Your Guide to Independent Contractor Agreement

Hiring independent contractors, rather than employees, can be beneficial for businesses. This is because you cannot control them as you do employees since they work as consultants and are self-employed. You save resources regarding training them and also don’t need to pay bonuses. However, you should document the independent contractor agreement carefully since they need to sign it to avoid issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The independent contractor agreement is very important if you contract the consultant to develop software, a product, a manual or book, or any other type of intellectual property.

As the contracting party, you need to document what rights you expect to retain with the end product so that the independent contractors cannot interfere with the intellectual product. However, you have to first understand what an independent contractor agreement is, along with things you consider when drafting it. So, what does this contract entail? This article highlights what an independent contractor agreement is, what you should consider when drafting it, and the guide to the contract. We have also addressed key tax and business issues you will encounter when dealing with consultants or independent contractors.

What Is an Independent Contractor Agreement?

An independent contractor agreement is basically a written contract between two parties for a specific project or service. It usually applies where a company or a person is hiring another to help on a short-term task or project. It differs from an employment agreement since it clearly spells out why the consultant or independent contractor is not an employee for tax and legal purposes.

The independent contractor agreement mainly addresses several elements. It specifies the hiring entity or person that may need special services in the short-term and establishes that there is no need for hiring them as an employee. It has to encompass a contractor who is the entity or person hired for a task or project. It must include the services offered. For services offered, the agreement should specify the task to be performed or delivered. It has to stipulate the compensation, which is how much the contractor will be paid. It includes the effective date which is when the agreement begins and when the job starts.

It has to specify the termination process. This is whether the hiring entity or person can end the relationship at any time. This is what is referred to as an “at will” contract.  It should also address the number of days a written notice is needed to end the contract. It also includes the fringe benefits, which specify that the contractor cannot participate in any of the hiring entity’s employee health, pension, sick pay, health, or any unemployment benefits. The entity can also hire its own assistants, but is solely responsible for the expenses like Medicare or Social Security taxes.

The contract may also be referred to as:

  • Company contractor agreement
  • Client/service freelancer agreement
  • Independent consultant agreement
  • Freelance contract
  • Freelancer agreement
  • Contractor agreement
  • Freelancer contractor agreement

Advantages and Disadvantages of Working with Independent Contractors

Working with independent contractors has a number of advantages, including:

  • You can use contractors for a project or task when needed
  • Contractors provide special expertise
  • You establish a flexible relationship with the contractor
  • You will cut on costs on tax contributions

However, it has its downsides, including:

  • You may end up paying high fees to the contractor
  • You do not have full control over the contractor
  • There is a chance you will run into tax problems
  • You cannot establish continuity in the relationship with contractors, instead, an employee here would be preferable

Things to Consider When Drafting Your Agreement

A good independent contractor agreement includes the following aspects:

1.Timing

The agreement needs to spell out when the services are to be performed. Here, the hiring entity should consider including a late-penalty fee if the services are not delivered in the documented time or when the product is delivered late.

2.Services

The contract spells out the services that the independent contractor will perform. Here, you should specify all the things that you expect to be done by the independent contractor so that he or she can be paid.

3.Reporting

The contract needs to spell out when progress reports should be made by the independent contractor and to whom he or she reports. You should be careful here not to have excessive control over the contractor since it could potentially lead to the identification of the contractor as an employee as far as tax is concerned.

4.Payment

The contractor expects to be paid but only if he or she delivers the product or services. The clause regarding payment in the contract should address the amount that the contractor will be paid, the manner in which he or she will be paid (per hour or per project), and when the payment is due. From the perspective of the hiring company, it should ensure that the product or service is of reasonable quality before being obligated to pay the entire amount. Otherwise, you do not have to pay until you’re satisfied with the work.

5.Subcontractors

If the contractor expects to use subcontractors, he or she should provide approval over them, and we recommend that they execute an appropriate contract with you.

6.Warranties

In the contract, you need to spell out any warranties from the contractor, including the contractor’s warranty that the services or product delivered should be of high-quality, timely, and professional.

7.Work for hire

The contract should stipulate that the work product that the contractor develops for the hiring company is considered a work for hire under the copyright laws and owned only by the hiring entity and not the contractor.

