A colleague of mine, D. Andrew Byrne recently wrote an interesting article about the billable hour called “The Birth and Death of the Billable Hour – One Approach for Dealing with the New Reality” [PDF] and why its death may be near. When he first told me about the article, I could hardly wait to read it and now after reading it, I have to share it.
The article takes an interesting look at the origin of the billable hour and how one doctor’s idea of how to improve the quality of medicine is changing the way he practices. By creating a checklist, an idea he borrowed from pilots, Dr. Atul Gawande says that he’s dramatically improved the results obtained during surgery.
For example, by doing something as simple as introducing oneself before surgery, Dr. Gawande found that doctors made 35% less mistakes because doctors were more willing to speak up if a problem arose. While the task of creating a checklist may have seemed tedious, the results were undeniable – the checklist worked.
Applying this idea to the legal profession, my colleague makes a strong point that we need to spend more time upfront analyzing our cases before doing anything else which will allow us to better serve our clients. I personally have witnessed this idea in action and think it’s how we should all practice.
In fact, a client recently told my colleague that one of the reasons he recommended the firm was because of the way his case was handled from the beginning – a full analysis of the case and all related legal issues was thoughtfully prepared in advance of taking on his representation. This helped the client and put us in a tactical advantage throughout the litigation. By taking the time to analyze the case in the beginning and figuring out how to best serve the client’s interests and needs, we were able to achieve a great result and land another client! Now that’s a win/win.
Nuts About Peanuts – carespring
I for one am a peanut lover and what’s not to love – they are crunchy, salty, and just plain tasty. But not everyone feels the same about this nut. From school bans to airplane bans, peanuts have obtained a pretty bad reputation over the last few years.
Now, it appears that peanuts are receiving some much needed protection, at least for now from the Department of Transportation. In a story reported by CNN, the Department of Transportation (DOT) said that it will not take on the peanut issue because of a 12 -year-old law which blocks the agency from tampering with the peanut policy without more scientific study. Apparently, no such peer-reviewed study has been conducted on this issue.
The statement and the final ruling on the peanut issue, came after the DOT solicited comments last year from the public about a possible peanut ban on plans due to severe allergies suffered by some fliers. In response, over 2,100 comments were received.
So, at least for now, peanuts will continue to be a flight staple. Yum.
Civility Dead – carespring
Last week, United States District Court Judge, Eric F. Melgren, issued an Order on a motion for continuance [PDF] reminding us all to take a little time to remember our priorities.
The Order was issued after defense counsel sought a continuance due to his wife’s pregnancy and the birth of his child. The motion was opposed by plaintiffs’ counsel. In granting the motion, Judge Melgren points out that the priorities of life should not be confused with one’s day job.
Too often in our profession, we lose sight of the idea that we can zealously represent our clients while still treating our opposing counsel as a professional. I was taught as a young lawyer to be professional and courteous, which is something I have tried to do throughout my years of practice.
Professional courtesies should be given (assuming your client’s interests are not prejudiced) and they will be granted in return. I guess it’s the rule of karma and what goes around comes around and no one wants to be on the receiving end of bad karma.
A former District Court Judge once told me a story of how he had his baliff shackle two lawyers to the jury seats when they started arguing. He said they just began arguing back and forth with one another, not minding that he was even there. After some time, he got off the bench and told his baliff to shackle them to the jury seats. After an hour, he returned. Needless to say, the case settled.
Stories like these are good reminders to us all. While work is important, there should always be a work/life balance.
Aftermath of Drug Law Decision – carespring
Two weeks ago, I blogged about the July 27, 2011 federal court decision which deemed Florida’s Drug Law unconstitutional. In that decision, handed down by Judge Scriven of Orlando, Florida’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was called “draconian” as it does not require the state to prove that a defendant actually knew that the drug law was being broken.
Florida is the only state in America that does not include an “intent” requirement, meaning that a defendant can be convicted of a drug offense, even if he or she unknowingly possesses, transports, or delivers a controlled substance. In my earlier blog, I noted that Judge Scriven’s ruling could throw thousands of criminal cases into jeopardy. Well it certainly has caused quite the stir.
On August 17, 2011, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Milton Hirsch agreed with Judge Scriven’s ruling when he threw out 39 drug cases. Judge Hirsch acknowledged that the “overwhelming majority” of the 39 defendants “may have known perfectly well that their acts of possession or delivery were contrary to the law.” Nonetheless, he shot down the law, citing that it “reaches beyond those who willfully do wrong” and includes “within its wingspan those who meant no wrong.”
Despite the rulings of Judges Scriven and Hirsch, other Florida courts have ruled to the contrary in recent weeks, saying either that they disagreed with Judge Scriven’s opinion, or were not bound by it.
The office of the Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, has filed notices of appeal in the Scriven and Hirsch matters, citing that those decisions “unduly hinder prosecutors’ efforts to keep criminals off our streets.” Meanwhile, the floodgates have been opened to the nearly 94,000 defendants who have been convicted of drug crimes under Florida’s 2002 Drug Law.