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January 31, 2006

What say you: Senate approves Alito, 58-42

Via SCOTUSblog, along with my gratitude for their terrific liveblogging of the hearings:

"The Senate at midday Tuesday approved the nomination of Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to be a Justice of the Supreme Court. The vote was 58-42, with all but one of the Senate's 55 Republicans voting for him. Only four of the Senate's 44 Democrats voted for him.

"Alito won six more votes of approval than Justice Clarence Thomas did in 1991 -- the last nomination that created major controversy in the Senate. The 52-48 vote in Thomas' favor marked the lowest level of support in the Senate for any of the current Justices. Thomas, however, did gain more Democratic support: 11 votes, compared to Alito's four. Alito fell 20 votes short of the favorable votes to confirm Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in September.

"Immediately after the Senate vote Tuesday, it became obvious that the White House, not the Supreme Court, was making the decisions on when Alito would take his oaths of office and begin his service ..."

For more, I recommend Alito Confirmed for Supreme Court. Now I'm handing it over to you -- please track back your posts so that I can read what you think!

January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Would you blog at biglaw?

"Can any biglaw associates answer this question for me:  Why would you write posts for a biglaw blog?" asks Carolyn Elefant. She then goes on to makes an argument against the anonymous blogging required by so many firms that warms this writer's heart, saying:

"Recently, I've been checking out some of the biglaw blogs, like Sheppard Mullin's Antitrust Law Blog, Davis, Wright & Tremaine's Telecom Law Blog or Preston, Ellis, Gate's e-Discovery Blog.  Though presumably associates write the bulk of the posts, none of the blogs give any attribution to the individual writer.  In that regard, associates are far better off writing a traditional article, where at least they can show authorship.   

"None of this is surprising, of course, in light of the phenomenon of the "invisible associate," discussed here or here ..."

Is she right about these blogs? Sound off here.

January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart's 2005 Top of Mind survey

Rees Morrison tips his hat and offers a little constructive criticism of this survey of  97 “senior decision-makers who help choose outside counsel." Here's a taster:

"What undermines the methodological rigor is the high number of non-lawyers, or officers not in the law department, whose responses were included. The brochure says that the study interviewed “senior in-house counsel in FORTUNE 500 and 1000 companies,” which it did, but not only that group ..."

I recommend you read them both:

January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What you really need is a documents dominatrix

The Wired GC boils down all the recent mainstream media hoo-ha about electronic discovery. After a great roundup of the coverage, he breaks down the challenge facing any lawyer, solo or BigLaw firm:

"The implicit issue in all this isn't what to keep. It's facing the ongoing challenge of what to get rid of. Probably 90%+ of what is on company servers is either unnecessary or redundant.

"If a vendor can help figure out the 10% to keep -- now that's something people would listen to."


January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

On the eve of Alito's likely approval: Senator Cha-cha-ing around choice

What does it really mean, this report that Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee has announced he is:

  • Pro-choice
  • Pro-cloture
  • Anti-filibuster?'s newswire tells me that over the weekend and into Monday, some Democrats have been reportedly rattling cages to block Sam Alito's nomination.  Chafee "is the only member of the Republican Party so far to announce that he will vote against the conservative judge," Jesse J. Holland reports, but adds that "Chafee refused to support the Democrats' filibuster attempt, however. "How are we going to get anything done if we can't work together?" Chafee asked.

Let's just say lefty women are having at him, and his supporters. In a fairly representative post on Firedoglake, Jane Hamsher says Chafee's cha-cha around the choice issue means that the National Abortion Rights Action League has failed:

"Let's just be clear. Lincoln Chafee is getting ready to vote for the single biggest blow to choice in this country since Roe v. Wade was passed 33 years ago. This ridiculous little kabuki about voting AGAINST Alito and FOR cloture is a sham, and if NARAL is going to look the other way they no longer deserve to be the guardians of a woman's right to choose in this country."

My favorite post of the past week, however, is by Dawn Johnsen on the "Incremental Evisceration" of Roe. This post originally appeared in Slate, but I found it here on ACSBlog. Johnsen writes of the hearings:

"We have squandered a rare opportunity for public education. The Senate's focus on the formal status of Roe, while understandable, masks the extent to which the court has already gutted the right to choose and what the confirmation of Alito most immediately would mean for reproductive liberty.

How precisely does this incremental evisceration of Roe work? State legislatures have enacted literally hundreds of abortion restrictions that fall short of bans, some of which have already been upheld by courts, under the prevailing "undue burden" standard. Such government restrictions, combined with clinic violence and harassment, have drastically reduced the number of abortion providers around the country and have made access to the remaining providers exceedingly difficult for growing numbers of women ..." More.