8.Confidentiality

The contract needs to clarify that the contractor must keep any proprietary information about the hiring company confidential and that the contractor will not use any information that the entity provides other than for the benefit of the hiring company.

Your Guide to an Independent Contractor Agreement

Protecting Your Interests

Prior to hiring an independent contractor, you have to first do a background check to establish whether the person is the right person to perform the job. If you want to verify the information that the person provides, have the person sign a background check just to make sure the information provided is accurate.

Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Contracts

Have the contractor or consultant sign a confidentiality agreement, especially if you run a tech-oriented firm since you’ll pass a significant amount of confidential information. Since the contract comes up with a product or business idea, it is your best interest to maintain ownership. In areas where you are sensitive about confidentiality and the company’s ownership of the product, ensure that the contractor or consultant signs the Confidentiality and Invention Assignment. This will ensure that the contractor doesn’t pass on confidential information and that the final product or idea belongs to the company, not the contractor.

Tax Considerations

Tax laws demand that you treat contractors and employees differently. Contractors are beneficial since you reduce the tax liability but you need to be careful to correctly fill out tax forms and agreements to avoid the IRS disagreeing with your assessment. For tax purposes, the following is required for independent contractors:

  • No Social Security contributions
  • No Medicare taxes contribution
  • No withholding of federal taxes
  • File Form 1099-MISC with IRS if you pay the contractor $600 or more per year
  • No compensation insurance
  • No contribution to unemployment insurance funds or taxes
  • No sick leave or holidays
  • No overtime payments
  • You do not have the right to control how the contractor works, what you’re interested in is the final product
  • You don’t have the right to control the business aspects of the worker’s activities

If the IRS determines that the contractor should have been classified as an employee, rather than a contractor, you may be penalized as follows:

  • Pay Medicare contributions that would have been withheld
  • Pay federal income tax that should otherwise be withheld from the employee
  • You’ll be penalized for failing to properly pay taxes and file tax returns
  • Criminal sanctions, you could be imprisoned or face fines up to $100,000
  • A larger penalty if it is established that you were negligent or fraudulent
  • Pay tax interest should have been withheld
  • Pay personal liability for corporate officers, up to 100% of the amount that would otherwise be withheld

Independent Contractor Tax Forms

IRS requires you to fill the following forms:

1. Form W-9: This requires you to collect Social Security numbers or the Employer Identification Number (EIN).
2. Form 1099-MISC: Once you pay the contractor $600 or more in a year, send the form to IRS and to the contractor at the end of the year.

Conclusion

It is vital for a business to first establish whether the person providing services is an independent contractor or employee so you understand if you have to withhold taxes, pay unemployment tax on wages, pay and withhold Social Security and Medicare tax, or provide benefits to this person. For independent contractors, you don’t have to withhold or pay any type of tax when working with them. When working with contractors, the hiring entity must first ensure that the person or company signs the independent contractor agreement.

The contract includes aspects like timing, services offered, reporting mechanisms, payment, subcontractors (if any are involved), warranties, work for hire, and confidentiality. For tax purposes, ensure you file with the IRS Form W-9 and Form 1099-MISC. We hope that this article has adequately addressed what an independent contractor agreement is, what you should consider when drafting it, and key tax and business issues involved.

How Does Bail Work: Understanding Your Rights

Being arrested is a likely scenario for many, especially with the increased vigilance of the law enforcement agencies. If it happens, you do not want to stay in jail as this will ground your day-to-day activities. This is why many people’s first thought upon landing in jail is about getting out. One way of doing so is by posting a bail. This is security to ensure you appear in court proceedings until the final judgment. So how does bail work? This content highlights what a bail is and how it works.

What Is Bail?

A bail is a bond, a cash, or property that an arrested individual gives to a court of law to ensure that he or she appears in court if needed. If you don’t show up, the court keeps the bail and issues a warrant of arrest. How does bail work? For you to answer this question, you have to first know about the types of bails. There are five types of bails.

1. Cash Bail

This is where the accused pays the full amount of bail in cash. Sometimes, the court can accept a credit card or even checks.

2. Surety Bond

How does bail work when you opt for a surety bond? A surety bond is also referred to as a bail bond and can be used for any amount of bail. However, it is especially useful when the accused cannot afford to pay the bail. It involves a relative or a friend of the accused contacting a bail agent, also referred to as a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman bails the accused after receiving a collateral. In addition, the bail bondsman typically must be paid a commission of the bond. However, the bail agent risks the full bond if the defendant does not appear in court for proceedings on the required date.

