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SAN DIEGO

Volume 130, 2014 • $6.95

Legal Dramas

Robert Half Legal

The Managing Partner’s Role in Establishing a Firm’s Culture

McIntyre’s Civil Alert

Joel A. Rose

Monty A. McIntyre

7 Missing Elements of Your Content Strategy

Pawel Grabowski

Law Firm of the Month

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2014 EDITION—NO.130

TABLE OF CONTENTS features 6 McIntyre’s Civil Alert

Organized Succinct Summaries by Monty A. McIntyre MEDIATOR OF THE MONTH

10 Judith Copeland

Leading Clients to Quick Resolutions When it Matters Most

10

by Karen Gorden

12 COMMUNITYnews

LAW FIRM OF THE MONTH

16 Casey & Wood

Alisha Wood Partners With Cole Casey To Fight For Clients Who Have Everything To Lose…

EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER Brian Topor EDITOR Jennifer Appel CREATIVE SERVICES Skidmutro Creative Partners CIRCULATION Angela Watson PHOTOGRAPHY Bronson Pate Vinit Satyavrata STAFF WRITERS Jennifer Hadley Bridget Brookman Karen Gorden CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Christopher Walton Monty A. McIntyre Joel A. Rose Pawel Grabowski Robert Half Legal WEBMASTER Mariusz Opalka

by Jennifer Hadley

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OFFICE 10601-G Tierrasanta Blvd., Suite 131 San Diego, CA 92124 P 858.505.0314 • F 858.524.5808 www.AttorneyJournal.us ADDRESS CHANGES Address corrections can be made via fax, email or postal mail.

by Pawel Grabowski

24 The Managing Partner’s Role in Establishing a Firm’s Culture

It’s a Difficult Job, and More Important than Many People Think by Joel A. Rose ARBITRATOR OF THE MONTH

26 Michael Briggs

Decades of Experience Leads to Resolution by Jennifer Hadley RISING STAR OF THE MONTH

28 Ashley Teague

ADVERTISING INQUIRIES info@AttorneyJournal.us SUBMIT AN ARTICLE Editorial@AttorneyJournal.us

22 7 Missing Elements of Your Content Strategy

Focusing on Affordability and Education for All

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by Karen Gorden

30 Legal Dramas

Survey: ‘L.A. Law’ Nostalgic Favorite for Lawyers; Most Say Legal TV Shows Glamorize Profession or Are Too FarFetched by Robert Half Legal

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Editorial material appears in Attorney Journal as an informational service for readers. Article contents are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Attorney Journal. Attorney Journal makes every effort to publish credible, responsible advertisements. Inclusion of product advertisements or announcements does not imply endorsement. Attorney Journal is a trademark of Sticky Media, LLC. Not affiliated with any other trade publication or association. Copyright 2014 by Sticky Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without written permission from Sticky Media, LLC. Printed in the USA


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Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

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McIntyre’s Civil Alert Organized Succinct Summaries by Monty A. McIntyre, Esq. Monty A. McIntyre, is a Relentless Optimist® who serves as a mediator, arbitrator and referee with ADR Services, Inc. As a mediator his mission is to bring peace into the lives of people by excellently helping them resolve disputes. As an arbitrator and referee his mission is to help parties obtain Reasonable, Rapid Resolution™ of their disputes. Mr. McIntyre is the 2014 President of the San Diego Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). He was the 2002 President of the San Diego County Bar Association. He has extensive experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in business, insurance bad faith and tort litigation. He is a Master in the Enright Inn of Court, and a multiple CASD Outstanding Trial Lawyer award recipient. To schedule contact Genevieve Kenizwald at ADR Services, Inc. by phone (619) 233-1323 or email gen@adrservices.org

U.S. SUPREME COURT First Amendment (Establishment Clause) Town of Greece v. Galloway _ U.S. _ (2014): The town of Greece did not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with ceremonial prayer. Ceremonial prayer recognizes that, since this Nation was founded, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government to alter or define and that willing participation in civic affairs can be consistent with a brief acknowledgment of their belief in a higher power, always with due respect for those who adhere to other beliefs. The prayer in this case had a permissible ceremonial purpose. (May 5, 2014.)

9th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEAL Contracts Technica LLC v. Carolina Casualty Insurance Company _ F.3d _ (9th Cir. 2014), 2014 WL 1674108: The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order granting summary judgment to defendants. The rights and remedies under the Miller Act may not be conditioned by state law. The district court erred when it concluded that California’s contractor licensing law, which prohibits unlicensed contractors from suing for compensation, applied to bar plaintiff’s Miller Act action. (April 29, 2014.)

Evidence City of Pomona v. SQM North America Corporation _ F.3d _ (9th Cir. 2014), 2014 WL 1724505: The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order excluding the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony and affirmed the denial of SQMNA’s motion for summary judgment. Expert testimony may be excluded by a trial court under Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence only when it is either irrelevant or unreliable. Facts casting doubt on the credibility of an expert witness and contested facts regarding the strength of a particular scientific method are 6

Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

questions reserved for the fact finder, so the district court erred in excluding Dr. Sturchio’s expert testimony. In addition, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, SQMNA failed to show there was no genuine factual dispute as to whether Pomona’s claims were barred by the economic loss rule or by the applicable statute of limitations. (May 2, 2014.)

Insurance Garcia v. Pacificare of California, Inc. _ F.3d _ (9th Cir. 2014), 2014 WL 1814180: The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s summary judgment for defendant. PacifiCare’s categorical exclusion of myoelectric prosthetics from a health insurance plan did not violate California Health & Safety Code section 1367.18. (May 8, 2014.)

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT Consumer Rights Loeffler v. Target Corporation (2014) _ Cal.4th _ , 2014 WL 1714947: The California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal decision (for slightly different reasons) affirming the trial court’s granting of defendant’s demurrer without leave to amend. The tax code provides the exclusive means by which plaintiffs’ dispute over the taxability of a retail sale may be resolved, and their current lawsuit is inconsistent with tax code procedures. The consumer protection statutes under which plaintiffs brought their action cannot be employed to avoid the limitations and procedures set out by the Revenue and Taxation Code. (May 1, 2014.)

CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL Arbitration Carmona v. Lincoln Millennium Car Wash, Inc. (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1569182: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of a petition to compel


arbitration. The trial court properly found the arbitration agreement was procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The agreement was procedurally unconscionable because the car wash companies presented the agreement on a “take it or leave it basis;” they did not provide the applicable rules of the AAA; they gave plaintiffs insufficient time to review the agreement; and they translated some parts of the agreement into Spanish but did not translate some key provisions. The arbitration agreement was substantively unconscionable for lack of mutuality. The enforceability clause allowed the car wash companies to bring their claims for damages or injunctive relief against plaintiffs in court, but plaintiffs were restricted to arbitration. The clause also stated any breach of the confidentiality subagreement would result in immediate, irreparable harm to the car wash, and plaintiffs did not get the benefit of a parallel presumption on their claims. The enforceability clause further permitted the car wash companies to recover their attorney fees while failing to give plaintiffs the same right. Finally, a representative of the car wash companies did not sign the agreements. (C.A. 2nd, filed April 21, 2014, published May 9, 2014.)

