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.
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?
PDF: How the Justice System Severely Failed One of its Own _ Texas Lawyer
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.
PDF: Call Her the Constable of Cryptocurrency
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
Three Texas institutions are among the top 50 law schools feeding the most graduates into Big Law.
The University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas and the University of Houston Law Center all ranked on an exclusive listing of Go-To Law Schools by Law.com, a website by ALM Media, Texas Lawyer’s parent company. The list shows the top 50 schools based on the percentage of 2017 graduates who took associate jobs at the 100 U.S. firms with the most lawyers.
PDF: Three Texas Schools Among Top 50 Go-To Law Schools _ Texas Lawyer
The Texas Supreme Court has changed the state’s disciplinary procedural rules to give attorney disciplinary counsel the power to subpoena lawyers who are under investigation, and create new guidelines for imposing sanctions.
The Texas Legislature called upon those changes to the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure last year when it passed the State Bar of Texas’ Sunset review bill. The changes are slated to become effective for any grievance filed on or after June 1.
PDF: State’s Disciplinary Rules Now Allow for Subpoena of Lawyers Under Investigation _ Texas Lawyer
Texas legal educators are striving to recruit racially and ethnically diverse law students, but there’s one law school that’s excelling hand-over-fist compared to the others.
With 91 percent of its current students hailing from minority racial and ethnic backgrounds, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law takes the top spot when it comes to a diverse student body.
Texas Lawyer analyzed demographic data from the 10 Texas law schools and ranked them based on the percentage of minority students. Schools submit data annually to the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which is responsible for accrediting law schools.
PDF: One Texas Law School Is Doing the Heavy Lifting When It Comes to Diversity Efforts _ Texas Lawyer
Disbarment might be on the horizon for Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, because of his criminal conviction on 11 felony fraud-related charges.
Uresti, a personal injury attorney, fraudulently steered his clients to invest in FourWinds Logistics, a hydraulic fracking business that turned out as a Ponzi scheme. He pleaded not guilty, claiming he didn’t know about the scam until it was too late. One of Uresti’s lawyers has pledged to appeal Uresti’s convictions for wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and securities fraud violations.
Texas Lawyer spoke with Wayne Paris, managing member of Gillis Paris & Heinrich in Houston, who’s practiced legal ethics law for 40 years, about what an attorney disciplinary case against Uresti might look like and the possible outcome. Here are his answers, edited for brevity and clarity.
PDF: Here’s What an Attorney Discipline Case Against Texas Sen
The legal profession’s own #MeToo movement is playing out on Twitter.
Under the hashtag #LadyLawyerDiaries, the discussion over the last year has evolved to tackle serious and pervasive issues surrounding women in the law. It’s become a movement that enables female attorneys to speak out collectively about gender bias and sexual harassment in the legal profession.
We talked with Greenberg Traurig partner Kendyl Hanks of Austin, one woman—along with Goodwin associate Jaime Santos of Washington, D.C.—among a core group of about 15 female attorneys who have joined forces to tweet as one under the @LadyLawyerDiaryhandle. The group ranges in age from 20 to 40, coming from diverse legal backgrounds—law clerks, court staff attorneys, law firm associates and partners, law professors, in-house counsel.
PDF: Women Lawyers Join #MeToo Movement with Hashtag of Their Own _ Law
One of Texas’s public law schools has reeled during the past year under the stress of a censure from the nation’s law school accreditor, exacerbated by personality clashes between leaders of the law school and central university.
A series of bad publicity has unveiled problems within Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. The first problem became public in July 2017, when the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which accredits law schools, issued censures against the school for violation of an anti-discrimination accreditation standard, as well as multiple academic standards. Another round of negative press hit in October 2017, when TSU President Austin Lane abruptly canceled a law student organization’s event, which drew rowdy, disruptive protesters. The fiasco—participants said the university violated their free speech—was quickly followed by the resignation of interim law school dean James Douglas.
Documents obtained through a Texas Public Information Act Request reveal details pertaining to personality clashes and power struggles between Lane and Douglas. Interviews with Douglas and former dean Dannye Holley provide more insight about what happened behind the scenes, before and after the ABA’s censures.
PDF: Open Records Reveal Personality Clashes, Power Struggle at Thurgood Marshall _ Texas Lawyer
There’s no shortage of lawyers on Twitter trying to plug their legal services and drum up business. But a few have taken Twitter to a different level, skipping the business development angle altogether for a simpler goal.
To make people laugh.
Although it’s not an exhaustive list by far, here are a handful of lawyers and judges on Twitter who could bring a smile to your face. They tweet about everything from the law, to sports, their kids, their cars, or random daily life. But there’s one thing that holds them together: humor.
PDF: Just for Laughs_ These Tweeting Lawyers Yuck It Up _ Law