3. Release on Citation

Sometimes, an officer does not book the suspect at all but will instead issue a citation that says the accused must appear in court on a particular date. This process is less thorough compared to taking the suspect to a police station and performing the normal booking procedure.

4. Property Bond

How does bail work when paying with a property? Some instances will need the defendant to provide property, which acts like a bond. Here, the court gets a lien on the property in the amount of the bail. If the accused doesn’t appear in court, it forecloses on the property to recover the bail.

5. Release on Own Personal Recognizance (O.R.)

  • The judge may also release the accused on O.R., which implies that he or she shows up on the arranged court date and doesn’t have to pay bail. This is applicable when the charge is a minor, nonviolent crime and when the accused is not a danger to others or a flight risk. Flight risk is when a person is likely to flee and not appear for the court proceedings.
    A defendant released on O.R. signs a promise to show up in court. This usually happens at the first court appearance. If the judge denies the request, then the accused asks for a low bail. Factors that can convince a judge to grant O.R. release include:
  • You have family members, including parents, a spouse, or children living in the community
  • You have lived in the community for many years
  • You’re employed
  • You have no criminal record
  • You have been charged before but have always appeared as required

What Is a Bail Bondsman?

So how does a bail work when you don’t have money to post bail? This is where you need to seek the services of a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman is also known as a bailer or bail agent. It is the person who provides bail as a surety for a criminal defendant’s release. The bail bondsman is covered by a special insurance company called a surety company that pledges to pay the full amount of a surety body if the accused does not appear in court. In return, the bail agent charges the client a 10% premium and collects collateral, for example, a car or boat, a title to a house, electronics, or jewelry.

By getting the relative or friend involved, the bail agent hopes that the defendant feels compelled to appear in court since the relative or friend will pay the bail agent’s premium and has collateral. The bail bondsman’s bond is also at stake and if the accused does not appear in court, which is referred to as jumping or skipping bail, then it is the agent responsible for paying the entire bond. If the accused jumps bail, the bail bondsman might seek a bounty hunter, but only if it is legal in that state.

Commercial bail bonding is illegal in some states including Oregon, Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. In other states, the bail bondsman needs to be licensed.

How Does Bail Work?

So how does bail work? A bail works by releasing the defendant in exchange for an agreed amount of money that the court holds until all the court proceedings are complete. The court, by offering the bail, hopes that the defendant shows up for all court trials on specified dates in order for them to recover the bail.

Court trial typically starts weeks or months after the initial arrest. You don’t want to spend all that time in jail, so posting a bail is the most viable option for you. Therefore, if not for a bail, many individuals, some of whom may be innocent, would have to wait in jail until the trials begin. This inconveniences the defendant endures can be a source of financial hardship since the person cannot work. Besides, the individual will also miss a lot in his or her life, such as holidays and family events.

Not everyone is eligible for bail, particularly dangerous suspects or a person who has been linked to criminality before. This implies that not all persons released on bail are acquitted, and thus, to prevent dangerous suspects from being released, the court implements these safeguards.

Bail Process

How does bail work and what is the bail process? If you are arrested, you will first be taken to a police station to be processed or booked. When you’re booked, a police officer on duty records information about you as the suspect. This includes personal information, such as the birthday, name, address, and appearance along with the alleged crime.

Then the police officer will conduct a criminal background check by taking your fingerprints and a mugshot and then seizes and inventories any personal property. The property is returned when you’re being released. You are also checked for intoxication and required to make a phone call to inform your family member of the arrest. You are then put in a cell, typically with other recently booked suspects.

When you have committed less serious crimes, you may be allowed to post bail immediately after being booked. If you cannot post bail immediately, you must wait (less than 48 hours) for a bail hearing. The judge then determines whether you are eligible for posting bail and at what cost. The bail amount depends on the severity of the crime but is also dependent upon the judge. Some jurisdictions have a standard bail amount. For instance, Los Angeles recommends $25,000 for sexual assault or perjury, $1,000,000 for kidnapping and intending to rape, and $100,000 for manslaughter.

