Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Customer is Always Right

Big Law firms avoid flat fee cases like the plague, while small shop lawyers often live by a flat fee hybrid that is based on stages or pieces of the case. (I write about civil practitioners. Who knows how those wacky criminal folks handle payment of fees.)

Big or small, listen up: according to Hildebrandt's 2009 law department survey, more companies are asking their outside lawyers to ditch the billable hour in favor of flat-fee pricing. More than half the 231 companies surveyed said they have implemented or will implement non-hourly fee arrangements. Another 27 percent said they are considering them.

Advantage, small firms.

The apocalypse is not up on us, although gunner associates may be crapping their pants.

You can argue or pontificate about the wisdom or viability of the flat fee model until you're blue in the face. But its happening, at least for the time being. How long it lasts is anybody's guess. Or the customer's preference.

Heck, change is good and its exciting to try something new. Who knows? You may get the hang of the flat fee.

Anyhoo, enjoy Thanksgiving. We live in a wonderful city, so take advantage. Love those around you notwithstanding their faults. Enjoy some football. And most important, remember those less fortunate, and give something back.

N.B. I love breakfast.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Way We Were

N.B. Babs captures the sense of loss that permeates the Rothstein tragedy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Georgia on My Mind

And they say South Florida is wacky.

Taking the law into your own hands is ok if you are a law-man in the South, but I'm not so sure its ok when you are the District Attorney. I mean, most State Bar Organizations have codes of ethics and such. And I am pretty sure that bum-rushing the judge in chambers when you disagree with his rulings, is likely out of bounds. But, I don't live in Georgia.

Recently, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin S. Arrington Sr. held a career state court prosecutor in contempt for misconduct during trial, and ordered her to pay a $100 fine to the charity of her choice. Smart lawyers would pay it and quietly purge the contempt or exercise their right to appeal the order, professionally and discreetly.

Meet Linda J. Dunikoski.

A month after her offending conduct earned her the contempt order, government lawyer Linda J. was back in Judge Arrington's courtroom on another matter, and Judge Arrington said he asked whether she had complied with the court's order.

"Dunikoski responded by saying that she had been advised by her supervisor, District Attorney Paul Howard, not to comply with said Order," wrote Judge Arrington, in a subsequent order holding DA Howard in contempt.

Arrington ordered Dunikoski taken into custody until she complied with the order, after which Howard "appeared in the secured back hallway outside of my chambers, confronting me as I left the bench and belligerently demanded that I release Ms. Dunikoski immediately and that I should hold him in contempt instead." Howard "walked up to me, within [a] 1/4 inch of my face, and shouted that I was making a mockery of the judiciary."

Twenty minutes later, wrote Arrington, "Mr. Howard barged into my [chambers] and demanded to see me. I asked the deputies to escort him out of my office until the hearing could be held at 2 p.m. on today's date. Frankly, Mr. Howard's behavior and subsequent tirade made me fearful of my safety."

Work it out, fellas.

DA Howard's website is nifty. It has a "most wanted" list, a "featured" criminal, and lots and lots of pictures of The Boss himself. Which reminds me, a Wise Man once said "if you have an elaborate and highly conspicuous "Wall of Me" then you're a di@k." Does the same apply to a website?

N.B. If you ever pulled that barging into chambers stunt in the 11th Circuit, I know at least one judge who would go upside your head with the 4 inch heel of a Christian Louboutin pump and a red lipstick. No, silly. Not David Young. He's on TV court.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Want My Cut

She doesn't deserve all this. She hasn't settled into the comfort of married life, to the Man of her Dreams. Just look at her happy chin during their nuptials, less than 2 years ago.

N.B. Does Scott have unusually small feet, or what?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Scott Rothstein to the Rescue!

Successful, effective investigative journalists possess finely honed instincts. They smell a rat before anyone. As he observed, they are not wilfully blind to red flags that should set off alarms, because of a desire to be close to the flame. And unlike hacks, they do not sacrifice journalism and neutrality because of their personal views.

Think Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Ernie Souchak.

I got to thinking about effective investigative journalists after reading this piece by some guy named Buddy Nevins. Here is a picture of Buddy for those who have never heard of or seen him.

For those who don't click the hyperlinks, Buddy's piece is titled "Scott Rothstein to the Rescue." In it, he writes that "superlawyer" Scott Rothstein and his wife Kimmy are "are single-handedly keeping a number of Broward County’s charities in the black with their philanthropy."

Buddy-boy lists the Rothstein's impressive financial contributions to great causes, and then the article gets interesting.

