Around the Blawgosphere

Blogger says farewell to tech expert who treated solos with respect, not like 'desperate morons'


BlawgWhisperer

Ross Kodner, a legal technology expert who died this week at age 52, could have set his sights on large firms and large paychecks, Carolyn Elefant wrote at My Shingle.

“With his talents and energy, Ross could have easily abandoned the solo and small firm community to focus on helping BigLaw exclusively, but he didn’t,” Elefant wrote. “Ross could have stopped dispensing free advice on solosez—frequently using up his daily limit of posts—to solos who could never afford to hire him, but he kept coming back. He could put his CLEs and substantive materials on $99/CDs and sold them, but he gave away heaps of content for free.”

But Kodner took solos like Elefant seriously. “He didn’t view us, as so many other vendors do, as a bunch of desperate morons willing to open a checkbook and pay to hire people to help with work that they don’t understand. Ross treated solos and smalls with respect, painstakingly explaining technology options to enable solos and smalls to make informed decisions.”

Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program also wrote a tribute blog post about Kodner at his Law Practice Tips Blog, and Clio CEO Jack Newton also remembered him at the Official Clio Blog.


When the jury is nodding off

Last month, in the trial of Goldman Sachs Group vice president Fabrice Tourre, reporters in the courtroom kept noticing how jurors were struggling to stay alert.

“Financial sector cases are notorious for juror boredom,” litigation consultant Ken Broda-Bahm wrote at the Persuasive Litigator. And he’s working on a case right now concerning the agricultural commodities market, “and there are precious few ways to make that truly gripping.”

Litigators often operate on the assumption that the jury is paying attention to them—and that’s dangerous, Broda-Bahm writes. But what can a litigator focus on when they don’t have compelling material to work with?

You can try to surprise jurors in some way. “In the classic study…someone who doesn’t give to panhandlers is initially surprised by an odd request (‘Do you have 37 cents?’) and the unexpected amount in that request disrupts their patterned and reflexive ways of acting, and they’re more likely to give,” Broda-Bahm writes. “Surprise brings attention, and attention brings at least the possibility of a fresh thought.”

You can also focus on what makes the juror care about the case at hand. “When you’re able to touch motivation, then the jurors aren’t working for you, or for your client,” Broda-Bahm writes. “They’re working to uphold a principle, moral, or societal value that is at stake.”


Freedom of tweet

Seattle plaintiffs attorney Karen Koehler took to Twitter over two days of depositions in March. She posted all of the tweets in question at The Velvet Hammer. Among them were these two:

She received a follow-up letter from opposing counsel—who for one thing, asserted that the court reporter simply didn’t show, he didn’t forget—who objected to her tweets. “This information could be seen by a witness, a potential juror, or court personnel,” the letter read. “Respectfully, I ask that it stop. If the conduct continues, I will consider all remedies, including court intervention.”

She posted her response to this letter: “There is a wonderful construct known as the First Amendment,” Koehler wrote. “It ensures that regardless of whether we are on the same wavelength or not, we can speak our minds as we deem fit. Yes, even though we are lawyers. So long as we do not jeopardize our client’s interests or reflect poorly on our profession. Even if I believe you are overreacting, or even just being a bit too negative in your outlook in sending me such a stern letter, I completely support your right to vent and even scold me to your heart’s content. In front of an audience of your own choosing.”

She goes on. “Are you going to actually go to court to complain that my inaccuracy caused you personal harm? Will you say that members of the public now shun or mock you due to your lapse in securing a timely court reporter. How has the case been impacted in any way. There is no trial going on. I don’t ever publicly post about a case when I’m trial. Indeed, whom other than you and the members of your firm who enjoy following my Twitter feed, know that in fact the subject of my conversation—was you. There is no identifying information whatsoever.”

In conclusion, she suggests to the letter-writer that he stops reading her Twitter feed and blog posts.


Quitting over verbal abuse

Maria Alvarado’s boss repeatedly called her “stupid” and “a piece of crap,” the The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times reported. She warned her supervisor not to treat her that way, (presumably) the name-calling continued, and Alvarado quit and subsequently filed for unemployment benefits.

Her former employer objected, saying that Alvarado left voluntarily and without “good cause”; which, historically, would be something like unsafe work conditions. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals disagreed. While employers are entitled to correct their workers in a “reasonable manner,” they’re not required to put up with “undue verbal abuse.”

The Blog of Legal Times said this was the first time that the court was asked to consider whether verbal abuse was “good cause” for quitting.

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