Ex-DOJ Counsel Sentenced for Shakedown Scam with Whistleblower Files

A former corporate-fraud prosecutor guilty of out the “most serious”  public corruption by a U.S. Department of Justice attorney in years has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison on two counts of obstructing justice and one count of interstate transport of stolen property, The Washington Post reports.

The former prosecutor and former Akin Gump partner stole more than 40 whistleblower fraud cases in 2016 and tried to sell the secret information to companies under federal investigation, prosecutors said.

Reporter Spencer S. Hsu explains: “The scheme was an attempt to woo potential clients and increase his earnings and standing in his new role as a defense lawyer for one of Washington’s most influential law firms, according to prosecutors and admissions by Jeffrey Wertkin at his sentencing Wednesday.”

Read the Post article.

 

 




Trust Helps Preserve Privacy Coveted by Author Harper Lee

The unsealing of Harper Lee’s will this week in Alabama yielded few insights into the life of the beloved author of the American classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” according to a post on the website of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing.

Among the most frustrating details to those who had hoped to learn more about the notoriously private author was that she directed the bulk of her assets to a trust she established a few years prior to her 2016 death, says Dallas estate planning attorney Sam Long of ​Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP.

“Privacy concerns are among several factors that have increased the use of trusts as a mechanism to transfer property at death,” says Long, who also serves as an adjunct professor of wills, trusts and estates at UNT-Dallas College of Law. “In most cases, the terms of such a trust, such as the Mockingbird Trust here, and the nature of the assets conveyed to the trust during a person’s lifetime are not public information.”

 

 




Former Biglaw Lawyer, Son of Washington Post Publisher, Dies in Apparent Suicide

William W. Graham, a lawyer, investor and philanthropist who was a member of the family that owned and published The Washington Post for many years, died Dec. 20 at his home in Los Angeles, according to The Post. He was 69.

Reporter Matt Schudel writes that the cause was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Graham’s brother, Donald E. Graham, a former Post publisher and chief executive.

“Graham was a lawyer at the prominent Washington firm of Williams & Connolly in the 1970s before settling in Los Angeles, where he taught trial law at his alma mater, the University of California at Los Angeles,” the report says.

Fox News reports that the death was reminiscent of the suicide of Graham’s father more than 50 years ago.

Read the Post‘s article.

 

 

 




Lawyer Recounts His DWI Arrest, and Offers Some Advice

Former lawyer Brian Cuban writes that his 1992 arrest for driving while intoxicated should have been a learning experience, but the only lesson he learned at the time was that it would be better to take cabs to and from his drinking spots.

In a post on Above the Law, Cuban describes the humiliation he felt when he was hauled to a Dallas jail, followed by relief when his case was dismissed because the arresting officer didn’t show up for the trial.

“I high-tailed it out of the courthouse,” he writes. “No thought about how I’d gotten to that point. No thought of being in desperate need of treatment. Just relief that I had dodged a bullet. No hard consequences other than the few grand I gave my lawyer and getting my car out of impoundment.”

But the continuing slide into addiction would carry consequences he didn’t envision.

Read the Above the Law article.

 

 

 




From Virtual Reality to Harvey: Texas’ Top Legal Stories of 2017

Androvett Legal Media & Marketing has compiled its list of the Top 10 Texas legal news stories for the sixth consecutive year.

“In a year marked by so many changes from Washington, it was a challenge to keep the focus on issues directly related to state-based businesses or stories originating in the Lone Star state,” said Mike Androvett, founder and president of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing. “However, there is never a lack of provocative legal issues in a state as dynamic as Texas, and 2017 was certainly no exception.”

The complete Top 10 Texas Legal Stories of 2017 list can be found on the Androvett blog.

Highlights include:

· Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg came to North Texas to testify in an intellectual property case involving Oculus VR technology. Though the company was found liable on some counts, the jury awarded plaintiff ZeniMax Media a fraction of the $6 billion it had sought.
· Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones backed star running back Ezekiel Elliott through the protracted appeals process of his six-game NFL suspension, and then went to battle against the rest of the league over the proposed extension of the league commissioner’s contract. Neither case went Jones’ way.
· After more than a decade under federal investigation, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price finally got his day in court – and walked out a free man.
· Massive rains related to Hurricane Harvey led the Army Corps of Engineers to release water from Houston reservoirs to protect dams. But it resulted in the flooding of hundreds of homes, leading to what is projected to be some of the most complex and costly litigation in history. The storm also literally swamped the Harris County criminal courts, as offices and courtrooms were left under water.

 

 




BigLaw Counsel Dies in Fall From Manhattan High-Rise Apartment

Kenneth Freeling, of counsel at Covington & Burling and former Dewey & LeBoeuf litigation partner, died in a fall from his ninth-floor New York apartment Thursday, according to reports.

The New York Post quoted police reports saying Freeling, 59, had a history of mental illness and reported that Freeling had jumped to his death. He lived on the ninth floor of the building and landed on a second-floor terrace in view of witnesses in the building’s gym.

Above the Law reports that Freeling’s son, Samuel, committed suicide in 2013.

Read the NY Post article.

 

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Lawyer Who Died in Parking Garage Fire Worked at BigLaw Firm

A badly burned body found on the floor of a Chicago parking garage early Tuesday has been identified as Louis S. Cohen, of counsel with Foley & Lardner LLP, reports The Chicago Tribune.

Police were investigating the death of the 60-year-old real estate attorney, officials said.

Cohen joined Foley & Lardner in Chicago eight months ago, after working with DLA Piper for the previous 27 years, Foley says on its website.

Reporter Rosemary Regina Sobol writes that an autopsy Wednesday was pending and did not determine a cause and manner for Cohen’s death, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

Read the Chicago Tribune article.

