Defense attorney

I’m writing today’s column from New York City, where I’m covering Thomson Reuters Vantage 2014, a great conference focused on mid-sized and large law firms’ use of technology. There have been fascinating discussions about how larger law firms are adapting to change and are incorporating some of the latest technologies into their IT infrastructure. Not surprisingly, however, it turns out that like solo and small-firm attorneys, large and mid-sized law firms are often just as reluctant to adopt new technologies and processes despite overwhelming evidence that doing so is the best way to stay competitive.

But the good news gleaned from this conference is that some larger firms are adapting, just as many solo and small firms are. And that’s my goal with this column: to showcase how individual solo and small-firm lawyers are using new technologies in their day-to-day practices. In the process, my columns will hopefully encourage and help other lawyers to do the same.

In today’s column I’ll be featuring Jill Paperno. Jill is a long-time assistant public defender, having worked at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office in Rochester, New York for over 27 years. She’s currently the Second Assistant Public Defender and is the author of Representing the Accused: A Practical Guide to Criminal Defense (affiliate link). In other words, Jill is a diehard criminal defense attorney and has dedicated her life to defending our constitutional rights.

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At the beginning of Superman — the real Superman, not the nonsensical slugfest from last year — General Zod and his accomplices are sentenced to the Phantom Zone for plotting a coup against Krypton’s rulers. Krypton as a whole seemed like a pretty forward-thinking place. You could tell because people wore glowing robes and robes are the universal sign of “fictional people with their collective sh*t together.” See, e.g., the Jedi, the 2688 world based on the music of Wyld Stallyns, Jesus.

Anyway, given the advanced society involved, the trial of Zod seemed a bit too Guantanamo. Zod didn’t get to mount any sort of defense and was pronounced guilty within seconds of showing up to court.

Apparently, comedian Patton Oswalt felt the same confusion and decided to provide us a glimpse into General Zod’s pre-trial prep with his public defender, “Leg-El”….

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This one escaped our attention for a while, but apparently Slate writer Matthew Yglesias set off a war of words a couple weeks ago with an article about the Zimmerman trial and the role of public defenders. Yglesias, best known for having a much better handle on inflation than Ben Bernanke, waded into legal commentary, contrasting Zimmerman’s trial experience with the experience of indigent criminal defendants.

Former public defenders took offense at the article and have taken to the Internet and social media to rip Yglesias. Yglesias has offered an apology and been rebuffed.

So what’s the deal here?

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Elite law firms and the Mafia would appear to be worlds apart. Biglaw firms represent all sorts of unsavory characters, but these clients tend to steal using computers rather than cudgels. When you wear white shoes, you don’t want to get them splattered with blood.

But there are commonalities. Both Biglaw and Big Crime are large and lucrative enterprises. They’re intensely hierarchical and often ruthless.

There are cultural similarities as well. As noted in these pages by lawyer turned therapist Will Meyerhofer, “Some big law firms are like the mob. They do ugly things, but prefer to avoid ‘ugliness.’” Instead, there’s a lot of indirection and passive-aggressiveness.

So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that a leading defense lawyer to Mob figures has joined “the family” — the Biglaw family, that is….

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Reema Bajaj

In June 2011, we brought you the story of Reema Bajaj, a lovely young lawyer in Illinois who was accused of prostitution. I expressed a belief in her innocence, although my faith was somewhat shaken by the nude photos of her that circulated on the web. And then, in June 2012, Bajaj pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of prostitution.

After covering her guilty plea, we thought we had seen the last of her. As I wrote, “The post you’re now reading could very well represent the final story we write about Reema Bajaj…. We will miss writing about this colorful young woman, but we wish her the best in getting on with her life and her law practice.”

I spoke too soon. Now Bajaj is back — with a vengeance….

Note the UPDATE at the end of this post, based on comments from Bajaj’s counsel.

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* Hey, they actually found one instance of voter fraud. By a nun. I can’t wait for the GOP to try to construct an entire argument for restrictions on voter access based on this case. [Talking Points Memo]

* Defense attorneys can go to jail for lying? In Detroit? Mind: blown. [Washington Post]

* The Senate grills would-be SEC chairman Mary Jo White. The hypocrisy of a bunch of Senators in the pocket of Wall Street asking about White’s potential conflict of interest would be stunning if this wasn’t the U.S. Senate. [National Law Journal]

* Former prosecutor and former FBI agent join forces to start a… private equity litigation finance group. I guess their years of investigation showed them where the money is. [Reuters]

* A law professor blames “no child left behind” for the poor quality of students these days. Yes, but what do we blame for the quality of law professors? [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* We’re going to have to do something about these sinkholes. [Daily Mail]

After the jump, a propaganda video purportedly made by North Korea “seems to mistake TTT grads for regular Americans,” according to a tipster….

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