With the rise of cryptocurrency, estate lawyers caution that it shouldn’t be treated like any other asset

by Angela Morris (ABA Journal, November 2018) As the cryptocurrency craze spreads, the mainstream public is investing in bitcoin and other digital currencies. With dollar signs in their eyes, they might not think about what happens to their cryptocurrency when they die. Cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin or Ethereum’s ether, could vanish into thin air unless estate-planning lawyers spur their crypto-loving clients to make inheritance plans. But there are traps for estate-planning attorneys to watch for in order to ensure that heirs will have access to a client’s cryptocurrency after death, while making sure the client won’t be giving up the keys to the castle prematurely. “This is a whole new area for estate-planning lawyers,” says Pamela Morgan, an attorney and author who founded Empowered Law and trains lawyers about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. “It’s an opportunity to grow your client base­—to attract new people who never thought about this before.” Read this story at ABAJournal.com.

Two-year J.D. programs for foreign students are spiking

The number of law schools offering a two-year J.D. program for international lawyers has grown steadily over the past eight years, and observers expect the trend to continue. “I just think people are seeing there’s a market for it. They see there’s demand. From our perspective, the other impetus behind this is it really adds to a richer experience in the classroom,” said Amanda Wolfe, director of global programs at The University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson. “We put a premium on an international experience here.” Wolfe said Arizona Law had the nation’s first two-year J.D. for international lawyers, and each year since its launch in 2010, she’s noticed other schools launching their own programs. Both Wolfe and Andrew Horsfall, assistant dean of international programs at Syracuse University College of Law in New York, which launched its two-year J.D. for foreign attorneys in 2015, said they expect more such offerings. This article first published in The International Jurist on Oct. 16, 2018. Download a PDF.

Brace Yourselves, PACER-Like Systems Are Coming This Winter

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.
https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2018/10/04/brace-yourselves-pacer-like-systems-are-coming-this-winter/

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Federal Judge: Prosecutor ‘Absurd’ for Using Deportation As Reason for Denying Bond in Criminal Case

A federal judge has called a U.S. prosecutor’s argument absurd and a problem of the government’s own making in a recent ruling that highlights the clash between criminal court processes and the nation’s increasingly controversial immigration policies.

Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin was frustrated by the prosecutor’s reasoning about why Austin should keep a defendant in jail rather than release him on pretrial bond for a felony charge of unlawful reentry. Unlawful re-entry cases have grown increasingly common under the Trump administration as it charges immigrants at the border en masse with the crime, and as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sweeps up undocumented immigrants in raids on employers.

https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2018/09/19/federal-judge-prosecutor-absurd-for-using-deportation-as-reason-for-denying-bond-in-criminal-case/

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Why You Should Take a Vacation From Your Phone. And Why You Probably Won’t.

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.

Link.

PDF: why-you-should-take-a-vacation-from-your-phone-and-why-you-probably-wont

BigLaw firms are working together to influence how blockchain technology will operate in the future

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.

Link.

PDF: biglaw_cryptocurrency_blockchain_smart_contracts

Lawsuit accuses sheriffs of underfeeding inmates, pocketing meal money

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.

Link.

PDF: alabama_underfeeding_inmates_meal_money