A simple solution could help keep defendants from failing to appear in court: texts. Court date reminders sent via text in pilot projects are proving to be a good way to bring down the number of bench warrants that can end in arrests, the ABA Journal reports. The Pretrial Justice Institute says that pretrial arrests cost taxpayers about $14 billion a year. Software by a company called Uptrust helps public defenders notify and remind defendants about upcoming court appearances. In addition to reducing the number of arrests, the text notification software can help defendants avoid having their bail revoked or forfeited. The software is being used in jurisdictions in four states, with plans to expand to two more. Uptrust’s CEO says most defendants aren’t flight risks; they’re attendance risks, and the software sends them two text reminders about upcoming court appearances.
Two Roswell, Georgia police officers are on administrative leave after bodycam video showed them using a coin toss app to decide whether to arrest a woman they caught speeding, according to WXIA-TV and Think Progress. Officers Courtney Brown and Kristee Wilson had pulled over Sarah Webb for speeding at 80 mph in April. The coin flip app actually recommended that Webb be released, but the officers arrested her anyway. According to WXIA, Roswell Police Chief Rusty Grant issued a statement saying he was “appalled that any law enforcement officer would trivialize the decision making process of something as important as the arrest of a person.”
Associates at law firms face many challenges, not the least of which is balancing marketing themselves while also giving their best to their firms. In this edition of Legal Toolkit from Legal Talk Network, host Jared Correia talks to attorney and author Jay Harrington about how young associates can build their brands while also being accountable to their firms. They talk about the advantages of certain types of marketing as well as the importance of finding your identity both in and out of the law office.
Thanks to commonality of online ratings and reviews, it’s fairly easy to find out what others think about a restaurant, a product, or even a law firm. But what if you could let others know what you think about the police in your neighborhood? That’s exactly what the New York City Police Department is doing with its “sentiment meter.” The Marshall Project calls it a sort of “Yelp for Cops.”
Precincts now receive a monthly “trust score” along with rankings that measure overall satisfaction with police performance and how safe residents feel. The data is culled from questionnaires administered through about 50,000 smartphone apps, including Candy Crush and WeatherBug, as well as traditional landline calls. Facebook and Instagram began to advertise links to the surveys in June.
It’s not just New York City, either; police departments in Los Angeles, Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan are also getting involved. Read more about it at The Marshall Project.
A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that plaintiffs have put forth reliable scientific evidence that exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller can cause cancer. Andrus Wagstaff partner and National Trial Lawyers member Aimee Wagstaff is national co-lead counsel of that federal litigation and says she “is pleased [her] clients will have their day in court to hold Monsanto liable for their injuries.” The Honorable Vince Chhabria of the United States District Court of Northern California issued an order denying Monsanto’s requests to dismiss the case. Wagstaff says this is a huge victory nationwide for people harmed by Roundup exposure.
Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, the company which developed Roundup almost 40 years ago, with complaints that Roundup exposure caused their Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood borne cancer. All of those lawsuits which were filed in federal courts throughout the United States were consolidated before Judge Chhabria in In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2741). Under the federal rules, Judge Chhabria is charged with conducting all pre-trial proceedings in the combined litigation. Lead counsel for the plaintiffs in that litigation include Aimee Wagstaff, of Andrus Wagstaff, Denver, CO; Robin Greenwald of Weitz and Luxenberg of New York City, NY; and Mike Miller of the Miller Law Firm, of Alexandria, VA.
The proceedings before the Court involved the Court’s obligation under the Supreme Court case of Daubert v. Merrill to act as a gatekeeper to ensure that expert testimony offered at trial is founded upon sound scientific methodology. In an extensive written ruling, Judge Chhabria declared that plaintiffs proffered scientific testimony founded upon sound scientific principles and certain testimony that Roundup can cause Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma would be allowed to go to the jury in future trials. “Today’s ruling marks a significant victory in the fight for justice on behalf of our clients who were injured by exposure to Roundup,” said Wagstaff. “We look forward to our day in court and the opportunity to hold Monsanto accountable.”
