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April 30, 2008

Am Law 100: 2007 Was a Year to Feast, But Is It a Prelude to Famine?

2007 was a banner year for the nation's top law firms according to the much anticipated American Lawyer 2008 Am Law 100 Report, which hit the streets today.  On the positive side, combined revenues for the top 100 reached $64.5 billion, an increase of 13.6 percent, with two firms, Skadden and Latham and Watkins breaking the $2 billion barrier.  As for "profits per partner," the metric that matters most to firms, nineteen firms had profits per partner of $2 million or more, an increase of four over last year.

But as Aric Press and John O'Connor describe in this accompanying analysis, the good times won't last.  Though part of the increase in PPP was attributable to increased demand for high-end legal services and "unrelenting rate hikes," they're also higher because fewer lawyers are getting a piece of the partnership pie.  In 2007, the average equity partnership grew by 2.6 percent -- or roughly five partners per firm.  And as Press explained in a webinar held yesterday:

The percentage of equity partners shrank again, now down to roughly 23 percent of headcount... The fastest-growing category of lawyers in the Am Law 100 was non-equity partners, which now account for 35 percent of all partners. If these growth rates continue, non-equity partners will exceed equity partners by the year 2015 -- as they already do at 21 firms. Seldom have so many done so much for so few.

(H/T to ABA Journal for its summary.)

Moreover, with the economy now in a slump, big ticket items, notably deal activity, have declined -- and haven't been offset by revenues from hotter practice areas like litigation or bankruptcy.  Head count at law firms has exceeded the growth in revenues per lawyer -- which can begin to take a bite out of profits.  Finally, consultants argue that firms will pay the price of last year's salary hikes as the demand for high-priced legal help begins to decline.

Stay tuned for more feedback on the Am Law 100 as bloggers begin to analyze the results.

April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Did a Question by Volokh About Lesbos Trigger a Lawsuit?

Did an innocent hypothetical by Eugene Volokh give rise to this lawsuit by three residents of the Aegean Sea island of Lesbos, asking an Athens court to block the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece from using the term "lesbian" in its name?  Seems that Lesbos citizens are known as lesbians, and the Lesbos plaintiffs have taken umbrage that their "geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos."  The plaintiffs also claim that use of the term lesbian by a gay organization "insults the identity" of the people of Lesbos.

So what's Volokh got to do with any of this?  Turns out that back in July, Volokh asked his readers:

Can anyone who knows something about modern Greece tell me what (if anything) the inhabitants of Lesbos — Lesvos in modern Greek, I believe — think about the term "lesbian"? Do they perceive it as annoying? Offensive? Amusing? Is there no dominant view on the subject?

A separate question, which might make some point, but which I stress is analytically distinct from the empirical questions I ask above: Say that the inhabitants of Lesbos find the term offensive. Should others, including lesbians, try to shift to a different term? Or should they go ahead with the term that they've used for a long time?

Did Volokh's post inspire the Lesbos plaintiffs' claims?  Or is the lawsuit merely a coincidence?  In any event, Volokh's question will finally be answered; the court is due to hear the case on June 10.

April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Decision of the Day Passes into the Night

Today, Robert Loblaw of the acclaimed blog, Decision of the Day announced that he's ending his run.  Loblaw's blog went live in November 2005 and since then, he's culled through newly published appellate decisions from all thirteen circuits on a daily basis to select the one that would become the "decision of the day."  Loblaw doesn't give any particular reason for ending his run at this time -- but apparently, this arduous task eventually took its toll. 

Congratulations to Loblaw on his 1,275 posts and a well-deserved retirement.  And a question for readers -- can this type of endurance blogging be sustained over the long haul?

April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 29, 2008

Roundup: Legal News Worth Noting

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scalia's Write-Hand Man

For all the buzz surrounding the 60 Minutes interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one might overlook the fact that this was not his only interview. For example, NPR's legal affairs reporter Nina Totenberg broadcast a three-part interview with Scalia this week. (Part one, part two, part three.) And in the May issue of the ABA Journal, reporter Richard Brust has his own sitdown with Scalia, who is joined in the interview by Bryan A. Garner, co-author of the reason for all these interviews, their new book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

Garner made a cameo appearance in the 60 Minutes piece, but the ABA Journal interview gives him more of his due. Garner, after all, is the guru of legal writing, the man The New York Times once called, "the persnickety stylist for a linguistically challenged profession." The author of several books on legal writing, he runs LawProse, a company that trains lawyers to be better communicators, and is editor in chief of Black's Law Dictionary. His collaboration with Scalia grew out of his earlier project, in which he interviewed eight of the nine Supreme Court justices about legal writing and advocacy and posted the interviews online.

The ABA Journal interviewer talks to Scalia and Garner together and also provides an excerpt from the book and a podcast of the interview. When asked about the legal writers he most respects, Garner answers, "My own heroes there are Charles Alan Wright, author of Federal Practice and Procedure; I love the writing of Grant Gilmore, the great Yale law professor; and Lon Fuller, the Harvard philosopher of law."

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Of Virgins and Christians and Net Neutrality

Whatever your position on net neutrality, you have to admit, the debate is getting weird. Witness two items making the rounds of the blogosphere, one tying advocacy for net neutrality to a presidential candidate's supposed denigration of Christians, and the second involving an advocate's promise to deflower every virgin who joins her campaign.

For the first item, we turn to the conservative news blog Redstate, which recently posted a story under the headline, "Obama and Google's Mutual Adviser: Jesus is gay, wears a diaper, and gets run over." The "mutual adviser" in question is none other than Stanford Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, who Redstate says "really could care less that so many of us revere Jesus." Its evidence is a video, Jesus Christ: The Musical, showing Jesus dancing down a street, lip-syncing to the Gloria Gaynor disco classic "I Will Survive," before being hit by a bus. Given that Lessig supports Barack Obama, Redstate reasons, this somehow links the candidate to denigration of Christianity. More to the point, it proves ... well, something about the net neutrality debate. (Read the post for yourself and try to decipher exactly where it comes down.)

Of course, Lessig had nothing to do with producing the video. Rather, as Ars Technica explains, he showed the video during a recent lecture he gave at Google about copyright and "remix culture." The maker of the film, Javier Prato, is being sued by the owner of the rights to Gaynor's song, and Lessig showed it to illustrate the tension between fair use and intellectual property. In his own response to Redstate, Lessig writes, "It will be interesting (in a root canal kind of way) to see how far or deep PC-ism runs in this society."

As if testing that very point, another supporter of net neutrality legislation has launched the Web site and campaign, Save the Internet ... Don't Stay a Virgin. Belgian Tania Derveaux is doing her part for net neutrality by issuing this promise: "I will make love with every virgin who defends the Internet." Here is how she explains it:

Net neutrality is paramount to safeguard free speech and innovation on the Internet. With only one arguably negative side-effect: an unusual amount of today's Internet users are virgin. That's a problem I intend to solve. In history, man has always waged war for freedom. Now it's time to obtain our freedom with love.

Before leaping to proclaim your support for net neutrality, be sure to review Derveaux's terms of service, which, among other things, requires proof of activity in defense of net neutrality and limits the encounter to "no longer than 30 minutes." Derveaux is spokesperson for the Belgian activist group I Power, and this is not the first time she has offered sexual favors in exchange for activism, MSNBC reports. In 2007, she ran as I Power's candidate in the Belgian general election, with a promise of 40,000 jobs, with "jobs" suggesting relief both economic and of another sort.

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The American Lawyer Launches New Site

Tomorrow brings the release of the Am Law 100, The American Lawyer magazine's annual ranking of the nation's largest law firms by revenue. This year, the release will also bring the official launch of the magazine's redesigned Web site. While much of the new site is already up and running, tomorrow's debut is slated to feature extended coverage of the Am Law 100 rankings, including Web-exclusive charts that will project firms' profitability through 2025. An announcement last week gave this overview of the site:

The new site will feature daily news coverage of the legal business, including breaking news reporting on developments at the world's leading law firms, and on the lawyers and professionals working in and with those firms. News will be spotlighted in The Am Law Daily, focusing each day on topics related to 'The Firms,' 'The Talent,' 'The Work,' 'The Management,' 'The Score' and 'The Life.'

Online subscribers and registered users will receive a free daily e-newsletter highlighting top stories.  A second e-newsletter, focused on litigation news, will launch in June.  The site will also feature full access to each month’s print issue and a searchable content archive of past issues.  Current issues and the site archives will be available free to registered users until July 31.

Depending on when you are reading this, you may still be able to catch today's free webinar in which Aric Press, editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer, will give a preview of the Am Law 100 results. The 15-minute webinar is at 3 p.m. Eastern time and requires advance registration.

The American Lawyer is, of course, owned by ALM, which also owns and the blog you are reading, Legal Blog Watch. For anyone interested in reading more about ALM's future, in print and online, I recommend Rob La Gatta's interview with ALM's CEO William L. Pollak, published at the blog Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Among other points, Pollak says that the Web has leveled the field between journalists and readers:

In the pre-web era the paradigm was simple -- editors figured out what was important, presented it to the reader, and the reader took it in. Now, there is much more back-and-forth, and much more user participation in the process of news gathering and analysis. Journalists may still be subject-matter experts on various topics, and their voice may be one which readers still want to hear. But the journalist now has to listen and react to users in a more direct way, and can no longer assume that their word will be the last heard on a given topic.

