August 2017 Archives

BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS

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The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an emergency order allowing out-of-state lawyers to practice in the state temporarily to provide pro bono assistance to Hurricane Harvey victims.


The order (PDF) allows out-of-state lawyers in good standing to practice in Texas for six months in two situations, the Texas Bar Blog reports.

First, practice is allowed if the out-of-state lawyer is retained by a legal-aid or pro bono program or a bar association that provides services to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Lawyers who want to help should fill out a temporary registration form here.

Second, lawyers licensed in other jurisdictions are allowed to practice in Texas if they are displaced from their home jurisdiction due to Hurricane Harvey and they practice in Texas remotely as if located in their home jurisdiction.

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Out-of-state lawyers can help with the FEMA appeals, which are administrative in nature, Brown said. The group's website is here. Additional help for legal aid and volunteer lawyers responding to disaster is at the National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center.

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Traveling out of the country? Lawyers should consider using 'burner' devices

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BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS

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Lawyers should take precautions if they want to bring electronic devices with them, according to a program hosted Friday at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York City called "Prying Eyes: Think Confidential and Privileged Client Information Is Safe at the Border? Guess Again."

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Hinshaw & Culbertson partner Steven Puiszis, the firm's general counsel for privacy, security and compliance, described the precautions taken by lawyers at many large law firms. They typically require lawyers to take "burner" laptops and phones with them that don't contain client data. Lawyers can connect to the firm's network through a virtual private network.

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Break Yourself: How to Vacation as a Solo Attorney--Lawyerist.com

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By Jared Correia

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I work really hard, like most attorneys. But, I'm starting to feel like I'm burning myself out. I'm doing well financially, but I have to work all the time to do it. I'm comfortable working a lot. I just need a break sometimes. I haven't gone on a real vacation in three years. I'm starting to feel like it's impossible for a solo lawyer to take a vacation. Can you help?

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Read More...



BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS

A Philadelphia lawyer will receive a $30,000 settlement in a suit claiming her constitutional rights were violated when she was handcuffed and detained in a holding cell for refusing to answer police officers' questions during a traffic stop.






Undocumented Immigrants Can Practice Law in the U.S. - Greedy Associates

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By George Khoury, Esq


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California, New York, and Florida have all made national headlines for admitting undocumented immigrants. However, these states are not alone. Illinois, Nebraska, and Wyoming also permit undocumented immigrants to be admitted to their state bars.

While there have only been a few reported instances of an undocumented immigrant seeking admission to any state's bar, this is expected to increase in the coming years as a result of DACA. Based upon when it was passed, and the age of the individuals it covers, there could a small wave of undocumented immigrant J.D.s seeking admission to bars across the country.

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Read more...



Top 5 FAQs on Smart Contracts and Legal AI Services - Technologist

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Legal software keeps getting better and better. While the fear of being replaced by an artificially intelligent robot looms more closely for some lawyers than others, for the rest of us, the technological advances just make practicing law even better, and easier.

If you've been thinking about using smart contracts, or some other type of legal AI software or service, you probably have a few questions. Below you'll find five of the top frequently asked questions on smart contracts and legal AI software.


Read more....be certain to "click" on the topic headings for much more detail...

Things Lawyers Think Are Tax Deductible That Are Not--Lawyerist.com

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By Steven Chung

When it comes to deducting business expenses from taxable income, the general rule is that the expense is deductible if it is ordinary and necessary in the regular course of business. Because this definition is broad, most business expenses are deductible as a matter of common sense. However, there are some statutory exceptions that many people do not know about.


Don't Take the Bait, Step 6: Watch Out for the W-2 Email Scam

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The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry urge tax professionals and businesses to beware of a recent increase in email scams targeting employee Forms W-2.

The W-2 scam - called a business email compromise or BEC - is one of the most dangerous phishing email schemes trending nationwide from a tax administration perspective. The IRS saw a sharp increase in the number of incidents and victims during the 2017 filing season


The Apple Watch And Women Lawyers: The Perfect Match | Above the Law

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By 

It's been a little over two years now since the Apple Watch was released. Since then, I've noticed it gradually appear on more and more people's wrists. So it wasn't all that surprising when I read last week that since launching in 2015, more than 30 million Apple Watches have been shipped. That's a lot of Watches -- no wonder I'm seeing so many Watches "in the wild."

Gadget geek that I am, I've been a fan of the Apple Watch since it was released in 2015. After owning it for a few days, I was already appreciating the many benefits it offered. Interestingly, one of my favorite aspects of owning the Watch was that it helped to untether me from my phone, which in some ways seems counterintuitive. After all, how can adding another gadget to one's electronic arsenal somehow reduce reliance on tech? And yet, that's what I discovered after owning the Watch for just one week.

I also noticed that many of the Watch's features would prove to be particularly useful to women attorneys....

Read entire article...

NYSBA.org Website Downtime

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CLE On-Demand, Communities and Event Registration will be impacted
NYSBA.org will be undergoing maintenance for an infrastructure upgrade over the weekend beginning Friday August 18th at 4:00 PM - Monday, August 21st at 9:00 AM.
 
