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Nearly 30 law schools in the United States have or soon will offer a master's degree for nonlawyers -- up from just a handful two years ago. The programs differ slightly in name, structure and cost, but they generally are marketed to working professionals. Although the movement remains in its early stages, to administrators across the country it represents a promising counterpoint to waning interest in the traditional three-year J.D. degree. And while part of the incentive behind the trend is economic, the new direction also marks an effort to move legal education away from a one-size-fits-all model.
A paraplegic lawyer who has filed thousands of disability access suits is now facing a sex harassment suit by former employees, who also accuse him of something that has defense attorneys buzzing. The women say Scott Johnson sent them into businesses with cameras and measuring tapes, after which he would cite the findings in warning letters and filings, a potential violation of laws requiring plaintiffs to personally be denied access.
Although 2012 was the year of billion-dollar wins in patent cases, the largest award of this year so far has come in an antitrust case. A federal judge in Kansas has trebled the damages in a class action in which the plaintiffs alleged that Dow Chemical fixed prices for the chemical urethane. A jury returned a $400 million verdict in February, so the chemical giant is now on the hook for $1.2 billion.
The judge presiding over one of the most politically charged cases in recent New York City history says her 20 years on the bench have taught her to "appreciate more than ever the words 'judicial independence.'" Shira Scheindlin, in an interview during the bench trial over the constitutionality of police anti-crime stop, question and frisk policies, said there are too many judges who don't want to deliver controversial rulings.
Related story: Ground Is Shifting in 14-Year Litigation
In-house counsel tackled an increased number of class action lawsuits last year, but managed to tamp down legal spend by an average of $100,000 per matter, according to the 2013 Carlton Fields Class Action Survey. Three key strategies were found to make a big difference for in-house departments' efforts to control costs.
Ropes & Gray has settled a discrimination suit by a former partner who claimed management routinely passed her clients off to younger male partners and unfairly pushed her out of the firm. In a one-page stipulation, Ropes and Patricia Martone agreed that all claims and counterclaims "are hereby withdrawn" and "dismissed in their entirety, with prejudice," with neither side having to pay the other's attorney fees.
Concluding that a judge's tendency to "interrupt, patronize, and admonish" an attorney deprived the lawyer's client of a fair medical malpractice trial, a New York appellate court has ordered a retrial before another judge. The panel wrote that the conflict, which occured "at all phases of the trial," often in front of the jury, "unnecessarily injected personality issues into the case, which militated against a fair trial."
3-D printing technology, which makes it possible to create an item by simply downloading a design file and printing it out as a plastic object, is likely to trigger legal conflicts surrounding copyrights, trademarks and patents. Although it's too soon to predict which industry will be turned upside-down by 3-D printing technology, some attorneys are confident that "it's going to happen."
Citing claims that the company instructed an employee to sign an arbitration agreement the day she was fired, U.S. District Judge William Alsup called the case "beyond the pale."
Accused mobster James "Whitey" Bulger is fighting the government's request to conduct criminal background checks on jurors who pass preliminary screening for his trial.
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips has launched a division to counsel clients on business opportunities associated with digital media based in Los Angeles' "Silicon Beach." Moreover, the firm has hired an entrepreneur to run its own venture capital fund, which will invest in emerging technology companies.
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Travel-savvy attorneys hit the road with only the minimum number of devices necessary to complete their work quickly and effectively. Writer John Edwards recommends ten things that can stay home.
Eric Turkewitz, of The Turkewitz Law Firm and author of the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, offers dos and don'ts for first-time legal bloggers.