January 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Blawg Review #42: "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Blawgosphere"

Hitchhiker Pictured to the left is none other than Douglas Adams, the late, great author of a book that had nothing to do with legal blogging -- and everything to do (in my opinion, whether or not I always agreed with him) with opening your mind.

Adams' ethic infuses Blawg Review #42, the brainchild of Blawgger Kevin A. Thompson. This review is hosted on his blog, Cyberlaw Central. And while I would prefer to steal the entire piece and present it as my own, I'll sneak only this snippet of the opus:

In the Hitchhikers universe, a good example of branding is the planet Magrathea. Everybody has heard of it, but nobody knows where to find it. Accordingly, I’ve put posts dealing with marketing, client development, and customer service here.

  • Patrick Lamb, at In Search of Perfect Client Service, discusses law firm branding in his recent post. The gist is that bad branding doesn’t work, but good branding is the key to a successful business. Read the article for more insights and links to others on the topic.
  • David Swanner, at the South Carolina Trial Law Blog, has a great post this week entitled “What cases do you refuse?” David is also notable for one of his marketing ideas, putting together a CD with over 100 PowerPoint examples, see here how to get one.
  • Check out Wankettes, written by the Editor of Blawg Review, looking at the current job of David Lat, now a writer with Wonkette. Curiously, some of the guest writers on Wonkette have been lawyers. [Is this a good place to mention that I’m not the anonymous Editor, either?]
  • Another similar post written by Andrew Raff also looks at the self-outing of Melissa Lafsky of Opinionista fame. Book deals are in place! In this case, it’s well-deserved -- I can attest that Lafsky writes well, I’ve been following her blog for a while wondering how long it would be before she outed herself ..."
  • Now. Don't forget that Blawg Review is published every Monday. Your ideas are due waaaay before then. To find out more, read A Few Simple Rules.

    January 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    Free marketing or IP theft? Photog seeks class action against Knight Ridder

    Cathy Kirkman has a great write-up of Harris v. San Jose Mercury News, in which the plaintiff, photographer Christopher Harris, wants to upgrade his complaint against the paper to a class action lawsuit. Kirkman writes:

    "The case involves the practice of using photos from books without permission as part of a book review. See prior post. The newspaper is arguing this is fair use, while the plaintiff alleges copyright infringement and DMCA violations from removing the copyright notice from the image ..." More here.

    January 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    BlackBerry battle is (a) a soap opera or (b) a train wreck?

    "Watching the RIM - NTP battle over the BlackBerry is somewhat like watching a soap opera or a train wreck," writes The FutureLawyer. "You know you shouldn't be doing it, but the video is compelling somehow. Not that I am addicted to either; but, we all know people who are. I still think all the hand-wringing is much ado about just a little bit. I just don't believe that a system-wide shutdown is coming. "

    Meanwhile, I need to launch a complaint that FL is writing about too many fun-looking gadgets. What I really need is a digital safe for my wallet, yo. Where can I find that?

    January 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (140) | TrackBack

    January 27, 2006

    A filibuster of Kerry's imagination or a real possibility?

    As Democrats defect left and right, Reuters is quoting Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid as saying that the filibuster idea touted yesterday by Sen. John Kerry, D-Ma., is a no-go. Reid reportedly said,

    "Everyone knows there is not enough votes to support a filibuster," Reid said, referring to the procedural roadblock that some Democrats said should be used to put off a vote on Alito.

    "The Nevada Democrat said, however, he would vote for such a measure to at least send a message of opposition to the nominee. That vote will come on Monday with final confirmation set for Tuesday."

    I really don't want to get into a mosh pit of donkeys and elephants here, but I will say that I enjoyed the heck out of the comments on Ann Althouse's column this a.m. Here's what her reader Pogo said about Kerry, and it's a strong echo of what I'm reading elsewhere from bloggers on multiple sides of the aisle (albeit varying degrees of angst and joy):

    "[I]n Kerry's leaden style, lacking wit or nuance, he manages to remind people why he was rejected.
    "1. Phoning in the complaint.
    2. From Europe.
    3. From Switzerland, no less.
    4. Skiing at a posh resort.
    5. Making Important Decisions with the Elite Few Rulers of the World
    6. Unconcerned with rallying fellow Democrat Senators.
    Is it possible to create a worse scenario, more tin-eared, more selfish, more irrelevant? He's become Elmer Fudd, delusional Senator, repeating to himself: "My name is John Kerry Fudd, pwesident. I own a mansion and a yacht."