 

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Attorney Brian ‘Strong Arm’ Loncar’s Death Ruled Accidental Cocaine Overdose

Prominent Dallas lawyer Brian Loncar, known for his TV identity “The Strong Arm,” died last month due to an accidental cocaine overdose, officials said Thursday, according to a Dallas Morning News report.

Loncar’s cause of death was the “toxic effect of cocaine,” a spokeswoman for the Dallas County medical examiner. Hypertension and cardiovascular disease were also listed as secondary factors, she said.

“The personal injury lawyer, 56, was found dead in his new Rolls-Royce Wraith on Dec. 4, days after burying his youngest daughter, Grace Loncar, who had killed herself at age 16,” writes Dallas Morning News reporter Naomi Martin.

Read the Dallas News article.

 

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The Top Texas Legal Stories of 2016

From the legal debate over bathrooms, to the battle over renaming a Houston law school, to a billion-dollar-plus jury award, Texas was home to some of the nation’s most intriguing legal news of 2016.

The staff of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing compiled a list of the year’s top Texas legal stories.

Those stories included the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in West Texas in February, the election defeat of Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, the on-again-off-again charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the fight for accreditation for the UNT Dallas College of Law, the Baylor sexual assault scandal, and more.

Read about the top 10 stories.

 

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Securing Assent: The Internet Twist of Electronic Contracts

Handshake with computersIf any area of the law could be shielded from the all-consuming influence of the Internet, it ought to be the age-old law of contracts, writes Mark Sableman in Thompson & Coburn’s blog, Internet Law Twists & Turns. He points out that basic elements of contract law, like requirements of offer, acceptance, and consideration, don’t change because of the Internet.

But courts have been struggling with one crucial point involving electronic contracts: “When and how does a user agree to a contract electronically? This crucial element of contract formation — manifestation of assent — is the Internet twist for contract making.”

“Getting clear assent in real time, however, isn’t always enough. You also may need to prove at a later date that consent occurred. Your ordering software should record customer activity, such as the click-through consents. And you should retain records of your past website forms and contract terms, so that you can recreate those that were in place at the time of any contested transaction,” Sableman writes.

Read the article.

 

 




Provost Umphrey Law Firm Attorneys Named to Best Lawyers in America

D'Juana ParksThe Best Lawyers in America has named 13 attorneys from Beaumont, Texas-based Provost Umphrey Law Firm, L.L.P., among the country’s best, including firm partner D’Juana Parks, who was named the city’s top lawyer for plaintiffs’ personal injury cases.

Provost Umphrey has represented people in cases involving serious personal injuries, wrongful death and unfair business practices for more than 40 years, the firm said in a release. Their clients include victims of toxic exposure, dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, defective products, unsafe workplaces, runaway 18-wheeler accidents, unfair payment schemes and many others.

In addition to Parks, Provost Umphrey partners Bryan O. Blevins Jr., Edward Fisher, Joe J. Fisher II, James E. Payne and David P. Wilson were named among the country’s best in their respective practice areas.

The firm’s release continues:

Firm attorneys Aaryn K. Giblin and Colin D. Moore earned selection based on their work in plaintiffs’ product liability litigation. Fellow firm attorney Christopher T. Kirchmer was named to the exclusive guide for his representation of plaintiffs in mass tort litigation, class actions, and personal injury and product liability litigation. Matthew C. Matheny earned high marks for his work on behalf of plaintiffs in mass tort litigation, class actions and personal injury litigation. Darren L. Brown was recognized for his work for plaintiffs in personal injury and product liability litigation. J. Keith Hyde earned a spot based on his work for plaintiffs in personal injury cases.

Firm founder Walter Umphrey also was named to Best Lawyers, marking the 25th year he has earned the prestigious honor. The 2017 Provost Umphrey honorees, including every equity partner in the firm, represent a combined 60 years of Best Lawyers recognition for excellence and success.

Best Lawyers is widely recognized as one of the leading guides to the U.S. legal profession by ranking the nation’s leading lawyers in various practice areas based on exhaustive peer-review surveys submitted by tens of thousands of the top attorneys from across the country. 

 

 

 




Protecting Confidential Information in the Financial Services Industry

Seyfarth ShawSeyfarth Shaw attorneys will focus on trade secret and client relationship considerations in the banking and finance industry in a webinar scheduled for Tuesday, August 26, at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

This event is Seyfarth’s sixth installment in its series of 2014 Trade Secret Webinars.

Presenters are Seyfarth lawyers J. Scott Humphrey, Jason P. Stiehl, Rebecca Woods.

Topics will include:

  • Practical steps financial institutions can implement to protect trade secrets and client relationships.
  • What should you do if your trade secrets are improperly removed or disclosed, or if your former employee is violating his/her agreements.
  • How do you prosecute a case against a former employee who is a FINRA member.
  • The impact of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting on trade secrets and client relationships

Register for the webinar.




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Working on the Web: Delivering Legal Services Online

AvvoAvvo has posted a free on-demand webinar discussing the primary ethics issues that may arise when selling or delivering legal services online.

The webinar covers online advertising and fee-splitting: A review of the first amendment considerations and limitations surrounding online referrals.

It also discusses the ethics of online Q&A: How does answering questions online from people who may be out-of-state mesh with state-based practice limitations?

Another topic is online “deals” and unbundled services: To what extent do online deals or other unbundled offers implicate ethics rules around advertising, trust accounts, excessive fees, conflicts and the duty of competence?

On its website, Avvo says the webinar also covers technology & security: What special considerations around technology and cloud-based applications are in play when serving clients online?

Watch the on-demand webinar.