By the end of the year, the Lone Star State will have a PACER-like court records system.
The Texas Supreme Court took the next step in expanding re:SearchTX, which grants access to state court records electronically filed anywhere in Texas, so that lawyers can download documents in any case—and so can the general public—at a cost of 10 cents per page up to a $6 maximum per document.
The system has operated since February 2017 with limited access for judges, court clerks and attorneys of record to access documents in their own cases. This new order opens access further to attorneys—they’ll be able to access any case, not just their own—and other registered users who provide personal information like their name, address, phone number and more.
Published on Texas Lawyer on Oct. 4, 2018.
On a three-week family vacation to Greece and Croatia, Andrew Giacomini left his phone in his room to disconnect from his litigation practice.
Although Giacomini, the managing partner at Hanson Bridgett in San Francisco, checked emails, his colleagues probably didn’t know—because Giacomini never responded. He billed zero hours during his 21-day trip and focused on recharging.
“I have the philosophy: Balanced lawyers give balanced advice,” Giacomini said. “You’re not going to be offering the best advice to your clients with burned-out lawyers.”
Giacomini’s strategy is part of wider recognition within the legal profession that true downtime for lawyers is crucial. With mental health problems and addiction percentages higher among lawyers compared with other professions, some firms are acknowledging that lawyers truly need to detach from the office to recharge.
The cryptocurrency and blockchain technology industry is already crowded with firms eager to nab high-tech startups as clients or help legacy clients navigate a brave new world.
But some BigLaw firms have gone further. Over the past 2½ years, several of the largest firms in the world have joined legal working groups aimed at bringing crypto and blockchain attorneys together to share information, learn from one another, and help craft best practices.
When Alabama inmates asked what’s for dinner, the sad answer was often a plate with spoiled meat or food contaminated with rodent droppings.
Meanwhile, the state’s sheriffs charged with their upkeep were reportedly pocketing inmate food funds—spending the money on things such as beach homes, personal investments, electronics and home lawn services.
These allegations are the basis of a lawsuit filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights and Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice against 49 Alabama sheriffs after the SCHR received hundreds of letters and calls from inmates about problems with food at county jails across the state.
In the midst of a hurricane season capable of producing half a dozen or so hurricanes, having a disaster recovery plan is tantamount for firms operating on the East Coast and gulf—whether you’re a solo lawyer or a big law firm.
As Houston still recovers from Hurricane Harvey, several panels at the State Bar of Texas annual meeting in Houston tackled the steps that lawyers and firms need to take to prepare and recover from disasters, of any variety.
State Bar of President Joe Longley issued a call to arms for Texas attorneys to put their minds together and find a way to reunite immigrant children with their parents and protect their rights to due process.
Just after taking the oath of office to become this year’s bar president—a historic event, as Longley is the very first state bar president elected by seeking lawyers’ signatures on a petition—Longley said that the family separation crisis has become a national disaster in his view.
“We have got to figure out a way as lawyers and members of this noble profession to give honor to the words on the statute of liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,’” said Longley to applause. He showed an image of a toddler girl wailing as an officer arrested her mother shortly after they crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico to Texas.
Being an openly LGBT judge in Texas has its challenges, but also benefits.
At a panel discussion at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in Houston, four LGBT judges—from municipal court to district court benches—talked about their pathways to the bench, how they can be role models and help other LGBT lawyers and litigants, and the personal challenges they’ve faced by breaking into the judiciary.
One good pathway for an LGBT lawyer to become a judge is to seek an appointment to a municipal court bench—that was the path for Houstonites Phyllis Frye, a transgender judge, and Steven Kirkland, a gay judge.