Attorney Fees Mega RV Corporation v. HWH Corporation (2014) _ Ca.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1691371: The Court of Appeal affirmed in part the trial court’s judgment that a component part manufacturer was not required to indemnify the retail seller of a motor home, but reversed the part of the judgment awarding attorney fees to the component manufacturer under the tort of another doctrine. A component part manufacturer is only subject to Civil Code section 1792 obligations if it has provided an express warranty to the consumer pertaining to the component part at issue. Mega RV owed no duty of care to the component manufacturer under the factors listed in J’Aire Corp. v. Gregory (1979) 24 Cal.3d 799. Absent a duty, there was no tort; and without a tort, the tort of another doctrine did not apply. (C.A. 4th, April 30, 2014.)

Civil Procedure (anti-SLAPP, costs, statute of limitations) American Master Lease LLC v. Idanta Partners, LTD. (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ : See summary below under Torts. Desaulles v. Community Hospital Of The Monterey Peninsula (2014) _ Cal. App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1724043: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order awarding costs to defendant. Although the settlement agreement was silent as to costs, because plaintiff agreed to dismiss two of her seven causes of action with prejudice in exchange for a payment of $23,500 from defendant, plaintiff was entitled to costs under Code of Civil Procedure 1032 because she was the party with the net monetary recovery. (C.A. 6th, May 2, 2014.) NBC Universal Media, LLC v. Superior Court (Montz) (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1665035: The Court of Appeal granted a petition for writ of mandate and ordered the trial court to grant summary judgment for defendants. Plaintiffs sued for breach of implied contract and breach of confidence claiming they had pitched a ghost hunter television series that ultimately became the popular show Ghost Hunters. The trial court erred in not granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment because the two-year statute of limitations under Code of Civil Procedure section 339 applied, and plaintiffs filed their complaint more than two years after the first broadcast of Ghost Hunters. (C.A. 2nd, filed April 1, 2014, published April 28, 2014.) Schwarzburd v. Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District Board (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1681562: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s denial of an anti-SLAPP motion as to individual board members but affirmed the denial as to the Board. The writ petition claimed the Board failed to give proper advance notice of the business items that were discussed at a meeting where the General Manager/Chief of Police’s compensation was increased, and also alleged the Board impermissibly extended the meeting after failing to secure the four votes at 9:45 p.m. that were required to continue the meeting Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

7


past 10:00 p.m. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that the claim did not arise out of protected First Amendment voting and legislative deliberative activities concerning an important public issue as to the Board, but disagreed as to the three individual defendants. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court ruling as to the individual defendants because petitioners failed to demonstrate a probability of prevailing on the merits. (C.A. 1st, April 30, 2014.)

Consumer Rights Mega RV Corporation v. HWH Corporation (2014) _ Ca.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1691371: See summary above under Attorney Fees.

Employment Carmona v. Lincoln Millennium Car Wash, Inc. (2014) _ Cal. App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1569182: See summary above under Arbitration. Saffer v. JP Morgan Chase Bank (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1678172: The Court of Appeal vacated the judgment dismissing the action and remanded to the trial court with directions to enter an order of dismissal against Saffer for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Saffer’s suit alleged the defendants constructively discharged Saffer in violation of public policy and in breach of express or implied employment contracts. The Court of Appeal concluded the action had to be dismissed due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, resulting from Saffer’s failure to timely exhaust his administrative remedies with the FDIC as required by the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, 12. U.S.C. section 1811, et seq. (FIRREA). (C.A. 2nd, April 29, 2014.)

Judgments DKN Holdings LLC v. Faerber (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1381358: The Court of Appeal affirmed judgments for defendants. In an earlier action, DKN obtained a money judgment for over $3 million against a colessee, Roy Caputo, following a court trial on the merits for monies due under the lease. The lease provided that colessees shall be “jointly and severally responsible” to comply with its terms. Although DKN sued Faerber and Neel in the prior action, along with Caputo, DKN dismissed them without prejudice before trial and judgment. When DKN later sued Faerber and Neel in this action, DKN’s claims against them were barred by the claim preclusion aspect of the res judicata doctrine. (C.A. 4th, filed April 9, 2014, published April 25, 2014.)

Real Property Biron v. City of Redding (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1691350: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s

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judgment for defendant. Plaintiffs sued for damages to their rental property from flooding in February and March of 2009, alleging inverse condemnation and dangerous condition of public property. As to the inverse condemnation claim, the trial court properly applied the rule of reasonableness to conclude that City’s decision to defer upgrades to City’s storm drainage system did not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to plaintiffs. As to the cause of action for dangerous condition of public property, the trial court properly concluded City’s decision to defer upgrades to the storm drainage system did not create a substantial risk of injury to members of the general public, and that even if the storm drain system had been a dangerous condition, City’s conduct was reasonable. (C.A. 3rd, April 30, 2014.) DKN Holdings LLC v. Faerber (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1381358: See summary above under Judgments.

Torts American Master Lease LLC v. Idanta Partners, LTD. (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ : The Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part for a new trial on the issue of restitution. A jury found defendants were liable for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and awarded restitution in the amount of approximately $5.8 million. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court rulings that a defendant can be liable for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty without owing the plaintiff a fiduciary duty, that the statute of limitations for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty is three years if based upon fraud or four years if based on non-fraudulent conduct, that the restitutionary remedy of disgorgement is available for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty. The Court of Appeal, however, found that the proper measure of restitution for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty is the net profit attributable to the wrong. (C.A. 2nd, May 5, 2014.) Sykora v. State Department of State Hospitals (2014) _ Cal. App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1783754: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings for defendant because plaintiff had not paid the $25 filing fee when his government tort claim was filed. The Board received and file stamped the timely claim but gave no notice that it was insufficient or incomplete. It did not request counsel to send a filing fee. The Board received the claim on November 14, 2011, but did not raise the claim deficiency issue until it filed its motion on April 10, 2013. These facts triggered the defense-waiver provisions of Government Code section 911.3(b). (C.A. 2nd, May 6, 2014.)

Trade Secrets Altavion, Inc. v. Konica Minolta Systems Laboratory Inc. (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 204 WL 1846104: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment for plaintiff.


Peterson Reporting. Providing nationwide service since 1986. Altavion, Inc. invented a process for creating selfauthenticating documents through the use of barcodes that contain encrypted data about the contents of the original documents. The trial court properly concluded that defendant misappropriated trade secrets disclosed by Altavion during negotiations aimed at exploiting Altavion’s technology. The trial court properly based its $1 million damages award on the reasonable royalty measure of damages. The trial court properly awarded prejudgment interest of 7% per annum commencing in late June 2004, and attorney fees in the sum of $3,297,102.50. (C.A. 1st, May 8, 2014.)

Trial California Crane School, Inc. v. National Commission For Certification (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 1848297: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision to limit the trial initially to 10 days, and later to 12 days. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in controlling the trial proceedings as it did. (C.A. 5th, May 8, 2014.) n From day one of your

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Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 7/12/13 2014 5:04 9 PM


PERFECT CHOICE FOR

PROBATE

PROBLEMS

As San Diego’s Only Probate Specialist Working as a Mediator and Arbitrator, attorneys come to Judith Copeland for Quick Resolutions When it Matters Most

JOURNAL

FEATURED MEDIATOR

OF THE MONTH

2014

by Karen Gorden

SPEAKING WITH JUDITH COPELAND,

probate attorney and neutral with West Coast Resolution Group, I realized that she is, frankly, a hoot. Down to earth, with a dry, often self-deprecating sense of humor she admits that “people who don’t have a sense of humor, don’t get me. I love to joke around.” Her humor shines through when describing in a delightfully matter-of-fact manner, just what makes her tick. “I worked one year after college, mostly as a driver for Senator Alan Cranston. I admired him. He liked me, in part because I had an old Porsche speedster that he really liked. He said I should go to law school, so I did,” she says. After earning her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1974, Copeland is equally candid when she says “I didn’t

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Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

choose probate. It chose me. County counsel, where I worked, assigned me to probate. They tried putting me in the litigation department and I didn’t like it. I like being assigned cases, and being able to check them off as they are done. I like getting things done and being finished with them. Cases that can drag on for 10-12 years, would not be for me.”

