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April 28, 2006

Vital Voices, Improbability--and Julie Meets Hillary.

Last night my law partner and respected corporate tax attorney, Julie McGuire, an alleged Republican, was unexpectedly introduced to Hillary Rodham Clinton, certainly a Democrat, by Paula Stern, a very accomplished human and "known" Democrat, at the annual Global Leadership Awards and Benefit of Vital Voices in D.C. at the Kennedy Center. No conversions occurred--but Hillary was "very nice!" and it was an honor for Julie to meet her. A good start.

Apart from name dropping, implying that our firm can effortlessly work both sides of the aisle in our lobbying practice, and proving that life is strange, I mention this as a plug for Vital Voices, an innovative bi-partisan non-profit which invests in and honors women worldwide--often unsung and especially in the human rights area--who have undertaken key leadership roles in their countries. More information about Vital Voices Programs is here.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

"Declarations" as Substitutes for Affidavits.

In 1976 Congress passed a barely-noticed short housekeeping addition to Title 28, the part of the U.S. Code that deals with federal courts. Among other things, 28 USC section 1746 allows witnesses to prepare and execute affidavits without appearing before a notary. However, many lawyers who practice in federal courts don't know about the existence of section 1746. An un-notarized "declaration" with the simple oath required by section 1746 can be used any time you need an affidavit, e.g., an affidavit supporting (or opposing) a summary judgment motion. The declaration has the same force and effect of a "regular" notarized affidavit. This is very useful and convenient rule. It saves witnesses and lawyers the time, cost and aggravation of getting statements notarized. Notaries, however, don't discuss it much.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2006

Department of Legal Life Outside America: Last Call for Australian and NZ Legal Weblogs.

A little help? We're still looking for recommendations of any good Australian and New Zealand blawgs as part of the continuing effort to collect good and active "foreign" or non-U.S. blawgs. The response on this round (Round III) has been disappointing. Two earlier rounds gathering sites from Europe (I) and Asia (II) went well. We all know good Australian/NZ blawgs are out there. Just who are you/they?

Posted by JD Hull at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

Here's a Post I Wish Were Mine...On Offering Solutions.

Outstanding, and it's something I've been trying to say is wrong with us lawyers--but someone said it better. From Christopher Marston at Exemplar Law, it's right here and right on the money on negativity in the legal profession. Happily, one takeaway from the post has been a mantra at my own firm for years: be lawyers but always tell clients what they can do. Always. Be different. Break the risk-averse lawyer pattern. Amaze clients. Make them think of lawyers in a whole new way. Offer solutions and alternatives where the law or the facts won't support other approaches. Tell clients what they can do--as well as what they can't.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2006

Wild and Crazy Client Service Ideas.

Here's a client service-oriented "marketing stunt" idea from Al Lautenslager, a Chicago-based consultant and the Guerilla Marketing coach at Entrepreneur.com. It's over the top but wonderfully appropriate for the law and other professions with deeply ingrained, time-honored traditions of uninspired client service. The premise is that even good clients--repeatedly slighted but not knowing anything better--would become disoriented and alarmed enough to take to the streets if they were to switch firms and see something radically different:

1. Stage a protest for "good customer service". Imagine what would happen if you had picketers outside your place of business with picket signs that read something like, "We're protesting good customer service at this location!" or "This place is full of nice people interested in customers!" First, you'll get noticed. Second, you may get coverage by the local media. Stage a repeat visit of the protesters and next time publicize their intent of returning. You never know what might happen, who might take notice and what it'll do for your business.

Granted, it would be difficult to persuade in-house lawyers or GCs at DuPont, General Electric or Deutsche Bank to stage the event, but you get the idea. The link for Lautenslager's article--there are nine other "stunts"--is here.

Posted by JD Hull at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2006

The Guardian: Blogging in Europe is Already Driving Ideas and Markets.

