Monday, June 13, 2011

Technology for Teaching Trial Advocacy

Shameless plug department: Campus Technology has posted an article on my  law school’s state of the art classroom technology. Here’s a summary:

However, the McGuinn Ceremonial Courtroom, used in trial advocacy courses, is the smartest of the smart--loaded with technology that includes three video cameras, bench and ceiling microphones, two projection screens to handle the presentation of "evidentiary displays," a sophisticated audio system that levels out the variable volume of speakers, and an assisted listening system for people who are hard of hearing.

This classroom, like the others, is hooked up to a centralized control center where media services staff can respond to instructor needs, handle recording of lectures, and manage operations of the video cameras. It also has its own control booth where staff can control media operations going on in the room.


June 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law firm ousts two lawyers who allegedly made misrepresentations to federal judge

From the New York Law Journal:

Name partner Scott B. Gilly and associate Gregory N. Filosa have left Thompson Wigdor & Gilly after the firm was sanctioned by a federal judge for allowing a client whom the two attorneys represented in an employment discrimination case to conceal she had been hired at a new company for more money.

Douglas H. Wigdor, speaking for what is now Thompson Wigdor LLP, said Gilly and Filosa left the firm May 31 and June 1, respectively.

The move was a reaction to a decision by Southern District of New York Judge William H. Pauley on May 20 to sanction the firm $15,000 for allowing client Violet Fryer to testify at a deposition last year that she "didn't hear back" and "didn't get the job," in her suit against Omnicom Group Inc., when, in fact she had accepted a job at Kraft Foods two weeks before.

"We didn't believe it was in the best interests of our existing clients, our future clients and the firm that they continue as lawyers at the firm," Wigdor said in an interview Monday.

. . . .

A transcript of the May 20 hearing reports the judge saying he was upset that the two lawyers submitted, and then failed to correct, an expert's report stating that Fryer's potential economic loss could run as high as $1 million, a report that assumed she would not obtain new employment for the foreseeable future (NYLJ, May 27).

The Oct. 7, 2010 deposition, where Ms. Fryer testified she "didn't hear back" was "false," the judge said, and "Mr. Filosa should have recognized that Ms. Fryer's deposition testimony would mislead defendant's counsel into believing that she had not obtained new employment."

The judge said this became evident when he saw the videotape of the deposition.

"The body language and evasion is on the videotape," the judge said. "It's shocking and deeply disappointing to the court."

Judge Pauley declined to impose the ultimate sanction of dismissing Fryer's suit.

At the May 20 hearing Thompson admitted that mistakes were made, but said the firm had "taken steps ... to make sure this never happens again." He did not mention at the time that the two attorneys were leaving the firm.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal.


June 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

State privacy law doesn't prohibit competitor from purchasing name of "renowned" lawyer as key word search term

We reported back in February on a California district court that held a law firm was liable under the Lanham Act for purchasing a competitor's trademarked name for use as a search term under Google's AdWords program in order to drive traffic to its site (it's a common practice among retailers although courts have split regarding whether buying trademarked names in connection with internet search engines constitutes "use in commerce" as required by the Lanham Act).

What happens, though, when a competitor purchases the non-trademarked (and perhaps non-trademarkable) name of a well-known lawyer as a search term in order to drive traffic to its website? According to this story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the plaintiff in the case, whose name was purchased by the defendant-competitor, can't stop the defendant under Wisconsin privacy law. To establish a prima facie case, a plaintiff must not only show that his privacy rights have been violated, but that such a violation is "unreasonable."  The plaintiff in this case could show the former, but not the latter:

In a long-awaited decision over Internet lawyer searches, a Milwaukee County judge on Wednesday in essence told veteran plaintiff lawyer Robert Habush, "Welcome to the 21st century."

Circuit Judge Charles F. Kahn Jr. agreed with Habush that a competing law firm had invaded Habush's privacy by purchasing his name to drive Internet searches to their own website.

