Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Lawyer's Suit Over Junk Fax Settles for $1.8 Million

Fed up with all the junk faxes he was receiving from New Jersey auctioneer Metropolitan Antiques, Boston solo Evan Fray-Witzer decided to strike back. In 2002, he became the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against Metropolitan asserting that the unsolicited faxes violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. As it turned out, most of the other members of the class were also Massachusetts lawyers. Discovery revealed that Metropolitan had purchased a database of lawyers' fax numbers and targeted them from 2001 to 2003 with advertisements for estate sales.

Now, after six years of litigation -- including a hard-fought appeal to the state's highest court over applicability of the defendant's insurance coverage -- the trial judge has preliminarily approved a settlement of the case worth $1.8 million. Of that, the two lawyers who represented the plaintiffs, Matthew P. McCue of Framingham and Edward A. Broderick of Boston, will share $600,000 in attorneys' fees plus costs and interest. The remainder of more than $1 million will be available to pay members of the class. It will be divided equally among class members up to a maximum payout of $1,500 each, with the final amount contingent on the number of claims filed.

Anyone who may be a member of the class can check by going to the settlement's Web site, www.metrojunkfaxsettlement.com  and searching for his or her fax number. The site also has full information on how to file a claim, which must be done by Sept. 12.

As for Fray-Witzer -- the lawyer who received one too many junk faxes -- as a class representative, he will receive payment of $15,000. Even better, he will bask in the certainty that no one will ever again dare send him a junk fax. Now if he could only do something about all that spam e-mail.

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 8, 2008 at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nifty Ways to Leave Your Law Firm

By the time we get out of law school, we've learned a thing or two about how to find a job, but virtually nothing about how to leave one, observes Carolyn Elefant, my colleague here at Legal Blog Watch, in an article just published by The Complete Lawyer. "Yet, how you leave your place of employment -- whether it's a firm, government or corporation -- can have more of an effect on your career than what you actually do after you're gone." In her article -- which is adapted from her book, "Solo by Choice" -- Elefant offers tips on how to leave a firm gracefully, whether your departure is your decision or the firm's. In some ways, she says, leaving voluntarily can be more difficult than being fired:

Sure, you don't experience the same powerlessness and embarrassment as when you're told to leave. On the other hand, you still need to deal with colleagues who may feel betrayed by your departure, or who view your motives with suspicion, believing you want to steal clients or bring down the firm.

Her article is just one in an entire issue devoted to the theme, What's Your Exit Strategy? An array of articles cover exits of all sorts -- retirement, career change, job change, layoff, disability and even death. It is a good collection of practical articles, one that makes this whole issue well worth your time.

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 8, 2008 at 08:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student Sues to Wear Lawyer's T-shirt

Edwards Admittedly, that headline is misleading, given that the lawyer in question is not just any lawyer but former presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards and that the principle at issue has nothing to do with the student's love of the legal profession. Still, a student at Waxahachie High School in Texas is suing school administrators in federal court in Dallas for the right to wear a John Edwards 2008 T-shirt to school. Paul Palmer, a junior at the school, claims the school's policy prohibiting "slogans, words or symbols" on clothing violates the First Amendment. The Student Press Law Center describes how the lawsuit came about:

The case began when Palmer wore black jeans, a black jacket and a black T-shirt to school on Sept. 21, 2007, and was asked by Assistant Principal Brenda Johnson to change because his attire was prohibited by the dress code, according to the lawsuit. His father brought him the Edwards T-shirt to wear instead, though both he and his son knew it broke a recently adopted rule that barred students from expressing messages that did not concern colleges, universities, or the school district's 'clubs, organizations, sports, or spirit.'

Johnson told Palmer his shirt promoted a political candidate and thus was unacceptable. Officials offered him the options of remaining in in-school suspension for the day, leaving school or changing into acceptable clothing. He changed and returned to class, and then he and his parents unsuccessfully sought to appeal the administrators' order to the school board before filing a lawsuit.

The Palmers lost their first attempt to preliminarily enjoin the policy but last week they revived their request for an injunction after the school further tightened its apparel policy. The request, filed by lawyers from the law firm Baker Botts and the Liberty Legal Institute, argues:

Our schools have a responsibility to teach students about constitutional principles not only as part of the curriculum, but also by faithfully applying them. And in the context of a presidential election year, that responsibility would seem, if anything, to lead our schools to encourage undisruptive means of expressing political views—not to stifle them.

The SPLC was unable to contact school officials for comment this week, but in a press release posted when the lawsuit was filed, the district said its dress code "enhances discipline and reduces distractions to the learning environment."

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 8, 2008 at 08:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hot Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hotatty Yesterday, when David Lat at Above the Law announced his discovery of the recently launched blog HotAttorney, his immediate reaction was regret that he had not come up with the idea first. This, after all, is the man who brought you the hottest law school deans and America's hottest ERISA lawyers. Of this new site, Lat deferred to Thrillist for the overview:

Started by two outside-the-box e-pervs, HA's goal is to catalog counselors so smokin, it's basically like Law & Order without all the dudes, or Benjamin Bratt. All the goods're pulled from the firms' own sites, with luscious litigators from Portland to Stockholm coming from both emailed tips and the proprietors' own diligent 'net research -- dozens of hours of accidentally looking at photos of men named Courtney. Beyond daily posts, HA's also loaded with special sections like 'Appointed Counsels' (reader-selected), a profile-click-dictated 'Supreme Court', even 'Pretty Paralegals', because the people actually doing the work can be hot, too.

On first glance, Lat's one quibble with the site was its lack of hot male lawyers. But upon further consideration, he had an even bigger beef: The site had disappeared. Within hours of Lat's post announcing the site (and after e-mails from a National Law Journal reporter), the following message appeared at its URL: "The authors have deleted this blog. The content is no longer available." Click the image at left for a larger view of the now-disappeared blog. A Google cache of the page (which may or may not still be here) reveals the blog had operated since early June. No clue is provided for its sudden disappearance. Perhaps its operators were overcome with a sudden case of good taste.

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 8, 2008 at 05:40 AM | Permalink

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