Justin Patten of the London-based blog Human Law - Law, Technology and People reports an interesting Manchester Guardian article on the growing power of blogs on public opinion. Bloggers and internet commentators are still a new and small sliver of the European on-line public--yet already have a "disproportionately large influence" on business trends, according to a study by Jupiter Research. The article is entitled "Ignore Bloggers At Your Peril, Say Researchers".

Posted by JD Hull at 02:14 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2006

Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 2: The "Miracle" of Rule 56(f), Fed. R. Civ. P.

Trial lawyers know that Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or "Summary Judgment", gives a litigant an opportunity to win on its claims or dispose of the opponent's claims relatively quickly and without trial. Accompanied by sworn affidavits and often discovery responses, a Rule 56 motion tries to show that there is no real dispute about key facts and that the movant is entitled to judgment under the law. If granted, the movant wins. But what if a summary judgment motion is brought against your client--suddenly and out of the blue--and the local rules or local practice of the district court don't give you much time to develop and prepare an opposition. After all, Rule 56 lets a party who has brought a claim file for SJ after 20 days of the claim, and defendants can file "at any time". In contentious, high stakes litigation, a quick SJ motion right after the commencement of a lawsuit can be extraordinarily disruptive.

Subdivision (f) of Rule 56, "When Affidavits are Unavailable", provides a safeguard against premature grants of SJ. Lots of good lawyers seem either not to know about or not use 56(f). In short, you file your own motion and affidavit--there are weighty sanctions if you misuse the rule, so be careful--stating affidavits by persons with knowledge needed to oppose the motion are "not available", and stating why. The district court can then (1) deny the request and make you oppose the motion, (2) refuse to grant the motion for SJ OR do what you really want it to do: (3) grant a continuance so that you can "obtain" affidavits and, better yet, take depositions or conduct other discovery. It's a delay-oriented rule, but if used correctly, Rule 56(f) can give you the breathing room and time you need to develop the client's case, and avoid the granting of SJ against it.

SLM No. 1, re: Rule 36, is here.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2006

The Sacred, Immovable, No-Excuses Weekly Phone Call.

About seven years ago, our firm started the practice of weekly phone conferences for lengthy but intense projects where things generally happen every week. In a nutshell, the client representative, lawyers at our firm and any other key players in a case or project set aside a weekly "sacred time"--as one GC has dubbed it--for a phone conference: weekly, same day, same time and observed by all. The meetings are intended to be 30 minutes tops (if possible). You need to pick a relatively quiet off-track time when disturbances are at a minimum. The time that has worked best for us has been between 7:30 AM and 8:30 AM EST on Fridays. (If you live on the West coast, though, you'll be getting up around 4 or 4:30 AM--but you get a break if you're in South America or Europe). Finally, they are missed or canceled only for the most compelling reasons. Vacations, head colds, bad traffic, hangovers and my-dog-ate-my-draft-amended counterclaim won't qualify.

This simple institution has worked very well for us--and clients appreciate it because they can rely on it. The longest running weekly meeting we had was three-and-a-half years for a particularly contentious off-again on-again arbitration on an ongoing construction project involving players from 4 to 6 states in our camp alone. Our 7:45 AM meeting kept people focused, informed and on the same page. The "sacred" weekly meeting is a very good tool for cases with lots of players and/or consultants. Even if there is nothing to report, people touch base and re-bond so they can at least keep heading in the same direction. So it's an effective way to catch up and share information on bigger or more complicated projects.

Posted by JD Hull at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2006

Blawg Review #53: Jim Maule, Tax Day and Taxation as Pervasive.

Blawg Review #53 by Villanova Professor James Edward Maule at MauledAgain is further support for my relatively new but ever-strengthening theory that tax lawyers after all really are creative--and have both depth and breadth, big personalities and writing ability as well. As a lawyer surrounded by serious tax talent, I posted in January with equal admiration about Paul Caron's TaxProf Blog. And once again, I just hope Julie, Janet, Al and Tom at our shop all read Jim's blog and his post today, too. Jim has written a balanced and just plain fun review of last week's better posts; he's another reason Blawg Review has become a must for even busy people to read.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

More Comments on Exemplar, and Fixed-Price Alternatives to the Billable Hour.

