Thursday, December 17, 2015

Legal documents, rules, and cases: they are your friends! More novel concepts in the law

Many times when a client (or potential witness) gets some legal documents in the mail, they become overwhelmed, and don't even read them. Or they read parts of them, and blank out the other parts. This often leads a to missed deadlines, a failure to respond, and makes the case even worse. It's the "ostrich" approach to litigation (If I put  my head in the sand, maybe it will all go away). This approach isn't a very good one.

Same thing goes for attorneys sometimes: they will get some pleadings from another attorney, or a notice from court, fail to read it thoroughly, and miss something important about the case.

Ancient truth: Yes, legal paperwork is sometimes hard to read, but if you break it down into smaller parts, it's easier.

And here's the secret: when you read it, it has to contain the rules (or cases) that it's based on, and those rules are something that you will need to use to argue (with or against) to get to win your side of the case!

In other words, you have to read it all (especially if you're an attorney), to see what else you should be arguing. And most likely the judge will read all of it too.  So if you don't read, the judge will wonder why you left that out of your argument.

Let me get specific here: You're the client, and you have gotten a notice to appear on your case. It will have the case number, name of the hearing, where the hearing will be (the courthouse, room, and street address), the time and date. It will also have how to respond to it listed on that same form. You (or your attorney) will need to contact the court to do something about the hearing, like reschedule it.

Sometimes, however, the form will contain other information, like "if you do not respond by 21 days from the date of this notice, then . . . ." What's the "then?" Possible "thens" : this order will be signed by the judge,  or then you will lose your window of appeal, or then the bench warrant will be issued. That's the trigger to get you into motion.

Or, let's try a different scenario: You're the attorney, and you get a new client, who needs you to do something with the documents. Where do you start? What court are you in? Make the first step of actually reading what the client gives you. (One more hint: it might not say what the client thinks - see above, clients don't always read everything!) But at least what the client gives you will have the court on it, and something about the case so you can at least get more information.If the client doesn't have the right papers, get the copies from the court of everything else in the file, so that you know exactly where you stand right now. Otherwise, your response will not be accurate.

Now: back to Novel concepts in the law: use those same documents to get the basis that you need to start arguing. In this scenario, you're the attorney with new pleadings from the other side. Those pleading should have a rule, or case citation in them. Look at the rule (or case)! It could be that the attorney on the other side is citing the wrong thing (so you will need to mention to the court what should actually be argued), or that your client's situation is somehow different from what's cited. Then you go about distinguishing your client's case from the one cited, and try to persuade the judge that he or she should agree with your version of things. It's the old "the sky is blue, your honor, that's true, but the shade of blue it was on that day was streaked with gray clouds. So when the opposition says "blue," they should really be saying . . . " You get the idea.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Why not ship some beer for Christmas? Well, because it's illegal (at least in Michigan, for the most part).

Cyber Monday has come and gone. But there is still time to buy! But one thing you can't do, for the most part, is have some beer (or alcohol of any kind) shipped to Michigan (for the most part).

Why? Because the Liquor Control Commission says so.

The thing is, the LCC wants to bring as much revenue as it can into the state. It controls that (hence the name). So every consumer who buys alcohol of any kind is violating the LCC's ability to control things.

Here's another article about this (it's old and lists Granholm as governor, but is still accurate.) Here's a link to the LCC page about importation of alcohol.

How do you get around it? It's not easy. This author tried to buy wines from, but couldn't have the order ship to Michigan. Essentially an online retailer has to purchase a special license from the LCC to be able to ship their products to Michigan. If you happen to shop at an online retailer who doesn't have that license, there's no guarantee that your order will arrive.

Blogging: how it can help you increase your legal market (Or: Novel points in the law, part 3: write about what you know)

Blogging can be pivotal in increasing your law practice, it's true!

See this article (via aba journal).

The theory is (and this actually is fairly true) that people searching for answers use the Internet. If you're writing about an area of law that a lot of people in the general public (or other lawyers, even), don't know about, your blog will get "hits" more often, as you're the only source of information available.

This leads to new clients, more information about cases, and more renown! Give it a try!

The way that I have seen this work: use a blogger profile, in connection with a Google plus page. When you publish a blog article, it shows up in Google (because G+ wants to reward its users). It also shows up with a photo pic of the author. And of course, your Blogger page will have the short bio of you and your area of law as well.

So my advice (back to novel points in the practice of law) is to write about what you know! If your practice area is intellectual property, focus on that. It will help increase your own knowledge, and other people - legal professionals and potential clients - will be drawn to that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Law suit in Flint Michigan seeks over $1 million from ambulance drivers who "missed" attending to car crash victim

FLINT, MI – A lawsuit is seeking more than $1 million after a pair of ambulance workers failed to spot a man in the driver's seat of a car that crashed into a tree.

The lawsuit was filed Nov. 24 in Genesee Circuit Court by the law firm of Geoffrey Fieger on behalf of the estate of the car crash victim, Cortez Lionel Cheathams, against the ambulance campany, Mobile Medical Response.

Article here (via mlive). 

Is lower admission standard to blame for less lawyers gaining admittance to California bar?

As law schools receive fewer and fewer applications for admission, is one tactic for their own survival to admit students who are unlikely to ever pass the bar exam?

Article here (via the lawyerist). 

The article notes the low passage rate of the July 2015 California bar - at 46.6% of takers having passed that exam. By comparison, the Michigan Bar exam passage rate for the same exam was 61%.

Lawyer disbarred for recording clients for his own amusement (Oh, and he appropriated clients' funds too)

According to the opinion, Steele had taken virtually all of the funds in the client trust account, making it difficult to return unearned fees. When a client requested the money, Steele told his staff to inflate the client’s legal bills to deplete the retainer. Sometimes, Steele returned fees with retainers paid by new clients.

Steele also recorded conversations of clients and potential clients for his own personal amusement, and shared those recordings with staffers and relatives. He “openly mocked” the recorded individuals in conversations with others and in a meeting with the state disciplinary commission.

Article here (via aba journal).