Monday, September 29, 2008
Oh lawyers, always worrying about whether the id. is capitalized and other such picayune matters. Belts and suspenders, dotting i's and crossing t's and all that.
But get this: apparently some of you are concerned that the election in November may not go off perfectly. In Florida, of all places! So much so that Berger Singerman attorney Charles Lichtman has assembled his own private army of perfectly coiffed legal first-responders:
The Obama campaign has 1,000 volunteer lawyers in Florida, in 55 of the 67 counties, said Chuck Lichtman, statewide lead counsel for the Obama campaign. Five thousand are expected to be signed up by Election Day for poll-watching.Fellas, fellas - turn that frown upside down!
In previous Florida elections, there have been reports of people having to wait in line for hours, of voting machines registering the wrong vote and of people being turned away from the polls for not having two forms of identification or for incorrectly being listed as felons.
"We're not hiring litigators," said Lichtman, a partner at Berger Singerman in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "The public doesn't want litigation. We're doing election protection. We know election law backwards and forwards and we've been looking at every issue, hard, for the last year."
The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have also sent 11 out-of-state lawyers to Florida to monitor voting problems. Leading them is David Sullivan, who took a leave of absence from his job as legal counsel for the Massachusetts governor. He has been stationed at Obama Florida headquarters in Tampa since Aug. 11. Sullivan was dispatched to Florida in 2000 and Ohio — another battleground state — in 2004. "Our mission is to protect the vote," he said.
Also leading up the efforts in Florida are Stephen and Richard Rosenthal, two brothers who are Miami lawyers — one at the law firm Podhurst Orseck and the other leading his own appellate law firm.
Additionally, Mark Herron, a Tallahassee, Fla., election law expert, has been hired as state counsel for the Democratic National Committee. Herron — who was featured in the HBO film Recount — gained some notoriety in 2000 after his law firm, Akerman Senterfitt, fired him, allegedly for associating himself with Al Gore.
What could possibly go wrong?
On my way to the federal courthouse this morning, and who did I see? None other than camera-hound Kendall Coffey, doing a "stand up" with a TV crew outside the new federal courthouse. I wonder what he was reporting on?
Oh well, always good to talk about something you know.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Well, I wanna be your lover, baby,That's the Bard talking, but he was onto something. Money money money, hours, status, wants, needs, desires, love, children. And of course that sexy young thing at Offerdahl's. How to fit it all in and sustain your practice?
I don't wanna be your boss.
Don't say I never warned you
When your train gets lost.
How the hail do I know?
But an astute reader (thanks!) passed along this interesting article on how to be a happy and successful lawyer that makes for some good Friday reading.
Basically, the guy offers the following advice: don't be a di#k.
Alright, to be specific, he also says this:
Yeah yeah. Fine words and all, I'll think about that at my motion calendar next week, where I plan to go first even though it's not my motion; file a response the morning of the hearing; show up with two new cases to hand to the judge even though I made no copies for opposing counsel; misstate the holdings of contrary cases so I can skate by and get a favorable ruling; and then disagree after the hearing on what the Court exactly ruled upon. Mission accomplished!
First, be someone others count on. Most folks talk a good game; very few come through. Clients come to you because they have a situation they cannot solve on their own. Most are not looking for an analysis of the law. Most want you to solve a problem. So solve it, don’t add to their problem by being hard to find, by missing deadlines, or by simply describing their problem back to them. It’s like going to the dentist when you have a toothache. You want it fixed and you want it fixed now. That’s what a client wants every time they talk to you. Walk in with a problem, walk out with a solution.
What they want is someone they can count on to make their lives simpler, to accomplish what they want accomplished. If you can simply do that, you’ll be sought out as an extraordinarily effective lawyer. And there is a real difference in your sense of self between being simply a resource; somebody who knows the law, and the person that people count on to solve their problems.
Second - be an interesting person, for your own good and so that clients think of you as more than a lawyer. A decent definition of hell is a dinner party companion who is a first year lawyer on the day after his or her first trial. Law stuff is interesting mostly to lawyers. In fact, it’s real interesting to lawyers, so that’s what we talk about all the time, just like you talk about law school all the time.
Force yourself to do be able to talk about more than law - read books, go to movies, be part of politics, go to lectures. You’ll meet people, you’ll be able to talk about things that other people find interesting, and you won’t burn out on your job.
The horror stories you hear about associates working 2500 hours a year? You will be surprised when you see how much of that is self imposed. These young lawyers get caught up in the chase and find that what they’re doing more interesting than anything else- so they become that boring self absorbed dining companion. The world’s full of great people with jobs and hobbies that are just as demanding and just as fascinating as yours, (assuming you make yourself get a hobby). Learn about them. You’ll be happier and much more fun to be with.
Here is another obvious but ignored truth. Look out for yourself. Nobody cares about you like you do except maybe your parents, and you won’t be working for them. My late and very wise father used to tell me to not worry about what people were thinking about me, because they weren’t. They were thinking about themselves.
Your employer may have a mentoring program, but nobody is mentored into a success. Mentors are important, but they are only a resource. Accept that you are in charge of your success.
So if you think you need experience in an area, make it your business to go get it. Ask somebody; don’t wait for it to come along. Don’t wait for somebody to notice that you’re missing an important skill. Ask for a promotion - people aren’t watching what you do as carefully as you think or hope.
Also, determination matters. It matters more than intellect. The streets are littered with directionless geniuses with unexecuted good ideas. . Woody Allen had it pretty dead on when be said that 90% of success is simply showing up. You won’t suddenly have a great career. Nobody ever does. The secret is simple- great careers are the result of day after day deciding to do good work and being someone who others count on.
Be enthusiastic. Because we deal in rules, it’s real easy to fall into cataloging all the reasons something won’t work or why somebody shouldn’t do something. In fact, we lawyers take pride in being the first one to find fault with an idea. Makes us look smart. In my days as managing partner I would roll out a strategic initiative, and I could see my partner’s eyes starting to spin. Who would get the prize for being the first one to spot the flaw?