    January 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    Why you can blame only yourself if you don't have a motherlode of blawg traffic Monday

    The elusive and talented Ed of Blawg Review has disseminated an e-mail reminder that you legal blawggers have not one but two opportunities to participate in legal blogging roundups on Monday.  As he wrote me:

    "Just a quick reminder that there are TWO excellent opportunities to
    increase your blog's readership next week. But you should get your
    submissions in no later than Saturday, and as early as possible would
    really help these guys.

    "Kevin Thompson at Cyberlaw Central, is hosting Blawg Review #42, next.

    "Kevin was interviewed about his upcoming issue of Blawg Review, here:

    "And, here's the submission guidelines for Blawg Review:

    "Also, you might have heard that Doug Sorocco and Matt Buchanan at
    PHOSITA are hosting the Carnival of the Capitalists next Monday, as

    "Hopefully, you'll find something good to submit or recommend to each
    of these blog carnivals, which should be quite interesting, as usual.
    Those who have hosted one of these blog carnivals know how much your
    participation is appreciated by the hosts."

    Thanks Ed.

    January 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    How to use sites and blawgs to market your law firm

    It can be done wrong. Outrageous branding. Constant huckstering of your firm's services rather than content that serves the reader. For anyone who's considering whether and how to launch a Web presence (blawg or otherwise) I recommend you read Bob Ambrogi's article on, "Package Your Message in a Mini-Web Site." Ambrogi has a number of examples, to which I recommend you add Monica Bay's recommendation of a promising new blog, Government Contracts Litigation. The blawg's an extension of the firm Preston Gates & Ellis. I have to say, blawggers Richard Hanson and Mark Jackson make a good case for extending firm brands via expert legal blogging. The writing is great and it's a genuine service -- not only is the firm gently branded on the site, but I don't see every article concluding with a sales pitch. Good useful links.

    January 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Timesaver: Friedmann's short-list of what to see at Legal Tech

    At huge conferences, deciding where to spend one's time always ends up feeling like a series of choices about what I don't get to do. Frustrating. So my thanks to Ron Friedmann for his list of hot legal tech picks -- five "companies/products I’ve seen or spoken to and think have cool and useful technology" who will be at Legal Tech in New York next week. I won't be at this conference, so I'd love to know if you found these recommendations valuable.

    January 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    When it's not rocket science, why not hire cheap, talented help?

    Geoff Gussis publishes a great piece by James Hartt, "Freelance Attorneys: A Valuable Alternative For In-House Counsel ... Sometimes." I recommend it. And kudos to Gussis for his graceful note that he republished Hartt's piece with explicit permission. Nicely done. Warms this writer's heart.

    January 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    January 26, 2006

    Kerry calls for filibuster as Alito accepts GOP congrats

    Unless you're asleep at the watercooler, it's impossible to surf the Web without learning that even as Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito is accepting congrats from Republicans and picking up a second Democratic supporter, former Democratic presidential candidate and senator John Kerry, D-Mass., says he will attempt to lead a filibuster against the nomination.

    TalkLeft is all for it: "Keep calling the Alito-8. And I'd add, end the tyranny of the gang of 14." NRO's Bench Memo questions Kerry's decision to invoke none other than Ann Coulter in his announcement. Ann Althouse says the The NYT wants a filibuster. I'm with Wonkette Thing 2 aka Chris Geidner: "When it becomes apparent that this is more than a cheap 'why didn’t you vote for me?' publicity stunt -- i.e., when he [Kerry] convinces enough other senators to support his effort that it matters -- then we can talk."

    January 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Perhaps Counselor Pattis could help me defend what I said to my son's math teacher?

    See what I mean: Read Mike Cernovich's piece, "Houston v. Hill Lives!" in which he describes how co-blogger Norm Pattis effectively defended a client's outrageously colorful yet constitutionally protected speech to a police officer. Cernovich elaborates:

    "The police officer did not immediately issue the defendant a ticket.  The defendant, however, never threatened the officer or otherwise prevented him from issuing a ticket.  In other words, the prosecution charged the defendant for conduct solely associated with her speech.

    "Unfortunately for the defendant, she was convicted after a jury trial.  Properly, the appeals court reversed the conviction on a sufficiency of the evidence rationale.  Since the prosecutor did not present any evidence other than the defendant's constitutionally-protected speech in his case-in-chief for hindering a police officer, the conviction could not stand ..."

    To find out what the defendant said to one of Connecticut's finest, click here.

    Congrats counselor. I may need your help ...

    January 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    E-Bay for lawyering?

    Bob Ambrogi recommends "A new 'reverse-auction' Web site, Tip-Mart, which enables purchasers of legal services to accept bids from interested lawyers and law firms."