"Scott may be a tad eccentric. The bodyguards are a bit much, since I’ve met with many very rich guys over the years and none of them had them," wrote Nevins. "I lived in an apartment when I was a kid and Meyer “The Brain” Lansky’s brother, Jake ”The Enforcer” Lansky, had an apartment in the same building. I saw both the Lanskys numerous times and they didn’t have bodyguards, or they did (sic) they kept them well hidden." That's cool for sure. And I am impressed, what with your meetings with many very rich guys over the years (that just sounds weird, OK Buddy?) and the Lansky name dropping.

But uh, didn't you clue in? Even a little?

Apparently not.

Buddy concluded: "But who cares about Rothstein’s idiosyncrasies when he is so generous. Broward is a better place because of Scott and Kimberly."

Where is Ernie Souchak when you need him?

Because I cannot fathom how you pass up this opportunity.

N.B. Scottie named his now-seized yacht "Princess Kimberly." That was SO sweet!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Music Wednesday, Part Deux (that's french)

All this talk about Scottie is weighing on me. Although I have to admit, it is getting interesting now that investors are talking about how Scottie and the Firm's General Counsel pitched them to invest, in the Firms's offices. Yup, yup. Makes all those strangely overt repudiations by Scottie's partner Rosencrantz seem even more....implausible?

Alan Sakowitz, a South Florida attorney and real estate developer, told Bloomberg News he was solicited to buy settlements through a broker working for Rothstein.

Sakowitz and his partner met with Rothstein in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office in August. They sat on a lizard-skin couch as Rothstein stood by a bank of television monitors, a revolver strapped to his ankle. On the wall were pictures of Rothstein with politicians including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Rothstein told them he was selling investments in sex-discrimination and whistle-blower cases that were settled confidentially.

Sakowitz said he considered investing in three $900,000 settlements. Rothstein would pay the clients $660,000 each immediately with Sakowitz’s money, and he would get the full amounts in three payments at 30, 60 and 90 days, he said.
Sakowitz said he was denied permission to meet the clients, see backup documents or talk to the attorneys who worked on the cases.

“When we left, we thought, this is either an unbelievable opportunity or this is a big scam,” Sakowitz said.

Ya think?

Another investor prospective investor balked at Rothstein's proposal because it seemed suspicious and walked away in August after meeting with Rothstein Rosenfeldt Alder’s general counsel, David Boden, in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office. Boden is not licensed to practice law in Florida.

The offer was to pay about 75 percent of the whistle-blowers’ pre-suit settlement of $900,000 up front in exchange for full payment over time. The investor said the offer dealt with one of more than 100 similar settlements.

Look folks, its simple: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Anyhoo, I needed to clear my head and lacking a G5 to ferry me to Morocco , I drove to the Redlands to pick tomatoes. Really. Don't mock me. Try it sometime.

That's where I heard Cadillac Sky. I know, I know: It's Bluegrass. Don't be such a snob. Turn it up. Give it a listen. You never know, you just might like it.

N.B.: I Was Born Lonesome.

When You Have a Fool for a Client

I don't know about you, but for some reason all these pictures of Scottie make me hungry for a bacon double cheese burger.

Anyhoo, remember years ago when University of Miami Law School Professor D. Marvin Jones was arrested and falsely accused of picking up hookers, when the "hooker" was an undercover cop? No, me either. Until now.

That's because D. Marvin, going at it pro se, advised his client to sue the popular Big Law Blog "Above the Law" for 100 billion dollars for a "viciously rascist series of rants." (Okay, okay: he sued for 22 million.) Professor Jones filed the suit on October 27, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and named David Lat, the Blog's managing editor, publisher David Minkin, and the parent company as defendants. (Why doesn't he have a parent company? What would the parent company be named, if he had one?)

So, now this is news all over again.

Above The Law even posted a sort of commemorative montage (that's French), re-posting today what was buried in almost three year old posts. (The blog apparently disabled comments on its montage. In my transactional mind, that strikes me as an ill advised move resembling an admission. But I'm not smart like those Big Law heroes.)

Begging the question: why do this now? Maybe I am not that smart and am too conservative and scared and not a litigator, but where is the wisdom and sound judgment in bringing this up again? Did the Professor bounce this off experienced practicing lawyers, or even his colleagues? And, why did no lawyer in the community want to take this case? Even pro bono?

Perhaps the answers to these questions and others can be found in this great article.

N.B. The case drew Judge Marcia Cooke.