Clients want to do things - they don’t call you so they can not do things. They want to stay in the borders of the law, but they want to be told how to do what they want to do. And they want to know that you’re happy to be part of what they’re doing. There is no better way to end a client meeting than saying “This is going to be great” and to mean it. It’s fun to be charged up - to add energy to every conversation.
Trust yourself. You are a very bright person or you wouldn’t be here today. I think among the most important conclusions I came to as a young lawyer was that if I didn’t understand something, it was because the thing in fact didn’t make sense, not because I was stupid. Most of the times I’ve found myself in hot water it’s because I let a conversation continue past the point where I understood what was being said. And virtually every time I would say “stop, I’m not following this,” someone would come up to me after the meeting and say “Boy I’m glad you said that. I had no idea what we were talking about.”
Get involved. Organize the reunion or the bicycle race. Chair the church committee. Help people who have not enjoyed your good fortune. You have spent three years learning how to organize your thoughts, analyze a situation, and articulate action plans. Use those skills everywhere in your life. Stuff will get done, people will appreciate your initiative, and you will derive great satisfaction from making things better.
Here are my final two unappreciated but clearly true truths: The toughest lawyer is not the one who is the most obnoxious. Clients will say they want a tough son of a gun to make somebody life’s miserable, a real bulldog, etc.
Don’t be that person. It’s been my 100% uniform experience that the bulldog only adds time, expense, stress and confusion to an otherwise inevitable result. Even clients can’t stand them after a couple of months. You want to be tough? Have the best preparation on the facts, the law and the strategy. Judges care only about those things, not a whit for bluster. Bullies are jerks, they wreck the profession for everyone, and you can beat them every time.
And finally and hands down most importantly, and please pass this on to your friends and your children, because it’s really important — Be nice and have fun. Just doing that makes life better for everybody, mostly you.
I may duck out early for some important water activities, so if I'm not back to send off a nasty Friday afternoon letter and check in on you all, have a great weekend!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I don't want our crappy little blog to get all Jack Thompsony-chronic-all-the-time, but I did see that hotshot reporter and boy mechanic Billy Shields is breaking word that Jack has been disbarred:
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday permanently disbarred crusading anti-porn lawyer Jack Thompson after years of review but left open a slim window of opportunity for reconsideration.Is this the proceeding before Judge Jordan? Should be interesting.
The Coral Gables attorney represented himself as he contested a disbarment recommendation from Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dava Tunis in July and challenged a March opinion from the state’s high court barring him from future filings without the signature of another Bar member as a sanction for alleged abusive filings.
Thompson said in a telephone interview that he would file a request for an emergency stay in U.S District Court in Miami, where he has filed a civil rights complaint against the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar, Tunis and others involved in his case.
“I’m just getting warmed up,” he said. “They won this phase of the battle. Now we’re in a federal venue, which will give me relief.”
I don't know about you, but all this gloom-and-doom talk is starting to get to me.
First just yesterday I see JPK pacing slowly along Flagler, working his way toward La Loggia, silent and alone in his thoughts.
Then this morning as I drove into work in my hermetically-sealed SFLmobile I came across nearly a dozen large turkey vultures, feasting on some fresh road kill. I paused briefly, as I watched the carrions determinedly pick the flesh off the bones of the decaying, unidentifiable carcass.
I'm sure this is just a coincidence, right?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Hi kiddies, yes it's that time again, when we hold our collective noses and pray, curse, clap, and peek at the weekly doings of our favorite little courthouse by the athletic field, yes without further adieu it's 3d DCA Watch:
So we'll argue and we'll compromiseWhoah -- how did those old Billy Joel lyrics get in there? (Boy, high school was fun).
And realize that nothing's ever changed
For all our mutual experience
Our separate conclusions are the same.
Now we are forced to recognize our own inhumanity
Our reason coexists with our insanity
And though we choose between reality and madness
It's either sadness or euphoria
Anyways, here we go:
Clarendon v. Shogreen:
Poor Susan Lerner. Eminently qualified. A top-notch appellate lawyer. A great person. Shoulda been a judge a long time ago. Looks like Tina Fey.
But then that moose-eating lipstick-wearing hockey mom who stares down Russia from her front lawn decided to run for American Idol or whatever so now Susan Lerner has to be compared to someone other than the brilliant and brainy creator behind 30 Rock.
How would that make you feel?
Worse yet, some bullcrap judge won't recuse when sitting in her appellate capacity as part of an 11th Circuit panel in a case where you represent some fancy-pants insurance client. Even worser, that same judge denies as moot the very motion to recuse that was directed to her!
That's a no-no, says Judge Rothenberg. But first we have to decide which recusal standard applies -- that for a trial judge, or that for an appellate judge. (Don't bother asking why that question has never come up before...)
Judge Rothenberg says to use the appellate standard and thus:
We therefore quash the order denying Clarendon’s motion to disqualify the panel member as moot, and without commenting on the legal sufficiency of the motion to disqualify the panel member, we resubmit the motion to that panel member for a ruling on the motion to disqualify pursuant to the Carlton standard.So the great Ms. Lerner not only wins the case for her client, she forges new law in our District and gets a ruling from the 3d that establishes the standard for all future cases.
See, I told you she shoulda been a judge already. Strike that -- Susan Lerner for VP!!!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I'm been thinking of a few stories from law firm retreats I used to go when we were all swimmin' in dough and life was good good good.
Upon reflection, nearly all of those stories involved copious amounts of liquor, sexual relations, and some form of inappropriate, embarrassing, odd, or downright sybaritic behavior on the part of a summer associate, junior partner or, ideally, some really old senior partner no one really liked anyway.
So, in these lean times, I see that Virginia Grant of Altman Weil thinks it's a really good idea to have a law firm retreat. Here's why:
Why Do We Need An All-Inclusive Retreat?Let me try to understand -- a dysfunctional, dispirited group of lawyers and staff, unable to work together, should all gather at some resort in Mexico to establish "standards of behavior or accountability within the firm"? Sounds like an episode of The Office to me.
