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November 2010 Archives

Top Holiday Gifts for Lawyers

It's that time of the year and many people are working on their holiday shopping. One question that comes up often is, "What do you buy for a lawyer?"

Fortunately, The American Bar Association recently put together a list of the top holiday gifts for your favorite lawyer.

Here are some highlights:

Attorney Loses Judicial Campaign, Then His Job

Was he fired or did he quit?

The answer is still not clear as the accusations between attorney John McPhee, and his former firm, bounce back and forth. McPhee had just finished an unsuccessful judicial campaign for 39th district court in Michigan and allegedly intended to return to work when he was informed that his "replacement" had been on the job for some time.

McPhee says he had no intention of quitting his job when firing up his "a blue collar judge for a blue collar community" judicial campaign. But it seems the head of his small law firm thought otherwise, reports the Macomb Daily.

John McPhee says he received a phone call from Robert Gittleman the morning after the election and was told he had been let go.

From Barn to Big Law: Solo Joins Firm After 30 Years On His Own

It's never too late to try something different.

Thomas Bergstrom is living proof. After spending 33 years as a solo attorney, the former University of Iowa grad is making a move to BigLaw. That means that he is moving out of the converted barn in his backyard, and into the offices of Bechanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a 450-attorney firm where he will be a partner. Bergstrom will be commuting on the morning train to the Bechanan's Philadelphia office.

Thomas Bergstrom is well known in the Philadelphia region for his criminal defense work, including representing John duPont in the alleged murder of Olympic gold medal winner David Schultz as well as several other high profile cases. He was also previously a judge advocate officer for the U.S. Marine Corps and a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania.

Judge Gone Wild: Judge Salcido Turned Court Into Reality Show

Judge Judy may play OK on TV, but not so much in real life. A San Diego judge has accepted sanctions and stepped down permanently from the bench not only for filming her courtroom in a reported bid for a reality TV show, but for the TV style humor, comments and rowdy audience participation tactics that sound more Jerry Springer, less Superior Court.

The state Commission on Judicial Performance cited 39 instances of misconduct in censuring San Diego Superior Court Judge DeAnn M. Salcido. The charges include a "pattern of misconduct" and abuse of authority, according to a September report by San Diego Union-Tribune. That report details the charges, alleging Judge Salcido mocked defendants and attorneys and encouraged the court audience to shout "woo woo" during the day of taping. They did. The Commission says the judge went so far as to "line up" the most interesting cases for that day.

Women Lawyers' Pay, Rank Lag Behind Men at Law Firms

Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but if there is one thing that connects us, it's that we'd all like to be paid more for our work. However, women lawyers are still lagging behind men at law firms.

The National Association of Women Lawyers has just released a study that shows that female attorneys make less money and receive fewer promotions than males. According to the study, this is in part due to new structures that make it difficult for female attorneys to advance. This despite an increase by law firms in diversity initiatives, maternity programs and part time policies designed to help women.

The news is fairly bleak: women make up only 15% of equity partners at top U.S. firms and are barely involved in influential committees at their firms. At nearly half the law firms, the top ten rainmakers are all men. This despite the fact that women make up nearly 35% of all attorneys in 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, while female associates receive similar compensation to male associates, on average they receive only 85% of what higher level male attorneys make.

Judges Use Facebook, Too. But Should They?

You or your firm may have a Facebook page. Maybe not. It seems that the omnipresent social networking site has already infiltrated the judicial system in a variety of manifestations. When debating whether or not to join the Facebook ranks, it may be interesting to look at how judges are approaching the site and other social media. The Conference on Court Public Information Officers has taken a look at judiciary's use of Facebook and other social media.

The survey found that more than one-third of state court judges and magistrates use Facebook in either their personal or professional lives. Although the judges surveyed were split on many of the questions posed in the survey, an overwhelming majority of those polled agreed that, "judges and court employees needed to be educated about so called 'new media' -- from Facebook to Twitter to smartphones -- and learn how their use might impact day-to-day operations in their courthouses." In addition to cases involving social media, there are also issues with Facebook and Twitter being used during trial.

Utah Women Lawyers Treated Unfairly

New numbers paint a bleak picture of life at the bar for female attorneys in Utah. If there is one thing attorneys of any gender listen to, it is evidence, and the statistics from a survey by the Women Lawyers of Utah say the evidence points to a "startling amount" of sexual harassment and sex discrimination in Utah law firms.

The ABA Journal breaks down the executive summary from The Utah Report: The Initiative on the Advancement and Retention of Women in Law Firms. Some of the numbers are indeed startling. According to the Report, approximately 10% of women lawyers surveyed said they had been sexually harassed at work. The gender representations of men to women are very uneven in Utah, which may have some bearing on the harassment stats. Nationally, the Report states, the number of male to female attorneys is 69% to 31%. In Utah, however, the rates are 77% to 23%, male to female.

David Mills: From Spare Bedroom to Supreme Court

Maybe this is the year of the rookie. San Francisco Giant Buster Posey notwithstanding, there is a one more rookie that may be making a name for himself this year. With stats that sound akin to major league baseball, the number of attorneys who will argue a case before the Supreme Court is less than 1 in 10,000; a number which now includes Cleveland attorney David Eduard Mills.

Mills, 33, isn't technically a rookie. He has about four years at major hitters Jones Day under his belt, according to the profile in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. But David Mills is a brand new solo practitioner and this week absolutely was his rookie debut before the High Court.

Should Firms Hire Law Librarians or Knowledge Officers?

Law libraries may be going the way of the dinosaur, but what about law librarians? A recent article in the ABA Journal raises the question of how you define a librarian or knowledge officer and whether it is time for the meaning of librarian to evolve.

Traditionally a librarian is somebody who oversees a library. So, the article asks, if there is no need for a library, why would you need a law librarian? Because the amount of information is expanding so rapidly, says Google's General Counsel Kent Walker. Law librarians have the information, after all. Who else is going to be better at conducting legal research than them? As the ABA Journal piece put it, "If you have someone who is really good at finding the right information, why would a firm need, or even want, to draw a line between where that information came from?"

'Woodstock for Lawyers' Helps Change Direction of Legal Careers

How is your law practice doing? Are you getting enough clients? Are you growing? Are you optimistic about the future?

If you are feeling like you need a new direction, perhaps now is a good time to consider shifting your focus -- as there are plenty of alternative legal careers. For example, O. Max Gardner III, 65, runs an attorney boot camp at his farm in North Carolina where attorneys can learn, network and become part of an informal fraternity of attorneys practicing foreclosure law. To top it all off, Gardner's wife cooks meals, attendees sleep in on-site bunks and can help themselves to unlimited wine, beer and single malt Scotch while learning the ins and outs of a new practice.