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Androvett Blog

by Kassi Schmitt at 11:14:26 am


Now, more than ever, buyers of legal services are influenced by social media tools. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Wikipedia are playing important roles in the everyday lives of law firms and the way that information is shared by members of the legal community. And here’s more proof…

Greentarget Strategic Communications, ALM Legal Intelligence and Zeughauser Group conducted a survey of 164 in-house counsel to analyze new media adoption among buyers of legal services.  Some interesting results from the Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey include:

  •  Nearly 70 percent of respondents aged 30 to 39 expect their consumption of business and legal industry news through social media platforms to increase within the next six months.

  •  43 percent of in-house counsel identified blogs as among their leading sources of news and information.

  • 50 percent of in-house counsel see a future in which a high-profile blog will influence a client’s decision to hire a law firm.

  • In-house counsel usage of the big three new media platforms- LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter- is growing for both professional and personal reasons.

  • 51 percent of in-house counsel said they would receive content from their law firms via new media platforms provided the content is relevant to their businesses.

At Androvett Legal Media & Marketing, we have expertise regarding the benefits law firms could obtain through the professional use of social media.  For more information and to visit our white paper regarding this topic, click here.

by Robert Tharp at 10:46:03 am

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has long been viewed as a maverick in the aviation industry, still (!) offering passengers free peanuts and employing flight attendants who aren’t afraid to call you “hon.”

While Southwest is the envy of other airlines when it comes to passenger goodwill and loyalty, it can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to oversized- or inappropriately dressed passengers. Earlier this year, actor/director Kevin “Silent Bob” Smith lit up the Internet when he was forced to deplane after Southwest flight attendants told him he was too large for a single seat.The opposite occurred last week when a reed-thin 110-pound passenger flying standby was removed from a plane to make room for an obese 14-year-old who required two seats.

While Southwest is on firm legal ground, Dallas aviation attorney William Angelley says the airline could have handled the situation better. “They probably should have asked for volunteers in order to make a seat for this 14 year old,” William Angelley of  Hightower-Angelley LLP tells MyFoxDFW’s Peter Daut.

The incident occurred during boarding for a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Sacramento. A 110-pound passenger, who was flying standby, had settled into her seat when the airplane crew asked her to deplane to make room for a 14-year-old passenger who needed two seats due to the individual’s weight.

“It’s a very sensitive issue and it’s a very real issue because the airlines have seats of certain size,” Angelley, a former Navy pilot, tells Daut. “They can’t retool these aircraft – it would be cost-prohibitive to do that.”

Angelley, who has commercial pilot ratings for both airplanes and helicopters, says Southwest Airlines acted well within its rights in removing the woman to make way for the larger passenger, who arrived late. Southwest Airlines tells Daut that the incident was atypical.

Angelley gained first-hand experience in aviation as a pilot in the United States Navy. Angelley began his career in Dallas defending aviation insurance companies, maintenance facilities and manufacturers. Using the expertise he gained during these years, he later began representing individuals and families upon joining a New York-based firm specializing in plaintiffs’ aviation litigation. He worked in the firm’s New York and Los Angeles offices and was promoted to partner during his time there. During the course of his career, Angelley has been involved in numerous commercial, military and general aviation cases.

by Robert Tharp at 3:05:17 pm

In Curious CIPRO Patent Defense, Bayer Lawyers Say That's Their Point

There was little surprise when lawyers for preaching drifter Brian David Mitchell indicated they plan to enter an insanity plea when his trial for the high-profile 2002 kidnapping of Utah youth Elizabeth Smart begins in November. After all, the insanity defense is a time-worn tool in criminal-defense circles. But such an approach is practically unheard of civil litigation, and that’s what makes pharmaceutical giant Bayer’s appeal seeking to defend the validity of its patent on the antibiotic, Cipro, so curious.