Have you noticed a lack of discipline in your
firm? Is the enthusiasm level low? Are employees
not working together? Is there a lack of
teamwork and collaboration? Is there a lack of
organization in the firm? Is there confusion
about job responsibilities? Are clients receiving
less than excellent service? Are there turnover
issues? Is the firm struggling to integrate new
These are issues that firms deal with at one
time or another. An all-inclusive retreat can be
used to develop consensus around standards of
behavior or accountability within the firm. It
could be used to discuss ways to improve
workflow, systems and processes that will
make the firm more efficient. All firms could
benefit from spending valuable time together
and making the firm a better place to work.
Feel free to share your law firm retreat memories/horror stories after the jump.
It's ok Billy, even though I covered the story six days ago, I'm glad you finally got around to doing a piece on it. I guess the difference is that Billy actually, you know, did some digging and reporting and I just sat around in my wind surfing shorts and blogged about it.
Here's my favorite quote from the piece Billy elicited from GT spokesperson Jill Perry:
“We believe the allegations are outrageous and without merit. The case arises from the firm’s appropriate representation of its client,” she said. “We expect to be fully vindicated in this matter through the court process.”Oh come on Jill, that's about as generic and nonspecific as you can get. Admit it, you probably have a shortcut key on your blackberry that spits that statement out every time Greenberg Traurig gets in trouble.
Well, once you look at it that way, it's a well-crafted statement.
CORRECTION: I am advised that it turns out the author of this piece is not legendary Sgt. Pepper bandleader Billy Shears, but rather hotshot DBR reporter and boy mechanic Billy Shields. We apologize for any confusion.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Here's a surprise -- former General Counsel to Jeb Bush Raquel Rodriguez thinks new Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady is just fine:
The Miami Herald confuses a conservative judicial philosophy with a conservative political philosophy. To be a conservative jurist means understanding that the executive and legislative branches make policy, and that the judicial branch interprets law.It does not, and should not, have anything to do with whether a judge agrees with a particular policy expressed in that law.You know what, I agree with this completely. Does Charles Canady?
Friday, September 19, 2008
And Norman Braman feels fine:
''With a Wall Street Journal headline this morning saying it's the worst economy with no help in sight, how could anyone even think of spending these type of dollars for a for-profit business?''So now Judge Cohen gets to deliver the final blow, given that the Florida Supremes have finally ruled on that community redevelopment monies case from Escambia County. Hooray!
The clear result: better schools, more roads, vitally needed money for police, fire and city services, and of course more money for the homeless -- all by spending hundreds of millions on a baseball stadium for a financially-shaky and unpopular privately-owned baseball team:
Replied Diaz: "Everyone's focused on baseball. But the reality here is, it is really about affordable housing and infrastructure, and parks and the homeless.''HAHAHAHAHA, boy that mayor of ours really knows how to tell a joke!
Oh fudge it, I'm going windsurfing. If I can drag myself back to the office later maybe I'll check in on you all and possibly even do some legal work, but if I don't all you ham-and-eggers, kingmakers, and other masters of the universe have a great weekend.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I know I know --- all of you hotshots are great drivers, great lovers, and great poker players. Plus nobody knows sports better than you.
Well, now you can at least explain your online poker losses away. Listen bubbe, it was not a deficit in skill -- you are still the best ever! -- it just turns out you were a schmuck to play online in the first place:
Allegations that a long-running cheating scheme bilked players on a leading Internet poker site have triggered an $85 million claim against a Canadian company whose employees allegedly manipulated the cyberspace card room’s software so that they could see their opponents’ hole cards, msnbc.com has learned.
The alleged subterfuge on UltimateBet.com — one of the 10 top poker sites — is the biggest known case of fraud targeting an Internet gambling site and its customers, according to the company that owns the site. It is similar to a case of cheating that occurred last year on UltimateBet’s sister site, AbsolutePoker.com, but this time the thieves ran the scheme for far longer — at least from January 2005 to January 2008, it said.
h/t to the alert reader who sent this one in -- I KNEW [insert your name] was a better player than this!
Our own Judge Blake receives a glowing profile by the Boston Globe, focusing on his humorous, folksy style, unlike all those New England stiffs. Here's my favorite part:
Uhh, if you say so Judge. Here's more:
When he jousts with the stone-serious Fred Wyshak, the Boston federal prosecutor on loan to the locals, about sartorial choices Wyshak's made for this road trip, Blake says that since becoming a judge 14 years ago he can no longer afford the fancy suits.
In fact, the judge says, "I sew pant legs to the bottom of my robe and wear gym shorts underneath."
Humor is definitely an asset on the bench. Does Judge Blake have the best sense of humor among our judges on the bench? I can think of some who are entirely humorless.
So for the judge, there's a method to his one-liners. "People are usually petrified about being on a jury," he says during the lunch recess while at his desk in his chambers. "I want to make it easier for jurors to come to court."
Blake turned 60 last Saturday, a former marathoner and now avid golfer who combs his gray hair back and keeps a mustache neatly groomed. Though a native of Detroit, his family moved to Miami when he was a baby, and it's been all Florida ever since -- local public schools, the University of Florida and the University of Miami Law School.
He was a defense lawyer for nearly two decades before becoming a judge. For the past seven years he's served as administrative judge in the circuit court's criminal division.
The humor, he says, is not intended to take away from the solemnity of Connolly's murder trial. He wants early on to get the eight women and seven men loosened up and talking, so that later on, during deliberations, when some may have sharp disagreements, they've already gotten over the hump of sharing their views.
He doesn't worry that jurors might mistake his seemingly freewheeling style for judicial laxness. "Jurors get it," he says. "They know what their job ultimately is."
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
3d DCA Watch -- The One Where Judge Cope's Law Clerk Outlawyers The Lawyers. Oh Yeah, and Kenny Nachwalter Gets Disqualified (Yawn).
Ok kiddies, it's that time again so let's jump right in and see what our coffee-swilling, Technicolor-robed brethren down south have been up to in this topsy-turvy, action-packed edition of 3d DCA Watch:
Skylake v. NMB Plaza:
Whoah -- holy great-research-by-Judge-Cope's-clerk, Batman!
