December 31, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:13:36 am When sports stars fall, there's a lesson for everyone
As ESPN.com writer Howard Bryant put the Simpson affair: No athlete in American history has ever suffered such a spectacular fall. Why Simpson chose such a clearly losing path -- in his remarks to the judge, Yale Galanter, one of Simpson's own attorneys, used the term "stupid" at least a dozen times for Simpson's dangerous, ill-conceived plan to recover items from former associates -- might always be an unanswerable question to anyone but him. Another unanswerable question is whether athletes will ever realize that accountability applies to them.
Judging by the Plaxico Burress affair, it appears some still don't. Simpson should have provided the cautionary tale 13 years ago, and again today. As Glass pointed out so powerfully, Simpson could have killed someone, "an innocent tourist or worker." But O.J. Simpson believed in the protection that the hero always seems to get. "At Mr. Simpson's initial bail hearing, I didn't know if he was arrogant or ignorant or both," Glass said. "During this trial, I got my answer. It was both."
To interview Mr. Washington about issues facing professional athletes, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or email@example.com.
December 31, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 10:33:59 am Labor and employment changes on the upcoming Texas Lege menu
As lawmakers head to Austin in January, labor and employment attorney Audrey Mross says several important bills affecting businesses and workers alike will be up for
Another bill would put businesses on the hook for knowingly employing illegal aliens. Lawmakers will also consider whether to extend previous efforts to improve participation in jury duty by requiring employers to pay workers for the first day of jury service(the state already pays for subsequent jury duty days). Finally, the Lege will likely consider a bill that would prohibit businesses from requiring workers to donate to charities like the United Way. "Depending on how they vote, the Legislature has the power to change the way you do business. It's always in your interest to monitor what they do," says Mross, a shareholder at Munck Carter in Dallas. To speak with Ms. Mross about labor and employment issues, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 30, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:45:16 pm Two studies: more Americans getting news online; companies increasingly judged by their online presence
First off, the influence of online news spiked sharply in 2008. According to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, the percentage of Americans getting their news online jumped from 24 percent to 40 percent in this year. And for the first time, more Americans are relying on the Internet for their information needs than
For the under 30 crowd, the Internet now rivals TV as an information source. Nearly 60 percent of respondents under 30 use the Internet as a primary information source. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%).
In an unrelated study by MS&L, researchers polled consumers worldwide with the question, "what defines a leading company?" More than half of the respondents in the U.S. indicated that they could judge a company's values by its online presence. Another finding: while price and quality are important, consumers believe that a company's values matter most in the long run. The findings are further proof that businesses of all types should be focusing on their on-line presence AND communicating their values in the digital medium. As Sally Falkow at The Leading Edge puts it: "If more than half of [consumers] judge you by your online presence, it's time to make that a PR priority."
December 30, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 1:24:33 pm Ready for change? Life coach says scrap New Year's resolutions
It's that time of year when people start talking about resolutions for the new year. So what's wrong with a little hope for 2009? Nothing, says life coach Mike McCurley,
These are just a few suggestions. More information is available at http://www.personalenhancementcoaching.com. To speak with Mike McCurley about personal enhancement coaching, please contact Alan Bentrup at 214-559-4630 (office), 713-553-3358 (cell) or email@example.com.
December 30, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:02:32 am Tapping public policy/ finance vets, Dallas-based Shackelford, Melton & McKinley moving into Austin
Mr. Ward, meanwhile, handles general commercial litigation and transactional law on behalf of real estate developers, business owners and individuals. He is a licensed CPA who has worked with municipalities in areas such as code enforcement and bulding standards, as well as litigation related to sales transactions, tenant complaints, construction disputes and fiduciary matters.
