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June 30, 2005

What year will the HLR stop publishing?

Volokh Conspirator Orin Kerr, in his links to SCOTUSblog's new reports with voting stats from the recently completed Supreme Court term, tucks an interesting aside into his commentary. Referring to the reports, he writes:

"(This used to be a job for the Harvard Law Review's annual Supreme Court issue, but thanks to G&H's summer associates and the blogosphere more generally, such stats will be old news by the time the issue comes out in the coming winter.)"

Exactly. Click here for Kerr's review of notable findings from the reports and here for Kerr's post on new elite law review editorial policies that call for shorter articles.

June 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack


Just in case you haven't read every single thing you can about this case, courtesy of The Volokh Conspiracy:

  1. Jonathan Adler on Takings,
  2. Kelo and Regulatory Takings:
  3. Let's Have a Bit of Perspective Here:
  4. A Taking for an Excellent Public Purpose:
  5. Thomas Kelo Dissent T-Shirts & Mugs:
  6. Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) Proposes Limits on Eminent Domain:
  7. "Something has gone seriously awry":
  8. Somin on Kelo and Original Understanding:
  9. More on Kelo:
  10. Institute for Justice and the Castle Coalition:
  11. "The Great Equalizer":
  12. Kelo Topic Page:
  13. Perspectives on Kelo:
  14. Kelo:
  15. Kelo Discussion at SCOTUSblog:
  16. Kelo Opinions:
  17. Takings and Privatization:
  18. Big Government for Its Own Sake:

June 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

3Ls: Who will train you?

J. Craig Williams is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place: A seasoned attorney who only hires colleagues with 10 or more years of experience for his own firm, Williams is now watching the newly minted lawyer in the family, son Michel Ayer, job hunt.

"So how do we balance the desire not to pay for "training" lawyers with the desire to hire (and for that matter use in law firms) only trained lawyers?" asks Williams.

So, 3Ls, what do you think the profession owes itself -- and you? Comment here.

June 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

MacEwen runs the numbers on Am Law 100

Yup, the rich really are getting richer, says Bruce MacEwen.

The blogger of Adam Smith, Esq., spent yesterday running the numbers in year-over-year comparisons of revenue growth for The American Lawyer magazine's annual report.

Here's what he found: Amlaw100revenuechanges2004vs2003vs2002 "So what do we see?  I would argue:  Striking visual evidence that the hypothesis is correct. For each of the three series, the rate of increase in revenue is higher for larger firms than for smaller ..." I performed one other test.  Using Excel's "forecast" function, which extrapolates a series out to a future data point, I asked what revenue growth would look like for AmLaw firm #200, and these are the almost shocking results:

  • Based on an extrapolation of the 2004 vs. 2003 series, firm #200 would have revenue "growth" of -7.18%.  (Yes, that's a minus sign.)
  • Equally damning, based on an extrapolation of the two-year series (2004 vs. 2002), that same firm would scarcely enjoy any net revenue growth at all for the two years:  Specifically, a charitable-to-call-it-anemic 0.12%.

"I anticipate copious emails from the incredulous, the triumphant, and the Ph.D. statisticians."

For an explanation of this graphic and MacEwen's methodology, click here.

June 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Tomorrow some electronic filing fees change

As of Friday, July 1, "the application size fee for electronically filed utility and provisional patent applications will be based on 75% of the number of pages for the paper size equivalent of the specification (including claims) and drawings, and any external tables," writes Bill Heinze.

If you want to know how to calculate yours, click here.

June 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Why you take difficult cases

"All of us solo and small-firm lawyers have experience with those "dog" cases that drive us crazy and often lose us money in the process," writes Carolyn Elefant. As part of her voluminous reading, she has found an answer to why: An article explaining that "because even though so many of us have lost money off cases or been burned by difficult clients, the author eloquently reminds us that sometimes, we take a loser case because it's the right thing to do ..."

More here.

June 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Beyond the oxymoron: Hot KM

Ron Friedmann raises some interesting questions on baking knowledge management into law firm process.

June 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

Supremes on globe: Flat as they want it to be

Todd Zywicki, whose no-baloney blogging and congressional testimony about bankruptcy law impressed me even when I disagreed with him, has written a terrific post about the Supremes' treatment of international law.