This case has to do with a ten-year lease signed by landlord NMB Plaza, an LLC, which was repudiated for whatever reason by the landlord. The tenant sued, and the landlord's defense was that the lease was not valid because it did not have the two signatures required under Fl. Stat. 689.01.
The tenant, represented by Scott Orth, countered that there is an exception for corporations. Too bad so sad, Judge Cope noted (I'm paraphrasing), the landlord is an LLC, not a corporation, so that exception does not apply.
It's right there that Judge Cope's clerk heroically swings into action:
Our independent research discloses the existence of another exception. Chapter 608 contains its own provisions regarding the disposition of limited liability company property, including real estate. “Instruments and documents providing for the acquisition, mortgage, or disposition of property of the limited liability company shall be valid and binding upon the limited liability company, if they are executed in accordance with this chapter .” § 608.425(3), Fla. Stat. (2003). A lease qualifies as a “disposition” of property of the limited liability company.Now that raises some interesting questions. First, why not make that argument? I admit it's not immediately obvious to check the conveyance parameters of a member of an LLC in the LLC statutory section, but on the other hand I guess it turned out to be pretty useful for someone to have done so. Maybe there's another reason, who knows?
Section 608.4235, Florida Statutes (2003), addresses the authority of limited liability company members, managing members, and managers. Subsection (3) provides:
(3) Unless the articles of organization or operating agreement limit the authority of a member, any member of a member-managed company or manager of a manager-managed company may sign and deliver any instrument transferring or affecting the limited liability company’s interest in real property. The instrument is conclusive in favor of a person who gives value without knowledge of the lack of the authority of the person signing and delivering the instrument.
The lease bears the signature of Eli Hadad on behalf of NMB Plaza LLC as lessor. The lessor’s answer admits that the lease was signed and raises no claim that the lessor’s signature was unauthorized.
As already stated, subsection 608.425(3) provides that the disposition of property of a limited liability company is “valid and binding upon the limited liability company, if . . . executed in accordance with this chapter .” Thus it is only necessary that a conveyance by a limited liability company (in this case a lease) comply with chapter 608. It is not necessary that the document contain the signatures of witnesses required under section 689.01. For the stated reasons, we conclude that the lease should not have been held to violate section 689.01.2.
Also, isn't there a possible contradiction between the two statutes, where one is more general and one more specific?
Finally, did the landlord, represented by Bennett Feldman, have an obligation to raise that section if he knew about it, either at the trial or appellate level? Or did he not know?
Let's see what else.....
Bauknight v. Monroe County:
This is a takings case involving some property on Big Pine Key that is notable mostly because the appellant was represented by the Richard Scaife-funded Pacific Legal Foundation.
Guess which Judge (not sitting on this case) used to be counsel to that group? Oh well, the appellant lost here anyway.
Let's see, anything else...
Default Proof v. Niro:
Oy -- Arbitration, choice of law, FAA, Leslie Lott. If you find any of the foregoing interesting, you can read the darn thing yourself.
The rest of these opinions are pretty dry, let me see if there's anything else....
Atlas Air v. Greenberg Traurig:
BINGO! From what I can tell, in a suit by Atlas Air against GT, some confidential attorney-client documents were inadvertently delivered to GT's counsel, Kenny Nachwalter.
Now of course we all know what to do in that situation, being good professionals and knowing that we are all colleagues in the same Bar. Kiddies, what do you think happened?
According to the opinion, Atlas moved to disqualify Kenny Nachwalter. Although the trial court disqualified the Kenny partner who first received the docs, it did not disqualify the entire firm.
Wrong, in a PCA by a panel that included polite and always gracious SFL fave Judge Schwartz. In fact, the petition was granted and Kenny Nachwalter disqualified because:
This determination is based upon our finding that the Kenny Nachwalter firm fell far short of satisfying the requirements of the controlling case of Abamar Housing & Dev., Inc. v. Lisa Daly Lady Decor, Inc., 724 So. 2d 572 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998), rev. dismissed, 729 So. 2d 918 (Fla. 1999) (Abamar II); see Abamar Housing & Dev., Inc. v. Lisa Daly Lady Decor, Inc., 698 So. 2d 276 (Fla. 3d DCA), rev. denied, 704 So. 2d 520 (Fla. 1997) (Abamar I); Marcus & Marcus, P.A. v. Sinclair, 731 So. 2d 845 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999); and, of particular significance, that it took an unfair, “informational” advantage of its adversary in the process. Abamar II, 724 So. 2d 572; Gen. Accident Ins. Co. v. Borg-Warner Acceptance Corp., 483 So. 2d 505 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986); Double T Corp. v. Jalis Dev., Inc., 682 So. 2d 1160 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996); Zarco Supply Co. v. Bonnell, 658 So. 2d 151 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995). Disqualification of the firm as a whole is therefore required."Unfair, 'informational' advantage." Sounds more like the name of a European punk rock band than a proper legal standard, but whatever it is you don't want to be found to have engaged in it. There has got to be a good story or two behind this opinion.
Phil Allen, my hat's off to you, buddy, another well-earned notch for that lovely boat of yours.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
We've already discussed (here and here) the disgusting habit you overfed, undersexed office-dwellers have of bringing your device into the bedroom and the deleterious consequences that has on your love life. Now comes news that thirty-five percent of you simpering texters would even choose your "device" over your spouse:
The study of 6,500 traveling executives says 35 percent of them would choose their PDA over their spouse.Spend time with a living human being? How novel!
"That's a tough call," one said.
"Oh you don't want to go there," another added.
And apparently that attitude is being seen in the sack. Of those polled, 87 percent said they bring their devices into the bedroom.
Another 84 percent check their e-mails just before they go to sleep. Another 80 percent check them in the morning as soon as they get up.
"It can actually ruin relationships," said Dr. Susan Bartell, a psychologist and relationship expert. Bartell said couples should be interfacing more, but with each other.
"People are so focused on their PDAs, they're not focusing on what might be going wrong in their relationships," Bartell said.
Of those polled, 62 percent said they love their blackberry or PDA, and most of them said it makes their life more productive. However, experts suggest, for the sake of your relationship, you might occasionally …
"Turn it off, spend some time with your partner. Have a real relationship with a living human being," Bartell said.
