Graham is an attorney in Minneapolis and has been running his own practice, Martin Legal Services, LLC, full time for nearly three years. During that time he has also successfully been running his own blog, Pro and Contracts, which has been noted as one of the Top 25 Blawgs in Minnesota by the Minnesota State Bar Association, and recognized by journalists such as David Pogue of the New York Times.
Graham focuses primarily on contracts in their various forms, and has a particular affinity for working with self-employed tradespeople in the construction industry and small business owners like himself. He understands the challenges that face start-ups and the fears that can come with working for one's self, and is particularly adept at making the law understandable and accessible to his clients.
Graham has worked on cases from Minnesota and across the country, cases with the amount in dispute in excess of $300,000 and less than $1,000. He fashions himself a legal problem-solver.
And, of course, he is honored to be a writer for Lawyerist.
A study just published by psychologists at Yale University finds that male jurors are more likely to find female defendants with a high body-mass index (BMI) guilty. According to the study’s authors,
lean male participants were significantly more likely to believe that the obese female defendant met criteria for check fraud, and indicated greater belief she would be a repeat offender, compared with the lean female defendant.
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Inside the Law School Scam is reporting that as of December 7, law school applications are down 24.6% since the same time last year, and there is no obvious end to the trend at this point. Blog author Paul Campos asserts that the current number of applications suggests that the total number of applicants on the year will number between 52,000 and 53,000. He goes on:
To put that number in perspective, law schools admitted 60,400 first year JD students two years ago. Since a significant percentage of applicants are unwilling to consider enrolling at any school below a certain hierarchical level, and/or will decline to enroll at certain other schools without receiving massive discounts on the advertised tuition price, these numbers portend fiscal calamity for more than a few schools. But out of that calamity will come the beginnings of a more rational and just system of legal education for the next generation of lawyers.
Hopefully a smaller number of applicants will sufficiently impact the number of practitioners in the coming years to help restore the balance between the number of practicing lawyers and the legal work available (if such a thing ever existed). I don’t doubt that correcting the heavy over-population of lawyers will take more than a few years, but this seems like a rather significant drop in the number of law school applicants. It would be nice to have the numbers correct themselves naturally, rather than requiring a Clone Wars-type culling of superfluous attorneys.
Earlier this year, National Jurist took a survey of law schools throughout the country to compile a list of people involved in legal education in 2012 and recently published its list of finalists. One individual on the list—Kyle McEntee, co-founder of Law School Transparency—is not a law professor. Otherwise, it is a moderately diverse group.
“It was surprising to see both the agitators and the establishment on the list,” said Jack Crittenden, Editor in Chief of the National Jurist. “The list is a who’s who of the people who have shaped the discussion over the past year, which has been a challenging and pivotal year. While some have shaped discussion through traditional means, others have stirred the pot more.”
The finalists will be published in order of influence in the January issue of National Jurist, which can be obtained digitally here.
I was pleased to see that Jerry Organ of my alma mater—the University of St. Thomas School of Law—was named to the list in addition to some other very notable individuals.
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The Atlantic has a nice write-up of some of 2012′s most-watched legal stories. Among the items given honors are issues of drone strikes, gay marriage, and legalization of marijuana in some states. There is also mention of the significant lack of federal judges in some districts due to some members of the Senate refusing to vote on the confirmation of new judges:
Responding to the grave economic cost of this delay and uncertainty, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in March that he wouldn’t allow an up-or-down vote on 17 such judicial nominees….
Some of the stories have ended, but many are issues that will continue on into 2013 (and likely beyond). Lawyerist will continue to keep you abreast of legal developments important to practitioners.
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Usually it seems pretty self-explanatory that legal fees are to be charged for legal work, but Ms. Katherine M. Guste of Louisiana got herself in hot water (gumbo?) with the Supreme Court of Louisiana for charging and refusing to refund fees for non-legal work. According to the court’s opinion enforcing a two-year suspension [pdf], Ms. Guste provided legal services to prepare a power of attorney and represent her client in the matter of a hit-and-run accident. Thereafter,
[Guste] continued to provide services fro Mr. Perniciaro, including assisting him in canceling the power of attorney, taking him to the bank and running other errands with him, and packing and storing his personal and household belongings in preparation for his move from one nursing home to another.
There was no written agreement for either the legal or non-legal services, although apparently both parties agreed to the same hourly rate of $125 for both types of service. There was, however, a significant question as to his mental capacity based on the fact that the client was a victim of Huntington’s Disease, noted by the court as “a genetic brain disorder that results in the progressive loss of both cognitive functions and physical control.”
So between charging legal fees for non-legal work, having no written agreement, and not keeping an accounting of her time, it seems like Ms. Guste really made a mess of things in this situation. Generally these situations are less black and white than the court’s opinion makes it out to be, but I think we can all agree that this was not an optimal way of interacting with the client. It makes me wonder about other quasi-business transactions clients request of their lawyers, and what would be the best way to respond to such a request. Have you ever had a client request non-legal services? How did you respond?
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The ABA Journal reports that an interview with University of Louisville law professor Russell Weaver outlines important considerations to be made with regard to office lottery pools, from which litigation has been stemming more recently.
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Yesterday the New York Times published an editorial by Lawrence Mitchell, Dean of Case Western Reserve University’s law school. The piece can be seen alternatively as a plea to stop the law-school bashing, or as an exegesis on just how wrong everyone has gotten their assessment of the jobs crisis for lawyers. Regardless of your take on Mitchell’s editorial, it is still an open question whether law school is a sound financial investment at this point.
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Please see my comment on this post. — Ed.
LexisNexis has released the results of its recent Attorney Research Selection Survey by The Research Intelligence Group (TRIG), and provides some interesting information on the outcomes of consumers’ online legal searches.
The evidence is pretty clear: Consumers aren’t just searching for legal information and attorneys out of random curiosity. The majority of them are highly motivated to find a lawyer and hire one right away. It’s crucial for law firms seeking to grow their business to appreciate this reality and develop online marketing programs that increase their visibility in front of prospective clients who are searching for information and help on the Web.
Fully 57% of online searchers hired a lawyer after searching for one online. This confirms what we have known for a while: people aren’t using the Yellow Pages for their lawyer searches anymore. Granted, most of my clients come from networking and referrals anyway, but when deciding where to invest marketing resources, it’s pretty clear that nixing print media and focusing on one’s online presence is the way to go.
You can download a copy of the full results of the Attorney Research Selection Survey here [pdf].
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Matthew Inman, creator of the hilarious online comic, The Oatmeal, made waves earlier this year after being sued by FunnyJunk and then by FunnyJunk’s lawyer, Charles Carreon. The ensuing meltdown by Carreon was a perfect example of how a lawyer should never act. The furor over the lawsuits from across the internet nabbed Inman charitable donations in excess of $200,000 for the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Foundation.
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A lawyer in Louisiana was recently the victim of a double disbarment, being permanently disbarred by the Louisiana Supreme Court for continuing to work as an attorney for Verizon after being disbarred in 2002. The full opinion [PDF] outlines the scenario leading up to the permanent disbarment, requiring quite a bit of ongoing dishonesty on the part of former attorney James D. Turnage:
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