However, the judge also considers the defendant’s criminal record and the history of showing up for past court proceedings, if any. The judge may also look into the defendant’s ties to the community, whether the suspect can harm others or any other considerations that may be raised by the attorney. Sometimes, bail can be waived altogether.

Conclusion

Our main goal was to address the question of how bail works. A bail is considered a bond, a cash, or property a defendant gives to a court of law to ensure that he or she appears in court proceedings.

There are different types of bonds. Cash bail is when the accused pays the full amount of bail in cash. Surety bonds entail securing the services of a bail bondsman and are useful when the accused cannot afford to pay the bail. A person can also be released on a citation. This is applied when the officer does not book the suspect but will instead issue a citation that says the accused must appear in court on a particular date. You can also be released via property bond where the property acts like a bond. Last, they may release you on O.R. where the judge releases the accused on his own recognizance.

A bail is important as it works by securing a person’s release, if arrested, in exchange for an agreed amount of money that the court holds until all the court proceedings associated with the case of the accused individual are complete. This way, you get to resume your day-to-day activities. We hope that this article has adequately answered the query, “how does bail work?”

What Are The Advantages Of A Revocable Trust

Choosing the right technique to ensure a smooth transition in the ownership or control of a property can offer piece of mind. A revocable trust is a preferred option for many people because it allows them to oversee this process while the grantor is still alive. A revocable trust also offers other benefits that some consider advantageous over a will. Of course, planning for events after one is gone is not something that everyone wants to think about, especially younger individuals, though a revocable trust does manage to bridge some issues that people have with last wills and testaments.

What Is a Revocable Trust?

There are different types of trusts and, in fact, trusts are commonly encountered in the financial industry. Trusts can also be used by individuals who are interested in accomplishing much the same tasks as a last will and testament. Indeed, revocable trusts are often contrasted with wills in order to demonstrate some of the ways that revocable trusts stand out.

One thing that is important for men and women considering revocable trusts is to keep in mind is that they are revocable, giving them a leg up over irrevocable trusts. Laws pertaining to revocable trusts will also differ in different jurisdictions in the United States.

General Benefits

Although the benefits of revocable trusts will be discussed in more detail later, one advantage of this technique is that it allows the grantor, the person creating the trust, to also benefit from the trust while they are still alive. This can be contrasted with the case of a last will and testament, in which the terms of the will do not take effect until the demise of the writer of the will. Revocable trusts, as the name implies, also give the grantor the flexibility of “changing their mind” should they decide later that the trust was not all that it was cracked up to be, or circumstances necessitate a change in plans.

In general, a trust is a relationship in which a property is transferred from one party to another for the benefit of a third party, known as the beneficiary. Revocable trusts are unique not only in that they can be canceled or revoked, but in that the trustee, the party to whom the trust has been transferred, can also be the grantor.

In this case, a co-trustee is ordinarily appointed for a number of reasons, not least of which is to be able to administer the trust property in the event that the grantor becomes mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to perform their duties as trustee. This may be a little confusing but should become clearer as we examine the issue more closely.

Trust Law and Other Types of Trusts

  • Some of the key aspects of a revocable trust become clearer when trust law and other types of trusts are examined. There are three terms that are important to understand in learning how trusts are created and how they work. These terms are:
  • Trustor: also called the settlor or grantor, the trustor is the first party who settles the property on the second party
  • Trustee: this is the second party upon whom the property has been settled
  • Beneficiary: the beneficiary is the party on whose behalf the property is administered
  • Trust deed: the document that defines and clearly names the above-mentioned roles and the property

In the case of a revocable trust, the grantor (or trustor or settlor) creates the trust and may be able to name themselves of a trustee depending on their jurisdiction. Whether as grantor or as trustee, they retain certain rights over the trust, including the ability to direct how the trustee uses funds and the ability to revoke the trust. Trusts normally involve transfers of property, often to protect the grantor from loss of the property or for tax reasons. The ability of a grantor in a revocable trust to retain much power over their property renders revocable trusts both unique and unusual.