The online store will be inaccessible during this time and you will be unable to register for events or make purchases. Online communities will only be accessible via email over the weekend, messages may be delayed.
 
If you wish to download any CLE On-Demand programs, E-Books, or Downloadable Forms for use over the weekend please follow the steps here.
 
We plan to have the website and all functionality restored by 9:00 AM on Monday, August 21st.
 
We appreciate your patience as we upgrade our systems.

Save

Technical Difficulties: What to Do When Gadgets Fail in Court - Technologist

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There's no question to it, using technological gadgets during a trial, or even just a hearing or scheduling conference, has made the lawyer's life increasingly easier. Using laptops, smartphones, tablets, digital projectors, and other devices can make a big difference, not just in saving time, but also in keeping organized and making presentations to the court. Electronics, which were once banned, are now becoming commonplace.

But what do you do if a device fails? Or worse, fails mid-presentation? Below, you'll find some tips on what to do, and what not to do.

Read more...


Free Law Project--PACER OPINIONS

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At Free Law Project, we have gathered millions of court documents over the years, but it's with distinct pride that we announce that we have now completed our biggest crawl ever. After nearly a year of work, and with support from the U.S. Department of Labor and Georgia State University, we have collected every free written order and opinion that is available in PACER. To accomplish this we used PACER's "Written Opinion Report," which provides many opinions for free.

This collection contains approximately 3.4 million orders and opinions from approximately 1.5 million federal district and bankruptcy court cases dating back to 1960. More than four hundred thousand of these documents were scanned and required OCR, amounting to nearly two million pages of text extraction that we completed for this project.

All of the documents amassed are available for search in the RECAP Archive of PACER documents and via our APIs. New opinions will be downloaded every night to keep the collection up to date.

By Philip Zelikow-- White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He has practiced law and served in various government positions, including as the executive director of the 9/11 Commission.

The Charlottesville tragedy came close to home for me because I teach at the University of Virginia and because it signaled the reappearance of a threat I had encountered before: the rise of well-armed private militia groups.  For those close to the action, including the law enforcement personnel on duty, hardly any aspect of the Charlottesville confrontation was more menacing than the appearance of organized, often uniformed, private bands of men in military getups, openly brandishing assault rifles and other long guns.

This is an ominous development, but it is not a new one. And it can be--and has been--countered with legal action. I took part in that work.

Read more...





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Starting August 9, qualified customers can get two lines of T-Mobile ONE --***-- for just $60, taxes and fees included, with Autopay. And that comes with unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data along with *** T-Mobile ONE benefits***.

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With T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55+, it's just $50 for the first line of T-Mobile ONE and $10 for your second line with unlimited everything after $5 per line Autopay discount. Taxes & fees included.***
 
And, T-Mobile ONE includes ***
  • Simple Global: unlimited text and data roaming and low flat-rate calling in 140+ countries and destinations
  • Mobile Without Borders: talk, text and surf in Mexico and Canada ***
  • Gogo Inflight: get unlimited texting all flight long and 1 free hour of smartphone Wi-Fi on all Gogo-equipped domestic flights
  • DIGITS: use your T-Mobile number on compatible phones, tablets and PCs, and use multiple numbers on one device
  • Mobile Hotspot: connect all your devices to the internet with included tethering data
  • Un-contract: only you have the power to change the price you pay
  • Carrier Freedom: T-Mobile helps cover your switching costs
  • T-Mobile Tuesdays: get thanked with free stuff every week just for being a customer

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To get all this Un-carrier goodness and more, starting August 9, new customers age 55 and older can simply stop by your local T-Mobile store to sign up (we're serious about checking those IDs*). Current eligible customers can get T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55+ by calling 1.800.TMOBILE, going to  https://www.t-mobile.comor visiting a local retail store.



At its annual meeting in New York Saturday, the American Bar Association announced the launch of VetLex.org, a website, developed in partnership with the law firm Jones Day, that matches veterans in need of pro bono legal services with attorneys willing to provide such services.

For now, the new site is only accepting registrations from attorneys, law firms and legal organizations interesting in providing services. By Veterans Day, the site will open on a pilot basis in a limited number of cities and states to accept veterans' cases. The site will become fully operational nationally in 2018, the ABA's announcement said.

Read entire article...




BY 

Heather Heyer, killed Saturday while protesting against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., was an "empathetic" worker with a dry sense of humor, according to an attorney for whom she worked.

Heyer, 32, died after a man whom police identified as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, drove his car into a group of counter-protesters following the "Unite the Right" event. Fields faces a second degree murder charge and other charges.

Heyer had worked as a legal assistant since July 2012 at Miller Law Group, a three-attorney firm in Charlottesville focused on consumer bankruptcy, real estate and estate planning.

Read entire report...