NEED FOR SPEED The fact that probate cases need to be done quickly definitely appealed to Copeland, who also happened to be highly skilled in the field. All told, she would wind up spending more than 37 years practicing law in the fields of probate, estate planning and elder law. She is certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in Estate Planning,


Trust and Probate law. And just for good measure, along the way she received awards and recognitions ranging from an AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell and multiple inclusions in Super Lawyers to Lifetime Membership in the National Registry of Who’s Who. She was also the recipient of awards including the Service to the Profession Award by the SDCBA and the President’s Award from the National Association of Women Lawyers. The list of awards goes on and on. But in 1999, she began to see the demand for those with probate expertise in alternative dispute resolution. “Probate has become an adversarial practice to which the rules of civil procedure are applied. The delays attached to motions and conferences substantially slow down the administration process. People need to be able to move on. They can’t have their cases hung up for 3 years. Estates need to be administered,” Copeland says. Moreover, she says with a chuckle, “Mediation offered the opportunity to be involved in cases without having a client and with minimal accounts receivable.” To that end, Copeland, in typical pragmatic form, sought out mediation and arbitration training and certification. Since the mid 2000’s it has become a larger and larger portion of her workload, and though she still maintains a small legal practice, alternative dispute resolution is now her full time occupation.

NEED FOR CLOSURE It’s not just the fact that it makes sense to put her vast experience to use helping parties to solve problems quickly; mediation also gives Copeland a great deal of satisfaction. “It is rewarding to see a family in crisis achieve some resolution and relief from their fighting,” she says. Whether the family is fighting over inheritances, via trusts or probate proceedings; disputes over management of trusts and estates (including accountings, removal of fiduciary); surcharge requests (mismanagement, breach of duty); petitions to compel an action; need for conservatorship proceedings; selection of conservator and management of the estates; trusts and will contests, or elder abuse claims, Copeland is there for one reason and one reason only. “I’m very focus on getting cases resolved. I would rather have the parties not like me and reach resolution than like me and not reach resolution. I’m known for my probate experience and expertise and though I hate admit it, I’m known for being a bit pushy. It would be disingenuous to say otherwise. Lawyers who have a stubborn client often select me for that reason. However, with fragile clients, I try to be empathetic and protective,” she says. Continuing she explains, “Probate mediations are uniquely personal in that they usually involve family members. I infuse a lot of psychology into my mediations, trying to clean out the emotional interference that blocks resolution of the underlying dispute. Sometimes I’m forceful and sometimes I guide more gently depending on the circumstances and personalities

involved. I am particularly good at coming up with creative solutions, because I know probate, and I know tax law.” By way of example Copeland says, “In one case both attorneys had worked hard at trying to resolve the case but had hit a wall. I took their settlement approach and by applying tax consequences that no one had thought of, I was able to create a much better settlement for everyone,” she says. Furthermore, with all cases, she is willing to provide a full explanation of what the probate court will do if the parties don’t settle, so they might as well save the time and money. “The fact that I’ve spent over 35 years in the probate court gives me a good ability to predict what a court would be likely to do in any given case,” Copeland says.

GROWING NEED: SENSIBLE SOLU TIONS FOR THE FU TURE “Probate lawyers are rarely appointed to the bench, so judges rarely have a probate background,” Copeland says. That’s why it makes perfect sense for West Coast Resolution Group, and specifically Copeland, to move towards including arbitration services as well. “For many years it was fairly quick to get an issue resolved by the probate court. The process has slowed down considerably, making the ease, efficiency and flexibility of arbitration very attractive, so we are now making arbitration available for probate cases,” she says. Whereas Copeland’s professional life tends toward the more serious, in her personal time, she’s all about laughing and having fun. “I have so many passions and hobbies. I love spending time with my son Austin and his fiancée. I love pug dogs and spending time with my friends. I love golfing, gardening, traveling, tiling and mosaic work, reading, movies, shopping, sewing, television and eating out. I like cooking but I’m not very good at it. I have Padres season tickets, so I go to a lot of games. I sometimes wonder how I ever find time to work,” she laughs but then admits, “I wouldn’t be happy just having fun, I need to work. Mediations and arbitrations are perfect for me.” n

Contact: West Coast Resolution Group Kathy Purcell, mediation administrator (619) 238-7282 www.westcoastresolution.com 625 Broadway, Suite 1221 San Diego, CA 92101

Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

11


COMMUNITY news n James Peterson, partner at the law firm of Higgs Fletcher & Mack, was recently elected to the Board of Directors of Make-A-Wish San Diego. He is the only parent of a Wish recipient currently serving on the Board, and will help chart the Foundation’s course and maintain their status as the nation’s largest wish-granting organization. Peterson and his wife, Kim, JAMES PETERSON became active in the organization after his then 16-year-old daughter, Christina, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her wish was granted by the organization in 2013 with a trip to the Grammys. Kim is also involved as a Founding Member of the W.I.S.H Circle, a group made up of female leaders in the community that are inspiring hope. Peterson’s daughter, Danielle, is an approved Wish Grantor and Christina is an Ambassador who has represented Make-A-Wish performing at a number of venues across San Diego including a live performance at Humphrey’s for the Roll Out the Barrel fundraiser as well as singing the National Anthem at the Poinsettia Bowl and a San Diego Padres game. nThe law firm of  Best Best & Krieger  LLP has launched BBKnowledge, an online microsite that provides information and perspective on the challenges facing public agencies in California and across the nation. Leveraging off of BB&K’s public agency law experience of more than 100 years, BBKnowledge is a ERIC GARNER repository of articles, blogs, white papers, videos, presentations and links to other resources focusing on information and updates for public agency management and other stakeholders. BB&K attorneys provide commentary and perspectives on recent legal and regulatory developments, and how public agency leaders can more effectively run their organizations.  “This thought leadership site is uniquely designed to connect public leaders with our attorneys who are deeply involved in the many issues that affect their agencies,” said Eric Garner, BB&K managing partner.  “We encourage BBKnowledge users to share their thoughts and solutions by providing feedback on our perspectives articles and blog posts. We also plan to have short surveys and other interactive tools.” BBKnowledge.com