Additional lawsuits have been filed in state court in Missouri, California, Montana, and Delaware. Those cases are following independent tracks to trial.
The Law firm of Marcus & Mack is pleased to announce that National Trial Lawyers member Bryan S. Neiderhiser has been named president of the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association (WPTLA). WPTLA strives to be a voice for injured victims and to uphold and defend their rights under the American legal system, including trial by jury.
Attorney Neiderhiser is a partner at Marcus & Mack, P.C., which is a regional law firm devoted to representing the interest of injured people in cases involving catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, industrial accidents, motor vehicle collisions, premises liability and other injury producing incidents. Neiderhiser joined the law firm as an associate in 2006. Marcus & Mack represents injury victims throughout western and central Pennsylvania.
A graduate of Grove City College and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Neiderhiser is licensed to practice law in all of Pennsylvania’s state courts as well as the Federal Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Federal Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
As a member of WPTLA’s Board of Governors for more than a decade, he has progressively served as its Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President and President Elect. Neiderhiser is also a member of the National Trial Lawyers, the American Association for Justice, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Indiana County Bar Association and the Allegheny County Bar Association. In the past, Neiderhiser has also served on the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice and he also served on the Judicial Evaluation Commission for the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
Because of the excellent service and results that Attorney Neiderhiser has provided to his clients, the victims of injuries caused by others, Neiderhiser has been selected for membership into the National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers for the past six years. “Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile.” Additionally, Neiderhiser has been recognized by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel as a member of the “Nation’s Top One Percent.” The members of that organization consist of less than 1% of the attorneys in the United States who exemplify the highest ideals of the legal profession.
The significant results that he has obtained for his clients have also earned Neiderhiser a lifetime membership in both the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Membership in these organizations is limited solely to attorneys who have attained million and multi-million dollar results for their clients.
When FBI agents raided the home and office of Trump attorney Michael Cohen earlier this year, they found a treasure trove of documents, data and recordings that could prove crucial to their case. What are the best ways to make sure that data you’ve deleted is well and truly gone? In this podcast from the Legal Talk Network, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell talk about the best practices to follow to ensure that unwanted data doesn’t come back to haunt you.
Attorneys Mo Aziz of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz and National Trial Lawyers member Michelle Simpson Tuegel, who jointly represent a number of former Olympic and USA National Team Gymnasts who attended and were abused at Karolyi ranch from approximately 2000 to 2015 respond to the indictments and statement from Walker County Officials:
Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel said, “The Walker County DA said they have no corroborated evidence that the Karolyis did anything wrong, yet they indicted Debbie Van Horn for felony sexual assault of a child. Walker County agreed, USAG totally failed to protect children and athletes and Steve Penny did not cooperate. They claim that Karolyi Ranch and USA Gymnastics were completely separate. Yet, at one point during the period of abuse, Karoyi Ranch was branded the official ‘USA Gymnastics Olympic Training Center.’ Some of our clients were abused during that time period, and to those little girls who had the nightmare of a their doctor coming into their rooms to abuse them under the guise of treatment, with Van Horn sometimes present, the Karolyis, Nassar, Vanhorn, USAG—it was all one in the same, adults who failed to protect them, hurt them, and turned a blind eye towards their pain and suffering. Bottom line, Walker County appears to have no intention of holding all of the adults who failed, such as the Karolyis, accountable, that’s why we recently asked the Texas AG to get involved. At this point, it is up to the Federal Department of Justice to hold the ALL of the adults who failed these children and covered up the abuse accountable. It is clear Texas will not.”
Attorney Mo Aziz also added, “The fact that Walker County needed the Governor to push them into investigating the alleged wrongdoing of these other adults is concerning. This also points to the need to change the statute of limitations for reporting sex abuse in Texas as Michigan has done.”