    January 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    How not to be a marketing moron -- or take the advice of one

    There's good advice. And then there's advice that, um, misses the mark. Carolyn Elefant riffs on an article that does both in "Good and BAD Tips on Making Speaking Opportunities Effective." She writes:

    "Contact one nonclient or two?  You should prioritize contacting nonclients and introducing yourself.  And why invite someone else along for the ride the first time, unless that person's going to help you snag the client. 

    "In addition, Mayer's article doesn't mention that During the conference, you ought to approach nonclients and introduce yourself ..."

    January 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    What honey? Sorry, I was listening to Lessig on my iPod

    Oooh, iCLE via iTunes? Check out the latest, courtesy of The Wired GC's surfing guide:

    "Will you soon be able to hear Stanford Law's Lawrence Lessig lecturing on Intellectual Property Reform through your iPod?

    "Forbes relates an interesting story about how Stanford University is putting course lectures and other Cardinal content on the Web through Apple's iTunes for free download (I was unable to find it on iTunes before I hit my deadline …).

    "Moves like this can accelerate something else: lawyer CLE options through podcasting technology ... What is fascinating about Stanford's experiment is that it is giving it all away. This could be disruptive for some business models attached to education and podcasting. It's probably a Top 10 university strategy for now. But down the road, who knows?"

    Ah, yes, the vagaries of "giving it all away ..." How evolved. How perfectly un-Ivy. How likely to get the attention of the smartest 13-300 year-olds out there. What do you think?

    January 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    January 25, 2006

    WIPO guide to cybersquatting

    The World Intellectual Property Organization has just issued a press release on their latest domain name policies, including cybersquatting and trends in disputes. Blawgger Bill Heinze has a full excerpt and links here.

    January 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Ohio bar to lawyers: Naw, you AND your clients should suffer

    Oh how I wish Carolyn Elefant is being read in Columbus, in Wooster, in the ferny law libraries and sweaty arbitration theatres of Ohio. Because today she is doing a true service to attorneys and needy clients alike. In "Ohio Bar Won't Allow Lawyers to Say They Offer Cut Rate Service," Elefant writes:

    "As with all bar regulation, the rules sound benign enough in practice -- protecting consumers from deceptive practices and preventing lawyers from acting like undignified hucksters.  Here's the reality, though.  Services like We the People aren't subject to bar rules -- and thus, they're able to proclaim, as a tag line, that they offer "Low cost accurate document preparation."  Can an Ohio lawyer do the same?  As I read the commentary, I'd argue yes, but it's a close call since both "low cost" and "accurate" are characterizations of service.  And for that reason, the Ohio Bar's rules have a chilling effect on lawyers who want to advertise their service in a way that allows them to compete with We the People.

    "Many bars have tried going after companies like We the People but the problem remains, that it's a service that fills a void for consumers who don't want to handle a case pro se and need affordable service.  Given that a need for affordable, basic service remains unmet, don't we want to do all we can to ensure that this service is provided by attorneys?  Overbearing and restrictive regulations like those of the Ohio Bar sure don't make that easy."

    If you agree with me, go thank Elefant here.

    January 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    You're indicted. Will the company pony up for your defense?

    The Wired GC examines Plame Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's latest bit of handiwork, "an indictment against Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc. and two employees (including an in-house lawyer) on fraud charges related to the awarding of a $49 million Cook County, Illinois, hospital contract. "

    WGC addresses two important points. In the first he asks whether the company is going to pony up and defend these guys. In the second, he does something extraordinarily rare, something I greatly admire:  WGC credits the blawgger who wrote the story. Here:

    "Peter Lattman of WSJ Law Blog was the ace on the case, first spotting this story last week; Professor Ribstein has further thoughts here, with an interesting angle on the potential applicability of Sarbanes-Oxley." More here.

    Dang. This is why WGC is a blawgger I'll always read. And am so much more likely to trust.

    January 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Doing the lambada over at Treo ...

    "MIPTC won't say 'I told you so,' but I did say it," notes J. Craig Williams. "Several times."

    Don't let Williams' dapper former-broadcast-reporter veneer fool you:  He is fabulously geeky, the only blawgger I know who has used fingerprint recognition for laptop security.   Hence I'm reading his blawg about BlackBerry, which includes lots of great links to his former posts on the topic. But you'll have to go here to see those. He writes, "Seems that the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't want anything to do with BlackBerry's dispute with the outcome of a lower court ruling and a $565 million verdict against the company.  Expect a rush on alternative phones ..."

    January 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 24, 2006

    Um, should the bar really have to force attorneys to learn more?