In one blistering paragraph, Zywicki writes, "Leaving aside all of the intellectual arguments for whether the Court should or should not rely on international law for constitutional guidance, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Court's periodic reliance on world legal opinion is purely strategic rather than sincere, perhaps to dress up the Court's personal predilections in the guise of legal authority." More.

Amen. You should really read the whole, articulate thing -- and the 20 comments he has elicited. My 2 cents: Zywicki's right -- the Court is treating the globe as flat when it suits them, and round when it doesn't.

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Move over Grokster: National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. v. Brand X Internet Services

As legal and civilian discussions of Supreme Court decisions on the Ten Commandments, eminent domain and peer-to-peer file sharing continue, J. Craig Williams wonders who else is worrying about cable. Williams thinks it may have more of an effect on the Internet than Grokster:

"In this latter case, the Court considered whether cable companies would be required to open up their lines to Internet service providers like Brand X and EarthLink. The Court said, "No," giving cable companies a benefit unlike the telephone companies, which are required to allow other telephone carriers access to their telephone lines.

"Remember MCI? That's how they get started. EarthLink and Brand X wanted the same leg up from the cable companies. Now, however, Internet companies can't tap into cable lines, thanks to this Supreme Court decision. The effect on cable companies is certain: profit is secure and won't have to be shared. Consumers, on the other hand, may not get such a benefit, according to consumer groups ..."

More here.

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Do you mark up what you sub-contract and outsource?

Carolyn Elefant, writing today about her struggle with her own policy, welcomes your thoughts. She writes,

"In this context, allowing a law firm to profit off contract lawyers or outsourced services is not just ethical, but further, conduct we would want to encourage.  If a firm can hire a contract attorney with a decade of experience for $100 an hour and bill her out at $200, then the client gets a far, far better product at a lower cost than if the law firm had used a junior associate.  Here, the financial reward to the firm should motivate it to enter into more of these types of arrangements that benefit all parties involved. 

"But while the ethics of profiting off contract services is clear, I still can't bring myself to wholeheartedly endorse mark-ups on contract service as a matter of policy ..."

Find out why and offer your comment here.

Speaking of outsourcing, Bruce MacEwen recommends this cartoon.

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Why know-it-alls defend bad ideas

That's my rewrite of Scott Berkun's essay titled, "#40 Why Smart People Defend Bad Ideas" (he's much kinder than I am about some of the behavior he describes). Hat-tip to Matt Homann, who puts the piece in great, legal context:

"Now I know lawyers are trained to defend bad ideas (or at least advocate for clients with bad ideas), but what really struck me when I read the essay is just how often I’ve seen this behavior in opposing counsel, colleagues, and even myself.  Read the entire essay ..."

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Why do Skadden lawyers earn twice as much as Baker ones?

So asks Bob Ambrogi, who is musing over the Am Law 100, the list of America's 100 top-grossing law firms from 2004. With an eye to their hefty accounts receiveable, Ambrogi writes:

"I find it interesting that top-ranked Skadden earned $212 million more than number two Baker & McKenzie even though it has roughly half the number of lawyers -- 1,554 at Skadden compared to 2,992 at Baker. That means that, on a per-lawyer basis, Skadden's lawyers earned more than twice as much as Baker's lawyers -- $927,000 versus $410,000. The calculations for number three Latham & Watkins are more in line with Skadden -- earning $234 million less than Skadden with 52 fewer lawyers, for revenues per lawyer of $803,000. There must be more to this story than these numbers reveal."

Related stories:

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Hit this panic button when the SEC investigates

Geoff Gussis recommends two articles by Derek Meisner as your best defense against the dreaded summons:

"For inhouse attorneys, there is nothing that puts a lump in your throat like finding out that your company is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Whether you are a general counsel or a staff attorney, responding to an SEC investigation may be one of the most important things that you will do in your career -- and it will certainly be a giant blip on the radar of all other corporate officers and directors at your company. Fortunately, there is help, and his name is Derek M. Meisner ..."

Of course, if you're one of the so-called "actively disengaged" GCs Rees Morrison recently blogged about, you may need to hit a different panic button altogether ...