The firm has grown steadily in size and expertise, and the Austin expansion provides a significant boost in the areas of public policy and public finance, says founding partner John C. Shackelford. Shackelford, Melton & McKinley, LLP, is a business and commercial law firm representing financial institutions, real estate owners and developers, automobile dealerships, and businesses in legal matters across the nation. For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 29, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:22:01 pm Military defense attorney: Military justice system put to the test by protracted wars, Guantanamo controversy
Between the demands of two long and protracted wars, the increasing reliance on private military contractors and the legal controversies involving treatment of wartime
December 19, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:34:41 pm NY securities fraud attorneys Zwerling Schachter & Zwerliing help worldwide media sort out rapidly evolving Madoff story
December 18, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:32:50 pm For companies facing insolvency, fiduciary allegances shift from shareholders to creditors
December 16, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 10:32:28 am Securities and commercial litigation firm Zwerling, Schacter & Zwerling looking for answers as dust settles in massive Madoff Wall Street fraud
Attorneys at New York-based financial securities and commercial litigation firm Zwerling, Schacter & Zwerling are representing at least four clients who may have lost hundreds of millions in Bernard L. Madoff's massive and still-unfolding Wall Street investment fraud. Attorneys Jeffrey Zwerling, Robert S. Schacter and their firm are actively
"If this were a traditional bank robbery, the eyewitness reports would say that Mr. Madoff walked out with billions of dollars as someone held the door open for him," says Jeffrey Zwerling, a founding partner of Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling. "If it's true, it's just amazing in terms of the audacity, if nothing else."
For more information or to speak with Jeffrey Zwerling or Robert S. Schachter about the Madoff case, please contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 (office), 214-213-1754 (mobile) or email@example.com.
December 12, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:30:52 pm In MySpace mom cyberbullying case, prosecutors may have reached too far
December 12, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:02:26 pm Despite reforms: Young doctors still too sleepy
December 11, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:20:30 pm Oil and gas industry may be hurting, but investors are still looking for bargains
December 11, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:53:35 pm Collections work on the rise for law firms, businesses
Cook knows from experience that sending invoices and collecting from venders and customers can be so unpleasant that many businesses develop bad habits that actually increase the likelihood of bills becoming delinquent. Cook says a few basic habits can make the process much easier for all sides. One of the worst habits is simply procrastinating - failing to submit envoices in a fair and timely manner, sometimes waiting as long as three to six months after the delivery of services or goods before sending a bill. With such a delay between a provided service and bill, the customer will not likely even remember the service for which they're being asked to pay. Darrell offers the following tips on his Web site regarding the process of collecting on debts.
"Just because the economy is bad for everyone doesn't mean that the bills don't have to be paid," says Cook. "Companies are more focused than ever on making sure they collect what they're owed, whether it's a single mom with a sky-high credit card balance or a construction company that's behind on paying its suppliers." As evidence, Cook notes a recent published report showing that North Texas subcontractors and suppliers have filed 45 percent more legal claims against general contractors over unpaid invoices this year compared to 2007. To interview Mr. Cook about collections issues, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 10, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:14:38 pm Mumbai attacks serve as wake-up call for luxury hotels
December 3, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:57:36 am Super Lawyers secrets revealed
of the day, Super Lawyers has emerged as one of the most respected of the gang, in part because the staff does a good job of articulating its selection criteria and takes pains to make the list more than a popularity contest. With the Texas Super Lawyers balloting set to begin in February, we soldiered through a recent Super Lawyers webinar and 64-slide PowerPoint presentation so you don’t have to. Below are some of the highlights of the webinar, which was designed to demystify the selection process a little. For 2009, Texas Super Lawyers balloting starts February 6 and closes March 10.
I Peer Nominations: As we know, the research staff monitors to make sure there’s not too much mutual backscratching. Additionally, to keep everything on a level playing field between big and small firms, the staff stops counting after a single attorney obtains 15 nominations(i.e. it’s pointless to get more than 15 votes). Additionally: Nominations should be based on first-hand observation. Self-nominations are not allowed. In-firm nominations count only if an equal or greater number of out-of-firm nominations are cast. Out-of-firm nominations carry a higher point value.
Informal nominations: The staff also welcomes informal nominations from people like us. These nominations have no point value, but it puts the candidate on the Super Lawyers radar.
Managing partner survey: Every managing partner of a law firm that’s on the SL data base receives an e-mail survey asking them to nominate the top 10 percent within their firm. The results of these surveys are not publicized.
Somebody in the audience asked whether the managing partners should bother nominating attorneys who have previously been named Super Lawyers, or instead use this as a vehicle to help others get on this list. The answer was that you should not assume that previous winners will automatically be on their radar, so nominate attorneys who most deserve to be on the list.
