GC Resigns, Stands Accused of Falsifying Death Threats

The former general counsel for the Oklahoma State Department of Health is accused of falsifying death threats against herself and has been charged in Oklahoma County district court, according to KWTV News 9 in Oklahoma City.

Julia Marie Ezell faces three counts of using a computer to send herself death threats and then falsely report a made-up crime. Ezell resigned as health department general counsel on Friday.

State officials said the emails were meant to look like they were coming from angry medical marijuana supporters. The health department recently adopted rules for the implementation of medical marijuana across the state.

Read the KWTV News 9 article.



ABA Reveals Alleged $1.3M Theft By a Now-Former Staff Member on Tax Form

The American Bar Association has posted a tax form that reveals a onetime staff member diverted about $1.3 million from the ABA over a period of eight years.

The ABA Journal reports that the organization became aware of the theft by a nonmanagerial staff member last September, according to the form. The employee was fired the next day, writes Debra Cassens Weiss.

ABA staff are cooperating with the investigation and have been in touch with law enforcement as recently as Tuesday.

An ABA official told the Journal that the theft was well-hidden with falsified documents, but the theft became apparent when the individual got more ambitious in attempts to divert more money.

Read the ABA Journal article.



Lawyer Suspended for False Advertising, ‘Gross Incompetence’

Bloomberg Law is reporting that a lawyer who put the logo of a law school more prestigious than the one he actually attended on his website was indefinitely suspended July 11.

“Daren Allen Webber’s incompetent representation of bankruptcy clients and violations of the rules on attorney advertising merit indefinite suspension, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department found,” writes reporter Mandy L. Rattan. “The suspension was based on an identical sanction by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.”

Weber, who attended New York Law School, displayed the seal of the more prestigious New York University on his website. The court also listed conduct including filing incorrect or incomplete documents, missing or being late to meetings with creditors, failing to communicate with his clients, and missing deadlines.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Netflix v. Winston & Strawn Spotlights Advance Conflict Waiver

An order resolving a bitter disqualification fight between Netflix Inc. and its lawyers at Winston & Strawn LLP is the latest example of the acrimony that “advance conflict waivers” can engender between corporations and the law firms they hire, reports Bloomberg Law.

Reporter Samson Habte explains: “The order disqualifying Winston—issued by a federal bankruptcy judge presiding over a high-stakes licensing dispute between Netflix and a financially troubled film studio—could emerge as a blueprint for a particularly contentious category of disqualification motions: those alleging law firms betrayed existing clients by bringing cases against them on behalf of newer clients.”

Because ethics rules prohibit law firms from taking a case against a current client unless both clients waive the conflicts created by the law firm’s concurrent representation.

The waivers—often broadly worded and vague—have become a regular feature of retainer agreements that large law firms execute with corporate clients.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Jury Needed Only 45 Minutes to Agree on Punitives in Johnson & Johnson Talc Case

A lawyer for plaintiffs in the case against talcum-powder maker Johnson & Johnson said the company had spent 40 years covering up evidence of asbestos in some of its talcum-based products and should mark those products with warning labels or focus on powders made with cornstarch.

The New York Times quoted Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm as saying the jury’s award of $4.14 billion in punitive damages is among the largest ever awarded in a product liability case. He added that the jury deliberated over compensatory damages for eight hours but decided on the punitive damages in roughly 45 minutes.

Times reporter Tiffany Hsu writes: “Johnson & Johnson was ordered Thursday to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.”

The jury’s award included $550 million in compensatory damages for the women, who had accused the company of failing to warn them about cancer risks associated with its baby and body powders.

Read the NY Times article.




Using Multi-Tiered Marketing to Amplify Your Legal Practice

Winning recognition in such listings as The Best Lawyers in America presents a prime marketing opportunity that can go far beyond what many lawyers realize, writes Bruce Vincent for Muse Communications.

In his article, Vincent goes into detail about the six steps lawyers can use to amplify and prolong the good news.