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Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

nDavid S. Casey Jr., senior partner with CaseyGerry, was recently appointed to serve on the board of directors of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a group of trial lawyers representing both sides of the bar: prosecutors and defense lawyers in criminal cases, and plaintiffs’ and defense counsel in civil litigation. DAVID S. CASEY JR. Casey Jr. has been a fellow of the Academy—which limits membership to 500 fellows from the United States—since 1999. Fellowship is by invitation only and follows an extremely careful vetting process that includes inquiries of both judges and other trial lawyers of high standing. Specializing in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, Casey Jr. has spent more than 35 years practicing law in San Diego. He is past president of the American Association of Trial Lawyers (now known as the American Association for Justice), and has been lauded with more than 60 professional awards throughout his career, including a perpetual award in his honor, the “David S. Casey, Jr. Consumer Advocate Award” from the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. nHickman & Robinson LLP is pleased to announce the addition of attorney, Kyle E. Yaege, as a partner of the firm. Yaege will be joining the Real Estate and Business Practice Groups at Hickman & Robinson. Yaege comes to Hickman & Robinson after more than five years of operating his own firm, and two years as a senior litigation associate at KYLE E. YAEGE a Carlsbad real estate firm. In both positions Yaege was responsible for a spectrum of real estate related litigation including; loan liquidation, securities and real estate syndication, public and private construction disputes, real estate commissions disputes, professional licensure, and unlawful detainer and collections. Yaege’s history of transactional practice also spans a wide variety of business and real estate transactions including entity formation, governance, and dissolution, commercial leasing, purchase agreements, loan/lease workout agreements, construction agreements, land use, and development. He is active with professional organizations in the San Diego legal and real estate communities including the San Diego Association of REALTORS®, and the San Diego County Bar Association Real Property committees. Yaege is also a longstanding member of the California Western School of Law Alumni Board of Directors.


COMMUNITY news nBankruptcy and transactional finance attorneys Mikel R. Bistrow and Christopher Celentino have joined Ballard Spahr as partners. Ms. Bistrow and Mr. Celentino have extensive experience in insolvency and finance matters and are consistently ranked at the top of their profession for their work MIKEL R. BISTROW in business reorganizations and financial transactions. Ms. Bistrow practices in the areas of commercial finance and lending, real and personal property secured transactions, Uniform Commercial Code, creditor’s collection and related remedies, bankruptcy, insolvency, and workouts. Her finance practice emphasizes representing lenders CHRISTOPHER CELENTINO and borrowers in documenting and negotiating real and personal property loans and secured transactions, including revolving lines of credit, asset-backed loans, securitized credits, and construction financing. Mr. Celentino focuses on creditor rights, fiduciary services litigation, business reorganization and workouts, and insolvency and bankruptcy law. His bankruptcy practice emphasizes the representation of creditors in Chapter 7, 11, and 13 cases; court-appointed trustees in Chapter 7 and 11 cases; and debtors in select Chapter 11 cases. Mr. Celentino has significant knowledge and experience in family law and related dissolution matters; mechanic’s lien law and construction litigation matters; and supplier/vendor contract disputes. nShustak & Partners, P.C. is proud to announce that the firm took top honors for cash donated and number of suits collected in the small firm category of LAWSUITS, a cash and professional clothing drive for local law firms organized by Second Chance and Chaired by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Shustak & Partners, P.C. collected 18 suits and ERWIN SHUSTAK other professional clothing and $500 in cash donations which will be made available to graduates of Second Chance’s job readiness training program.  The program helps at-risk youth, the homeless, recovering addicts and former prisoners reenter the community and workforce. 

nFish & Richardson is pleased to announce the addition of Elizabeth Iglesias and Kevin Kantharia to the firm. Iglesias joins the litigation group as an associate. She was previously an associate with Irell & Manella in Los Angeles. Iglesias’ practice emphasizes patent litigation and reexamination, ELIZABETH IGLESIAS and her experience includes work in the semiconductor, medical device, wireless communications and power generation industries. She also has experience in the area of patent prosecution, and has worked on a number of pro bono matters. Iglesias received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law where she received an American Jurisprudence Awards in Patent Law KEVIN KANTHARIA and International Contracts. She also served as articles editor of the Berkeley Technology Law Journal.  Kantharia will focus his practice on patent litigation, including cases involving biomedical devices and wireless communications.  Prior to joining the firm, he was a senior electrical engineer at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems.  He received his J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law in 2013 and his B.S. from California Polytechnic State University in 2005.  He is admitted to the bar in California and is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. nHiggs Fletcher & Mack, celebrating its 75year anniversary with a commitment to service in the San Diego community in 2014, was pleased to support the 25th Annual Women’s Resource Fair on March 14. Over 500 women and 100 children attended the Fair HIGGS FLETCHER & MACK to receive medical, legal and social services support from more than 100 organizations.

Have a Press Release you would like to submit for our Community News? Email it to PR@AttorneyJournal.us

Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014 13


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DTIGlobal.com Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014 15


A FORCE TO BE

RECKONED WITH LAW FIRM

OF THE MONTH

Alisha Wood Partners With Cole Casey To Fight For Clients Who Have Everything To Lose… But Come Out Winning

2014

by Jennifer Hadley “When, as a child and young adult, you hear things like ‘you’ll never make anything of yourself;’ you basically have two choices. You can live your life believing it, or you can say ‘I’ll show you how wrong you are,’” says Alisha Wood, managing partner at San Diego’s premier DUI Defense firm newly named Casey & Wood, LLP. And rest assured, Alisha isn’t just parroting some motivational speaker she heard once upon a time. On the contrary, she speaks from personal experience. “I’m fortunate that I chose the latter option,” she says.

PERSONAL BATTLES “I grew up in a very small town in Arkansas. College was not something that was encouraged or really planned for most kids. I was the first in my family to attend and graduate from a 4-year University,” Wood says. While attending college, Wood had the added pressure of being a full time mother. “When I was a freshman, I had a baby. I was a single parent going to school full time. I worked three jobs and raised my daughter on my own. At that time, I had never met a lawyer and had no idea that law would be my ultimate path. During my junior year, I took a couple of legal classes and found my calling. I added a Legal Studies minor and found my voice. It took me 5 years to graduate, but I did so, with a degree in Biology,” she recalls. “However, law school was put on the back burner. It had to be. I got a job at one of the big corporations in Arkansas. It was a terrible experience. In those days, and in that area, there were basically two ways to advance. Either be a man, which I wasn’t, or sleep your way up. Neither of those options were of any interest to me, so after a couple of years of answering to those 16

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who abused their authority, I decided it was time to go to law school. Frankly, I wanted to become an attorney so that I could hold those types of organizations and people accountable for the way they abuse people,” she says candidly. “I applied to law schools in California and New York. I was accepted at all of them. But once I came out to California, I never looked back. My daughter and I relocated to Southern California and began the next chapter of our story,” she says. Wood was extremely active in law school. She was on the honors boards for moot court and trial advocacy and involved in student government. She also had the opportunity to work for the District Attorney’s Office in Orange County and the Legal Aid Society in Orange County.

FIGHTING FOR HER CHANCE “I initially thought I wanted to be a prosecutor. However, although I learned a lot and was able to be in court everyday with the D.A’s office, and I recognize that we obviously need rules and laws to follow, there were a lot of misdemeanors that I felt really had no business in the courts at all. I saw cases prosecuted more because of politics, conviction statistics, and in an overwhelming number of cases, just so that new deputy DA’s could get trial experience. All of that was being done at the expense of the defendant, who became nothing more than a pawn in the DA’s game. To me, that is an abuse of power. I didn’t see the best legal system in the world being carried out the way I thought it should. Just because someone is accused of a crime doesn’t make them a criminal, and they should be afforded the presumption of innocence. The Constitution demands that.” Wood says.