As BNET writer Jim Edwards notes in his recent blog post, Cipro lawyers are throwing two Bayer executives under the bus in a unique way, saying the two concealed or failed to disclose important evidence because they suffered from a laundry list of mental impairments

As Edwards explains: “In an appeal filing in a California state court, Bayer purportedly claims that two executives who may have concealed evidence showing its patents on Cipro were invalid must be mistaken because they suffer from ‘depression,’ ‘confused thinking,’ were elderly, had a ‘cerebral hemorrhage’ and ‘Parkinson’s or related degenerative disease involving extreme mental degeneration.’”

The novel defense was identified in an appeal filed by plaintiffs’ attorney Dan Drachler and his team from Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling that has its own unique twist.

The appeal was initially filed under seal, based on an order in the original California court that was designed to protect “sensitive” business information. But at Drachler’s insistence, the seal was vacated July 2, allowing Bayer’s “insanity” defense and the full accounting of the millions of dollars involved in “pay to delay” agreements with generic manufacturers including Barr (now Teva) to come to light.

The full unredacted filing can be found here, with the formerly sealed information highlighted.

by Robert Tharp at 1:41:48 pm

As a nationally respected life coach and family law attorney, Dallas attorney Mary Jo McCurley has plenty to say about tackling life’s challenges and finding success and fulfillment along the way.

Now, McCurley, a partner in McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing, has teamed with four other women’s health experts to publish “A Happy, Healthy You: A Woman’s Guide to Happiness, Health & Harmony.” Together with two medical doctors, a psychologist and an exercise physiologist, these women share their knowledge on how women over 35 can make the second half of their lives better than the first.

Some of the points the women discuss in their new book:

  • The importance of “owning” your life, and what a positive, optimistic approach can mean.
  • How to protect yourself from conditions like osteoporosis, heart disease and breast cancer.
  • The importance of movement and its life-improving effects.
  • How relationships can affect your health.
  • The spiritual journey you take as you age gracefully – and successfully

"This book is about more than possibilities," says co-author Mary Jo McCurley. "It's about making life choices that make us younger than our years and help us, with each new day, to look forward to what life has to offer. It is within our control to be happier, healthier, and more in harmony with our world."

by Robert Tharp at 4:27:41 pm


That your e-mail inbox isn’t completely hobbled by the daily tsunami of spam e-mail messages can be traced back to a little-known inventor named Robert Uomini and his company, InNova Patent Licensing LLC. InNova holds U.S. Patent No. 6,018,761, which covers technology that enables computers to weed out all those bogus Viagra messages and great deals on discount watches. The patent was awarded to Mr. Uomini, an inventor and mathematician, nearly 15 years ago when Internet e-mail was still in its formative stages.  

This week, InNova filed a lawsuit against 36 companies accused of violating the patent. Patent-infringement attorney Christopher Banys of The Lanier Law Firm, lead counsel for InNova, recently told The American Lawyer magazine that e-mail as we know it would stop working without InNova’s patent. From the article:  “Banys told us it's impossible to overestimate the importance of InNova's patented system. ‘If we didn't have this technology in e-mail, the volume of spam online would make it virtually unusable,’ he said.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, names some of the world’s most recognizable companies as defendants, including Apple, JC Penney Co., Google, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc., Frito-Lay, Inc., Bank of America Corporation and more. Why so many companies? From The American Lawyer: “InNova spent more than a decade trying to persuade operating companies to acknowledge the value of Uomini's patent before deciding it had no choice but to sue.”

The case is InNova Patent Licensing, LLC v. 3Com Corporation, et al., No. 10-cv-251.

by Scott Holcomb at 10:24:55 am

Founding partners Deborah Hankinson and Jeffrey Levinger of the Dallas-based civil appellate firm Hankinson Levinger LLP earned yet another top ranking to add to their list of achievements.

They were recognized as two of Texas’ top appellate lawyers in the Chambers USA 2010 legal directory.

Chambers USA is an annual U.K. based publication that recognizes the top business law firms and leading individual attorneys in the United States.  Their selection for this prestigious honor was based on in-depth interviews with both peers and clients.

