August 2014

What else can we say? Oh yes — thanks to this week’s advertisers on Above the Law….

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Have you ever been to a deposition that got physical? Maybe some fisticuffs, or a little shoving? No? Well, obviously you’ve been hanging out in the the wrong conference rooms.

A complaint filed in Santa Monica Superior Court and reported on by Courthouse News Service accuses a Drinker Biddle partner of “robust, unlawful force” that resulted in opposing counsel breaking his wrist. The alleged assault happened at the Beverly Hills office of the Excelus Law Group, a small law firm based in southern California. Attorney William W. Bloch claims that Drinker Biddle’s Henry Shields refused to leave his conference room after a deposition, and then assaulted him — with “some kind of martial art move.”

Shields and other Drinker Biddle attorneys who were there deny all of these allegations. And affidavits submitted by Drinker Biddle attorneys, as well as the actual deposition transcript, seem to paint a different — and much more hilarious — version of events…

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A friend of mine is a plaintiff’s lawyer in Boston. We’ve opposed each other on several cases, and our interactions (always on the phone; weirdly, we’ve never met in person) are characterized by good-natured but acerbic jabs. Typically, he would bemoan my clients’ “colossally stupid” behavior. For my part, I would make fun of his firm’s name.

Don’t get me wrong: his firm is one of the most respected plaintiff’s firms in town. But its name follows the classic ego-gratifying law-firm style of putting all the partners’ surnames on the letterhead. With Biglaw firms, this doesn’t matter much, because the name partners tend to be, well, not-so-much alive. And the sheer number of partners at big firms means that ego notwithstanding, most aren’t getting their names on the sign.

But small firms have (by definition) fewer partners — with just as much ego. And they tend to be living. So the firm names are long and subject to frequent change.

Why is this a problem for small firms, and what they should do about it?

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If you think lawyers can only risk sanctions for legal or ethical mistakes, think again. Judges can impose sanctions on clients and their lawyers simply for e-discovery breakdowns, even when the cause is not (yet) known. Just ask the former lawyers for Qualcomm.

The Legal Technology Leadership Summit at Amelia Island, Florida, from September 6 – 8, will feature a panel that reconsiders the sanctioning of Qualcomm and six of its attorneys, and the ensuing two-plus-year legal battle to have the sanctions order vacated, as it ultimately was. The panel will feature Adam Bier, one of the “Qualcomm Six,” and Frank Cialone, a lawyer who represented two other former lawyers for Qualcomm.

You can check out the full agenda here. Learning how to survive e-discovery nightmares isn’t all you’ll be getting when you come to the Legal Tech Leadership Summit. We’ve also applied for CLE in a number of states. Here are the states where we’ve been approved:

  • Alabama
  • Illinois
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina

And accreditation is still pending in the following jurisdictions:

  • California
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

Sign up here to attend. We hope to see you there.

[W]asting the Court’s time with nonsense is not the way for plaintiff to have any hope of prevailing in this case…. Plaintiff is either toying with the Court or displaying her own stupidity. She made the correct redactions when she re-filed her Complaint and Amended Complaint. There is no logical explanation she can provide as to why she is now wasting the Court’s time, as well as the staff’s time, with these improper redactions.

– Chief Judge Royce Lamberth (D.D.C.), benchslapping the so-called “Queen of the Birthers,” lawyer cum dentist Orly Taitz (pictured), for improper redactions in her court filings. Check out the complete order, via The BLT.

(Chief Judge Lamberth, as you may recall, knows how to dole out a benchslap. See also his condemnation of an e-discovery screw-up.).

Judge Albert 'Pat' Murdoch

Here’s a quick update on the unfortunate tale of Albert “Pat” Murdoch, the New Mexico state court judge who has been accused of raping a prostitute. He will be retiring from the bench, as of Friday, and he has agreed never to seek another judicial office in the state.

(Maybe he should run for elective office? It worked out for Alcee Hastings, who successfully ran for Congress after getting impeached from his federal judgeship.)

Murdoch is retiring pursuant to an agreement with the state Judicial Standards Commission, which had started a disciplinary investigation (which will now conclude). Pat Murdoch will have more time to focus on his defense in the criminal case against him.

On that subject, the contours of his defense are starting to take shape….

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Almost a year ago, David Van Zandt, one of the most admired figures within legal education, announced his departure as dean of Northwestern Law School. Van Zandt moved to New York, leaving behind his multimillion-dollar mansion in Chicago, to assume the presidency of the New School (a move that made headlines here in NYC).

A search committee went to work, to try and find someone to fill Dean Van Zandt’s large shoes. Today the law school announced its new leader.

The new Northwestern Law dean, like his predecessor, is a distinguished scholar. He also comes with a strong track record as a law school administrator.

Who is he? Let’s find out….

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A slew of bar exams started yesterday, and the rest got underway today. And yet we already have stories about “crazy things” happening during the administration of the tests.

When things go wrong during the bar exam, most people will overcome the adversity and still pass the test. But those who end up failing the bar will remember these events forever.

So let’s take a brief stroll around the bar exams to look at the stories some test takers will be telling from now until February…

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* “TWISTED Anders Breivik’s lawyer yesterday branded him a maniac who pumped himself full of drugs before slaughtering at least 76 people in his Norway rampage.” [The Sun]

* American Indian tribes are still struggling to combat crime a year after federal law allowed for harsher sentences by tribal authorities. I’d make a joke here, but I agree with Chris Rock. Nobody got it worse than the American Indian. [Associated Press]

* A group called American Atheists has filed suit protesting the Ground Zero cross. I swear to God, if these communists manage to get a flying spaghetti monster fashioned out of rebar placed at Ground Zero, I’ll… I didn’t really think this one out before I started typing. Whatever. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A 15-year-old United States citizen was sentenced by a Mexican court to three years in prison for BEHEADING FOUR PEOPLE AND KIDNAPPING THREE. The only reasonable takeaway from all this is that Mexicans are very bad influences on our children. [CNN via ABA Journal]

* The next court date of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (pictured) was pushed back to August 23. Which is cool because DSK always wanted to spend autumn in New York… sexually assaulting maids. Allegedly. Lat made me add allegedly. [New York Post]

* Some longhaired freak, who surely stinks of patchouli and will be sorely missed by his Ultimate Frisbee teammates, was sentenced to two years in the clink for placing fake energy lease bids in a government auction. [Los Angeles Times]

* Which accusation is worse: running a Ponzi scheme, or embezzling from the Boy Scouts? [Patch - Lamorinda]

Last week, we solicited possible captions for the following photo, involving New York Law School:

Let’s see what you came up with, and vote on the finalists….

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