Practice Matters

17 ABA Journal Practice Matters articles.

4 lessons we can learn as a profession from the pandemic

What are some lessons of this COVID-19 experience for the legal profession? What are some truths that are coming to light? Four initial lessons come to mind for lawyer and author Heidi K. Brown.

How to make the most of your time during the pandemic

Regardless of whether Shakespeare used playhouse closings to write great drama, it’s worth asking yourself: What should I do during periods of isolation? Bryan A. Garner, the president of LawProse Inc., explores.

Judges must ensure defendants can afford court costs before imposing fines and fees

Judges must take steps to ensure individuals have the ability to pay criminal justice debt before threatening incarceration, revoking probation, exercising contempt powers or considering similar consequences, according to Formal Opinion 490 from the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.

Lawyers are the directors and set designers of their courtroom dramas

Litigation unfolds upon a stage in the theater of the courtroom. And while combative, compulsive and closed litigation stories are constrained and shaped by evidentiary and legal rules and the meticulous presentation of factual evidence, lawyers are nevertheless the producers, directors and set designers of their own theatrical courtroom dramas.

How to ethically respond to negative reviews from clients

Attorneys who receive negative online reviews may feel compelled to respond, especially if the reviews are unfair or inaccurate. Formal and informal ethics opinions issued throughout the country consistently agree that attorneys are permitted to respond to negative reviews. But how it’s done is a matter of ethics and professionalism.

‘Good English’ always has been a path to the legal profession

Should schoolchildren be taught standard English grammar? The traditional view, of course, is yes. The contrary position is we shouldn’t insist people learn standard written English. Instead, we should teach everyone to be tolerant of regional and class dialects—not just accents but dialects.

Let’s mend our profession by exploring the mental and the physical

Our profession is making great strides to commit to lawyer well-being initiatives. Yet some law office managers and junior attorneys wonder how to realistically approach matters of mental, physical and emotional health while balancing real expectations.

If you’re a lawyer who’s not writing and editing like a pro, get to work

“In my office, colleagues are evaluated on the worth of their edits: Everyone is expected to make the types of edits that professionals at the copy desks of major magazines would make. The idea is that the final product should sing,” says Bryan A. Garner, president of LawProse Inc.

Disbarred attorneys trying to get their licenses back face an uphill battle

It’s often said the ability to practice law is a privilege, not a right. It’s difficult enough to obtain a law license, and losing one can be devastating both personally and professionally. Attorneys who face the ignominy of disbarment and later seek reinstatement face high hurdles that are sometimes insurmountable.

Films that become Hollywood blockbusters reveal popular skepticism about the rule of law

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words—especially when sequenced into moving pictures. Our imaginations are fueled by the consumption of high-octane visual stories. The American cinema is, in the words of film historian Robert Ray, “one of the most potent ideological tools ever constructed.”

Legal writers can learn a lot from these unparalleled unpublished opinions

In Bryan A. Garner’s view, Judge Thomas M. Reavley of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shows us how to spend more time thinking and less time writing.

Is it time to reevaluate the standard for legal malpractice in criminal cases?
We can be smart, ambitious and accomplished members of the legal profession without being jerks

We lament a decline in civility. We reaccentuate standards of professionalism. But when do we teach junior attorneys how to mentally and physically recalibrate in a bullying moment, and if, when and how to substantively respond to the offender?

The ethics argument for promoting equality in the profession

Recognizing a lawyer’s ethical obligation to promote diversity bridges the gap between the moral case for diversity and the business case for diversity. It invokes shared values and professional responsibility. To establish that, we have the obligation and the agency to pursue liberty and justice for all, within and outside our practices.

Are you harnessing your millennial power?

Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, so boomer and Generation X workers had better learn how to effectively integrate them into their businesses. And that is especially important for law firms. The power of millennial lawyers is huge—by virtue of numbers alone.

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