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

June 28, 2005

Grokster: Second thoughts by David Post

David Post, revisiting yesterday's immediate response to Grokster, writes today that:

"The unanimous Supreme Court decision holding Grokster & StreamCast liable as contributory copyright infringers for distributing peer-to-peer file-sharing software turns out, on close examination, to be not nearly the victory for the entertainment industry it might have seemed at first glance. [This, interestingly, repeats a pattern in these cases -- Sony v. Universal Studios (the Betamax case) was not (nearly) as big a loss for Hollywood as it appeared, nor, as I have argued elsewhere, was the Napster case as big a win) ..." More

Read on to learn what work-around you may have if your business embraces peer-to-peer file-sharing. (Hint: Read down to "Shut up about infringing uses" and then read Post's thoughts on what happens if you do shut up.)


June 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

New data: IP enforcement in China rhymes with yuck

Bill Heinze reports, based on survey data from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

June 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Speaking of partner-ese ...

Carolyn Elefant has brought me happily down to earth (from reading of the Am Law 100's billion$$$) with "Do You Speak 'Partner-ese'?" She begins:

"Sometimes I just know that I've been practicing solo too long.  One reason?  I've completely forgotten how to converse in "partner-ese," that obscure language used between partners and associates where associates must read between lines, jump through hoops and do everything else short of just asking direct and time saving questions. Consider these encounters ..."

June 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Holy profit$, Batman: Bloggers on Am Law 100

As the Am Law 100 list of top-grossing law firms makes its way around the Internet, crowned by a five with stunning, billion-dollar-plus earnings, the firm-watchers on's blog network have a few thoughts to add. Here's a roundup:

The Wired GC: "... These are really staggering numbers when you look at the column showing law firms with revenues into 10 figures. Sort of makes you feel less guilty about being taken to lunch. Next time I’m ordering a double cheeseburger ..."

Ron Friedmann: "Some quick (and unrelated observations) ... To the best of my knowledge, recent mergers have not changed the top-10 rankings. A couple of firms in the top 10 did merge -- Sidley Austin with Brown & Wood; Mayer Brown with Rowe & Maw -- but that was a couple of years or more ago if memory serves ..."

Mike Fox says the survey takes him back 30 years, "back to when I first was exposed to the world of "big law firms" sometime in my freshman year at the University of Texas School of Law in the fall of 1972 ... I have no clue what the annual revenues were, but I do know that the starting salaries when I graduated in the spring of 1975 was a princely $1,300 a month (the quick math is $15,600 a year.) "

Matt Homann: In his post, "Ten Law Firms that Wouldn't Hire Me Out of Law School," Homann writes that "you can order an electronic spreadsheet or subscribe to American Lawyer to see the other 90 firms that wouldn’t have hired me either." Heh.

Bruce MacEwen: "My very quick and dirty calculation of the change in revenue over last year's AmLaw 100 is that at the top (Skadden, what a shock) the increase was 8.27% ($1.440-billion vs. $1.330-billion), while at the bottom (Ballard Spahr this year, Preston Gates last year) the increase was only 5.82% ($200-million vs. $189-million).  Are the rich getting richer?  Very preliminarily, it certainly looks that way."   

Also providing a sneak-peek to this story are, in alphabetical order, Monica Bay, Michael Cernovich, Geoff Gussis and J. Craig Williams.

June 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

A sneak peek at the Am Law 100

The American Lawyer magazine and have posted this sneak peek at the Am Law 100, the list of America's 100 top-grossing law firms from 2004.

Let's just say it's been a banner year: Of the top ten firms, five firms posted revenues in excess of $1 billion in 2004. An editor sent me this snippet of the story:

"Sidley Austin Brown & Wood broke the billion-dollar barrier for the first time in 2004, while the others did so previously -- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in 1999; Baker & McKenzie in 2001; and Latham & Watkins and Jones Day in 2003. Gross revenue figures on this chart are rounded to the nearest $500,000. "

Here's how this chart works:

- Firms that tied in the rankings are listed alphabetically.

- Some firms provided fractional full-time equivalent or full-year equivalent lawyer numbers, which were rounded up to the nearest whole number.

- Firms marked with an asterisk have more than one partnership tier or some partners who are predominantly on fixed-income status

So, what do you think?