    In "Why Do Lawyers Have to Be Forced to Take CLE?" Carolyn Elefant has usual frank take on human behavior and the world of lawyering. She begins:

    "Given that there are now so many low cost options available for CLE (and at least one more that I've proposed), I can't really object that it places an undue financial burden on solo and small firm lawyers.  At the same time, the most valuable learning for many solo and small firm lawyers comes not in the form of classroom education, but from bouncing ideas off, and asking questions of more experienced colleagues.  I know that's certainly where I've learned the most in my practice. 

    "Also, I think it's kind of silly that the bar has to force people to learn more."

    January 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Okay, honey, I'll blog to save BlackBerry ...

    No, not really -- but I love The FutureLawyer's little dig at his wife's habit and his wrap-up of yesterday's court decision. Here's an excerpt:

    "Somehow, I think that neither party will allow service to be killed to the 3 million or so BlackBerry users in the U.S. That is somewhat like throwing the baby out with the bath water, isn't it? For the record, my wife, an addicted BlackBerry user, had nothing to do with the content or tone of this post. :-)"

    January 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    "What do you mean, where was Scalia?"

    Ouch! Mike Cernovich has a few choice words for ABCNews:

    January 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Happy trails to the first cowgirl on the U.S. Supreme Court

    22830219_b4de274edf_m "The Supreme Court can sometimes seem like an unsentimental place, and Monday was one of those times," begins Tony Mauro of the Legal Times. After the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Sam Alito's nomination to the full senate Monday for likely approval, Mauro looked inside the court's chambers and inside the mindset of its first female justice, who is soon headed into a busy retirement. Mauro continues:

    "It was probably Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's final day on the bench after 25 years on the Court, yet no one paused to note that fact. No final huzzahs, no commendations from her colleagues, nothing. Two justices, John Paul Stevens, and Antonin Scalia, were not even on the bench for the occasion.

    "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who will soon become the only woman left on the high court, seemed more forlorn than usual, and O'Connor herself seemed somber. But other than that it was just another day..."

    Related posts:

    January 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 23, 2006

    Scroogle v. The Patriot Search

    I have a new blog-crush: Jonathan B. Wilson, who has performed a terrific roundup of the past week's blawgging on Google's decision to resist federal subpoenas to identify users of Google's online search services. In roundup #41 for Blawg Review, he writes:

    "Professor Solove argued in Google, Privacy and Business Records, that the "third party doctrine" in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence -- in combination with Internet technologies -- tends to open the door to privacy far more widely than in the past.  The third party doctrine claims that personal information that is in the hands of a third party is not subject to a reasonable expectation of privacy.  In the Internet world, however, we all have substantial amounts of private data (credit card numbers, social security number, transaction data, search results, e-mail) that are maintained in the hands of third parties (web merchants, banks, transaction processors, search engines, ISPs, etc.

    "The issue was quickly dissected by Orin Kerr, writing at The Volokh Conspiracy.   

    Professor Geoffrey Manne went one step further, suggesting that Google's refusal to comply with the subpoenas may be financially motivated,   with Google perceiving that consumers would prefer a service that would protect their privacy.

    "Alas for Google, its stock dropped about 10% over the past week on the news of its legal troubles.   

    "John Walkenbach gives three cheers for Google, but humorously suggests that users who wish to participate more fully in the government's war on terrorism should start using the Patriot Search

    "The Patriot Search works just like any other commercial search engine, except that the user's identity and search parameters are immediately transmitted directly to the government for instant analysis. " More here.

    I'm much more of a mind to use Scroogle, an anonymous search recommended by Bob Ambrogi. Ambrogi explains that "Its search proxy sends your queries through Google and returns the results free of ads and cookies, circumventing Google's tracking."

    But I can't live by Scroogle forever. Which is why I'm with Future Lawyer's recommendation: Time to read news updates from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Start here: EFF Applauds Google Resistance to Government Subpoena.

    January 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Ethics in legal advertising: Two case studies

    Join professor Elefant as she takes you on a virtual tour of how -- and how not -- to act when you're recruiting clients:

  • Ethics in Chat Rooms
  • A Culture of Unethical Conduct
  • January 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Of acronyms, $$$ and BigLaw

    If there's one thing I've learned in the past year and a half of blawgging, it's that acronyms mean big $$$ for law firms.

    Take the first one such I learned: EDD, or electronic data discovery. Whether you're a plaintiff paying mucho beaucoup dollars to discover something or you're working to hide it, EDD means money.

    Then I learned KM or knowledge management. With apologies to my colleagues and KM experts Ron Friedmann and Joy London, KM is a boring buzz phrase the legal industry uses to describe what is to me a very sexy thing: Solutions (high-tech and low-tech) for corralling the data that lawyers develop, analyze, describe, present, sell and trade. Yup, I'm a geek. Mmmmm, data.

