Blawg Review #168

    First of all, I want to thank the editors and everyone who submitted posts for today’s edition of the Blawg Review.  I was impressed, as I think you’ll be, by the range and variety of the posts, and hope you enjoy them.

    The number of this Blawg Review, 168, has no numerical significance I could find except that it’s the number of hours in a week.  But for this date, July 14, which is Bastille Day, let me start off with a post by Dan Hull at What About Clients, in which he explains the importance of the date in the Marquis de Sade’s start in politics

    Dan also offers a couple of posts on providing effective client service and battling legalese, which, as I learned recently in a seminar taught by Bryan Garner, identifies you as someone who really doesn’t know what he's talking about. 

    Speaking of legal writing, since I’m in Philadelphia right now, let me include a post from The Faculty Lounge entitled “Ben Franklin and the Art of Writing.”   According to HBO’s John Adams, even Thomas Jefferson's writing needed some editing from Ben Franklin, so there’s hope for all of us.  

    And for one more post on legal writing, Set in Style references Ross Guberman’s post on the eight writing errors made in the Supreme Court’s majority and dissenting opinions about the District of Columbia gun ban.  

    Enrico Schaefer, who blogs at The Greatest American Lawyer and Traverse Legal, has an excellent post about his firm’s new website.  I particularly like the combination of a traditional “brochure” with multiple blogs that focus on the firm’s practice areas.  The website’s home page includes the three most recent posts from each of the niche blogs.  Integration like this ultimately costs less than paying separately for a website and blog, and allows a firm, particularly a smaller one, to maximize its presence on the Internet.

    On a related issue, Joshua Fruchter at LawyerCasting discusses screen size resolution considerations in law firm website design, and includes a tool that lets you determine the screen size for which any website is optimized.  

    For other bloggers with more than one post or blog, let me recognize Jamie Spencer, who blogs at Austin DWI Lawyer and Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer.  He writes about a Texas state court ruling on the admissibility of a blood sample drawn by the police and suggests a simple way to avoid being in the position of having to challenge the admissibility of your own sample.

    Thanks to Eric Goldman at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog, the next time you hear about someone’s sex tape making its way onto the Internet, you’ll be able to answer your friends’ questions about the types of sex tapes that exist and how to avoid the legal entanglements that seem to entrap so many celebrities.

    Apple’s release of its 3G iPhone is discussed in David Lat’s Above The Law, which notes the phone’s relative popularity among law firm IT departments, and by Rob Hyndman, who describes Canadian cell phone provider Rogers’ limited data plan for iPhone subscribers. 

    David Giacalone at f/k/a writes about a story in The New York Times, entitled “Build a Wiffle Ball Field and Lawyers Will Come.”  It’s about, you guessed it, the unintended consequences of a few kids clearing out a field in order to have a place to play wiffle ball.  This quote from the story sums it up:

“It turns out that one kid’s field of dreams is an adult’s dangerous nuisance, liability nightmare, inappropriate usurpation of green space, unpermitted special use or drag on property values, and their Wiffle-ball Fenway has become the talk of Greenwich and a suburban Rorschach test about youthful summers past and present.” 

And before reading David’s post, I didn’t know there were so many examples of baseball haiku (which have been collected in a book).

    Sometimes you never know what will prompt a lawsuit.  For instance, translation, not known as a hotbed of litigation, is the subject of posts by two bloggers.  Language Log discusses the tort of negligent translation.  It seems that the plaintiff, a homosexual, claims that he has been damaged to the tune of $70 million by two translations of the Bible, which condemn homosexuality and violate his rights as a gay man.  The post’s author, Bill Poser, says that the plaintiff’s handwritten complaints are difficult to understand, but not as much, I bet, as the Greek and Latin versions of the Bible that the plaintiff is challenging.

    In Drug and Device Law, Beck/Hermann asks whether a plaintiff can require a foreign defendant to translate into English documents that, in the ordinary course of business, are kept in its home language.  The answer is no, as the cost is like any other litigation expense, and is to be borne by the party incurring it. 

    On a practice management topic, Allison Shields at the Legal Ease Blog writes about billing models and identifies five steps in a firm’s migration from hourly to value billing:

1.              Do some homework
2.              Find a new way to measure performance
3.              Be firm (stick to your guns)
4.              Get to know the business end of the practice
5.              Stop tracking time

    I think that as the demand for legal services decreases, at least for some specialties, firms that never would have considered alternatives to the billable hour model will become more responsive to their clients’ preferences. 

    Nancy E. Hudgins, who blogs at Civil Negotiation and Mediation, reminds us that sometimes the facts aren’t as important to a jury as the story that lets the jury understand the facts. 

    The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law discusses its amicus brief in Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., which involves the application of the state secrets privilege to a claim for damages resulting from extraordinary rendition.

    In my blog, I focus on business litigation and related issues, such as ERISA and employee benefit litigation, so here are some blogs that I follow. 

    David Rossmiller at Insurance Coverage Law Blog has written extensively about Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, the Mississippi plaintiff’s lawyer who went from being known as the brains behind the $250 billion tobacco settlement to the lawyer who was sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to bribe a state court judge for $40,000.  Check out David's “Scruggs Nation” posts.

    Stephen Rosenberg writes the Boston ERISA & Insurance Litigation Blog, and explains in a post from last week how his practice is divided into three areas, each of which consumes 50% of his time.

    I also recommend my friend, Roy Harmon, who blogs at Health Plan Law, and writes in this post about the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal of a decision that held that death benefits are not recoverable under ERISA because they are money damages and therefore impermissible. 

    Bob Coffield at Health Care Law Blog (and the person who suggested that I host Blawg Review), does an excellent job of writing about health care in our home state of West Virginia and beyond, and related issues such as privacy concerns about medical information and the use of technology in providing medical care.

    Once again, thanks to everyone who participated, and I hope these posts expand your view of the blawgosphere. 

    Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

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What About Clients? - July 16, 2008 1:42 AM
Charleston's Jeff Mehalic of West Virginia Business Litigation, and a citizen of America's best-kept energy secret, gave us a Bastille Day Blawg Review #168. Our kind of Blawg Review: to-the-point, packed with great links and well-written without being...
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Dan Hull - July 14, 2008 12:23 PM

Jeff: Very nicely done--and thanks for the mentions. We really like the emphasis on sane writing. Bryan Garner sounds like a jewel. And hope some day we can swap stories on ERISA employer withdrawal liability. Mine are all West Virginia stories, and a few star the the DC Circuit and/or the U.S. Supreme Court. Since 1985, we've worked in Charleston and Morgantown quite a bit.

Ashley Brandt - July 14, 2008 6:23 PM

Jeff,

Great job with the post. What exactly did Garner say in his seminar?

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