Articles Posted in Practicing Law

The Maryland Daily Record’s Blog reports that DLA Piper and Venable, the two Baltimore mega firms, have raised their associate starting salaries in Baltimore to $160,000.

I remember in 1995 when I was making $57,500 coming out of law school at a litigation defense firm in Baltimore that, at that time, was only a half notch below Piper and Venable in starting salary. Because other than being a law clerk, my next best paying job in life had been as a camp counselor making minimum wage, I thought I was a millionaire. (In a related story, I was still living at home.)

The Daily Record Blog asks if these young associates are worth 160K a year. The answer is clearly no. But three years from now, when they have quality experience and are billing out at $450 an hour while working approximately 28.7 hours a day, the answer becomes a resounding yes. It is not dissimilar to the Oakland Raiders signing JaMarcus Russell to a six-year, $68 million contract even when they did not think he would be an asset to them in the first year of his contract (they were right).

Caryn Tamber writes a fascinating article in the Maryland Daily Record today on lobbyist Bruce Bereano’s challenge of the suspension of his Maryland lobbying license.

The State Ethics Commission fined Mr. Bereano $5,000 and suspended him for 10 months as the result of Bereano’s violation of Maryland law, which does not allow lobbyists to work on a contingency fee basis. Mr. Bereano’s lawyer argued that his client cannot be fined and suspended, because he signed the agreement for a contingency fee before the sanctions law went into effect (although it is worth noting that at the time of the agreement, the contingency fee deal was a crime under Maryland law).

Mr. Bereano is no stranger to trouble with the law. He was convicted in 1994 of eight counts of federal mail fraud charges for essentially skimming money from clients to make campaign contributions to political candidates, although I don’t think his clients particularly objected.

The Prince George’s County Bar Association, the Administrative Offices of the Courts, and the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland are sponsoring a Pro Bono Legal Services Fair for Maryland lawyers on Friday, September 28, 2008, at the UMUC Inn and Conference Center by Marriott, 3501 University Blvd., East, Adelphi, MD 20783. For those of you who want to do good and still get paid, a CLE is being held in Room 1123, at 5:00-6:00 called “Just Because It’s Pro Bono Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Get Paid.” (Don’t you feel John Edwards might roll in the door for that topic?)

The keynote speaker for the pro bono fair is Robert M. Bell who, of course, is the Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Panel members are Jo Benson Fogel, Orlando Barnes, Barbara Jorgenson, Peter Holland, Philip Robinson. The moderator is Judge Cathy Hollenberg-Serrette.

The Anne Arundel County Bar Association’s annual crab feast is on Friday, September 28, 2007, 1:00 p.m. at Sandy Point State Park.

I probably will not go this year, but I have gone in previous years. It really is a nice, very well attended event at an absolutely beautiful site overlooking the water in Annapolis.

The Wall Street Journal blog has published convicted Enron executive Jeff Skilling 237 page appellate brief.

Like most Americans, I did not follow the case closely and have not carefully reviewed the evidence against him, but I assume he is guilty because a jury convicted him. (From a documentary I saw, I could convict him of first-degree arrogance in about 3.4 seconds.) Anyway, I am linking to this brief because, after reading about 10 pages, it is obvious Jeffrey Skilling picked lawyers who are fantastic writers. The best way for lawyers to become better writers is to read good legal writing.

You may wonder how these lawyers got around the requirement in the Federal Rules that a brief may contain only 14,000 words. His lawyers filed a motion asking the appeals court to accept a longer brief. One blog, Talk Left, said that: “Jeff Skilling is serving 24 years in prison. The trial lasted several months. If his lawyers say they need 237 pages to present his arguments, I say let them.” While I suspect the guy is guilty, I could not agree more.

The Illinois Trial Practice Weblog has a good post on what should be in the introduction when writing a motion. You can find it here. The gist of the post is that lawyers should not use the introduction to just introduce what is to come but should instead provide a clean executive summary of the motion. Most lawyers summarize in the introduction intuitively, but this lucid explanation is worth reading even if you do.

The new lawyers section of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association is having a happy hour in Bethesda at Black’s Bar and Kitchen on 7750 Woodmont Avenue. You do not need to be a new lawyer to attend, just a member of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association (on any lawyer, paralegal or law student interested in joining).

The Los Angeles Times reports yesterday on the debate in California about whether California lawyers should be required to tell their clients whether they carry malpractice insurance. Apparently, 20% of the state’s 150,000 lawyers do not have legal malpractice coverage. (Can you believe California has 150,000 lawyers? Exactly where do they hold their annual bar convention? I’m a lawyer and I find this disturbing. Let’s just move on….)

The question is not whether California lawyers are required to get legal malpractice insurance; instead, it is whether lawyers must disclose whether they have legal malpractice insurance. Opponents of the rule argue that because clients will probably not want a lawyer who discloses that they do not have legal malpractice insurance, this will effectively force all lawyers to buy legal malpractice insurance.

I’m sure this is true. But if virtually every client would prefer a lawyer with legal malpractice insurance, shouldn’t all lawyers have legal malpractice insurance?