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November 30, 2005

One man in (almost) 1000: Ruben Cantu

As Americans wait to see who will be the 1,000th person executed since capital punishment was resurrected in 1976, Mike Cernovich reaches outside California's own death row to draws our attention to the case of 18-year-old Ruben Cantu. Cernovich asks, "Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man? PrawfsBlawg's Dan Markel explores the question in this interesting Slate piece ..."

November 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

UPDATED - BlawgWord 2006: How to get your copy

J. Craig Williams recommends you check out "your free copy of BlawgWorld 2006, Capital of Big Ideas, which is out and features thoughts and posts from 51 influential legal blogs.  You can download your free copy from the link, in advance of the crowds at the bookstore."

Bob Ambrogi recommends you sign up for TechnoLawyer, whether or not you want the book:

"Saying all this makes me sound like a shill for TechnoLawyer, but the truth is, it is worth joining. I've been a member for more years than I can remember. Members are able to sign up for any of a series of e-mail newsletters focused on legal technology and eligible to search its article archive."

November 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

UPDATE: "The Supremes talked about abortion rights, not Roe v. Wade"

Lyle Denniston, blogging on SCOTUSblog, has a very interesting write-up of today's ongoing Supreme Court discussion of Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Scheidler v. National Organization for Women. (Note: You can listen to the Ayotte arguments yourself on C-SPAN, thanks to Bob Ambrogi's links at Abortion oral arguments to stream today on C-SPAN )

Denniston offers this opinion on what you'll hear:

"Roe v. Wade and its fate never got mentioned. There was not the slightest hint of any agitation within the Court to narrow abortion rights, and certainly no sign that Roe's future was in jeopardy -- at least with this combination of Justices. Instead, the Court appeared to be dealing with the new cases as if abortion rights at this stage had become primarily a matter calling for technical legal precision."

Update: Baloney, said Dahlia Lithwick in a Slate article posted the evening of Ayotte's argument. In "Nipping Away at Roe v. Wade," Lithwick writes:

"Just to be clear about what's happening today: No one is talking about reversing Roe v. Wade. But I can't count five people willing to apply the holding in Casey to these facts either. Instead most of the court is doing constitutional loop-the-loops to try to save the New Hampshire law, even though they are almost all bothered by the lack of a health exception. Mostly they try to graft a health exception back on, whether or not the New Hampshire legislators wished to have one. The larger point is that New Hampshire nipped and tucked the so-called right to an abortion when it passed this law, and most of the court thinks that is just fine.

"This morning we learned that soon-to-be Justice Samuel Alito embraced this nip-tuck strategy years ago. No need to wait for Roe to be overturned. Just eat away at it, one small nibble at a time." More

Denniston also shares some interesting observations on how the new chief justice, John Roberts, emceed his first Supreme Court discussion on the incendiary topic (abortion) that is igniting opposition to Samuel Alito, Bush's second nominee:

"The new Chief Justice, John G. Roberts, Jr., contributed to that impression in the case about parental notice laws for minors seeking an abortion. Rather than an across-the-board challenge to a New Hampshire parental notice law, Roberts suggested, perhaps a better approach would have been for doctors to bring a "more focused" challenge to the adequacy of emergency procedures available to teens who did not want to tell their parents. And, in the clinic blockade case, he suggested that the Court should not reach out to decide questions not necessary to resolve that particular dispute."

What do you think?

Related posts:

Legal Blog Watch: Abortion in context: From New Hampshire to Arkansas to Alito

Google's blogsearch results: Here

November 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Could matching associates to the right clients every Monday make you more money?

Last week, Ron Friedmann wrote about a new approach by IBM to making more money by making its teams work happier and better. This week, Ron's at it again, suggesting yesterday that "improving the process of assigning associates could improve partner profits." Today, he reports, "Bryan Cave, with its deep commitment to business intelligence, appears to have done so ..." More here.

November 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

"The days of turning parents against each other to get little Billy are over."

And it's about time. We all know a parent who is getting -- or getting over -- a divorce.  Maybe it's a client. Perhaps it's even you.  No matter which category you and/or your client fits into, I  recommend you read and pass along today's excellent story by Tresa Baldas in The National Law Journal. In "Taking Combat out of Custody: As custody battles intensify, lawyers take on new roles," Baldas helps spread the word about a new approach to divorce that helps parents focus on what's best for the loneliest and most helpless parties to each divorce: their children.