June 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Is Supremes vote on Grokster "Not one-sided"?

The Supremes have laid down the law in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. et al., v. Grokster, Ltd., et al. Volokh Conspirator David Post writes that, yes, the Supremes have handed the entertainment industry a big win -- "but actually not quite as one-sided as all that." Post writes:

"The full court says: even if you meet the Sony standard (i.e., even if you have "substantial noninfringing uses"), you can still be liable for inducing copyright infringement, if there's evidence that you actively encouraged or promoted infringing conduct. And there is such evidence in this case.
More interestingly, though, the Court is split on the question: Can you be liable for distributing file-sharing software if you are NOT actively inducing/encouraging/promoting its use for infringing purposes ..."

More here -- don't miss the trackbacks.

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Which of the Ten Commandments is enforceable anyhoo?

Now that the Supremes have delivered a 5-4 ruling that forces individual courthouses to examine where they hang the Ten Commandments on a case-by-case basis (see Hope Yen's great story for The AP), The Volokh Conspiracy is digging in to the issue. My favorite post to date is blogfather Volokh's modern application of the commandments. Here's an excerpt:

5. "Honour thy father and thy mother ..." Not legally enforceable.

6. "Thou shalt not kill." Legally enforceable, though of course with the usual qualifiers.

Read the entire "Nifty prose" piece. Here are some others, with terrific links off to Scotusblog and many other discussions:

All posts on one page here.

  1. Nifty Prose
  2. Ten Commandments and Modern Law?
  3. Discussion on the Ten Commandments Cases at SCOTUSblog
  4. Divisiveness and the Ten Commandments Cases

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

What a TRI/P: EU also has friction with developing countries

Bill Heinze reports that the European Union also is experiencing some friction with developing countries on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  Here's hoping for some movement before the October session.

Why do I say "also"? Here, in case you missed these related stories:

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Every solo needs a wing(wo)man

Carolyn Elefant recommends solos check out a new law office management assistance blog by Pat Yevics of the Maryland state bar,  alongside two blogs I also really like, by Reid Trautz and Jim Calloway.  Elefant writes: "The bars' law practice management offices are one of the best developments that I've seen to assist solo and small-firm lawyers; those offices either didn't exist or were not as robust back in 1993 when I went solo."

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

EEOC reorg

Mike Fox describes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reorg, how it may affect you and where to offer the EEOC your comments.

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

What will bloggers think of the Am Law 100?

We'll find out tomorrow, when launches the Am Law 100, the list of America's 100 top-grossing law firms from 2004, as reported by The American Lawyer magazine. As you can see from last year's write-up by Alison Frankel, one can learn a lot about the varying stripes of partner compensation in American BigLaw (equity, nonequity, junior, senior, etc.). I know that Bruce MacEwen plans to weigh in. You can also sign up for the AM Law 100 alert yourself.

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Time to tune your blog-dar

Ron Friedmann recommends you use some of the Web's millions of blogs to practice a little preventive law. I think he's on to something. Here's how to test it: Visit blog search engine to see what consumer research you can do on the firms who make the list. Type your firm's name into the redesigned and much more consumer friendly search engine and let 'er rip. You just might learn something ...

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

What pin-striped gloating looks like: Boardrooms vs. Milberg Weiss

The Wired GC wonders how much corner-office gloating is happening over today's roundup of stories (The WSJ,, Overlawyered and Tom Kirkendall) about the investigation of class action hound dogs Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman.

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

Week in review: bloggers ignite nearly unite on Kelo v. New London

Castlecoalition The Supremes' interpretation of the Fifth Amendment in Kelo v. New London has had an inflammatory effect on bloggers in the past few days -- and not a few political action groups (hence The Castle Coalition's graphic).  See Tony Mauro's report on Thursday's 5-4 ruling here.

Many a blogger has weighed in.  In Eugene Volokh's opinion, the core debate "is over whether the "public use" requirement of the Takings Clause means (1) "the taken property must be owned by the government, or sold by the government to a common carrier that has the legal obligation to serve everyone" or (2) "the taken property must be used by the government as a means of benefiting the public, even if the government benefits the public by selling the property to a private property owner."

