Around the Blawgosphere

Is the law firm associate model being phased out? | Encrypt laptop for ethics' sake, blogger writes

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The notion of creating a new class of associates that receives more training, less pressure to bill and less pay has taken hold at Greenberg Traurig as an alternative to the “quasi Hunger Game” model (as a Forbes writer put it this week) in which elite associates spend a brutal eight years trying to make partner. Associates in Greenberg’s “residency program” could either go on to become a regular-track associate or a “practice group attorney.”

But Canadian law firm consultant Jordan Furlong writes at Law21 isn’t sure he sees the point of the initiative. “By crafting the position of ‘practice group attorney,’ Greenberg has joined many firms in creating a class of associates who aren’t going to be partners; by introducing ‘residents,’ Greenberg appears to be creating a class of lawyers who, most likely, aren’t even going to be associates. … If what you’re looking for are low-cost, non-essential generators of legal work, why not talk to Axiom or The Posse List or any LPO with offices in Mumbai, Manila, or Minneapolis? Why introduce and maintain yet another costly group of lawyers who aren’t here for the long term?”

Furlong wonders if the whole point is to eventually end the era of the law firm associate as a partner-in-training. “Replacing it might be the era of the “lawyer employee” — here today, gone tomorrow, with a completely different set of expectations on each side about the nature of the relationship.”

You have no excuse

“If you aren’t encrypting your laptop, you are committing malpractice,” Minneapolis solo Sam Glover writes at Lawyerist. Especially when it’s relatively easy and a cost “approaching zero.” In the post, Glover provides quick instructions on how to set it up on Windows 8 “or any version of OS X dating after 2003.”

Without encryption, if “you misplace your laptop, or someone walks off with it, you can safely assume your clients are at high risk for identity theft, at a minimum,” Glover wrote. “If this happens to you, go ahead and buy all your current and former clients whose information was stolen a year of credit monitoring. Or, you could take less than a minute, encrypt your laptop, and stop worrying about it.”

On red and blue blog commenters

At the Jury Room, trial consultant Rita Handrich noted a study by a political science professor about incivility in online blog comments.

More than 1,000 participants participated in the study. A control group read a neutral news story about the federal sequester and two neutral comments. Other groups read blog commentary about the federal sequester from conservative blog Townhall and the liberal blog Daily Kos. One group read left-leaning comments that were “argumentative, uncivil, or a combination of the two” along with the posts; the other read right-leaning comments of a similar nature.

The researcher, Elizabeth Suhay, from Lafayette College, thought that that reading the uncivil comments would “polarize” readers of both political persuasions and stick to their guns more dramatically. “However, when the results from the interactive models were graphed, we only saw polarization among those on the right. This suggests a greater insensitivity to incivility among conservatives and Republicans,” Suhay wrote in her paper.

“Our guess is that Suhay’s work taps something beyond the liberal/conservative dimension,” Handrich writes. “This is only one study, but who knows? She will be doing additional research and we look forward to her promise of a more refined analysis of this data.”

A grave mistake?

At DuetsBlog, Winthrop & Weinstine associate Derek Allen digs up a favorite case from Halloweens past.

After Jeff and Vicki Purtell started parking their 38-foot RV in their driveway, “their neighbors, who pretty clearly do not include RV-loving Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, complained and eventually spearheaded an effort to ban the storage of RVs on residential property.”

The Purtells responded by erecting fake gravestones in their yard with their neighbors’ names on them, Allen wrote. The neighbors didn’t take the gag lying down, and police eventually handcuffed the Purtells when they refused to remove the gravestones. And the Purtells sued the officer, saying he violated their free speech rights. And they won.

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