Going Nameless and Faceless

Going Nameless and Faceless

By Angela Morris (Editor & Publisher, January 2019)

There’s mounting evidence of a contagion effect in media coverage of mass shootings and school shootings, but experts say that most journalists know nothing about the research. Victims’ advocates and academic scholars who urge media reform have said the media is doing better at reporting more about victims, survivors and the community, but they feel frustrated by their lack of progress in getting the press to limit the use of mass shooters’ names and images. Because reporters and editors know that reporting about mass shooters can help society by highlighting problems and potential solutions, it’s key that journalists themselves start a discussion about how to fulfill their duty to society, while also limiting the harmful effects of mass shooting coverage.

This article originally published in Quill in June 2018, and was republished in Editor & Publisher in January 2019.

Tort Reform Turns 10

Tort Reform Turns 10

By Angela Morris (Texas Lawyer, September 2, 2013)

There’s no doubt that 2003’s major medical-malpractice reforms dramatically cut both the numbers of med-mal suits in Texas and doctors’ med-mal insurance rates. But there’s disagreement about its affect on the state’s physician population.

In 2003, when the Texas Legislature debated House Bill 4, supporters and opponents predicted the impact. Supporters said HB 4 would retain and attract physicians and improve patients’ access to care. Opponents said it would prevent certain plaintiffs with legitimate claims from finding lawyers to represent them.

What really happened during 10 years of tort reform?

Lawyers Contribute Pro Bono Hours After Sutherland Springs Shooting

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

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

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

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

‘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