Archive for the ‘Off Topic’ Category

Anyone who is a regular reader of the blawgosphere will be familiar with Mark Herrmann, former contributor to the Drug and Device Law blog (which is still capably run by Jim Beck) and current contributor to a regular column on Above the Law entitled Inside Straight.  Herrmann’s work on that column attracted the attention of ABA Publishing, which collected many of Herrmann’s Inside Straight columns in a single bound volume, aptly titled Inside Straight.  So, essentially you now have the privilege of paying $24.95 for something that you could get for free, legally, on the Internet.  Why, you ask, should you do it?  Within about one hour of having received an advance copy of the book, one of my partners absconded with it, and I haven’t seen it since.  That might be a clue as to its value.

The subtitle of the book, Advice about Lawyering, In-House and Out, That Only the Internet Could Provide fairly sums up its subject matter.  It’s a book about the stuff that you don’t learn in law school (sorry to have to break the news to all those law schools out there touting their “experiential learning” curricula), like how to impress partners and clients.  Plus, the book is organized in a way that preserves the user comments from the original ATL posts, so it offers additional interactive content that only the Internet could have provided. 

Herrmann’s book, and the column more generally (he’s still writing it), are an extremely useful resource for helping to answer questions of associates and young partners about the often murky dynamics of life in a big law firm, both in terms of dealing with other lawyers within the firm and in dealing with the in-house lawyers who tend to be our clients.  I’ve been able to point lawyers to his column several times just in the last few weeks in answering a question about why I think an issue should be approached a particular way.  Just this past Friday, I pointed an associate to Herrmann’s most recent column, discussing the need to provide actual legal advice rather than simply referring a client or partner to the source, in trying to explain my criticisms of portions of a legal memo.  Unlike that conversation (for the associate at least), Herrmann’s column has the advantage of being engaging and funny, which actually makes it even more useful since it makes it more likely that the advice will sink in!

In short, I would encourage everyone to shell out the mere $24.95 it takes to get Herrmann’s insights in a glossy bound volume.   At minimum, give his ATL column a try.  If you do, it’ll be hard to resist ordering a copy of the book too.

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For anyone who was interested in my recent “save the date” post about the upcoming webcast, Social Media for Lawyers: Do’s, Don’ts, Why Nots, and You Probably Shouldn’ts, click the title for a link to the West Publications web page for the program, where you can get more information and sign up.  We hope you can make it!

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This is not class action related, but it is blawg related.

I will be participating in a CLE webcast on July 27, 2012, which has the working title Social Media for Lawyers: Do’s, Don’ts, Why Nots, and You Probably Shouldn’ts.  The will be presented by the West LegalEdCenter.  My co-panelists will be Kristine Scott, Corporate Compliance Director – Privacy, for Aon Service Corporation, and fellow class action blogger H. Scott Leviant of The Complex Litigator.  Below is a brief summary of the program.  I’ll post more details as soon as they are available.  We hope you can join us!

In this webcast, our panel will address the common ethical and legal pitfalls associated with the growing use of blogs, Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media in law firms and corporate environments.  The three unique perspectives  offered by the panelists on this timely subject will provide useful information for both in-house lawyers and private practitioners in a variety of firm sizes and practice areas. 

Part I will address the unique ethical issues facing the plaintiffs’-oriented or small firm lawyer.  Issues include the ethics of “friending” judges, how to ethically use social media in advertising, whether to segregate personal and professional social media use, how to provide legal commentary without giving legal advice, selecting social media based on practice type (one size does not fit all), and the circumstances under which it is appropriate to use social media to publicize events in a pending case.

Part II will address ethical and risk management issues facing corporate lawyers and executives.  Topics to be addressed in Part II include best practices in social media policies, the use of social media by employers in vetting potential employees, protection of employee or customer privacy, and how and when it is appropriate for an employer to  monitor employee social media use.