But Kahn also found that, in the context of modern, healthy business competition, it was akin to lawyers buying display ads that appear next to line listings of other lawyer in the Yellow Pages. That's not an unreasonable use of the name for commerce, Kahn found, and dismissed Habush's lawsuit.

Habush, renowned as a personal injury lawyer, came up with a novel legal theory when he thought he had become a victim. In a 2009 lawsuit that gained national attention within the profession, he sued competing firm Cannon & Dunphy, contending that their purchase of his name and that of his partner, Daniel Rottier, as keywords on Internet search engines violated their right to privacy under Wisconsin law

. . . .

Habush sued after discovering the Cannon firm had purchased the words habush and rottier as Google, Yahoo and Bing search terms that return sponsored links to the Cannon law firm website, in addition to the "organic" search results for Habush, Habush & Rottier.
. . . .

To prevail under the privacy law, Habush had to show not only that Cannon & Dunphy had used his name without his consent for commercial purposes, but also that it was unreasonable.

For that analysis, Kahn characterized buying Internet search words as the digital equivalent of proximity advertising that business competitors have done for years, like one auto dealer locating next to another, restaurants putting up billboards near each other or lawyers in the yellow pages.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal.


June 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

SWAT Team Alert: Make Sure Your School Loan Payments Are Up-To-Date

A California man who says agents of the U.S. Department of Education broke down his door has a lawyer and a copy of the search warrant detailing the reason for the raid—a search for financial-aid fraud.

Kenneth Wright originally told News10/KXTV that a SWAT team broke down his door in a search for evidence of his estranged wife’s defaulted student loans. The Stockton man said he was in boxer shorts when officers broke down his door, hauled him out to his front lawn, put him in handcuffs and forced his three children to sit in a squad car for hours.

Here’s the rest of the startling story from the ABA Journal online. Here's the Government's unhelpful response to the  story.


June 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Synthesizing Cases

One of the most important skills for a lawyer is synthesizing cases.  Although I think some of us stress this skill in our legal writing classes, it is a skill that I do not think is taught enough in law school.  For an excellent article on teaching synthesis see Thinking Like a Lawyer: The Heuristics of Case Synthesis by Jane Kent Gionfriddo, Texas Tech. L. Rev. (2007).


June 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Looking for a book that offers great practical advice for brief writing?

You might consider picking up a copy of Ross Guberman's "Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates." Ross is an advanced legal writing consultant who also teaches upper level writing and drafting courses at GW School of Law. Check out his impressive bio here.

We'd previously blogged about Ross's book here but thanks to An Associate's Mind, which positively gushes over it, for the reminder. Here's an excerpt from the recent AAM review:

The book is broken into five sections: creating a theme and a compelling introduction ("The Theme"), laying out the facts and crafting a narrative ("The Tale"), structuring your argument ("The Meat"), livening up your style ("The Words"), and crafting a strong conclusion ("The Close"). In each section, Guberman uses examples . . . from some of the best legal writers in the nation to give real world examples of the techniques he describes. Point Made is not an introductory level book. If you’re not familiar with basic legal writing, you might be better off starting somewhere else. But it might be the best technique oriented legal book I’ve ever read. Where Making Your Case provides what I think is broad, strategical approaches to writing; Point Made is a tactical book. Point Made provides granular-level advice that can immediately be implemented in your writing. I am loathe to come across so effusive in my praise of the book, as to appear biased.  But I can't help but highly recommend the book, it's that good.

FYI - The reviews on Amazon are not too shabby either.


June 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jobs: Networking as Career Building

Law students seem to hate the word “networking,” in part because they do not fully understand its function. For many of them, networking is a method of talking to people who can offer you a job. They should understand that networking is a way to build a career.

Yes, networking may lead to an immediate job offer; however, it may not. Still, it is a way to meet other people in the profession who can serve as mentors, give you advice on job hunting, and maybe point you toward potential future employers. Later on, the people with whom you network may refer clients to you or simply build your reputation by speaking highly of you to others. Career building is part of a long process with many functions. Perhaps if we used the words “career building” instead of “networking,” students would be more receptive to the process.


June 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)