Š Bauman Photographers

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Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

fighting them and you will get scarred along the way. Either they beat you or you beat them. Alisha knocked them out cold, and I’ll take a chance on anyone like that,” he adds.

FIGHTING FOR CLIENTS Although Wood’s grit earned her initial respect, Casey had spent years building an award winning firm, truly the gold standard in San Diego for DUI defense firms, and he wouldn’t have offered her or anyone else a position so quickly based solely on her past accomplishments. “She demonstrated dedication to the craft immediately. She put clients’ needs first from the beginning. A lot of lawyers don’t take the time to ask themselves why a client hired them. Our clients come to us because they have a lot at stake. This includes doctors, lawyers, pilots, military officers and scores of other professions who risk not only losing their drivers licenses, but their professional licenses if convicted of a DUI. Their entire career and livelihood hangs in the balance of their case being handled perfectly. They hire us for that specific reason and I have always made it my mission to live up to that,” Casey says. “Alisha recognized and embraced that mission from day one.” To that end, she has followed in the footsteps of her mentor by immersing herself in DUI education, just as Casey did for the first 10 years of his practice. She attended every conference, read every treatise, and, with her background in biology, learning the forensic science applied in DUI cases came easily. Within a very brief period of time, she was selected to be California’s only delegate to the National College of DUI Defense, a role that Casey himself filled for six years. She was also named one of San Diego’s Top Young Attorneys in 2013, by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She is a member of the National College of DUI Defense, The California DUI Lawyers Association, the San Diego Criminal Bar Association, the San Diego Bar Association and Lawyers Club of San Diego. She also shares the same passion for hard work, and fighting for the underdog that Cole has become so well known for. © Bauman Photographers

In contrast, she loved the opportunity to really help people who needed her help through her volunteer work with the Legal Aid Society. She decided that a career in criminal defense would enable her to “work every day for those who need a voice in the very biased and very terrifying world that makes up our criminal justice system.” Wood began researching criminal defense firms as she prepared for the bar. Specifically she started looking into Cole Casey’s DUI practice in San Diego. “I had heard of Cole Casey. He was well known even in Orange County. I knew the work he did and how important it was. I know how devastating a DUI can be to someone, and it was inspiring to hear about how hard he would work to truly help his clients. Before even meeting him, I knew he was the male version of the kind of lawyer I wanted to be in the future. A mutual friend sent my resume to his office, and I was thrilled when I got the call to come to San Diego and interview. But I was up against other candidates, all of whom were far more experienced. Ultimately, I was told I just didn’t have enough experience yet,” she explains. But Wood wouldn’t take no for an answer. She fought for the chance to prove herself by offering to work in Casey’s firm, for intern pay for a period of 90 days and if she proved herself, she would be considered for a full time associate position. Casey conceded, and within six weeks Wood had earned her stripes and was given a full time position. “My daughter and I literally packed up a suitcase and moved to San Diego,” recalls Wood. “Alisha’s strength in facing fears earned my respect. Here was this single mom, figuring out how to survive with no help from anyone. She didn’t go to a fancy prep school. She didn’t get through college or law school with mommy and daddy funding it. She earned everything she had. She was given nothing nor was anything handed to her, and the odds were very much against her. And, she was an attractive woman who could have easily relied on her looks to get her through life, but she wanted no part of that either. She went out and took it,” Casey says. “She’s got some battle scars. You can’t win battles without


STRENGTHENING THE FIRM “There are plenty of good lawyers out there, but it takes much more than that to be a good partner,” says Casey, who admits that he wasn’t looking for a partner, until Wood came along. “Obviously I want someone who is highly skilled as an attorney. That’s a given. But if I’m going to share my name with someone, I must see day in and day out their loyalty, their integrity, and their commitment to the clients and the firm. Both our clients and our staff have extraordinary respect for Alisha, and that is a hard combination to find.” Indeed Casey credits Wood with strengthening the firm by encouraging a high level of selectivity when it comes to taking on cases. “I’m not ashamed to admit it. Some years ago, we had more cases than we could handle, and a very average staff in support. Our cases were taking too long in the court system, we had too many staff members not doing enough work, and my stress level was through the roof. But, over the last few years, Alisha and I made it our mission to reduce the case load, and to ensure that we are sticking to a quality over quantity approach. We made some radical personnel changes, again preferring quality over quantity.

A few years ago, we had 14 employees, now we have 7, and they are the 7 best we could find. Our case load is a third of what is used to be. Now, we don’t take every case, because not all clients need us and we tell prospective clients that from the beginning. We get involved when the defendant is facing severe and dire consequences, and the attorney/client relationship begins with a very honest assessment of what the client may be facing, and the scope of how we can help them. We live by the credo of ‘under promise and over deliver.’” Continuing Casey says, “If they don’t need our type of representation, we tell them exactly that. If a prospective client has no real consequences, and the evidence is all there and is solid against them, they simply don’t need us. In those instances, we recommend that they save their money and utilize the Public Defenders office, who are damn good lawyers that care about their clients, and are committed to their craft. The client is much better off there, than with some bargain basement attorney.” Suffice to say that Casey & Wood LLP is not a typical DUI defense firm. “When a client hires us, they are hiring both partners and at least one associate. There will be a minimum of three attorneys working on their case, in addition to one of our case managers, both of whom have master’s degrees in criminal justice,” Wood says. “We hear so many complaints from defendants who already have lawyers, about the lack of communication between lawyer and client. The client can’t get a return call. Whoever they do talk to knows nothing about their case. We hear this over and over and over, and see the client’s frustration. When you call our office, someone is going to answer. You will speak to someone very familiar with your case, someone who knows you personally and actually cares about your wellbeing. This is true every time you call, or email, or text….whatever,” states Casey. “Look, the last place any of our clients thought they would be is in the back of a cop car in handcuffs, then in jail, then, in a criminal defense lawyer’s office. I can’t even imagine how scary that is for someone who has never been in any trouble before. The least we can do is be there for them, and let them know that © Bauman Photographers

“Our clients are not criminals. Most have never been in trouble before and come to us scared to death of what might happen to them. Being able to assure them, with confidence, that things will be ok, and knowing we can deliver on that promise, is incredibly rewarding,” she says. Wood says, “For example, it is assumed that a driver will automatically lose their license when charged with a DUI. Not true. DUI cases have two components—the DMV hearings and the court proceedings. And we prepare for the DMV hearing as hard as we do for the criminal case, and in fact in many cases use what we learned at the DMV hearing to assist in the court case. We have a great record at the DMV, and when we lose, we have a great record on appeal as well, and have collected thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees when the DMV oversteps their authority, which they routinely do. They suspend licenses when they shouldn’t, and we sue them… and we win.”

