the tax year to which they apply – whether you complete a tax return or not.

Forensic Accounting – a New Paradigm For Niche Consulting

OBJECTIVES OF WRITING THIS ARTICLE: Forensic accounting(F.A.) has come into limelight due to rapid increase in financial frauds and white-collar crimes. But it is largely untrodden area in India.The integration of accounting, auditing and investigative skills creates the speciality know as F.A.The opportunities for the Forensic Accountants are growing fast;they are being engaged in public practice and are being employed by insurance companies, banks, police forces, government agencies etc.This article seeks to examine the meaning and nature, activities and services rendered, core knowledge and personal skills required for forensic accounting as a specialized field in accountancy profession. Indeed there is a future in F.A. as a separate niche consulting.

The lack of respect and belief in India’s law enforcement agencies and the rate at which white-collar crimes have increased has prompted the development of Forensic Accounting in India. The fraud detecting agencies seems to lack time and devotion needed for detecting and prevention of errors and fraud. According to a large global accounting firm, the market is sufficiently big enough to maintain an unit devoted entirely towards “forensic accounting”. Many large as well as small accounting firms as well as the tiny firms have inculcated or rather developed separate forensic accounting departments.

We were of the belief that detection and prevention of frauds or white-collar crimes is part of conventional accounting function. It was thought that the frauds, both internal as well as external has be to detected by the auditors through their periodic audit. Now it is crystal clear that auditors can only check for the compliance of a company’s books to generally accepted accounting principles, auditing standards and company policies. Hence the need was felt to detect the frauds in companies that are suspected to be engaged in fraudulent transactions. This field of accounting is known as “forensic accounting”.

The litmus test of investigation, first introduced by the ever great Sherlock-Homes(considered by many as the father of Forensic Accounting) is perhaps the first ever application of forensic accounting. Though, the contribution of the other few great historians to the field of forensic accounting cannot be overlooked. They used various tricks to investigate various crimes.

F.A. is a specialized a area of accounting practice that describes engagements which result from actual or anticipated disputes or litigation. The word “forensic” means “suitable for use in court”. The forensic accountants have to keep in mind this statement while they have to work or chalk out their programme. The F.A. work is tailor made according to the situation and need. The gathering of information and evidences is done according to the need and situation. We can say, it is customized according to the situation. The forensic-accountants give expert evidence at the ultimate trial. All the modern medium-sized as well as the large-sized accounting firms have specialized forensic accounting departments. Within these firms there may be specialized forensic accounting departments. Within these groups their may be further sub-specializations. Various sub-specializations include insurance claims, personal injury claims, fraud detection, construction or royalty audits. Nearly 40 percent of the top 100 US accounting firms are expanding their forensic and fraud services, according to Accounting Today. Now if we consider this data as significant then we can say that the total contribution of forensic accounting to the total revenue of the C.A. firms would be highly significant in the years to come. Under rising instances of frauds and litigation and flourishing businesses these services are considered to be very significant as they are rendered at a very competitive price.

The forensic accountants utilize the various information relating the business, utilizes financial reporting systems, various accounting and auditing standards and procedures, investigative techniques and litigation processes and procedure to perform their work. By acting as advisors to audit committees and assisting in investment analyst research, they are playing more “proactive” risk reduction roles.This is possible by designing and performing extended procedures as part of the statutory audit. The objectives of such an accounting include measurement of losses caused by an auditor due to his negligence, to look into the matter whether their has been any embezzlement of cash, the amount, necessity of criminal proceedings, computation of asset values in a divorced proceeding.

The primary approach technique of forensic accounting is explanatory analysis(cause and effect)of the phenomena-including the discovery of deception(if any), and its effects -introduced into an accounting system field. The primary methodology employed by the forensic accountants is the verification of the objective. They are trained to deal with real world business and do have the sufficient expertise to look beyond(behind) the numbers. The scope of the forensic accountants are growing at a rapid pace. The increase in their work opportunities have been accelerated due to the fall of the Enron corporation and the collapse of the American Twin Towers.

This has led to increase in the demand for American forensic accountants. So as far India is concerned, formation of Serious Fraud Investigation Office(SIFO) is a landmark creation so far as forensic accountants are concerned. Failure of regulators to track security scams, increasing cyber crimes, chain of cooperative banks bursting -all point to the ever increasing need for forensic accountants. Our understanding of the need for forensic accountants is immaterial here. In India due to the growing number of frauds the need for forensic accountants is ever increasing. The regulatory and administrative agencies will put pressure for greater demand of forensic practices. This has been initiated due to the changing nature of Indian and International accounting.Auditing and assurance standards also confirm this. A change in the curriculum can be initiated if the written exams and practical industrial training are boosted to show the “new knowledge base and skill-set” required by the professional accountants in the new era. It is therefore recommended that the “forensic accounting and auditing” be introduced as a paper in the various professional examinations conducted by the various accounting bodies in India. Unfortunately forensic accounting is largely an unexplored area as far as India is concerned. The chartered Accountants(CAs) deal with such cases in an irregular fashion. In the western counter-part(countries), the Lawyers, police, insurance companies, government and regulatory bodies, banks, courts and business communities are increasingly utilizing the services of the forensic accountants.The accountants and the auditors must have the skills and expertise to venture into the emerging field of forensic accounting.

