Move Over Moms, Male Lawyers Are Using Flextime Too

Say the word “flextime” and most people think of reduced hours for working mothers. But a small, yet growing number of male lawyers are using lighter job schedules to strike the right work-life balance.

More law firms in recent years have incorporated flextime policies—especially reduced-hour schedules—to help with attorney retention. And women, more than men, have used the policies to balance their jobs with raising kids.

But more widespread adoption by male attorneys of the benefit is expected to lift all boats—helping women lawyers juggle demands and attracting millennial attorneys less interested in working a constant grind.

Link.

PDF: Move Over Moms, Male Lawyers Are Using Flextime Too _ Law.com

 

Lawyers Getting Paid in Bitcoin (Mostly) Like It

Although it might go against a lawyer’s natural propensities toward risk aversion, some practitioners have started accepting payments in digital currencies amid the bitcoin boom.

“I’ve known for a long time that my opportunity to expand in certain areas has been affected by not taking it,” said Carol Van Cleef, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who for 10 years has represented cryptocurrency clients with regulatory compliance.

As far back as 2013, a handful of big law firms that represented the earliest cryptocurrency entrepreneurs started accepting bitcoin payments. Today, big and small firms alike, as well as solo practitioners, have followed their lead and have accepted cryptocurrency’s risks in order to meet clients’ needs and get paid.

Link

PDF:

How the Justice System Severely Failed One of its Own

Part of the horror of what happened to Suzanne Wooten is the realization that if the justice system failed so miserably for her, it could happen to anyone.

Wooten lived a nightmare: Winning an election by a landslide to unseat an incumbent judge, only to be allegedly targeted by political rivals, wrongfully convicted of nine felonies, cast down from her district court bench and stripped of her license to practice law.

Finally after six years living the bad dream, Wooten this year found complete redemption in May when a court acquitted her of all charges, declared her actually innocent, and she got back her law license in June.

Some things, Wooten will never get back. She used to believe if she paid her taxes, followed the speed limit, refused to drink and drive, or followed election campaign laws, she would be safe and wouldn’t get in legal trouble.

“The biggest horror is taking away from me and my family the sense of security we have,” Wooten said. “When something like this happens to you, my sense of being safe even just walking down the street—it’s gone, it’s destroyed.”

Wrongful conviction stories always loom large in the public consciousness because of the deep-seated need to believe that the justice system will get it right—convict the guilty, exonerate the innocent. When things go terribly wrong, people struggle to find some reason, so that they won’t have to believe that a wrongful conviction could happen to them, too.

How did the system fail Suzanne Wooten?

Link.

PDF: How the Justice System Severely Failed One of its Own _ Texas Lawyer

Call Her the Constable of Cryptocurrency

Once upon a time there was a hero who took down the corrupt French Maid, who had manipulated and stolen from the Dread Pirate Roberts on The Silk Road.

It sounds like the plot line of a swashbuckler movie, but actually, it’s part of the tale of Kathryn Haun’s rise as a federal prosecutor who helped lay the groundwork for the government to capture cryptocurrency criminals.

Right now, the value of just one bitcoin is hovering around $5,000, leading to rampant media coverage, pushing digital currency lexicon into the mainstream. But wide adoption depends much on the safety and security of the new technology, which is often compared to the Wild West.

Haun, first as a federal prosecutor and now as a bespoke legal consultant for emerging technology companies, has contributed much to beefing up security in the industry. In the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, she was the first digital currency coordinator. She handled cases that taught prosecutors to work through challenges in convicting cryptocurrency criminals, and sent loud-and-clear messages to digital currency companies to increase financial safeguards.

Link.

PDF: Call Her the Constable of Cryptocurrency

 

Don’t Know What Blockchain Is? You Should. This Law Prof Can Help.

Bitcoin. Ethereum. Blockchain. It sounds like a foreign language, clouded in mystery.

But with billions of dollars flowing through cryptocurrency systems, and governments and major companies looking to blockchain technology to reform a wide variety of critical record-keeping systems, law students and lawyers need to get up to speed.

Even with great change brewing, only a smattering of law professors have published research in the area, and even fewer have launched formal classes for law students.

Angela Walch is one of the first law professors who have latched on to the importance of digital currencies and blockchain technology. Starting research in 2012, Walch, who is a professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, has made a mark in the cryptocurrency community with research that suggested—despite the decentralized promise of blockchain technology—that actual identifiable people govern the systems, and furthermore, they should owe users a fiduciary duty. Walch’s law school course she started in 2013  was pioneering in teaching students about bitcoin and the blockchain.

This story published on law.com on August 7, 2017.

PDF: Don t Know What Blockchain Is You Should This Law Prof Can Help _ Texas Lawyer

Ben Crump Champions the Wrongfully Convicted in New TV Show

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump is well-known nationally for representing families of unarmed black people killed by police, like Michael Brown and Stephon Clark, in wrongful death and police brutality cases.

In his latest role, he’s the host of “Evidence of Innocence,” a new show on TV One about wrongful convictions with episodes running on Mondays in June.

Crump, president and founder of Ben Crump Law in Tallahassee and Los Angeles, narrates the stories and interviews the four wrongfully convicted African-Americans who are featured in the show. As the survivors—and the defense lawyers and investigators who won their clients’ freedom—sit under studio lights telling their stories, actors and actresses re-enact the drama, with intense music in the background.