Pollak also talks about RSS feeds, the Blog Network, and the future of ALM's print publications.

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 28, 2008

Eight Years of Patent Board Rulings, Down the Drain?

"The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may have a major problem on its hands -- the possibly unconstitutional appointment of nearly two-thirds of its patent appeals judges," reports Marcia Coyle in the National Law Journal. The issue dates back to a procedural change in the law eight years ago, and it could, potentially, invalidate any ruling involving one of those "unconstitutional" judges since March, 2000.

George Washington University Law School professor John Duffy first revealed the issue in Patently-O's online law journal. Supreme Court litigator Robert Long, of Covington & Burling, then cited the piece in his petition for Translogic Technology, whose patent was rejected by a three-judge Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences panel. "That panel decision was subsequently affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which set aside an $86.5 million infringement verdict won by the company," says the NLJ.  It continues:

"You shouldn't take such a position -- saying the whole board is unconstitutionally structured -- unless you're pretty sure," said Duffy. "I thought this was incredible. I checked it every single way I could before I went out on a limb to say this. ... The government has never argued I'm wrong. The question is: What do you do about it?"

The BPAI has 61 judges, nearly 40 of whom were appointed after March 29, 2000. Invalidating their opinions could affect cases worth billions of dollars, but Duffy is convinced the issue needs to be addressed. Others in the blogosphere are worried the issue is a minor battle in the wider war to fix the patent system. Mike Masnick at TechDirt writes:

Given the ramifications of a ruling saying that such appointments were unconstitutional (potentially invalidating an awfully large number of rulings), it would be surprising if the courts actually went that way. While it is reasonable to question why the head of the USPTO should be allowed to appoint these judges (there's a potential conflict of interest), pulling eight years of rulings into question would present a legal nightmare over what, honestly, seems like a minor procedural issue. There are plenty of problems with the patent system, but I'd rather they not be dealt with using minor procedural "gotchas."

- See also "Are Administrative Patent Judges Unconstitutional?" [Patently-O]

April 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

India's Biggest Law Firm?

If it were a law firm, MindCrest would be India's largest, with 459 lawyers. According to Canada's Financial Post, the company's founder (an Indian engineer) partnered with two Chicago-based lawyers to create the legal process outsourcer in 2001. India's LPO industry is booming, and the companies aren't restricted by the rules that limit the size of Indian law firms. These companies take on low-end, data-driven legal work like document review and patent searches, from clients in the U.S. and the U.K. -- including from firms like Clifford Chance and Howrey.

But big international firms aren't the only ones sending work to the subcontinent. Dell, Dupont, General Electric and Microsoft all do it too, and they're the ones Wipro wants. India's third-largest software exporter has just gotten into the LPO game, specifically to offer services like patent searches to their major corporate clients, according to India's Economic Times. This follows a move by Infosys (India's second-largest IT company) into the space last November, when it hired Karlyn Stanley, a former in-house lawyer at AT&T to head up its business in the U.S.

Most Indian LPOs still rely on droves of non-lawyers, often twenty- and thirty-somethings with engineering degrees excited to do work for international clients. I visited Pangea3's downtown Mumbai headquarters last summer, where I found a sleek, high-security office in a prime location just above a popular Bollywood theater. But of the dozens of employees deep in the midst of electronic document review, only a handful were actually lawyers.

Competition for skilled Indian lawyers has been heating up, with global law firms hiring Indian grads to work in London or the U.S. -- both to capitalize on work coming out of the country, and to lay the groundwork for when India finally opens its legal market to foreign firms. With that kind of competition, perhaps LPOs could take a hint from their fellow outsourcers and work a little harder to get new employees on the bus.

April 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)

South Korea, Japan and the Jury System

The jury system is a fundamental aspect of America's legal framework, but in other countries... not so much. That's starting to change, however, in places like South Korea and Japan. This February, South Korea held its first-ever jury trial, in the case of a 27-year-man charged with assault and trespass.

Law professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister writes in the National Law Journal:

The questions on the minds of those following the trial in Taegu both locally and internationally are: Why the sudden interest in juries, which have been around for centuries? And will jury verdicts be as readily accepted as those rendered by judges?

Hoffmeister offers two possible explanations for the experiment. First, the influence of the United States on South Korea -- both from its decades-long military presence in the country and its position since the end of the Cold War as lone superpower -- has prompted social changes in the country that make it ready for public involvement in trials. Second, and perhaps more widely applicable, he suggests that "authoritarian countries or those with fledgling democracies see juries as a way to foster stronger democratic values."

Brendon Carr, an American lawyer in Seoul who writes the Korea Law Blog, agrees with Hoffmeister's view that "the biggest hurdle will be educating and preparing the country as a whole for those occasional verdicts that run contrary to the values and beliefs of Korean society."

South Korea's neighbor Japan is also working on bringing back its jury system in 2009, after a 65-year hiatus. There too the debate on whether the country will accept the system -- and whether or not juries are a good thing to begin with -- has been waged for a few years now. But in terms of cultural familiarity with the American jury system, the young in Japan should be ahead of the curve. "Perfect Prosecutor," yet another spin-off of the extremely popular "Phoenix Wright" video game series about a fictional lawyer, is coming soon.

April 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 25, 2008

Foreign Corruption Now Big Business

It's been thirty years since the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and now it's finally bearing fruit as a thriving niche practice area for law firms, according to the Washington Post.  From the article:

For most of the 30 years since the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, advising companies on compliance and, on rare occasions, defending them against prosecution, has been a niche business in most corporate law firms, part-time work for a partner or two.

But these days, FCPA business is booming, a welcome growth area for Washington law offices just as work on mergers and securities offerings has begun to wane. You can't go into a business class lounge at the international terminals at Dulles Airport without running into at least one lawyer headed to Europe or Asia to conduct an internal investigation of a possible bribe or kickback for a corporate audit committee. And law firm Web sites now boast entire practice areas devoted to advising multinational companies on how to design and implement compliance systems meant to deter and ferret out corrupt practices.

And with huge fines at stake for violating corruption laws, an FCPA practice can generate large fees for law firms.  One company, Siemens, has been the subject of multiple investigations -- and in fact, it was fined nearly $300 million by German courts for bribes paid in Nigeria, Russia and Libya. Siemens claims that it has spent more than $500 million for outside advisers working on the matter, including $100 million to the law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton.

Several factors account for the growth of FCPA work. First, as companies expand globally, many now do business in countries where bribery is acceptable. Second, authorities are now stepping up enforcement -- 38 FCPA cases were brought last year.    

April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sharpton Calls Acquittals in Sean Bell Case An "Abortion of Justice"

Reverend Al Sharpton minced no words in denouncing today's ruling by Justice Arthur Cooperman acquitting three detectives in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell outside a strip club a few hours before his wedding, terming the verdict an abortion of justice.  Said Sharpton:

"What we saw in court today was not a miscarriage of justice,” he said. “Justice didn’t miscarry. This was an abortion of justice. Abortions are intended. Miscarriage could be you couldn’t hold the baby justice, you couldn’t take care of baby or it was an accident. But this was no accident.

Sharpton also criticized the judge for apparently considering the criminal background of some of its victims, asserting, "Even people with criminal backgrounds have civil rights.”

But if you agree with Sharpton that the verdict was wrong, is the judge alone to blame> Or do prosecutors bear responsibility for botching the case?  In this detailed account in  Bloomberg, the judge criticized the prosecutor's case, finding that witnesses gave contradictory accounts, and that one prosecution witness had recanted. The Village Voice referenced these criticisms of the prosecutors' strategy:

In "The Sean Bell Curveball For Cops on Trial," Sean Gardiner reported that many legal observers were puzzled by some of the strategies employed by prosecutors working for Queens DA Richard Brown.  A week into the trial of three cops in the Sean Bell case, the prosecutors' theory that two of the cops were "acting in concert" when the bridegroom was gunned down in a hail of police bullets is striking a sour note with some observers.

For Judge Arthur Cooperman, who's hearing the case without a jury, to convict on the top counts of first- and second-degree manslaughter, he'd have to believe "that they planned it and they all had the same mind-set," says veteran defense attorney Marvyn Kornberg. "And that's ludicrous."  If anything, the prosecutors undercut their own theory during the first week of the trial by stressing the lack of planning by the accused officers' unit on the night of the shooting and the chaos that followed."

So, criminal experts: What's your take in the Sean Bell case?  Abortion of justice, as Sharpton and others claim?  Botched delivery by the prosecutors?  A biased judge?  Or great work by the defense team and officers who deserved an acquittal?  Send your comments below.