What Is Forensic Accounting? The growing needs of corporations has changed the definition of forensic accounting. As per Bologna and Indquist, “the application of financial skills and an investigative mentality to unresolved issues, conducted within the context of rules of evidence.It is a new emerging field that encompasses financial expertise, fraud knowledge, and a sound knowledge and understanding of business reality and the working of the legal system.”It means that the forensic accounting should be skilled not only in financial accounting but also internal control systems, the legal matters, other institutional requirements, investigative blend of mind and interpersonal skills.

According to AICPA: “Forensic accounting is the application of accounting principles, theories, and discipline to facts or hypotheses at issues in a legal dispute and encompasses every branch of accounting knowledge: ‘ Similarly, forensic accounting is defined by Horty as:
“The science that deals with the relation and application of finance, accounting, tax and auditing knowledge to analyze, investigate, inquire, test and examine matters in civil law, criminal law and jurisprudence in an attempt to obtain the truth from which to render an expert opinion.”
In simple words, forensic accounting includes the use of accounting, auditing as well as investigative skills to assist in legal matters.It comprises of two major components: litigation services, that recognizes the role of an accountant as an expert consultant and investigative services, that uses a forensic accountant, s skills and may require possible court-room testimony.
Investigation of theft and defalcation of corporate and individual assets are part of legal matters.They use their education as well as experience to discuss the facts, patterns of the theft or misappropriation.Business accounting systems are reviewed by the forensic accountants.They suggest ways and means to solve and improve the internal control and internal accounting system.This is adopted to prevent theft and fraud. Because of their expert knowledge and educational background and experience their(forensic accountants) work is elevated to a new height.

Forensic accountants do not contest in cases.They act as fact finding devices, try trt to seek the real truth from the hidden facts.They conduct their work in an unbiased and objective manner.They need legal knowledge, expertise, training and experience to perform their work in an effective and real manner.Extensive knowledge in the field of commerce, legal, accounting as well an investigative blend of mind is needed to perform the work in a proper fashion.Expertise in litigation support and testimony in courts of law are also prerequisites of the forensic accountants.This is due to the fact that their work would many times be used in a court of law.The valuation of damages due to criminal and civil wrong-doings need to be done with perfection and for that reason knowledge of business valuation theory is the most essential.

What exactly do the Forensic Accountants perform? Answer: They are trained to deal with real life business situations and are trained to look beyond the numbers.
Analysis, interpretation and summarization of complex financial and business related issues are prominent characteristics of this accounting/auditing profession. Familiarity with legal concepts and procedures is a must.Insurance companies, public practice, banks, police forces and government agencies are major employers of forensic accountants.
The various field of work encompassing the arena of a forensic accountant can be stated in points format as follows:

1) Financial evidence investigation and analysis.
2) Development of computerized software to help in the analysis and presentation of financial evidence.
3) Sharing their findings in the form of reports, slide shows or exhibits and documents collected.
4) To support trial evidence they prepare visual slides, assist in legal proceedings, including testifying in courts as an expert witness.
If we want to say or rather point out the role performed by the forensic accountants in a nutshell, we can say as follows:

Measurement or to quantify the impact of lost earnings. Such as construction delays, stolen trade secrets, insurance disputes, damage/loss estimates, malpractice claims, employee theft, loss of profit, financial solvency reports, disturbance damages, loss of goodwill, compensation losses suffered in expropriation determination, assessment of the potential business compensation costs and providing consultation on business defalcation minimization. Lease default damages, breach of contract, business interruptions, breaches of shareholders and partnership agreements, reconstruction of accounting records,
Investigation of misappropriation, assistance in establishing ownership and division of assets, commercial damages, professional negligence cases, partnership disputes, expert evidence, fair value or fair market value and personal injury damages are included in commercial damages. Tax advocacy, compliance and review of financial statements, tax reporting and tax planning in such areas as income as estate matters are included in tax matters. Analysis, interpretation, summarization, presentation of complex financial and issues relating to the business for investigation is the role of a forensic accountant.
They carry out investigative accounting and provide litigation support.

The services rendered by the forensic accountants are in great demand in the following areas:

1) Fraud detection where employees commit Fraud:
Where the employee indulges in fraudulent activities:
Where the employees are caught to have committed fraud the forensic accountant tries to locate any assets created by them out of the funds defalcated, then try interrogate them and try to find out the hidden truth.

2)Criminal Investigation: Matters relating to financial implications the services of the forensic accountants are availed of. The report of the accountants are considered in preparing and presentation as evidence.

3) Outgoing Partner’s settlement:
If the outgoing partner is not happy about his settlement he can employ a forensic accountant who will correctly assess his dues(assets) as well as his liabilities correctly.
4)Cases relating to professional negligence:
Professional negligence cases are taken up by the forensic accountants.
Non-conformation to Generally Accepted Accounting Standards(GAAS) or non compliance to auditing practices or ethical codes of any profession they are needed to measure the loss due to such professional negligence or shortage in services.

5) Arbitration service: Forensic accountants render arbitration and mediation services for the business community, since they undergo special training in the area of alternative dispute resolution.

6) Facilitating settlement regarding motor vehicle accident: As the forensic accountant is well acquainted with intricacies of laws relating to motor vehicles, and other relevant laws in force, his services become indispensable in measuring economic loss when a vehicle meets with an accident.