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© Bauman Photographers

© Bauman Photographers

MATTHEW H. SPRINGMEYER

LAUREN R. ANGELOS

their lawyers and support staff are actually working for them, and actually want to be proud of the result obtained for them. We have assembled a staff that lives this mission every day.” Casey and Wood are supported by associate attorneys Lauren Angelos and Matt Springmeyer. Angelos attended law school at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where she received Pro Bono Honors for exceeding 400+ hours. She was consistently on the Honor Roll and received a CALI Excellence award in Corporate and White Collar Crime. She has also worked with the Public Defender’s Office and the Officer of the Alternate Public Defender, working in the Central Misdemeanor Unit, Adult Felony Division, and Juvenile Delinquency. Angelos continues her pro bono work with the California Innocence Project. Springmeyer, who was admitted to the bar last summer, joined Casey & Wood LLP as a post-bar clerk, after graduating from California Western School of Law with Magna Cum Laude honors. He appeared on the Dean’s Honor List every trimester and received Pro Bono and Public Service honors for his extensive hours dedicated to helping others. Springmeyer was also the Executive Notes and Comments Editor for the California Western International Law Journal, as well as a member of the California Western Law Review. He worked as a federal judicial extern for the Honorable Magistrate

Judge Ruben B. Brooks, Southern District of California and has worked for the San Diego County Public Defender in the Multiple Conflicts Office. He too worked with the Legal Aid Society of San Diego—where he worked in their Pro Bono Clinics, and the United States Attorney’s Officer for the Southern District of California where he worked in the Narcotics Enforcement Section. Both associate attorneys share Casey and Wood’s passion for client service and fairness. “I do not view our clients as simply clients,” Springmeyer says. “I know they are each individuals, so I try to help them achieve their particular goals without losing focus on obtaining the best possible outcome in their case. I have learned from Cole and Alisha the goal of mastering one’s craft, which has motivated me to make it my goal to master DUI law.” Angelos has a similar perspective. “I pride myself on my relationships with others. Giving everyone respect puts me in a situation where I am listened to and respected in turn. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from both Cole and Alisha during these first few years of my career. Watching their styles of negotiation, their motion and trial techniques and interactions with clients allows me to develop in a way I couldn’t on my own,” she says.

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WIN-WIN FOR ALL

© Bauman Photographers

The promotion of Wood to partner has clearly resulted in a winning situation for all involved, according to Casey. “Alisha has scrapped for every bit of success she has. A well-known Superior Court judge recently stopped me in the hallway of the courthouse, complimenting me on Alisha’s courtroom acumen. He said the best word he could find to describe her was ‘unflappable,’ and that is spot on. I didn’t give her a partnership, she earned it. Making her a partner was a no brainer.” For her part, Wood says her tireless motivation has always and continues to come from her daughter who is now nearly 16 years old. “She essentially went to law school with me. She has kept me on track and is the biggest reason I have accomplished all that I have so far,” she says. Casey seconds that emotion. “At the end of the day, you want the best for your family and your kids. You want to give them a good life, and do work that makes them proud of you. What

Alisha has done for her daughter is what I’ve tried to do for my wife and my sons,” he says. “So, while I’m going to be in the game for a while longer, when I do decide that I am done, I’m leaving this firm and those that need us in very good hands with Alisha. In the meantime, all of us are going to continue to provide excellent service and deliver excellent results. I’m benefitting, she’s benefitting, our families are benefitting, our staff is benefitting, and most importantly, our clients are benefitting.” n Contact: Casey & Wood LLP www.duisandiego.com info@duisandiego.com (619) 237-0384 2550 5th Avenue, Suite 815 San Diego, CA 92103

Casey & Wood staff (Left to Right): Allie Welch, Courtney Reimers, Carmen Galvan, Ashley Linza, Mary130, Stephens Attorney Journal | Volume 2014 21


7 Missing Elements of Your Content Strategy by Pawel Grabowski

I bet like any other business owner you want more clients and ideally, you would like them to knock on your door. After all, what’s better than a lead who has found you by themselves and reaches out for a quote?

1. NO PAID PROMOTION

Enter content marketing. Content offers opportunity. It can expose your business to a multitude of new prospects. With content you can target potential clients at different stages of the buying cycle, not to mention with different buyer intents. You can nurture your leads until they are ready to buy or fix a problem for them. But here is the catch, all of this doesn’t happen by itself. Creating great content isn’t enough. To get the most out of your content marketing efforts, you need to actively promote it to reach your target audience. As someone once said, a successful content strategy is 20% creation and 80% promotion. But most of the time, your content strategy falls short by missing some crucial elements.

Even the best content might fail if the other pieces of lead generation strategy aren’t working. One of which are landing pages—Web pages dedicated to a specific aspect of your business. Unlike your website, which has to cater to all of your prospects, landing pages allow you to pitch to a very specific lead, someone with a particular problem you hold a solution to. Thanks to landing pages, if a particular piece of content attracts your target audience, they will have a business reference point to find out more about how your business could help them.

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Your content should end up in front of your target audience, fast. To get it out there, use paid advertising. But, of course, not every piece of content deserves paid promotion. When it comes to heavy magnitude pieces, however (content that’s designed to attract large numbers of qualified leads to your site—ebooks, white papers, reports etc.), paid advertising is by far—a must.

2. NOT USING LANDING PAGES WITH YOUR CONTENT


3. LACK OF INTEGRATION WITH OTHER MARKETING STRATEGIES Content marketing is an integral part of the entire marketing communications. Most of the time however, it is created separately from other marketing activities. Blog posts, videos, graphics, comic strips and other content types, however, can complement your overall marketing and branding efforts and not work outside of it.

4. NO DIVERSITY OF CONTENT TYPES It is unfortunate that content marketing is often considered synonymous with blogging. Blog posts are one of the most common content types created, true. There are, however, many other types you could use, not only to educate, but also entertain your audience. Comic strips, quizzes, memes, videos, games, apps, white papers, PDF reports and ebooks all form a content mix you should be availing of. Naturally, not all content types will work in your industry. But you should at least try to go beyond blogging when planning your content strategy.

5. LACK OF CONTENT PERSONAS A challenge when creating your content strategy is speaking to a specific audience. Since you can’t see the person that’s going

to read your words, it’s hard to relate to them and write with them in mind. To overcome this, you should develop content personas to help you better target your content.

6. NOT INVOLVING INFLUENCERS Industry influencers are great to leverage your content. Since they already have an audience, anything they share or get involved with immediately gets attention. Involve them in your content strategy and marketing, especially at the early stages to quickly put your website in front of your audience. Some of the best ways to do so include interviews or expert roundups.

7. NOT MEASURING YOUR CONTENT’S PERFORMANCE Lastly, it’s hard to know if your content strategy is successful without measuring its performance. There are a number of ways to do it, from creating a simple excel spreadsheet to track KPIs to using sophisticated testing platforms outputting all the data you need to know. The key is to always measure, analyze and repeat what’s working in your content strategy. n Pawel Grabowski is a business and marketing writer, focusing on offering advice to small and startup businesses. He can be reached at www.pawelgrabowski.me.

Areas of Expertise Business/Commercial • Class Action Complex Litigation • Construction Employment/Wage and Hour Insurance Coverage/Bad Faith • Intellectual Property Legal Malpractice • Medical Malpractice Personal Injury • Probate Real Property/CEQA/Land Use • Wrongful Death

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M A. MI, E. Mediator, Arbitrator & Referee ADR Services, Inc.

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It’s a difficult job, and more important than many people think

The Managing Partner’s Role in Establishing a Firm’s Culture by Joel A. Rose

Joel A. Rose is a certified management consultant and president of Joel A. Rose & Associates Inc., management consultants to law firms based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He has extensive experience consulting with private law firms, and performs and directs consulting assignments in law firm management and organization, strategic and financial planning, lawyer compensation, the feasibility of mergers and acquisitions, and the marketing of legal services. He may be contacted at jrose63827@ aol.com; Telephone: (856) 427-0050 or (800) 381-1645, Fax: (856) 429-0073.

