Wednesday, February 28, 2007

a propósito del calentamiento del planeta

A propósito del calentamiento global y de inoperancia


de nuestros gobernantes yo me pregunto



¿habrá futuras generaciones


a las que  dejar en herencia


una Tierra sana?...



Rodrigo González Fernández


from legal blog watch

What Lawyers Are Learning From Airlines

I don't know whether two posts are enough to qualify as "frequent flyers," but the past two weeks have brought a pair of posts identifying the lessons that lawyers can learn from the airlines. After listening to a talk by Dr. Rob Britton, adviser to the chairman of American Airlines, Larry Bodine came up with these lessons for lawyers from the airlines. They include grappling with the issue of concerns over price and distinguishing your firm in customers' minds (who regard airlines and law firm services as generic to some extent). And, the solutions are similar as well, such as offering frequent-flyer programs and a "first class" section for crown jewel clients. 

In the aftermath of the Jet Blue Valentines' Day crisis, I posted here about lessons lawyers can learn from David Neeleman's handling of the situation. The takeaway from my post is that both airlines and lawyers need to take responsibility and apologize for major errors to stand a chance of keeping a client -- and to have malpractice (or business insurance) to pay losses where even your best efforts won't suffice to avert a lawsuit by an upset customer or client.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 27, 2007 at 03:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Where Are the Women at Web Conferences?

At his home blog, Law Sites, my colleague Bob Ambrogi posts on the exclusion of women from Web conferences. Ambrogi cites a post by Jason Koettke at Law Geek, which examines recent and upcoming Web-related conferences, where the percentage of women speakers ranged from zero percent to 31 percent, with the exception of the upcoming Blogher Business Conference, where all of the speakers are women. 

I'm not sure whether Koettke's informal study results are limited to Web conferences. In my practice area of specialization, energy regulation, I typically find myself as the sole woman on speaking panels. And when there are other female speakers, they tend to be energy consultants or businesspeople, not attorneys. At the same time, there are far more male energy lawyers than female energy lawyers, and I've simply assumed that the conferences that I attend reflect the make up of the practice area rather than some kind of gender bias.

For those of you practicing in more gender-balanced fields -- healthcare, insurance, litigation or such -- do women speak on the panels that you attend? And if not, what's your explanation?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 27, 2007 at 03:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Firms Hire Nonpracticing Lawyers in Manager and Support Roles

Ron Friedmann posts on a new trend at large firms: use of nonpracticing lawyers as managers. He writes that firms now hire nonpracticing lawyers for jobs such as marketing, e-discovery, knowledge management, professional development and practice support. There are some pitfalls, of course, as Friedmann points out:

Either way, firms must exercise some caution. First, they must “be careful of what they ask for, lest they get it.” For example, some churn in CMO and CIO positions in recent years likely stems from initial excitement followed by balking when the firm learns what’s really involved. Second, they need to consider how to integrate the non-practicing lawyer and any team reporting to him/her. Thinking this through requires a realistic assessment of a firm’s culture and the strength of its caste system. And third, they need to allocate risk fairly between the firm and the new role: negotiate a graceful exit strategy for both the firm and individual if things don’t work out.

I would think that second-class treatment is the biggest impediment to finding and retaining nonlawyers in managerial roles at firms. My guess is that many lawyers at firms would look down on the nonpracticing lawyers, thinking to themselves that the person "couldn't cut it as a real lawyer." Does your firm have lawyers in nonlawyer roles, and if so, how is the firm using these people? And for lawyers currently working in a nonlawyer function, what motivated you to seek out this type of alternate career path?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 27, 2007 at 03:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anonymity on the Web: An Oxymoron?

In this post at May It Please the Court, Craig Williams asks whether you can truly be anonymous online. Williams comments on this New Jersey case involving a lawsuit by a former town council member against NJ.com, who posted several anonymous and derogatory remarks about a firefighter involved in litigation against the town. The firefighter filed a subpoena against NJ.com for the identity of the commenter, which the site readily disclosed. The town councilmember sued, claiming that the site violated his privacy rights and failed to comply with proper procedures for disclosing user information in response to a subpoena.

Williams comments that some view this case as a test of whether Internet users will be able to sit behind their monitor and remain anonymous. And he also writes:

The Internet provides a perhaps comfortable feeling that you can sit in front of your computer monitor and no one will ever find out who you are.  Feelings aside, the assumption is far from the truth.  Your particular computer is identified by its own IP (Internet Protocol) address.  Sure, sophisticated users can attempt to spoof IP addresses, but nothing truly works to hide your identity.  Even aside from the technological issues, Internet users have used monikers and other "anonymous" names to hide their identity.  For the most part, those attempts don't work, either.

Is this a matter of caveat emptor, where users ought to remain aware that someone may always discover their identity? Or do Websites and chatrooms and other online fora owe users a duty of confidentiality?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 27, 2007 at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pro Ses Get Their Day in the Court of Last Resort

Back in September, I posted on the compelling case of Winkelman v. City of Parma, a 6th Circuit decision barring parents from enforcing their disabled children's rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) unless represented by counsel. And while we'd all agree that parents might be better off with attorneys in these kinds of matters, the sad reality for the Winkelmans was that they couldn't afford the thousands of dollars that this kind of case often costs. Moreover, to add insult to injury, in a related case, the Ohio Bar brought suit for unauthorized practice of law against a dad who succeeded in winning thousands of dollars in educational services for his son in an IDEA action against a school board. I ended my post with the hope that the Supreme Court would grant cert to stop this madness.

The Court did grant cert, and today, the no-longer pro se Winkelmans have their day before the Supreme Court. Scotus Blog previews the arguments here. The Supreme Court won't address the substance of the Winkelman's claims under the IDEA. Rather, the Court will hear the narrow issue of whether parents are aggrieved parties under the IDEA such that they can enforce rights under the statute, as well as whether Congress intended to allow parents to represent their children pro se in IDEA actions. 

What's most interesting to me is that the parents who couldn't afford a lawyer to represent them in a suit against the school district have now secured able representation by Jean-Claude Andre free of charge. Like the Ugly Betty wallflower who loses weight and acquires a glam wardrobe to emerge as a beautiful and desirable swan, the Winkelman's case has undergone a similar transformation, from a spurned stepchild that no lawyer would adopt without a substantial fee to an attractive plum coveted by multiple law firm suitors.   

It's not clear whether the Winkelmans would have embarked on a pro se path had they been able to afford an attorney. And their Supreme Court case, while an important vindication, doesn't do much to address the underlying problem of the cost of pursuing IDEA litigation. While I appreciate the heroic efforts of lawyers like Andre who devote their time (and let's not kid ourselves: Supreme Court litigation is time and labor intensive) at no charge to bringing cases to the Supreme Court, let's not forget that there's a need for resources at the lower level. After all, if the Winkelmans could have afforded counsel at the lower level, the case would never have reached the Supreme Court.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 27, 2007 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saludos cordiales
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10
Santiago, Chile