7) Settlement of insurance claims: Insurance companies engage forensic accountants to have an accurate assessment of claims to be settled. Similarly, policyholders seek the help of a forensic accountant when they need to challenge the claim settlement as worked out by the insurance companies. A forensic accountant handles the claims relating to consequential loss policy, property loss due to various risks, fidelity insurance and other types of insurance claims.

8) Dispute settlement: Business firms engage forensic accountants to handle contract disputes, construction claims, product liability claims, infringement of patent and trade marks cases, liability arising from breach of contracts and so on.

9) Matrimonial dispute cases: Forensic accountants entertain cases pertaining to matrimonial disputes wherein their role is merely confined to tracing, locating and evaluating any form of asset involved.

Core Knowledge Of Forensic Accountants:
A forensic accountant is expected to be a specialist in accounting and financial systems. Yet, as companies continue to grow in size and complexity, uncovering fraud requires a forensic accountant to become proficient in an ever- increasing number of professional skills and competencies. Here are some of the broad areas of useful expertise for a forensic accountant:

” An in-depth knowledge of financial statements and the ability to critically analyse them. These skills help forensic accountants to uncover abnormal patterns in accounting information and recognise their source.
” A thorough understanding of fraud schemes, including but not limited to asset misappropriations, money laundering, bribery, and corruption.
” The ability to comprehend the internal control systems of corporations, and to set up a control system that assesses risks, achieves management objectives, informs employees of their control responsibilities, and monitors the quality of the programme so that corrections and changes can be made.
” Proficiency in computer and knowledge of network systems. These skills help forensic accountants to conduct investigations in the area of e-banking and computerised accounting systems.
” Knowledge of psychology in order to understand the impulses behind criminal behaviour and to set up fraud prevention programmes that motivate and encourage employees.
” Interpersonal and communication skills, which aid in disseminating information about the company’s ethical policies and help forensic accountants to conduct interviews and obtain crucially needed information.
” Thorough knowledge of company.s governance policies and the laws that regulate these policies.
” Command of criminal and civil law, as well as, of the legal system and court procedures.

Personal Skills Required:
So what does it take to become a forensic accountant? In addition to the specialised knowledge about the techniques of finding out the frauds, one needs patience and an analytical mindset. One has to look beyond the numbers and grasp the substance of the situation. There is a need for the same basic accounting skills that it takes to become a good auditor plus the ability to pay attention to the smallest detail, analyse data thoroughly, think creatively, possess common business sense, be proficient with a computer, and have excellent communication skills. A “sixth”sense that can be used to reconstruct details of past accounting transactions is also beneficial. A photographic memory helps when trying to visualise and reconstruct these past events. The forensic accountant also needs the ability to maintain his composure when detailing these events on the witness stand. Finally, a forensic accountant should be insensitive to personal attacks on his professional credibility. A fraud accountant (as forensic accountants are sometimes called) should also observe and listen carefully. By this, you can improve your ability to detect lies whether they involve fraud or not. This is so because”not all liars are fraudsters, but all fraudsters are liars”(Wells).

According to a forensic accounting expert, “the traits of a forensic accountant could be compared to a well-baked pizza. The base of forensic accounting is accounting knowledge. Size and the extent of baking decide the quality of the pizza. A middle layer is a dispersed knowledge of auditing, internal controls, risk assessment and fraud detection. It is like the spread of the cheese in pizza. The toppings of this pizza area basic understanding of the legal environment. The legal environment is essential in order to support the litigations. The cherry on the toppings of the pizza is a strong set of communication skills, both written and oral. It is just the beautification part. Perfect combination of the pizza base, cheese spread and good toppings makes the pizza delicious and the of company’s the laws that Forensic Auditor perfects. It is a combination that will be in demand for as long as human nature exists.”

In addition to these personal characteristics, accountants must meet several additional requirements to become successful forensic accountants, say a Certification, acknowledging his competence. One can learn forensic accounting by obtaining a diploma given by Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in the US. Indian chapter of ACFE offers the course based on the white-collared crimes prevalent in US, based on their laws. However, there is no formal body that provides formal education of the frauds in India. Besides the formal certificate, one can deepen one’s knowledge and sharpen one’s skills in forensic accounting by undergoing training under an experienced forensic accountant, participating in various international conferences, reading relevant journals, books and other literature on forensic accounting.

To combat the frauds effectively one needs the active support of government at every stage. There are three-four such agencies in India, which are dedicated to the mission of combating frauds. Serious Fraud Office looks into violations of Income Tax, FEMA, RBI Act, etc.; CBI (Economic Office Wing) deals with big financial frauds; Central Vigilance Commission deals with corruption. These are the major government agencies that combat frauds of different types. Unfortunately, there is no specialised education provided by any of the Universities in the country. Recently, TCS has also come out with software to combat money laundering and Subex Systems have designed software to combat the telecom frauds. Thus, combating the frauds with software has started picking up in India, with few big companies like ACL and IDEA, joining the race.