April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (18)

Student Twitters Himself Out of Jail

Many of my lawyer colleagues have wondered whether there's any value to Twitter, a type of online text message platform where users respond to the single question "What are you doing now?"   However, for James Karl Buck, a resourceful student arrested in Egypt, Twitter proved indispensable to his eventual release, reports the  Washington Post.  Buck used his cellphone to send a single word "tweet" (or message) "Arrested" to Twitter, which resulted in his friends hiring a lawyer who helped win his release.

If you're interested in learning more about Twitter, check out this Common Craft Video.

April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will Gerry Spence's Winning Streak End?

According to his Web site, at 78, veteran lawyer Gerry Spence has never lost a criminal trial. But will this phenomenal streak come to an end in Detroit, where Spence is currently defending Jack Kevorkian  lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger against charges that he violated campaign finance laws with illegal contributions  to John Edward's 2004 presidential campaign? Criminal lawyer and blogger Norm Pattis thinks it might.

Pattis wonders whether Spence's signature "my client is a hero, the government is evil" argument will play effectively in Detroit. Pattis writes:

This is a risky argument. It works well out West, where gun racks are a commonplace and the woods are crawling with militiamen. Will it work in Detroit? The Motor City is a small slice of the third world, decaying year by year in the near midwest. There are plenty of folks there prepared to believe that but for evil people in Washington, life would be grand. But I have a hard time seeing Gerry Spence singing Aretha Franklin tunes; he's a pork and beans sort of cowboy better at fireside tales....

I can hear Spence's gravely voice now, and see him cock his head back, chest out, a spindily [sic] finger pointed at the prosecution table as he glares over the bridge of his nose. "But the king, the king has denied us the rights of Englishmen. He's taxed our papers, our tea, and now he wants to put soldiers in your home. He wants them to sleep in the bed your momma gave you as a wedding present. King George wants your wife to serve his soldiers supper while they sit at your table. You now have the privilege to serve all the king's men, but as a livery boy in the home you built with your own hands."

Wrong fight? Wrong century? Sure, it is. But it is the same rhetoric.

The other problem that I see with Spence's "common man" defense isn't just that it's not well suited for an urban forum in the Midwest, as Pattis suggests, but neither does it fit when the defendants are lawyers. While most jurors will empathize when the big, bad government stomps on a layperson, my bet is they're not as forgiving when lawyers, who should know better, are the target of government abuse. 

So what do you think?  Will Spence pull this one out?  Or will Fieger be the lawyer (and client) who breaks Spence's winning streak?

April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 24, 2008

'Green' Trademarks -- A Sign of More Green From Environmental Businesses

How can you tell that environmental business is the next dot-com?  Look no further than the number of green trademark applications filed -- nearly 300,000 in 2007, according to this story at Sustainable Life Media.  Use of the word "green" dominated applications, appearing in 2,400.  Other top usages included:

Clean : 900 applications, up from 800 in 2006
Earth : 900, up from from 550 in 2006
Eco : 900 applications, more than doubling in number from 2006
Organic : 700 applications, up 57 percent over 2006
Environment : 450 applications, up from 325 in 2006
Friendly : 180 applications, up 88 percent over 2006

As the story points out, the term "green" is not particularly distinctive and thus, many of the applications may not result in the grant of a trademark. 

April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Suing for China, the American Way

CNN is discovering the hard way that there's a major difference between Chinese and American visions of justice -- and restitution. As reported in Reuters, a group of Chinese lawyers have filed suit against CNN in Beijing, alleging that derogatory remarks by commentator Jack Cafferty violated the dignity and reputation of the Chinese people.  During a discussion over the spate of recalls of goods manufactured in China, Cafferty termed Chinese products "junk," and added that "They are basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years." CNN has since claimed that Cafferty was expressing an opinion of the Chinese government and not the people of China. The Chinese lawyers bringing suit sought the restoration of the Chinese people's reputation through publications and in the media and asked for 100 yuan ($14.31) in damages.

What a difference a forum makes, however. Today, Reuters reports that a Chinese primary school teacher and a beautician have filed a suit against CNN in New York over Cafferty remarks. As damages, they are seeking $1.3 billion in compensation -- $1 per person in China. (In case you're wondering whether $1.3 billion in the United States has the same purchase power as 100 yuan in China, it doesn't -- according to this item, 500 yuan is the price of a dog).   

I'm not sure how the Chinese primary school teacher and beautician have standing to sue on behalf of persons in China, given that they don't live there. But who cares about technicalities like Article III of the Constitution (assuming that the case is in federal court) when reputation is at stake? Ironic, though that those outside of China appear to place a higher value on damage to the reputation of the Chinese than those living in the country.

April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5)

On the Other Side of Wrongful Conviction

How does a lawyer get to be a an expert on wrongful conviction?  Most follow the conventional route, such as taking lots of classes on criminal law, investigative reporting and forensics in college and law school; volunteering for a clinic that handles post-conviction matters; and eventually working for, or starting a criminal law practice. But Marty Tankleff, a 36-year-old who aspires to a career of fighting for the wrongfully convicted, didn't take that approach. Wrongfully convicted for murdering his parents, Tankleff spent 17 years in prison before the Second Appellate Division, in December 2007, vacated his conviction and ordered a new trial based on new evidence showing that career criminals with connections to a business partner of Tankleff's father were the likely culprits. Now, as the New York Times reports, Tankleff is contemplating his future as a lawyer for others like himself while awaiting word on whether a new trial will in fact take place.

As Tankleff told the Times, he hopes to become a lawyer who works with the wrongfully convicted.  Joked Tankleff,  “I think I have the education for it -- and the experience." But more seriously, based on his own experience, Tankleff estimates that 5 percent of the prison population might be innocent; indeed, more than 200 people have been exonerated through DNA evidence alone over the past 20 years. However, most of the wrongful convictions are not high profile, so as Tankleff explains, the public doesn't usually hear about them.

Right now, Tankleff is busy working on his own case and others with Bruce Barket. Tankleff has also spoken on wrongful conviction and endorsed legislation that would require videotaping of confessions (Tankleff himself was convicted based on a disputed confession that Tankleff never wrote or signed and repudiated).

To be sure, Tankleff's story has a happy ending.  But how many other happy endings are out there, still waiting to be written?  If Tankleff has his way, hopefully, we'll find out.

April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Firms Still Not Relating to Client Relations Management Software

Incredibly, many law firms simply can't relate to the importance of client relations management (CRM) software, according to this article by Andrew Burger, one of today's top stories at CRM Buyer.  As Burger puts it:

The legal profession is all about relationships, so CRM systems would seem a natural fit in a law-firm setting, right? Sure, but many don't bother implementing CRM systems because they would require a significant change in the way firms are run.

Most CRM vendors can't understand why law firms haven't implemented CRM as effectively as other businesses -- particularly given that most firms already assiduously track data about clients and their matters for conflicts checking and billing.  One CRM vendor quoted in the article expressed some frustration that "a continuous stream of potentially valuable CRM information flows through the typical law firm on a daily basis, yet lawyers and their firms typically are not able to leverage it."

Burger identifies at least two reasons for law firms' ineffective CRM systems.  First, in other businesses, CRM is typically used for generating sales leads, whereas for law firms, the value of CRM is to help build and enhance relationships.  Thus, some CRM programs require tweaks to make them more compatible with law firms' needs.

But the larger barrier to integration of CRM is institutional: Most lawyers simply aren't willing to take the time (or sacrifice the billable hours) to input critical data.  Then, when CRM fails due to lack of lawyer commitment, lawyers blame the software and subsequently grow even more resistant to CRM efforts.

There's only one measure that I can think of that would force lawyers to implement CRM, and that is for clients to demand it.  And clients may do just that -- after all, many corporate clients probably use CRM systems themselves.  Moreover, CRM can help lawyers serve clients more efficiently and effectively by providing a central database of contact information and a history of client communications. 

Lawyers may not realize that CRM can help them generate more clients and more business.  Fair enough.  But when lawyers begin to lose clients because they reinvent the wheel or commit some gaffe in a situation where CRM would have prevented them from doing so, they'll have no choice but to get with the program.   

April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Client Intake: It's About Much More Than Just Checking Conflicts

In the world of solo and small law firms, "threshold law" describes the type of practice where a lawyer takes every case that comes across the threshold. However, even large firms aren't immune from their own form of "threshold law" as Bruce MacEwen describes in this post, Client Intake is Purely Operational. Not. MacEwen argues that law firms that view client intake solely as a matter of conflicts and credit checks and accept every client that passes muster under those tests miss an important opportunity to "determine the firm's future pipeline of demand."

So what does strategic, rather than ad hoc client intake look like? MacEwen gives several examples: 

More than one Magic Circle firm that I know of turns down some clients in Asia who want them to represent them in IPO's because the firms don't want the imprimatur of their brand names to be borrowed for the shiny prestige value by clients potentially unworthy.

A major US firm is wary about launching in China because it does not discount rates, and rates in China are widely subject to great discounting pressure.

An AmLaw 25 firm is focused on three industries (these are not they, but assume for purposes of argument the industries are life sciences, high tech, and media) and therefore will not open offices, no matter how compelling the blandishments, in cities where those industries do not predominate.