    Now today I see a new acronym. Bruce MacEwen is blawgging about BI -- and warning that "what you don't know can hurt you." What is he on about? BI, as it turns out,  is neither a bodily function nor an infection. BI is the dubious acronym for "business intelligence." And MacEwen not only apologizes for the use of the acronym, but makes a compelling case for why you should care:

    "In law-firm land, BI can analyze the profitability of entire practice groups, of offices, of clients, of individual lawyers, and of individual matters."

    What do you think? More here.

    January 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    A ratio to tell you whether you're getting your money's worth from BigLaw

    Rees Morrison recommends you ask the ratio of associate fees to costs, writing "key firms to disclose the ratio between what the firm pays an associate (plus benefits and other employee costs) and associate’s billing rate? The rest comprises firm overhead and partners' profits."

    January 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    California asbestos reversal allows insurers to breathe deep

    The California Court of Appeal has saved the insurance industry from bankruptcy due to asbestos 524(g) settlements, quips Marc Mayerson. He's talking about Fuller-Austin v. Highlands Ins. (Cal. App. Jan. 19, 2006), and he promises to post one of his syllabi on the topic soon.

    January 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 20, 2006

    Mira: How to write an employer-friendly guide to diversity in hiring

    Diversity2_2 I have to hand it to Edgardo Ramos and Lynn Anne Baronas, who recently penned a very diplomatic article on pursuing diversity in hiring at law firms. Hat-tip to Monica Bay, who leads with this fantastic graphic and the headline, "Four Steps to Diversity" as she links to the piece.

    It's going to get them business, of that I am sure. Beginning with the risk of losing a client like Wal-Mart (which recently bounced a firm for its oh-so-white ways), the duo offers gentle but specific hiring advice that, to the careful reader, distills a real to-do list rather than managerial platitudes. What they don't do is invest any time on case studies or quotes (bitter, angry, evocative or sad) from women and/or racial minorities who are fed up with not being hired -- or promoted. But you don't need a magazine article to find that.

    January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Blawgs or bust

    Stop fighting it. Blawgs are here to stay, says Ron Friedmann. In Do Blawgs Burn as Brightly as Surveys Suggest?  he breaks down the numbers (right and wrong) and notes that it might be impossible to quantify their potential.

    January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    "Hipster Delaware Chief Justice Suggests Plaintiffs Just Blog Back"


    January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 19, 2006

    Why oh why would you leave the law to become a famous blogging babe?

    I'm still digesting Carolyn Elefant's post about blawggers who recently exited the closet, including Opinionistas and my own beloved Article III Groupie, now Wonkette Thing 1.  Not sure what I think so I won't comment -- but she's as articulate as always! Elefant writes:

    "Don't get me wrong - I'm thrilled for my colleagues who've found notoriety through blogs.  It's just more proof of the power of the blog.  But at the same time, the anonymous-lawyer-turned-celebrity has too much of a fantasy feel to it for my taste - which is probably why it appeals to large firm attorneys, the excitement of the dotcom start-ups in the 1990s lured so many biglaw attorneys away from their firms.  It all kind of makes me wonder whether anyone at biglaw really wants to be a lawyer or whether they're biding their time, waiting for a book deal or stock options or a winning lottery ticket.  Did biglaw attorneys ever want to practice law to begin with, or was law just an easy way to suppress other passions or avoid a deeper exploration of their desires.  Or does the large firm, through its merciless, grinding caste system, kill young lawyers' vision of law as a noble, empowering career that can change lives and promote justice?"

    What do you think?

    January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    A cop's view of Chinese counterfeiting

    Fantastic post by Bill Heinze, who recommends the post "Faked in China," in which Todd Datz writes for Chief Security Officer Magazine about a 2005 report from the National Chamber Foundation (a think tank affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) with an interesting comparison between counterfeiting and cocaine dealing. Here's Heinze's excerpt of Datz's post:

    A kilo of cocaine costs about $47,000, and a dealer can sell it on the street for $94,000; that same $47,000 can purchase 1,500 bootleg versions of Microsoft Office 2000, which can be sold for $423,000. Although an unscientific example, the point is clear -- counterfeiting pays well. "There's no marketing overhead, no taxes, and you're not paying workers normal rates," says Simone. Annoying expenses like R&D, advertising and other costs associated with turning an idea into a brand also conveniently disappear.

    January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    New business blawg launches

    Bob Ambrogi announces that "Five law professors and one anonymous contributor yesterday launched Truth on the Market, a blog offering commentary on law, business, economics and other topics ..."

    January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Unplugged podcast: 'Time-Shared Legal Services for Full-Time Businesses'

    Kentlars The Wired GC interviews Kent Larson, founder and CEO, The General Counsel, Ltd.