The Need For Niche Consulting:
The CPA Vision Statement states: “The CPAs are trusted professionals who enable people and organisations to shape their future. Combining insight with integrity, CPAs deliver value by: (a) communicating the total picture with clarity and objectivity, (b) translating corn plex information into critical knowledge, (c) anticipating and creating opportunities, and (d) developing pathways that transform vision into reality1 It reflects the trend towards providing a broader range of assurance services. However, recent corporate accounting scandals and the resultant outcry for transparency and honesty in reporting have given rise to two disparate yet logical outcomes. First, forensic accounting skills have become crucial in untangling the complicated accounting manoeuvres that have obfuscated financial statements. Second, public demand for change and subsequent regulatory action has transformed corporate governance. Increasingly, company officers and directors are under ethical and legal scrutiny. Both trends have the common goal of responsibly addressing investors’ concerns about the financial reporting system. Indeed, there is a future in forensic accounting as a separate”niche” consulting area in India. The need to specialise, otherwise known as Niche Consulting, is imperative to practising accountants because the fast-paced developments in business thereby demand specialised knowledge and skills. While a majority of CAs have excellent analytical skills, they need to acknowledge that ‘forensic’ services require ‘specialised’ training as well as real-life ‘practical’ corporate experience. There is a need for specialised information, not just audit and tax service. What clients seem to want are people with unique sets of skills and experiences. With the maturing of the audit business, and the rapid development of technology that makes existing services low cost and cheap, it appears that it is the right time now to acquire those unique skills. To help practitioners move into ‘niche’ consulting, some professional organisations in the US have concluded that: “Future success for the profession depends, in part, on how the public perceives the ability of CPAs. New efforts in consulting, specialisation and understanding global business practices and strategies are considered crucial. We go out into the niche market, examining our strengths first. We go where the action is, only then we know we can adequately service our clients and make money doing it.” One area where ‘niche’ consulting is becoming the global trend is in “Forensic Accounting and Auditing’ But the major question facing the Indian accountancy profession is: Are we ready to plunge to where the challenging action is?

Forensic Accounting In India:
It is in an infancy state in India.It is still an untrodden area in India.But due to ever increasing cases of bank & cyber-frauds its growing importance cannot be denied.
One immediate landmark creation is “Forensic Research Foundation”.They provide support for investigation of fraud.They publish one bi-monthly journal named as “White Crimes”.It relates to forensic and economic crimes. Another international organization named as KPNG has set up investigation detection centre in India.. Networks Limited, a Delhi based organization, working in the similar field, they are also trying to innovate ways and means to detect financial irregularities and crimes in India.Serious Investigation Fraud Offices(SIFO), has been established in India for the same reason, i.e. detection and prevention of economic irregularities and crimes. The need for such bodies and the importance of Forensic Accountants have been highlighted by L.N.Roy Committee.Lenin Parekh Committee has also expressed the view that one “fraud detection committee”need to be established. The main aim of such boards should be to prevent the interest of the stakeholders.

Conclusion:
Forensic accounting in India has come to limelight only recently due to rapid increase in white-collar crimes and the belief that our law enforcement agencies do not have sufficient expertise or the time needed to uncover frauds. A large global accounting firm believes the market is sufficiently large to support an independent unit devoted strictly to ‘forensic’ accounting. All of the larger accounting firms, as well as, many medium-sized and boutique firms have recently created forensic accounting departments.

Forensic accounting, in fact, integrates accounting, auditing, and investigative skills to conduct an examination into a company’s financial statements. Broad-based knowledge (within the themes listed above) is crucial to the success of entry-level forensic accountants. Because forensic accounting is relatively a new area of study, a series of working definitions and sharing of corporate experiences should be undertaken and encouraged to ensure a common understanding. Indeed, there is great future in forensic accounting as a separate”niche” consulting.

While the forensic accounting and auditing practice had commenced in the US as early as ‘1995, the seed of this specialisation has yet to take off in India. Forensic accountants are only dealing with financial implications of the cases entrusted to them and not engaging in auditing exercise. On account of global competition, the accounting profession must convince the marketplace that it has the “best-equipped” professionals to perform such services.

Forensic accountants are also increasingly playing more ‘proactive’ risk reduction roles by designing and performing extended procedures as part of the statutory audit, acting as advisors to audit committees, and assisting in investment analyst research.

NAFTA and the Management Consultant Dilemma

It is a common scene, repeated over and again at the various U.S.-Canada border posts. A young Canadian executive approaches an officer of the United States Department of Homeland Security, and hands her a small pile of documents prepared for him by the HR Manager of his prospective employer.

“I’m here to apply for a TN visa,” declares the applicant.

“In what category?”

“Uh… Management Consultant.”

The immigration officer glances at the documents with an air of distaste and tells the applicant to take a seat. Thirty minutes later the officer calls the applicant into an office and subjects him to a grueling hour of cross-examination.

“What is this?” demands the officer, shoving a piece of letterhead in his face.
The applicant peers at the document. “It’s a letter from the company that wants to hire me.”

“It’s too short and doesn’t describe a management problem,” says the officer, tossing aside the letter and pulling out another document. “How about this?”

“That’s my resume,” answers the applicant, his face turning red.

“Uh, huh…” says the officer. “Just what are you trying to pull here?”

“What do you mean?” asks the applicant.

“You’re no Management Consultant. You don’t have any management experience.”

And so on…

The result: Denial of the TN application. The reason: Either the position or the applicant do not qualify for the Management Consultant designation. The consequences: Lost time, lost money, loss of a potentially valuable employee, loss of a lucrative job opportunity, and humiliation.