Christopher Marston, the CEO of Exemplar Law Partners, the Boston-based fixed-price alternative, has joined the still-growing responses (15 total comments to date) to the two April 7 posts on The Billable Hour: Catching Up With Exemplar Law: "No Hourly Bills, No Hourly Bull" and One GC's Take on the Billable Hour, the latter based on comments by Rhino Linings GC James Holden. If I understand Christopher correctly, he argues in effect that fixed-price models are not only supportable in the actual legal services market but, if pursued and applied correctly, could (1) mold and re-define the market and (2) relegate The Billable Hour to a secondary role, if not kill it. Go here and scroll down for his comments. What do I think? I'm still listening. See also, "That Lawyer Dude's" Advice to GCs on Costs, Real Quality and Real Life.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

Do What You Love: Hero 4 - Julie Elizabeth McGuire

Even serial over-achievers are impressed with a person who was graduated first in her class from both college and law school. In this case, our subject Julie Elizabeth McGuire has raving fans, most of them accomplished themselves, all over--in Fortune 500 companies, giant firms based abroad (especially in western Europe) and business lawyers worldwide. A multi-talented corporate tax and transactions lawyer, and CPA as well, Julie can land a job tomorrow morning at any in-house counsel shop or law firm she wants. A former in-house lawyer at Alcoa, she knows how General Counsels and CFOs think and what they worry about. She's what clients want in deals: a savvy business person and a tough, shrewd negotiator. At the same time, Julie McGuire has few if any enemies--just people who want to be more like her. It's not just the resume. She's serene, kind and genuinely friendly. She focuses on others. In a phrase, she's as nice as she is brilliant.

So what's Julie McGuire doing with me? In fact, people never politely or in passing ask "So, how did you two become partners and form Hull McGuire PC anyway?" Instead, they ask, in an intrigued, puzzled and slightly embarrassed tone: "Uh, how did you two even meet, anyway"? It's just difficult to believe that a Universe with any order or compassion would put Julie--with her no-nonsense Carnegie-Mellon Mathematics and Business Management double majors (try to be first in your class in that stuff!), her Midwestern values and charm, conservative political views, Yoda-like serenity and kindness, and real appreciation for the mysteries of Pittsburgh--in the path of a litigator and lobbyist with a liberal arts background and an enemy here and there, who loves Washington, D.C., old books, and old Europe, once wrote a senior History paper on "How the Shi-shi Got the Chutzpah to Overthrow the Bakufu", and prefers to serve subpoenas on Friday afternoons.

An American professional odd couple--but we are fast friends. We do have something else besides friendship and a law firm in common, and we are obsessive about it: Julie and I (1) both love practicing law, our clients, and traveling all over the U.S. and the world to act for them; (2) both think corporate clients are getting a raw deal on both quality and service at many large and traditional law firms; and (3) both are convinced that nimble, aggressive law boutiques with the right talent can do 85% of the legal work done for Fortune 500 companies, keep those clients safe and happy and have fun doing it.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2006

Update to SLM No. 1: Rule 36, Requests for Admission - More Than A Discovery Tool

Re: SLM No. 1, Rule 36, Requests for Admission, David Fischer, over at Antitrust Review and in Porter Wright's DC office, pointed out something useful--especially for firms (like his, mine) which are active in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee:

There is another reason to love requests for admission: in some, but not all, federal circuits, requests for admission are not considered tools of discovery. As a result, in courts in those circuits, you can serve requests for admission after the close of fact discovery. See, for example, Misco, Inc. v. United States Steel Corp., 784 F.2d 198, 205 (6th Cir. 1986). See also 8A Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 2253 (2d ed. 1994) (Rule 36, strictly speaking, may not set forth a discovery procedure at all because a party does not seek to discover a fact or opinion through a request for admission. Instead, a request seeks to have a party concede the genuineness of a fact or opinion that the requesting party believes to be settled.).

