Proposed Ethics Opinion Covers Social Media Advice to Clients

by Jay Reeves

When it comes to social media and legal ethics, most of the talk centers around what lawyers can and cannot publish online. For instance, you shouldn’t disclose confidential client information in a Facebook post. Nor should you send rude and disparaging tweets about a judge who just ruled against you. But what about clients? Is their social media activity any of your business? Say you represent a client in civil litigation. Should you advise them not to publish potentially damaging information online? What if you fail to do so – is this a breach of your ethical responsibilities? And is it okay to advise clients to scrub their online sites of any evidence that might help the other side? A proposed ethics opinion from the NC State Bar tackles thos… Read More

How To Survive The Summer Heat

by Jay Reeves

Carolina summers can be brutal – especially on days when your job requires you to wear a uniform of choking neckwear, binding suits and cruel shoes. Even Casual Fridays can be challenging when you start sweating shortly after stepping from the shower. But presentation is important. We perform better when we look sharp and feel fresh. “Business attire means a jacket, shirt, and slacks or a skirt so there’s not a lot of room to wear fewer layers,” says Findlaw lifestyle writer Deanne Katz. “Instead, make sure every piece you wear is as light as possible.” Stick With Seersucker Here are some other tips – from fashionistas and business style-setters – on staying cool in the dog days: Go old school. “… Read More

Law Students: Your Secret Tool for Networking

by Camille Stell

LinkedIn is the tool that puts your resume in many potential employers’ hands, as well as serves as your constantly updating Rolodex. Law students, LinkedIn can be your secret tool for networking. Are you utilizing LinkedIn effectively? First, visit the LinkedIn Help Center. There you will find an array of helpful tips from their blog to frequently asked questions to suggestions for maximizing your profile. Next, include a photo with your profile. Get a professional headshot, use your school ID if it’s reasonably good or dress professionally and have a friend take your photo. Update your profile. While you are working on your profile, turnoff the tool that automatically emails updates. Once your profile is perfected, turn it back on. Use the Help … Read More

Failure to Disclose a Heath Problem Could Be Malpractice

by Jay Reeves

Say you have a serious – perhaps even life-threatening – medical condition. Do you have an ethical obligation to disclose it to your clients? Does that duty extend only to cases that have strict time deadlines? And if you keep your health a secret, might you be exposing yourself (and by extension, your law practice, partners and estate) to professional liability? These questions surfaced in the recent New York case of Cabrera v. Collazo. There, a lawyer was engaged to represent a client in a wrongful death case. Before the lawsuit was filed, the attorney was diagnosed with cancer and died. Eleven days later, the statute of limitations in the wrongful death claim lapsed. You can guess what happened next. That’s right, the client sued the att… Read More

Illinois Lawyer Suspended For Verbal Spew

by Jay Reeves

It is probably never a great idea to call your presiding judge a “scourge on the profession” or to refer to opposing counsel as a “susceptible boy-lawyer.” But an Illinois attorney must not have gotten the memo. As a result he’s been slapped with a one year suspension for ethical misconduct. His big problem appears to be a big mouth. Among the statements – made in pleadings, motions and open court – that reportedly landed him in hot water: The proceedings were a “sham” and the judge was “prejudicial.” The judge and opposing counsel were “predators.” The judge might be at a “low point” in his career and in need of “assistance with stressors in his life from the … Read More

Orientation about Orientation

by Jackie Houser

Welcome to law school! Here’s a cookie, some coffee, and a lot of information about your world for the next three years.  That’s the Reader’s Digest version of orientation at most law schools.     Orientation is designed to introduce you to the law school, its services, and the law school experience.  Your first lessons in orientation will be about the expectations of the law school and the daunting days that lie ahead.  So, what should you take away from law school orientation? First, let’s talk about your social life.  The understatement of orientation is this:  During law school—especially the first year—you will busy.  If, in addition to the rigors of being a 1L, you have a part-ti… Read More

Wade Smith's 10 Commandments of Storytelling

by Jay Reeves

 Lawyers are natural storytellers, and few are better at it than Wade Smith. As an attorney, he is no slouch either. For almost half a century he has been one of the state’s most acclaimed counselors. His cases – including the Jeffrey MacDonald murder trial and the Duke lacrosse saga – have been the subject of books and movies. He’s been honored as a Renaissance Lawyer for his “trustworthiness, respectful and courteous treatment of all people, enthusiasm for intellectual achievement and commitment to excellence in work and service to the profession and community.” The NCBA even created the Wade M. Smith Award to recognize lawyers who exemplify “the highest ide… Read More

Why Great Lawyers Sometimes Lose at Trial

by Jay Reeves

What does losing a trial say about you as a courtroom counsel? Not much, in the opinion of some of the best trial lawyers in the country. You win some and you lose some, they say. And the cases that end up going to trial are often problematic and difficult to win under any circumstances. “Today I lost at trial,” writes Steve Young, a Costa Mesa, CA attorney ranked among the nation’s Top 100 litigators. “While it bothers me, losing does not decimate me like it used to. I know I will win and that I will lose as long as I am trying cases. It is the way of the trial. Don’t think the loss is a loss. It is a learning experience and can produce great benefits, including future cash flow.” Don’t Take It Personally A fi… Read More