Other ways to get in the candidate pool: Besides peer nominations, informal nominations and the managing partner survey: SL researchers conduct a `star search’ designed to identify lawyers who might be overlooked by the balloting, such as lawyers with national litigation practices, lawyers in smaller firms or lawyers in less visible practice areas. For this reason, it pays to have a strong internet presence.
II Once the candidate pool has been established: The SL research department begins culling through the candidate pool. This step is designed to keep the rankings from being solely a popularity contest. Evaluation is based on: verdicts and settlements, transactions, representative clients, experience, honors and awards, special licenses and certifications, position within law firm, bar or other professional activities, pro bono and community service, scholarly lectures and writings, education and employment background and other outstanding achievements.
SL database links directly with law firm Web site biographies and to lawyers’ records compiled by Westlaw’s `Profiler’ system, such as verdicts, dockets etc… For this reason, it’s crucial that law firm Web site bios are complete and up-to-date.
My.superlawyers.com: This Web site provides attorneys an opportunity to update their professional profiles and describe their practice. Make sure this profile page is complete and current.
Blue-ribbon evaluation: Peer evaluation is conducted in nearly 70 practice areas. The groups assign a 1-to-10 score to each candidate. Candidates are then assembled by firm size so that small, medium and large firms compete against themselves.
Vetting: Finalists are researched to make sure they are in good standing with no disciplinary problems. Candidates are also asked to personally verify their disciplinary history.
From there, Super Lawyers finalists are selected equally among small, medium and large firms until the list reaches 5 percent of practicing attorneys.
November 26, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 1:23:40 pm For UT football, it's now win one for the Gipper and the Gipper-in-waiting
We've all heard about how CEO's identify with sports coaches and borrow sports clichés ad nauseam. Here's an example of a big-time college program taking a page from the business world playbook.
November 24, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 12:10:17 pm Remember those presidential tax-change promises?
Attorney Robert Van Amburgh of Dallas' Hiersche, Hayward, Drakeley & Urbach says history shows that a canddiate's plans can undergo significant changes both before and after being presented to Congress. "Making predictions about tax law changes is even more difficult based on our volatile economic climate," he says. "For example, during the campaign Mr. Obama expressed support for a windfall profits tax on oil companies. But with the steady decline in oil prices since the summer, there may not be the pressure for this type of tax."
And by the way, any changes made will not apply until the 2009 tax year. For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or email@example.com.
November 21, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:47:40 pm For struggling domestic automakers, Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be painful but necessary medicine
November 20, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:21:30 pm For some tech patent holders, Nintendo is modern-day grinch
The technology behind U.S. Patent No. 7,292,151 is pretty complicated stuff, but for Houston attorney W. Mark Lanier the issue at the core of a lawsuit he filed on behalf of the small patent holder against Nintendo is simple.
"Using someone else's technology without permission is theft," says The Lanier Law Firm founder. "Nintendo makes video games where you get to play a thief, but that doesn't give them the right to be one."
The patent in question, held by Ohio tech company Motiva, involves technology used to create a "Human Movement Measurement System" based on a handheld device. The Motiva lawsuit charges that Nintendo used the patented technology in the Nintendo Wii to reproduce users' movements on display screens. If previous cases are any indication, Nintendo may have a big target on its chest in this area. In May, the game maker was hit with a $21 million verdict in a similar patent infringement case. In that case, jurors found that Nintendo infringed several patents to produce the Wii remote control device.
November 18, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:56:56 am Dallas law firm wins second big verdict for defective Duragesic patch
Attorneys at Dallas-based Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei secured $16.5 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries Monday after arguing that drugmaker ignored serious risks assocated with the painkiller patch in order to reap profits.
Days after a 38-year-old mother of three died in 2004 while using a defective Durogexic painkiller patch, the woman's family received a letter in the mail from the pharmacy that
Attorneys Jim Orr and Michael Heygood argued that Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. and ALZA Corporation(both Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries) knew about problems associated with the patches, which are known to leak fentanyl in amounts large enough to kill. "They knew this patch was dangerous and defective but they continued to seel it and make money, and that's the only reason Janice DiCosolo is dead," says Orr. Last year, attorneys with Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei secured a $5.5 million verdict for the family of a 28-year-old Florida man who died while using the patch for hip pain. As reported by Bloomberg today, the patches generated more than $1.1 billion in sales for Johnson & Johnson last year.