Part III will focus on ethical issues for large firms and lawyers in large firms.  Topics include maintaining a level of appropriate decorum without boring your audience, when and how to talk about clients in social media, the danger of “issues” conflicts and other conflicts of interest, and best practices in law blog comments policies and disclaimers.

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Congratulations to Marty Katz, formerly the interim Dean and now permanent Dean of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  Dean Katz was selected from a deep pool of extraordinarily talented and accomplished applicants.  The future of the Sturm College of Law looks bright with Dean Katz at the helm.  During his brief tenure as interim dean, the school’s bar passage rate improved to its highest level in more than 20 years, reaching 91% for first time takers who took the July 2009 exam.  Dean Katz has also been instrumental in leading the faculty in the drafting of a new long term strategic plan.  The University issued this press release earlier today:

News Release

For Release: February 9, 2010

Contact:  Chase Squires

Phone: (303) 871-2660

E-mail: Chase.Squires@du.edu

University of Denver names new law dean

Martin Katz to lead Sturm College of Law

DENVER – Martin Katz has been named dean of the University of Denver (DU) Sturm College of Law, Chancellor Robert Coombe announced Feb. 8, 2010. 

Katz, who has served as interim dean since July, says he is eager to help implement a new strategic plan developed in conjunction with top law schools and the Colorado and national legal community and approved overwhelmingly by the faculty. The blueprint provides a framework for building upon new initiatives in teaching that focus on real-world preparation and provide graduates with the tools they will need in today’s rapidly changing legal climate.

“I’m very excited to take this role. It’s a unique time and a unique set of opportunities at the law school,” Katz says. “There are significant changes afoot in both the practice of law and in our understanding of how to provide the best legal education possible. Our strategy to achieve this vision provides a thoughtful blueprint for taking advantage of the new world we’re living in.”

 Chancellor Coombe says the University community can look forward to Katz’ leadership.

 “We are pleased to have Dean Katz lead the Sturm College of Law,” Coombe says. “We are confident we have selected the right person to take us forward, working in partnership with the faculty, our alumni, and the regional legal community to develop the Sturm College into one of the premier law schools in the country.”

Katz, a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, has served on the Sturm College of Law faculty since 2000. Before that, he served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Colorado Law School and was a partner in the employment law group at Davis, Graham & Stubbs. He is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the Eighth and Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court: District of Colorado and the state of Colorado.

Katz specializes in antidiscrimination law, both within constitutional law and employment law. His work has been published extensively, including in the Georgetown Law Journal, the Notre Dame Law Review, the Indiana Law Journal, the Hastings Law Journal and the Yale Law Journal.

 In addition to his work in law, Katz is a licensed pilot. He serves on the Civil Air Patrol’s search and rescue team and has flown medical transport missions for Angel Flight West.

The University of Denver is committed to improving the human condition and engaging students and faculty in tackling the major issues of our day. The oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain West with more than 12,300 students in undergraduate and graduate study, DU is a nationally recognized research university and ranks among the top 100 Universities in the U.S.

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Although not class action-related, I consider it newsworthy that my firm has decided to enter the 21st century by formally sponsoring a blog. See the excerpt and link  below to the firm’s full press release announcing the latest addition to the AmLaw 200 blogosphere.  Welcome to China-U.S. Trade Law!

Baker Hostetler’s International Trade Practice, led by Dr. Elliot J. Feldman has launched the “China-U.S. Trade Law” blog which will feature developments in U.S. international trade law, with a focus on issues of particular concern to Chinese producers, exporters and government officials.


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The guys at the Drug and Device Law Blog have a post outlining “six things we’ve heard” about why no lawyers from the ten most profitable law firms have blogs.  Perhaps wisely, the’ve chosen to stay out of the fray by commenting further.  I do not share their good sense.  I’m completely unqualified to speak to what motivates lawyers at the 10 most profitable firms to do or not do anything, but I will say some things in defense of the benefits of blogging for big firm lawyers.

