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chasing clients

A “staff attorney at the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program… was suspended after being accused of accepting fees from law firms while processing their clients’ claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” [Bloomberg] And that’s just the start of what may be much wider problems, according to a cover story by Paul Barrett at Bloomberg Business Week. “The craziest thing about the settlement,” one lawyer wrote in a client-solicitation letter, “is that you can be compensated for losses that are UNRELATED to the spill.” [Bloomberg Business Week] Barrett’s account tells, in his own words, “how the private-claims process following BP’s (BP) 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill devolved into a plaintiffs’-lawyer feeding frenzy.” [BBW]

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Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on June 10, 2013

  • FBI looks at allegations Dallas DA filed fraud suit as favor to donor [Free Beacon]
  • “Suing ex-client for $500K in divorce fees led to disbarment ruling for former bar president” [Virginia; former "titan" of D.C. matrimonial bar, ABA Journal]
  • “Appeals court cuts ‘unconscionable’ estate legal bill from $44M to perhaps $3M” [ABA Journal on Graubard Miller / Alice Lawrence case, earlier]
  • Empirical puzzler: advent of lawyer advertising doesn’t seem to have had the expected fee-reducing effect [Nora Freeman Engstrom, SSRN via LEF] Law firm marketers were all over the Metro-North crash case [Eric Turkewitz]
  • “DOJ Inspector General’s report: US Attorney unlawfully leaked to discredit critic” [of "Fast and Furious" operation; John Steele]
  • “Lawyer accused of bilking real estate investors through false claims of criminal probes takes plea” [New Jersey; ABA Journal]
  • Claim: disciplinary decisions to reinstate errant lawyers should be more guided by experts [Bruce Green and Jane Moriarity, SSRN via LEF]
  • If you find it hard to believe opponents would gin up flimsy “speech-gave-offense” charges against Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones, recall the earlier ginned-up (and now mostly forgotten) charges against distinguished appellate judges Dennis Jacobs and Alex Kozinski.

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May 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 10, 2013

  • Electric-car maker Tesla doesn’t get many kind words from free market types, but here’s one [Coyote] More: North Carolina auto dealer lobby strikes back [News & Observer]
  • One lawyer’s selection of the worst lawyer billboards, though they’re far from the worst we’ve seen [John M. Phillips]
  • House hearings on litigation abuse and on litigation and international competitiveness [Judiciary, more, Point of Law]
  • Ninth Circuit cites conflict of interest, throws out credit reporting class settlement [Trial Insider; Daniel Fisher]
  • Private pensions, market-based water rates and more: “Australian travel notes from a policy wonk” [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “Use elevators properly. Riding outside of cars can be dangerous and deadly” [Scouting NY, seen in Bronx apartment building]
  • “It’s long been my view that blawgs, law blogs, are the greatest peer reviewed content ever created.” [Greenfield]

A Houston-based trial lawyer has some grandiose plans for snagging New York storm-insurance cases: Steve Mostyn “indicates his firm should be able to take on more than $1 billion in disputed claims — or half of all the Sandy litigation.” That’s assuming clients sign on, of course. One who did was a swim club owner from Pound Ridge who was frustrated dealing with New York lawyers and quickly signed a contract with Mostyn’s firm: “It is worth the 40 percent just for someone to listen to my story and be kind to me,” she said. [Austin American-Statesman]

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Michigan: “Lawyer Offers Free Valentine’s Day Divorce” [Newser, Walter Bentley site, Legal News]

Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on February 4, 2013

  • His own bad deal to make: client can’t sue lawyer for malpractice after lawsuit lending swallows up proceeds of $150K settlement [BNA]
  • U.K. legal representation: “John Flood looks at the cab rank rule” [Legal Ethics Forum, more]
  • Drumming up business: “Junk fax class action may proceed despite attorney misconduct” [Reuters]
  • “Personal Injury Lawyers Sue Other Personal Injury Lawyers Over Solicitation” [Turkewitz, more]
  • Manipulating time records to qualify for bonus proves costly for Wisconsin attorney [Volokh]
  • Lawyer profile: “Defender of the Notorious, and Now Himself” [NY Times]
  • Local prosecutors connive at debt-collection abuses thanks to 2006 legal provision [LA Weekly]

A Fort Lauderdale attorney “Announces He Is Taking on All Celebrity Criminal Cases in Florida” [Scott Greenfield]

And a reaction from @SupremeHaiku: Florida lawyer/ Will defend the defenseless/ If they are famous.