Please email that concept around with your spouse later tonight.
This is an interesting way for an immigration firm to drum up business:
Under the new structure, Houston and San Antonio offices of Monty Partners are now officially occupied by Adorno’s newly formed immigration practice group.
Before the deal, Adorno only had a Texas office in Dallas.
Hey, why stop there? I'd like to see some mock round-ups, some mock beatings, a few mock deportations. One time at my old firm we conducted a mock partner execution, but that came after a long Friday night kegger so that's probably a little different.
“They are going to be our Houston office,” says Adorno’s Socol. “Our immigration practice is (now) centered in Houston and Miami.”
Monty Partners employs a roster of about a dozen retired ICE agents on a full-time and contract basis to conduct mock I-9 audits. Companies not only learn if they are in violation of any immigration laws, but also what the fines would have been.
Monty says clients tend to pay more attention when the former agents are presenting the news rather than just lawyers.
“It’s not as lucrative as having just attorneys do it, but the end result for the client is much better,” he says.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Ok, I'll admit, I'm not a big reader of People magazine. But I happened to be reading this week's edition, which featured something about lipsticks and pigs, when I came across a story about Carlos Lidsky's son and how he just got a job clerking for the United States Supreme Court. This is the same kid who was on "Saved By the Bell." Wow! Beat that, Judge Jordan:
In 1993 he was cast in a television sitcom, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, which took him to Los Angeles for a couple of years. Lidsky says he feels "blessed" to have had the experience, which he notes is "not the average experience for a 13, 14 year-old kid."How about that -- for once I'm (almost) snarkless. Congrats Isaac.
And he enjoyed the work, acting and putting the show together, which was filmed in front of a live studio audience. It was great preparation for law, especially trial law. And Lidsky always knew he wanted to be a lawyer, just like his dad.
"As I was growing up, as a kid, I used to go to work with him, go to his office, go to court and learn about the law," Lidsky recalls. "Growing up with a role model like my father, it was crystal clear to me that I wanted to go to law school and wanted to learn to think like he did."
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Lidsky served as a clerk for a federal circuit court judge for one year.
His upcoming clerkship in the U.S. Supreme Court is something he has thought about for a long time, thanks to his father. "He explained to me that folks who are relatively fresh out of law school can go and contribute to this institution and clerk for the court. And I was hooked. I knew it was something I wanted to do."
Friday, September 12, 2008
We've been talking recently about what presumptions, if any, should be applied to the reasonable person in light of some interesting opinions from Judge Seitz and the Florida Supreme Court.
I offer up Florida voter and Barefoot Bay resident Andy Lacasse and his thoughtful idea of a campaign yard sign as Exhibit A. But please, don't try to disturb Andy's well-spelled out think piece:
"If I see anybody touching that sign, I got a club sitting right over there," Lacasse said.Andy, you accidentally hit yourself in the head a few times with that club, didn't you? Didn't you?
Have a great weekend everybody!
How nice, our first scandal with the new Superintendent of Schools, and he hasn't even been hired yet! There are many elements to this story that are simply preposterous:
So these are emails from a "private email address" that Carvalho maintained on his school computer? Hmm.
School Board members, community leaders and reporters have received about two dozen e-mails that appear to have been sent from deLuzuriaga to Carvalho between July and September 2007. Another e-mail purports to show Carvalho coaching School Board member Perla Tabares Hantman on how to challenge Crew -- then his boss -- about budget problems last September.
Hantman said she does not recall the message and said she still has ''total confidence'' in Carvalho.
Carvalho, an 18-year teacher and administrator, has not yet accepted the position; he also is weighing an offer to become the schools chief in Pinellas County.
During an interview Thursday at the high school where he began his teaching career, Carvalho denied writing the e-mail to Hantman and said he was never romantically involved with deLuzuriaga.
He said the e-mails were doctored in an attempt to torpedo his ascent to the top of the Miami-Dade School District, and described his relationship with the reporter as professional but ``friendly.''
Carvalho, 44, who is married, acknowledged he once went on a bike-riding trip with deLuzuriaga and others, and that she met Carvalho's daughter and nephew at his district office.
DeLuzuriaga informed her editor at the time, Bob Radziewicz, of the outing with Carvalho. Radziewicz, now a University of Miami journalism professor, said he advised her to keep Carvalho at arm's length. ''I said you want to be careful. He is a school official,'' he said.
Carvalho said he has asked the school district to search for all of his e-mails from last summer and make them public. He has also asked for an investigation into how the messages were accessed and distributed.
''Some of the contents of the e-mails suggest to me that somebody has manipulated them,'' Carvalho said after meeting with students at Miami Jackson High. ``What they are attempting is damaging and hurtful and untruthful. They are using them to damage my character.''
DeLuzuriaga, 27, now a reporter at the Boston Globe, worked at The Herald from October 2006 to September 2007. Contacted in Boston, she declined to discuss the e-mails Thursday.
''I can't comment right now,'' she said.
The Herald could not authenticate the messages because the company does not save internal e-mails dating back that far. Some of the messages appear to be from private e-mail accounts maintained by deLuzuriaga and Carvalho.
Carvalho said he no longer uses the private e-mail address listed in the messages. However, he provided that address to the Pinellas County School Board in a July 10 letter.
Carvalho believes someone at the school accessed that private email address on his school computer and doctored the emails? Hmm.
Carvalho denies writing the email coaching Hantman on how to fire Crew but Hantman does not deny it and only fails to recall it? This is an email from Carvalho's private email account on a school computer? Hmm.
Carvalho denies having an affair with the Herald schools reporter but she does not deny it and simply "can't comment on it." Hmm.
Oh well, makes perfect sense to me. God I love this town.
BTW, Tania forget riding around Boston on a stupid Vespa, we want to hear from you.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
When I was young and foolish, some of us downtown lawyers would actually go eat on the Miami River. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was true -- you used to be able to get a fresh snapper sandwich at a reasonable price, from a real fish joint. Weird, right? (Believe me, Bijan's does not count.) Sometimes we'd even head over there for cocktails after work, and watch the bales of weed and coke get offloaded pretty much right there on the docks. Ahh, good times.