You get the picture.

But strategic client intake doesn't stop at the doorway -- it's a continuous process. MacEwen emphasizes that just as firms should act thoughtfully in determining which clients to represent, they must also constantly evaluate whether ongoing representation continues to serve the firm. MacEwen suggests eliminating "small and episodic clients" whose individual matters are often unprofitable.

How does your firm decide which clients it wants to represent?  And in this economic downturn, do firms feel more pressure to accept all clients that pass the threshhold test rather than making the kinds of strategic choices that MacEwen recommends?

April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 23, 2008

Survey Ranks West Virginia Courts Worst

Congratulations to West Virginia. It's spot stands secure as the worst state in which to be sued. So says Lawsuit Climate 2008, the annual ranking of state liability systems published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform. West Virginia ranked 50 out of 50 for the third straight year, according to this announcement, and "has languished near the bottom of the rankings" since they began seven years ago. At the top of the list, as it is every year, is Delaware, described as "first among all fifty states in the fairness of its litigation environment."

The survey is conducted for ILR by the market research firm Harris Interactive. Harris asked nearly 1,000 in-house counsel and senior corporate litigators to evaluate up to five states in which they were familiar with the litigation environment. Based on their responses, Harris added up the scores and assigned each state a ranking. The five states with the most favorable litigation environments for business, the survey concluded, are:

  • Delaware
  • Nebraska
  • Maine
  • Indiana
  • Utah

The five worst (starting with number 50) are:

  • West Virginia
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Illinois

A state's ranking, the survey notes, may not reflect the "nuances" of its various courts. "For example, several studies have documented very high litigation activity in certain county courts such as Madison County, Illinois and Jefferson County, Texas, revealing that these counties have 'magnet courts' that are extremely hospitable to plaintiffs."

Over at opposing counsel's table, the American Association for Justice called the report "phony" and "propaganda." "U.S. Chamber’s goal is to make sure people can’t get justice in the courtroom, especially against the corporations that finance this front group," said AAJ CEO Jon Haber. AAJ has put together a response to the ILR report, The Truth About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Further reading: Chamber survey on state 'legal climates' draws flak from plaintiffs' attorneys.

April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jet Maker Subpoenas Blog Critics

In the latest case of corporation-versus-blog, the manufacturer of a line of "affordable" jets is seeking to uncover the identity of persons who posted critical comments on an aviation industry blog. Eclipse Aviation has served a subpoena on Google Inc. seeking to out the identities of more than two dozen people who have posted anonymous comments to the blog Eclipse Aviation Critic NG, which is hosted on Google's Blogger service.

According to the aviation-industry news site AINonline, the president and CEO of the Albuquerque, N.M., company, Vern Raburn, claims that lies posted by the anonymous commentators have irreparably damaged his company. But AINonline adds that "the blog hasn't been far off the mark on several occasions," indicating that some of the anonymous posters could be Eclipse employees.

Meanwhile, the operator of the blog, Shane Price of Dublin, Ireland, tells another industry news site, AVwebBiz,  that he is "feeling left out" because he was not personally named in the subpoena. He says that Google told him it would give Eclipse the requested information unless it is notified by May 9 that the anonymous posters intend to fight the action. According to news reports and comments on the blog, the posters do, indeed, intend to fight the subpoena and will file a motion to quash in the Santa Clara, Calif., Superior Court where it was filed.

April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Is This Law Firm Ad Unethical?

The Nixon Peabody quarter-page ad that appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal showed a thoughtful-looking man above the headline, "I need lawyers who are more concerned about managing my risks than their own." Below that, the body of the ad said, "If your lawyers seem more concerned about enumerating your options than helping you choose among them, you might wonder whose interests are really being served."

The ad "really disturbed me," writes legal-marketing professional (and self-described contrarian) Bruce W. Marcus at his blog The Marcus Perspective. Why? Because he sees it as an example of the kind of dirty-tricks advertising that characterizes political campaigns seeping into the legal profession. Most law-firm advertising is bad and appears to be written by agencies that are clueless about the legal profession, Marcus contends.

But this one looks like it was written by someone trained in political dirty tricks advertising. Does the advertising law firm really thinks it has to insult the profession to make its point? Does it really need to put down other lawyers, as if they were opposing candidates in an election campaign?

The ad may raise ethical questions, Marcus believes, "but even before that is a question of professionalism and taste. I would be surprised if half the profession doesn't feel sullied by this ad."

The very tag line that concerns Marcus appears prominently on the Nixon Peabody home page and the firm's series of print ads is displayed elsewhere on the site. Marcus's comments point to a quandary firms face in their advertising. They are ethically prohibited from directly comparing themselves to other firms unless the comparison can be substantiated factually. At the same time, as competition among firms grows more intense, they must somehow distinguish themselves from the lawyers across the street. Of the four ads shown on the firm's Web site, only the one Marcus describes strikes me as getting too close to crossing the line. With a little rewriting, the ad could have made the same point with a bit more subtlety.

What do you think? Do these ads read like a dirty-tricks campaign? Or do they make legitimate points that fall short of comparisons?

April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Like a Grunge Concert, Only With Lawyers

Lawyerpalooza Lollapalooza made its debut in 1990 as a farewell concert for Jane's Addiction and gathered steam over the following years as a touring festival of grunge and alternative rock music. Given that grunge had its roots in Seattle, home to Nirvana and Pearl Jam, it is only fitting that Seattle should host the not-so-alternative lawyer version of Lollapalooza, a/k/a Lawyerpalooza.

That's right. Tomorrow at 5:30 p.m., various lawyers will shed their suits and briefcases, pick up their guitars and drumsticks, and demonstrate to Seattle that the legal profession rocks. Rock bands drawn from Seattle law firms will perform at The Showbox, all to raise money for elementary school music programs in the city. Performing will be bands No Rules from Karr Tuttle Campbell, HalfTimes from Robert Half Legal, Perkins Coie from (how'd you guess?) Perkins Coie LLP, Morris Can Fly from Lane Powell PC and McNaul Ebel Nawrot & Helgren PLLC, Ruby's Basement from Groff Murphy PLLC, Dave  DeCordoba from Ryan Swanson & Cleveland PLLC, Garth Olson from Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, and Eric Laschever Group from Stoel Rives LLP.

This will be the sixth Lawyerpalooza. It was founded by "a group of friends in the Seattle legal  community who just wanted to stretch themselves creatively and have some fun." Among them were the lawyer members of the band The Big Lubersky, who are not performing this year but promise to be on hand to "poke good natured-fun at their fellow law-oriented musicians." Tickets to the event are $20 and anyone outside the Seattle area can contribute a donation through the Web site. Several businesses are also providing support: Robert Half Legal, Iron Mountain, Avvo and Dorsey & Whitney. As grunge icon Kurt Cobain might have said, "Come as you are" -- but lose the tie.

April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 22, 2008

Differing Notions of Privacy in an Internet Age

A pair of decisions issued yesterday highlight the courts' different approaches to privacy in an Internet Age.  In New Jersey, the state's highest court ruled that law enforcement officials need a grand jury warrant in order to access identifying information about anonymous users from Internet service providers.  In so doing, the court recognized that "citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy protected by Article I ... of the New Jersey Constitution, in the subscriber information they provide to Internet service providers -- just as New Jersey citizens have a privacy interest in their bank records stored by banks and telephone billing records kept by phone companies." 

By contrast, the Ninth Circuit ruled that border control agents could lawfully search a traveler's laptop without reasonable suspicion, holding that the appellant failed to show that a laptop and its electronic contents are "logically" different from the contents of luggage, where suspicionless searches are permissible.  As Scott Greenfield points out, the Ninth Circuit reversed the lower court's decision by Judge Dean Pregerson who concluded that individuals have a privacy interest in computers, which are more like diaries holding personal secrets than a suitcase that merely holds objects.  Greenfield blasts the Ninth Circuit for being out of touch with technology by failing to realize  the function of computers in today's high tech world.

So what accounts for the differences in these courts' approaches?  Are federal judges simply more out of touch with technology than New Jersey -- or does the federal Constitution constrain them from more progressive rulings?  Lee Tien, an attorney for the the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Star Ledger that "the federal Fourth Amendment is inadequate for modern privacy issues."  Perhaps then, advocates need to look to state constitutions to vindicate individual privacy interests.

April 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Outside and In-House Counsel Be Partners?

Can law firms create a working partnership with their peers in-house?  That's the topic of discussion over at the Association of Corporate Counsel's In-House Blog.  The discussion originated with an article by Larry Salibra that appeared in the April 2008 issue of the ACC publication (not online) that took the position that corporate law departments cannot establish effective partnerships with law firms.  In a follow-up blog post, Steve Bokat took issue with Salibra's piece, arguing that while forging relationships between in-house and outside counsel might be difficult, it is not merely feasible, but also mutually beneficial for both parties.  Bokat argues that a relationship gives a law firm a steady stream of guaranteed work, while the corporation benefits through lower rates and access to lawyers who understand the history of the company and are familiar with its executives.