1. Lawyers at the most profitable firms are stupid:

“‘Profitable’ large law firms don’t see the need or the benefit of doing blogs. Clearly, if they are already doing well, why go to the trouble and work involved in blogging, when too many BigLaw lawyers still believe that the work will always be there. A mistake of course, but a perception nonetheless.”

I can offer no proof that this is a mistaken perception, but it does presuppose that the only reason to do anything is to make more money. 

2. Lawyers at the most profitable firms are too busy:

“The reason they are so profitable is that everyone is working their heads off – nobody has time to blog.”

I started work at 8:21 a.m. today and finished at 11:06 p.m., with 30 minutes off to drive home and pick up a Chipotle burrito on the way, so don’t talk to me about being too busy to blog.

3. Lawyers at those firms won’t stoop to blog:

“They are so profitable that they don’t think they need to stoop to marketing (which is what they think blogging is).”

Could be.  Blogging is the geekiest form of shameless self-promotion, unless you count Twitter.  But it’s also a great outlet for self-expression and a place to share ideas with smart lawyers who share your interests.

4. Lawyers at those firms don’t want to give away their product for free:

“Lawyers at the top ten PPP firms wouldn’t want anyone at the firm to blog because they might divulge the firm’s precious secrets.”

Of course, how to bill 1000 hours for a 150-page brief and the complete history of the juridical link doctrine are secrets worth protecting, but think about how much more money you could make if you made a nickel for every person who clicked on your blog to learn about your firm’s precious secrets.

5. Lawyers at those firms lack the necessary skill set:

“Those high-profit firms are so profitable because they are very good at making money, but the skill sets required for being good at making money may not be the same as the skill sets required to blog.”

ClassActionBlawg.com is proof positive that blogging does not require a skill set.

6. Lawyers at those firms correctly believe that blogging is unlikely to yield a decent return on investment because of the nature of the firms, the work they do, and their clients:

“When your firm name is already well known and your reputation that well established, you wouldn’t add any value by blogging.”

This one is right on.  That’s why you end up with so many law blogs written by nobodies who’ve never accomplished anything and who hope that by starting a blog, you’ll mistake them for someone famous.  Like this one from some guy named Spence who doesn’t even own a proper suit for court: http://gerryspence.wordpress.com/.  Or how about these two: http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/?  They sound more like Becker-POSER to me.

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I don’t have time for a full entry this evening because I’m off to the Sixth Annual Judicial Excellence in Colorado Dinner this evening, where my friend and role model, Denver County Court Judge Alfred C. Harrell, is among the honorees.

However, the ABA Journal sent the following request to blawgers signed up on its Blawg Directory today, so I thought I’d pass it along:

Dear Blogger,

The ABA Journal is surveying lawyers about the job market and the current state of the economy. We’d appreciate it if you could let readers know about our survey with a mention on your blog. Here is the link:


Survey results will be published in the January ABA Journal. If you post a note about our survey on your blog and send us the link, we’ll be sure you’re among the first to know when we’re ready to post the results. Answers will be kept confidential and used only in combination with all other responses received. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks for your help.


Stephanie Francis Ward
Legal Affairs Writer
ABA Journal

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Forgive the overly sentimental, off-topic diversion, but I couldn’t let this night go by without commenting on how proud this evening’s events have made me to be an American and renewed my faith in our political system and our people.

Both candidates showed the characteristics that we should always be lucky to see in our choices for President.  Only time will tell if Obama will be a great President, but at least we have selected a leader who has the intelligence, eloquence, self-awareness, and temperament befitting a world leader.  At the same time, his opponent accepted defeat graciously, with the leadership and class of a true American role model and hero.  To see the genuine outpouring of emotion and elation from the tens of thousands who celebrated the outcome in Chicago, not just out of pride that their candidate had won, but because they knew that they were participating in something truly historic and transcendent, put a lump in my throat.

I believe that expressions of patriotism only have meaning if they are reserved for those moments that truly embody the positive spirit of a nation’s identity.  This is one of those moments.  God Bless America.