But those days are gone. So gather round kiddies, as ole' Uncle SFL spins yet another tale of screwed-up Miami bureaucracy (but don't worry that half-billion dollar stadium will go swimmingly):
Come on Santiago, don't leave us hanging, dude. Work your magic and that next fish sandwich is on me.
''It's very depressing,'' said Arva Moore Parks, a Miami historian who chairs the city's Planning Advisory Board and recalls accompanying her parents to buy fish at East Coast Fisheries in the 1940s.
``I hate to lose the building. The worst part of it is allowing an owner to let the building deteriorate like that. There has to be city responsibility. They didn't make the owners do the things that would have saved it.''
The building, 40 SW North River Dr., opened as Miller's Fish Market in 1926, a time when the river was the center of a thriving commercial fisheries industry. At one point, 11 fish houses stood on the banks of the river, but none was as architecturally distinctive as East Coast Fisheries, which boasts the Mediterranean Revival style emblematic of Miami's 1920s land boom, a city designation report says.
The Swartz family bought the building in 1933 for its wholesale seafood operations and renamed it East Coast Fisheries. It was converted into a restaurant in the 1970s.
Owner Peter Swartz, the founder's grandson, unsuccessfully fought city efforts to protect the building, saying it was too deteriorated to restore. He then sold it to a developer.
The city historic board approved the new owners' plan to renovate and expand the historic building for use as a restaurant and marketplace. But the property went into foreclosure and was acquired by Canyon Capital, a development and real estate firm.
In the meantime, the building sat vacant, windows gaping open, stripped of wiring and plumbing, a haven for drug users and the homeless, police say.
City officials say they tried for years to get the building's owners to secure it properly. The city's code enforcement director, Mariano Loret De Mola, said it has proven difficult: Trespassers have easily and repeatedly broken through chain-link fencing and pried open boards covering entrances and windows. The building's rear could not be fenced off because the back wall goes directly into the river, he said.
''I believe it is almost impossible to secure this building,'' Loret De Mola said in an interview.
At one point this year, fines against Canyon for allegedly failing to secure the building mounted to $150,000. But the city's Code Enforcement Board reduced the fine to $2,500 after Canyon agreed to board it up again and repair the fencing. However, Loret De Mola cited the owners again in July, saying access was open again.
Infuriated preservationists and historic-board members called the code enforcement board action ''a joke'' and ''outrageous'' when Loret De Mora asked for demolition permission in July. Loret De Mola noted he has no control over the independent board.
''Who would fix anything up if that happens? I found the whole thing here shocking,'' activist and tourism promoter George Neary told the preservation board. ``It's disgusting.''
The demolition request also flummoxed the property's current owners. Their attorneys said Canyon Capital has secured the building as well as possible, and had not intended to demolish for one overriding reason: The sliver of property is so narrow and oddly shaped that zoning rules would not accommodate new development.
But historic zoning regulations do allow restoration and expansion of the existing building. Canyon Capital's attorney, Santiago Echemendia, said the owners would be willing to reproduce the historic building as part of a larger redevelopment plan if the city would support necessary zoning variances.
''We are potentially adversely affected,'' Echemendia said.
The city's preservation officer, Ellen Uguccioni, said there was not a lot her office could do to salvage the building. Unlike Miami Beach, where the city can order owners to rebuild in cases of demolition by neglect, Miami's historic preservation office can only ask building officials to intervene when a historic structure is endangered. ''What happens is it can take so very long, by the time you get to the code enforcement board, it doesn't help us. There is no quick fix,'' Uguccioni said.
Building officials and the preservation office are now sharing computer files so Uguccioni can be alerted quickly if problems crop up in the future.
In the case of East Coast Fisheries, however, Uguccioni said she did not even know the city was fining the owners for violations, and a demolition permit was being pursued, until Loret De Mola went to the historic board.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
We always enjoy writing about Scott Salomon, but for those of you looking to refer him business a dedicated reader points out that he now has a new address:
The NBC 6 Consumer Investigative Unit investigated an attorney accused of taking more than $1 million from clients without providing services, and that lawyer was in jail Tuesday night.Scott Salomon was arrested and charged with organized fraud, a serious felony, NBC 6's Jeff Burnside reported.You can see his arrest record here.
Law enforcement sources told NBC 6 that in his initial arraignment on Wednesday morning Salomon is not likely to bond and that he is likely to remain in jail until his trial.
3d DCA Watch -- The One Where Judge Rothenberg Reveals The Secret to Prevailing on Summary Judgment in State Court
Shhh, don't tell anyone about this week's edition of 3d DCA Watch, because this is the one where you can learn -- finally -- how to win on summary judgment in state court. Yes, all you ham-and-eggers on Flagler Street, now you can WIN WIN WIN beyond your wildest gin-soaked dreams! And you big-firmers can even bill some CLE time today by reading our crappy little blog. (Go ahead, give yourself 7 hours -- no one counts that time anyway).
Ok, then, let's get into the nitty-gritty. It's somewhat technical, but luckily all you have to do is follow the steps laid out brilliantly by Judge Rothenberg in this opinion that I quote verbatim and in its entirety:
The plaintiff filed an amended complaint, seeking damages for the non-payment of goods referenced in four specific invoices. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, attaching, among other things, credit memos issued by the plaintiff and the deposition of the plaintiff’s president, Jorge Bergara. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, and thereafter entered final summary judgment in favor of the defendants.Everyone got that? Let's recap -- apparently you can prevail on summary judgment if "no genuine issue of material fact exists" and you are "entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Astonishing!
Viewing the record on appeal as we must, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff as the non-moving party, we affirm the trial court’s order entering final summary judgment as the defendants have conclusively demonstrated that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Volusia County v. Aberdeen at Ormond Beach, L.P., 760 So. 2d 126, 130 (Fla. 2000); Rodriguez v. City of Key West, 981 So. 2d 664, 665 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008).
Seriously, can someone tell me what the hail the justiciable issue was in this appeal? Just askin'.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Excuse me, I've really got to start reading things more closely.