The publication stated that the “incredibly talented” Deborah Hankinson “is recommended for her intimate knowledge of judiciary procedures and her seasoned approach” while Jeffrey Levinger is cited as a “highly experienced, talented and knowledgeable appellate specialist.”

This honor is just one of their latest as both have been named among Texas’ top lawyers in the Texas Super Lawyers list since it was first published in 2003 and have both been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America.

Additionally, Ms. Hankinson has been listed as one of D Magazine’s Best Women Lawyers in Dallas and is ranked by Texas Lawyer newspaper as one of the state’s “Go-To” appellate attorneys. And Mr. Levinger, who serves as Chairman of the State Bar of Texas Committee on Pattern Jury Charges, was named to “The Defenders,” an elite list of North Texas’ top business defense attorneys published by the Dallas Business Journals earlier this year.

by Robert Tharp at 3:04:34 pm

McKool Smith has added two veteran litigators and a former federal bankruptcy clerk in the firm’s rapidly growing Houston office.  It’s another signal that law firms without a banking clientele or traditional expertise in bankruptcy matters can experience rapid growth through the bankruptcy sector. As The Wall Street Journal reported in April, larger full-service law firms are increasingly running into conflicts of interest and can’t bring litigation against banks and other financial service firms that are current or former clients, a situation further complicated by consolidation in the banking business. Those ethics rules have opened the door for midsize trial firms such as McKool Smith

Writes the WSJ’s Nathan Koppel: Big blue-chip law firms are losing potentially lucrative assignments to smaller firms even as the industry sees a spike in lawsuits against banks stemming from the financial crisis. The reason for the change: ethics rules that govern conflicts of interest for lawyers and their firms. Law firms usually can't sue or investigate banks that they have represented, unless the clients take the unusual step of waiving the conflict. Thus, many small to midsize firms, which count fewer banks as defense clients, are filling a growing demand for conflict-free lawyers able to file lawsuits against banks.

Consolidation in the banking business has made it only harder for law firms to handle lawsuits against banks. It is increasingly difficult, lawyers said, for firms to find a major bank they haven't represented at some point. As a result, they are bumping up against the conflict-of-interest rules formulated by the American Bar Association and state bar groups.

“The addition of these three excellent lawyers is part of our overall goal to become one of the top bankruptcy shops anywhere in the country,” says Hugh M. Ray , a veteran bankruptcy attorney who joined McKool Smith in October of last year to establish the practice and manage the firm’s Houston office. “With bankruptcies and related litigation on the rise, and more and more law firms facing client conflicts in bankruptcy-related work, we expect to grow our group significantly in the coming months.”

Christopher D. Johnson, Ruth A. Van Meter and Nicholas Zugaro collectively bring more than 30 years of bankruptcy experience to McKool Smith, having represented Chapter 11 debtors, official unsecured creditors committees, creditors, and Chapter 7 trustees in significant cases heard in federal bankruptcy courts across the nation.

by Robert Tharp at 11:23:08 am

Brad LaMorgese

When divorce, child custody and other family law matters turn nasty, family law attorney Brad LaMorgese says the allegations rarely involve the kind of he-said she-said allegations alone like they did just a few years ago. Today, juries considering family law cases routinely consider text messages, social media postings and other electronic communications.

In fact, rude, taunting and threatening text messages have become the weapon of choice among parties going through divorce. The Washington Post noted last month how text messages are incleasingly used by estranged lovers and those trying to harass.

Harassment is "just easier now, and it's even more persistent and constant, with no letting up," says Claire Kaplan, director of sexual and domestic violence services at the University of Virginia, which became the focus of national attention in May with the killing of 22-year-old lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

Estranged spouses increasingly harass each other with direct messages sent at all hours, and their current flames often jump in by sending salacious photos meant to enrage the ex. "Needless to say, text messages provide useful evidence," says LaMorgese of McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing. "Texting can show a track record of harassment, rude behavior or activities that are not reflective of good parenting. The contents of these messages can be pivotal in property division and child custody cases." Such messages are on the rise and expected to become even more pervasive simply because wireless technology makes this form of communication so easy.