November 17, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:04:44 pm Cowles & Thompson lawyers start new Reverse & Render appellate law blog
November 13, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:52:47 pm CSI for the business world. Stroz Friedberg opens Dallas office and computer forensics lab
So you still think the `delete' button makes data disappear and what you type in text messages vanishes after you hit `send?' Who out there hasn't received the ubiquitous and unsettling mea culpa from an unknown business informing you that your personal information was on a data base that was stolen or somehow
Welcome to the 21st Century, where there's hardly a civil case out there that doesn't involve the retrieval of electronic evidence from the myriad hardware we use these days to communicate, and CEOs stay awake at night fretting about computer security.
Computer forensics firm Stroz Friedberg is capitalizing on the demand for its unique services and expertise, opening it's sixth office(this one in Dallas) along with a cutting-edge computer forensics lab. The growing firm attracts some of the brightest minds in the industry, almost exclusively from the ranks of former high-level prosecutors, federal agents and other industry leaders. Consider Erin Nealy Cox, who heads the Dallas office: a former federal prosecutor, Erin previously served as the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas - Dallas Division. She led major cyber-crime prosecutions across the United States as well as handling complex white-collar fraud, public corruption, intellectual property theft and child-exploitation cases. During her career with the Department of Justice, Ms. Cox also served as chief of staff and senior counsel for the Office of Legal Policy at Main Justice in Washington, D.C.
As the subpoenas fly related to the financial meltdown, the first step for many companies is to call such firms to determine where their data is and how to retrieve it. When firms are targeted by botnet attacks or malicious malware, Stroz Friedberg has the ability to get to the bottom of it. Stroz Friedberg helps clients in matters ranging from theft of intellectual property to lost laptops, click fraud to online review, load files to leaked confidential information, internal corporate data wiretapping to white collar defense investigations, database forensics to corporate hacking incidents, cyber-extortions to fabricated e-mails - and all other matters, digital and investigatory. The firm's broad client base includes public and private businesses, global corporations, law firms, government agencies and the courts.
November 11, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 9:09:30 am McKool Smith scores huge class-action lawsuit victory for retired NFL players
It's been a long two years since a group of more than 2,000 former NFL players filed suit against the National Football Players Association, charging that the NFPA was
SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 2,000 retired professional football players scored a major legal victory in a San Francisco federal courtroom today when jurors awarded a $28.1 million verdict against the National Football League Players Association and its licensing and marketing division.
The verdict reached before the Hon. William Allsup in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California requires the NFLPA union and its subsidiary, Players
The jury of eight women and two men reached their decision following nearly three weeks of trial. The original claim was filed nearly two years ago with professional football legend Herb Adderley as the class representative.
Mr. Adderley and the victorious former NFL players were represented by attorneys from the national law firms of McKool Smith, P.C., and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. The McKool Smith team included firm principal Lew LeClair, senior counsel Jill Naylor and associates Brett Charhon and Anthony Garza. The Manatt, Phelps group included firm partners Ronald S. Katz, Chad S. Hummel and L. Peter Parcher, in addition to associates Ryan S. Hilbert and Noel S. Cohen.
"This verdict is a great victory for the men who devoted their lives to building professional football," says Mr. LeClair of McKool Smith, attorney for the retired players. "We are thankful the jury decided to right this wrong."
During trial, several former NFL stars testified about the benefits promised by the union that were never received, and the difficulties in gaining information about the NFLPA's finances and licensing agreements.
McKool Smith has more than 95 attorneys in Dallas, Austin, Marshall, New York and Washington, D.C., handling commercial and intellectual property litigation for national and international clients. The firm is recognized as one of the premier litigation law firms in the United States, having earned significant courtroom victories for clients such as American Airlines, BearingPoint, Ericsson, Electronic Data Systems, Medtronic Inc., and Sony Ericsson.
To interview Mr. LeClair about the verdict, please contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 office or 214-728-6747 cell.
November 10, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:11:31 pm Labor union overhaul on agend for Obama's first 100 days?
