Strategist: October 2011 Archives
Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

October 2011 Archives

Judge Denies 5 Motions to Dismiss Edwards Campaign Finance Case

John Edwards' campaign finance case is moving ahead, much to the chagrin of his attorneys.

The case has survived five motions to dismiss.

The former presidential candidate is accused of misusing campaign contributions. He allegedly used funds to cover up the existence of his mistress, videographer Rielle Hunter. Hunter later carried Edwards' daughter to term.

Jose Baez Complaints Confirmed by Florida Bar

For the first time, the Florida Bar has released information about the Jose Baez complaints, confirming suspicions as to their content.

Both ethics complaints stem from Baez's representation of Casey Anthony during her murder trial and the subsequent probation fiasco. And as suspected, they concern comments made by Judge Belvin Perry.

Moreover, the initial investigation was recently sent to a grievance committee, which will now determine whether there is sufficient probable cause to bring formal charges.

NY Woman Disrobes in Court, Somehow Avoids Contempt

What would you do if your client came to her hearing simply to strip in court?

For most attorneys, the first thing they'd do is to pray that the judge doesn't slap their client with a contempt charge.

That's probably what Holly Van Voast's attorney wished for when his client, a staunch public nudity advocate, disrobed in the middle of a hearing in New York City.

And his wish came true.

FL Lawyers Can Now Use Nicknames like 'Bulldog,' 'Shark' in Ads

Florida's lawyer advertising rules have long been criticized for being arcane and amongst the most restrictive in the country. But two of those rules suffered a blow at the hands of U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard earlier this month.

One rule banned "manipulative" advertising, while another prohibited the use of "any background sound other than instrumental music."

Judge Howard struck down these two provisions on First Amendment and due process grounds.

VA Lawyer Charged with Misconduct for Blogging

A Virginia lawyer has been charged with misconduct over legal blog posts on his website.

Horace Hunter is a criminal defense attorney. He writes about some of the cases he's worked on. He also writes about substantive criminal justice issues.

What's come under scrutiny is his discussion of his old cases. Like many state bars, the Virginia State Bar requires lawyers to be truthful in their advertising. They wish to avoid misrepresentation. So, when advertising previous wins attorneys are required to put disclaimers.

Ex-Lawyers Make Good Pretend Patients for Med Students

If you've ever thought about an exit strategy from the legal profession, maybe you should know that ex-lawyers apparently make great "pretend patients."

What exactly are pretend patients, also known as standardized patients (or SPs)?

Simply put, they are hired actors or amateurs who are used to help educate medical students. Pretend patients are given a persona and a list of symptoms. TV's Kramer famously portrayed an SP with gonorrhea, describing "the burning" in a classic scene on Seinfeld.

They are then put in a room with an aspiring doctor, who is required to "examine" patients. Usually, the student will be monitored with a video camera by an instructor, who will then provide critiques to the student's performance.

Justice Scalia Tells Senate 'Every Banana Republic Has a Bill of Rights'

Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer took a turn in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, riffing and espousing some interesting opinions.

The Justices hit on such hot topics as the televising of oral arguments; legislative struggles and "gridlock"; the separation of powers; and judicial philosophies.

On this last topic, Justice Scalia is "hopeful that the 'living' Constitution will die."

Are Attorneys 'Too Uptight?' Meet 'MyBaldLawyer'

If you run your own small practice, you understand the importance of marketing. Law offices, like any business, need to find a niche. 

Firms also need to appeal to clients. Take Georgia attorney Chandler W. Mason's firm, who is advertising his shop as "MyBaldLawyer.com."

Granted, his firm's name is still "Mason & Associates, P.C." After all, scribbling "My Bald Lawyer, Attorneys at Law" on top of a court filing would likely seem off-putting to a judge.

But the firm's site does illustrate a point: maybe humor can work in your favor.

Learn New New Legal Tricks at Corporate Counsel Contracts Center

Small firms and solos often spend a lot of their days drafting business contracts. Meeting a company's legal needs often requires lots of transactional or contract work.

Most attorneys recognize that it's easier to draft a legal document when you have some guidance. Enter FindLaw's Corporate Counsel Contracts Center.

A 'Staggering' 20 of 48 Supreme Court Cases are from 9th Cir.

The Supreme Court is back in session, and a "staggering" amount of its caseload will be from the Ninth Circuit.

In total, the nation's highest court will be hearing around 48 cases.

About 42%, or 20 out of the 48 cases in the docket, comes from Ninth Circuit.

Why are so many of the cases coming out of the western states? Is it because the Pacific coast is rife with juicy disputes?

LegalZoom Sues North Carolina Bar Over Right to Sell Legal Forms

A new LegalZoom lawsuit has been filed, but this time it's being spearheaded by the company itself.

LegalZoom is seeking a declaratory judgment stating that it is entitled to sell standard legal forms in the state of North Carolina. It also wants to register with the North Carolina State Bar as a provider of prepaid legal services.

Attorney regulators believe that LegalZoom is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

Are Attorneys Fees Inadequate in PA Death-Penalty Cases?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered hearings on Philadelphia's attorney fees for death penalty cases.

The move comes after a petition by the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation. The non-profit argued that the attorney's fees for death penalty cases in Philadelphia was so low that it violated criminal defendants' constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.

How low is the fee?

Ex-Employees of FL Foreclosure King's Firm Get Class Action Approved

The Law Office of David J. Stern, the ex-Florida Foreclosure King, has been slapped with a class action lawsuit.

About 700-850 full-time employees are expected to join the case.

The lawsuit claims that the firm and its processing arm DJSP Enterprises failed to give laid off employees proper notice under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act).

Clarence Thomas Didn't Report $700K Paid to His Wife: House Dems

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose that his wife received paychecks from conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation.

And the sum is no small chunk of change. House Democrats say that Virginia Thomas received $700,000 between 2003 and 2007.

They are now requesting an ethics investigation into the matter.

So did Thomas deliberately exclude the payout? Or was this simply an accident?

One thing is for sure: this isn't the first time the justice has omitted some information.