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MC&A Newsletter
Volume IV  ::  April 2009
The Market
Tired of hearing negative news about the economy?  Well this news just might lighten things up.  It is no secret that lawyers are being laid off from law firms across the country by the hundreds.  Not only are law firms firing attorneys, they are also deferring the start date for new attorneys, and/or rescinding offers that were extended to their incoming classes.  According to www.lawshucks.com, a legal industry website, 3,045 attorneys have been laid off since January 2008.
 
In MC&A Newsletter, Volume III, we brought you news that, as a result of the bad economy, the hottest area for legal practice is now bankruptcy.  Now, it appears as though law firms are finding alternative ways to trim their attorney rolls in a manner that still provides attorneys with the opportunity to earn a livelihood.  Rather than fire attorneys outright, some firms have given lawyers the option to work for not-for-profit organizations that provide legal services for the poor at a fraction of the original law firm salary.  In doing this, law firms are providing often short-staffed and cash-strapped public interest and legal aid firms with an influx of attorneys who are ready, able, and willing to work. 
 
For example, Foley Hoag LLP, a Massachusetts law firm, gave soon-to-be fired attorneys the option to work for Greater Boston Legal Services, a legal aid group and offered to pay the attorneys a quarter of their former salary for a year.  Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, a law firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, announced it will pay deferred associates graduating in 2009 a $5,000 monthly stipend for one year if they find a job in the public interest field.  Likewise, Latham & Watkins LLP and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP offered incoming associates who defer employment until October 2010 a $75,000 compensation package. 
 
These alternative methods help increase the number of public interest lawyers and provide attorneys a chance to earn a living at a time when they otherwise might not.  Best of all, the poor have a better chance of access to quality legal services.
 
Source: For Jobless Lawyers, Plan B Includes Good Works, by Stephanie Chen, March 17, 2009 http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/03/16/lawyer.layoff.public/
Social Networking Sites and Mistrials
The use of personal digital assistants ("PDAs") such as BlackBerrys and iPhones are changing the landscape of U.S. trials.  A judge recently declared a mistrial in a federal case in Florida after he discovered that jurors had been researching the legal issues associated with the case on their PDAs.  In another case, a company asked an Arkansas court to overturn a $12.6 million judgment on the basis that a juror used Twitter to send updates during the civil trial.
 
Jurors are not allowed to seek outside information or perform research regarding cases.  The rules of evidence ensure that jurors consider evidence put before them in a court of law -- evidence that was vetted by the judge and determined to be probative.  However, by accessing information that is not presented in court, jurors run the risk of forming opinions and even finding out evidence that was withheld from the jury because it did not meet the strict standards of evidence and might be prejudicial to either party.
 
With technology advancing at record speed and internet access widely available on cell phones, it remains to be seen how pervasive this problem will become in the future.
 
Source:  As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up, by John Schwartz, March 18, 2009, The New York Times.

MC&A is firmly committed to our valued clientele.  We provide services in the areas of litigation, criminal law, and general corporate and business law.

For more information about how we can be of service to you, call us at 212.551.3617 or send an email to midwin@charleslawfirm.com.

Midwin Charles & Associates LLC
230 Park Avenue, Suite 1000
New York, New York 10169
212.551.3617
www.charleslawfirm.com

© 2008 Midwin Charles & Associates LLC

In This Issue
The Market
Social Networking Sites and Mistrials
Recent News
RECENT NEWS
MC&A successfully defended a client in an insurance fraud investigation.  After three months of wrangling and a vigorous defense on the part of MC&A, the insurance company withdrew its investigation of our client.
 
MC&A would like to thank Keith J. Bybee, Director, Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media at Syracuse University for inviting Midwin Charles to be a guest lecturer.  The event, held on March 2nd, was a great success!
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