Those steps are: First-level marketing, notify your clients, alert industry publications, issue a press release, get social, and everything else.

Read the article.




Webinar: Leveraging the Data in Your Contracts to Prove the Value of Legal

Concord will present a complimentary webinar titled “From Cost Center to Profit Center: Leveraging the Data in Your Contracts to Prove the Value of Legal.”

The event will be Thursday, July 26, 2018, at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Legal’s new role as a strategic business function has forced legal teams to evolve, shifting from cost-center to profit-center, Concord says on its website. This shift has transformed the overall value legal provides—moving well beyond risk management and cost savings—increasing the pressure on legal teams to become a source of revenue for their organization.

The webinar will equip participants to:

  • Identify the crucial KPIs for Legal when it comes to spend
  • Uncover strategies to take your legal team from cost center to profit center
  • Discover how Leverage the data in your contracts to prove the value of Legal

The webinar is presented in partnership with General Counsel News.

Register for the webinar.




Elite Firm Blows Right Through Going Market Rate for Associates

California litigation boutique Dovel & Luner waited more than a month after big law firms started raising salaries for associates before topping everyone else with a first-year pay rate of $215,000.

Above the Law reports that the firm is “a California litigation boutique that specializes in plaintiff-side litigation on a contingency fee basis. The firm has eight lawyers (two of whom are associates), but if you look at their bios, you’ll see a glittering array of top law schools, elite clerkships, and leading Biglaw firms in their backgrounds.”

Their rate for sixth-year associates is $330,000, according to editor Staci Zaretsky.

And Dovel & Luner associates can count on bonuses based on the firm’s success, sometimes rising to as much as $700,000.

Read the Above the Law article.




Longtime Carolina Panthers General Counsel Fired

Richard Thigpen has been fired after more than two decades as general counsel of the Carolina Panthers, Thigpen confirmed to The Charlotte Observer.

Thigpen is the second high-profile Panthers executive to leave the team since hedge fund manager David Tepper bought the Panthers for $2.275 billion.

“Their departures come on the heels of the conclusion of an investigation of former team owner Jerry Richardson, who was fined $2.75 million for multiple instances of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace.,” according to reporters Katherine Peralta and Joseph Person.

Read the Observer article.




Nashville Attorney Confirmed As General Counsel for Department of Defense

The Tennessean reports that the U.S. Senate voted 70 to 23 on Thursday to confirm Paul Ney as the general counsel for the Department of Defense.

Ney, of Nashville, has worked for the past two years in the Tennessee attorney general’s office where he currently serves as chief deputy attorney general. In that role, he coordinated and supervised legal work for all of the office’s divisions, writes reporter Michael Collins

As Defense Department general counsel, he will be involved in issues involving personnel, conduct and other matters.

Read the Tennessean article.



Webinar: Start-ups Driving Innovation in Upstream Oil & Gas

The oil and gas industry is benefiting from a surge in start-up companies focused on digital transformation and radical change proving that the oil and gas start-up ecosystem is alive and growing.

Frost & Sullivan’s Oil & Gas Innovation Council will present a complimentary webinar titled “Start-ups Driving Innovation in Upstream Oil & Gas” on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at 10 a.m. CDT.

Dylan Ellett, a Frost & Sullivan leading oil and gas analyst, and a panel of industry experts from start-up companies will showcase their solutions, impacts on the industry and real-world scenarios of success and hardships along the journey, from founding to investment.

  • Discover start-up companies that are providing innovative solutions to industry challenges
  • Hear real success stories and pain points from start-ups
  • Interact with start-up companies

Register for the webinar.

Sometimes You Get Away with Unwritten Contracts

ContractsOne area where the distinction between written versus unwritten agreements makes a difference is in the calculation of the statute of limitations, points out Christopher G. Hill in his Construction Law Musings blog.