But Salibra remained unpersuaded.  In a blog post entitled "What About the Lose-Lose Part?," Salibra argues that outside firms and corporations cannot, by definition form a partnership, because "the classic notion of a partnership requires not only sharing the profits, but also sharing the losses." However, that is where the notion of a partnership breaks down:

Most in-house counsel would not embrace the notion that when the outside counsel goes they go as well. In fact none of the ACC participants who described this notion of a partnership even hinted at such a close connection. House counsel’s reward system and objectives are inherently inconsistent with the outside legal service provider. Their compensation should go up when the outside firm’s goes down either because they are providing more cost effective services in-house or they have become more effective in eliminating the need for costly outside services. When we eliminated what was becoming an epidemic of claims under the “scaffolding law” provision of the New York labor law by trying cases to verdict, and winning a sufficient number to make contingency litigation uneconomic, my compensation was not threatened, in fact my compensation went up and would continue higher to extent that our plant operations were less costly. If an outside, firm had done the same thing they would have to replace that stream of lucrative income with the same or larger source, and such replacement is not a realistic expectation. Trying to construct a win-win in this case is simply not possible.

Do you believe that corporate counsel should regard their relationship with outside counsel as a partnership -- or vice versa?  Send us your comments below.

April 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Presidential Election Roundups

Presbadge In honor of today's Pennsylvania Democratic primary and Earth Day, here's another installment of the Presidential Election Roundup.

Candidates' Positions On Climate Change - It seems that no matter which candidate is elected, we'll see some national change on climate change, according to this Business Week story, "Climate Change: Comparing the Candidates." All three remaining candidates -- Senators Clinton, Obama and McCain -- support policy initiatives that would promote energy efficiency and mitigate climate change.  Clinton and Obama both favor additional government investment for clean energy initiatives, while McCain is a proponent of legislation that would impose emissions limits -- which would represent a departure from current Republican policies under President Bush.  Still, some environmental groups fear that McCain will not respond to climate change aggressively enough and further, might fill vacant positions on the Supreme Court with conservative judges who would overturn last year's ruling that the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide under existing laws.

Do Some Law Firms Pressure Associates to Support Candidates? - Dan Slater at the WSJ Law Blog notes a story from the Daily Journal (not available online) reporting that lawyers are "the biggest contributors by profession to both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaigns -- and the second-biggest to presumptive Republican nominee John McCain’s campaign."  Lawyers have donated $13.7 million of the $193 million raised by Obama, $14.8 million of Clinton's $169 million.  Not surprisingly, the largest donations flow from large law firms, such as Skadden and Jones Day.  All of these donations prompted Lawrence Hurley, who reported the story, to ask whether law firms pressure associates to contribute to the campaigns that their bosses support.

April 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Updates: Seidel Subpoena Quashed; The Perils of BWD (Blogging While Divorcing)

Here's an update on two stories that we covered here this past month.  First, there's good news for autism blogger Kathleen Seidel who was hit with a subpoena by plaintiffs attorney Clifford Shoemaker, seeking disclosure of her research sources, financial records and communications with other bloggers in a lawsuit alleging that defendant Bayer's vaccine caused the plaintiff's autism.  Seidel was not a party to the suit -- but one of her blog posts listing the monetary awards that Shoemaker recovered in other vaccine litigation provoked him to issue the subpoena.  Today, New York Personal Injury Lawyer Eric Turkewitz reports that the magistrate quashed the subpoena and issued a Show Cause Order as to why sanctions should not be imposed.  Could the huge list of outraged bloggers criticizing Shomeaker's actions have had any impact on the magistrate's decision to issue the show cause order?

And on another topic, divorce lawyers may have more to worry about than a loose-lipped client who airs dirty laundry about a spouse on YouTube, a story that I posted about last week.  Besides YouTube, there's also the problem of divorcing spouses who blog and podcast, as this recent New York Times story describes.  The article mentions at least two lawsuits where a spouse has sued an ex over a Web site or podcast that allegedly contains defamatory or offensive information.  Judges have dismissed the suits, holding that the First Amendment prevails -- which has forced lawyers whose clients are on the receiving end of venomous publications to devise measures to protect them.  One divorce attorney, Deborah Lans, routinely includes a confidentiality provision in her divorce agreements that forbids either party from publishing even fictionalized accounts of the marriage.

April 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 21, 2008

Blawg Review Gets a Second Life

Benjamin Duranske hosts Blawg Review #156 this week at his blog Virtually Blind. Duranske writes about the law and its relation to virtual worlds such as Second Life at his blog and in his new book, Virtual Law: Navigating the Legal Landscape of Virtual Worlds, published by the American Bar Association. And since not everyone has as firm a grasp as Duranske on all this virtual stuff, he structures this Blawg Review as a set of questions and answers about virtual law. Here is your chance to learn all about avatars, 3D networked environments and "swamps of sexual content," all while catching up on the best in the week's blog posts.

April 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Stickin' With My Suit, Goshdarnit!

The Internet Bubble and Casual Fridays were just the start of the slippery slope that led us to the wrinkled knit shirt of a mess we're in today. Not like the good ol' days, says Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice partner Pressly M. Millen, writing in The National Law Journal, when a suit was a suit and "colors ran the gamut from gray to blue." Today, he says, few law firms have the stomach to tell young lawyers that they should dress like lawyers. But Millen is bucking the trend and sticking to his suit:

Now, I often find myself the only one in the room -- and, sometimes, it's a big room -- who's dressed the way lawyers used to dress. But I've decided I don't care anymore. When I go to the doctor or dentist, he or she better be wearing a white lab coat. The meal tastes better somehow when the chef wears a white coat, apron and toque. I feel good when my auto mechanic is wearing a jumpsuit with his name stitched on the pocket.

My suit is my uniform. Like the robe and wig of the English barrister, it marks me off from the rest. I'm comfortable with that. And every morning I'll wake up and put on my uniform, just like that barrister's wig, with no complaints.

Of course, in those good ol' stuffed-shirt days, no respectable law firm would feature a bulldog and doghouse on the front page of its Web site, as Womble Carlyle does, let alone have a Web site. Yes, times have changed. But when it comes to meetings with clients or adversaries or other such occasions, I agree with Millen that lawyers should dress like lawyers.

April 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Metadata: Read at Your Own Risk

Mining for metadata in documents received from opposing counsel is unethical, says a new ethics opinion from the New York County Lawyers' Association. "A lawyer who receives from an adversary electronic documents that appear to contain inadvertently produced metadata is ethically obligated to avoid searching the metadata in those documents," the opinion concludes. The opinion is notable for its disagreement with a 2006 American Bar Association Ethics Committee opinion that reached the opposite conclusion, permitting review of metadata in documents opposing counsel sends electronically. Instead, the NYCLA ethics committee sides with the New York State Bar Association, which found that a lawyer may not ethically use technology to "surreptitiously examine" electronic documents.

This Committee finds that the NYSBA rule is a better interpretation of the Code’s disciplinary rules and ethical considerations and New York precedents than the ABA's opinion on this issue. Thus, this Committee concludes that when a lawyer sends opposing counsel correspondence or other material with metadata, the receiving attorney may not ethically search the metadata in those electronic documents with the intent to find privileged material or if finding privileged material is likely to occur from the search.

The opinion adds two caveats. First, it does not apply to e-discovery, where documents may contain metadata "that by agreement may be viewed by attorneys in the course of litigation." Second, it does not prohibit a lawyer from investigating metadata for purposes other than "to uncover attorney work product or client confidences or secrets."

For example, if a lawyer is facing a pro se litigant and suspects that a lawyer is nonetheless drafting the pleadings for the pro se litigant, the lawyer who searches the properties to see whether a lawyer has drafted the material is not likely to uncover attorney work product or client confidences or secrets and may not be intending to uncover such material because a pro se litigant does not have the attorney work product protection.

The opinion emphasizes that attorneys who are sending electronic documents to their adversaries have the responsibility "to take due care in appropriately scrubbing documents prior to sending them." But when an attorney neglects to scrub a document, opposing counsel may not "take advantage of the sending attorney's mistake and hunt for the metadata."

[Hat tip to]

April 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

For BigLaw, Change is Good

At his blog Adam Smith, Esq., Bruce MacEwen reports from Georgetown Law School's symposium on the future of the global law firm, where an international assemblage of academics and law firm leaders considered global competition, ownership and capital structure, ethics and professional values, cultural dynamics and related issues. If he were to boil down the theme of the two-day conference to just one word, MacEwen says, it would be "change."

Lawyers are notoriously poor at coping with change. ... Yet change is in our futures, like it or not. More than once the observation was made that from the invention of the Cravath System around the turn of the 20th Century through about 1985, the profession looked remarkably stable, but that the last 20 years have seen revolutionary changes and the next decade promises further departures at least as radical as those we've just experienced.

If change is the theme for global firms, it is also the mantra of firms here in the United States, according to an article by Leigh Jones in today's National Law Journal. "Change is a good thing," Dechert chairman Barton J. Winokur tells Jones. In this case, the change taking place is the reshuffling under way in large law firms "as they move lawyers out of faltering practice areas into those that are less vulnerable -- or even thriving -- during the economic slump." But if change is good, it can also cause "some jitters" among the lawyers going through it, as a Thacher Proffitt & Wood partner told the NLJ.