Oh, Those Pesky Nonrefundable Retainers

by Jay Reeves

You might think if your ex-client is in prison for life on a murder rap, you don’t have to worry about her suing you for malpractice – much less winning a multi-million dollar verdict against you. But that’s what happened to a lawyer in Georgia. The main characters in this story are: (a) Barbara Ann Roberts, an Alabama woman serving a life sentence for killing her ex-husband’s wife; (b) the lawyer who represented her in the case; and (c) the jury that awarded her $2 million in damages for legal malpractice. Let’s take this one from the top. Risky Business in Alabama Our saga begins in 2006, when Roberts was arrested on a non-capital charge in a murder case in Alabama. Fortunately, she already had an attorney at the time. Unfort… Read More

Should I Be Looking for Next Summer’s Job Now?

Some of you law students are finishing a 6-week internship; some of you are just starting one. Congratulations on finding summer employment – it’s a tough job market. So when should you start thinking about next summer’s employment opportunities? Now. I hear many of you sigh in frustration. “I just started my job.” “I just finished my job and want to enjoy my summer.” “I don’t have a job so this may be my last summer not working – I want to enjoy it.” I also love enjoying my summer. It’s called vacation and I take a week (or two) away from my job. However, you are a law student.  You have debt and financial responsibilities that are going to require that you get a job. I understand th… Read More

Fridays are all about Future Lawyers

In March of this year, Lawyers Mutual launched our virtual Student Resource Center (SRC). Lawyers Mutual SRC is housed on Twitter and provides a wealth of resources for law students past, present & future. Since its launch in the spring, we have received great feedback and are overwhelmed by the support from future lawyers and representatives from various law schools.  In conjunction with our SRC and the upcoming Fall semester we are excited about the addition of "SRC Fridays." Every Friday beginning with August 1st, A Byte of Prevention blog with feature posts for law students.  Why is LinkedIn important for law students? When should the job search begin? How do you conquer the Bar blues? Check out "SRC Fridays" for posts on a wi… Read More

Did you know? Child’s minority status does not toll statute of limitations under the Federal Tort Claims Act

by Mark Scruggs

The plaintiff in Arteaga v. United States of America, 711 F.3d 828 (2013) was the mother of a child who was injured at birth. The mother accused Erie Family Health Center, where the mother received prenatal care, of medical malpractice. Erie was a private health center that received grant money from the U.S. Public Health Service. As a result, Erie’s employees were deemed federal employees and thus the claim was governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit because the claim was not filed within the two-year statute of limitations for tort claims brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The court held the state statute that extended the statute of limitations for a suit on behalf of… Read More

Two Emails to Save Tons of Time

by Jay Reeves

I am a sucker for simplicity and shortcuts, so I wasted no time clicking on this headline: “How to Go From Working 60 Hours a Week to 40 By Sending Two Emails a Week!” Reduce my workweek by one-third? Simply by hitting the “send” button twice? Count me in. And here are the two magic e-missives, courtesy of Robbie Abed, business writer and author of Fire Me, I Beg You: Email #1: What you plan on getting done this week. Email #2: What you actually got done this week. The first thing you will notice is that both emails are meant for your boss or supervisor. This poses an obvious problem for solos and lawyers without managers: who gets the emails? The answer: send them to yourself. A trickier problem is how to actually con… Read More

The Difference Between Me, Myself and I

by Jay Reeves

There are a couple of ways to go when you get an email from a malpractice claims counsel that opens chillingly: “This concerns a matter of extreme urgency that is causing me great distress.” One, you can stop reading, delete the message, and pretend you never got it. Two, you can keep reading. I chose the second option. Partly I did so because I knew the sender. In fact he is a good friend. But mostly I kept reading because I am no longer in active practice, which means my days of causing anyone other than my spouse “great distress” are largely behind me. I figured whatever was bugging my buddy had nothing to do with me. Myself Is Reflexive, Like Looking In a Mirror Turns out I was right. My friend was in high dudgeon over the misus… Read More

How to Raise Your Happiness Baseline

by Jay Reeves

We tend to think of happiness as a commodity. We put a value on it. We try to maximize our odds of obtaining it. We attend seminars and read books (and blogposts) on how to get more of it. But maybe that approach – thinking of happiness as something that can be gained, lost or bartered for – is misguided. What if we are programmed at birth for a certain level of happiness? What if a large percentage of our capacity for happiness – say, half – is predetermined when we arrive on this mortal coil, and the other 50 percent depends on the choices we make after getting here? Seen this way, happiness is sort of like athletic ability. World Cup-caliber soccer skills are not something you can go out and buy at Wal-Mart. Genetics gives us a too… Read More