Friday, July 13, 2007

Legal Blog Watch

Legal Blog Watch

Innovation: Here, There and Everywhere

Innovation abounds in the legal profession, it seems, if this week's coverage is any indication.

First off, Ron Friedmann at Strategic Legal Technology points us to yesterday's release by the College of Law Practice Management of the four winners of its InnovAction Awards 2007, honoring excellence and innovation in the management and delivery of legal services. And the envelope please:

As if that were not innovation enough, the Financial Times of London came out this week with its second-annual survey of Innovative Lawyers, covering "cutting-edge practice in the legal profession." This year's survey includes the first FT Law 50, ranking the top 50 most innovative European law firms. (Topping the list: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters.)

There is a lot to read in the FT's coverage. But for those who prefer the CliffsNotes version, Bruce MacEwen offers his summary of the survey at Adam Smith, Esq. He writes:

"The sheer variety is what's most impressive to my eye.  Linklaters came up with a way of helping finance vaccination programs overseen by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, among others, under which $1 billion of bonds have been issued and another $3 billion are expected to be issued over the next few years. ... Clifford Chance took on climate change by attempting to do for carbon and emissions trading what Michael Milken and Drexel did for junk bonds:  Standardize the disclosure and documentation to make the market more liquid.  CC also claims to have invented the world's first convertible Islamic bond, consistent with Sharia law."

The FT sums it up even more succinctly: "Innovation and lawyers never used to be comfortable bedfellows, but there is growing evidence of radical change in the legal market."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 12, 2007 at 02:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Distrust for Business Outweighs That for Lawyers

Saturday marks the start of the annual meeting of the American Association for Justice (f/k/a Association of Trial Lawyers of America), and the AAJ is setting the stage with today's release of a survey showing that voters distrust large corporations far more than they do trial lawyers. "Americans are deeply worried about their nation's future," the survey says, "and concern about corporate misconduct is a major source of their anxiety."

The survey, conducted for AAJ by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, explored voters' attitudes towards the civil justice system. It found that most voters see large corporations as preoccupied with the bottom line and irresponsible towards consumers and workers. Among voters' most significant concerns: huge payouts to corporate CEOs at the expense of rank-and-file jobs, defaults on pension obligations and refusals to pay for medical treatments.

The survey's executive summary contrasts voters' concern about corporations with what it describes as their "muted response" to criticisms frequently leveled against the civil justice system. Only a third of voters see a serious problem in trial lawyer fees, and only a quarter worry that jury awards are too high in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. More to the point, voters rank both of those below all of their concerns about big business. From the summary:

"Americans believe that the civil justice system provides essential safeguards for them at a time when corporate misconduct is such a serious problem. They tell us that making sure corporations are held accountable when their actions harm consumers, employees, or communities (70%) should be a much higher priority for the civil justice system than limiting the amount of compensation that juries can award for pain and suffering."

Holding big corporations accountable -- that, no doubt, will be the rallying cry as plaintiffs lawyers from throughout the United States convene in Chicago this week.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 12, 2007 at 02:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avvo: Hear All About It

If you are growing tired of reading about the controversy surrounding the new lawyer-rating site Avvo, perhaps you'd rather hear about it. If so, you can have your fill thanks to two recent podcasts.

In yesterday's edition of the legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer -- which I co-host along with fellow Law.com blogger J. Craig Williams -- we interview Avvo's founders, President and CEO Mark Britton and VP of Products & Marketing Paul Bloom. The two discuss their reasons for launching the site, their responses to criticisms and their future plans. They also respond to points made during our first program on Avvo, posted June 18, on which they declined to appear.

In that first episode, we discussed Avvo with guests John Henry Browne, the Seattle attorney who is one of the named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Avvo; Carolyn Elefant, my co-contributor here at Legal Blog Watch and also author of the blog MyShingle.com; and Denise Howell, author of the blog Bag and Baggage.

Denise Howell hosts her own podcast, This Week in Law, and Avvo CEO Britton also joined her as a guest. In a 90-minute program, Howell interviews Britton and then leads an informal roundtable discussion about the site with legal bloggers Ernie Svenson, Dennis Kennedy and Mazyar Hadayat.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 12, 2007 at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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