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Things we think of in December Chestnuts roasting by an open fire, employment suits sizzling in the courts . . . . According to the database LexisNexis, which posts the information on its home page alongside a chiming silver bell, December is the month to think about building your practice if you’re an employment lawyer. A new project at the database entails surveying federal court dockets and noting trends, explained Kevin Stehr, senior director of strategic planning at CourtLink. The past five years show that December spikes in the number of suits filed by workers against past and present bosses. “Discrimination and bias accusations are holding steady, and wage-and-hour complaints are definitely up-as you’d expect in an economy that’s been depressed,” said Stehr. The reason for December’s popularity? “It’s the end of the yearly cycle, after people have been laid off,” Stehr suggested. “And, supporting that, we see mini-spikes in June and September, which mark ends of quarters or fiscal years.” About 8% of federal filings are employment cases, CourtLink says. The December spike is about 2000 filings. Ad backlash? A story making the rounds on the Internet thanks to an e-mail written by Monterey, Calif., Assistant City Attorney Deborah Mall sounds a warning to lawyers considering television advertising. Mall was defending against a suit by a woman who said she was injured in a city swimming pool. During voir dire, with about 60 potential jurors present, the judge asked if anyone knew either counsel. An elderly man raised his hand, indicted plaintiff’s counsel James Spiering, and said, according to Mall, “I know that slimeball over there from his TV ads.” Everyone agreed to excuse the man. While Mall said she never considered Spiering’s ads sleazy, she said they seem to have disappeared from the airwaves. True as far as it goes, responds Spiering. “But when that blankety-blank old cuss stepped down, he winked at me,” said the personal injury lawyer. He thinks the man just wanted off jury duty. Even before the incident, Spiering said, his firm Spiering Swartz & Kennedy had a policy of taking its ads off the air when it was in trial. It also doesn’t advertise during times of the year, like summer, when viewership will be off. He insisted he remains convinced TV spots for lawyers are a good thing. Long good-bye A judge has thrown out a suit by Barbra Streisand against the environmental photographer who, while documenting the coastline, took photos of her Malibu, Calif., home. Notwithstanding the flurry of Babs-bashing that the suit set off, it must not have been all that obvious Streisand was off the reservation when she complained the photo offered stalkers a road map. The tentative decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman was 46 pages. Prompt good-bye Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, lawyer Edward A. DiGiantonio has been denied his request to postpone his one-year prison term until after the holidays. DiGiantonio pleaded guilty to stealing $68,000, his client’s whole share of a medical malpractice settlement he reached against a nursing home. The money was to go into a fund for the mentally disabled 70-year-old, to be administered by her sister. The sister went to the Akron Bar Association when she suspected something was amiss. In the end, DiGiantonio admitted he had forged the sister’s name on a check. Besides insisting on an immediate trip to the slammer, Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judith Hunter has ordered restitution.

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