Where is all this change leading? MacEwen writes that he has never before attended a conference at which "so many readily admitted to so few answers." But he is not concerned by that, believing that experimentation is at the core of entrepreneurship. "As I said in a prior life as CEO of a dot-com, 'mid-course corrections are my middle name.'"

See also: The Future of the Global Law Firm, Installment #2.

April 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 18, 2008

Most GCs Find Jobs Rewarding

Here's a twist: Lawyers who like their jobs. Sheri Qualters reports in The National Law Journal on a new Association of Corporate Counsel survey that finds 85 percent of chief legal officers find their careers to be rewarding. But their job satisfaction was not without its downside. Qualters writes:

While 59 percent of CLOs and general counsel revealed that increased monitoring by law enforcement and regulators had only a modest influence on their career satisfaction, 30.6 percent said it would make a 'considerable impact' on their future decisions, such as looking for a new CLO job or retiring.

Survey respondents also reported strained relationships with outside auditors, with only 16 percent noting improvements over the past few years, 25 percent characterizing interactions as more difficult and 59 percent responding that the relationship was unchanged.

ACC President Frederick J. Krebs attributes these strained relationships to changes in how GC and outside auditors perceive their roles and boundaries. "Although employed or engaged by the same company, and sharing a common interest in appropriate financial disclosure as required by securities laws, outside auditors and in-house lawyers bring different perspectives to their roles and each must meet different legal and regulatory requirements that apply to their respective missions in the audit process," Krebs said.

April 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Podcast: The Case for the Federal Shield Law

John McCain's endorsement this week of a federal shield law for journalists has given renewed momentum to the Free Flow of Information Act pending in Congress (S 2035). At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice has renewed its offensive against the bill with the launch of a special section of its Web site devoted to its opposition and an op-ed in USA Today by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. The debate takes on greater urgency as former USA Today reporter Toni Locy awaits word from a federal appeals court on whether she will be forced to pay contempt fines of $5,000 a day for protecting her sources.

We discuss the journalists' privilege and the need for a federal shield law in this week's episode of the legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer. Joining my co-host J. Craig Williams and me as guests on the program are three experts in constitutional and media law:

In the program, we discuss the federal bill, high-profile cases involving reporters, states’ efforts to enact their  own shield laws, and the rights of journalists and bloggers. The program can be streamed or downloaded from this page.

April 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Site Makes It So Easy to Sue

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch calls it a "Shangri-La for ambulance chasers." Peter Lattman at The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog describes it as a "reverse Martindale Hubbell -- it's a client directory for lawyers." David Lat at Above the Law says it is "like for lawyers and litigants." Kevin O'Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Blogs views it as "crazies running free of asylums." Luke Gilman at The Blawgraphy labels it "a hairball generator." Eric Turkewitz at New York Personal Injury Law Blog says it might be "the worst lawyer idea ever."

The object of these bloggers' comments is, a new Web site whose own description of itself is "instant legal bliss." The idea behind the site is to "simplify the lawsuit process" by helping consumers find "the best in legal help with the least amount of hassles." Potential litigants use the site to post their grievances and complaints and then wait for responses to roll in from attorneys competing to represent them. The site also allows users to search for lawsuits and class actions -- real or envisioned -- and join in with other litigants.

The site had been slated to launch in the fall, as TechCrunch reported in October, but it officially went live only recently. When TechCrunch asked the reason for the delay, the company responded that "it took us a while to come up with a complete Class Action case repository where affected people can ... be in touch with Class Action lawyers in real time."

Overlawyered blogger Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute Center for Legal Policy, told, that consumers should be concerned about the site's quality control. "If this were a dating service," Olson said, "you'd have to wonder -- whichever side of the dating you were on -- what kind of dunce are they going to bring me?" Eric Turkewitz is even more blunt in stating his concern: "This one has the potential for some serious damage in a unique way to both client and attorney in personal injury cases."

April 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 17, 2008

A Salmagundi of Secret Searches?

When we last visited Senior 1st Circuit Judge Bruce M. Selya, it was in a Feb. 1 post titled, A Salmagundi of 'Selyaisms' -- a reference to the jurist's well-known propensity towards "erudite and arcane vocabulary," as former Selya law clerk Frederick A. Brodie described it in a piece published in the National Law Journal, A Guide to 'Selyaisms.' Now comes the news, via the ABA Journal and the Providence Journal, that Selya has been named presiding judge of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, the court that hears appeals involving wiretaps of suspected spies and terrorists. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made the appointment on March 27, to take effect May 19. When the ProJo asked Selya how he felt about being involved in such a controversial aspect of national policy, here is how he replied:

In my line of work, you learn you are there to do the job as it presents itself. In my regular work, I never know when I decide a case if it will only be of importance to the parties or of national or historic significance. And you have to handle them all the same way -- to be fair and to approach the problem as intelligently as you can and get the right answers.

Note that Selya answered the reporter's question without ever using the words defenestration, encincture, perlustration, philotheoparoptesism, rodomontade or ultracrepidarian. But given that all of those words have appeared in his written opinions, the lawyers who represent our nation's spy agencies may want to brush up on their vocabularies.

April 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 17 Types of Lawyers

Ever since he started his blog The Legal Underground in 2004, Evan Schaeffer has periodically pondered the different types of lawyers. What initially inspired him was a Google query, "types of lawyers," that consistently drew readers to his blog. At some point, he decided "to really think about the question: How many types of lawyers are there?" His conclusion: 17. And in 17 blog posts that show Schaeffer to be as funny as he is perceptive, he describes each type's characteristics. See if you recognize yourself among these:

My only question about Schaeffer's list is, Why did he leave off the blogging lawyer? Any others he omitted?

April 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Lawyers Help Out at Papal Mass

As Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass today in Washington, D.C., before a throng of faithful estimated to number at least 45,000, more than 90 lawyers and judges were there to help out. As W.J. Hennigan reports at The BLT, the lawyers and judges served as ushers, helping to direct, greet and seat those who came to Nationals Park to hear the Pope. They were there under the auspices of the John Carroll Society, a Roman Catholic charitable organization whose members come mostly from the legal and business communities.

"A papal Mass in the United States is a rare occurrence, and opportunities to serve as an usher are even rarer," Paul G. Scolese, parliamentarian for the Carroll Society and a policy adviser at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, told The BLT. The volunteers were walked through a rehearsal on Tuesday, Scolese said, adding, "They certainly need a lot of volunteers in this big effort."

April 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Best Law School... Softball Team

Forget the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings. Here is an honor that reveals the true grit of a law school -- the best student softball team. Over the weekend of April 4 to 6, more than 100 law school softball teams faced off in Charlottesville, Va., at the University of Virginia School of Law's 25th annual spring invitational tournament. Forty-eight regular-division and 64 co-recreational teams participated, with top honors going to UVA in the regular division and to Florida Coastal School of Law in the co-rec division. In the home run derby, top honors went to Boston College Law School 2-L Dan Healy. Smitha Dante of the UVA law school newspaper provides this recap:

The UVA Gold Regular division team won its fifth consecutive title in a close and low-scoring championship game against DoJ darling, Regent University School of Law. In the Co-rec division, Florida Coastal won its second consecutive title by defeating upstart Penn State. The UVA Co-rec Blue and Regular Blue teams also gave strong performances over the weekend, going undefeated in the round robin pod play, only to lose in the rainy bracket play on Sunday. Co-rec Orange went 2–1 in pod play, and Regular Orange, described by organizer Kyle Schindler as 'the best dressed team of the tournament,' drew a tough pod and were unable to advance.

Complete results can be downloaded in this spreadsheet. Proceeds from the tournament were donated to Charlottesville's Children, Youth & Family Services. This year, the event raised a record $18,000 for the charity. A number of law firms and legal vendors provided sponsorship for the tournament.

April 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 16, 2008

I Love the Smell of Litigation in the Morning

While many attorneys in a rut dream of leaving the law to start their own business, at least one litigator-turned-businessman seems to miss the heat of battle. When audio-visual equipment maker Monster Cable sent a cease-and-desist order to Blue Jeans Cable, a small competitor, they got a prompt and lengthy response from Blue Jeans president Kurt Denke:

RE: Your letter, received April Fools' Day

Dear Monster Lawyers,

            Let me begin by stating, without equivocation, that I have no interest whatsoever in infringing upon any intellectual property belonging to Monster Cable.  Indeed, the less my customers think my products resemble Monster's, in form or in function, the better.

