Thinking Like a Reporter to Promote Your Legal Case

Promoting a legal case requires a different set of skills and tactics compared to defending a client in the court of public opinion, writes Bruce Vincent of Muse Communications. His blog post focuses on cases that lawyers and their clients want reported, rather than those that should remain below the media’s radar.

First, he advises, ask: “Is my case media-friendly?”

“Being honest with yourself and your client on the front end is crucial. No one wants to waste time or money promoting a story that honestly has little chance of generating positive coverage,” Vincent explains.

He also gives advice on thinking like a reporter and acting like a news producer.

Read the article.




Download: Top E-Discovery Case Law Rulings from 2018

Exterro has published “Top 10 E-Discovery Case Law Rulings of 2018” and made the report available on its website for downloading at no charge.

The white paper provides a quick recap of the most important and influential e-discovery case law rulings from 2018. After analyzing metrics from Exterro’s online case law library, the company compiled the 10 most popular case law rulings from this past year.

The report provides:

  • The 10 most popular case law rulings from 2018 in Exterro’s Simplified E-Discovery Case Law Library with overviews, rulings, and key takeaways
  • Expert opinions from leading e-discovery attorneys and resources to help prevent e-discovery missteps and sanctions
  • Analysis from Hon. Andrew Peck, US Magistrate Judge, S.D.N.Y. (Ret.) and Senior Counsel, DLA Piper

Download the report.




National Law Journal Names Chrysta Castañeda to 2018 Elite Trial Lawyers List

Chrysta Castañeda has been awarded The National Law Journal’s Elite Trial Lawyers Award for 2018.

The Castañeda Firm, based in Dallas, represents litigation clients in the energy industry.

“One of Ms. Castañeda’s most notable recent victories was a $145 million verdict on behalf of T. Boone Pickens and Mesa Petroleum, which was recognized as one of the largest in the nation in 2016 by NLJ and one of the largest in Texas by Texas Lawyer,” the firm said in a release.

Castañeda served as lead trial counsel for Pickens’ company in the long-running dispute, which resulted in a five-week trial in Pecos, Texas.

Read details of the award.





Cash ‘Sandwiches’: Charges Detail ‘Brazen’ Fraud by Bloomberg Executives

Bribe - moneyIndictments unsealed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court described a wide-ranging scheme involving three companies to steal at least $15 million from Bloomberg L.P., the giant financial information and media company, through bribes, kickbacks and bid rigging.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance described it as a “brazen” scheme lasting more than a decade.

The New York Times reports that the district attorney and state police said the case involves possible fraud, theft and bribery charges involving senior New York executives in Bloomberg’s global construction and facilities department.

Times reporter Charles V. Bagli explains how — according to investigators — contractors and executives exchanged texts that used code words to coordinate the scheme:

“Among the conspirators, ‘sandwich’ was code for bribes or kickbacks, prosecutors said. The contractor wanted to know if the executive, Vito Nigro of Turner Construction, was satisfied with the thick envelope stuffed with cash that had been delivered to his office the prior day, according to the indictment.”

Read the NY Times article.





Incoming New York AG Plans Wide-Ranging Investigations of Trump and Family


Letitia James
Image by Thomas Good

NBC News is reporting that New York Attorney Gen.-elect plans to launch sweeping investigations into President Donald Trump, his family and “anyone” in his circle who may have violated the law once she settles into her new job next month.

“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” James, a Democrat, told NBC News in her first extensive interview since she was elected last month.

NBC reporter writes that James campaigned on passing a bill to change New York’s double jeopardy laws with an eye on possible pardons coming out of the White House. That change would allow her to pursue state charges against anyone the president were to pardon over federal charges or convictions and whose alleged crimes took place in the state.

Read the NBC News article.



Court Warns: Disbarment for Anonymous Online Posts is Lesson for Other Lawyers

A former federal prosecutor has been disbarred for posting anonymous online comments about cases being handled by himself or by his office, according to reports from the ABA Journal and the Legal Profession Blog.

The Louisiana Supreme Court ordered the disbarment of Sal Perricone, finding he had violated ethics rules because his “caustic, extrajudicial comments about pending cases strikes at the heart of the neutral “dispassionate control which is the foundation of our system.”

“Perricone had posted more than 2,600 comments on, the website of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, between November 2007 and March 2012. Between 100 and 200 comments related to matters being prosecuted by Perricone’s office,” according to Journal reporter Debra Cassens Weiss.

Read the ABA Journal article.



Study Finds Top Law Firms’ Male Partners Make 53% More Than Female Partners

The difference in average compensation for male and female partners at top U.S. law firms amounts to a 53 percent pay gap, according to a Major, Lindsey & Africa survey.