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Rochester’s Jim Shapiro (“I cannot rip out the hearts of those who hurt you. I cannot hand you their severed heads“) is not the only injury lawyer who advertises as “The Hammer.” Natasha Lydon offers a YouTube-powered guide to the various injury lawyers to have adopted that monicker [Above the Law]

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Media-chasing lawyers

by Walter Olson on August 20, 2012

Eric Turkewitz notices how often they feed the press tidbits that could prove prejudicial or damaging to their own clients.

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Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on July 19, 2012

  • Dixon v. Ford Motor Company: “The Best Causation Opinion of 2012″ [David Oliver] “Any exposure” causation: “Pennsylvania Supreme Court delivers significant asbestos ruling” [Point of Law]
  • Maryland high court may consider pro-plaintiff shift from contributory negligence to comparative fault [Sean Wajert]
  • In last-minute ploy, Albany lawmakers extend time limits for suing local governments [Torch via PoL, Times-Union]
  • Mental diagnoses: what to do when courtroom experts armed with DSM-5 shoot from the hip [Jim Dedman, Abnormal Use]
  • California appeals court, legislature decline to go along with trial lawyers’ crusade against Concepcion and class arbitration waivers [WLF, CL&P]
  • Critics challenge legality of Louisiana AG’s use of contingency lawyers [Melissa Landry, Hayride]
  • To curb client solicitation, NJ mulls withholding crash reports from noninterested parties for 90 days [NJLRA]

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Above are versions for the lawyer who uses the ads in Louisville/Lexington, and YouTube makes it easy to check out the versions done for other lawyers in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Rochester/Syracuse, and Erie, Pa. Talking dogs and cheesy car replicas abound.

Also, from Martindale-Hubbell: a selection of 7 “awesomely bad” and “funniest” lawyer ad videos.

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June 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 11, 2012

  • Nortel portfolio now used for offense: “How Apple and Microsoft Armed 4,000 Patent Warheads” [Wired]
  • Via Bill Childs: “This shows up in Google News despite fact that it’s lawyer advertising.” [TheDenverChannel.com] At “public interest watchdog” FairWarning.org, who contributed this article about Canadian asbestos controversies? Byline credits a law firm;
  • Another Bloomberg crackdown in NYC: gender-differential pricing in haircuts and other services [Mark Perry]
  • A “Pro-Business Regulation Push” from Obama White House? Oh, Bloomberg Business Week, sometimes you can be so droll [Future of Capitalism]
  • “Trial Lawyers’ Support of Republican Candidates Yields Less Than Stellar Results” [Morgan Smith, NY Times; Examiner editorial; more from TLRPac on Texas election results]
  • “Community banks to Congress: you’re crushing us” [Kevin Funnell]
  • If an emergency injunction could stop one reality-TV show, why couldn’t it stop them all? [Hollywood Reporter]

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She’s asking $30 million over a client’s dog bite. Have her subjects informed her about New York’s abolition of ad damnum clauses? [Eric Turkewitz, earlier]

… here come the cheesy lawyer solicitations. [AnnMarie McDonald, NJLRA]

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And if that happens to involve disguising your legal marketing effort as a disease-information site, well, who’s to stop you? [Ad Age] We’ve covered the issue in the past, e.g., here, here, here, and here.

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A no-win, no-fee outfit in Liverpool “is offering customers an iPad 2 if they make a personal injury claim.” [Daily Mail]

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BusStopAdGreedyAttys

A park-bench ad — and really, what better way to select a lawyer for an important matter? — advertises “Injury Law Group, LLC — Successful, Greedy, Attorneys — We Won’t Let You Settle Cheap.” [@mattniemi] The sponsors appear to be this Pittsburgh-based lawyer network.

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KickEmOutQuick evictions and collections, based in Ogden, Utah [Natasha Lydon, Above the Law]