Friday, October 20, 2006

from legal blog watch

Legal Blog Watch

Unlicensed GC Raise Questions

An enterprising Wisconsin blog has discovered that the general counsel at at least four of the state's largest companies are not licensed to practice law there, raising questions about the bar-admission requirements of in-house lawyers everywhere. Michael Horne of the blog MilwaukeeWorld used online attorney licensing records to determine that the GC of Oshkosh Truck Corp., Briggs & Stratton Corp., Sensient Technologies Corp. and Robert W. Baird & Co. -- companies all headquartered in the state -- lack Wisconsin law licenses. It is a situation, the blog reports, that th e executive director of the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners plans to investigate.

"The consequences for Wisconsin-based corporations whose in-house counsel might lack Wisconsin licenses could be dire," blogger Horne writes, continuing:

"With such high stakes, it is confounding that attorneys who make a career of practicing in Wisconsin are too lazy or indifferent to get a license here. This is perplexing, since the state offers relatively simple access to license for qualifying attorneys. Wisconsin applies reciprocity: out-of-state attorneys who wish to practice in Wisconsin need only satisfy the same requirements their state demands for Wisconsin lawyers who chose to practice there."

At Oshkosh Truck, for example, Horne found that GC Bryan J. Blankfield is admitted in Illinois but not Wisconsin. Of the four other attorneys in his office, one is licensed in Wisconsin, one has a suspended Wisconsin license and two are unlicensed in the state.

Horne, who is not a lawyer, acknowledges that questions surrounding multijurisdictional practice by GC remain largely unanswered. In 2001, the American Bar Association's Ethics 2000 Commission proposed amending Rule 5.5 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to create a "safe harbor" for in-house lawyers working in jurisdictions where they are not admitted. The recommendation was held in abeyance pending a report from the ABA's Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice. Its report contained no such safe harbor, and none exists in the current version of Rule 5.5.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 19, 2006 at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Defense of Tort Lawyers

If Overlawyered is the yin, then The Tortellini is the yang. Whereas Overlawyered seeks to chronicle "the high cost of our legal system," this new blog seeks to debunk the notion "that the nation is awash in frivolous lawsuits." The blog is written by Stephanie Mencimer, a contributing editor of The Washington Monthly and former investigative reporter for The Washington Post and staff writer for Legal Times (a Law.com affiliate). It is intended to serve as a companion to her forthcoming book, Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and its Corporate Allies are Taking Away Your Right to Sue.

In an introductory post, Mencimer writes that most of what the public hears about lawsuit abuse is wrong.

"The truth, as The Tortellini will attest, is more complex. The number of personal injury filings are falling, not rising, according to sober government data, median awards are falling, and plaintiffs are taking it on the chin, in everything from medical malpractice to products liabilty lawsuits."

I agree with Evan Schaeffer, who writes at Legal Underground: "Sounds good to me. I'll keep reading."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 19, 2006 at 02:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stereotyping and 'The Daily Show'

Everyone understands that agreeing to appear on The Daily Show means all bets are off, says UNC Law Professor Eric Muller at his blog, Is That Legal? But, he asks, "are they off equally, or are some bets of more than others?" His reference is to the popular comedy show's interview Monday with University of Arizona Law Professor Gabriel J. (Jack) Chin. Riffing on Chin's name, interviewer Dan Bakkedahl insisted on called him Jackie Chan and offered him boards to break with his bare hands. Writes Muller:

"Jack surely knew he was running risks by talking to the Daily Show. But I doubt he imagined those risks included racial belittling. And that's what troubles me about the segment: it illustrates so clearly how OK it still is (judging, if not by the segment itself, then by the audience's laughter) to humiliate Asian Americans - even to their faces - with old stereotypes."

The interview clip is on YouTube. Watch it and decide for yourself. I suspect you'll agree with Muller.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 19, 2006 at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pursuing the Profession's Hottest

David Lat seems dead set on proving that "hot lawyer" is no oxymoron. This is the lawyer who, in a pseudonymous and previously anonymous life as Article III Groupie at the blog Underneath Their Robes, brought us the "superhotties of the federal judiciary" and the "bodacious babes of the bench." Upon being outed as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Lat left his day job and took to legal gossip as a living, in July launching the "legal tabloid" blog Above the Law. There he brought us first the hottest ERISA lawyer in America and now (drum roll please) the hottest law school deans.

A former gossip columnist's op-ed this week in the Los Angeles Times argues that gossip can be good for society and can even be considered legitimate journalism. He concludes, "It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it" That was far from the reaction at the feminist blog BlogSheroes, which pronounced Lat's latest: "Creepy indeed." As one dean who showed up on the list wrote Lat, she would "enjoy it more if the comments focused on how bright, accomplished and respected each of the women on the page are."

Lat says it is all intended "to make the law entertaining," and he promises a future contest for the hottest legal journalists.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 19, 2006 at 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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