Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

July 2009 Archives

The state of California, mired in a months-long budget stalemate, finally began issuing IOUs instead of cash for some of its obligations earlier this month. The IOUs, officially known as "registered warrants," will mature later this year, and in the meantime will accrue tax-free interest. Many major banks in California are now declining to accept the warrants, leaving many warrant-holders in a temporary cash crunch, looking for ways to trade or sell their warrants now in exchange for cash.

Now comes word that the federal government has stepped in to regulate warrant trading. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, an entity overseen by the Securities and Exhcange Commission, stated its opinion late last week that the California warrants are "municipal securities" subject to certain federal securities laws.

Leaving the Jury All Atwitter

I'm not sure what to think of this.

I received a press release from Dr. Noelle Nelson today arguing that attorneys should take the style of Twitter tweets into account when writing their opening statements to juries.  Dr. Nelson argues that juries of today are used to a different way of communicating than juries that attorneys became used to 10 or 15 years ago.

Christmas Comes Early for Cybercrime Defense Attorneys

Attorneys representing defendants accused of cybercrimes received another weapon in their arsenals after a recent Supreme Court decision, according to computer forensic hardware maker Voom Technologies.

The decision from the Supreme Court's latest term, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, held that the trial court's admission of the prosecution's certificates by laboratory analysts in a drug case was in error since it violated the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers. 

The decision didn't limit itself to drug cases, nor did it restrict the scope of the ruling to any particular field of forensic analysts, according to Voom's release.  Justice Scalia, delivering the controlling opinion of the Court, noted that "[t]he same is true of many of the other types of forensic evidence commonly used in criminal prosecutions," which leads Voom's CEO David Biessener to believe that the decision applies to computer forensic experts as well as drug lab analysts. 

This means that defense attorneys can demand testimony from computer forensic experts at trial, and can challenge any lack of testimony on appeal.  Going forward, defense attorneys will have new methods at their disposal to challenge cybercrime charges on behalf of their clients.
Whether you're stressed out because you don't have enough work these days, or harried by too much work rushing in from clients fleeing BigLaw, a little humor during the day can help ease work pressures and help you to relax and get your

Sometimes humor can be educational, too, especially if you appreciate the quirkier parts of the law.  Enter West's Headnote of the Day, a free newsletter that scours the millions of those useful headnotes that we all know and love to find the strange, the bizarre, the downright weird points of law that make you laugh and ask yourself "how did that ever become part of the American jurisprudence?"
There are lots of social networks out there.  LinkedIn is the main social networking site for business networks, and the site allows people to post recommendations for other people in their network.  Many people look at this as an innocent way to build their network and strengthen their relationships, thus most recommendations are positive.

Many management-side attorneys are beginning to see problems with managers or employers using the site to post recommendations for employees, however, according to the National Law Journal

New Practice Area Alert: The WARN Act Is Coming

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has alerted me to a new practice area that is heating up thanks to the continually deteriorating economy: WARN Act cases are apparently poised to become a hot topic of litigation over the coming months.

The WARN Act (or Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) is designed to give workers who work in certain locations for companies covered by the act a 60 day cushion before a round of mass layoffs.  The problem is that many companies are now claiming that the nature of the current downturn has prevented them from providing the requisite notice because events transpired too quickly to allow the business to wait before performing layoffs.

Think Your Debt Is Bad? Talk to This Guy

We all know what it's like to get out of law school with a mountain of debt looming over our heads.  For most new lawyers, it's simply a matter of working the loan payments into our monthly budgets and hoping that we remain employed the next thirty years or so.

For Robert Bowman, however, student loan debt presented an entirely new set of problems.

First of all, there was a lot of it.  Bowman came up through the foster care system, and he had to borrow heavily to pay for college, graduate school and then law school.  The loans, including penalties, totaled over $400,000.

You're Fired. Oh, and You're Welcome.

Dan Slater, the former writer of the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, has an interesting piece in today's New York Times called "In Praise of Law Firm Layoffs".  In the article, Slater makes the argument that the current wave of layoffs that is currently sucking thousands of attorneys down in the undertow is actually the best thing to happen to the legal profession in a long time.

Slater first lists the benefits to corporate counsel who have long suffered through law firm compensation models that emphasize the quantity of billable hours over the quality of the work product.