November 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

Abortion in context: From New Hampshire to Arkansas to Alito

Today is a banner day for sane discussion of the medical procedure known as abortion, thanks to a plethora of articles in Tuesday's newspapers and Web sites that put the issue into legal, social and judicial context.

Let's start with The New York Times' court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who peels back the layers of Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear this case tomorrow -- its first on abortion in five years, Greenhouse notes -- and to examine New Hampshire's decision not to provide an exception to parental consent for non-life-threatening medical emergencies. Nope, not constitutional, said two lower courts, that barred enforcement of the law. Just when and how can federal courts "bar the enforcement of abortion restrictions that have not yet gone into effect" and haven't affected anybody? That's question number two.

Riffling through discussions of this issue on memeorandum, I see that Jill of Feministe invokes stare decisis: "While that second question is trickier, the first issue seems pretty clear to me: The Supreme Court already ruled that restrictions on abortion must have a health exception. Let’s see how much the new justice(s) actually value precedent when these cases come up."

Good question. When the precedent involved is Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito may be wobbly, according to Legal Times reporter T. R. Goldman.  In his story, "Inside the Alito Memo," Goldman links Alito's 1985 application to work in the Reagan administration with his work on Thornburgh v. the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Goldman writes:

"In the Thornburgh case the government argued that Roe v. Wade's tenuous constitutional moorings make the principle of stare decisis less than sacrosanct. "A decision as flawed as we believe Roe v. Wade to be becomes a focus of instability," the government wrote in its brief, "and thus is less aptly sheltered by [the doctrine of stare decisis] from criticism and abandonment."

"If Alito's jurisprudential views match those on the Thornburgh brief -- and at least in 1985, Alito indicated that they do -- then the job application provides the Judiciary Committee with the type of window into a future justice's thinking that, since the failed nomination of Robert Bork, has become almost nonexistent.

"This is not a personal belief that 'I don't like abortion,'" says Elliot Mincberg of People For the American Way, which is vigorously fighting the Alito nomination. "This is a personal legal belief about how the Constitution ought to be interpreted."

There's theory. And then there's reality. For a reality check on this procedure and the role it plays beyond the realm of theory, I recommend Stephanie Simon's story on Dr. William F. Harrison in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in today's Los Angeles Times. I won't excerpt any of it -- I just recommend you read the whole thing. Happily, many people are -- I see it's the #2 most e-mailed story, right behind "Bigger Butts Need Longer Needles for Injections."

Waiting in the wings: The issue of third trimester abortion. In addition to Greenhouse, read Bashman's other links here and here.

Related links:

SCOTUSblog: Tomorrow's Argument: Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

November 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Judge Posner: Pragmatist or pessimist?

Over at Stanford Law's Center for Internet and Society, Lauren Gelman has been reading Judge Posner's book, "Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy." Let's just say she doesn't share his view of human nature:

"Judge Posner basically thinks that efforts to engage the unengaged are futile or otherwise not worth it, and a view of democracy that accepts that 50% of the population doesn’t vote is preferred to one that asks how can we get more people to engage to effect decisions made by others that impact on their lives ... "I think this view is so depressing I can't envision how he wrote 400 pages describing it. The project I'm working on may be aspirational, which never before did I think was a negative, but hopefully it can offer an insight into how we can improve our system by engaging some more people in the conversation about it. "

So, what do you think?

November 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oh that line item? It's for the Kleenex I used while working on your case.

Should you really provide line-items for every teensy little thing on your bills to clients? Um, no, says Carolyn Elefant, who agrees with a recent post by Jonathan Stein. She adds, "[F]or me, the much trickier question when it comes to billing clients for expenses is what our obligation is, as attorneys to seek out the lowest cost options when we're passing the costs on to our clients.  The question is more timely now than ever because with the advent of the Internet, we're able to gain access to so much more price information and more readily obtain lower prices than a decade ago ..." Read the rest of Client Expenses - Not Whether They Pay, But How Much.

November 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Would you sell your IP on eBay?

No, I'm not talking about this court case. I'm talking about Rees Morrison's post about maximizing profit from the work your legal department has already done. Read on for more about a company that is "buying and selling IP online."

