James (Whitey) Bulger, former Boston crime kingpin: “Advice is a cheap commodity. Some seek it from me about crime. I know only one thing for sure: If you want to make crime pay go to law school.” [New York Times via Paul Caron]
At least in New York and California, if not every state. [John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum] Curiously uncontroversial, no? In 2012 we noted: “Among the trip-ups are that lawyers are sworn by oath to uphold the laws of the land; that federal law bars the granting of state professional licenses to illegals; that federal law makes it unlawful to offer employment to them; and that clients might find themselves in a pickle were their attorneys whisked away on zero notice to face deporation.” More: Scott Greenfield.
Lawyers wield an array of coercive powers against third parties, as well as looking after the entrusted interests of often unsophisticated parties and clients. And the goal of accommodating lawyers and aspiring lawyers who suffer from mental illness must be balanced against the “threat” their condition will sometimes pose to clients and the public — at least that’s what the president of the Florida Bar says. With language like that, it’s no surprise his bar appears to be on a collision course with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) enforcement efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice. [ABA Journal]
More: Scott Greenfield wonders who’s looking out for clients’ interests.
…or spa law firm? “We understand that dealing with legal matters can be very stressful, so we try to tend to our clients’ every need to make their experience as stress-free and accommodating as possible. When you come into the firm you will be pampered from the moment you step in the door. You will be provided with a cool or warm towel depending on the temperature outside. The Towel will be followed by a glass of cool coconut milk, which is not only refreshing, but is full of healthy antioxidants. During your consult there is always ice cold water and fresh baked cookies every afternoon. We look forward to seeing you soon!”
We’ve noted (here and here) the battle between Powhatan Energy Fund and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over a FERC investigation of Powhatan for vaguely defined “market manipulation.” A filing earlier this month by Powhatan in FERC proceedings (represented by Drinker Biddle) has some subheads taking a not-exactly-respectful tone seldom met with in high-stakes administrative proceedings (Response in Opposition To Order To Show Cause and Notice of Proposed Penalty, PDF):
- “Dr. Chen’s ‘Home Run’ Trading Strategy Is Not A ‘Post Hoc Invention’ Because, Among Other Things, 35 Is Less Than 50″
- “Dr. Chen’s Trades Were Not ‘Wash-like’ Or ‘Wash-type’ – Whatever The Heck That Means”
- “The Staff’s Stubborn Reliance On The Unpublished, NonPrecedential Amanat Case Is Just Lame”
- “Uttering the Phrase ‘Enron’ Or ‘Death Star’ Does Not Magically Transform The Staff’s Investigation”
The full document is here.
A new study out of Harvard finds that lawyers in the United States lean left politically — though not nearly as far left as do law professors — while judges’ political views by contrast tend more toward the middle of the spectrum. An author of the study concludes something’s wrong with the judges. Oh, Harvard, don’t ever change [Adam Liptak, New York Times]
P.S. And in case you hadn’t guessed, lawyers are phenomenally active in the political process:
The study is based on an analysis of the campaign contributions of American lawyers, a group that turns out to be exceptionally active in the financial side of elections.
Of the 975,000 lawyers listed in 2012 in the Martindale-Hubbell legal directory, 43 percent had made contributions to state or federal candidates — including state judicial candidates — since 1979. That is about 10 times the rate of the voting-age population.
One difficulty with the study’s approach, as Liptak notes, is that contributions may reflect factors distinct from ideological leanings, such as economic self-interest. Certainly some lawyers have no terribly strong political views of their own but regard Democratic policies as more conducive to the prosperity of the legal sector or their own particular firm.
The New York governor was a lawyer by training — Gideon Kanner recalls his start as an eminent domain compensation lawyer in Queens — and drew insight from the experience. Bill Hammond of the Daily News:
— Bill Hammond (@NYDNHammond) January 3, 2015
During his term in office I wrote two pieces for the Wall Street Journal about Cuomo, one an opinion piece on New York’s finances, another a review of an unsuitably hagiographic biography; neither is online so far as I know. My view was that despite his lion-of-the-Left reputation, Cuomo had governed in a cautious rather than radical way, and by the same token had in no way been a transformational figure for his state: New York had largely the same set of governance problems when he left office as when he entered.
New Jersey: Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Dennis O’Brien has granted summary judgment to the defendant law firm of Wolff, Helies, Duggan Spaeth and Lucas and dismissed Thomas Hickey’s suit over his injuries in falling off a reclining chair in its office during a deposition. Hickey’s lawyers had argued that the law firm as owner and maintainer of the chair was negligent not to check its settings for safety before each use. The court found that whatever hazards might inhere in the chair’s low-tension setting, Hickey had been sitting in it for 90 minutes which was “sufficient time for him to learn the chair was designed to tilt and to appreciate its tension setting.” [Ashley Peskoe, NJ.com]
U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett of the Northern District of Iowa, presiding over a product liability case, has asked defense counsel “to show cause as to why he should not be sanctioned for the ‘serious pattern of obstructive conduct’ he displayed” in a client’s deposition, which seemed aimed both at interruption for its own sake and at coaching the witness as to how to answer. “The attorney objected so many times that his name was found, on average, three times per page of deposition transcript.” [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use]
Rather than fine the lawyer, Judge Nelson ordered him to create and write a training video explaining the basis of the sanctions and demonstrating how to comply with the rules during depositions in state and federal court.