November 7, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:46:40 pm Feds get serious with Mongols motorcycle gang, seize trademark logo
For the first time in history, the U.S. government has seized control of a criminal gang's identity by taking control of its logo. As a result, those now caught wearing the Mongols motorcycle gang logos on patches, clothing, jackets etc... "shall surrender for seizure all products, clothing, vehicles, motorcycles ... or other materials bearing
My question, what does this mean for all those bikers out there who no doubt have their gang logo tattooed somewhere on their bodies?
For more information, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 7, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:16:49 am Despite monumental presidential election, EEOC workplace discrimination complaints at an all-time high
Workplace discriminaton attorney Stephen Drinnon: Rising EEOC complaints show that employers have room to improve
While President-elect Barrack Obama's election victory is historic and monumental, it's important to note that workplace discrimination and harassment complaints
October 30, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:48:30 pm The big verdicts keep coming for intellectual property law firm McKool Smith
What a year it's been for McKool Smith, PC. The big verdicts just keep coming. Just this week, the firm won a $59 million patent infringement verdict on behalf of Tokyo-
Earlier this year, the firm won a $21 million patent infringement verdict on behalf of Tyler, Texas, based technology company Anascape against Nintendo in a fight over patents used in video game controllers like the Wii and Gamecube. In May, McKool Smith attorneys won a $250 million patent infringement verdict for Medtronic against Boston Scientific relating to a balloon catheter patent used in the surgical treatment of heart disease. In June, the firm reached an $83 million settlement for i2 Technologies in a patent dispute against SAP AG.
October 28, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 1:50:46 pm Blogging is fun, until the libel lawsuits start piling up
October 24, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 1:47:03 pm From Wall Street to Main Street, Financial Crisis Echoes in Vacant Retail Spaces
If any doubt remains that the financial meltdown is extending to Main Street, consider this recent sobering announcement: Circuit City is planning to
October 14, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:04:25 pm Court slaps Harry Potter fan
Intelectual property attorney Dyan House: There's a lesson for everyone in the Harry Potter IP ruling
There's a teaching opportunity from the recent ruling against a Harry Potter fan who sought to publish a detailed guide to the works of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
October 13, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:17:07 pm Credit crunch is both a global and local story
To put the credit crisis in context you can consider the prospect of an entire nation like Iceland on the brink of collapse or individual homeowners here in Texas forced
October 10, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:31:54 pm Natural gas bonanza carries legal risks in states without production history
Thompson & Knight oil and gas attorney Michael Byrd warns wildcatters to beware in states without production caselaw
Natural gas fever is rising in the most unexpected places, thanks to drilling technology that allows production companies to extract natural gas from shale. One of the
October 10, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:42:29 pm Credit crunch double whammy, or where'd all the money go?
Thompson & Knight attorney Chris Schaeper says worldwide credit crisis affecting even the fiscally strong.
The U.S. and other countries may be pouring funds into the worldwide financial system, but so far the credit markets remain jammed. As a result, routine transactions that
October 9, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:33:21 pm Attorney Angel Reyes publishes important analysis of Hispanic workforce trends
What he found is an eye opener when you consider that the Hispanic workforce is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the workforce. The analysis concludes that Hispanic workers are at particular risk during economic downturns, suffering negative effects sooner, more severely and for longer duration than their white counterparts. With such a large segment of the workforce at risk, the study concludes that it is extremely worthwhile for the sake of the broader economy to try to reverse these trends. Read more here.
October 8, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:30:59 am Law firms responding swiftly to epic economic turmoil
Senior attorneys at Gardere Wynne Sewell quickly establish Financial Crisis Recovery Team
While some would prefer to burry their heads in the sand until this epic financial turmoil is over, for an example of how some law firms are reacting nimbly, consider Gardere Wynne Sewell's creation of its multi-disciplinary Financial Crisis Recovery
The firm's business and litigation attorneys are already working together on tasks including problem loans, debt restructuring, securities violations, tax issues, government contracts, employment law, breached contracts, and investigations and crisis management. Senior attorneys on the team are able to response to clients affected by the global crisis from every conceivable scenario. Cliff Risman, chair of Gardere's Business Department, notes that it's hard to understand the impact that this crisis on businesses and individuals. "This is more than a financial crisis - it poses fundamental challenges to the foundations and integrity of business operations," he says.
October 3, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 12:46:29 pm Is there a law firm marketing lesson in the bailout postmortem?