November 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Severance pay: "4th Circuit primer on ERISA"

Courtesy of Michael Fox, who writes "the 4th Circuit covers a lot of ground in a straight forward manner" in Coluci v. Afga Corporation Severance Pay Plan (4th Cir. 11/28/05). A bonus: Fox's related links to Strategic HR Lawyer's blog.

November 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Japanese patent numbering system and other FAQs on Japan, China and Korea

Thanks to Bill Heize's post, A Concise Guide to Asian Patent Information, you can check out what European Patent Office's new "Frequently asked questions (FAQ) on Japan, China and Korea" Web page. Heinze says this FAQ "provides answers to common questions about industrial property in Japan, China and Korea. For cases where your question is not answered there, you can also write to them ..."

November 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Now that music lovers have replaced vinyl with iPods, check out the new generation of lie detectors

Litigator Norm Pattis recently lost sleep -- midtrial, he notes -- thanks to the book "Neuroscience and the Law: Brain, Mind and the Scales of Justice." His enticing review makes the lie-detector test sound like the neural-testing equivalent of a gramophone in today's world of iPods:

"Are lie detectors unreliable? Fine, how about charting the P300 brain wave, which is activated when a person knowingly fails to be truthful, or lies? Farfetched? This business of Brain Fingerprinting, as it is know, was admitted into evidence in Iowa not long ago. Harrington v. Iowa, PCCV 073247 (Pottawattamie County D.C. Iowa, 2000).

Are psychological tests unreliable in part because they rely in part on self-reporting? Then let's eliminate the danger of malingering by going right to the source of cognition, the neural circuitry that underlies and, perhaps, forms the mind ..."

More here, including where to get a 30-page book summary from the publisher.

November 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

How hot is podcasting for biz?

Red hot. Monica Bay quotes from a recent Bridge Ratings study that "4.5 million people will download a podcast this year, and that by 2010 that number will increase tenfold. " She goes on to preview a podcast by Charles Engros, managing partner at the New York office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius. More here.

November 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

November 28, 2005

Top 10 reasons it is difficult to manage in-house counsel

Do you agree with Rees Morrison? Or is his complaint that it's like "herding cats" endemic to managing anybody -- from law practices to families at Thanksgiving dinner? Comment here.

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

How bad it is: Environmental contamination from Rita, Katrina

Worse news has followed bad. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published its test results from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, reports J. Craig Williams. For four states, the news is dire:

"Rarely have we experienced these types of contaminants in residential areas on such a wide scale.  Decontamination will be difficult at best because of the pervasive nature of the sediment spread in areas affected by flooding.  Water cleanup can be handled in the normal manner (which will still be expensive), but for the time being, not even boiling water will solve the problem.  Air pollution will dissipate over time, but given the amount of contaminants in the topsoil, there will be some transference to the air as the dirt is disturbed for cleanup.  Most people won't even know about their exposure.

The most difficult aspect of the cleanup will be paying for it ..."

Read on here for Williams' discussion of the challenges in getting businesses and insurers to take responsibility for cleaning up contamination from acts of God. An equally upsetting link is Marc Mayerson's post of last week, "Stranded without Recourse: FEMA Halts Payment of Flood-Insurance Claims."

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

This sounds like a made-for-CourtTV movie

"You be the judge:  the prosecutor wants to stage a re-enactment of how a wife stabbed her husband some 200 times," writes J. Craig Williams. "The prosecutor proposes to bring in the blood-stained mattress, use a "husband" approximately the same height and size as the now-deceased husband, and "act" to show the jurors how she proposes the wife used the knife, straddling the husband on the mattress ..."

Vote here.

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

If a Goliath-sized case showed up on your doorstop, should David-sized firms take it?

In her post, "Small Firms Fighting Big Companies," Carolyn Elefant lays down a tough question for small firms with her usual frankness. Her case study? An article on Kansas City attorney Lon Walters and his plaintiffs' litigation against BP Amoco.

Elefant takes note of two former U.S. Attorneys, in fact, who eschewed BigLaw to pursue the lives of litigators. Read more in "U.S. AGs Decide to Shingle."

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Could match-making law associates to the right clients make you more money?

Ron Friedmann, who has taken a long look at IBM's global consulting business system that matches consultants with the right job, runs the numbers for law firms using a recent BusinessWeek article.