The Management Consultant Category – An Incorrectly Perceived Loophole
As most people involved in HR Management are aware, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has simplified the placement of certain Canadian professionals into high-demand jobs in the United States. As long as the candidate fits into the cookie-cutter professional categories listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA, the interested company is able to avoid the longer processing times and higher fees associated with the H-1B visa.

Most of the NAFTA categories require at least a bachelor’s degree. And as long as the candidate can prove he or she has the required education, approval of a TN visa is virtually assured. For example, a Canadian Engineer with a bachelor’s degree should have no trouble qualifying for a position as an Engineer with a U.S. company.

A few NAFTA categories, however, allow for the substitution of work experience in place of a bachelor’s degree. One of these is the Management Consultant category, which allows “five years of experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement” to substitute for a missing bachelor’s degree.

Unfortunately, the Management Consultant category is incorrectly perceived by many HR Managers as a sort of “loophole” in the immigration law which allows them to place well-qualified candidates who have not completed a formal degree program, but who are otherwise qualified for the position offered because of their experience in the subject field.

Thus, HR Managers frequently send non-degreed persons such as computer professionals with no management experience to the border, allegedly to accept a job in the States as a “Management Consultant”; or they send non-degreed candidates with management experience to the border, with the intent of placing them in long-term management positions with U.S. companies. Applications such as these are invariably doomed to failure.

Why the Management Consultant Designation is So Difficult to Obtain

USCIS Free Trade Officers are well aware of the misperceptions that exist regarding the Management Consultant category. They adjudicate and deny countless bogus TN applications in this category on a daily basis. So whenever someone presents at a U.S.-Canada border with a TN application seeking admission through the Management Consultant category, the officer’s guard immediately goes up.

While it is difficult for the officer to deny a TN visa when the applicant has a university degree, it is fairly easy to question whether a non-degreed applicant’s experience is “relevant” to the Management Consultant position offered. It is important to realize that U.S. immigration law gives its Free Trade Officers complete and unfettered discretion to make a decision on a NAFTA visa application. Denials are not appealable. So, when they have an opportunity to use this discretion, they do so…with a vengeance.

Make no mistake: the Free Trade Officer will go through every word of a TN application, compare the applicant’s CV with her employment-based reference letters to look for contradictions and analyze the company’s cover letter and its financial statements. Finally, the officer will thoroughly grill the applicant with respect to her alleged prior experience and her proposed duties with the new company. Most applications in the Management Consultant category do not hold up under this type of scrutiny.

So, What Exactly is a Management Consultant Anyway?

Contrary to the belief of most HR Managers, a “Management Consultant’ (for purposes of U.S. immigration law) is not a manager. A “Management Consultant” is a consultant to management hired by an organization to help solve a particular short-term management problem. Free Trade Officers view these consultants as “hired guns”: they are hired to solve a particular problem, and then they must get out. Offers of company benefits such as retirement and 401K plans, stock options, and life insurance are inconsistent with this view. These types of benefits are all trappings of a permanent employee, not a short-term temporary employee.

Therefore, at minimum, the company’s cover letter to the INS should state with particularity the management problem to be solved, the reason for the short-term need for an outside consultant, how the applicant is qualified to solve the problem, and the terms of compensation. The application should also include a detailed CV which documents at least five full years of relevant experience, as well as detailed reference letters from all past employers consistent with the CV. Contradictions between any of the above documents will be duly noted by the Free Trade Officer, and will likely result in the denial of a TN visa.

The Effect of Past Denials

All is not lost if a TN visa is denied by a Free Trade Officer. That same complete and unfettered discretion wielded by one Free Trade Officer empowers the next officer to re-consider an application as if presented for the first time, if the officer wishes to do so. Because of this, it is entirely possible for an applicant to be refused by one officer at Niagara Falls in the morning and admitted by another officer at Pearson International Airport in the afternoon, without any change to the application However, our firm does not recommend the latter approach, because some officers will perceive the same-day reapplication as an attempt to play the system.

Our firm has successfully assisted a myriad of individuals who have been refused once, twice or even three times. (Of course, the more times one has been refused, the more difficult the case becomes.) Our task as experienced immigration lawyers is the same in all of these cases: a.) Complete evaluation of the Applicant and the Proposed Employment; b.) Selection of the Proper Visa Category; and c.) Assembly of the most USCIS-Friendly Visa Application Possible.

Some Recommendations

It is always better for all parties concerned if, instead of trying to handle important immigration matters on their own, HR Managers and potential TN applicants take the time to consult with an immigration professional prior to applying for a visa. The savings in time, money and frustration are well worth the investment. However, if they insist on handling these delicate cases on their own, it is helpful to keep the following in mind:

1. A Management Consultant is a hired gun-a consultant to management hired to solve a short-term management problem;

2. A Management Consultant should not be compensated over and above the base salary;

3. A non-degreed applicant must have a minimum of five complete years of verifiable experience as a consultant to management or in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement. Make sure you have the documents to prove all five years;

4. There should be no discrepancies whatsoever between any of the documents presented to the Free Trade Officer;

5. The applicant should be prepared to answer intelligently, and in detail, the officer’s questions regarding: a.) the applicant’s past experience, and b.) the management problem he or she is being hired to solve;

6. A TN application must be made in conjunction with an “entry”. So, the applicant should not be instructed to drive to the border in advance to see if the officer will issue the visa; and finally

7. Always remember that Free Trade Officers have complete and unfettered discretion to rule on NAFTA cases. Therefore, the applicant should present with as deferential an attitude as possible.