It's not a "special purpose," it's apparently some kind of "public purpose":
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen ruled Tuesday that building a ballpark for the Florida Marlins serves a public purpose -- a significant victory for the team and local government in their quest to bring a new stadium to South Florida.Oh well, she still has to decide the community redevelopment dollars issue once the Florida Supreme Court rules. In the meantime our schools will continue to go to crap, our infrastructure and transportation system will continue to crumble, and our quality of life will continue to decline.
''The court is well aware that the building of the Marlins stadium is a contentious and emotional issue in Miami-Dade County,'' the judge wrote in the 41-page ruling.
'The court is also aware that the citizens of the county are passionately committed to their respective beliefs regarding the wisdom of building the stadium with public monies. Moreover, the court is well aware that more citizens may be opposed to the building of the stadium, even to retain the Marlins in Miami, than in favor of building the stadium,'' the judge noted.
``These considerations, however, may not sway this court. The job of this court is to examine the facts and apply those facts to the law.''
She said the law backs that stadiums serve a public purpose.
In other words -- play ball!
In the wake of the eminently reasonable ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that appears to acknowledge that some people just don't read so good, the WSJ revisits Judge Seitz' Lochner Era-esq ruling on condo developers saying whatever the hail they want as long as the contract says otherwise:
Hooray, we're ahead of the curve! Kent better get this right before the 11th, or a certain Magic City Harvard Lawyer will not be muy happy:
Last month, the U.S. District Court in Miami dismissed two dozen federal lawsuits in which buyers said they were misled by an advertising brochure promising an "Olympic style" swimming pool at Opera Tower, a high-rise condo building near downtown Miami.
Plaintiffs could not reasonably rely on the drawings or advertisements, Judge Patricia Seitz ruled. The contract clearly stated the pool was L-shaped and 2,530 square feet -- smaller than Olympic size, she wrote. The developers claimed that "Olympic style" didn't refer to the pool's size but to the fact that it would have lanes.
The decision was a big loss for consumer rights, says Miami Beach attorney Kent Harrison Robbins, who filed the lawsuits against Opera Tower. "It gives developers wide-ranging room to promise whatever they want, as long as they change it in the written contract," he says. "Honest developers will be outcompeted by dishonest ones." Mr. Robbins says he plans to appeal the decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Real-estate lawyers nationally are closely monitoring the Florida lawsuits, expecting a wave of similar claims across the country as more condominium projects are completed. "The market in Florida is two years ahead of other parts of the U.S., like California or the Sunbelt states, in both the heavy downturn in prices and the lawsuits following it," says attorney Robert M. Chasnow, a partner with Holland & Knight in Washington.
"We are going to see a number of cases where buyers are successful, primarily in areas where something substantial was altered in the project and those that were not delivered on time," says Jared H. Beck of Beck & Lee, a law firm in Miami. "The decisions represent just a tiny sliver of the universe of grounds for buyers' claims in the ongoing litigation war between buyers and developers.""A tiny sliver of the universe" -- a nice turn of phrase... if you're Carl Sagan. There are literally "billions and billions of grounds..."
I kid I kid -- good luck and godspeed, gentlemen.
Monday, September 8, 2008
What a surprise -- Big Firm associates get paid a lot and are still unhappy:
Start with the lack of knowledge that law students have about firms. Students can’t easily differentiate between prospective employers, so they rely too much on pay as an indicator of prestige. Competitive and clueless, students are “the most uneducated consumers of law firm life and what it really means to practice,” says a Simpson Thacher & Bartlett mid-level. (Like the other associates quoted in this story, this mid-level declined to be identified.)There'a a lot of truth to this. Partners are fighting for origination credit, billable hours, and collections. Associates are stuck doing grunt work often because opportunities for meaningful court time are slim and partners are eager to impress their clients. Rationalizations abound at every level to explain the status quo. What's left to fill the hurt inside but money? And when money doesn't satisfy then what?
Traditional recruiting practices, which usually involve only brief interviews with partners, do little to fill in the blanks.”
“When you interview with folks, almost everyone seems nice,” says an associate at Drinker Biddle & Reath, number 87 on the survey question measuring satisfaction with compensation. “You try to read stuff on vault.com, research the firms, but ultimately that doesn’t tell you a whole lot.” In this vacuum, quantifiable things, such as the size of bonuses, become an easy means for assessing a firm.
Add to that equation the frustrations and uncertainties of firm life. By the time law students become mid-levels, the work is often unfulfilling, the hours are long, and the firms still seem fungible. Bonuses or small differences in salary take on an outsize psychological importance, even if those differences represent a miniscule portion of overall earnings. “A lot of people have the feeling that firms offer comparable experiences, so if Akin hadn’t moved to the $160,000 pay scale, then people would just leave,” says a mid-level at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Slim prospects for equity partnership amplify the importance of compensation. “We’re like pro athletes,” says a Jenner & Block mid-level. “Only a few will make equity partner, and [most] will have a limited amount of time at a big firm.”
In that scenario, the growing paycheck becomes a substitute for an enduring career with a single firm.
It’s also become a stand-in for other, nontangible benefits, such as client contact or career development. Because partners are “working at the speed of light to feed the profitability of the firm,” says legal consultant Carolyn Wehmann, they are too busy to pay attention to associates. “So [partners] grit their teeth and pay them more,” she says.
Besides, improvements in associate training, development and mentoring are difficult to achieve. “It’s easier to give an across-the-board raise than [implement] some sort of positive management change,” Wehmann says. Mid-levels see that, too. “Don’t just throw money at us,” says a survey respondent from Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, which ranked 101st on satisfaction with compensation. “Train us, mentor us, help us become excellent attorneys.”
Friday, September 5, 2008
Wind, rain, riptides, impending massive hurricane -- it's perfect windsurfing weather yet again! And some of you want to move from this paradise?
