The Privilege of Serving

What Do Legal Fees Really Cost?

Welcome to the 100 billion dollar per year multinational industry of legal services! Paying higher prices for legal services is becoming more and more common.  Before they issue any advice or direction, most lawyers are paid upfront with a retainer fee.  This payment is accepted and only then they will proceed, but continue charging as your legal situation persists.

Attorneys set their fees based upon the time and effort required in a legal situation. The outcome often depends upon the amount charged for services. Many cases will involve higher fees if there is a risk in the outcome. Prices are affected by how difficult the case is and what experience the law firm has with the type of case.  Even the location of the case determines the pricing.

Recently, law firms charging over $1,000 an hour has had resurgence! Many firms were capping fees at $990 per hour.  With many factors at play, the majority of lawyers have always been bold at demanding the highest premiums for their services.  Often the most driving factor is greed.  As the world teaches, they are looking out for themselves and to get all they can.

While these types of fees may make us drop our jaw in shock, God has gathered together a group of Christian attorneys who serve the clients of CLA without ever making a charge! While the world goes one way, these servants of God are going exactly the opposite.

Each day as the phone rings in the Ohio headquarters, the attorneys that handle the legal situations that arise never ask for payment before services are rendered.  As a matter of fact, they don’t ask for payment at all!  With God’s continued blessing and the sacrificial giving of Christians and churches all over the United States, the services continue to be covered for ministries and believers in need of legal services.

Reporting Elder Abuse

On July 1, 2014 Colorado became the eighth state (including Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio and Oregon) to enact an elder abuse mandatory statute that specifies clergy as a mandatory reporter. 

Forty-eight states have an elder abuse statute with mandatory reporting but most states do not enumerate clergy as mandatory reporters.  Colorado pastors must report suspected physical or sexual abuse, caretaker neglect, and exploitation of at-risk elders.  An “at-risk elder” is a person 70 years of age or older (other states set the age at 65). 

Physical abuse occurs when someone causes bodily harm to an at-risk elder, such as causing physical pain or bruising. It also includes unreasonable confinement or restraint of an at-risk elder.

Caretaker neglect occurs when an at-risk elder’s caretaker (paid or unpaid) fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological, physical, or medical care, or the caretaker does not provide these things in a timely manner or with the same degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would use.

Exploitation means taking an at-risk elder’s money or other assets against his will or without his knowledge. It also means deceiving, harassing, intimidating, or using undue influence to get the elder to do something against his will. The law also requires mandatory reporting for persons 18 years or age or older who are mentally incapable of caring for themselves. The newly enacted Colorado law requires that a pastor who witnesses or becomes aware that an at-risk elder has been or is “at imminent risk” for mistreatment (abuse, caretaker neglect, or exploitation), must make a report to law enforcement within 24 hours. In other states the reporting requirement is triggered when a pastor “knows, or has reason to suspect” that abuse, neglect, or exploitation has occurred.

We strongly advise pastors, workers, and those in authority positions at churches to follow the law in each of these cases of elder abuse as well as child abuse.

h3>The forces of secularism are hard at work in their attempts to strip from our culture every last vestige of America‚Äôs Christian heritage. Even worse, they are threatening our religious freedom - the very reason so many religious dissidents originally came to these shores.  Our forefathers created out of this new land a haven for religious freedom and freedom of conscience.  But today, these precious freedoms are in jeopardy.

There are two competing philosophies or worldviews in modern America.  On the one hand, America retains the rich, Godly heritage that originally made her great.  On the other hand, secularists are increasingly jeopardizing both our heritage and the religious liberties of all Americans.

Censorship of the Christian message in history books and in the public square is ominous. America’s founders were adamant in their views that only a religious people could maintain the liberty given to them by God and enshrined by them in the Declaration of Independence. We must not forget what John Adams, our second President and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, said about virtue being an implied assumption of our constitutional form of government. He warned his countrymen:

“[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

We praise the Lord for our Godly heritage in America, and we ask for your prayers as we fight to preserve and protect those God-given rights of religous freedom. 

Copyright infringement is rampant on the Internet.

A Christian or ministry should never knowingly infringe on the copyright of another.  Thus, anyone, including a ministry, who posts works not his own, should set up some very basic procedures in order to avoid copyright infringement. 

(1) Never assume that a work is not copyrighted. If you or the ministry did not create the work, it should be presumed that it is protected by copyright law.  Public domain works - those works in which the author has voluntarily renounced copyright protection - are rare.  Therefore, no one should assume any work is in the public domain unless specifically noted or it was created by a governmental body.

(2) Always get permission from the copyright holder before publishing copyrighted material on a website. This rule applies to pictures, music, text, or web casting. For instance, do not broadcast the church concert unless the ministry has permission from the copyright holder of the music.

(3) If the ministry is notified that it is infringing upon another’s copyright, immediately remove the material from the website until the matter is resolved. It is better for the ministry to suffer a little downtime than to face a costly lawsuit.

Not only can fines for copyright infringement be substantial - as much as $30,000 for each infringement - the unpermitted use of another’s copyrighted material is a violation of the law and a poor Christian testimony. Copyright laws are easy to violate, even with the best of intentions.  Many churches tape Sunday services to distribute to shut ins or use overheads for congregational singing.  Church officials are always very surprised to learn that this innocent practice may actually violate the law if not done correctly.

Our CLA office regularly receives calls from churches asking these questions:

May we videotape church services and special music programs to distribute to shut ins?

May we project the words to hymns or choruses on the overhead for congregational singing?

May we photocopy music for the choir? 

Surprisingly to most of our callers, the answer to all of these questions is, “No you may not, not if copyrighted music is involved.”

Musicians earn their living by selling the right to use their music property.  While copyright laws are rarely enforced, churches always want to make certain that they operate entirely within the law. 

Click here to download the August Legal Alert:

Click here to download the Legal Alert for August 2014

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