    January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    BlackBerry: "Can't we all just get along?!"

    The Future Lawyer says he can't escape the BlackBerry controversy even in Miami.

    January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 18, 2006

    Supreme O'Connor's last stand and the bias of a 5th Circuit Court judge

    "We do not revisit our abortion precedents today ..." - Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

    The week before senators plan to vote on the man who is likely to take her seat on the Court, the Supreme Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the unanimous Court's opinion that the state of New Hampshire has overreached in its requirement that all minors inform their parents 48 hours before an abortion, without exception for a minor's health.

    In her wrap-up of Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, O'Connor wrote: "Under our cases it would be unconstitutional to apply the act in a manner that subjects minors to significant health risks." For the full story and the questions raised now that the case is headed back to the 1st Circuit in Boston, read The AP's Gina Holland here.

    Holland raises the question of how this vote might change, were Nominee Sam Alito on the court, given his refusal in hearings last week to state that the right to legal abortion guaranteed in Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land.

    Alito was a fair bit more circumspect than 5th Circuit Judge Harold DeMoss who recently wrote this article accusing the Supreme Court of usurping the rights of voters to approve or deny what he considers to be constitutional change -- in his opinion, that document does not guarantee a right of privacy (nee abortion).  I found this eyebrow-raising article, courtesy of Michael Cernovich, who raises an excellent question:

    "Is it appropriate for a sitting federal judge to write such articles, and call for such a national referendum?  In the last paragraph of the article, Judge DeMoss seems to suggest that he is writing the article in his individual capacity, noting that (emphasis added): "As a U.S. citizen, I respectfully petition the Congress to call a national referendum to permit the people to just say no or yes to the Supreme Court's usurpation of the power to amend the Constitution. I invite others who share my views to do likewise."  Yet the byline of the article read "By Judge Harold R. DeMoss Jr."

    "Given that Judge DeMoss is on the record as opposing the right to privacy, doesn't anyone litigating this issue in the Fifth Circuit have a reason to move for his recusal?  How can he claim to be impartial in right-to-privacy cases?  He would likely counter with the rejoinder that he would follow Supreme Court precedent.  But if there is no precedent on point, can't we be reasonably sure that, in light of his comments, he will absolutely side against the party seeking to extend the right to privacy?" More here.

    Amen. I would love to hear from blawggers who have thundered about the difference between an attorney's role in service to a client and the appropriate circumspection of a judge fulfilling a very different job description. This judge purports to act as a citizen, while carrying the mantle of the bench. That is a very poor reflection indeed on the 5th circuit -- and Mr. DeMoss. I wonder what his colleagues have to say about his affect on that court's credibility and future work.

    What do you think?

    January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    The latest chapter in 'Chamber of Commerce v. Lockyer'

    Mike Fox provides a terrific update on the latest chapter in Chamber of Commerce v. Lockyer, now that the 9th Circuit has granted an en banc hearing.

    January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Psycho-babble about psycho law departments

    Ah, there was such promise in Rees Morrison's post, "Passive-aggressive law departments: is yours one?" Morrison's opener is irresistible:

    "The doctor is in. A fascinating article in Harvard Bus. Rev., Oct. 2005, at 83, explains what it means to be a passive-aggressive organization, what causes that dysfunction, and some techniques for exorcising the demon. This short post can only choose bits and pieces from the article as they relate to some law departments.

    "... Is there plenty of lip service but no accountability and no enforcement? Does everyone espouse client satisfaction but no one changes how they serve clients? Are smiles and congeniality rampant but a new initiative, like knowledge management or work/life balance, is hamstrung by second-guessing and struggles to make any headway?"

    And just as I'm prepared to burst through the cubicle walls with tales of former woe and take any steps the article recommends, I am thwarted by this conclusion:

    "According to the article, the cure might follow from (a) diagnosing the disease, (b) transfusing new blood, (c) removing or replacing many organizational organs at once, and (d) making decisions and making them stick. "

    I haven't read the HBSR article yet. But my concern is that if I indeed take the time, I will be left with the kind of empty "management-talk masquerading as advice" in which so many business magazines specialize, and zero solutions that will make my work and those of my colleagues better and more profitable tomorrow. Bring on the anecdotes, I say! Bring on the case studies and the how-tos. Then I'll vote with my feet -- or, rather, my mouse, and subscribe.

    January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Why an NDA is even more useless than ever

    Geoff Gussis is very convincing in his piece, "Why Your Company Needs a Confidential Information Policy."

