Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Does your judge own stock in the company you're suing? Unless they're a major shareholder, like more than 5 or 10 percent major, it's not likely to be easy to dig up information that'll pop up in a regular old Google search.

Clearly, if a judge has a 5 or 10 percent stake in a publicly traded, or any, company, they shouldn't be hearing cases about it, but even if a judge has an infinitesimal stake, they probably still shouldn't be hearing cases about it. But how is a litigant supposed to know? It's not like discovery gets conducted on a judge's potential conflicts of interest, and while judges sure do love clearing cases off their docket, usually, recusal is a method of last resort reserved for the torture that gets exacted when reality TV and justice intersect.

The Best State for a Marijuana Practice Is ...

New Jersey.

Wait, what? How could New Jersey be the best state to have a marijuana practice?

It's about the numbers. New Jersey handed out 10,000 new medical marijuana cards the first half of 2018, growing at about twice the rate from 2017. They don't call it the Garden State for nothing.

Here in the FindLaw Strategist blog, we do a lot of writing about writing.

From cases hinging on the Oxford comma to silly cease and desist letters to pleadings requesting extensions so lawyers can attend football games, we do what we can to keep our lawyer readers in the know.

Below are seven of our best blogs from this year geared toward helping lawyers learn to be better writers.

Trial Lesson: Don't 'Pop the Corks' Too Early

Plaintiff's attorney Brent Wisner had a winning closing argument, but then the judge had something to say.

Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos didn't like the part about popping champagne corks. Wisner told jurors that the defendants were waiting for the verdict, and "if the damages number isn't significant enough, champagne corks will pop."

It could cost him his $289 million verdict. "Counting chickens before they hatch" may apply to farmers, but lawyers will talk about "popping the corks too early."

For some attorneys, opting for a bench trial is a peculiar bit of strategy that can help to ensure that complex cases are properly considered; however, sometimes you just don't have a choice in the matter.

Recently, the Mississippi AG's case against the utility company Entergy has been making headlines as the billion dollar case will be decided solely by one federal judge with the trial starting early next month. The case involves claims that the company's energy customers in the state, from 1998 to 2009, were overcharged to the tune of $1.1 billion.

North Carolina Opens Legal Borders to Help Disaster Victims

You can practice law in North Carolina no matter where you are, if you are ready to help disaster victims.

Because of Hurricane Florence, the North Carolina Supreme Court has ordered that out-of-state lawyers may provide free legal services there. It's not an open invitation to start a practice in North Carolina, but it is an opportunity to do some good.

It's also good news for lawyers who can't leave their homes to go across country. Through the American Bar Association, they can do pro bono online.

When to Sue Co-Counsel: Only If It Hurts

Good lawyers know to tell clients not to sue if it's not worth it -- financially.

Especially those clients who say it's about principal; they better have more dollars than sense.

So the same should apply when an attorney considers suing co-counsel. Don't do it unless you got really hurt -- financially.

The Washington State Supreme Court has put an end to the state imposing the death penalty. Effectively, anyone sentenced to die in the state just had their sentences converted to life without parole.

Interestingly, the court based its decision upon a finding that the way the state imposed the death penalty was racially biased. Even more interestingly, that finding was significantly based upon a study that was commissioned by the appellant, who was seeking to stop his execution from going forward. This decision makes Washington the 20th state to prohibit the death penalty.

How NOT to Handle In-Chambers Conferences

There are a thousand things lawyers should do in court.

Always respect the judge, make eye contact with jurors, be civil to opposing counsel, etc.

But there are at least three rules for in-chambers conferences, and the most important rule is about what NOT to do. Think of it like the moment the gate comes down at a railroad crossing.

Most lawyers out there have non-lawyer friends that will ask for off-the-cuff legal advice.

And while we've all been trained to tell that friend that "friends don't let friends get and/or give legal advice from/to friends," most of us will eventually hand out some free legal advice to friends. And when that friend then completely ignores your advice, to their detriment, what do you do? Below, you can read a couple tips (besides finding new friends).