The ABA Journal summarizes the findings:

Average compensation for male partners responding to the survey was $959,000, which is 53 percent more money than the average of $627,000 paid to female partners, according to the partner compensation survey from Major, Lindsey & Africa. Average compensation for all partners was $885,000.

Most male partners don’t perceive a problem with pay differences, according the new survey.

Read the ABA Journal article.



Two High-Profile Law Firms File Class Action Blaming Utility Company for Deadly Camp Fire

Two law firms known for their class action practices have filed a new lawsuit that blames Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for the November fire that killed at least 88 people in Northern California and destroyed the town of Paradise, reports the ABA Journal.

The Edelson law firm and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein filed the suit in state court in San Francisco on behalf of seven named plaintiffs. It is among several suits that accuse PG&E of negligently maintaining its equipment, writes reporter Debra Cassens Weiss.

The suit alleges negligence, inverse condemnation, trespass, private nuisance, premises liability, negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, violations of the California Public Utilities Code, and violations of the California Health & Safety Code, according to the Journal report.

Read the ABA Journal article.



Arbitrators’ Award Boosts Asbestos Settlement to $178.5 Million for Workers

More than 2,000 refinery and chemical workers and their families in Southeast Texas will be awarded another $140 million for asbestos exposure thanks to an arbitration award and settlement of a nearly 30-year-old legal case, according to a release from one of the firms involved, Provost Umphrey, L.L.P.

The award, from a three-judge arbitration panel, comes in addition to a previously agreed-upon $38 million settlement in the case, Cimino v. Raymark Industries, which began in 1990. Altogether, a bankruptcy trust will pay $178 million to resolve the claims of the workers and their families.

The panel’s decision brings an end to one of the longest-running civil litigations in history, according to the release. The 2,288 plaintiffs were originally diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma, between 1985 and 1987. When the cases were tried as a class action in 1990, the plaintiffs prevailed and the court entered judgments totaling more than $1.3 billion.

But after 10 years of motions, transfers and appeals, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found against the plaintiffs, reversed the judgments and sent the cases back to the trial court. The remaining defendant, Pittsburgh Corning Corporation (PCC), subsequently filed for bankruptcy and the Cimino plaintiffs were forced to wait another 16 years before having the opportunity to file bankruptcy claims and litigate their right to compensation from the PCC Asbestos Trust.

Between 1989-1990, the Cimino litigation involved:

2,354 depositions
1,400 independent medical exams
133 days of trial
271 expert witnesses
292 fact witnesses
6,176 exhibits
373 court orders
58 lawyers

Ultimately, the case produced four published opinions.

“While we are proud of successfully resolving this historic litigation, it is devastating to think that PCC’s unwillingness to treat our clients fairly means less than 3 percent of the original asbestos plaintiffs are alive today to receive this compensation,” said Bryan Blevins of Beaumont-based Provost Umphrey, L.L.P., who represented the firm’s clients in the case. “But what matters is they and their families are going to receive it, finally. That says something about their desire to see that justice was done.”

Representing the plaintiffs with Blevins were Glen Morgan of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn L.L.P. and Joseph Rice of Motley Rice, LLC.

Arguing before the arbitration panel were Blevins, Rice and New York University Law Professor Arthur Miller.



‘Retaliatory Amendment’ of an LLC Operating Agreement

Like all contracts, operating agreements — which are celebrated for allowing business partners to freely define their relationship by contract — can be amended and modified, according to a post in The LLC Jungle.

Author Kevin Brodehl discusses a recent opinion from the Supreme Court of New York that illustrates how the process of amending an LLC’s operating agreement can sometimes be used to gain the upper hand in a dispute between members.

The case involves a majority of members amending the operating agreement to remove the manager and escalate capital calls.

Read the article.



China Employment Contract FAQs

ChinaThe end of the year brings an onslaught of China Employer Audits, and with those audits comes an onslaught of China employment law questions, writes Grace Yang in the Harris Bricken China Law Blog.

She discusses some of the most commonly asked questions on China employment contracts and provides short answers to each of them.

The issues include using an English version of contracts, contract templates provided by Chinese labor authorities, termination of signed China employment contracts, open-term contracts, offer letters, and the need to review contract templates.

Read the article.



Contract ‘Busts’: Trying to Decipher Provisions That Literally Make No Sense

In an ABA Journal column, Bryan Garner explores the curiosity of “busts”—the prevalence of contractual provisions, sometimes perpetuated in deal after deal, that make no literal sense at all.

“That they exist at all is something of a marvel. After all, you’d think that transactional lawyers would adopt a protocol of reading and rereading each contract that goes out the door,” he writes. “Given that critical thinking and close reading are prized habits for lawyers, contradictory or outright nonsensical provisions should be exceedingly rare. Alas, they’re not.”