What Does A Law Firm Look Like?

After deciding to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, the very first visit to a law office can be a little intimidating. However, there are several common elements that most clients can expect from a law firm – regardless of size. These elements include the layout of the offices, the structure of the staff, and similar procedures. Just remember that an injury lawyer and his or her staff will always seek to make the client comfortable and to provide the best advice possible.

Layout of the Firm

While layouts for law firms will vary, there are some common elements. A smaller law firm will have a reception area where clients can relax until their appointed time. A larger law firm may a have a lobby where a receptionist might direct clients to the appropriate office. In general, an injury lawyer will have a private office as well as access to conference rooms. Styles will vary between firms, though most still prefer the more traditional, stately look.

General Staff Structure

Staffing for law offices also tends to be fairly standard. Most will use receptionist to greet and see to the comfort of clients. Legal secretaries and paralegals support the injury lawyer in conducting research and preparing documents. The lawyer is the only one who is authorized to provide legal advice, appear as counsel, sign pleadings, and determine legal fees. A partner is part owner in the law firm, while an associate is an employee.

Consultants

In some cases, a law firm will call in a consultant or an expert to assist with a personal injury lawsuit. Consultants aid the attorneys by filling in gaps in expertise or helping out when the work load is excessive. They may educate the attorney, provide background information, prepare written statements, clarify evidence, and provide expert testimony in court. Some consultants are lawyers who have developed expertise in trying specific cases.

Size of Law Firm

Keep in mind that the size of the law firm can have a huge impact on what clients’ should expect. Larger firms tend to have more support staff such as paralegals. In such a firm, the scope of the personal injury lawsuit will determine if the case is handled by an associate or a partner. Smaller firms have less support staff, but will generally still have a legal secretary and paralegals to assist with preparation of the case. Regardless of the size, clients should expect personal attention from all members of the law firm.

Upon Your Arrival

The first visit to a law firm can be a little scary, but it need not be. Upon arriving clients are asked to wait in either a reception area or are directed to the appropriate office where they will be made comfortable by a secretary. The meeting with the injury lawyer will take place in either a private office or conference room. After listening carefully to the facts of the case, he or she will either make a decision on whether to proceed or not, or may even request additional time to conduct some research.

While many clients may be nervous about a visit to an injury lawyer, it really is not necessary. A law office will do its best to make every client comfortable and to treat them with the utmost respect. Everyone in a law firm from the receptionist to the most senior partner wants clients to know that they care about their personal injury lawsuit and will make it a personal mission to help them.

Increase In Florida Health Insurance Pre-Existing Condition Plan Enrollees

According to a report released recently, approximately 4,000 of Florida’s sickest uninsured residents have enrolled and started receiving benefits in the new health insurance program of the federal government.

What Is This Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan All About?

Nationwide, approximately 49,000 people are enjoying the benefits of this new health insurance program sponsored by the federal government. This new health insurance program was created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to help people who have been without any form of health insurance coverage for at least six months or have been denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. This federal health insurance program is called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan or PCIP for short.

This is a temporary program created to give assistance to people with health problems. It allows them to get the health coverage they deserve while they wait for the full implementation of the health care reform law in 2014. Beginning in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to charge higher rates or deny a person health coverage due to a pre-existing condition as mandated by law. People with pre-existing conditions can also join the state-based health insurance exchange for individuals and small businesses to get affordable Florida health insurance premiums.

The health care reform act gave the states the authority to create their own pre-existing condition plans. However, since Florida and 22 other states did not establish their own PCIP, these states are now part of a federal plan. The PCIP program was allotted $5 billion in federal funds. But, this is not enough so individuals will still have to pay hefty premiums.

What Florida Health Insurance PCIP Means For Those Who Joined The Federal Program?

For some people who enrolled in a PCIP plan like Kathleen Watson, 50, who runs a small medical transport business in Lake City, the plan meant that she now got “excellent insurance.” After her husband became disabled in 2004, she lost her health care coverage because she could not stay under her husband’s employer-provided Florida health plan. She couldn’t get any individual Florida healthcare policy because she has a series of health problem that includes non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). Watson said she attempted to pay off her medical bills. However, this only resulted in their finances hitting rock-bottom.

It is common for Florida insurance companies to reject the application of people with medical problems. Because of the fact they pose a greater financial risk.

When the PCIP program started two years ago, she couldn’t afford to pay the $700-plus monthly premiums that come along with it. Fortunately, the federal government cut premiums by 50 percent last year. That was the reason why she was able to afford it. In July, she paid $363 per month for her PCIP that allowed her to get the medical treatments she needed and couldn’t have afforded on her own.

As of December 31, 2011 in Florida, 3,736 people are covered by this plan. This number represents less than one-tenth of the one percent of the 3.8 million uninsured residents in Florida. According to Steve Larsen, a deputy administrator with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he said that the national participation of uninsured Americans in the PCIP program increased by 400 percent from the first to the second year. He is expecting that numbers will keep on rising.

