Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Failure to pay child support can result in disbarment, says Kentucky Supreme Court

Kentucky Supreme Court says a lawyer can be disbarred for non-payment of child support.

Article here (via aba journal).

Note that the lawyer had faced disciplinary action before for mishandling of client funds, and failure to place funds in an escrow account.

From the article:

James was suspended from law practice for five years in a different ethics case in April 2013. His misconduct included failure to return unearned fees, failing to place client fees in an escrow account, charging unreasonable fees for copying case files, and misappropriating a client’s money, according to the Kentucky Supreme Court opinion. At that time, James said his conduct was because of his discontinuation of medication for a mental health condition and promised to seek treatment through the Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program.

The Kentucky Supreme Court noted James’ disciplinary history and his failure to respond to the current ethics charges. The court also said failure to pay child support is a breach of attorney duties to follow a court order, to comply with a statutory obligation, and to conduct oneself in a way that is above reproach.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Starting a law firm? Which business entity should you choose?

This article (from the lawyerist) summarizes reasons why different business models should be chosen by lawyers starting a new firm.

For any business, one of the primary benefits of utilizing an entity is to limit your potential liability for debts of the business. For this reason, any analysis for a business begins with the question of liability insulation.

For lawyers, we are of course concerned about debts a firm may incur, and typical entity liability rules will apply to regular bills such as those owed to vendors. So if your law firm is an LLC and the LLC owes a document reproduction company, the company can only recover from the LLC.

It also applies to other small businesses, however. If you're looking to start a new business -- or you already have a business and wonder if your business model is correct -- contact me for a consultation. 

Length: will it make a difference? Federal Appeals briefs to be reduced in length

My thinking is that there is more cutting that could be done. A brief should get its point across in the first three paragraphs, and then explain its points, and then it should summarize.

If you cut to the chase, it makes a judge's job easier, and then he or she is more likely to agree with your argument. 
A proposal to cut the length limit for main federal appeals briefs by 1,500 words has generated a lot of comments.

Most commenters oppose cutting the cap from 14,000 to 12,500 words, report the National Law Journal and University of Chicago law professor Will Baude, writing at the Volokh Conspiracy. Among those taking a stand are appellate practitioners, judges, bar associations and advocacy groups.

Article here (via ABA journal). 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dog banned from barking at night, says court (News of the World).

Medo is in trouble for doing what all dogs do: barking.

A fed up neighbor in a northern Croatian village has won a temporary court order that says Medo must stop barking at night. If not, owner Anton Simunovic must pay some $3,160.

Article here (via Freep). 

In the "should've known better department": Lawyer suspended for using disbarred lawyer as co-counsel

It's called "unauthorized practice of law." State bar associations go after this heavily - and it's illegal when a lawyer does it, or helps another lawyer to do it.

Article here. (aba journal).

A solo practitioner in New York state has been suspended for two years because he hired a disbarred lawyer, an old law school friend, as a paralegal and then gave the friend great autonomy.

Dean Gary Weber of Westbury, New York, was suspended for two years for assisting a nonlawyer in the practice of law, the New York Law Journal reports. The Legal Profession Blog quoted from the Jan. 28 opinion imposing the suspension by the New York Appellate Division, Second Department.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lawyers and tattoos - they don't mix (or at least they don't mix well in these examples).

Ok, there are tattooed lawyers out there, of course. I know a few.

But here (article via the Lawyerist) are some law-themed tattoos that are, well, weird to say the least.

My favorite: the Marbury v. Madison quote. Yes, I am that nerdy.

Law school enrollment continues to fall, despite hopes

 Law schools have been having a rough time of things lately. Takers of the LSAT have slumped over the last 5 years, and the numbers - despite what hopes had been - continue to slump.
 The hope was that the slump would be followed by an influx of new students.
But it isn’t happening. The law school, which Parrish leads, saw the number of first-year law students decline 10 percent this school year on top of the nearly 25-percent decline in first-year enrollment it suffered from 2010 to 2013.
law school numbers
A similar story is playing out at most law schools in Indiana and the nation. Enrollment has fallen at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law at IUPUI and Valparaiso University Law School in northwest Indiana.

Article here (via taxprof blog). 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Why laptops should be banned in law school: Comprehension of material suffers

Whether the laptops are used solely to take notes, or not, laptops are not a great way to aid learning:

The study of undergraduate students compared comprehension for students who took notes on laptops and those who took handwritten notes, according to Suffolk law professor Steven Eisenstat. The students using laptops had no access to the Internet and no other computer distractions, yet their performance on later tests was worse than those who took notes by hand.

Comprehension suffers for the laptop users because they tend to type their professors’ words verbatim, without trying to understand the meaning, Eisenstat says. He makes his case in an article available at SSRN that is set for publication in the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review. TaxProf Blog notes his paper.

Article here. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Are judges just as liberal as lawyers?

Lawyers, as a profession, generally lean toward the left politically. But do judges?

A recent study (by a Harvard Prof, home of liberals typically), published here, says judges are more conservative.

From the article (ABA journal):
Among lawyers, the most liberal leaning are government lawyers, followed by law professors, public defenders, female lawyers, lawyers from the top 14 law schools, lawyers at large law firms, partners at firms and prosecutors, according to a chart of the findings in the New York Times. The least liberal leaning lawyers (though still liberal) are lawyers not from the top 100 law schools, male lawyers, and lawyers from the top 15 to 100 law schools.