Virginia’s 5- year statute of limitations for written contracts — compared to the 3-year statute unwritten contracts — came into play in  M&C Hauling & Constr. Inc. v. Wilbur Hale in the Fairfax, Virginia Circuit Court.

M&C provided hauling services to the defendant through a subcontract with Hauling Unlimited. No separate written contract between M&C and Hauling Unlimited or Hale existed. Hauling Unlimited filed a plea in bar to have the matter dismissed as being brought beyond the 3-year statute and argued that no signed or other written contract existed.

“The Court determined that Hauling Unlimited and Mr. Hale assented to M&C’s terms and did not insist on a signature to make their contract a written one,” writes Hill.

Read the article.



Has the Government ‘Waived’ Goodbye to Strict Compliance with Your Contract Specifications?

A recent Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals decision confirmed that waiver defenses can defeat government demands for strict compliance with contract requirements, reports Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman.

Authors Maria L. Panichelli and Alissandra D. Young explain that the Board found in Appeal of American West Construction, LLC that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had effectively waived the right to enforce a construction contract specification.

“This meant that the government could not recover from the contractor the difference in the price it paid for the original specification and the lower amount spent by the contractor to perform the deviation,” they write. “In a world where the government often has the right to strictly enforce contract requirements and hold contractors financially responsible for any deviation, this decision is a big win for construction contractors.”

Read the article.



Negotiating Commercial Contracts – Insurance Words of Wisdom

Risk signOne of the key insurance policy provisions that is often included in commercial contracts to transfer risk is the requirement that one contracting party make the other contracting party an additional insured on their insurance policy, according a website post for SandRun Risk.

The authors discuss the 2013 Insurance Services Office revisions to the standard additional insured endorsement form.

The three significant changes are:

  • Insurance provided to an additional insured will apply only to the extent permitted by law
  • If additional insured coverage is required in a contract or agreement, the additional insured will not be provided coverage that is any broader than required in that contract or agreement with the named insured
  • The limits available to an additional insured will be the lesser of the limits required by contract or available under the policy

Read the article.



How Important are Irreparable Injury Provisions in Non-Compete Agreements?

Employers who use non-compete agreements take note: Minnesota courts want to see more than just words in a contract before they will grant injunctive relief against a former employee, warns a post on the website of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

The article discusses St. Jude Medical, Inc. v. Carter, which arose after Heath Carter left his employer to work for a competitor. The employer filed suit against Carter and the competitor, alleging violations of Carter’s non-compete agreement. The employer sought an order enforcing the terms of the non-compete agreement and prohibiting Carter from working for a competitor in his then-current position. Although the jury found that Carter had breached his non-compete agreement, the court refused to enter an injunction, finding that the employer failed to establish that it had been harmed.

The Minnesota Court noted that “[a] private agreement is just that: private,” and concluded that such contractual language does not, by itself, entitle an employer to an injunction after proving the breach of a non-compete.

Read the article.



Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson Announces Two New Partners

Boutique family law firm Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, announced the promotions of Chris Oldner and Holly Rampy Baird to partner.

“Chris and Holly are exceptional attorneys who have demonstrated their dedication to the success and well-being of our clients,” said partner Keith Nelson. “We are pleased to have them accept this new responsibility.”

Oldner served three terms as judge of the 416th District Court in Collin County, where he presided over criminal and civil cases, including family law bench and jury trials. He holds dual certification in Family Law and Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

He has served as co-chair of the Judicial Disproportionality Workgroup for the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Commission for Children, Youth and Families’ Court Improvement Project, and as a member of the Texas Center for the Judiciary’s Children’s Justice Act Task Force. Oldner earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law.

Recognized for five consecutive years on the Texas Rising Stars list, Baird earned a place on the publication’s list of the Top 100 Up-and-Coming lawyers and the Top 50 Up-and-Coming Women lawyers. She also was recognized on D Magazine’s 2018 list of Best Lawyers Under 40 for her work in divorce and complex property division, modification and enforcement actions, and child custody litigation.