Garner discusses the dangers of flawed forms and word swaps, such as mixing up “lessor” and “lessee.”

Read the article.



Supply Chain News: Getting Outsourcing Contracts Right

When contracting with outsourcing firms, there is often a lot of dissatisfaction with the outcomes, says Kate Vitasek, a consultant and University of Tennessee faculty member. And that is because companies don’t get the contracting part correct.

She is quoted in a report in the Supply Chain Digest.

Vitasek says she and other researchers at the University of Tennessee have uncovered a better, more user-friendly way of getting to a sound sourcing agreement,” according to the report. “That insight came after studying some of the most successful outsourcing agreements from such companies as Procter & Gamble, Microsoft and McDonald’s, in research funded by the US Air Force that lasted almost a decade.”

The article lists five rules for successful outsourcing contracts.

Read the article.




Winston Announces 21 Newly Elected Partners

Winston & Strawn announced that 21 attorneys have been elected to partner. Spanning five practice areas and nine offices, the following attorneys were promoted:

• Scott Ahmad (Chicago) is a litigator and trial attorney who devotes a significant part of his practice to defending companies in the medical device/pharmaceutical, food, dietary supplement, and technology industries.

• Brian Bailey (Charlotte) represents lending institutions in connection with loans to finance retail, hotel, office, condominium, and multifamily properties.

• Nolan Bolduc (Chicago) has a wide range of experience in corporate finance matters, including corporate lending, structured finance, and debt capital markets transactions.

• Ilya Bubel (New York) focuses his practice on M&A and other complex business transactions on behalf of private equity sponsors and other financial investors, as well as public and private companies across various industries.

• Katrina Eash (Dallas) is a trial lawyer who concentrates her practice in complex commercial and intellectual property litigation. She also has experience in high-risk employment litigation.

• Christine Kolosov (Los Angeles) concentrates her practice in the development, financing, and sales of renewable energy projects and in the representation of water utilities and other companies in regulatory proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission.

• Maria Kostytska (Paris) is an international arbitrator and litigator who regularly serves as lead counsel to sovereign states, private companies, and individuals across a variety of industrial sectors.

• Rex Mann (Dallas) is a trial lawyer who focuses his practice on complex civil litigation concerning commercial and intellectual property matters. He often works with companies in the technology sector or matters involving complex technology, as he adds additional value through his background in engineering and understanding of the technical issues in the matters.

• Shannon Murphy (Chicago) is a member of the firm’s White Collar, Regulatory Defense, and Investigations group as well as the firm’s Global Privacy and Data Security Task Force and focuses her practice on internal investigations, data protection counseling, and complex litigation, particularly matters involving potential criminal liability or trade secret issues.

• Alex Niebruegge (Houston) concentrates his practice on energy sector transactions, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and other corporate matters.

• Brian Nisbet (Chicago) focuses his practice on patent litigation, in both the pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries, complex commercial litigation, and class action defense in cases alleging design defect and consumer fraud.

• Jason Parker (London) is a project development attorney advising clients on energy and infrastructure projects that are large-scale, complex, and highly technical.

• Conor Reidy (Chicago) concentrates his practice on complex commercial litigation, antitrust merger review, and antitrust counseling.

• Eimeric Reig-Plessis (San Francisco) is a patent litigator with significant experience in Hatch-Waxman litigation, Federal Circuit appeals, and inter partes reviews.

• Justin Reinus (Dallas and Los Angeles) advises on initial public offerings and other equity offerings, high yield and investment-grade debt offerings, and spin-offs. He also advises clients on day-to-day securities disclosure and corporate governance matters.

• Jennifer Stadler (New York) advises public and private companies, private equity clients, and fiduciaries on employee benefits and executive compensation matters.

• Matthew Stark (New York) focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation, predominantly in the areas of class actions and insurance. He also has experience litigating disputes in the areas of antitrust, consumer fraud, and sports and entertainment.

• Courtney Tygesson (Chicago) concentrates her practice in capital markets transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance matters. She has experience representing both issuers and underwriters in debt and equity offerings, including IPOs and offerings of high-yield securities.

• Ryan Walden (New York) represents private equity funds and their portfolio companies throughout the life cycle of an investment, from the initial acquisition and debt financing through the ultimate sale. He also works with entrepreneurs and their companies on day-to-day corporate counseling, equity and debt financing, and sale transactions.

• Thomas Weber (Chicago) concentrates his litigation and trial practice on complex commercial disputes. He has experience handling breach of contract, fraud, post-closing M&A, securities, and insurance matters.