So I came across this interesting article on why men cheat. It's not low self-esteem, poor interpersonal relationship skills, or even just plain lust; you can tell your spouses it's that pesky allele 334 gene:
[T]he findings by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm suggest that there could be some scientific roots to some men’s tendency to stray. Their study found that men who carry one or two copies of a gene variant called “allele 334” were twice as likely to have had marital or relationship woes in the past year than those who don’t have it.Leave it to those oversexed Swedes to spend all their time researching why men stray. They even got all scientific about it:
“The incidence of allele 334 was statistically linked to how strong a bond a man felt he had with his partner," lead researcher Hasse Walum said in a statement.
Allele 334 is found in four of 10 Swedish men, according to the researchers. It controls the production of vasopressin, a hormone found in mammals that had been linked to mate stability in prairie voles (a type of rodent) in earlier studies.David Duchovny, you can come out of rehab now, it's all in the genes baby.
Walum said men who had the variation received low scores on the bonding test and were not as likely to be married as men who lacked it. Furthermore, 15 percent of men without the allele reported serious marital discord in the past year, compared to 34 percent of men who had two copies of the allele.
And the happiness of partners of those with and without the variant was equally consistent.
“Women married to men who carry one or two copies of allele 334 were, on average, less satisfied with their relationship than women married to men who didn't carry this allele,” Walum said in a statement.
Me, I'll be at Tobacco Road later tonight, Gibson Martini straight up in one hand, test kit and swab in the other.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
It's an age-old story -- two firms meet at a bar convention, strike up a conversation, next thing you know they are planning a grand marriage and a honeymoon to the Cayman Islands.
Then come the details, you like suing health care insurers on behalf of health care providers, I like defending them....and of course there's that little question of money:
Keep your chin up, Akerman. There are other firms out there, better firms, ones that really respect you for who you are. Wolf Block, with their sweet talk about "merger synergies," what a cad! You're better than Wolf Block, I tell you, trust me you really are......
Alderman said Wolf Block has a large practice representing health-care providers as plaintiffs in lawsuits against health-care insurers, whom Akerman often represents in such cases.
“We both knowingly and strategically held off on resolving this conflict until after the executive committee votes and before the partnership votes,” he said. “We knew about it from the beginning but it ultimately proved too hard to resolve. There were conflicts with specific clients and issues.”
Alderman said Wolf Block’s health-care litigation practice generates more than $10 million in annual revenue and that Akerman’s practice in that area is also large. Had the economy been booming rather than struggling, he said, Wolf Block partners might have been more willing to risk sacrificing the practice and hope the revenue could be replaced through merger synergies.
“But in a tighter economy, there was less of an appetite for risk,” Alderman said.
So what are you doing later?
Mark Herron Thinks Florida Voters Are Highly Educated and Read Really Well; Florida Supreme Court Says "Huh"?
It's nice when judges actually attempt to understand the actions of the typical voter or consumer. In striking down the unfunded property tax swap amendment (Amendment 5) yesterday, we had this exchange before the Florida Supreme Court:
How about that? Now let's get some of our local judges to understand that merely having language buried somewhere in a document doesn't mean that everyone will understand it or agree to it.
Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper first ruled Amendment 5 unconstitutional because of that misleading implication. Wednesday, the high court agreed. Several justices reiterated his reasoning that the title and summary could confuse voters.
'The average person is going to read this and say, `OK, those property taxes are gone, but the state is going to put that same amount of money back into the school system -- I don't have anything to worry about,' '' said Chief Justice Peggy Quince. ``What will put them on notice . . . that this isn't a feature of it?''
Mark Herron, the attorney representing the Florida Association of Realtors and other proponents, argued that the amendment ''doesn't imply or infer'' that the money will be replaced beyond the first year.
Justice Charles Wells disagreed. ''Unfortunately, like I find with some warranties, it's not a lifetime warranty and I don't have any recourse,'' he said.
Are you listening, Judge Shepherd?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Yes kiddies it's that time of the week -- your favorite hump day activity -- so let us peer down south upon the wizened, robed coffee-stained brains that decide the governing law for us who merely toil in labor on Flagler Street, yes it is this week's edition of 3d DCA Watch:
It's not easy being Pete Loblack.
First you have to sue drug megagiant Pfizer over an alleged Lipitor-related liver failure at UM. That's hard enough. Then you have to deal with Skadden Arps, a fate in most cases way worse than death (for all sides, have you seen their bills?). On top of that Judge Thomas "Tam Tam" Wilson apparently doesn't like references to the Holocaust or the Nuremberg Code in your pleadings, or when you disregard his orders on how to plead your claim. Oh yeah, it didn't help that you failed to show up at a case management conference. What's a guy to do?
Well, you appeal an order dismissing your client's case and sanctioning you and your client $20k.
According to the 3d DCA, it's a win/loss, in that the Court reversed the dismissal but affirmed the lawyer sanction:
Here, defendants’ counsel candidly admitted that the actions meriting sanction were those of Burgess’ attorney and not Burgess herself. Defendants’ counsel also conceded that, but for all of the hyperbole in Burgess’ various complaints, Burgess had stated a cause of action sounding in negligence. Additionally, the prejudice suffered by Defendants was addressed in the monetary sanction imposed. Moreover, while we cannot fault the trial judge’s characterization of counsel’s conduct as “willful,” our review of the record indicates that this willfulness was the result of at least a splash of lack of ability rather than a wholly purposeful intention to disregard the court’s instructions.Respectfully Judge Wells, exactly what the hail is "at least a splash of lack of ability"? But wait -- first tell me what alternative phrases were considered and rejected. Oh the mind races with possibilities.
Here's dissenting Judge Ramirez's stab, who apparently thinks about things like "standard of review" and other odd concepts:
In my view, the only area where Mr. Loblack lacked “ability” was in complying with the trial court’s guidelines and direct orders.So I guess this is a compliment of sorts?
Anyways Pete, we wish you good luck below -- you know what they say, the seventh time's the charm.
You'll watch the RNC convention yesterday? I thought Conrad Bain was simply electrifying. Oh, it was that other old guy from Connecticut? Still a good speech.
Stay tuned later this morning for our world famous, frequently imitated but never duplicated 3d DCA Watch. Now I'm off to Court for an actual hearing, what do you think -- will the Judge have read the pleadings? Even have the file?
Now that's what I call the audacity of hope.