Posted by JD Hull at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2006

Sensitive Litigation Moment-No. 1: "Lonely" Rule 36, Fed. R. Civ. P.

From the standpoint of both the client and its trial lawyer, Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "Requests for Admission", can get things moving in the pretrial discovery process. And to an adversary who isn't familiar with Rule 36 or goes to sleep, it can be a real jolt because of the potentially severe consequences of failing to respond within 30 days. In a nutshell, Rule 36 permits you to serve on another party a request to admit the "truth of any matters" or "genuineness of any documents" described in the request. On factual matters, since Rule 36 is limited only by the liberal precepts of Rule 26, you can ask the other side to admit a wide range of "matters": (1) key but uncontested facts and (2) damaging facts. Failure to answer (i.e., "Admitted" or "Denied") or competently object to the request within 30 days results in the matter being deemed admitted and "conclusively established".

Talk about a wake up call for the other side. In some federal district courts you can immediately file the admissions with the clerk. However, ironically, historically Rule 36 has been used by trial lawyers way less often than other written discovery tools, like interrogatories (Rule 33) and requests for production of documents (Rule 34). Nothing bad happens if you don't meet the 30-day deadlines for these rules--just goofy "lawyer-centric" phone calls, requests for extensions, angry letters, and motions to compel under Rule 37. All of which is usually unproductive and makes even sophisticated corporate clients nuts. But opponents ignore Rule 36 at their peril. Rule 36 is also useful to authenticate documents. Finally, and importantly, you can also combine the requests with related interrogatories and document requests to ensure that the discovery process keeps moving.

Coming soon: Sensitive Litigation Moment-No. 2: The "Miracle" of Rule 56(f), Fed. R. Civ. P.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2006

Kane: Visit Your Client At Work.

It makes perfect sense--and hardly anyone talks about it. But are we doing it? Visiting your client (GCs, CFOs, execs, plant managers) at work is a good way to get a 3-D sense of what your client does, and to learn more about its look, feel and "culture". It's also a great idea for showing you value the client, and that you want more of its business. Tom Kane at The Legal Marketing Blog says it all in his post "Client Site Visits Result In Work". My humble two cents: site/office visits are particularly important at the beginning of a new relationship or new project. As Tom mentions, don't bill it--but you still need to do it. See this fine post by Tom Kane.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

"That Lawyer Dude's" Advice to GCs on Costs, Real Quality and Real Life.

"That Lawyer Dude" (a/k/a Anthony Colleluori), and a few others, have commented on the April 7 post on Exemplar Law Partners and/or another post of the same day, One GC's View of the Billable Hour, in which James Holden, the San Diego-based GC of Rhino Linings USA, Inc., also held forth. Lively comments followed both posts. That Lawyer Dude's comments, reprinted in part below (click here for the whole thing), has some provocative but smart advice for GCs including a plea to them I've heard before: chuck your large law firm "litigators" and start hiring "trial lawyers". Overall, TLD's comments and his passion on the issue grabbed me. Although I didn't agree with his suggestion that firms should negotiate hourly rates (I think you do this rarely, and only in the expectation of high volume work), and a couple of other points, TLD got me thinking:

Most general counsel bring the hourly bill mess on themselves with their C/Y/A attitude. Stop bringing everything to the biggest, baddest, firm and start looking to smaller and better run firms that will appreciate your work. Look for firms where the partners and senior attorneys actually work on your case rather than review the work of others (or more precisely their billing sheets.) Stop thinking that the only lawyers you can entrust your affairs to have 100+ years combined experience. Stop Using Litigators and Start Finding Trial Lawyers.

Want to cut costs? Give bonuses to firms that come under your budget (note I said yours, not theirs). If they want your work in the future, they won't sacrifice your case for the bonus. On the other hand they will have an idea of what you think the case is worth. Stop looking for attorneys based on RFP and start looking at the bar journals, the seminars, and the court house scuttlebutt. (In other words get out of your chair and get to work looking.) Small or medium-sized firms do not spend time doing an RFP's....