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

"Billin' on Christmas Eve" and other holiday hits for clients on hold

Okay, now I'm in the holiday spirit. Try reading Blawg Review #34 while listening to the tunes The Wired GC recommends in Making a List

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

180 pieces of pumpkin pie later: Blawg Review #34

Douglas Sorocco of Phosita offers this week's post-Thanksgiving Blawg Review, in which I found many gems. Here's my favorite:

"B.L. Ochman points to Media Law Resource Center's online list of libel and related lawsuits against bloggers.  In the "this is absurd" category, the case of Ohio v. Baumgartner is highlighted wherein two bloggers were held on charges of intimidation, retaliation and possession of criminal tools (i.e. a computer) ..."

I'm not Sorocco's only fan -- see Bruce MacEwen's A Little Humor Never Hurts, and Bob Ambrogi's Blawg Review #34 is up.

I also see, thanks to the elusive Ed of Blawg Review, that Tony Gill's edition of Carnival of the Capitalists includes many, many links to blawggers today, including links to Legal Redux, which "has gathered information, graphs and charts from an article published in CQ Researcher, an academic journal that looks at current events" and blog affiliate Marc Mayerson. My favorite is this excerpt from the Becker-Posner Blog:

"Economist Gary Becker says, 'Hurricane Katrina and now the danger of an avian flu pandemic -- one an actual, the other a potential, catastrophe for which the nation failed or is failing to prepare adequately -- underscore the need for institutional reforms that will overcome policy myopia based on inability to plan seriously for responding to catastrophes of slight or unknown probability but huge potential harm,' Judge Richard Posner responds."

Would you like to see links to your shiny blawg in next week's Blawg Review? Then I recommend you find out more about the submission guidelines.

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll be back on Monday.

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Is the anti-Alito ad true? Of and Fox

Yesterday, a coalition of groups lead by People for the American Way released a television ad opposing Judge Sam Alito's nomination to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.  The ad, "West Wing," discusses Alito rulings on abortion, strip searches and racial discrimination. When I read on TalkLeft and heard on the Supreme Court Watch Podcast that Fox News refused to air the ad (CNN is running it, according to PAW's press release), I hightailed it over to is the Annenberg Political Fact Check site to which I became addicted during last year's election. Here's their take on the ad:

"Liberal Ad Against Alito: True As Far As It Goes. We supply background that's missing from the 30-second spot.


A mostly liberal group's ad says  Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito made a ruling "to make it easier for corporations to discriminate" and also "voted to approve the strip search of a 10-year-old girl."

"As is often the case with 30-second ads, there's more to it than that.

"Alito did dissent from a 1997 ruling that allowed an African-American woman to sue Marriott Corp. for discrimination because a white woman got the supervisor's job she wanted and thought she had been promised at a hotel in New Jersey. Alito agreed that the black woman may have been "treated unfairly" by her employer, but ruled that she had produced too little evidence of racial discrimination to allow her lawsuit to go forward. Marriott argued that the white woman whom they brought in for the job had more training, had worked at a larger hotel and had supervised higher-ranking employees.

"Alito also objected to allowing a Pennsylvania couple to sue local police for strip-searching their daughter during a methamphetamine raid in 1998. Although no drugs were found in the raid, police argued that their warrant allowed them to search "all occupants" of the house. And while Alito said the warrant allowed the search, he made clear he disapproved the search on a personal level, expressing a "visceral dislike" for such intrusive methods.

"The ad also notes, quite accurately, that as a government lawyer 20 years ago Alito wrote that the Constitution "does not protect the right to an abortion."

Read on for's full assessment, a text summary of the ad and PDFs of Alito's related opinions and 1985 application for a job with the Reagan Administration.

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

"We do not find evidence that the system works to the benefit of small inventors or firms ..."

Calling all inventors and their attorneys: Check out "Who Wins in First-to-Invent Patent System?" by Bill Heinze.

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

The fourth prong: Miles v. Dell

"When preliminary decisions that are not carried out are enough to hold an employer liable, life just got more difficult," writes Mike Fox. More here on Miles v. Dell, Inc.. (4th Cir. 11/22/05), and the related issues of pregnancy, retaliation and a new standard.

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Save the dates: 2006 KM conferences

Joy London, who recently earned kudos from Nikki LaCrosse of, recommends you save these dates. (Full disclosure: Some conferences on her list are sponsored by ALM, the publisher of this blog.)

