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.

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.

Could 80 percent of cases be resolved through online dispute resolution?

Perhaps in five to seven years, as Colin Rule sees it, half of U.S. citizens who file court cases will have access to online dispute resolution software walking them step by step through their matters, resolving up to 80 percent of cases. Rule, a nonlawyer mediator, is vice president for online dispute resolution at Tyler Technologies. In this episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast, Rule speaks with Angela Morris about the possibilities–and pitfalls–for this technology. Listen to the podcast here.

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.

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.

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/

PDF: