Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fw: Law.com blog: Forecasting the Next New Lawsuit Wave

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Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2006 9:05 PM
Subject: Law.com blog: Forecasting the Next New Lawsuit Wave

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ABA Judical Ratings: Love 'em or Hate 'em
As a lawyer who serves as a neutral arbitrator, it sometimes seems to me that if both parties come out of a case unhappy with my decision, I probably came down right about near the middle ground. So it may be with the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which evaluates the qualifications of all federal judicial nominees.

Yesterday, the committee gave its lowest rating of "not qualified" to Michael Wallace, President Bush's nominee for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this week, the committee downgraded its evaluation of Brett M. Kavanaugh, the president's nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Liberals responded to these evaluations by calling for the withdrawal of both nominations, while conservatives responded by attacking the ABA committee as biased.

At the conservative blog PointofLaw.com, for example, Ted Frank said that Kavanaugh's downgrading proved the position Bush took early in his administration that the ABA's ratings were biased. At ProfessorBainbridge.com, Stephen Bainbridge dug into campaign finance data for evidence of political leanings among any of the ABA committee members. Nine of the 15 committee members had made federal campaign contributions, he found, six primarily to Democrats and three primarily to Republicans. From this, he speculates:

"If the political leanings of the non-givers track those of the givers, Democrats may hold a 10-5 advantage on the committee."

Of course, all this data really shows is that fewer than half the committee's members supported Democrats. As might be expected from the name, Club Lefty takes a contrary view. He visited the official White House Judicial Nominations page to find multiple instances when the president cited the ABA ratings as affirmative evidence of a nominee's qualifications. He says:

"A quick scan of previous reactions to ABA ratings of high profile judges demonstrates what can only be considered a long standing track record of support from the administration for the findings of the ABA."

Among recent Bush nominees, the ABA committee gave its "well qualified" ratings to both Samuel Alito and John Roberts. When you walk a middle line, how others see you depends on their perspectives. Some see you veering to the right, others see you veering to the left. In truth, if the committee had been veering one way or the other, it wouldn't have stayed on track all these years.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 11, 2006 at 08:26 AM | Permalink

Must-Have Skills for Corporate Counsel
A survey of 780 Canadian corporate counsel asked them to select the most important skill for the job. At the top of the list, as Rees Morrison reports at Law Department Management, was "effective leadership," ranked first by 21 percent of respondents. Other key skills they listed were:

  • Business sector knowledge (19 percent).
  • Accounting/financial (14 percent).
  • Management (11 percent).
  • Project management (8 percent).
  • Technology (7 percent).
  • Negotiating (7 percent).
  • Presentations/speaking (5 percent).
  • Skills assessment/mentoring (4 percent).

Notably absent from the list, Morrison says, were emotional intelligence and ability to write clearly.  Further, concludes Morrison:

"If 'Skills assessment/mentoring' is the stand-in for what I would refer to much more broadly as 'talent management,' then the list misses many of the skills needed to get the most from people."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 11, 2006 at 08:24 AM | Permalink

Forecasting the Next New Lawsuit
Law firms use business and competitive intelligence to help them better understand the business environment. But while BI and CI focus on what has been, it is also possible to try forecasting what will be, observes Ron Friedmann at Prism Legal. He cites a recent BusinessWeek article, Is That A Lawsuit Blowing In?, that describes work by Risk Management Solutions and Rand to forecast class action lawsuits using techniques similar to ones used to forecast natural disasters. Friedmann notes:

"Plaintiffs' lawyers are likely to be the first to read the results. BigLaw, which defends both corporations and insurers, should keep up with this research as well."

And given that forecasting involves math and technology, lawyers are sure to get their CFOs and CIOs involved as well, Friedmann adds.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 11, 2006 at 08:11 AM | Permalink

U.K. Firm's 'Crowning' Achievement
Justin Patten at Human Law extends congratulations to One Crown Office Row Chambers, which Internet reviewer Delia Venables recently singled out as one of the three most interesting chambers sites on the Web. Patten notes that the site includes a Human Rights Database of reports and commentaries dating back to 1998. He gives particular credit to associate Rosalind English, who edits and writes much of the Human Rights material. Still to come to the site, Patten suggests: podcasting.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 11, 2006 at 07:54 AM | Permalink

Net Videos: Legal Programming Aplenty
If you haven't checked out Google Video, you need to, urges Rick Georges at Future Lawyer.  Type "law" in the search box, he says, and up come 1,715 videos.

"This is a great way to kill some time, and see what is out there as well. There are full length videos of law seminars and law conferences, how-to videos, all free for the watching and downloading."

And some, notes Georges, "are even interesting."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 11, 2006 at 07:37 AM | Permalink

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