Denke goes on to question the validity of the five design patents and trademarks Monster cites in its letter and requests a few clarifications, but he can't resist throwing in a little biographical detail to warn Monster's counsel about just who exactly they're dealing with.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985, I spent nineteen years in litigation practice, with a focus upon federal litigation involving large damages and complex issues. My first seven years were spent primarily on the defense side, where I developed an intense frustration with insurance carriers who would settle meritless claims for nuisance value when the better long-term view would have been to fight against vexatious litigation as a matter of principle.  In plaintiffs' practice, likewise, I was always a strong advocate of standing upon principle and taking cases all the way to judgment, even when substantial offers of settlement were on the table.  I am "uncompromising" in the most literal sense of the word. [...]  I would rather spend fifty thousand dollars on defense than give you a dollar of unmerited settlement funds.  As for signing a licensing agreement for intellectual property which I have not infringed: that will not happen, under any circumstances, whether it makes economic sense or not.

             It may be that my inability to see the pragmatic value of settling frivolous claims is a deep character flaw, and I am sure a few of the insurance carriers for whom I have done work have seen it that way; but it is how I have done business for the last quarter-century and you are not going to change my mind.  If you sue me, the case will go to judgment, and I will hold the court's attention upon the merits of your claims--or, to speak more precisely, the absence of merit from your claims--from start to finish.  Not only am I unintimidated by litigation; I sometimes rather miss it.

[Hat tip: Audioholics]

April 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Skadden Celebrates 60 With Pledge to Help Minorities Enter Law

Few people work at one job for 60 years, least of all lawyers.  So Skadden senior partner Joeseph Flom's sixtieth anniversary at his firm -- indeed, he's the only living person to have worked with the firm since its inception -- represents quite an accomplishment.  And to celebrate, Flom and the firm have decided to "go big time" by setting up a $9.6 million program at the City College of New York to help more minorities enter the practice of law.  According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics over the past several years, only 11 percent of the nation's approximately 1 million lawyers come from the minority population, compared with 25 percent of physicians and surgeons, 21 percent of accountants and auditors, and 18 percent of college and university teachers.

So why did Flom choose City College?  Though Flom attended Harvard Law School, prior to that he attended night school at City College.  "They gave me my chance," he said of the school. "So why shouldn't other people have a chance?

April 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Getting Rid of Facebook for Employees May Carry as Many Risks as Retaining It

You might think that with all of the problems social networking sites like Facebook can create in the workplace -- ranging from lost productivity to potential legal liability for discrimination or harassment --  employers should simply prevent employees from using these sites on the job. But if companies deny access to Facebook, they may find that themselves unable to recruit younger employees, who view a Facebook ban as a "betrayal of trust," according to a recent study commissioned by an Australian law firm. 

The study, which surveyed 700 people by phone, found that almost half of those who used social networking sites at work would choose an employer with permissible policies over one who blocked access.  While only 14 percent of employees surveyed said they used the Internet at work, not surprisingly, usage was higher among younger respondents, with a third of 16- to 24-year olds and a quarter of 25- to 34-year olds logging into Facebook sometime during the work day.  The study results suggest that companies attempting to recruit younger workers may have to reconsider their Internet policies in order to compete, suggested Nick Abrahams of Deacons, the Australian firm that commissioned the study.

A Facebook ban might minimize a company's potential legal liability -- but it doesn't necessarily serve a company's business interests since it could hamper efforts to recruit younger employees and reduce workplace morale.   What's most interesting about this story is that a law firm took the time to examine the business consequences of a measure that makes sense from a legal perspective.

Has your law firm ever conducted similar studies to determine the business consequences, or costs and benefits of proposed legal advice?  And do you think that the responsibility for evaluating the business impact of legal advice lies with the lawyers -- or to their clients? 

April 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lawyers Playing a Pro Bono Role in High-Profile Events

Lawyers are involved on a pro bono basis in two recently reported, high profile events.  As my co-blogger Bob Ambrogi mentioned in this post yesterday, a West Texas court is moving forward with child custody hearings to determine the future of the 416 children removed last week by authorities from a polygamist sect's compound in West Texas.  And lawyers from all over the Lone Star state are responding to a call by the Texas Bar for volunteers to represent the children as well as any parents who decide to fight for custody, reports the Associated Press.

Thus far, lawyers don't know who their clients are or when they'll have a chance to confer with them before the hearing. Nevertheless, as Dallas attorney Ken Fuller explained: "We're just going down there to make sure due process is followed."

Meanwhile, a few hundred miles north, up in Ohio,  pro bono lawyers are playing a critical role in helping property owners in danger of foreclosure figure out their options, notes the New York Times.  Ohio's chief justice recruited more than 1,000 lawyers to represent borrowers free of charge, and the state set up a hotline to direct borrowers to the lawyers.

The public delights in bashing lawyers, and indeed, sometimes there's good reason.  But lawyers also deserve credit for situations like these, or post-9/11 or Katrina, when lawyers have stepped up to the plate and offered assistance at no charge.  Why are lawyers' good deeds so quickly forgotten?

April 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Another Worry for Divorce Lawyers: YouTube

Tricia Walsh-Smith just may be a divorce lawyer's worst nightmare.  Ordinarily, lawyers spend most of their time counseling clients to keep their mouths shut about their cases.  Walsh-Smith did just the opposite, venting about her ex in a professionally produced video that she posted here on YouTube.   Among other things, Walsh-Smith revealed details about her sex life (or apparent lack thereof) in the video and claimed that her ex failed to comply with the terms of the pre-nup that he'd had her sign.  When I last checked the video, 144,000 people had already viewed it. 

A number of divorce lawyers interviewed for an Associated Press story criticized Walsh-Smith's tactics.  Attorney Bonnie Rabin commented that YouTube videos "bring the concept of humiliation to a whole new level."   Moreover, videos can ultimately hurt litigants -- a judge might question a party's judgment in posting a video and hold it against him in ruling on the case.  And there's always the possibility of a defamation action if the video rants include intentionally false information.

Walsh-Smith is now represented by famed divorce attorney Raoul Felder -- though she wasn't his client when she made the video.  Felder told AP that he thought his client "comes off well."  However, the majority of commenters on the video disagree; many labeled Walsh-Smith a "gold digger," with one even comparing her to another Brit involved in a contentious divorce: Heather Mills.

It's not clear whether more litigants will begin using YouTube as a way to communicate their side of the story in a proceeding.  Even so, just to be on the safe side, lawyers should caution their clients not only to refrain from talking to any person about their case, but also anything -- particularly a video camera.

April 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 15, 2008

On Polygamists, Blawgers' Silence is Deafening

Why is the biggest legal story in the news being ignored by the legal blogosphere? On Thursday, more than 400 lawyers will appear at the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo, Texas, to represent the interests of the 416 children removed by Texas authorities last week from a polygamist sect's compound in West Texas. At a preliminary hearing yesterday, District Judge Barbara Walther "was clearly struggling with how to organize the largest child-custody hearing in Texas history, and perhaps the nation," reports the Houston Chronicle. No matter where you come down on the week's events in Texas, the state's roundup and temporary custody of these children raise any number of difficult legal and policy questions. Why are hardly any legal bloggers addressing them?

I have searched through blog posts using various methods and found only one legal blog consistently posting about what is happening in West Texas. That one blog is Grits for Breakfast, which is written not by a lawyer, but by former journalist Scott Henson. Henson has a longstanding interest in criminal justice and is the former director of the Police Accountability Project of the ACLU of Texas. His blog covers the Texas criminal justice system "with a little politics and whatever else suits the author's fancy thrown in." He has provided regular coverage and commentary ever since the raid. On Friday, he rounded up his posts as of then, and he has had more since.

Henson also points to other blogs that are covering this story. None are legal blogs, but one blog Henson singles out for the superiority of its coverage is The Polygamy Files, written by reporter Brooke Adams, who covers polygamy for The Salt Lake Tribune. Adams, Henson writes, "has been reporting circles around the 20 or so Texas reporters assigned to this story from various media."

But as the biggest legal story in recent weeks moves forward, one involving hundreds of lawyers and affecting the lives of many hundreds of women and children, the legal blogosphere seems blind to it all. As one who has come to look forward to blog commentary for insight and perspective, I am disappointed.

April 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4)

The John Yoo Dismissal Scorecard

Johnyoo John Yoo has certainly made quite a name for himself. The question is, is it a name that should remain associated with the University of California's Boalt Hall School of Law? Yoo is a professor of law at Boalt, but he is much better known as the co-author of Department of Justice legal memoranda condoning the United States' use of torture in interrogating enemy combatants. Yoo's work has led the National Lawyers Guild to call for Boalt to dismiss him and for Yoo to be tried as a war criminal. And that call has given rise to a blogosphere debate over what Boalt should do and the bounds of academic freedom. Here is a look at how the sides line up:

For Yoo's dismissal:

  • Crooked Timber: "[T]his is not, in the end, an issue of academic freedom. ... [I]t concerns credible allegations that Yoo acted directly and deliberately ... to facilitate war crimes."
  • Alex Whalen: "Tenure and academic freedom are designed to protect ideas but that is not what this is about. This is about John Yoo's actions as a lawyer."
  • Phillip Carter: "Law schools have an obligation to do more than teach lawyers to offer legal advice without regard for the consequences of their counsel."
  • The Daily Californian: Yoo has no place among UC faculty.

