Category Archives: Civilian’s Guide to Lawyers

Bailing Out: Malpractice defense lawyers recommend bailing on difficult clients

Many legal malpractice cases are based on snap judgments gone wrong, perhaps during a trial or other court appearance.  A failure to object at a key time or making a mistake in an argument might qualify for this.  Others have … Continue reading

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Trolls Have It: Patent plaintiff loses, but prevails on legal fee issue

While the law is supposed to be objective and the results of lawsuits foreordained by the facts and law, litigation is really an art (not a science) and a gamble entirely dependent on human unpredictability.  The outcome of litigation depends … Continue reading

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Getting Robed: Election of state judge gets expensive, dirty, and stupid

In some state courts the judges are appointed, usually by executive nomination and often with legislative approval.  (All federal judges are appointed this way, and many for life.)  In other states, judges are elected, like governors, legislators, and other state … Continue reading

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Bill or Else: Managing partner threatens to fire late billers, the day before Thanksgiving

Lawyers who bill by the hour need to keep track of their hours, which means writing them down (or entering them, including details of what was done), so the firm can issue timely bills to clients, usually monthly.  As you’d … Continue reading

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Sticks and Stones: State court sanctions lawyer for comments about agency judge

In the name of avoiding criticism by lawyers that might undermine respect for the legal system, lawyers sometimes lose normal First Amendment rights to comment about legal issues, including judges, because they may be subject to ethical sanctions for making … Continue reading

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Flattening Justice: State commission set to level civil justice system

Local, state, and federal courts are supported by taxpayers and, in some part, by various charges made by the court to file lawsuits, for example.  In return, the courts are supposed to provide a civilized way to resolve disputes between … Continue reading

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As The Bar Turns: California Bar fires director, director sues Bar

A few weeks ago, the California Bar took the extreme step of firing its executive director — who is usually the top employee and “CEO” of a bar organization.  Usually the executive director reports to a bar’s board, which is … Continue reading

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Do As They Say: Bar officials flunk basic spreadsheet skills

One of the functions performed by the state bar organizations in the US is to administer the process of licensing new lawyers.  This has anti-competitive implications because many bars also act as the trade association for lawyers — fewer newer … Continue reading

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Unethical Clients: Professional coach advises lawyers to avoid strip clubs

Like most lawyers, I run into people who, upon learning that I’m a lawyer, assume all sorts of things about what I must do for a living, how I think, what’s wrong with me, and so on.  These have a … Continue reading

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Debt to Society: Prosecutors lending official letterhead to debt collectors

People call or email me all the time with situations they think involve unethical or incompetent behavior by lawyers.  Malpractice and unethical conduct are two different things and they are handled very differently — one by the courts (or maybe … Continue reading

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