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I shouldn’t encourage this, but I just couldn’t resist.  OTS Software offers a free game called “Class Action Killers,” which it describes as follows:

Class Action Killers is a 3D 3rd-person shooter game. Attorney Max Fees has dispatched his lethal lawyers to destroy the city. You must stop his lawyers and put an end to Max Fees. Be especially careful of the female lawyers as they love to attack from behind.

The game is free for download here.  For anyone who’s just had enough of class action lawyers and is otherwise inclined to do something drastic, I suppose that this game provides a somewhat more harmless outlet for your rage.

Please note, I have not downloaded “Class Action Killers” myself and cannot verify that the download is safe or that the game is any fun.

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“A good fortune may forebode bad luck, which may in turn disguise good fortune.”  – Chinese Proverb

I’ve been sent the blogging equivalent of a chain letter.  The kind folks at Drug and Device Law Blog have tagged ClassActionBlawg.com with an Internet Meme (if you don’t know, click the link–It was the first I’d heard of such a thing).  My task is to list five interesting non-law blogs and then tag five more blawgers to do the same.  This process will then continue over and over until we either find the “God” particle or create a microscopic black hole that causes the Earth to implode instantaneously into a single point of infinite mass and gravity.

The whole thing feels like just the sort of pyramid marketing scheme that is going to get me named a defendant in the next wave of class actions, so my good sense tells me to ignore it.  But on the other hand, I have this gut feeling that if I don’t accept Drug and Device Law Blog‘s invitation, the ensuing bad karma will cause me to be afflicted with some sort of industrial disease.

So, I’ll do it, but just to be extra safe, let me first make this DISCLAIMER for the benefit each of the millions of you who end up getting tagged in the future.  Please do NOT mail me a $1 bill, no matter how much bad luck you think might come your way if you don’t.

With that out of the way, here are my non-law blog picks of the moment:

1) Levick Strategic Communications’ Bulletproof Blog covers PR topics of interest to lawyers and their clients facing publicity relating to litigation.

2) For those interested in keeping up with trends in corporate governance issues from an accounting consultant’s pespective, see Francine McKenna’s blog, re: The Auditors.

3) Tech Crunch is a great resource for reviews of new websites of all types and trends in Internet innovation, including class action-related sites like SueEasy and litigation alternatives like AllRise.

4) Being a closet science geek, my favorite radio program these days is WNYC’s Radio Lab.  WNYC also  offers a Radio Lab blog, where they post extra content, just in case the radio broadcasts and podcasts aren’t enough.  They haven’t done anything remotely related to class actions as far as I know, but they did do an episode recently on the mysteries of collective group action (in the physical, not legal, sense) called Emergence.  Plus, co-host Robert Krulwich recently gave this commencement speech at Cal Tech discussing the art of persuasion through storytelling, which I think is just as applicable to lawyers as it is to scientists.

5) Finally, if you want to keep up to date on everything going on in the NFL even when it’s not game day, check out Mac’s Football Blog.  I couldn’t figure out a way to make this one even tangentially related to class actions, but I have to give it a plug since it is written by a fellow suffering Seahawks fan.

… and here are my blawger victims:

1) My former Corporations and Administrative Law Professor, Jay Brown, authors The Race to the Bottom in collaboration with students, which focuses on corporate governance issues.

2) Since he is primarily a plaintiff’s lawyer, Scott Leviant’s perspectives are usually wrong, but his blog entries in The Complex Litigator are so eloquent that you still find yourself agreeing with him.

3) Mack Sperling’s North Carolina Business Litigation Report covers the goings-on in a jurisdiction with a specialized business court dedicated to complex litigation matters.

4) Blawging veteran Kimberly Kralowec of The UCL Practitioner was part of CLE panel that finally convinced me to start ClassActionBlawg.com.  So this is the thanks she gets!

5) Anonymous blogger of The Mommy Blawg gave ClassActionBlawg.com a mention in her May 5 Blawg Review #158, so this is the thanks she gets! 

Let us go forth and multiply…

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