Further, set a reasonable time period for the case to come to trial. It is unlikely that a case that is around 9-12 months will get billed as many hours as opposed to one that is around 18-24 months.

Demand a discovery PLAN that you must approve (not the same as a discovery schedule.) Find out how and what counsel is going after and see that they stick to the plan or change it with your permission only. Demand to do some of the work in house.

The billable hour is unfortunately the best way a trial law firm can be sure it will be around next year. Trial work has too many variables to predict how much a case will cost. It is a fallacy, at least on the small/medium firm level, to believe that the firm is seeking to churn its hours. There are a lot of clients to keep happy. Without the guarantee that a client will pay for work year after year, the firm cannot afford to neglect one client for another....

Negotiated rates, oversight, realistic budget goals, deadlines, and discovery plans, along with an open mind to new and different types of trial counsel, can cut litigation costs and provide success in the litigation. More work for General Counsel? Maybe. Worth the extra effort? Only General Counsel's year end bonus will tell.

Posted by JD Hull at 02:31 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2006

Blawg Review #52 - If this doesn't sell you on lawyers blogging, nothing will.

This week's Blawg Review is hosted by David Giacalone at his f/k/a. A lawyer who despite his D.C. antitrust and Harvard Law pedigree cares about good writing and does it very well, David in Blawg Review #52 reveals as usual the wondrous range of possibilities in substance, creativity and tone blogging can offer. And the guy has an opinion about a thing or two. As regular readers know, David's site, while substantive and sometimes edgy, mixes law, ethics, politics and poetry (haiku, and he even has a primer for the unwashed). Finally, f/k/a is always beautifully done. It won the 2005 Blawg Review Award for Creative Law Blog.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2006

The Joy of Work, Burned-Out Lawyers & the 1st "What About Clients?" Post

The past week was Pretrial Skirmish, Negotiation and General Posturing Week. Which I love. Lively chats with mainly worthy adversaries. You constantly learn new things about the law, the world, yourself. You get your client involved. Funny and even hilarious things happen, too. But one conversation was disturbing. It was with a lawyer with 20+ years of experience who cuts corners whenever he can, won't research anything, won't read anything, won't prepare for anything, and unabashedly disdains the law, lawyering, his client and, at this point, me. Having dealt with him before, I doubt he was just having a bad day. It's written all over him: he "wants out" of the profession, but doesn't know how to get out, won't get out. This reminded me of my first post dated August 1, 2005, and in part why I started this. The line was: "Do many of us wind up selling clients short because we are disillusioned or burned out?" How much of bad client service and the shoddy image many people have of lawyers is a function of lawyers disliking what they do? How many clients are getting hurt by it?

Posted by JD Hull at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

France: Civilized, Educated, Talented, Proud - But Not Like Us?

As modes of work and workplace, including their definitions, keep changing, "work ethic" is never an easy subject. And France is my second favorite country. Justin Patten Human Law, in his very fine UK blawg, comments on a recent cover story on the future of France in The Economist. Recently, business-friendly French labor legislation, which lets employers to fire workers under 26-years-old without cause for the first two years of their tenure, has triggered demonstrations throughout France. The French have a 10% unemployment rate. Here is just one interesting excerpt from Justin's post about the article in The Economist:

1. According to the Economist, in a new poll whereas 71% of Americans, 66% of the British and 65% of Germans agreed that the free market was the best system of all, only 36% of the French believed this.

2. The Economist also cites that in one poll 3/4 of young French people would like to be a civil servant, mostly because it would mean a "job for life".

Amazing statistics--and had it not come from The Economist, I would not have believed them. But the French, like Americans, have a little of everything and everyone, do fight among themselves about ideas, and have a history of getting to the right answer in time. Still, these are disturbing numbers. How many of your clients so far this year asked you to help establish a sales or distribution office or light manufacturing plant in France with 20 to 30 employees?

Posted by JD Hull at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2006

One GC's View of the Billable Hour.