We caught up with Crump, a former National Bar Association president, to ask about his role in the show, how it’s affected him personally and the larger impact he hopes to see from it. Here are his answers, edited for clarity and brevity.

Link.

PDF: ben-crump-champions-the-wrongfully-convicted-in-new-tv-show

Here’s How Much Johnny Sutton is Billing in UT Law Alleged Pay Fraud Case

Former U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, now working in private practice in Austin, was hired to investigate alleged fraudulent activities by a former employee of the University of Texas School of Law.

Texas Lawyer used the Texas Public Information Act request to get a copy of the legal contract for the lawyer that the University of Texas system hired to investigate Jason Shoumaker, who faces six counts of tampering with a government record for allegedly falsifying his time sheets. Prosecutors claim he filled out time sheets claiming he was working in his job as facilities director at Texas Law during times that his credit card statements showed he was actually making travel charges to lavish vacation destinations like Las Vegas, Miami, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and more. Shoumaker was arrested and booked into jail on May 4; he bonded out May 7.

Link.

PDF: heres-how-much-johnny-sutton-is-billing-in-ut-law-alleged-pay-fraud-case

Do journalists deserve some blame for America’s mass shootings?

The reporter who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for feature writing initially thought she was in Charleston, South Carolina, to chronicle the lives of nine church-goers who died in 2015 when a stranger with a Glock murdered them while they were praying.

The names, mug shots and one paragraph each about the lives of those nine victims did make it into Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s story, “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof,” published in GQ in September 2017.

But the rest of her over 12,000-word story told the tale of their killer instead. Ghansah spared nothing in tracking down intimate details of the shooter’s life, coming from his childhood friends, elementary school principal, church minister, co-workers, teenage pals and more. The reporter went back to his birth, telling of the isolation of his school years as a low-income white boy, can’t-get-out-of-bed depression, rancid racism, incessant preparations for killing African-American parishioners and his death sentence for a federal hate crime conviction.

It’s an incredible work of journalism, but also an example of the type of mass shooting coverage that’s maddening to advocates who, for years, have tried to little avail to persuade the media to stop publishing the names and images of mass shooters.

This article first published in Quill Magazine in June. It’s available for reprints. Contact me for details.

Continue reading Do journalists deserve some blame for America’s mass shootings?

The Secret Recipe to Bar Prep: Meal Prep?

Everyone knows that eating fast food, candy and sugary drinks can cause weight gain, but aside from the battle against the bulge, there’s another great reason for law graduates to strive toward more healthful eating while studying for the Texas bar exam. Science has shown that a good diet can boost brain health and mental functioning, helping good eaters to acquire knowledge, retain memories and better process mood and emotions. Even though it’s difficult to find the time, there are strategies that law students can use to change their eating habits for the better, whether they cook at home or dine out.

Link.

PDF: the-secret-to-bar-prep-meal-prep

Wrongfully Convicted District Judge Alleges Malicious Prosecution in Lawsuit

A district judge who was wrongfully convicted of nine felonies has sued the prosecutors involved in the case, alleging they prosecuted her maliciously for a political agenda.

Because of the convictions, former 380th District Judge Suzanne Wooten of Collin County had to resign her bench and saw her law license suspended, but last May a court acquitted her of all charges, declared her actually innocent, and she became a licensed lawyer again in June 2017. Wooten has now brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the prosecutors she claims conspired to wrongfully indict and prosecute her by “inventing and perverting law, misleading judges and juries” and dismantling Wooten’s life and career.

“She wants to be vindicated. This lawsuits serves as the last chapter in her struggles to vindicate herself and show what happened to her was wrong and unjust. They ruined her life,” said Dallas solo practitioner Scott H. Palmer, who represents Wooten. “Her civil rights were trampled on, and she wants to prove that.”

Link.

PDF: wrongfully-convicted-district-judge-alleges-malicious-prosecution-in-lawsuit

Task Force Recommends Ditching Texas Bar Exam for UBE

Texas law graduates would no longer face the Texas bar exam, and instead take a test with fewer essay questions that could qualify them for a law license in 29 states, if the Texas Supreme Court accepts a recommendation from one of its task forces.

In a report this week, the Task Force on the Texas Bar Examination, which the high court created in June 2016, said that Texas should ditch the Texas bar exam in favor of the uniform bar exam, which still includes the multistate bar exam, but supplements those tests with a new online test focusing on Texas law.

Link.

PDF: task-force-recommends-ditching-texas-bar-exam-for-ube

Entering Its 4th Year, Award-Winning Houston Law Center’s Pre-Law Pipeline Is Just Getting Started

Daniel Henry was studying to become an engineer, but something wasn’t right.

Studying for his undergraduate engineering courses at the University of Houston was boring—a real chore—and he couldn’t see himself in the field for the rest of his life. Then an African-American studies course made him realize his true passion was fighting for justice and helping the black community.

But how?

That question lead him to enroll in an innovative, intense diversity program at the University of Houston Law Center, unprecedented among Texas law schools and rare among nationwide law schools, which has won national accolades from diversity advocates.

“I just went to learn about the legal field, and I came out knowing [and] fighting for justice as an attorney was my purpose,” Henry said.

Link.

PDF: prelaw pipeline program