Aug 232009

Mike Semple Piggot, aka “CharonQC” has a post on his blog critical of the legal logic employed by Scotland in releasing and repatriating convicted Pan Am 103 bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi far earlier than his sentence otherwise would have allowed for. Having invited comments, I posted the following (with a few edits), suggesting that the role of retribution in justice has been seriously overlooked in this matter, and thus explains why America and Americans are so upset:

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:59 am
Aug 212009

From time to time the legal blogosphere erupts into discussion about contract lawyering, or, more specifically, contract document review. And this week seems one of those times.

In American litigation there’s always a stage known as “discovery,” where parties request documents from each other. In commercial litigation these requests often result in voluminous productions of documents, which require review at least twice: once before it’s produced, to ensure that the documents being disclosed are responsive to those requests and also not privileged, and once when it is received by the requesting party to see if it is helpful to its case. Both reviews (though particularly the former) can be extremely labor intensive. While they used to be done in vast warehouses of bankers’ boxes, thanks to advancements in technology the reviews can now be done electronically, by clicking through documents on a computer screen. (On the flip side, however, this same technological innovation has also increased the workload, as the ease of emailing and electronic document creation has vastly expanded the universe of documents that need to be reviewed.)

So to handle the workload, many law firms turn to contract lawyers to help them. As I’ve written before, I think contingency work should be a perfectly legitimate way for licensed attorneys to make a living. In fact, I think contingency work should be a legitimate way for nearly everyone to make a living. Instead of employers having to guess at their workloads and permanently staff up in order to cover the busier periods, bearing all that overhead for salaries and benefits, they can bring on people as needed, who get paid more cash for their time in lieu of the stability and benefits of a permanent position. As long as the contractor prefers this arrangement — and many, for many reasons, do — everyone wins.

Or can win. But clearly not everyone does, and a few blogs have sprouted to lament the plight of the contract doc reviewer.
As someone who has done contract document review I sometimes follow these blogs in order to keep abreast on the industry, but at the same time I’m often put off by the overwhelming bitterness they espouse. At the same time, underneath the anger I think they reveal some valid, and unfortunate, points about this aspect of the legal profession. So I was moved to answer some of the recent criticism of these blogs I saw on another.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:37 am
Jul 062009

This past week we celebrated an important anniversary. That’s right: July 5 was Huey Lewis’s birthday.

Though other 80s rock stars have been in the headlines of late, I’ve been plotting planning this Huey Lewis and the News-themed Blawg Review for quite some time now. People who know me know I’m a big fan of Huey Lewis and the News (hereinafter “HLN”). People who know me know their music has been a big part of my life, particularly in recent years as I’ve pursued my legal career.

But while I had the prescience to become a fan some 20+ years ago, obviously not everyone has been so fortunate. It would therefore be very wrong of me to waste this opportunity to share all the great things I know about this band and their music.

So join me in this week’s Blawg Review as I share the latest in legal blogging along with this crash course in HLN appreciation.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 2:15 am
Jun 012009

On June 1, quite a few years ago, President Monroe asked Congress to declare war on England. “CharonQC” reminds us of this fact in this week’s Blawg Review, along with many other facts surrounding this date in history.

In all seriousness, I find the history of US-UK relations to be a source of tremendous optimism about the world, showing how two enemies can eventually come to be close friends — as governments, and as peoples. And people. This week’s Blawg Review collects posts from lawyers on both shores (including my “Sticks and Stones” one).

Of course, given the state of UK politics — with the predilection of its governing officials to underwrite, with the public fisc, their extensions of their homes to house their servants, the constructions of islands in their lakes to house their ducks, and the maintenance of their houses’ moats — it’s probably just as well that the US went its separate way all those years ago…

 Posted by at 7:52 am
May 282009

Brian Cuban has been in the news a lot lately for spearheading a campaign to get FaceBook to ban groups of Holocaust deniers. I fear I may have inadvertently picked a fight with him on Twitter however when I recently tweeted:

“Can’t support (@bcuban‘s efforts to force FBook to purge Holocaust deniers. Suppressing those who were X in ’30s enabled what happened in 40s.”

Of course, as I also tweeted later, “Nothing like tweeting about the Holocaust 140 characters at a time…” While I know what I meant by my tweet, so compressed my meaning might not be clear to others. So I’ll elaborate here.
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:44 am
May 272009

One of the most interesting courses I took in law school was on comparative constitutional law, which I took during my semester in Germany. I think as Americans we tend to take for granted our federal constitution: that it exists, and how it exists. No matter what the school of thought behind how it should be interpreted, there’s a reverence towards it that percolates through all of them. We therefore tend to expect that other modern democracies have their own constitutional equivalents — an expectation that in reality is rarely met. Many democracies have no constitutions at all, or when they do, they don’t necessarily map to our own.

Of course, we needn’t look abroad to see these other examples of constitutions. Within our own borders each state bears its own constitution, which may greatly differ in form and substance from the one tying our nation together. Case in point: California.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:06 pm
May 252009

It’s Blawg Review, and once again I’ve been organized enough to contribute to it. Kevin Thompson at Cyberlaw Central is hosting and has composed his Blawg Review in honor of Towel Day, a day of tribute to Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That guide is known for its helpful travel tips, including that one must always be sure to have their towel.

Speaking of travel, my post about going to INTA is linked to this Blawg Review, but without the picture my friend took of me there holding a Travelodge towel due to some concern on my part that given the angle, lighting, and wardrobe choices (or lack thereof) I ended up looking too much like an artichoke in said picture. So instead I sent in a different one, one where there’s no danger of me being confused for being a vegetable of any kind. (At least none known in this part of the galaxy.)

 Posted by at 7:29 am
May 242009

I suppose I have Jeremy Phillips, aka @ipkat, to blame. One of the legal folks I met in England earlier this year, it was he who first suggested I attend the annual INTA conference this year. INTA is an international trademark organization, and thus I might not have thought to attend given that I’ve typically focused more on copyright than trademark in my cyberlaw work. But cyberlaw is rife with trademark issues, and, like, copyright, trademark law deals with regulating expression — which is what fascinates me about these areas of law generally. So perhaps it would be worth attending?

Of course, once I realized how many people from around the world I knew who would be there, there was no question.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:42 am
Jan 262009

Toymaker Ty has apparently started marketing dolls named “Sasha” and “Melia.” I saw a quote by Ty saying that it was a complete coincidence that those happen to also be the names of President Obama’s daughters, but I don’t think anyone’s buying that story.

On the other hand, I can’t get behind the analyses laying out the causes of actions the Obama’s could raise in suing to stop the dolls. Even if the dolls portrayed more of a likeness of the girls, the free speech angle still seems too blithely dismissed. As I commented on the PatentlyO site’s post, while Ty’s marketing of the dolls may be unseemly, we are much better off being a country where this kind of thing is allowed to happen than a country where it is not.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 5:19 pm
Jan 162009

Every so often the legal blogosphere erupts in conversation about the plight of contract attorneys. As it really should, because the plight of contract attorneys can often be pretty grim and looks to becoming even more so. It can be feast-or-famine, unstable, life-sucking, dead-end work that also seems to be getting less and less economically viable.

What a waste of an education. What a waste of a profession. Contract lawyering need be none of these things, but a few things will need to change in the legal industry to make it viable, or else it will just cripple the careers of more and more law graduates.

Below I suggest what those changes need to be, and, taking a page from the technology sector, propose better models for how contingent law work can be better leveraged to everyone’s benefit.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:07 am