In response to the Exemplar Law Partners post two days ago, James T. Holden, the General Counsel of Rhino Linings USA, Inc. in San Diego--a first-rate lawyer and litigator I've known for years who like me spent many years at BigLaw doing defense work--e-mailed me the following insightful comments on the Billable Hour. These are quite good, and on points re: the BH I didn't quite cover in the post. So Jamie graciously agreed to let us post them here:

Dan, I’ve been railing against hourly billing for years, for many of the reasons you cite. Two additional reasons, however, are these:

A. Hourly billing prevents a client from accurately budgeting, or even forecasting, what it is going to spend on legal services during a given year. I found that out my chagrin this year; just as I was literally preparing to submit my annual budget for approval, I got a ___ from ___ that forced me to seriously alter my anticipated costs for outside counsel. When I’m being held accountable for adhering to my budget, anything that is not predictable is bad; and

B. Hourly billing creates an inherent conflict of interest between attorney and client. The client wants outstanding legal services at the lowest price possible, i.e., in the least amount of time. However, a lawyer billing by the hour has no incentive to be efficient, and in fact has the incentive to be inefficient, i.e., take up as much time as possible. I think that might be one of the reasons for the “scorched earth” letters that often come from counsel, looking at every possible nuance of a given question.

C. One more thing: I was at a conference of the defense bar about ten years ago in Chicago, and was part of a panel that talked about changes in the legal practice over time. One of the senior attorneys, who started practicing before I was born, said that back in the day, lawyers would handle a case, try it to verdict, then send the client a bill at the end of the case for services. This was widely accepted, but resulted in a lot of variation in fees. It was the insurance companies that began to insist on hourly billing, both as a means of spreading the cost of defense over time and as a way to ensure that they were paying known amounts.

Ironically, it is the insurance companies who have been responsible for the huge assault on hourly rates, and who also stand in the way of reasonable fees for services. Of course, it’s also ironic that the insurance companies, by insisting on making lawyers slaves to the time sheet and billable hour, have essentially created a large causation factor in lawyer dissatisfaction, with accompanying increased rates of alcoholism and substance abuse, depression, and disability, all of which increase the indemnity payments these same insurance companies are forced to pay.


Posted by JD Hull at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

Catching Up With Exemplar Law: "No Hourly Bills, No Hourly Bull".

Boston-based Exemplar Law Partners made news in mid-February when it announced that it was launching a new firm which would use exclusively a fixed price model for corporate and high-end legal services. At the time, legal weblogs (see post here) reacted, and to this effect: (a) "great news, guys, and God speed" and (b) "if you can make this work, teach us how you did it--because we don't have a clue". Well, according to ELP's CEO and lawyer Christopher Marston, who I exchanged e-mails with last week, ELP is still kicking, practicing law and building the dream. ELP soon may have a blog of its own to give us a better view of this "next generation" law firm and laboratory for new ideas. If ELP starts up a blog, I'll subscribe. A few thoughts:

1. ELP is of course on to something. If fixed price corporate law models were adopted throughout the U.S., even as an evolving alternative to the billable hour, it would change the terrain a lot. For lawyers in firms which adopted them, the "12 Client Service Rules" I've discussed in this blog would be either much easier to follow or completely unnecessary since so may of them go (directly or indirectly) to the issue of controlling hours. No problem. I would be happy to blog about something else.

2. The Billable Hour ("BH") is: a business problem for clients simply because it needs to be controlled as a business cost; and a trust and confidence problem for clients and lawyers because it gets in the way of real relationships. In the wrong lawyer hands, especially in "one night stand" situations, BH chips away at value by encouraging unnecessary or inefficient work. It makes clients grumpy and often angry slaves in a "where will it all end?" game which lawyers, clients think to themselves, apparently need to survive.

3. For good reason, BH makes clients doubt lawyer advice--especially if the advice once taken requires lots more BH. BH is a main reason why relationships between clients and their time-keeping professionals everywhere tends to be quietly but bitterly adversarial. Maybe worst of all, BH contributes to the perception of business people that their business lawyers at some of the best business law firms just don't get business. If they bear no real risk, how could lawyers ever understand in their gut what we think and do? If they are dependent on hours, how can lawyers ever have our real interests in mind?