Most recently, Baird was selected to People Newspapers’ 20 under 40 listing for 2018, which honors young professionals making the biggest impact in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow neighborhoods of Dallas. Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, she is a graduate of Texas Tech University School of Law.



Webinar: Best Practices for Impactful Compliance Training

NAVEX Global will present a complimentary webinar titled “Deep Dive: State of Ethics & Compliance Training in 2018” on Thursday, July 19, 2018, at 10 a.m. PDT / 1 p.m. EDT.

The event is designed to show how companies are using their training programs to change employee behavior and positively impact corporate culture. Participants will discuss the most important compliance training benchmarks to use when measuring a program and offer best practices to improve efforts and show ROI to management.

Some of the questions to be explored include:

  • How do I maximize the impact of my (limited) available training hours?
  • How do I gain leadership and audience buy-in, participation and comprehension?
  • What elements and topics are necessary to my training program?

Register for the webinar.



Dick Sayles Named Dallas Bar Association’s 2018 Trial Lawyer of the Year

Dallas trial lawyer and Sayles Werbner co-founder Richard A. “Dick” Sayles was chosen by the Dallas Bar Association as the 2018 Trial Lawyer of the Year based on his achievements in the courtroom.

Sayles, a native of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is profiled in the July issue of the Dallas Bar Association’s Headnotes in the article, “Dick Sayles: 2018 DBA Trial Lawyer of the Year.” The story highlights Sayles’ motivation for becoming a lawyer, provides a history of how he became a courtroom master, and explains how Sayles Werbner maintains its status among the most respected law firms in the nation.

“To me, there is no greater honor than to be recognized by your peers,” says Sayles. “It’s also a testament to the dedication and commitment of my colleagues at Sayles Werbner. I am very proud of what our firm has become.”

Sayles credits his firm’s strong relationship with large, national firms as a key factor in Sayles Werbner’s success. “We are often asked by major, out-of-state firms to serve as co-counsel in high profile, high stakes cases.”

In a release, the firm said Sayles has made a career of representing clients in big cases involving commercial litigation, personal injury and patent litigation. His list of accomplishments includes significant defense wins, 150 cases tried to verdict, and more than a dozen multimillion-dollar jury verdicts, the firm said.

This year Chambers USA, the legal guide, honored Sayles for the sixth time as a top litigator in Texas. Texas Lawbook named Sayles to the Lions of the Texas Bar, an exclusive list of the state’s most respected and influential lawyers. The Best Lawyers in America recognized him as the 2018 Dallas-Fort Worth Lawyer of the Year for bet-the-company litigation. He also received recognition in the 2018 edition of Benchmark Litigation and has been named seven times to the list of Top 10 attorneys in the state in the annual Texas Super Lawyers guide.



3 Ways Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Could Transform U.S. Labor Law

The Washington Post reports that  President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court may prove a crucial conservative vote in cases defining protections for gay and lesbian workers, the scope of union organizing and the rights of workers to take their grievances to court, according to labor law experts.

The president selected Brett M. Kavanaugh, a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Reporter Jeff Stein quotes Benjamin Sachs, a labor law expert at Harvard University: “This last term was horrendous for workers. If you are to have imagined a nightmare scenario for workers and workers rights, this would be it. But in those cases, the ruling justices also planted seeds that could lead to further damage against workers.”

Read the Washington Post article.



Uber Hires Former Justice Department Lawyer as Compliance Chief

Uber Technologies Inc. named Scott Schools, a former top attorney at the U.S. Justice Department, as chief compliance officer, reports Bloomberg.

“The newly created role is designed to help Uber avoid the kinds of scandals and legal scrutiny that enveloped the business last year,” according to reporter Eric Newcomer. The ride-hailing company has faced at least five U.S. criminal inquiries, people familiar with the probes have said.

At the Justice Department, Schools was a top adviser to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Read the Bloomberg article.