Aside from the monthly premium paid by Watson, she also has to pay an in-network $1,000 deductible for medical services, another $500 deductible for preferred list prescriptions and a $750 deductible for prescriptions that are not included on the list.

She also must pay a co-insurance charge of 20 percent for most in-network healthcare costs. In order for her Florida health insurance PCIP to cover all in-network costs, she needs to spend an out-of-pocket cost of $4,000. For out-of-network providers, she has a $1,500 deductible and maximum $7,000 out-of-pocket.

Unlike other Florida health insurance plans, the PCIP does not have a waiting period to get treatment. This is how the new health program helped people with medical issues get their much needed healthcare.

Juvenile Offense Process in Florida

In the state of Florida, there are specific processes for juveniles accused of criminal offenses. Although the consequences of criminal activity as a juvenile can be stringent, the main focus of this area of law enforcement is more focused on the rehabilitation of minors as opposed to the more punitive sentencing adults face.

With this rehabilitative outlook, the state of Florida hopes to keep children out of trouble by using the juvenile justice system as a progressive way of teaching young people to be productive members of society, through diversion programs and other methods. Although the sentencing and method by which juveniles are punished (or adjudicated) may be less harsh than that of an adult convict, it is still a lengthy and difficult procedure not only for the child but parents and loved ones as well. It requires a great deal of time and resources, not the least of which is finding a qualified attorney to help guide you through the process.

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

The department that focuses directly on juvenile offenders in the state is the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). This governmental organization’s mission is to “increase public safety by reducing juvenile delinquency through effective prevention, intervention, and treatment services that strengthen families and turn around the lives of troubled youth.” The DJJ, along with the Florida juvenile court system, are the primary administrators of the juvenile justice system in the state.

How the Juvenile Incarceration Process Works

After the initial detainment, the law enforcement officer will present a sworn complaint with evidence to the State Attorney’s Office, where it will be decided if there is probable cause to believe that the alleged suspect did, in fact, commit the crime.

After this preliminary decision, there will then be a detention hearing. The hearing is commonly held the morning after the detainment, with the judge deciding whether or not to release the suspect, and if so, what conditions need to be met. If the judge rules that the defendant should stay in detention, the juvenile can be held for up to 21 days.

Following the detention hearing and the issuance of the formal complaint, an Assistant State Attorney will review the case and decide whether charges should be filed. This will also be the time where the decision will be made whether to charge the defendant as a child or adult. If there is insufficient evidence, this will also be the time that the charges will be dropped.

If the case proceeds, the next step is the arraignment, where the defendant will be notified of the charges against him or her. After this, an adjudicatory hearing takes place. An adjudicatory hearing is similar to a trial for adults, except the juvenile is directly tried by a judge and not a jury. The judge can sentence the young person to time in a juvenile detention facility or various diversion programs.

After going through the entire process, a disposition hearing takes place, where the sentencing is handed down. The judge can sentence the young person to time in a juvenile detention facility or a diversion program.

There are various pre-trial diversion programs available for first time juvenile offenders, such as the Florida Teen Court, which is a non-judicial diversion program gives juveniles the opportunity to learn for their mistakes while being able to repay their debt to society. Juvenile sentencing tends to include probation after the initial requirements are taken care of. If the juvenile committed a felony or violent crime, they may be tried as an adult, and therefore, referred to criminal court.

Get Assisted By Bail Bond Agencies for Easy Release From Jail

Offenses take place both intentionally and unintentionally. In many incidents, it has been noticed that the innocent people become victim of law and are jailed for longer period of time. Every human has a right to fight for justice and avoid getting into complications of law.

One can keep these complications at bay by getting bail for themselves. Yet, getting bail is an expensive initiative as the amount of bail escalates as per the seriousness of crime. Looking at the cost burden that it levies, it is wise to choose the bail bonding process. For instance, if you have been charged for murder and the bail amount set is $500,000, you can hire services from bail bond agencies to post the bail.

If the defendant is unable to pay the wholesome amount of the bail, then he/she can seek assistance from bail bond agents to pay a certain percentage of the bail amount. Many times, these bail bond agencies take property or any type of assets as a security.

If you are looking for bail bondsman, you can go online to look for various agencies serving such cases. The medium of Internet can avail you a number of experienced bail bondsman, bail agents, bail bond experts and many more who offer trusted services in attaining bail in the least possible time.

Before you hire the services by the bondsman, you should know about their previous work experiences and check if the bail agents are proficient with all forms of laws. You should go for the bail agents who are capable to write authentic legal documents and have the ability to offer optimum legal services whenever required.

Furthermore, it is important that you get assisted by the right kind of bail bond agencies. Here under are few aspects from which you should stay away from hiring are:

• Agents looking for reasons to return the client to jail in order to keep the entire money paid to them.
• Agents who do not provide any notification to the client and his co-signer regarding the court dates.
• Agents which are not specifically located in a region and have chances that they may change their region of operation.
• New agents or agencies with little experience as they might not be able to handle paper work faster, resulting in delay of the entire legal process.

You should go for bail bond agencies which are licensed and have extensive experience in the area of bail bonds business. In addition, the well-established bail bondsman makes sure that you understand the entire process of bonding. They also explain you the responsibilities, you have as a signer, and your further role while releasing the accused from the jail. Go online today and get your dear ones out of the jail at the earliest!

