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Simas & Associates, Ltd. Newsletter | October 3, 2014 | Volume II, Issue 11
Firm Announcement

Simas & Associates, Ltd. Adds Client Satisfaction Survey to Website

Sacramento, CA - In an effort to improve the quality of services provided to its clients, Simas & Associates, Ltd. recently implemented a new Client Satisfaction Survey.  The survey is a new webpage found secretly on Simas & Associates, Ltd.'s website, www.simasgovlaw.com.  

"Our law firm always tries to constantly check-in with our clients," explained Steven L. Simas, founder and owner of Simas & Associates, Ltd.  "Whether discussing the status and strategy in their legal matter or defining or redefining our client's goals, we also want to check-in on whether the firm is meeting the client's expectations as far as the legal representation or legal services provided.  Sometimes it is just to get a sense about how much time, resources, or money the client has invested or wants to invest in the matter.  At the end of the day, answers or updates to these types of questions go a long way towards helping us navigate the legal matter for the client."

"However, sometimes clients feel uncomfortable answering the question - almost like they feel they are being put on-the-spot," added Justin D. Hein, Managing Attorney.  "Sometimes, they may even have criticism about a course of action taken by the attorney.  Or, they may not completely understand what is taking place or why a particular decision was made.  But they feel embarrassed asking or feel as though by asking it may jeopardize the efforts of the law firm.  This leaves the attorney and client not on the same page - and that can have serious, negative consequences on the vitality of the representation relationship and the prospects of achieving the ultimate goals in the matter."



So, in comes the Client Satisfaction Survey.  It consists of a variety of approximately 50 questions for the user to answer.

"None of the questions are required," explains Mr. Hein. "Rather, we wanted to provide the user with the flexibility to provide the responses he or she wished to provide.  So unlike progression-based surveys, all of the possible questions appear immediately.  So, the client can just go to the section he or she wants to address."

The questions are broken up into a section explaining the representation type or legal services to be provided, a review, and feedback - for improvement or to praise.  

"Most of the questions are either options from a pull-down menu or yes-or-no," continued Mr. Hein.  "Almost all provide space for the user to complete more descriptive responses.  But again, this is not required."

"We are really interested in hearing from our clients," added Mr. Simas.  "We have been sending our clients feedback requests at the conclusion of their legal representation for years.  But that had been done via snail mail and email.  We realized we were probably asking too much, too late.  So, we created this method to be able to capture feedback while the service was happening as well as upon its conclusion."

And the feedback is anonymous.  



"Well, of course," stated Mr. Hein.  "To address client fears of embarrassment, we wanted to make sure to keep the feedback anonymous.  However, we also realize that sometimes a client wants to put a name to an assessment or praise, so that the firm can recognize what they did and either address it or replicate it moving forward.  We also wanted the flexibility to convert positive feedback into testimonials of our performance, where warranted."

Expect to see the Client Satisfaction Survey on a regular basis.

"In addition to our newsletter, we expect to send the link in direct email correspondence to our clients," explained Mr. Simas.  "Probably no more than quarterly.  We do not want to drown our clients, but at the same time, we do want to provide them with regular access.  We also want to ensure they understand that feedback is encouraged and welcomed at every step of the representation."
 
For more information on our practice areas, please visit our website at www.simasgovlaw.com.
Staff Announcement

Simas & Associates, Ltd. Adding a New Member to the Team

On October 6, Simas & Associates, Ltd. will add Sharon Cain to its team as an Administrative Assistant.  Ms. Cain is from Rancho Cordova, California and was most recently employed as the Lead Dispatcher with Monument Security in McClellan, California.

"I am really excited for Ms. Cain to join our team," stated Amanda Lilley, Firm Administrator.  "Her professional references [at Monument] gave glowing reviews.  While disappointed to see her go, they were extremely happy for her as she makes this change in her professional career."

As Administrative Assistant, Ms. Cain will be tasked with running the firm's front desk position in the Sacramento Office. Primarily, this will be handling incoming calls from prospective and existing clients and coordinating conference calls on behalf of the attorneys. She will also work with Ms. Lilley on the administration of creating and maintaining the clients' physical and virtual files.

"Everyone added that Sharon can handle quite a bit and was excellent at multi-tasking," added Ms. Lilley.  "And that is exactly what we need for this position."
Client/Vendor of the Month
 
Double D Mini Mart
1500 West Houston Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291
Phoneʉۢ (559) 732-3893
 
Double D Mini Mart is a Shell Gas Station and Convenience Store located in downtown Visalia, California and nearby the exchange between state highways 99 and 198.  It provides all automotive and occupants with their refueling needs, with self-service gasoline pumps, oil, and automotive parts and accessories, as well as rest rooms, beverages, snacks and candy, toiletries, tobacco products, and periodicals, such as local, state, and national newspapers and magazines.
    
Simas & Associates, Ltd. appreciates serving as Double D Mini Mart's attorney since earlier this summer.  If you would like to be featured as our law firm’s “Client/Vendor of the Month,” please contact us at info@simasgovlaw.com
Training Reminder!
 