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Help grow UCL Practitioner's list of women blawggers

I just got an e-mail from Kimberly Kralowec, who blogs The UCL Practitioner. She's been compiling a list of women blawggers and has it up here.  Kralowec is building out three categories: Law blogs by women, law blogs co-authored by women and female law professors who blog

Are there any you'd add to her list? Three law blogs co-authored by women that immediately occur to me are: , TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime , the Supreme Court Watch Podcast. I also recommend Ann Althouse's podcast version of her blog, Audible Althouse.  What are we missing?

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"More alchemy than chemistry" -- How much insurance your company needs

"Purchasing the 'right' amount of coverage is not possible," writes Marc Mayerson, who skillfully lists all the factors one has to consider, including whether or not your corp has been recently dinged for $5 million. In an educational essay, Mayerson digs into a related study by broker Marsh on what companies paid:

"Among the nearly 3,000 companies surveyed, the average amount of liability limits purchased was $75 million. According to Marsh, one significant factor that correlates to the amount of limits purchased is whether the insured previously has suffered a $5-plus million loss. For this group, the average limit purchased was $199 million compared to $64 million for companies that haven’t experienced such a loss within the last five years. "(p. 5)

He goes on to dig into insurance purchased by industry sector and company size. He also assesses need, based on jury verdicts in wrongful death lawsuits. Read on.

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

For $10.95, will CourtTV filter out Nancy Grace?

Sadly, no. But for $5.95, you can watch the closest thing to full coverage of Saddam Hussein's trial on Court TV Extra. The AP reports, "Court TV Extra said Tuesday it would show the trial on a 20-minute delay. It is scheduled to air from roughly 4 to 9 a.m. EST, with on-demand highlight clips also available. "

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

Could Alito swing death decisions to the right?

Yesterday, blogfather Howard Bashman recommended Brent Kendall's article, "Alito Could Swing Death Decisions to the Right," from The Daily Journal of California. Sentencing Law professor Doug Berman responds by thanking Bashman and linking to his own series of posts on the topic, written since President Bush nominated Sam Alito to fill outgoing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's  seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Here's Berman's collection:

I will resist the temptation to rob Berman's posts of their nuance and use them to answer the question I raise in my headline. You'll have to read them yourself ...

November 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't ask clients what they think unless you're prepared to improve

Merely asking clients what they think can raise client expectations, writes Rees Morrison: "... clients create expectations based on past experiences. Hence, the first survey by a law department has a retrospective tone, but it may raise the bar of performance expectations for the future. If true, the law department that frequently asks 'How are we doing?' may find itself on a treadmill of rising client expectations ..."

Then again, to Morrison's other point, it's probably better than working in the dark.

November 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

The practice of court swapping

Michael Fox recently wrote two interesting posts about attorneys who pulled a switcheroo, jumping jurisdictions to compel arbitration:

November 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

The future of Raich?

Randy Barnett, who argued for Angel Raich in Gonzales v. Raich, has written a follow-up to that decision. He begins:

"In Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the Controlled Substance Act, as applied to the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes as recommended by a physician and authorized by state law. The challenge relied on the precedents of United States v. Lopez and United States v. Morrison in which the Court had found that the statutes involved had exceeded the powers of Congress under the Commerce Clause. As explained by the articles in the symposium in which this Foreword will appear, the Court in Raich has now cast the applicability of these previous decisions into doubt. In this brief essay, I offer a route by which a future majority of the Supreme Court can limit the scope of its decision in Gonzales v. Raich should it desire to put its commitment to federalism above a commitment to national power. Viewed in this light, the decision in Raich is not quite as sweeping as it first appears ..."

More here.

November 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack


Geoff Gussis recommends a new Open Source Legal Dictionary and Encyclopedia Launched by Cornell.

November 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Latest USPTO reports

Over on IP Updates, Bill Heinze has posted a rash of terrific links and charts in the past few days that share the latest public information from U.S. patent offices and some across the pond. Here you go:

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:

Patent-related issues across the pond:

November 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

"The Hee-Bee Jee-Bee Test"

"It is better to be in debt to a bank than to owe your time and skill to a client who would better be served by a psychiatrist," writes Norm Pattis. To fully appreciate why he thinks this way, I recommend you read his post, The Hee-Bee Jee-Bee Test.  Is it the best sanitycheck professional mentoring you'll never have to pay for?

