It’s been an incredibly busy year for Pennsylvania legal news, from key opinions to major mergers, and trials and scandals that captivated practitioners and the general public alike. Thank you for reading us throughout the year, and we’ll be back for all of the news, both big and small, in 2014. In the meantime, here are the 10 most-read stories we published this year, with links and a brief passage from each, beginning with an impassioned essay from our Young Lawyer Editorial Board.
We cannot pretend that suicide presents easy questions with simple answers. When a community grapples with this kind of loss, the sentiment is often expressed that if something could have been done, we would have done it. If signs were visible, we would have seen them and intervened. If a cry for help was made, we would have answered the call. In the absence of warning signs or pleas for help, we attempt to comfort ourselves with the resolution that such a loss could not have been prevented, thus relieving ourselves of our own feelings of confusion, anger or even guilt. Whether and how we as individuals move on, however, there is at least one professional institution that should not escape this conversation so easily or so quietly: our law schools.
According to several knowledgeable sources in the Philadelphia court system, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery contacted a high-level Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas leader about civil cases in 2012. Two of the cases, sources said, involved a law firm that had previously paid a referral fee to McCaffery’s spouse. One source who is knowledgeable of the court system also said the Philadelphia-based justice has contacted court leadership regarding filling jobs and filling judicial leadership roles.
A Philadelphia jury has handed up a $42.9 million award in a medical malpractice case stemming from the premature birth of a child who suffered multiple physical and cognitive impairments as a result.
7. What Happened to Independent Foreclosure Review?
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) abruptly announced January 7 that it was ending the Independent Foreclosure Review of the mortgage servicing practices of 11 of the largest mortgage servicing companies in favor of an $8.5 billion settlement.
A unanimous three-judge Superior Court panel in Commonwealth v. Lynn reversed the conviction and discharged [Monsignor William J.] Lynn. Lynn’s lawyers had argued following his conviction that the trial judge had refused to address the defense argument that a pre-amended version of Pennsylvania’s law criminalizing endangerment of the welfare of children did not apply in the case.
A Philadelphia personal injury attorney who admitted to diverting clients away from law firms with misleading information about cases and law firm status, mishandling settlement funds from suits, forging checks and engaging in frivolous litigation was given a 30-month suspension by the state Supreme Court.
Firm leaders and consultants who spoke to The Legal pointed to a decided shift away from a focus on origination credit, though no one predicted bringing in business would become irrelevant when firms dole out attorney compensation.
In what the Disciplinary Board of the state Supreme Court called a case of first impression, a Montgomery County attorney was suspended for six months after being convicted of invasion of privacy for covertly filming up the skirts of two females, one of whom was a minor, in a public place.
For a number of reasons, firms might start to put their foot down when it comes to rainmakers who threaten to leave unless their salary is increased. These partners might not be shown the door in an era where capturing revenue is key, but the firms won’t block the exit—that is, if the circumstances are right.
In the wake of recent support-staff reductions at Duane Morris, K&L Gates and other large firms, consultants and recruiters said more of these types of cuts are expected as firms seek to increase profits and shifts in technology gradually phase out the need for traditional clerical functions.