Against Yoo's dismissal:

  • Leiter Reports: "Tenure, and academic freedom, would mean nothing if every professor with views deemed morally reprehensible ... could be fired."
  • Boalt Dean Christopher Edley Jr.: The protections of tenure and academic freedom "are essential to the excellence of American universities and the progress of ideas."
  • Brad Wendel: Yoo should not be fired, but "should be a marginal figure in the legal academy."
  • Sam Kamin: "I am embarrassed to have my alma mater associated with Professor Yoo's legal advice to the Bush administration. Yet I am proud of Dean Christopher Edley for coming to his colleague's defense.
  • Doug Kmiec: I concur with Dean Edley.
  • Dale Carpenter: "I can't say that the Yoo memoranda are so beyond the pale of legal competence that a university should use them or the constitutional views they express as a basis to ... fire that person once hired."

On the fence:

  • Marty Lederman. "I'm very interested in ... whether there are other steps that members of, and institutions in, the academic community ought to take."
  • Jack Balkin: Yoo violated the canons of ethics, but Berkeley should decide whether to investigate or discipline him.
  • Deborah N. Pearlstein: It is for Berkeley to decide whether Yoo violated its standards, but "not in a million years" would I pay for my kid to go there.
  • Scott Horton: Yoo deserves due process, but let's face that fact that "what he did raises not merely ethics issues, but actual criminal culpability."
  • Sandy Levinson: Trying to figure out whether Berkeley has a duty to initiate an inquiry.
  • Orin Kerr: "What makes Yoo's work so deserving of condemnation is that it settles for prevailing standards of academic legal scholarship instead of real, honest, serious doctrinal analysis."

Care to weigh in? What are your thoughts on whether Boalt should act to investigate, discipline or even dismiss John Yoo?

April 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)

EFF Says FBI Bungled NSL Requests

FBI documents published today by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, depict a comedy of errors in the agency's use of National Security Letters to obtain educational records of a student suspected of having links to terrorism. The documents show that the FBI had the student's records in hand through a grand jury subpoena, but then returned them on orders from FBI headquarters to seek them again through an NSL. When lawyers at North Carolina State University refused to comply with the NSL because the law did not authorize their use to obtain educational records, the FBI went back for a second grand jury subpoena and ultimately obtained the records.

The kicker in all this, according to the EFF, is that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III then used this delay in obtaining these records to argue to Congress for administrative subpoena power.

[O]n July 27, 2005, Mueller used the FBI’s inability to obtain the information pursuant to this improper NSL as an example in Congressional testimony. His testimony did not mention that the NSL exceeded the scope of the statutory authority, nor that the FBI had originally sought a subpoena and had records in hand before reversing course. Instead, he used the example to press for greater surveillance powers, testifying that the objections to the NSL 'resulted in a two-day delay.' (The supervisory agent involved, however, only said that the 'process delayed us approximately one day in obtaining the records.')

The EFF's release of these documents coincides with hearings set to begin this week before the House and Senate judiciary committees on the government's misuse of NSLs. "The FBI consistently asks for more power and less outside supervision," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Yet here the NSL power was misused at the direction of FBI headquarters, and only after review by FBI lawyers. Oversight and legislative reforms are necessary to ensure that these powerful tools are not abused."

April 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Situation Wanted: Protesters Optional

On paper, his credentials appear impeccable. A child of poor Mexican immigrants who graduates from Harvard Law School. First Hispanic U.S. attorney. Texas secretary of state. Texas Supreme Court justice. White House counsel. U.S. attorney general. Short-listed for U.S. Supreme Court. With a resume like that, why can't Alberto R. Gonzales find a job? The New York Times offers an explanation:

The greatest impediment to Mr. Gonzales’s being offered the kind of high-salary job being snagged these days by lesser Justice Department officials, many lawyers agree, is his performance during his last few months in office. In that period, he was openly criticized by lawmakers for being untruthful in his sworn testimony. His conduct is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department, which could recommend actions from exonerating him to recommending criminal charges. Friends set up a fund to help pay his legal bills.

Is that a sense of glee I detect from some corners of the legal blogosphere over Gonzales's situation? Norm Pattis prefers to call it "merciless delight" and sees some level of poetic justice in it all:

I find it reassuring that Gonzales is not being met with open arms in the world of Big Law. He wasn't just following orders. The Nuremburg defense is no option for this field commander. The man winked when fundamental freedoms he swore to protect were placed in jeopardy. Is it any wonder there are concerns about his ability to serve as fiduciary for more modest interests?

As for the former AG's job search, one Washington lawyer whose own firm passed on him commented to the NYT: "Maybe the passage of time will provide some opportunity for him." Meanwhile, Gonzales is hardly going hungry. He is on the lecture circuit at $30,000 an appearance, where friends say he is no doubt earning more than he did as AG. As Bill Clinton's recent financial disclosures made clear, one can do quite well, thank you, on the lecture circuit.

April 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 14, 2008

Harry Potter Opens Today!

No, it's not another Harry Potter movie that opens today.  Rather, it's the first day of trial in a copryight infringement suit brought by "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling and her publisher, Warner Bros. against RDR Books, publisher of Steve Vander Ark's 400 page reference book, the Harry Potter Lexicon, based on the online version.  Rowling and Warner claim that the Lexicon is a derivative work that infringes Rowling's copyright and interferes with Rowling's plans to write her own Harry Potter encyclopedia. 

Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project is defending RDR books, along with outside counsel, New York attorney, David Hammer.  In a press release issued on the lawsuit, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project (and also counsel in the case) stated:

The right to create literary reference guides like the Lexicon has remained nearly unquestioned for hundreds of years. The Lexicon is a valuable resource that helps people better understand and enjoy the Harry Potter books. It's exactly what copyright law should encourage, not suppress.

Dan Slater at WSJ Law Blog is observing the trial; his dispatch from this morning's trial proceedings is posted at the WSJ Law Blog. According to Slater, Dale Cendali, who represents Rowling and Warner, emphasized during her opening that the Lexicon "takes too much and does too little."  Cendali's point is that the Lexicon merely copies Rowling's work without any original, value-added content that might qualify as new art.  In response,  Anthony Falzone asserted in his opening statement that the "the public will lose out if publication of the Lexicon is enjoined."

If you're interested in further analysis of some of the issues in the case, check out this lengthy post by copyright guru William Patry and this post by Mike Madison of

April 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Associates May Find Bigger Benefits in Smaller Markets

In a softening economy, competition for positions at large law firms is more intense than ever. But in some smaller markets, such as Worcester, Mass., the second largest city in Massachusetts after Boston, law firm business is still booming and firms are hiring, according to this story from the Worcester Business Journal.   

So should you consider moving to a smaller market?  The pay is lower; for example, the $90,000 starting salaries at Worcester law firms are roughly 60 percent of the going rate at Biglaw.  But a less expensive cost of living helps to compensate for the disparity.   Plus, law firms in smaller cities often boast a less stressful work environment with lower billable hour requirements and emphasis on having a life outside of the office.   In particular, many women lawyers and young mothers find these benefits appealing -- and Worcester firms have reported an increase in hiring women lawyers over the past few years.

Do you work in a second-city market -- and if so, what has your experience been like?  If you currently work at a large firm, would you consider a move to a smaller market?  And what are some other cities in addition to Worcester that are home to law firms that serve larger corporate clients?  Please post your comments below.

April 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Blogosphere's Advice for Current and Prospective Law Students

Today's blog offerings contain a wealth of information from some top minds that will guide current and prospective law students on decisions such as where to go to law school or what specialty to pursue.  Here's a roundup:

More Expensive Law Schools Won't Necessarily Guarantee A Top Job -- Despite most law schools' obsession with their rankings in U.S. News and World Reports , this system offers incomplete information to law students deciding where to attend law school, argue Professors William Henderson and Andrew Morriss in this extensive piece, "What Rankings Don't Show."  Armed with empirical data, Henderson and Morriss show that schools with impressive local and regional reputations have better employment outcomes for students than higher-ranked law schools.  Even better, many of these regional schools offer financial aid or scholarship packages, making them a bargain from a financial perspective.  And by graduating with less debt, students can more readily opt for less immediately-lucrative options, such as starting a law firm or working for a public interest group -- without feeling strapped by debt.

Best Paths to White Collar Criminal Lawyer -- If you're interested in practicing white collar criminal law, Biglaw may not always be the best option right out of law school, suggests Professor Ellen Pogdor at White Collar Crime Profs.  Other options include Department of Justice Honors Program, the FBI, state attorney generals' offices or smaller firms that specialize in white collar criminal practice.

What Are the Best Future Practice Areas? -- Sun Microsystems GC Mike Dillon offers some advice to a 3L who asked about future opportunities in the law during this economic downturn.  Dillon says that perhaps the best area is intellectual property law, a field rife with new and interesting developments.

Should Law Students Get an MBA? -- Prospective law students may want to consider tacking on an extra year of education and get a joint JD-MBA degree, advises Julie Hilden in this Findlaw piece.  Hilden gives five key reasons to consider an MBA, including mastering business skills that will help run a law practice and learning how to act with business people whom you may eventually represent in your practice.

April 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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