November 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How Sheppard Mullin blogged its way to "Legal IT Innovator of the Year"

Blawgs aren't just for solos. Check out Friday's post by Joy London, who explains how Tom Baldwin, Chief Knowledge Officer at Sheppard Mullin, helped the company turns its back on e-mail newsletters and blog its way to the top of Google and Yahoo search results.

November 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

November 21, 2005

Yes, Virginia, solos can profit from blogs -- and BigLaw!

Carolyn Elefant's been out hunting and gathering her best advice for solo bloggers. If you are holding out against raising your profile via a blawg, you'd better read her work of the weekend:

I bet you'll reconsider.

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Podcast: The Patriot Act and National Security Letters

Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams recently recorded this conversation with Jameel Jaffer, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who has litigated several significant cases involving government secrecy and national security, and Coleen Rowley, the former FBI agent who exposed lapses in the investigation of suspected al-Qaida operative Zacarias Moussaoui and who is now a Democratic candidate for Congress from Minnesota. Don't miss it!

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Fair use for documentaries

On Friday we reviewed various and sundry definitions of "fair use." <sigh> Over the weekend, Cathy Kirkman took the conversation one step further, recommending fair use best practices for documentaries.

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

9th Circuit: Who owns Eisenhower's war memoirs

The definition of work-for-hire in Twentieth Century Fox v. Dastar, courtesy of Cathy Kirkman.

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Yes, you do need practice support consultants

After completing "a 15-firm benchmarking study for Hunton & Williams CIO Jamie Booth on the role we called 'practice support consultants,' " Ron Friedmann shares why:

"(1) Though firms wanted staff in this role to initiate improvements, many pressures kept them more reactive;

"(2) The person in the role does not have to be a lawyer but must be familiar with law practice.; and

"(3) Organization and ownership of the role vary widely."

More here.

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Right, because you're really going to leave your opinion here

Orin Kerr links the Harvard Law School Admissions Blog, which looks and reads like a slick brochure (nary a scent even of the beer on the floor at Lincoln's Inn). Hmmm ... I wonder what kind of comment A3G would have left?

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

What Hasbro's GC and this marketing consultant can teach your law firm

The Wired GC makes like a blog-fly on the wall at write-ups on a  New England chapter of the Legal Marketing Association and recommends some links. He confirms, yes, Hasbro really does keep the yummy entertainment stuff for inside counsel -- and sends out the ERISA ...

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Blawg Review #33: Overlawyered

What do you call a blawg that dates back to 1999?? Well, successful for one thing: The authors of Overlawyered, the host of this week's Blawg Review, say their pioneering (not THE blawg pioneer, but one of the pioneers, so simmer down ya'll) typically gets 6,000-8,000 unique visitors on a weekday.

Their weekly carnival of blawggers opens with a little background on these well-respected fossils authors:

"More specifically, there are two of us posting here. One of us (Walter Olson) has been writing about these topics for twenty years as the author of several books ("The Litigation Explosion," "The Excuse Factory," "The Rule of Lawyers") and a great many shorter articles. He's a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who lives and works in Chappaqua, N.Y., north of New York City. More recently Ted Frank, who's in Washington with the American Enterprise Institute, joined as a regular blogger. Unlike Walter, Ted is a lawyer, having practiced until lately with O'Melveny & Myers. Both of us also blog at the (somewhat more serious-toned) Web site Point Of Law, which unlike this one is sponsored by our respective institutes and boasts numerous other contributing writers ..."

Read on for the best wrap-up on the demise of Underneaththeirrobes that I've read anywhere.

Next week's host is phosita. Want to see your shiny links in their Blawg Review? Read how.

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

What are the best blogs in the world?

As I just blogged on Surfette, Deutsche Welle has announced the winners of the BOBs -- the Best of the Blogs. Meanwhile, Chinese lawyer Wang Yi has a new blog and a great take on "don't shoot the messenger." (For another take on the experience of lawyering in China, I recommend TalkLeft's Many Criminal Defense Lawyers Jailed in China).

Look forward to your thoughts.