When Email Exchanges Become Binding Contracts | New York Law Journal

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Adam Leitman Bailey and John M. Desiderio

In Stonehill Capital Management v. Bank of the West , 28 NY3d 439 (2016), the New York Court of Appeals held that an agreement to sell a distressed loan, in the auction loan trading market, was enforceable without the execution of a formal written contract. While Stonehill may simply reflect the court's pragmatic acknowledgement of the trading practices that prevail in fast-paced loan trading, there has been concern expressed by some real estate attorneys that the decision may adversely impact longstanding practices in the negotiation of real estate contracts. The authors of this article do not share that concern, but we do believe that the decision does highlight points that real estate attorneys should consider when advising their clients. This article discusses when emails will be deemed a real estate contract and how to prevent or create such a binding contract.



Transgender Service Members Sue Trump Over Military Ban Tweets - CourtSide

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Today five transgender members of the U.S. military sued Trump, claiming the tweets violate the due process and equal protection rights of transgender service members, and asking for an injunction against the ban. You can read the full lawsuit below.

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Jane Does v Donald Trump by FindLaw on Scribd

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Read entire article...

Related articles

Stephen Colbert compares Trump's military history with transgender soldiers who serve (mashable.com)

NYSBA | Ethics Opinions 1131 & 1132

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Two new ethics opinions
Sharon Stern Gerstman
Today, our Professional Ethics Committee issued two opinions concerning whether lawyers may ethically participate in electronic marketing services. 
 
The first one is in response to an inquiry from a lawyer on whether he could participate in Avvo Legal Services, which would require the payment of a "marketing fee."  The opinion finds that a lawyer who pays Avvo a marketing fee is making an improper payment for a recommendation in violation of Rule 7.2(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  Having made this conclusion, the Committee did not address other bases for finding the payment improper or any ethical issues related to Avvo beyond the scope of the inquiry. It noted that "The questions we have addressed have generated vigorous debate both within and outside the legal profession." It said that "at this point we conclude that, under Avvo's current structure, lawyers may not pay Avvo's marketing fee for participating in Avvo Legal Services."  Thus, the opinion clarifies a question that has previously been unanswered in New York. The opinion is Number 1132, and can accessed atNYSBA.org/EthicsOpinion1132.
 
The second opinion outlines how a service like Avvo's could be in compliance with New York's Rules of Professional Conduct. It is intended to guide lawyers who wish to use these types of services in the future. The Committee, noting the variation in the structure of many web based services, says in the opinion that it "does not attempt to address every factual permutation that may exist." Rather, it explains how such a service can operate within the Rules and examines the issues that a lawyer using a service needs to consider. The opinion is Number 1131, and can be accessed at NYSBA.org/EthicsOpinion1131.
 
Sincerely, 
Sharon Stern Gerstman
Sharon Stern Gerstman 
President, New York State Bar Association

By BETH SCHWARTZAPFEL--NYTIMES

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For decades, legislation to require prosecutors to turn over evidence earlier has run into stiff opposition from New York's district attorneys, who present a powerful counterargument: the safety of witnesses. More than a dozen such bills have failed in the past quarter-century.

Now, the politics show signs of shifting, and a renewed effort is underway to push the Legislature to overhaul state discovery rules, following the example of traditionally more conservative states such as North Carolina and Texas.

This year, the New York State Bar Association for the first time is throwing its weight behind a new Assembly bill requiring prosecutors to automatically turn over police reports, witness names and statements, and grand jury testimony early in a case. Their endeavor is backed by the Legal Aid Society and the Innocence Project, a nonprofit that helps exonerate people who have been wrongly convicted, although it faces a difficult road. There is no companion bill in the Senate, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has not embraced the idea.

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Read entire article...




The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals to be alert to a new phishing email scam impersonating tax software providers and attempting to steal usernames and passwords.


Learn more about the latest scam...




BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS--ABA Journal

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Lawyers should take reasonable measures to avoid disclosure of client data in the event U.S. border agents search electronic devices, according to an ethics opinion by the New York City Bar. And if confidential or privileged material is disclosed, lawyers will have to notify affected clients.


The reasonable precautions that should be taken in advance will vary based on factors such as the sensitivity of the information, the likelihood of disclosure, and the cost and difficulty of implementing safeguards, the July 25 opinion says. At the border, lawyers should take reasonable measures when an agent seeks to search a device with confidential information, including making an attempt to dissuade the agent, the opinion says.

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Read more...


Snarky, profane ACLU brief supports John Oliver against coal company CEO

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BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS--ABA Journal

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The American Civil Liberties Union has a message for Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray: "You can't sue people for being mean to you, Bob."


The West Virginia ACLU filed an amicus brief in a defamation suit Murray filed against John Oliver for his June segment on the coal industry and its treatment of workers in a monologue on his HBO program, Last Week TonightVanity Fair calls the brief "hilarious," while LawNewz calls it the "snarkiest legal brief ever." Slate and the Hollywood Reporteralso have stories.

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Read more...




Government Lawyers Retiring en Masse

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By William Vogeler, Esq--FindLaw--Greedy Associates

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Nearly half of government lawyers can retire in the next two years, and the rest are already getting that sinking feeling.

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Thomson Reuters, surveying 238 government attorneys, says the lawyers are worried about the exodus of baby-boomers who are retiring. One third of the federal workforce is eligible to retire this year, and about half of state and local government employees will be eligible by 2019.

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Read more...




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