The demographics of law firms are changing as baby boomers reduce, or intend to reduce, active involvement in their firms. This change of status of senior partners has highlighted the need for managing partners to assess their firms’ current culture to ensure it conforms to the professional and personal objectives of a significant majority of the midlevel and younger partners, who are the future of their firms. A law firm’s culture can be one of its major strengths, when it is consistent with the current and longer term objectives and values of a majority of the partners. But a culture that prevents individual attorneys from satisfying their professional, personal and financial objectives, and that inhibits a firm from meeting its competitive threats, or adapting to changing economic environments, can lead to the firm’s stagnation and decline, unless its partners make a conscious effort to change. Firm culture implies values, such as: aggressive, collegial, sensitive to quality of life, competitive, democratic, etc., that set a pattern for a firm’s activities and the roles of its partners. This pattern is instilled in newer attorneys by the example set by the partners through their actions and transparent communications. A principal role of a managing partner is to assess the needs and priorities of the firm and the partners, and to cultivate the type of culture that encourages partners to use their skills and abilities toward achieving their firm’s desired objectives. Absent the willingness of managing partners to be sensitive to the changing needs of a firm, and the desires and expectations of its partners, a firm will have problems functioning in its practice environment, and may have difficulty surviving. The managing partner must be sensitive to the firm’s core values, including its methods for determining and implementing policies, compensating its lawyers and engaging in strategic and marketing planning, and competing effectively with other law firms in its geographic area.

Warning Signs Based upon my experience, below is a list of warning signs that will serve as the bellwether for managing partners to reassess their firms’ culture and core values: l Partner complaints or suggestions that they are not being kept informed of firm matters that involve staffing, termination of attorneys, issues that may affect particular partners or their areas of practice, etc.; l

l

l

l

Feelings that some partners are being “manipulated” by a group of dominating partners; Senior (or more influential) partners consider the firm as their private domain, and take others for granted; The sense that decisions are being made by a select few, and partner meetings are eyewash, as major decisions are made prior to the meeting, and partners are being “played with”; and Lack of open communications between the more influential partners and the rest of the attorneys.

Dealing With the Warning Signs Below are suggested action plans that should be implemented if any of the above warning signs appear. The managing partner should: l Position himself or herself as a leader who is eager to listen to the opinions of other partners; l

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Create a constructive dialogue to assess the needs and expectations of all of the other partners;


l

l

l

l

l

l

l

l

Reach a consensus of a significant majority of the partners about the desired culture and develop a plan on how to implement it; Encourage partners to participate in governance issues and be kept informed about those activities that will influence the firm’s future; Schedule partner meetings on a regular basis, and announce dates and times of these meetings far enough in advance to clear schedules; Prepare agendas for these meetings, encourage partners to contribute agenda items prior to the meeting, provide information to partners about issues to be discussed in advance of the meeting, whenever possible; Distribute summaries of these meeting to partners within 48 hours of the meeting so there will be a written record of the decisions reached, etc.; Encourage midlevel and junior partners to participate in the succession of firm management and client retention; Follow up on the progress of the firm and its components to insure that the desired culture is being implemented, maintained and reinforced by all lawyers, as required; and “Tweak” elements of the firm’s culture, in accordance with the priorities and needs of the partners, as required, to avoid problems down the road.

How effective a firm’s managing partner will be in creating the type of environment needed to encourage partners to develop and implement strategies to foster the desired culture will depend, to a great extent, upon his or her willingness and ability to develop and articulate shared values. Unless the managing partner has a vision for the firm, there may be as many visions as there are partners. A firm in which there is no agreed-upon vision frequently experiences irresolvable tensions, and can become less than collegial. I have attended partners’ meetings in firms having cultures that have atrophied and were in need of revitalization. Recently, I was invited to attend a partners’ meeting of a midsize law firm. After listening to the managing partner’s presentation, I was less than impressed by the lack of partner participation and the paucity of partners’ enthusiasm with respect to the managing partner’s initiatives. As an observer, I did not feel that the partners had “bought in” to the managing partner’s initiatives, nor did I think their communications to the managing partner were “real” in terms of their commitment to implement his initiatives. Following this meeting, the managing partner told me how pleased he was that the partners had reached a consensus about important issues. However, after leaving the managing partner’s office, I found it curious that a small group of partners was standing in the hallway, having an informal discussion about certain issues discussed during the meeting. It seemed to me as though a few of these partners had “put the parking brake” on some of the decisions affecting the initiatives recommended by

the managing partner, and the managing partner did not know that the partners were doing this.

Changing a Firm’s Culture Because a firm’s culture is so pervasive, changing it becomes one of the most difficult tasks that any law firm can undertake. What stands in the way is not only the “comfort that many partners may have with the prevailing culture,” but also the fact that few partners consciously recognize how their firm’s culture manifests itself. Most often, the issue surrounding the development and implementation of strategies affecting the firm’s culture is what the managing partner has done to assess the partners’ attitudes about the current culture, and the extent to which it represents the values and the professional and personal objectives that a significant majority of the partners would like the firm’s guiding principles to be. I am a proponent of the school of law-firm management that encourages the managing partner to “walk the hall” and take the time to encourage the partners and associates to speak, i.e., “from the bottom up, as well as from the top down,” to foster strong relationships and to begin to mold the most appropriate firm culture. I have recommended to managing partners in numerous law firms that to reinforce their firm’s culture, they start a free weekly lunch to bring all of the attorneys together to share a meal, i.e., sandwiches, pizza, salads, etc., and encourage conversations. It is curious that several managing partners told me that immediately after implementing the weekly lunches in their firms, virtually all of the junior partners and associates attended. However, some of the senior and midlevel partners got their food and went back to their offices. In these firms, a few managing partners decided to “break the ice” and initiate communications by talking for a few minutes about the firm’s initiatives, new client assignments, successful business development activities, and the extent to which the firm had surpassed its revenue budget for the month or quarter, etc., then responded to questions. These managing partners told me that as the result of his brief presentations more partners attended these free lunches and communicated with other partners and associates about recent developments in case law, client files they were working on, the standing of professional and college sports teams, upcoming vacations, their children’s soccer games, etc. Those managing partners who succeeded in reinforcing or changing their firms’ cultures have been willing to invest partner time to assess its needs and requirements to define the kind of firm the partners want the firm to be (or become) and to make that entity as palatable as possible to a significant majority of its members. To achieve this objective, much work needs to be done from within by the managing partner and the partners to create, promote and reinforce the desired culture. Recently, one managing partner asked me how long he had to continue to promote the firm’s culture at meetings and in informal settings. I answered: forever. n Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

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WHEN ‘BET-THE-COMPANY’ DEALS GO BAD JOURNAL

FEATURED ARBITRATOR

© Bauman Photographers

OF THE MONTH

2014

Michael Briggs Uses His Decades of Experience in Complex Business Transactions and Law to Bring Business Disputes to Resolution Through Arbitration by Jennifer Hadley

“I

took an undergraduate class at USC in labor economics from a distinguished labor arbitrator whose case studies about his cases fascinated me,” says Michael Briggs, who began arbitrating bet-the-company cases for the American Arbitration Association in 1994, before launching San Diego Neutrals in 2006. To Briggs, the enthusiasm stemmed from recognizing that arbitration was a fair, efficient and economical resolution for parties who cannot reach a settlement, because the stakes (from both a financial and emotional standpoint) are just too high for the parties involved. As the result, Briggs went on to earn his J.D. and MBA at UCLA because it also had the premier Institute for Negotiation and Arbitration. Yet part way through his dual degree in the late 1970’s, Briggs got some advice that would postpone his entrance into arbitration. “A professor asked me whether the men in my family bald 26

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or gray early because nobody would care how smart I was. They didn’t want a 25 year old arbitrator who had no practical experience,” Briggs laughs. Briggs heeded the warning and went on to forge a career which would make perfect use of both his business and legal expertise.

