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December 2007
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February 2008

The New York Legal News Round Up

Latest_news It's that time of the week--time for the round up of interesting New York legal news headlines from the past week:


Blabbing About Blawging Over Beer and Beef

I've been meaning to post about this gathering for some time, but with the holiday rush and a vacation immediately following the holidays, it just fell to the bottom of my to-do list. 

In late December a number of us "blawgers" (and friends) threw together an impromptu gathering in NYC.  We met for dinner and drinks at Keens Steakhouse.  A great time was had by all.  It was so nice to see everyone!  Hopefully we'll do it again soon.

Arnie Hertz of the Legal Sanity Blog stopped by for drinks and is unfortunately not pictured.

In the first two photos, from left to right: Scott Greenfield (Simple Justice), Lisa Solomon (The Billable Hour), Carolyn Elefant (author of Solo By Choice and blogger at My Shingle and Law.com's Legal Blog Watch), Eric Turkewitz (New York Personal Injury Law Blog), me (Sui Generis and Legal Antics) and David Leffler (Staring at Strangers).

In the third photo you'll find me, Lisa and Carolyn, in that order.

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Flashback to Law School

Lawsuit_2The Daily Record was not published yesterday due to the holiday, so tune in next Tuesday for the next installment of my Legal Currents column.

In the meantime, let's take a brief jaunt back to law school, shall we? 

Hey!  Come back here!  Don't walk away.  It'll be fun this time around.  I promise.

My thoughts were drawn to law school a few days ago as I sat in the airport during our layover in Atlanta. I came up with a most-excellent law school exam question while watching the seemingly chaotic interplay of activity amongst the luggage handlers, traffic controllers, and airplanes.  I commented to my husband that the multiple parties and entities engaged in these endeavors was mind boggling, and as I began to expound on the possibilities of complex litigation should an accident occur, my decidedly non-lawyer husband's eyes began to glaze over.

I was still pondering this issue the next day when I ran into a lawyer that I know while out and about on important business.  We engaged in a brief discussion and he seemed far more interested in this topic than my husband had been, however we were unable to engage in a lengthy analysis of the issues presented  since we were required to mediate repeated disputes amongst those in attendance.

But, dear readers, I knew that you would appreciate the opportunity to analyze the scenario that I dreamed up while awaiting our flight.  It's more than a bit Palsgraf-like, which makes it all the more fun!

The scenario began to take shape when I noticed a luggage handler driving a baggage trolley with a  wayward piece of unsecured luggage sitting on top of the car. 

I wondered what would happen if the luggage fell off and onto the runway that the trolley was traveling across just before a plane departed...

Imagine if you will--Airline Bankrupt's employee forgot to place the loose piece of luggage in the trolley.  That very same piece of luggage was not properly screened by TSA (just as most cargo is not yet screened) and thus a number of butane lighters enclosed therein are overlooked.

The luggage falls onto the runway as the trolley crosses it.  The plane waiting for clearance to take off receives it from the federally employed air traffic controllers and begins to taxi down the runway.  The plane runs over the luggage at speeds of 60 mph and careens off the runway.  The butane in the luggage explodes (don't ask me how that occurred--we won't know the answer until we hire an expert).

The explosion startles a passenger on the plane with pre-existing heart problems and causes him to go into cardiac arrest.  Another passenger, a physician, runs to his side and she begins to render assistance.  Unfortunately, nothing can be done to save him.

Simultaneously, one of only 3 federal Marshalls on duty that day just happens to be on this plane.  He leaps into action and tackles the first Muslim person that he sees, whips out his taser and tases the poor woman, who later dies as a result of her injuries.

The plane stops spinning and comes to rest on the side of the runway.  As local emergency response personnel arrive upon the scene and rush toward the plane, one of them trips on a large crack in the runway and breaks her leg.  The county-owned airport had previously been notified of this defect and had scheduled repairs a week down the road.

Meanwhile, the head pilot, a long-time alcoholic, stumbles off the plane with bloodshot, glassy, watery eyes and a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath, puts his arm around a particularly attractive female law enforcement officer and mumbles "Wha's happening, occifer?"

Discuss the liabilities amongst yourselves. 

And, if you happen to be a law professor, feel free to use this example on one of your exams.  I'm just that generous.


The New York Legal Blog Round Up

BlawgsI'm back from Florida and am enjoying the brisk, windy chill of my hometown once again. 

My advice: stay inside, stay warm and enjoy today's round up of interesting posts from my fellow New York blawgers:

Juz the Fax:

New York Attorney Malpractice Blog:

New York Legal Update:

New York Personal Injury Law Blog:

New York Public Personnel Law:

Second Circuit Sentencing Blog:

Wait a Second!:


Judicial selection, certifications and lies, oh my.

Checkmark Just a few quick New York highlights--direct from Florida.

Old news already, but important news:  the United States Supreme Court has upheld New York's judicial selection process.  More here from Simple Justice and New York Legal Update.

And, in Reddington v. Staten Island University Hospital, ___F.3d___(2d Cir. Dec. 14, 2007)the Second Circuit certified the following questions to the New York Court of Appeals:

(1)Does the institution of a time-barred claim pursuant to New York Labor Law § 740 simultaneously with a claim pursuant to New York Labor Law § 741 trigger section 740(7)’s waiver provision and thereby bar the section 741 claim, even if the section 740 claim is subsequently withdrawn?