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

November 18, 2005

Coming soon to a screen near you? Rules on how movie stars drink their Coca-Cola

A $1 billion-dollar market has got to be worth regulating. And sharing. Hey, and how about telling the audience about it too? Cathy Kirkman explains the new code of conduct recommended by the Writer's Guild for product placements aka "stealth marketing" spots that are driving ten figures in revenue for Hollywood. 

Looks like previews could get even longer, but I'm thrilled, as a parent and as a writer. As a parent, I want to know who's putting what in front of my kids and who owns it. As a writer, I think The Economist nails it with this example of the damage product placement has done and can do to great stories (you need a subscription to read the whole thing, but you'll be able to see the lede and get my point I think). Thanks Cathy!

November 18, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

"Stranded without Recourse: FEMA Halts Payment of Flood-Insurance Claims"

In his best post to date, Marc Mayerson explains FEMA's latest stunt:  "to authorize not paying valid [insurance] claims until Congress appropriates more funding." Here's an excerpt:

"There are nearly 100 insurance companies whose write-your-own (WYO) flood-insurance policies are backed by FEMA, and FEMA -- amazingly, alarmingly -- has told those insurers to stop paying claims.

"The way the WYO (or "Part B") program is meant to work is that the insurance companies that participate collect premiums and hold that money for the purpose of paying claims. FEMA in turn provides letters of credit on behalf of the private insurers to pay claims in excess of the premiums collected and also provides reinsurance. But FEMA's coffers now are bare ... "

Mayerson proceeds to examine the case law and conclude that people who paid their money for this insurance are now stranded -- in his professional opinion, they are even prevented by the Federal Tort Claims Act from going after FEMA. His conclusion? 

"Accordingly, there does not appear to be any judicially enforced (i) incentive on FEMA to pay claims promptly when due, (ii) directive to ensure that the private insurance companies perform promptly, or (iii) sanction to prevent the private insurers from engaging in bad faith. The check on FEMA’s power or abuses -- or those of its partners in the WYO program -- is political. That check, however, is not the same as one that says “pay to the order of,” which is what the residents of the Gulf States with valid claims are looking for."

It occurs to me that most of the same people who have been dutifully paying their premiums for WYO insurance policies that are no help to them at this moment, also have the right to vote. Luckily for FEMA and these insurance companies, that option may be closed to them too...

Related: Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's podcast, "Fiscal Responsibility and Gulf Coast Reconstruction."

November 18, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Why poorer, smaller UK firms are better innovaters than the Yanks

In her post, "Listen to Your Mavericks," Joy London shares the insight of  London law tech guru Richard Susskind. "Susskind comes down pretty strong on the U.S. law firm business model," London writes, before he "then discusses why UK firms are more motivated to implement innovative client-facing KM tools."

November 18, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

Next time you teach your spouse to drive, just pull up and down the driveway

Mike Cernovich shares the back story on the 9th Circuit's latest ruling re: the community caretaker doctrine. Why did the court find it unconstitutional for a police officer to seize a vehicle in Miranda v. City of Corneliu? Cernovich begins:

"A husband wanted to teach his wife how to drive.  Husband had a license, wife did not have a license.  Fifteen-year-old high school students obtain blue slips and regularly learn how to drive from a licensed driver, usually a parent.  But because the Mirandas did not speak English well, they did not know about such driver's ed. programs.

"The wife drove through their neighborhood at about 10 m.p.h.  A police officer saw the car moving slowly and pulled them over just as they were pulling into their driveway.  Rather than giving the Mirandas a warning, the police officer ticketed both of them.  He also had their car impounded ..."

November 18, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack Blog Network Anniversary

Just a quick shout-out of congratulations to all the blog affiliates and affiliates emeriti for a fantastic first year as a pioneering blog network. This group forged a path for the viral syndication unit you see on the right hand side of this page (yes, the "fat-boy" or "@!#$%!!!" ad, as it's known, and syndicated headlines).  Oh -- and they broke a lot of news, delivered key legal and industry insights, and cracked a good joke or two along the way. My current colleagues are:

May It Please The Court
Adam Smith, Esq.
Blawg Review
I/P Updates
Jottings by an Employer's Lawyer
Crime & Federalism
Silicon Valley Media Blog
Insurance Scrawl
The Common Scold
Robert Ambrogi's LawSites
Law Department Management
Excited Utterances
Prism Legal
The Wired GC

It's a pleasure working with you all. I look forward to an exciting 2006.

November 18, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack

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