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Author Archives: ED POLL

Commentary: Can I really raise my rates?

As the holiday season began, I received an e-mail inquiry from a lawyer asking if I had a standard letter that his firm could use to inform clients that hourly rates would increase on January 1. Since most firms have ...

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Commentary: Questions of personal morality

Lawyers are ethically bound to abide by the law and by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibit any “criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects,” as well ...

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Commentary: Pro bono internships done right

Having written critically about the implications of major law firms offering newly hired associates to fill vacant judiciary clerkships, it seems only fair to cite a more positive trend. In October 2009, the Associated Press reported that a number of ...

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Commentary: A collaborative approach to staffing

In today’s economic environment, corporate clients see outside counsel as a fungible commodity, while the outside lawyers still see themselves as unique and valuable. This is not the foundation for a long-term, healthy relationship. I’ve participated in recent conversations between ...

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Have tickets, will travel?

With the recession hurting revenue, cutting expenses is the most feasible way for law firms to preserve profitability. But some expenses are better targets than others. For example, canceling meetings that bring people together for training, sharing of best practices, ...

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Life is unfair – but layoffs shouldn’t be

Law firms are not exempt from the legal requirements to operate a workplace free from discrimination. That means ensuring that characteristics other than an individual’s skills, experience and knowledge do not become factors in making employment decisions — including layoffs ...

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Of doctors, lawyers and ownership

For insight into the legal profession’s current troubles, compare the career experience of lawyers with that of doctors. In the medical profession, interns work with older practitioners, learning both practice and client/patient communication skills. Eventually, the young physician takes over ...

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Silver lining in clouds

Recently a reporter interviewed me concerning the environment that new law school graduates will face. It was the closest I’ll come to giving a commencement address, and quite frankly I believe the near-term outlook is not bright. There are major ...

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Ignore ‘The Business of Law’ at Your Peril

The New York Times recently examined the current down-at-the-heels atmosphere in a once-mighty Wall Street law firm, describing the “melancholy pall of diminished billable hours” now found throughout the firm’s deserted hallways. The article made clear that this could be ...

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So you think there is nowhere to turn?

The story was tragic, and provoked wide comment among lawyers and blawgers on the Internet. A 59-year-old lawyer who had in his career been a senior Justice Department official, had argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and headed the appellate ...

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Even the smallest law firms can be sold

The global financial crisis has created fear and confusion for countless lawyers who, like many others, suddenly have seen nest eggs shrink dramatically and fear they may outlive them if they don’t continue working. The only way many lawyers see ...

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Large-firm layoffs create ripples in the pond

The drumbeat of stories about lawyer and staff terminations at large corporate law firms has some solo and small firm practitioners scratching their heads. These folks are accustomed to tough competitive conditions, and have never felt “entitled” to six-figure salaries ...

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Are you engaged in ‘civil’ practice?

In recent years, many state and local bar associations have adopted voluntary professionalism goals and standards that attempt to discourage “unprofessional conduct” and encourage “civility” for lawyers engaged in litigation. Typically, these codes are not mandatory, and non-compliance carries no ...

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Do you dream of being a managing partner?

In years past it was a cliché that children dreamed of becoming President of the United States when they grew up. That’s likely still the case to some extent, but given today’s gigantic salaries in segments of Corporate America, it’s ...

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Lawyers offer clients your guarantee of commitment

No lawyer can ethically guarantee a result. To do so comes under Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1’s prohibition of false or misleading communication, which the ABA’s commentary says includes “lead[ing] a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation” about results. ...

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Money or justice — must we choose?

I firmly believe, and have often written, that a lawyer must make an adequate living at his or her practice before making a meaningful pro bono effort. Two recent articles in California’s legal press set parameters on what this means ...

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