How Law Firms Can Help Their Lawyers’ Well-Being

Law firms in Texas need to change to address a crisis in the legal profession.

As a follow-up to a shocking 2016 report showing that one in three lawyers are problem drinkers and one in four have depression, a national task force has made recommendations for law firms, judges, bar associations and law schools to address widespread lawyer well-being issues.

Texas Lawyers Assistance Program director Bree Buchanan served as a co-chairwoman of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, which released the report. Texas Lawyer interviewed Buchanan to learn more about what law firms should do to promote their lawyers’ well-being. Here are her answers, edited for brevity and clarity.

Published on TexasLawyer.com on Aug. 16, 2017.

PDF: How Law Firms Can Help Their Lawyers Well Being _ Texas Lawyer

Federal Judge’s Incentive Gives Women Lawyers More Speaking Roles in Court

In light of a recent study showing female lawyers aren’t getting many speaking roles in the courtroom, one federal judge in Texas noted that she’s indirectly increased opportunities for women attorneys by encouraging firms to send young lawyers to argue at hearings.

While trying to provide courtroom experience to young lawyers in the age of the vanishing jury trial, Chief Judge Barbara Lynn of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas created a voluntary rule in her court about 10 years ago that said if firms sent young attorneys to argue their own briefs and motions at hearings, she would be more likely to grant an oral argument. Even though her main goal was training the lawyers of the future, many of those getting opportunities are women and minorities—something she hoped would happen. Those opportunities have been amplified as 20 to 30 other federal judges have followed Lynn’s lead and created young lawyer rules of their own.

Published on Law.com on August 9, 2017.

PDF: Federal Judge’s Incentive Gives Women Lawyers More Speaking Roles in Court

 

Disciplinary Suit Filed Against Lawyer for Filing Frivolous Legal Mal Case

Mark Womack, a Houston solo practitioner who beat back a legal malpractice case after eight years of litigation, said he’s gratified that the State Bar of Texas filed a disciplinary lawsuit against the lawyer who represented the plaintiff who sued him.

The Commission for Lawyer Discipline sued Houston solo practitioner Armando Lopez in Harris County District Court, alleging he violated rules that ban a lawyer from bringing a frivolous lawsuit, lying to a court or being dishonest, fraudulent, deceitful or misrepresentative. The original petition said that Lopez represented a plaintiff in an underlying malpractice suit against Womack, who eventually filed the grievance against Lopez.

“It was serious misconduct,” said Womack. “I’m gratified the state bar has made the decision to enforce the rules in this fashion. I think it shows the system works.”

Published on TexasLawyer.com on Aug. 8, 2017.

PDF: Disciplinary Suit Filed Against Lawyer for Filing Frivolous Legal Mal Case _ Texas Lawyer

Don’t Know What Blockchain Is? You Should. This Law Prof Can Help.

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

$30M in Bitcoin Ordered Returned in Cryptocurrency Class Action

A federal judge has ordered the return of 11,000 bitcoins worth about $30 million in a decision considered the first of its kind.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida stems from a class action in which plaintiffs alleged that the defendant had stolen their money and fled to China.

In today’s cryptocurrency world, however, the legal victory might only be worth the paper it’s printed on.

Published on DailyBusinessReview.com on Aug. 1, 2017.

PDF: 30M in Bitcoin Ordered Returned in Cryptocurrency Class Action _ Daily Business Review

Surviving Law School: Advice From Those Who Know

As summer winds to an end, a new crop of law students is preparing for the grueling first year of law school, and veteran students are gearing up to return to studying.

Before Texas law schools open their doors for a new school year in late August, Texas Lawyer reached out to members of law school communities across the Lone Star State, asking for their advice for new and returning students. Students, deans, professors, career services deans and student affairs professionals answered the call.

Here are their tips for new and returning law students to tackle their studies and navigate their career paths, while staying happy and healthy. Their responses have been edited for brevity, clarity and style.

Published in Texas Lawyer magazine’s August 2017 issue.

PDF: Surviving Law School Advice From Those Who Know _ Texas Lawyer

GC Impact Player: Toyota Motor North America GC Sandra Phillips Rogers

As general counsel of one of the country’s largest automakers, Sandra Phillips Rogers oversees very busy legal happenings every day, yet she always sets aside time for her passion: making the legal profession more diverse.

At Toyota Motor North America Inc., Rogers has already built a diverse team of lawyers in her legal department. Her quest does not end there: She requires outside law firms to staff her matters with diverse lawyers, and to influence the wider legal profession, she spends a significant amount of time speaking at conferences about her efforts at Toyota.

“As lawyers, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the profession, and I absolutely and fundamentally believe as a legal profession we have got to be diverse and inclusive for the same reasons it’s important to Toyota. I think to be the best lawyers we can be, to deliver the best legal advice we can, to be good representatives and stewards of the community, we have got to reflect the communities in which we work,” said Rogers, who also cofounded the University of Texas School of Law’s Center for Women in the Law and co-chaired the center’s 2017 Women’s Power Summit on Law and Leadership, an invitation-only event of very powerful female lawyers.

Published in Texas Lawyer magazine’s August 2017 issue.

PDF: GC Impact Player Toyota Motor North America GC Sandra Phillips Rogers _ Texas Lawyer