Other Types of Trusts

There are other types of trusts that are frequently encountered both in the financial world and in situations of death and division of property. In reality, trusts existed in ancient times and as English customary law is derived from Roman law, the present understanding of trusts that exists in English-speaking countries today is a legacy of the ancient practice. Other common forms of trusts include:
  • Discretionary Trust
  • Land trust
  • Offshore Trust
  • Public trust (charitable trust)
  • Testamentary trust

The Probate Issue

The term probate refers to the legal process by which a last will and testament is accepted by a court, or the process by which the property of someone who dies intestate (without a will) is administered. An easy way to remember what probate means is that it is the process by which the testamentary document (the will) is proven by the court. The reason why probate is important here is that all last wills and testament involve a court in some regard. Furthermore, if a person dies intestate, then probate is also involved, as already mentioned.

Revocable trusts are unique in that they do not require probate involvement at all. The trust established during the lifetime of the grantor who the trustee and the beneficiary are, privately, and the involvement of probate is not needed. Also, wills registered with the court are public record, meaning that the assets and the named individuals are also public record, whereas a revocable trust is a private matter and only the involved individuals and their counsel would be party to the specifics of the trust.

How Are They Used?

Many people think of trusts as a way to avoid taxes or to protect property in situations where an individual has some sort of financial liability. Indeed, trusts were commonly used in the United Kingdom in the wake of the land acts of the early 20th century to protect large landholdings from the death duties that were instituted to break them up. A death duty (a tax on property levied after someone has died) often necessitated the sale of property, but if the property was transferred before the individual died or placed into trust, the death duty could be avoided.

Although revocable trusts are not quite the same as these other types of trusts, they do accomplish the goal of ensuring a smooth transition of property prior to the demise of the property owner. Revocable trusts are seen as alternatives to last wills and testaments because they do allow you to provide for your upkeep should you become ill or otherwise incapacitated during your lifetime. A will would only take place at the time of your demise. A revocable trust would also allow you to do away with the trust should you no longer find that a trust is necessary.

Illness

Some revocable trusts do not automatically address the issue of illness or incapacity, so individuals worried about this situation should make sure that their trust includes language that covers it. In cases where individuals become ill or incapacitated and do not have a trust, the court ordinarily has to appoint a conservator or guardian to manage their finances and other concerns on their behalf.

A revocable trust therefore accomplishes the tasks of providing for your property while you are alive while also providing for you should you become incapacitated. It is important to note that it may be important to have a will in addition to a trust.

What Are the Advantages of a Revocable Trust?

There are many advantages of revocable trust compared to a will. Although revocable trust property can be taxed (even though it is in trust) and the property in the trust is not protected from creditors, a revocable trust does have some features that give it a leg up over a will. Here are some of the major advantages of this type of trust:

  • Multiple copies avoid the situation of locating the original will document
  • Probate not needed in a revocable trust
  • Investments are not interrupted by death or disability
  • Assets immediately available without the need for a probate court action
  • Privacy
  • Ability to revoke the trust at your discretion

A trust of this type is therefore able to accomplish some of the functions of a last will and testament while avoiding some of the inconveniences, such as delays due to involvement of the court, disputes regarding the will, and assets not immediately being available due to various factors. As mentioned, most people choose also to have a will to deal with such issues as guardianship of minor children or other issues that would not be part of the trusteeship. Therefore, a trusteeship of this type can be used to provide both practical benefits and peace of mind to the grantor.

Conclusion

Let’s face it, no one wants to spend too much time thinking about their own demise, but addressing this eventual reality will allow both you and your family to be prepared financially when the time comes. Wills are important and necessary, but they do have their drawbacks. A revocable trust allows an individual to provide for their beneficiaries and even for themselves should they become ill or incapacitated.

Types of Lawyers: Your Guide To Finding the Right Lawyer

Finding the right types of lawyers or attorneys for your case is important. Cases can last months or even years, and you will probably need to be in regular correspondence with your lawyer. There are many types of lawyers. Some are highly specialized while others may handle a wide range of cases. Different types of lawyers’ fee structures will differ.

Choosing a lawyer is a highly personalized decision and there are likely to be many choices in your area. Usually, lawyers’ geographic areas determine to some extent what kind of law they practice. A lawyer in a small town will probably have more of a general practice while lawyers in urban areas will be more specialized. Sometimes a lawyer will decide he or she can handle all of a clients’ needs; at other times he or she may send their client to a specialist.

