poetic justis

 With the New Year, the presidential election, hurricanes, and talk of the Mayan apocalypse behind us, it is no wonder that a recent major merger announced between international law firms has failed to attract the attention it deserves.  It seems that the failures of Dewey & LeBoeuf and others have not scared everybody.  United States law firm SNR Denton, Canadian firm Fraser, Milner & Casgrain (FMC), and the French firm of Salans are in the process of combining to create an unprecedented massive global mega-firm known as Dentons.  This is a curious undertaking between these three BigLaw entities, given the recent troubles facing large law firms around the world.

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 Since the evolution of email and electronic data storage, I have frequently found myself explaining to clients the concept of a "Legal Hold."  With the recent rise of cloud storage and digital "paperless" corporations, the need for these discussions has become even more prevalent.  In short, a Legal Hold is the preservation of documents, evidence, and information that may be pertinent to anticipated litigation.  It is often undertaken by a corporation's own in-house employees and involves:  (i) notification of all essential personnel that the information must not be destroyed; (ii) collection of all historic information not already destroyed; and (iii) preservation of all existing and future information.  The Legal Hold can include actual physical collection of documents, evidence, and information for preservation.  Often times it also encompasses the more cumbersome and problematic process of preserving electronic data and information.  This process should begin as soon as possible to avoid the adversary's argument that relevant vital information was destroyed.  In some cases, Courts have severely sanctioned companies for their failure to preserve pertinent evidence.  

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by Emily Wilburn

On January 17 and January 18, 2013, Oprah Winfrey aired her multi-hour interview with Lance Armstrong on her OWN network.  During the interview, Armstrong admitted to using performance enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour de France wins.  After vehemently denying any and all drug use for over a decade, including pursuing multiple libel suits, Armstrong chose a cable network interview to admit to his  pervasive scheme of doping , staying one step ahead of detection, and using strong arm tactics to intimidate those who attempted to tell the truth.

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by Emily Wilburn

This year is the last year for the current Bowl Championship Series (“BCS”) system. After years of complaints and threats of antitrust lawsuits, the BCS is moving to a playoff system for 2014. The BCS is a polarizing institution. If you are Northern Illinois State this year, the BCS rules appear to have worked in your favor. If you are a fan of the SEC or of any other team that was “left behind,” then the BCS rules appear to produce ridiculous results. One way or the other, someone is always unhappy.

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A friend, economist and well-known blogger notified me that I have been slacking in my blogging duties.  “The Christmas holiday came and passed with nothing new on your blog,” he told me.  “Now the New Year has passed and still nothing new,” he added.  After I reminded him of the many different hats I wear and all of them need to be simultaneously worn at year’s end, he simply responded that “all can be remedied with a good transition into 2013.”  I found this particularly interesting, since his own blog’s “transition into 2013” predicts a major catastrophic disaster for theU.S. legal industry.  Nevertheless, I suppose reducing some of my own musings into written prophecies for the New Year might be a bit therapeutic, if not interesting or controversial.

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How One Local Law Firm Has Reacted To Our Economic Environment
Reprinted from 2009 

by:
Joseph B. VanFleet
VanFleet Law Offices
Associated Bank Building
411 Hamilton Blvd., Suite 2002
Peoria, Illinois 61602

“Daddy, what is a “re-sezz-ee-un”? This is, without a doubt, the deepest and most profound question ever posed by my four-year-old daughter at the Holiday dinner table. A child’s naïve innocence would seem to hinder any true cognizance of an economic recession, so I assumed my daughter overheard the buzzword during a conversation between Mommy and Daddy. Nevertheless, I thought long and hard about my answer, hoping I might prompt our small child toward her first lesson in microeconomics. “It is a time when most people don’t have as much money or as many things as they normally do. They must learn to spend less and live with less.” She smiled back at me, as if she understood. “It’s a good thing Santa Claus doesn’t have a re-sezz-ee-un,” she responded. Ahh, the mind of a child. If only it were as easy for the rest of us.

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“Next non-stop Flight to Colorado, please!” I think we all imagined this enthusiastic chorus being sung by a normally very mellow crowd encompassed in a cloud of smoke after the ballot results of Colorado’s Amendment 64, which was put to Colorado voters on November 6. Colorado, along with Washington, became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

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The first two segments on this topic involved the recognition that the supply of lawyers now outnumbers the demand for them, and how this results in legal services becoming a commodity.  This third entry addresses what I believe is a permanent transformation in the industry that requires a new pricing model resulting in greater value to clients, in order for law firms to be competitive in the future.

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Now that the former power-firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf is Bankrupt, the aftermath is settling in. Creditors are pursuing the attorneys for payment of the firm’s debts, and learning the hard way how difficult it can be to pursue lawyers who know to work the system. Recently, a former Dewey & LeBoeuf partner who is being pursued by Citibank for one of the defaulted loans has raised an interesting counterclaim. He alleges that Citibank participated in a “fraudulent scheme” to assist the firm’s former leaders in hiding Dewey’s treacherous financial situation. The former Dewey partner argues that he and others were “fraudulently induced” into signing Citibank loan documents that financed capital contributions to the firm.

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            The summer of 2007 I bought my first road bike. Also that summer, for the first time, I was glued to the television coverage of the Tour de France. The professional cyclists made the sport look so easy and elegant as they rode through France. In 2009, Lance Armstrong returned to cycling. It was amazing to watch a cancer survivor come back to a physically grueling sport and race, older than his closest competitors, and win third place. Armstrong won the Tour de France for seven straight years, from 1999 until 2005, after being treated for cancer. Armstrong is an amazing athlete.

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Many of the blog icons on this page have been created by Joe’s three children. They are so excited to see their artwork on Dad’s work website!

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