Few bloggers are as calm when they discuss the decision. "Whose Constitution is it anyway?" asks J. Craig Williams in a post titled, "Eminent Domain Means Never Having To Say Your Sorry As Long As It's A *Public* Benefit." VC co-conspirator Todd Zywicki is so "wound up" that he shares subject lines he wrote and tossed as too over the top, including this gem: "Wal-Mart Celebrates: Now Wal-Mart need not lobby for huge development and tax subsidies for its new stores, it can just get the government to take the land it wants ... " I kinda like it.

Over on Crime & Federalism, Timothy Sandefur takes a slightly less aggrieved perspective. He writes, "Kelo is, obviously, a deplorable example of what happens when we start tinkering with property rights to begin with. ... That being said, there is room for optimism. Kelo really does little that Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954), did not already do..."

Here's a roundup:

The Volokh Conspiracy

  1. Somin on Kelo and Original Understanding:
  2. More on Kelo:
  3. Institute for Justice and the Castle Coalition:
  4. "The Great Equalizer"
  5. Kelo Topic Page
  6. Perspectives on Kelo
  7. Kelo
  8. Kelo Discussion at SCOTUSblog
  9. Kelo Opinions
  10. Takings and Privatization
  11. Big Government for Its Own Sake

Crime & Federalism

  1. Looking on the bright side of Kelo
  2. Kelo and its Progeny
  3. The key in Kelo
  4. The Kelo decision, or, does property mean anything anymore?

May It Please The Court

Eminent Domain Means Never Having To Say Your Sorry As Long As It's A *Public* Benefit

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Crummy HR policies are the employer's fault

That's my take on the yucky tale of Tatum v. Arkansas Department of Health (8th Cir. 6/20/05) [pdf]. Mike Fox, who shares the story as tastefully as possible, distinguishes "the difference between a court enforcing a legal standard versus imposing its own view of ideal personnel practices."

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Does [a] Princess Love Child work at your firm?

This blogger and other eye-popping ideas were invoked during a LegalTech West Coast keynote earlier this week. Monica Bay has the report:

"Edith Matthai, the president-elect of the L.A. County Bar, and a partner at Robie & Matthai, gave a provocative and sometime-puzzling keynote address at LegalTech West Coast Wednesday ..."

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

New look for the National Indian Law Library

Native_american_rights_fundYou don't have to be in Boulder, Colo., to benefit from this public law library devoted to federal Indian and tribal law. Bob Ambrogi reports that the site has a new look. Don't miss the Tribal Law Gateway that provides information on the constitutions and codes of all federally recognized tribes and, when available, links to online versions of the constitutions and codes.

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

SOX fan? Think again: Survey says compliance pushed public company costs by 30 percent

Law firm Foley & Lardner surveyed small to midsized companies and found that the average cost of being public increased 33 percent last year, reports Bob Ambrogi. Why? Sarbanes-Oxley ...

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Doctors change their ways, can lawyers?

... Asks Ron Friedmann at the beginning of an excellent post in which he points out an opportunity for legal industry leadership. Friedmann writes,

"Twenty years ago, when hit with rising malpractice claims, anesthesiologists did not try changing tort law; rather, they examined their own medical procedures in detail. Anesthesiologists left their practices for days at a time to pore over [thousands of] closed insurance claims. Data was coded and fed into computers for analysis. What they learned led to significant changes in medical practice.

"Lawyers are totally accustomed to examining the past to see what happened. Litigators look at cases, transaction lawyers at past deals. They are not accustomed, however, to examining how they did their work. If lawyers examined how they practiced, they would undoubtedly discover many ways to improve ..."

More here.

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Yo, 3Ls, these interview questions work for hiring employers, too

InhouseBlog recommends a refresher course on "Interview questions you shouldn't ask."

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

PowerPoint presentations don't have to rhyme with yuck

Here's how to avoid the dreaded "wall of words" and other presentational sins, courtesy of The Wired GC.

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

June 23, 2005

Legal Guide to Blogging

Liberty_waits_adI'd like to add my voice to the many bloggers who have commended the team at the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their fantastic, consumer-friendly Legal Guide for Bloggers, launched on June 13 when I was speaking in Germany.