Steven L. Simas will be one of the featured presenters for an upcoming training, jointly hosted by Pincus Professional Education and the Administrative Law Section of the Sacramento County Bar Association.  It is entitled, "Administrative Writs of Mandamus: What You Need to Know".

The training will be at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento on November 14, 2014.  It is an all-day training seminar, starting at 8:30 AM, focused on writs of administrative mandate under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5.  Mr. Simas will be joined by Superior Court, County of Sacramento Judge Hon. Thadd A. Blizzard, Beth Curtis, Esq., of Langenkamp, Curtis & Price, LLP, Robert McWhorter, Esq. of Nossaman LLP, and Charles L. Post, Esq. of Weintraub Tobin.

Sign-up today for an Early Bird Price of $399.00.
Featured Agency Announcement

Gov. Brown Signs Bill Expanding Scope of Mandatory Training

Sacramento, CA - On September 10, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2053.  This bill amends Section 12950.1 of the Government Code to make a number of technical, administrative changes to the statute.  However, it also substantively expanded the subject matter of the mandated training to include the prevention of abusive conduct.  

Assembly Bill 1825 was focused on sexual harassment and discrimination:

[T]he training and education required by this section shall include information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment. The training and education shall also include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

But Assembly Bill 2053 expands the training to include the "prevention of abusive conduct" as a component of that training and education.  New subsection (g)(2) of the statute defines abusive conduct as:

[C]onduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.  

The subsection also provides that, "[a] single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious."
Featured Blog Entry
 
To Reimburse or Not Reimburse: 4 General Rules for Employee Expenses

Many types of work-related reimbursements are mandated, but an employer still has the option to go the extra mile and go over the minimum required by law. The question is does it pay to do so? Being lavish with your reimbursement helps show an employee that they recognize their sacrifice, but then again, it isn’t practical to give your employees all-expense paid trips everywhere they go.

Reimbursing employees for work-related expenses is a critical element of creating a great workplace. Finding the balance between reimbursement and managing resources is always challenging, and this is particularly true in light of the recent legal decision confirming that 
California employers are required to reimburse employee cellular phone usage. Where is the line between fair and stingy?

Of course, there isn’t a crystal clear answer, but sticking to some basic principles will go a long way toward boosting company morale. 


To keep reading this entry, please click here: To Reimburse or Not Reimburse: 4 General Rules for Employee Expenses.  For more blog entries from our attorneys and legal staff, please visit our law firm’s official blog – Wit of Mandate.
Word of the Month

Due Process of Law

The constitutionally guaranteed right that the state must act in accordance with the law with regards to individuals. This is a fundamental principle of fairness in all legal matters, administrative, civil, and criminal.  All branches of the government are subject to it within their interactions with individuals and the protection can be enforced through the courts.  The aim is to safeguard both private and public rights against unfairness.

The universal guarantee of due process is in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides "No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law," and is applied to all states by the 14th Amendment. From this basic principle flows many legal decisions determining both procedural and substantive rights.

For more terms related to our practice areas, please visit our law firm’s glossary at 
SimasGovLaw.com - Glossary.
Happy S & A Work Anniversary!
 
Simas & Associates, Ltd. is happy to congratulate Firm Administrator, Amanda Lilley, on her 3 year anniversary at Simas & Associates, Ltd.!

Amanda serves as the de facto Office Manager of both the Sacramento and San Luis Obispo Offices.  Her primary function is to ensure that the law firm is functional on an administrative, personnel, and financial level.  This responsibility has her interacting with the law firm's Management, Attorneys, Support Staff, Vendors, and Clients on an everyday basis.  She is also chiefly responsible for coordinating intra-office meetings as well as organizing and ensuring continued participation within the Sacramento County Bar Association's Administrative Law Section.

Thank you for your commitment to Simas & Associates, Ltd.  Your positive, optimistic attitude make working at Simas & Associates, Ltd. a treat.  And our firm simply would not be where it is today without you. In the face of many small-firm challenges, you have always maintained a very high level of professionalism and continuously ensure that we provide superior client service.      
Upcoming Calendar

October 3 - Happy Techies' Day!

October 5 - Happy World's Teacher Day!  Also,
Oktoberfest Ends.

October 6 - Happy Physician Assistants' Day

October 8 -
NHL Regular Season Begins.  Barristers Club hosts "Deposition Tactics & Strategies."  Also, Schwartz-Levi Inn of Court.

October 9 - Leif Erickson Day.  Also,
Unity Bar Association Dinner, with ABAS, LaRaza, LMFBA, SABA, SacLEGAL, WMBA, and WLS.

October 13 - Columbus Day.

October 15 -
ABAS Annual Dinner.

October 16 - Happy Bosses' Day!

October 18 - Happy Sweetest Day!

October 21 -
Kennedy Inn of Court.

October 22 -
MLB 110th World Series Begins.

October 26 -
MLS Regular Season Ends. 

October 31 - Happy Halloween!

November 1 - All Saints' Day.

November 2 - All Souls' Day.

November 4 - Election Day.

November 6 - Happy Saxophone Day!


Happy Birthday to Michaele Simas and Nicole D. Hendrickson, who enjoy a late October and early November birthday, respectively.  Cheers!
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