4. At some point, ELP's against-the-grain idea will work. A fixed price model for outside corporate lawyers makes business sense, and is both a winning and logical idea. ELP apparently has more than enough talent to make it work. Motivated Americans have a history of making "eccentric" good ideas work. And "no hourly bill, no hourly bull" is likely very compelling to business clients, who've been wondering all along when lawyers are going to "get it" and start thinking like business people. As a competitive device, it should threaten the hell out of a lot of us. It does me.

5. In implementing a new fixed price scheme, there are issues and pressures. You still have to make a buck and keep the doors open. You must survive. And cultural difficulties, too. Clients are wonderful but mercurial creatures. You've got to sell this to the very people who say they've wanted it along, but maybe never thought it through. Are corporate clients really ready for it? Will they think they'll be getting less?

So it's an experiment, and ELP is the lab. In having an alternative to BH that works, clients win big. And we business lawyers will need to do what our clients do: plan, decide, commit and share risks. If ELP is successful, the alignment of the client's and the lawyer's interests come closer together than ever before in our business.

Posted by JD Hull at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2006

Del Bianco: AT&T - BellSouth Merger May Not Be a Done Deal.

Two days ago, Mark Del Bianco, a colleague, friend and a DC-based telecom lawyer who once labored in DOJ's Antitrust Division, wrote "Bumps in the Road for the AT&T-BellSouth Merger?" It's here reprinted from News.com. As usual, Mark's sober writing has triggered interesting arguments amongst the article's wonky readers plus a bonus gratuitous lawyer-bashing, free marketeer-mocking and my favorite, a reader-to-reader final comment: "To clarify matters further, you're a moron."

Posted by JD Hull at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2006

Adam Smith: "Know Your Client."

Or at least get under its skin and come to know what it really thinks about you. You might be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised. From Adam Smith, here's the post. As part of the larger and continuing conversation on correct client interviews and getting at the client's real attitude toward your services (see, e.g., Jim Hassett's fabulous summary and comments), Bruce MacEwen is referring to efforts by a partner at the Newcastle, England office of UK-based law giant Eversheds to employ methodogies of the consulting firm RAM (short for Relationships Audit & Management) to get the true answers. See Bruce's post on this always-important subject.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:53 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2006

Washington Post: Blogging is now a major player in Internet growth.

According to this morning's Washington Post, blogging is one of the the 3 biggest factors in driving Internet growth, along with local information retrieval and social networking. And traditional websites for now are taking a dive. Just see "New Trends In Online Traffic, reported by Leslie Walker and reprinted at MSNBC.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2006

Blawg Review #51's Writer is Nobody's April Fool.

George M. Wallace of Declarations and Exclusions, a/k/a A Fool In The Forest, did this week's Blawg Review with Blawg Review #51. We are lucky to have this literate, lyrical and whimsical host. Read Blawg Review #51 and then tell me if you still think lawyers are stiff, lame and uncreative. George's writing is Some Serious Dang Fun.

Posted by JD Hull at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

3L Epiphany - Not Bad for a Buckeye.

As a basic Google search will tell you in a matter of seconds, 3L Epiphany, a blog by Ian Best, a third-year OSU law student and fellow Buckeye (ok, I claim a few jurisdictions), is both an inquiry into and catalog of the blawg phenom. 3LE has received a tremendous amount of kudos, press and hoopla lately--all well-deserved. See especially Ian's increasingly-famous Taxonomy of Legal Blogs. My comments: (1) this is both an impressive and interesting achievement and (2) why didn't I think of something this when I was 24?

Posted by JD Hull at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2006

Never date anything April 1; never rely on anything dated April 1.

Which can be "Rule 13", a new client service rule. This causes obvious problems because of today's date. While you are thinking about this (which should not be for very long), note that A Fool in the Forest today has a special prequel to his Blawg Review #51.

J. Daniel Hull

Posted by JD Hull at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)