|Legal Blog Watch|
Law.com affiliate blogger Rees Morrison takes up the question Are In-House Counsel Really Dumping Law Firms Abruptly? (Legal Times, 3/27/07). His response: It's hard to tell. Morrison says that there are many reasons that companies part ways with counsel. Sometimes law firms and law departments grow apart, key partners develop different practices or in-house counsel take over the work. Of course, sometimes firms are fired for blunders, such as high cost, poor communication and incompetence. In one instance, a company stopped using a firm that would not complete a company's diversity survey.
The trouble with surveys that report on law firm firings is that "they have done a lousy job obtaining reliable numbers and percentages. " They don't show if a company actually fired a firm, or just thought about doing it. And surveys don't show if it's smaller firms that were let go, either because their billings were small or they were just brought in for a single transaction.
In my view, whether the surveys are right or wrong is irrelevant. The fact that companies do fire firms, even if it's a far smaller percentage than reported, or think about doing so shows that there's still dissatisfaction with how firms are performing. If I were a partner at a large firm, I wouldn't be spending my time analyzing these surveys; I'd be surveying my own clients and finding out what I could do to better serve them.
For a while, it seemed that the RIAA's strategy of suing large numbers of people who'd allegedly downloaded music illegally was working. Rather than spend money to fight the suits, many found it more financially favorable to settle. But this week, RIAA has received some resistance in two matters. In one, it eventually decided to back down.
First, Al Nye the Lawyer Guy reports here that the University of Maine has told the RIAA to "take a hike" in response to the group's demand that the school turn over names of students who allegedly downloaded copyrighted materials. And this post at Legal Pad tips us off to a powerful letter that a Visalia, Calif., solo "slung against the record-industry goliath," causing it to back down. The post includes choice excerpts from the letter, such as:
After receiving the letter, RIAA dismissed the lawsuit, though there's no word on whether the client will continue to pursue the attorneys' fees sought from RIAA in the letter.
We all know the saying "what a difference a day makes." As Eugene Volokh describes in this post, a day made a huge difference for a defendant convicted of statutory rape because the court adopted the statutory rule for computing the victim's birthday (i.e., the actual day) instead of the common law rule, i.e., the day before the actual birthday. In the case Volokh describes, a defendant engaged in nonconsensual sex with a victim the day before her 16th birthday. Under the common law rule, the victim would have been deemed to have turned 16 that day, thus enabling the defendant to defeat the statutory rape charges. Instead, the court held that Pennsylvania law, which provides that a person does not turn 16 until her birthday, would apply, which meant that the victim was under age on the date of the assault, thereby making him guilty of statutory sexual assault.
Volokh doesn't dispute the conclusion, per se, but rather the rhetoric that accompanies it. He writes:
As for me, I continue to marvel at the unusual facts underlying this case. What are the chances of a defendant assaulting someone the day before she turns 16 (is it 1/365, all other things being equal)? Can you think of any other lawsuits that involves unusual or coincidental facts that you wouldn't otherwise expect?
Chuck Newton, of Spare Room Tycoon, posts on the Florida Bar's latest effort to regulate taste by prohibiting divorce attorney Steve Miller from running a straight talking ad urging clients to contact his firm if they need help "getting rid of the vermin [you] call a spouse. Here's where Newton comes out on the issue:
I also posted about Miller here, at my home site, MyShingle. I agree with Newton; I can't discern any consumer-protection reason for the bar's ban. Moreover, to the extent that the Florida Bar believes that consumers may be mislead by the ad, it can fight back YouTube, the same tool used to post Miller's site online. But the bar doesn't have to prohibit the ads entirely.
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