Some law firms focus on one specialized area of law, such as intellectual property. Other law firms comprise several lawyers whose practice areas complement one another. For example, Lawyer A would focus on one practice area such as Real Estate, Lawyer B would practice an area such as Estate Planning, and Lawyer C would focus on litigation and trial work. This loose collection of specialists would be called a general practice law firm.

You can always find more information about a lawyer by visiting their website or by calling them. Most types of lawyers offer free consultations where you can get a feel for them before starting payment.

Types of Lawyers

There are multiple factors to consider when talking about the different types of lawyers out there. It depends on the case and your budget, for starters. The best-connected lawyers with stellar track records will command a higher price. They will probably have offices in downtown office buildings and have great views. The size of the law firm may determine how much personalized attention you get. If you are a small client at a firm that deals mostly with big-name corporate clients, you may get lost in the shuffle.

There are many types of lawyers for all different cases. However, most lawyers fall into two categories; they practice either civil law or criminal law.

1.Criminal Law Lawyers

criminal-lawyer-in-eaton

Criminal law pertains to people who have been accused of committing a crime. Lawyers work as criminal defense attorneys to protect your rights and make sure you get a fair trial. They represent you and are with you every step of your case. They help you in cases against a person, like assault and battery, cases against property, such as burglary or arson, or any other criminal offense. If you are accused of a crime, it is imperative to find a competent criminal defense attorney.

2.Civil Law Lawyers

civil-law

The second type of lawyers deal with civil law. Civil law covers an array of specialization. These are some types of lawyers who practice civil law and their specialties.

PUBLIC INTEREST

ESTATE PLANNING

FAMILY

IMMIGRATION

PERSONAL INJURY

How Do I Know Which Kind of Lawyer I Need?

The types of lawyers you should look for depends on your case and its complexity, where you live, and what you can afford. We recommend you search online for the best types of lawyers near you on sites such as www.avvo.com. With Avvo, you can search for lawyers near you by practice areas.

Avvo.com creates ratings for the lawyers on their sites from information taken from their profiles, information from state bar associations, and other organizations that license legal professionals. Avvo only provides ratings for lawyers whose profiles have been claimed. Otherwise, they do not provide a numerical rating. However, 97 percent of lawyers in the United States are rated on Avvo.

How Are Avvo Ratings Determined?

Avvo ratings, which are scored 1-10, are based on the lawyer’s experience and background, their legal community recognition such as peer endorsements, associations, awards, and legal thought leadership track records including speaking engagements and publications. All factors affecting a lawyer’s Avvo rating are visible. You can also read reviews of your prospective lawyer on Avvo from past clients.

What to Look for in a Lawyer

1.Positive Rapport

It is very important that you feel comfortable with your lawyer. Honesty is key. Your lawyer can best help you when you give him or her complete and accurate information. Your lawyer’s job is to represent you. Trust and an open line of communication between the two of you is very important. Changes to your case may come at any moment, information may be required of you, and it is possible you will need to be in regular contact with this person, especially if it’s something like a divorce case.

2.Availability and Response Time

You can feel out your prospective lawyer’s availability before you sign a contract by sending a few phone calls and emails to see how fast you get a response. If your concerns and questions are addressed quickly, then you may just have found the right lawyer for you.

3.Track Record

You can search any prospective lawyer’s name online to see what has been said about him or her. You can check your state bar association’s website to see if any complaints have been lodged against your prospective attorney.

You will want to ask about whether they have handled this type of case before and what the outcome was. Less-experienced lawyers will come at a lower cost. Lawyers with the best and most experience will come at a higher cost.

4.Fee Structure

You want to be clear on how you will be charged for their services. If it is a small legal matter, you likely need not use the services of a high-powered litigator. Smaller matters may be better handled by a lower-priced attorney. Some attorneys offer a flat fee structure while others will bill by the hour. Besides the work on your case, time spent corresponding about your case (such as phone calls and emails) are often also billed. Lawyers who bill a flat fee may charge for additional costs such as the cost to file court documents. It is important to get clarity on these matters before proceeding. Small costs can add up.

Conclusion

As you can see, choosing the best types of lawyers for your needs can be simple. Use online resources to get all the best, up-to-date information on types of lawyers near you. Don’t get lost in the shuffle with a high-powered attorney who doesn’t have time for your case when you need a personalized, hands-on approach. The right types of lawyers out there will see you and your case as important—not as just another case number on the docket.