[A] rush to open the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers is not the solution [to the justice gap]. This would cause grave harm to clients. Even matters that appear simple, such as uncontested divorces, involve myriad legal rights and responsibilities. If the case is not handled by a professional with appropriate legal training, a person can suffer serious long-term consequences affecting loved ones or financial security.
* You call that a raise? After 12 years of stagnant salaries for state judges, New York’s Commission on Judicial Compensation sure has a funny way of “correcting injustice.” [New York Times]
* Hope you had some D.C. firms on your bid list for OCI, because they seem to be on a hiring spree. Is there room for all of these newbies? [Washington Post]
* Maybe if we let Jacoby & Meyers get some non-lawyer investors, they could afford better commercials. Come on, even the ABA thinks the law should be run like a business. [New York Law Journal]
* O’Melveny wants to give new parents advice on transitioning back to work. After losing talent earlier this year, perhaps the firm could have used some transition advice itself? [The Careerist]
* My parents “ruined my life” a lot when I was a teenager, but I never sued over it. Unfortunately for these plaintiffs, being a snotty little brat isn’t a valid cause of action in Illinois. [Chicago Tribune]
And speaking of natural disasters, we hear that some folks in North Carolina received their bar exam results today. Congratulations — you’re first to get your bar exam results this year, and you’re first to get ravaged by Irene.
Hopefully this will all blow over. But in case it doesn’t, it’s important to be prepared.
Let’s see how law firms and law schools are getting ready for Hurricane Irene….
State bar associations could help address [low-income Americans' need for legal services] by requiring lawyers to report their pro bono service — such disclosure would likely increase many lawyers’ service to the recommended 3 percent to 5 percent of their paid work. Another step is to allow nonlawyers into the mix. The American Bar Association has insisted that only lawyers can provide legal services, but there are many things nonlawyers should be able to handle, like processing uncontested divorces.
In the wake of the east coast earthquake of 2011, the legal world seems to be back to its regularly scheduled programming. Courts are back in session, law firms have reopened, and government agencies are fully functioning. While some got a welcome day off yesterday, others only received a temporary respite from work.
Thankfully, the damage to the capital region seems to have been limited. At first it was reported that we may have had a Leaning Tower of D.C., but it turns out that the Washington Monument is just cracked. In other monument news, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials are closed for further inspection, and the National Cathedral has sustained “mind-boggling” damage.
We received a lot of tips from our readers about their earthquake experiences, but more importantly, we have the final results from our reader poll. We now know who we can blame for moving the earth and disrupting our day. And no, it wasn’t Obama’s Fault.
* Should the police be able to use mobile-phone location data in order to locate a charged defendant? Kash reports on a recent decision. [Not-So Private Parts / Forbes]
* More importantly, should Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street get “gay married”? [Althouse]
* The ABA takes a lot of blame for the inadequacy of graduate employment reporting by law schools, but at least they’re taking “a step in the right direction,” according to Professor Gary Rosin. [The Faculty Lounge]
* Professor Ilya Somin: “The Decline of Men or Just the Rise of Women?” [Volokh Conspiracy]
* No need to email us that Kentucky judge’s (very funny) “tick on a fat dog,” “one legged cat in a sand box” order, regarding a case that settled, obviating the need for a trial — we covered it last month. Thanks. [Above the Law]
* Interesting historical perspective from Professor Dave Hoffman on the current debate over legal education. One critic wrote that “there are too many lawyers in this country,” “many of them are not busy,” and “many of them are on the margin of starvation” — back in 1932. [Concurring Opinions]
Well, the ABA has now responded. If you’ve been following the ABA closely, you’re not going to be surprised by the response. It’s the usual ABA combination of whining that they can’t do better while arguing that they don’t need to do better, because the market will magically provide jobs for everybody. Not the current market, of course — it’d just be silly to expect that people will have jobs before their loans go into default — but a magical future market that they provide no evidence will actually exist.
All one can really hope for is that people like Senator Grassley take the ABA at its word — and take regulatory authority away from the ABA, to give it to some organization with the will to use it….
Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.
I have written this column from many places: my parents’ couch, my local Starbucks, my bed, etc. I have yet to try it from atop a soapbox, but here goes.
It is common knowledge that the need for pro bono services is increasing as funding for pro bono organizations is decreasing (or ceasing altogether). As explained by ABA President Stephen Zack, in a letter opposing cuts to funding for the Legal Services Corporation, “[f]inancially, many Americans are still hanging on by their fingernails. The worst thing that could happen is to lose the place people can turn to when their money woes create legal problems.”
Similarly, as explained by Esther Lardent, President of the Pro Bono Institute, in her address at the 2011 Annual Seminar and Forum on In-House Pro Bono, with regard to the impact of the economic downturn, “for pro bono . . . the worst is yet to come.” Lardent explains that the loss of funding to pro bono organizations has posed a “justice crisis,” and the need for legal assistance will increase.
So, as a result of the economy, more people need legal aid, but fewer legal aid organizations are able to meet those needs. Clearly if these people are to be served, private lawyers are going to need to take the laboring oar — and they have. According to Lardent, pro bono hours performed by major law firms increased in 2009 (2010 data is not yet available).
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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