Strategist - FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Are you interest in LGBTQ rights and the legal industry? Planning on being in or around New York City on November 7th? Then here's something you might want to check out.

Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute is hosting an election-eve event on LGBTQ rights and the law in New York, entitled OutLaw: Critical Dialogues on LGBTQ Representation and Corporate Leadership. (Disclosure: Thomson Reuters is FindLaw's parent company.) The day-long event will feature leaders from the legal and corporate worlds and "earnest dialogue around galvanizing business leaders toward more inclusive enterprise cultures and leadership opportunities."

The Supreme Court's ban on victim impact testimony that recommends specific sentencing outcomes (like the death penalty) is still in effect despite the opinion being partially overruled, the Court announced in a per curiam decision last week.

The brief ruling involves the interplay of Booth v. Maryland, the 1987 case in which the Court ruled that the Eighth Amendment prohibits victim's family members' opinions about the crime, and Payne v. Tennessee, decided just four years later, which allowed testimony about the emotional impact of crimes. Consider the opinion a bit of a revival for Booth, or at least a reminder that the Court's earlier limitations on victim impact statements haven't been fully abandoned.

Talk about a costly mistake: Mark Halpern, a Pennsylvania lawyer, has been found liable for $1.75 million in punitive damages for filing an allegedly meritless lawsuit in a dispute over a family trust. Halpern's client was hit with $300,000 in punitive damages.

The dispute that led to the nearly $2 million award against Halpern started about ten years ago, according to the Legal Intelligencer's Max Mitchell. In 2006, Lynne Boghossian had a dispute with her aunt, Hilda Kilijian, which lead Kilijian to split their joint stocks and set up an irrevocable trust with Lesley Brown as a co-trustee. Lesley Brown is Boghossian's sister and the ex-wife of John Brown Jr., a former Cozen O'Connor lawyer.

Answering phone calls, balancing the books, organizing your files -- these are the sort of chores that can keep you from doing your actual job: lawyering. Administrative tasks can easily eat up a significant portion of your time, taking up a third or more of many a lawyer's day.

Indeed, administrative duties are such a burden on small firms and solo practices that lawyers rank "spending too much time on administrative tasks and not enough practicing law" as the third most significant challenge they face, according to a survey released by Thomson Reuters this summer. Thankfully, there are ways to cut down on that burden, freeing you up to do more important (and profitable) work.

The internet has always been a place to experiment with identity, and maybe to fudge the truth a bit. Think of the Facebook teens claiming to be experts on international politics, for example, or the divorcee looking for love on a dating website, with pictures that are a decade or so old.

That desire to embellish can sneak in to lawyer websites, too, and suddenly you're no longer a solo practitioner, you're "Lawyer and Associates;" you don't just have a family law practice, you're a leading expert in divorce. But this kind of puffery could be an ethics violation.

It's that time of the year again: the time to see how your salary measures up against everyone else's and how you might do in the year ahead. Robert Half Legal, the legal staffing agency, has released its 2017 Salary Guide, a survey of legal professional salaries across a wide range of careers, practice areas, and years of experience.

So far, 2017 is looking like a decent year to be a lawyer, as most attorneys can expect a fair increase over last year's salary, particularly attorneys with four or more years of experience. Here are the highlights.

When we think of Nobel Prize winners, we tend to think of astrophysicists and chemists, poets and peacemakers, but rarely legal professionals. There is, after all, no Nobel Prize for law.

But the legal industry got some special recognition from the Nobel committee yesterday, as the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom "for their contributions to contract theory." That's right, better contracts won the Nobel Prize.

Where do you go when you have a question about the law or practice? To FindLaw's legal professional blogs, of course! But aside from blogs, some of the best advice you can get will often come from your colleagues -- the expert down the hall, if you will.

It's those conversations that are the inspiration for a new podcast, "Thomson Reuters: Down the Hall With Practical Law." (Disclosure: Thomson Reuters is FindLaw's parent company.) "Down the Hall" tries to recreate that informal expertise sharing -- except you don't need a hall or your own experts. Just a few minutes and a pair of headphones will do.

Education, skills, experience: these are the bedrock of a good potential hire. But you don’t want to stop there. Finding the best candidate when your firm is hiring means searching for someone who has more than just the basics, someone with the qualities that will make for a stellar hire.

Enter the “six Q’s.” A recent Washington Post article detailed the six characteristics, or “quotients” the best job seekers have — everything from IQ to IMQ, or the ability to adapt successfully to new situations. So here are the Q’s to choose when adding to your law firm crews.

Two years ago, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority discovered that one of its arbitrators was not what he claimed. James Frank had claimed to be a lawyer and member of several state bars. That, however, was not true. But the deception didn't come to light until after Frank had overseen nearly 40 securities arbitration cases over a period of 15 years, involving major brokers and billions of dollars -- all the while maintaining that he was an attorney.

Now those who lost before Frank are seeking to have their arbitration decisions vacated. That puts the winners in the tough spot of defending an arbitration chaired by a fake lawyer, as Citigroup Global Markets discovered this week.