Don’t Hire a Rural Health Consultant Until You’ve Read This Article

As a rural health consultant myself with over twenty years in this profession and twelve years as a Fiscal Intermediary (MAC), I have seen what bad advice can do to a rural health clinic. Many times, I’ve been called in to pick up the pieces and help the practice get back on its feet. Let me give you some examples of the types of mistakes I have encountered and how an experienced rural health consultant would mitigate them.

Example 1

A Rural Health Clinic in central Florida had a contentious recertification by the State Agency. The surveyor was giving the business office manager a difficult time over their CLIA status and lack of Patient Care Policies. The physician intervened and the surveyor and physician got into a heated debate. The surveyor said that based on his findings, the clinic was out of compliance and he was going to recommend termination. The clinic called me and I spoke to the surveyor. He cited the discrepancies and I asked how he could recommend termination without giving the clinic the opportunity to take corrective action? When the surveyor returned 30 days later, the CLIA certificate still had not been issued and in spite of documentation that the business manager had, it was regarded as defiance. Additionally, the surveyor would not accept the adoption of the Nurse Practitioner Protocols as the clinic’s patient care policy. The surveyor again was going to recommend termination. I contacted the State Agency regional office and explained the situation but it fell on deaf ears. I contacted the CMS Ombudsman in Atlanta and furnished her with all the documentation showing that the surveyor and Regional Office were not following the State Survey Guidelines, but were, in fact, disregarding them. I assured her that the clinic was in compliance and had just received the CLIA approval. The clinic then received a visit from another surveyor and he was completely satisfied and the clinic was recertified.

Example 2

A Rural Health Clinic in west central Florida had a desk review of the prior year’s cost report and it was determined that a field audit would be warranted due to the lack of response for documentation. Apparently the office staff did not get the requests for additional information in a timely fashion. The physician contacted me and asked if I could assist the practice during the on-site field audit. A review of the case revealed that the MAC determined that the physician was well over the MD salary limits according to the MAC. The MAC used a Federal salary study by region for the basis of their determination of the reasonableness of the salary. The field audit lasted for four days and the exit conference indicated that there would be a substantial adjustment of more the half of the physician’s salary and fringe benefits. The adjustment would result in the cost-per-visit rate being sharply reduced which would impact the current year. I asked the auditor for the study which was used as the basis for the adverse determination and noticed that the study was more than 5 years old. The study was further flawed in it did not take into consideration the specialty, (this MD was an Internist) with advanced training (Board certification) and length of practice experience. I was able to secure a more current version of the study which had been updated and found that the physician was very close to the salary range when the other qualifications were taken into consideration. The result was that the adjustment was only 10% of the original determination and had no material effect on the clinic’s rate.

Example 3

A Rural Health Clinic in middle Alabama had a desk review of their prior year cost report bad debts. The MAC requested a statistically valid sample of bad debts that were in need of the EOMB (Explanation of Medicare Benefits) to justify the balances that were written off. Some of the bad debts were more than several years old and the documentation had been shredded by the clinic’s billing service. The MAC decided that without the EOMB the bad debts would be disallowed. The clinic was ordered to pay back a substantial amount resulting from the disallowances. Since the statistical sample was randomly selected, it was considered to be representative of the entire population. Unfortunately, the cases that had no EOMB were the very old ones which made up a small percentage of the entire bad debts but all were to be denied which skewed the sample. I argued that the sample was skewed and the percentage to be applied to the whole was not valid. The MAC did not agree and suggested that an appeal should be filed. The clinic would have to file a formal appeal through the PRRB. This could take up to several years and I knew this was not true so I suggested that the clinic contact Sen. Jeff Sessions, a friend of the clinic’s medical director and bring him into the case. Within three weeks the clinic was contacted by the MAC and told that most of the EOMBs had been found. The clinic was refunded most of their payback.

As you can see, hiring a rural health consultant with limited or no experienced can be just as risky as not hiring a consultant at all. In today’s market, most rural health clinics deeply depend on receiving the maximum Medicare reimbursement rate possible. One mistake by an inexperienced rural health consultant may result in an audit, and one failed audit could bring a clinic to its knees in short order. So what should you look for when hiring a rural health consultant? There are some obvious and not so obvious qualifications to consider.

First, the rural health consultant must have a detailed knowledge of all aspects of the Medicare Rural Health Program (Public Law 95-210). Technical, as well as practical knowledge of the conditions of participation, application submission, coverage issues, billing issues and most important Medicare cost reimbursement are critical to a Rural Health Consultant.

Second, an experienced rural health consultant should have a detailed knowledge of cost reporting and the factors which prompt red flags and potential desk audits. Additionally, if an audit is scheduled by the MAC, the rural health consultant should be available to the clinic to provide advice and technical assistance on a priority basis either by phone or on site.

Third, the rural health consultant must be able to engage not only the MAC staff and the State Agency staff on matters of findings and correct them when they are wrong or expressing their personal preferences even though those preferences may not be permitted in the regulations or operating instruction. The rural health consultant must be prepared to go to the CMS Regional or Home Offices to get a resolution to the problem. The rural health consultant must have contacts in higher places to present credibility of his knowledge and expertise in the areas of the issues.