Around the Blawgosphere: Emailing the Big House; Firing a Pro Bono Client; Corporate Boards in 2012

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New York Times Dealbook blogger Peter Lattman recently reached out to convicted hedge fund trader Michael A. Kimelman and received this autoreply:

“This email address is currently at a re-education camp for the indeterminate future and will not be checked. Please try back once its lesson has been learned. Mike”

But Kimelman’s lawyer told Lattman that Kimelman would eventually get email access in prison. But how does that work? Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Chris Burke told Lattman that inmates technically have no Internet access, but rather use a system called Trulincs, an acronym for the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System. They have to apply and only are allowed to use it once they’re accepted. All outgoing prisoner emails are reviewed by staff, and approved ones are forwarded to a website called CorrLinks, from which a recipient can log in and accept the message. Email access isn’t free for inmates, either—they pay 5 cents a minute to use the computer.

Showing them the door

A troubled solo wrote in to New Haven, Conn., lawyer coach and consultant Susan Cartier Liebel at Solo Practice University® Blog because she is struggling with whether—and how—to fire a pro bono client (a domestic violence victim) who is abusive toward her and seems not to understand what a lawyer can and cannot do for her.

Liebel responded to the solo that she has the right to terminate a client pursuant to her state’s Rules of Professional Conduct if the client is uncooperative and making it difficult to represent her (and that this stipulation should be in her retainer agreement with her pro bono client). She told the solo that if she ultimately needs to fire her client, to keep her safety in mind and make sure someone else is present. And also, if the client is indigent be armed with the names and contact information of legal aid agencies or other lawyers who do the same type of pro bono work.

“Again, just because no money has changed hands does not mean you should treat her any differently than a paying client who is disruptive or uncooperative,” Liebel wrote. “If you make a mistake, your license to practice is still on the line.”

Hot Topics for Corporate Boards in 2012

At the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, Francis H. Byrd, who heads the corporate governance and risk advisory practice at New York-based Laurel Hill Advisory Group, listed his top 10 concerns for corporate boards in 2012. Some items from his list.

Regarding executive compensation:

2) Problematic pay practices. “Boards should seriously consider last year’s [say on pay] votes as a wake-up call for compensation committees that have failed to remove or end practices that both proxy advisory firms and large shareholders have deemed problematic.”

Regarding shareholder rights:

5) Majority vote. “While many S&P 500 companies have already accepted this proposal many midsize and small-cap companies have not. Expect to see this proposal continue to be pushed by governance advocates.”

Regarding board leadership:

8) Succession planning. “From Apple to H-P to News Corp. and numerous other companies, shareholders want to know that the board is guiding the succession planning process. Expect to see more proposals on this topic given its critical importance.”

And regarding environmental and social issues:

10) Citizens United decision fallout continues. “Expect a renewed and vigorous effort to place directors in the hot seat with respect to board oversight of corporate political contributions.”

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