October 07, 2011

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Professional reading -- notable blog posts Here are some notable blog and twitter posts I've collected: "Do it yourself tort reform: How the Supreme Court quietly killed the class action", by Professor David S. Schwartz. Key quote: "Concepcion is the culmination of twenty-five years of Supreme Court arbitration jurisprudence that has turned the FAA into a do-it-yourself tort reform statute. By adding an arbitration clause, a would-be defendant can do away with juries, with pesky discovery into its documents or employees’ testimony, and, now, with class actions." From Scotus blog. "Want efficiency? Look to the little things", by Toby Brown. In this post the author recognizes the aversion of lawyers and law firms to big changes, and therefore recommends that efficiency be pursued incrementally, in small steps. As an example, he points to software that will create a Table of Authorities for a brief, Best Authority. I'd be interested in buying Best Authority but for the pricing structure. However, this post reminded me of what a miracle it was, the first time I saw Full Authority create a table of authorities. Where's my old copy of Full Authority, and can I get it to run on Windows 7? Virginia: Civil Jury Trials Are On the Decline. " In 2000, there were 1,514 civil jury trials in Virginia. In 2009, that number declined 61 percent to only 592." This has also been true of the number of jury trials in federal courts. Lawyers' runner gets two years in prison. This was in Virginia. The Essential Cloud: Top...
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Trouble and how not to meet it: Landrum v. Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospitals As a young associate, I once read an ABA pamphlet on how to manage a law practice, and one of the recommendations was to have a regular meeting of all attorneys, at which one of the agenda items would always be "trouble and how to meet it." The idea is that usually you can see trouble coming at you from down the road, and that's precisely when an attorney needs the collective wisdom and experience of the firm. Trouble and how NOT to meet it is illustrated by the recent decision of the Virginia Supreme Court in Landrum v. Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospitals, Inc. Landrum was a Virginia medical malpractice case in which the plaintiff was represented by an out-of-state counsel from Missouri, with Virginia local counsel. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's exclusion of the plaintiff's expert witness designations for failure to have them signed by local counsel, and the summary judgment in favor of the defense based on the plaintiff's lack of expert testimony. The trouble was coming down the road for a couple months before the end. Plaintiff's intial effort at expert witness designations failed to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the experts were expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion. The defense moved to exclude the expert witnesses and for summary judgment. Plaintiff then attempted to cure the deficiency by providing the expert witnesses' reports, but failed to supplement the designation. There was a...

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