(2) Does the definition of employee in New York Labor Law § 741 encompass an individual who does not render medical treatment, and under what circumstances?

Hat tip:  Adjunct Law Prof Blog.

Finally, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York criticized the CIA's handling of interrogation tapes. (NY Times) 


The New York Legal Blog Round Up

Blawgs It's the belated New York blawg round up of interesting posts from my fellow New York blawgers:

Juz the Fax
:

New York Attorney Malpractice Blog:

New York Legal Update:

No-Fault Paradise:

  • Prima Facie (New York Law Journal article discussing recent changes in prima facie standard for no-fault cases)

Second Opinions:

Wait a Second!:


The New York Legal News Round Up

Latest_news It's time for the weekly round up of interesting New York legal headlines:


Beyond These Four Walls

Drlogo11 I'm posting from sunny, albeit not exactly balmy, Florida.  The New York legal news round up and blog round up will follow later on this week.  In the meantime, enjoy this week's Legal Currents column, which is published in The Daily Record, is entitled "Beyond these four walls."  The article is set forth in full below and a pdf of the article can be found here.

My past Legal Currents articles can be accessed here.

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Beyond these four walls

“Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over.”

   — LOCUTUS OF BORG/JEAN-LUCPICARD, “STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, “THE     BEST OF EPISODE(1990).

Businesses exist to make money and, as we all know, time is money.

The more efficient and productive a business is, the more profitable it is.

The business of law is no different. In the absence of prof- its, a law practice will fail. Therefore, it is surprising that law offices tend to be extra- ordinarily inefficient, in large part because the lawyers run- ning them stubbornly resist change.

In general, legal employers have been steadfastly reluc- tant to change the way business “has always been done.” Technological advancements are shunned rather than embraced, as lawyers cling to the traditional workplace structure.

The end result of this staunch resistance to technological change is a lower profit margin. The failure to adapt to rapidly changing technology costs law practices money. Likewise, overhead decreases when legal employers are willing to take advantage of the time- and money-saving benefits offered by new technology.

One simple way for law offices to save money is to offer lawyers the option to work from home or virtual offices. This makes economic sense since it allows firms to reduce costs by decreasing the square footage of office space rented. A telecommuting lawyer is able to make better use of time that otherwise might be wasted during a commute to work, thus increasing productivity. Readily available advances in technology make such alternative work arrangements possi-ble, and profitable.

More often than not, attorneys communicate with other lawyers in their workplace over the telephone or via e-mail or other internal written communication. Each of these methods can be used just as easily to contact lawyers operating remotely. Likewise, if electronic copies are made of every important document, lawyers operating remotely can access them whenever necessary.

Some employers resist this practice based on the mistaken belief that time spent scanning documents could be better spent elsewhere. This assumption could not be further from the truth.

Fiandach & Fiandach, the law office with which I am of counsel, keeps electronic copies of nearly every document that comes into the office, which saves time and money.

When speaking with clients on the telephone, our extremely adept legal assistants have all information regarding a client’s case readily available at their fingertips. There’s no need to waste time tracking down a client’s file, which could be in a filing cabinet, with an attorney in court or with another legal assistant. Instead, every document is available right on the computer screen and questions are answered easily and quickly.

With a touch of a button, an electronic copy can be faxed instantly, e-mailed or sent to a copy machine — another huge time saver. If the paper copy of a document is misplaced, there is a backup electronic copy available — yet another time saver.

The practice also benefits lawyers like myself, who work remotely. With my iPhone, no matter where I am, I have instant access to the office. I can send and receive e-mails on my iPhone or laptop. I can receive faxes from the office directly in my e-mail using eFax (an online service) and can instantaneously view them on my iPhone.

No matter where I am, I can use my iPhone or laptop to perform legal research on Westlaw and send the results directly to co-workers, whether they’re in the office, on the road or on trial.

When technology is used intelligently and creatively, there are no losers — only winners. Think outside the box. Recreate your concept of a law office and take advantage of increasingly affordable technology.

“Face time” is an overrated, archaic concept, which results in unnecessary expenses. Law practices that embrace technology are able to save time and provide greater job flexibility, resulting in increased profits and happier, more pro- ductive employees.

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Food for thought:  the iPhone and its application to the law office, via Tom Goldstein of the SCOTUS blog:


Useful Web Resource

Checkmark Today, while at a board meeting for a public interest legal organization that I'm involved with, I learned of an interesting and potentially very useful web resource, LawHelp.org-New York.

Although this website is tailored toward the legal consumer, it contains a wealth of information for the New York legal practitioner with the added benefit that is all easily accessible in one place.

It provides basic information, forms and resources for a large number of legal topics, including employment law, immigration law, trusts and estates, tax law, education law, just to name a few.  It would be particularly helpful as a very basic starting point in an area of law with which you are unfamiliar.

It also provides information based upon your location, so you can easily look up contact information for courts near you.

Another nice feature is that certain areas of the site can be accessed in a large number of languages, should you have a client whose native language is not English.  There are a number pamphlets available that explain basic legal issues in a number of languages.

Again, although the website is targeted toward the lower income legal consumer, if you spend a few minutes exploring it, you may very well find some of the information to be useful in your day to day practice.