I have read -- on too many blogs to trackback -- that Kurt Opsahl coordinated the project, involved many people at EFF, including bloggers Donna Wentworth and Wendy Seltzer. The whole team gets credit for a legal guide that is, frankly, a fun read. At one point the FAQ reads, "Enough of your legal mumbo-jumbo, give it to me straight!" The result, as Bob Ambrogi writes, is "a legal guide that's not just for bloggers."

No indeed, says Seltzer, whom I interviewed about the guide after learning of her role heading up The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse. When I asked her about its activist tone, she told me,

"Some of this document is encouraging people as they think of themselves as journalists to take advantage of some of the newsgathering opportunities that are out there. Sometimes it helps for people to go back and think from time to time about what it means that Congress can't restrict the freedom of speech or of the press. The Freedom of Information Act is a very powerful statute ... Bloggers who have a deep interest in something and expect that there might be some government records relevant to their subject should very much think about, 'Are there records that I could help bring out into the public because that's not limited to people writing for dead-tree media?'"

You can hear more from Seltzer and Lauren Gelman, associate director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society and author of the bloggers' amicus brief in Apple v. Does, by listening to my audio interviews with them here. I spoke to them in advance of their appearance at BlogHer Conference '05, where Editorial Director Jennifer Collins will walk them through their legal tips for a consumer blogging audience.

Hint: If you're not donating to EFF and you're a blogger, you should be. Off to walk my talk ...

June 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Where were those ketchup stains, anyway?

News of the weird gets weirder across the pond: Geoff Gussis reports in "Lawyer Resigns Over Trousers Stained with Ketchup." I recommend the Scotsman's story by Shan Ross. Here's Google's full list.

June 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

When being #2 is better than #1: Wachtell vs. Skadden

The Wired GC has been doing a little math on Corporate Board Member magazine's latest ranking of corporate law firms. As he sees it, the list should be reordered, putting Wachtell Lipton above Skadden Arps, like so:

2. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, New York
1. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, New York
3. Cravath Swaine & Moore, New York
4. Sullivan & Cromwell, New York
5. Jones Day, Cleveland
6. Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York
7. Baker & McKenzie, Chicago
8. Kirkland & Ellis, Chicago
9. Latham & Watkins, Los Angeles
10. Shearman & Sterling, New York

He's got some great points -- read more here.

June 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

June 22, 2005

Privacy, the Patriot Act and your library habits

Orin Kerr is skeptical about a recent story on how the Patriot Act is being used. He writes,

"Over at PrawfsBlawg, my friend Daniel Solove responds to a New York Times story about an American Libary Association press release claiming that state and federal law enforcement have made over 200 requests for information at libraries since 2001. There is no indication that any of the requests were related to the Patriot Act; no indication of what kind of information investigators sought or why; and no indication of whether this number is higher or lower than pre-2001 contact rates. Nonetheless, the ALA is claiming that this shows the DOJ is lying to the Amercian people that it isn't conducting surveillance at libraries..."

Find out here what Kerr thinks and why.

Speaking of your privacy, J. Craig Williams reports that the Ninth Circuit has invalidated portions of the California Financial Information Privacy Act.

June 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

No Fed statute of limits for retaliation claims brought under Qui Tam

Mike Fox reports:

"Justice Thomas writing for the Court found the 6-year statute of limitations for qui tam actions, added in 1986, is not applicable to the retaliation provision of that statute which was added the same year. Instead, courts should look to the most applicable state statute of limitations. Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District v. United States ex. rel. Wilson (U.S. 6/20/05) [pdf] ..."

June 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Prediction: Sales of trashy celebrity mags will dive

As someone who has been on the road for the past two weeks, I am thrilled to read Monica Bay's report on an airline that may introduce wireless.

June 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

EU patent directive: "absurdity" or "turning point"?

In his post on software patentability policy in the European Union, Bill Heinze reports that,

"According to a June 20, 2005, report by EurActive, 'The Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee adopted the draft directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions. Most of the major amendments proposed by the rapporteur, Michel Rocard, and other MEPs critical of the proposal were rejected ...'"
More here.

