Lawyers Contribute Pro Bono Hours After Sutherland Springs Shooting

by Angela Morris (Texas Lawyer, November 2018)

“I was processing the totality of it. I saw right then and there we were going to have family law issues, probate issues,” Wilson County Attorney Tom Caldwell recalled. “When I came home that night, I was so shook up by it, I told my wife I would handle them all. She said, ‘No, you are not.’”

Next, he called for help from his friend, Tom Keyser, a past president of the San Antonio Bar Association, who put Caldwell in touch with SABA’s Community Justice Program, which assists low-income people with civil legal matters.

That connection set a plan in motion that eventually attracted 100 lawyers from the San Antonio community who pledged to volunteer to help victims, survivors and their families with legal issues that arose from the tragic shooting. SABA’s Sutherland Springs initiative has already called upon half of those 100 volunteer attorneys, helping with matters large and small—from answering a client’s question over the phone, to taking on full representation. All of the lawyers gave their services free of charge, and volunteer attorneys are still standing by today to help survivors and victims’ families with legal issues that spring up later.

For Breast-Pumping Lawyer Moms, Accommodations Often Fall Short

by Angela Morris (Law.com, Oct. 31, 2018, Link or download PDF)

The old saying, “Don’t crying over spilled milk,” doesn’t apply when you’re a nursing lawyer-mom, using a toilet as a table while pumping your breast milk during your practice group’s annual retreat.

Utilizing the bathroom as a makeshift baby-food kitchen wasn’t labor and employment litigator Elise Elam’s first choice. She recalled she was relegated to the loo only after staff in the retreat facility offered up a room with a non-closing door that left a gap where she could see the speaker talking to all her colleagues. The toilet stall was private, at least. After she finished pumping and started to gather her gear, that’s when it happened: Elam’s milk spilled all over the toilet and floor. She acknowledges—she cried.

“It was stressful,” explained Elam, staff attorney at Frost Brown Todd in Cincinnati.

Like many nursing lawyer-moms, Elam is happy with her law firm’s breastfeeding accommodations—she has a private office and closes her door with a do-not-disturb sign when she expresses her milk—yet she continues facing struggles when depositions, hearings or legal conferences take her away from home base for extended periods of time. Courthouses have emerged as a primary problem area for nursing lawyers who need a private place, and time, to pump milk for their babies.

One group advocating on behalf of breastfeeding attorneys is MothersEsquire, a Facebook group with 3,000 lawyer-moms spread around the nation, which created a breastfeeding accommodations advisory committee in early 2017.

Are law firms committed to disability diversity? A handful of firms have taken action

As the nation in October celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month, statistics show that the legal profession as a whole either isn’t doing its fair share to recruit, retain and advance attorneys with disabilities, or it has failed to be inclusive enough for disabled lawyers to feel comfortable disclosing their impairments. Many law firms state generally that they’re welcoming to people with disabilities, but only a handful have put their words into meaningful action. … This article published in the ABA Journal on Oct. 24. Click here to read the story, or you can download a PDF here.

Women-Owned Law Firms Surge Amid Gender Disparity in the Profession

Work-life balance is often pegged as the reason women leave traditional law firms. But for the growing number of women establishing their own firms, their departure is often rooted more deeply in gender inequality in the profession than in raising children or having more free time. “If women were feeling valued, were getting properly rewarded for their efforts, were getting their fair share and it wasn’t a constant struggle to get your origination credit, and feel you are part of the team—then you would stay,” said Nicole Galli, who in 2017 co-founded a trade association, Women Owned Law, which has already grown to 200 members. Also growing in membership is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, which doles out the prestigious Women’s Business Enterprise certification. It currently certifies 300 law firms, and just 11 percent of those law firms have held their certifications for 10 years or more. A full 50 percent of them just earned certification within the past five years. Among the 300 WBE-certified law firms, 16 percent were newly founded within the past five years, according to council spokeswoman Jessica Carlson. Originally published on law.com on Oct. 9, 2018. Download a PDF.

‘Extreme Part-Time’ Lawyer-Moms Flock to Freelance Firms

After having her second child, Southern California litigator Erin Giglia worked part-time for law firm Snell & Wilmer, but fellow associate Laurie Rowen had different plans for work when her baby girl was born 16 days after Giglia’s daughter.

Rowen always knew she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, while continuing to do legal work on an extremely part-time basis. It took nearly a year for Giglia to jump on board, but when she did, the pair co-founded Montage Legal Group, a new legal business model especially attractive to women.

Montage and firms like it have proven a good match for all sorts of lawyers who want to set their own work terms, but they have become particularly popular with lawyer moms who want to dramatically reduce their hours after they give birth, but who also want to stay in the legal game. The part-time experience at these kinds of firms also eases the transition back into the profession full time, if they choose to, when their children get older.

Link.

PDF: extreme-part-time-lawyer-moms-flock-to-freelance-firms

This One MtGox Creditor Might Recover $61 Million Dollars – or Some Other Amount of Dollars or Possibly No Dollars

This article first published on Popula.com on July 12, 2018. It is available for reprints.

PDF: this-one-mtgox-creditor-might-recover-61-million-dollars

“You can open the champagne now.”

Joyful celebration lit up online groups for creditors of the bankrupt MtGox exchange on June 22, when a Japanese court decided to move the company into “civil rehabilitation,” a new legal process that promises to deliver a windfall of bitcoin for creditors.

It’s spectacular news for the 24,750 approved MtGox creditors, because based on today’s bitcoin value they will end up with more money that they actually had at the time MtGox went into bankruptcy. The original bankruptcy proceeding, by law, would have paid creditors just $483 per bitcoin—the value when MtGox went bankrupt in 2014. Under civil rehabilitation, they will receive bitcoins, which are now trading at around $6,000 each, plus their share of whatever cash remains in the MtGox estate. While they missed out on the peak price of almost $19,000 last December, this is still more moolah than they ever dreamed back in 2014.

“This is the best news in this case since years,” wrote one man on the MtGox Creditors Telegram group, just after someone posted the MtGox trustee’s June 22 announcement that the Tokyo District Court approved MtGox’s move.

But a more tempered response came from Josh Jones, CEO and founder of Bitcoin Builder Inc., whose claim towers at 43,768 bitcoins—though he’s quick to point out some belongs to him, and some to his site’s users. Jones’s group is the second-largest MtGox creditor, right behind New Zealand’s bankrupt Bitcoinica exchange with 64,673 bitcoins.

Continue reading This One MtGox Creditor Might Recover $61 Million Dollars – or Some Other Amount of Dollars or Possibly No Dollars

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?