• Owen Zingraff (Charlotte) represents borrowers and lenders in connection with syndicated and bilateral credit facilities, including asset‐backed, term and revolving, and acquisition facilities. He also has experience with a variety of M&A, fund formation, and other corporate transactions.

Winston & Strawn LLP is an international law firm with 16 offices located throughout North America, Asia, and Europe.



Tesla Replaces General Counsel With Seasoned Beltway Trial Lawyer

Tesla announced on Friday that General Counsel Todd Maron is leaving the electric vehicle maker, the second high-ranking attorney to do so this quarter.

CNBC reports that the move comes a month after Phil Rothenberg left his post as Tesla’s vice president of legal to become general counsel at Sonder, a hospitality start-up.

CNBC’s Lora Kolodny reports:

“The electric car company said it plans to replace Maron with seasoned Beltway trial lawyer Dane Butswinkas, a chairman at Williams & Connolly, who was also a Co-Chair in the firm’s Commercial Litigation, Financial Services and Banking Groups.”

Read the CNBC article.




Arbitrator’s Undisclosed Relationships Sink Oil and Gas Awards

An arbitrator’s failure to disclose his longstanding business relationships with one of the parties requires setting aside the arbitration awards, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled, according to Bloomberg Law.

Reporter Brian Flood writes that Patrick Long, part of a three-member arbitration team, heard a contractual dispute over joint oil and gas operations between OOGC America LLC and Chesapeake Exploration LLC. But the court found that Long lied when he “claimed that he did not have professional or social connections with the parties or witnesses.”

“In reality, Long was a long-time business partner of Yong Siang Goh, the board chairman of FTS International Inc., an affiliate of Chesapeake Exploration,” Flood writes. “In addition, Long failed to disclose that he had represented FTS as a lawyer, that FTS’s deputy general counsel was a former partner at his law firm, and that his law firm had employed Goh’s daughter.”

The court vacated the awards.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Judge Tosses Sexual Assault Suit Against Lawyer in Battle Between Personal Injury Titans

The ABA Journal is reporting that a Michigan judge has dismissed a sexual misconduct suit against a Southfield lawyer in what appears to be an ongoing battle between rivals.

The judge dismissed the sexual assault suit against lawyer Michael Morse after finding that his accuser had lied when she was questioned in a deposition about a possible financial motive for the suit.

The Journal‘s report describes the defendant and the lawyer opposing him:

“Morse has built his practice with daytime television commercials that are ‘as ubiquitous as soap operas,’ according to the Detroit News. His mother appears in some of the ads, and he comes across as a likable lawyer. [The accuser’s lawyer, Geoffrey] Fieger, on the other hand, ‘has handled a bevy of prominent cases,’ including that of assisted-suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He doesn’t seem to care what people think, and he is full of ‘bombastic bravado,’ according to the Detroit News.

Read the ABA Journal article.



Download: 5 Future Tech Forces & Board Expectations

A new publication by the National Association of Corporate Directors examines the areas of technology that are “fundamentally changing the economic world.”

The article can be downloaded from the NACD’s website at no charge.

The areas discussed in the article include artificial intelligence, blockchain, cybersecurity, hyperconnectivity, and symbiotic systems.

J.T. Kostman, the author of the article and managing director of Applied Artificial Intelligence at Grant Thornton, provides real-world examples that illustrate the capabilities these technologies have enabled, the risks they pose, and why they are considered to be the driving forces of “the fourth industrial revolution.”

Download the article.



Longtime Colleagues Reunite to Create Labor & Employment Section

Christie Newkirk and Mark A. Shank have joined Diamond McCarthy LLP in Dallas and created the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Section.

The firm said Newkirk has more than 20 years’ experience representing employers and executives. Her work involves litigation, counseling, investigations, training, and representing executives.

Shank’s practice focuses on complex disputes, which he arbitrates, investigates, prosecutes, or defends as a neutral across the nation, according to the firm.

Read about the two lawyers.



Supreme Court Suggests Forcing Lawyers to Pay Bar Association Dues Violates Their Free Speech

The U.S. Supreme Court may be on verge of upsetting the longstanding system of states requiring lawyers to pay dues to bar associations, reports the Los Angeles Times.

At least 30 states require the dues, in most cases with bar associations regulating the legal profession by licensing lawyers and disciplining those who violate the rules. Lawyers in turn are required to pay dues to cover the cost, explains the TimesDavid G. Savage.

Savage writes:

“In a brief order on Monday, the court overturned a ruling last year by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that had upheld mandatory bar dues in North Dakota and sent the case back “for further consideration in light of Janus.”

In Janus v. AFSCME, the court last June struck down state laws in California and elsewhere that required teachers and other public employees to pay fees to support a union.

Read the LA Times article.