June 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

E-mail will ketchup with you eventually

Hilarious positive proof:

June 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

June 21, 2005

Get your blog on, part II

"How will that help me in my practice?" That question and others are part of Bob Ambrogi's post on yet another perspective on attorneys and blogs. The day after Carolyn Elefant said "Doing what you can is certainly better than doing nothing at all," Ambrogi writes: 

"Blogging is still a foreign concept to most legal professionals. Out of about 60 attendees (lawyers and paralegals), only two said they had ever heard of blogs. The value of blogging is difficult to convey in a seminar. To appreciate blogs, one has to dive in and use them for awhile ..."

Update: Don't miss J. Craig Williams' insights on why to blog.

June 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Coudert meets Fleet Street

The UK press, "not known for a dainty approach, is covering the developing (or should that be 'unravelling') story of Coudert with no minced words ..." writes Bruce MacEwen.

Related link: Coudert Merger? Update

June 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Supremes to review rebuttable presumption on patent tying

Bill Heinze reported Monday that "The U.S. Supreme Court ... granted certiorari in Illinois Tool Works, Inc. v. Independent Ink, Inc., Supreme Court No. 04-1329 ..."

June 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Res ipsa loquitur redux

Speaking of outsourcing, Monica Bay has this amusing story from a friend at a law firm in New York who (a) doesn't outsource and (b) knows how much The Common Scold abhors stupid jargon. Check it out.

June 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

How to write an outsourcing agreement

Geoff Gussis recommends a new Computerworld article by John Gliedman.

June 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

I win! No -- I win! California applies State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance v. Campbell

California has tested the limits of punitive damages in two recent state supreme court decisions, Simon v. San Paolo U.S. Holding, and Johnson v. Ford Motor. State supreme justices essentially reduced a $1.7 million verdict to $5,000 and a $10 million verdict to $53,435 plus a visit to an appellate court for more review, respectively. (Here's the Newswire report.)

According to J. Craig Williams, however, these decisions demonstrate that, for plaintiffs and defendants and the attorneys crafting their cases, the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance v. Campbell is still up for interpretation: 

"[T]hose decisions also left states some wiggle room, and wiggle California has done.

"In response to the pair of California cases on punitive damages, Plaintiffs' lawyers claim it's a win and Defense lawyers claim it's a win. Yes, I know the last two links are exactly the same; that's my point.

"Nobody's quite sure yet.

"Do we still have some more wiggling to do? Here's how Justice Werdegar put it: 'California law has long endorsed the use of punitive damages to deter continuation or imitation of a corporation's course of wrongful conduct, and hence allowed consideration of that conduct's scale and profitability,' she said in the Johnson case. 'We do not read the high court's decisions, which specifically acknowledge that states may use punitive damages for punishment and deterrence, as mandating the abandonment of that principle ...'"

More here.

June 20, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Get your blog on -- without a monkey on your back

Carolyn Elefant has some sage words of encouragement to lawyers who want to blog -- but fear the spectre of multiple, daily deadlines. Citing her recent article for GP Solo, Elefant writes:

"I realize that many serious bloggers advise that a blog can't succeed without multiple, regular postings or that you can't optimize the benefits of a blog without reading feed from dozens.  I disagree. Whether it's blogging or exercise or saving money any other new habit one wants to acquire, I don't think you always need to go all out to realize the benefits.  Doing what you can is certainly better than doing nothing at all ..."

This is just a taster -- read her proof of concept here. For what it's worth, I agree -- my work here and here makes it impossible for me to update my personal blog daily. But I still find it valuable to have a soapbox at the ready and an opportunity to write about my professional life. If you're interested in blogging, or if you're asking yourself, "Why blogs?" I urge you to go for it.

June 20, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Training day at Tyco: What they missed

The Wired GC has a hint for colleagues who may have to evangelize a better "tone at the top" than Tyco executives achieved before last week's bruising decision. As we know, the company's high-living CEO and CFO were found guilty on 22 criminal counts by a New York jury, who apparently took issue with their inability to explain why certain "compensation" (a) was news to the board (b) wasn't reported.

The Wired GC suggests,

During compliance training, I like to use a common response when someone asks if conduct X is potentially a problem. "Think about your parents, spouse or child reading about it in the newspaper" is the reply.

"I think I know two people who might have had some faint recollection of that concept last Saturday morning ..."

June 20, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

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