Schlepping the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan to an angry electorate would be a chore for even the most capable p.r. maestro. By most accounts, Henry Paulson was hardly up for the p.r. job of connecting with the American people. Time has an insightful analysis of the p.r. missteps that failed to inspire the public and no-doubt led to the plan's initial defeat. The Time
piece is dead-on. Shoot, this is stuff any good trial attorney knows about explaining complex arguments to regular folks, things like making sure your message is specific and easily understood, personal, accurate and targeted.
The Time piece offers some suggestions to resell the bailout, including: Find a face: Human beings are not moved by numbers or by vague predictions of certain doom. They are moved by stories. "It's simple," says Dennis Mileti, an expert on risk communications who has studied hundreds of disasters of the more conventional kind at the University of Colorado. "You get one family in America. You go to their house. And you paint a picture of what their life is like one year from now. You describe a kid who can't go to college, the house that can't be sold, the inability of anyone to use a credit card. They need to get a camera crew and go to Omaha and find a family."
Rebrand the Bill: The phrase "bailout" is a deal-killer. "People feel the breaks are being given to financial institutions and not to the consumer," says Slovic. He recommends "Consumer Protection Act." It may be too late for this change to have much impact, but any change in language that acknowledges real people would be an improvement.
Shoot the Messenger: If you want people to support the radical idea of rescuing rich investment bankers, don't send a rich, former investment banker (Henry Paulson) to convince them. And don't send a discredited, lame duck President, either. As in normal life, people are more likely to believe the advice of someone they trust. There aren't many well-known experts in this field who aren't rich, but even Warren Buffet would have brought less baggage to the process than George Bush.
Be Specific: People need to know what will happen if they do nothing - or if they do something.
October 2, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:59:49 pm On China trip, lawyer finds parallels to law firm glass ceilings
In her latest Texas Lawyer commentary, Andrews Kurth attorney Kathleen J. Wu offers this important reminder: Sometimes it takes hitting the road to appreciate what
Writes Wu: I know: It seems like we haven't made any progress. Women lawyers haven't achieved anything near parity in the partnership ranks at major firms. We only have one woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, down from two. To the naked eye, it can seem like we're actually moving backward. But we're not. Trust me. When Sandra Day O'Connor graduated No. 3 in her class at Stanford Law School in 1952, the only legal job offer she could get was as a secretary. In the 1970s, a group of women law students in Dallas had to sue even to get interviews at firms. When I started in the late 1980s, I wasn't allowed to wear pants to work.
Now, not only can I wear pants, but women are entering the profession at the same rate as men. Some of the largest firms in the world have had female managing partners. And while parity is a long way off, the percentage of female partners has inched up steadily over the years. The most encouraging trend I've seen, though, is the number of firms that have started meaningful women's initiatives and put real money and political support behind them. These firms are making an effort to recruit, develop and retain women lawyers. While they aren't always successful, and there are lots of structural and cultural hurdles to overcome before there's real parity, I have to remember that these things move in geologic time. Progress can't be measured in months or years. It has to be measured in decades and centuries.
The sticks that punish the legal profession for its resistance to change -- the flight of talented yet discouraged and overwhelmed women from the profession -- coupled with the carrots offered by clients demanding diversity in their legal service providers make progress as inevitable here as it is in China. It's going to take a while, but if the Chinese can keep fighting the good fight, so can we.
October 2, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:31:57 pm Texas jury returns $1.5 million verdict for Ellis County truck crash
When Dallas attorney James Craig Orr walked away with a $1.5 million verdict Tuesday on behalf of two Austin men who were seriously injured when an 18-wheeler crashed into their car, trucking company Celadon Trucking sought to mitigate the court loss with the following public statement: Celadon does not hire trainee drivers,
and has a very high safety standard relating to its drivers. We have won numerous national and regional safety awards. We are reviewing the jury verdict, and are considering our options regarding an appeal of the decision.
The Indianapolis Star, Celadon's home-town paper, faithfully included the company's statement in an Associated Press story of the court verdict secured by Dallas-based law firm Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei. That's great, but we wonder how long it took the reporter to find this this contradictory tidbit in the very next paragraph that casts a little doubt on that sincerity of Celadon's response: In 2005, Celadon Trucking agreed to pay $1.25 million to the parents of a soldier who died when his car rear-ended a tractor-trailer that stalled along a Texas highway in 2002 after its brake hose failed. The husband-wife truck driving team in that case had tried to repair a high-pressure brake hose with a toothpick wrapped with tape.