National Trial Lawyers member Joel Wooten has been given an Amicus Curiae award by the Georgia Supreme Court, a founding partner of Butler Wooten & Peak, according to the firm. Wooten was presented with a resolution stating that he has had a “profound impact on the State of Georgia and its legal system.” According to Butler Wooten partner Brandon Peak, “The work he has done and continues to do to better our state and profession—often behind the scenes and with no fanfare—has made Georgia a better place to live and practice law.” Partner Jim Butler agreed: “There is no one more deserving of this high honor. We appreciate the Justices of the Georgia Supreme Court bestowing this high honor on Joel.”
Some of the country’s most high-profile lawyers and firms now are household names. You could argue that attorney Glen Lerner’s legal brand is not unlike like Ellen or Oprah of the talk-show world.
But do you think those brands built themselves?
Making a name as an attorney does not happen by chance, overnight or without a huge effort. The “magic” is called branding. And the best businesses in the world rely on this active, intentional process to support everything they do and say. In everything they do and say!
What Does Branding in the Law Space Mean?
While you might know you are a great lawyer because you have extensive experience, a caseload that keeps you busy or lots of positive testimonials from former clients, you can’t count on everybody else to know that now — or ever.
Prospective clients won’t know how good you are, what you stand for or why you really matter in the legal marketplace unless you do. That’s what a solidly identified brand does for you in the long run: It sends a consistent message about what kind of lawyer you are and what kind of cases you want to attract. When you see or hear the brand, you know what they do instantly.
Unfortunately, attorneys overlook the importance of brand all the time. They often use excuses like “I’m too busy to think about branding or marketing,” “People already know my name,” or “Aren’t there Law Society regulations about how I can advertise myself?” Here’s the best one, “I already have a brand.”
All of these justifications are short-sighted. Why? Because one day the caseload might not be there. And do you really know the number of people who “know your name” outside of the exclusive legal community? Oh, and, branding isn’t really advertising anyway.
The Unmatched Benefits of Building a Brand
So how do you start to understand the value of building a brand for your law practice? Let’s look at the unparalleled benefits of really starting to make yourself or your firm a household name.
At its most essential level, a brand is the sum of what other people think about you. That sounds simplistic, but it’s really quite complex, especially if you want to be known for something deeper and longer lasting than the best 1-800 number in the state.
Whether you have an established practice or you are a new lawyer trying to compete in the flooded legal sector, remember that name or number recognition is just one element of a brand — a defining descriptor — not the sum of who you are and what you stand for.
A brand must be built, but when it starts paying off it does so in a way that will truly future-proof your legal career. Instead of hoping that clients will come to you solely from referrals or willing it so, you can use your brand to actively attract the kind of cases you really want to work on.
So start to identify your most unique skills, traits, values, and perspectives. These 3–5 essential brand attributes will establish a consistent pathway and platform for all your marketing messages. Maybe you are an expert in the competitive space of injury law, but have a uniquely empathetic way of connecting with clients. Or your research and interest in the area of worker’s compensation is your calling card. Or your firm has mastered personalizing the process of mass torts. Or you’re bilingual and know there is a whole realm of work in advocacy for the underserved.
Whatever you commit to, your brand should represent the values you hold true — a measured mix of where you came from and where you want to go, what you care about and what centers your existing practice. Having a brand with that kind of depth will almost certainly lead to more of everything — new business, new networking opportunities, new speaking engagements and new cases.
While you might not think you have the time or knowledge to establish your personal legal brand, or you think the gap is too wide to play in the same space as the top attorneys, dismiss that line of thinking right now.
Attorneys who take branding seriously and have the foresight to learn and market around what they truly stand for will set themselves up for longevity in an unpredictable industry.
Consider more than just marketing your name and a lawyer who does personal injury versus an entire brand. When you hear a brand, you are instantaneously attracted and know exactly what they do.
Harlan Schillinger has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.
Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.