    January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    How to tell when your GC needs a time-out

    One good sign would be when said general counsel recommends "hiring a junior lawyer to 'oversee' litigation," writes The Wired GC in response to this post by blawgger Patrick Lamb. WGC continues, "The facts almost drive the proper result here. If a company is really doing this, the GC needs to take a time-out. You can put a junior lawyer on a case, but if it's just 'overseeing it' without substantive responsibilities, it's a loser's game. Many large companies in the late 80's and through the 90's (the go-go days of corporate legal departments for those who lived through it) tried to bring almost all legal work inside, including litigation. This was akin to empire-building, virtually all of these experiments failed, and most of the GCs involved are now doing something else. Perhaps this very work on the outside?"

    So this is all good for outside counsel, right? Not entirely."

    January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 17, 2006

    9th Circuit to Yahoo's U.S. suit against French litigants: Non, non, non

    Mais non, the 9th Circuit has told Yahoo about its attempt to continue an American lawsuit against French Internet users who sued the company in France. In "Yahoo U.S. suit against French litigants dismissed," Cathy Kirkman breaks down the issues:

    "The Ninth Circuit issued an en banc decision last week in Yahoo! v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme et L'Antisemitisme, Download file, and held that Yahoo! could not maintain its law suit in the U.S. against the French parties who had sued it in France over Nazi memorabilia. The case was dismissed without prejudice.

    "The case is 99 pages long and includes multiple concurrences and a partial dissent. It is a complicated treatment of a close question of the law, but it also serves as an excellent tutorial on the difficult issues presented by the international nature of the Internet ..."

    More here.

    January 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Gee, thanks, it's been a while since I heard, "How Deep Is Your Love?"

    Beegees Yes, I have the Music Plagiarism Project at Columbia Law School and blogger Bob Ambrogi to thank. Ambrogi has been spelunking around the project and it's a doozy: "This unique site is devoted to archiving court cases alleging infringement of music copyrights. It provides the court decision, when available, along with editorial commentary on the case. But what makes it truly unique is that it also provides audio recordings and sometimes the scores of the songs in dispute, with the works of both the complainant and the defendant ..."

    One such song is "Let it End," which composer Ronald Selle said the Bee Gees falsettoed all over with "How Deep." But the 7th Circuit disagreed. Now, thanks to the project, you can compare them for yourself. More here.

    January 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Why you should care whether your firm has a KM partner?

    Joy London introduces Bruce Anderson, "Bell & Scott's KM partner and is the only partner in a Scottish law firm to have been awarded Nottingham Law School's post graduate Diploma in Know-How Management for Legal Practice."

    January 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Blawggers on the Times: BigLaw has less to worry about than legal research

    A recent New York Times article suggests that law firms should worry about corporations outsourcing legal research. "Is this right?" asks Ron Friedmann. Not quite, he says:  "To my knowledge, the threat did not materialize -- I see no evidence of significant BigLaw revenue loss. And observing LRN over the years, I’ve noticed an apparent shift from research to compliance, which may say something about outsourced legal research as a business. I think the real development is offshore legal research. (See, for example, the list of outsourced legal services that I co-maintain with the excited utterances blog.) ..." More here.

    Rees Morrison agrees and elaborates: "An article, NY Times, Jan. 13, 2006, mentioned one method for law departments to spend less: hire an outside service provider for legal research. Specifically, the article referred to LRN, and quoted Peter Kreindler, general counsel at Honeywell who "thought the company's spending on legal services had fallen by at least 25 percent as a result of using LRN." Caution! Kreindler must have meant that Honeywell's spending on legal research enjoyed that drop, not all its spending on law firms and other law-related vendors."

    January 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 16, 2006

    Happy Birthday Dr. King

    Mlk_speechThis photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr., shows him waving to the crowd of more than 200,000 people gathered on the Mall during the March on Washington, after delivering his 'I Have A Dream' speech. You can find this photograph and much more on the BBC's Web site.

    Over on Blackprof, Adrien Wing in a Jan. 15 post celebrates King's legacy by invoking today's inauguration of Mrs.  Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Johnson-Sirleaf is "the first female president in Africa. Her struggle to lead Liberia out of  a legacy of violence and create a future filled with hope is one that Dr. King would have surely embraced," Wing writes. More here.

    January 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Blawg Review #40: Back to business

    Ed of Blawg Review writes,

    "Blawg Review #40 is up at Small Business Trends, where Anita Campbell,
    a former GC turned entrepreneur, is managing editor of one of the most
    widely-read business blogs.

    "What does she cover in this special "blawgs for business" issue of Blawg Review?

    - Samuel Alito Hearings
    - Business Ideas
    - Corporate Legal Issues
    - Better Writing
    - Patents
    - Life
    - Justice System
    - All About Clients"

    Don't miss it!

    January 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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