The lesson for everyone: don't assume reporters will swallow your statement without a little fact-checking.
October 1, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:09:55 pm The IRS and IKE
Thompson & Knight attorney Roger Aksamit says IRS is offering some relief
For those rebuilding from Hurricane Ike, end-of-the-year federal income tax strategies no doubt fall somewhere near the bottom of the priority list. Houston attorney Roger Aksamit of Thompson & Knight's Houston offices says the IRS is offering some relief. Taxpayers in the 29 Texas counties declared as Hurricane Ike disaster areas may be able
October 1, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:55:52 pm Trial lawyer of the year...the envelope please
The awards ceremony is still weeks away, but the cat's out of the bag. Dallas attorney Charla G. Aldous is the American Board of Trial Advocates' Trial Lawyer of the
October 1, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:02:40 am In-house lawyer, you can go home again
October 1, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 10:30:02 am Fatal train crash aftermath: Cel phones now off limits for California train engineers
Transportation attorney Mike Richardson of Dallas law firm Rose•Walker says other industries likely to follow.
It didn't take long for California safety regulators to ban cell phone usage by on-duty engineers following a deadly train collision in which one of the engineers was
September 24, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:05:06 pm Runup, downfall, bailout, outcry, fallout. Get ready for the payback.
While debate over the proposed $700 billion Wall Street bailout continues, class-action securities attorney Jeffrey Zwerling says shareholder lawsuits are almost certain to follow. Zwerling, of New York-based Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling, LLP, says disgruntled shareholders who were misled by financial institutions will be filing litigation
"Because the executives at some of these financial institutions, investment banks and mortgage houses were treating their businesses as if they were their own personal casinos, the investors didn't receive the value they thought they paid for," he says. "All they received was an illusion."
Zwerling is already actively involved in litigation related to the collapse of the auction-rate securities sector earlier this year. He represents the lead plaintiff in a securities class-action against Citigroup in auctions it managed. After the market for auction rate securities shut down early this year, investors were left with no access to their money. Since then, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has forced Citigroup and other institutions to make good on the auction rate securities, but still unknown is whether pension funds and the individual workers they represent will receive any money.
Zwerling also represents the Wayne County Employees Association in a class-action against MGIC Investment Corporation, a provider of private mortgage insurance. The lawsuit claims that MGIC failed to warn investors of large financial losses it was experiencing as a result of the worsening credit crisis and problems in the home mortgage industry.
For more information or to speak with Jeffrey Zwerling about the financial crisis, call Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 (office) or email@example.com.
September 24, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:00:17 am Web 2.0 a brave new world for law firm marketing
Consider Twitter, an often maddening medium that gives you an opportunity to send out short messages accompanied with a Web site link to targeted groups. Seattle law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and their marketing firm suffered widespread wrath when they used Twitter in an attempt to recruit class-action plaintiffs for a case against Verizon Wireless. The blunder got the attention of the Wall Street Journal and many, many others.
While the ubiquitous `I'm stuck in traffic on the way to the airport' Twitter posts that I typically receive are about as useful as spam and good examples of useful Twittering remain rare, the takeaway here is to think a little before you step out and pursue Web 2.0 marketing. Legal blogger Kevin O'Keefe nailed it with his recent post, Be smart. Just because your law firm, marketing company, or PR agency heard of a new communication tool that others have found powerful, doesn't mean you should start using it tomorrow. You need to know how to use tools like Twitter. This means getting out and playing with Twitter. Use it for personal use. Look at how others are using Twitter. Twitter on training wheels if you will. Then start using Twitter in business settings - after you feel very comfortable with how Twitter works. If you don't feel comfortable, don't start.
September 23, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:29:57 pm Collegiate athletics on trial
Lawsuit filed by Houston attorney Mark Lanier questions whether Rice University adequately screens its young athletes
A simple blood test by the Rice University athletic department would have revealed that a young football player should not have been given a nutritional shake containing
creatine, according to a lawsuit filed by Houston attorney Mark Lanier. Dale Lloyd II's 2006 death after drinking the shake during a conditioning workout is now putting a spotlight on whether college athletic departments are properly screening college athletes.
At issue is whether Rice coaches should have known that Lloyd had a blood condition common to African-Americans that placed him at greater risk of suffering from rhabdomyoloysis by injesting the shake containing creatine. Creatine is a naturally occurring organic acid that supplies energy to muscle and nerve cells, but it also causes dangerous side effects, including rhabdomyoloysis, a breakdown of muscle fibers that causes the release of harmful substances into the bloodstream. Medical literature has long warned about the increased risk of rhabdomyoloysis for those who use nutritional supplements and also have the trait for sickle-cell disease.
Lloyd collapsed after he was given a nutritional shake by Rice football coaches and ordered to finish a conditioning workout. Despite having trouble breathing and in obvious pain, coaches ordered other players not to help him and forced him to complete the workout, according to the lawsuit. Lloyd was hospitalized and never regained consciousness. Although African-Americans comprise a large number of student athletes at U.S. universities, very few schools test for the sickle cell trait, exposing thousands of young people to the conditions that lead to Lloyd's death. "If Rice University had conducted simple blood tests on African American student athletes, then they would have seen that Dale had the sickle cell trait and that he should never been given a creatine-based supplement directly before being forced to complete such a brutal workout," Lanier says.
September 23, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:50:24 am Texas tort reform heading to court
Plaintiffs' attorney Mark Werbner dubious of pending Texas Surpreme Court review
As challenges mount to the 2003 tort reforms, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram outlines how backers of Texas tort reform are taking an unusual step and seeking out a direct appeal of a case to the Texas Supreme Court for a ruling on whether the reforms comply with the state constitution. Plaintiffs' attorneys like Mark Werbner of Dallas-based Sayles Werbner question the strategy used by supporters of tort reform, telling the Star-T that the unusual direct
appeal to the Texas Supreme Court appears to be an attempt to prevent other cases that promise a stronger challenge to the reforms. "This is another way to put more nails in the coffins of people who are dying because of medical malpractice," he says, adding that tort reform has created a system that has taken away the ability of most Texans to seek legal recourse for medical errors.
Supporters of tort reform, meanwhile, describe how changes in the system in Texas have made the state a more friendly economic environment for doctors.
The Star-T sums it up: The debate pits two sides with starkly different takes on the effects of the cap. To the medical groups, the $250,000 cap on "noneconomic" or compensatory damages for pain and suffering has helped high-risk patients because doctors are now willing to accept complex cases. Proponents say the cap has also made it easier to recruit new physicians - Texas has almost 300 more licensed doctors than it did a year ago. What's more, medical liability rates have dropped by 26.6 percent overall since 2003, when the cap became law, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. Critics say the cap dealt a crushing blow to patients' rights because many of those who suffered life-threatening injuries effectively have no legal recourse. That's because of the economics of the lawsuits.
September 23, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 10:20:51 am Texting rates skyrocket as Senate seeks answers
Cowles & Thompson Antitrust attorney Jim Chester: curious timing for probe
It's become a toss up for many lately as to which monthly bill is more unpleasant to open...the electricity bill or the cel phone. For those who have embraced text
The Dallas Business Journal analyzes the issue and efforts by Senate antitrust subcommittee chairman Herb Kohl to get some answers from the four major wireless phone companies. DBJ reporter Jeff Bounds explains in the piece that Kohl finds the hike curious because text messages cost little to transmit because they are small and that the four carriers each raised rates with identical spikes almost simultaneously. Kohl has asked the four carriers -- AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and Nextel -- to justify their rates by Oct. 6.
Jim Chester, chairman of the international business and trade practice at Dallas' Cowles & Thompson, explains that politicians are obligated to enforce antitrust statutes, but he finds the timing of the probe _ at the height of the political season _ a little curious.
September 18, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 1:55:19 pm Sarbanes-Oxley offers little protection for whistleblowers, attorney Wade McClure
September 17, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:18:46 pm Burgeoning media superstar emerges from Gardere Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition
Young Dalton Sherman is on a roll. After winning the the 16th annual Gardere Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition with a speech about community involvement that ended with the closing line: "...a drum major with no band is just a
September 17, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:07:16 am High costs of citizenship process causing fewer to apply
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