The Past: 25 Years of Business & Business Law Working in fields such as aerospace, construction, telecommunications and e-commerce over the course of the first 25 years of his career, Briggs negotiated and drafted hundreds of commercial transactions from the simple to the complex, including licensing technology, corporate securities, company financing and the purchase or sale of companies. “Sales and purchases of companies often include vital elements such as covenants not to compete, rights of first refusal and


licensing arrangements, all of which I have a lot of experience with,” Briggs says. Armed with extensive business experience and legal expertise, Briggs began serving as an arbitrator in 1994. What became immediately clear to attorneys working with Briggs was that they didn’t need to spend much time educating him on the specifics of complex business deals; he had drafted them, negotiated them and lived by them for more than two decades. Attorneys were grateful not to have to waste time getting him up to speed on the legalities of business transactions. As such, the vast majority of Briggs’ arbitration cases came to him initially by way of the American Arbitration Association, where he served as a neutral in Commercial and Domain Name Dispute panels. Indeed, drafting and negotiating joint venture and mergers and acquisition agreements domestically and internationally in sizes ranging from $150K - $2 Billion, was all in a days’ work for Briggs for many years. As senior international counsel for a Fortune 50 company, Briggs handled legal matters for the company in more than 24 countries from his base in London, where he is also on the Roll of Solicitors, before returning to San Diego in 2000.

Present: Celebrating 20 Years of Arbitration By 2001, Briggs had “left corporate life to vigorously pursue practice as an alternative dispute resolution neutral, while maintaining a legal practice in order to stay current in corporate and securities law,” he says. As part of that commitment to staying current not only with laws, but with all things related to alternative dispute resolution, Briggs’ extensive training includes hundreds of hours dedicated to ongoing education in the field. He has also presented in front of various State Bar Associations, and became a neutral for panels including FINRA, National Futures Association, National Conflict Resolution Center, Kaiser Permanente and Superior Court Panel of Mediators. These days, after 20 years of experience as an arbitrator and mediator, Briggs is just as passionate about arbitration as he was when he was first introduced to the field in college. “I am committed to making arbitration a preferred method of dispute resolution. When the parties cannot reach a settlement, arbitration is a speedy and equitable method of dispute resolution using the arbitrator’s subject matter expertise,” he says. But rest assured, even though he has worked with Fortune 50 international companies, his bet-the-company types of cases aren’t always high dollar ones. “The parties may have tried mediation, and I believe that mediation is an excellent means of resolving cases when both parties have the motivation to settle. But so many times people are locked in, emotionally. For example, they may be determined to receive $500,000. $500,000 is all they can see. When that is the case, it is often preferable to have someone like myself come in and render a decision,” Briggs says. Continuing he adds that his tenure in complex business

disputes enables him to stick to the laws and the circumstances surrounding a case. “Arbitrators are often criticized for ‘splitting the baby,’ but when the facts and the laws merit, I’m not afraid to give an all or nothing decision,” he says. Still Briggs is quick to point out that highly emotional cases are not always high value cases. “If you’re GM and millions of dollars on the line, and GM is owned by thousands of shareholders, there typically isn’t one single person who has a lot to lose. They will be able to move forward. However, if you’re an entrepreneur and 100% of your livelihood is contingent upon running a $300K/year business, and the business crashes, a merger falls apart or an acquisition goes terribly bad, there may be no pieces to pick up, that’s when you’ve bet the company,” he explains. These scenarios are cases in which Briggs excels, and they are the reason he is selected so often for these types of cases. “I’m a transactional attorney. I’m not a litigator. I don’t come from the side of advocacy, like a trial lawyer does. I come from the side of having worked with contracts for years. I understand the clauses involved in complex agreements. You wouldn’t come to me to resolve a dispute over a traffic accident, but dealing with buy/sell agreements, joint venture, licensing, complex financing and securities is definitely my forte. I have gathered that expertise together with my graying hair.”

Future: Collaborative Business Divorce Is On The Horizon As for the future of Briggs’ practice, the possibilities are limitless. Briggs is licensed to practice law in California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, England and even Wales. “A professor of mine told me that even though I didn’t have to be admitted to the Bar in states where I was practicing as in-house counsel, I should go for it anyway. In fact, he said ‘think about all possible places you might want to retire, and get licensed there,’ so I did.” For now however, he’s committed to remaining in San Diego, and expanding his arbitration and mediation practice to include Collaborative Business Divorce. “There is movement toward a methodology referred to as collaborative divorce where alternative dispute resolution techniques are combined with subject matter expertise by one lawyer for all parties in order to reduce costs and friction. I am looking at ways that I can handle a collaborative business divorce, without each party needing to hire an attorney, which might reduce extensive, expensive negotiations. I’ve done one so far, and it was successful. It may not be right for everyone, but I am always looking for ways to expand my services so that parties can resolve disputes fairly, efficiently, and economically,” Briggs says. n Contact: Michael Briggs San Diego Neutrals, LLC www.sandiegoneutrals.com mbriggs@sandiegoneutrals.com (858) 232-8591 Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

27


© Bauman Photographers

JOURNAL

FEATURED RISING STAR

OF THE MONTH

2014

Estate Planning for EVERYONE Teague Law Focuses on Affordability and Education For All

“I

want estate planning to be available and accessible. My typical client is an average San Diegan looking for estate planning—a will, trust, or other estate planning documents—or who is looking for help with estate administration. I do not market towards or focus on high net-worth individuals. I provide an affordable, high-quality, personalized estate planning option for my clients,” says Ashley Teague, founder of Teague Law. The decision to enter into a field of law which is a relatively non-adversarial field of law, was admittedly even a surprise to Teague herself. “I was stubborn and argumentative as a child,” she recalls. “Everyone always told me that I should become an attorney, presumably because of it,” she laughs. As such after college, Teague moved from her homes state of Texas to attend University of San Diego School of Law. After passing the Bar, Teague spent her first few years working for a general business law firm in La Jolla before launching Teague Law. “I had the opportunity to work in many different areas of law, and figure out my preferences. Estate planning and probate consistently stood out as my favorite area of law—I loved being able to practice in an area that is generally not adversarial and simply serves to help clients. It made me feel good at the end of the day, like I had done something to make a positive difference in my clients’ lives,” she says. During those first few years, Teague also says that she was fortunate to work with exceptionally talented attorneys who helped her in countless ways. “I received incredible experience 28

Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

by Karen Gorden

and mentorship, and I’m so thankful for the guidance I received when I was first starting out.” Thus, when she was ready to launch her own practice, she knew exactly the type of attorney she wanted to be, and the type of firm she wanted to run. “A huge component of the services I provide to clients is education. I offer unlimited amounts of my time to answer any questions or concerns, and to explain in detail what each estate planning document is, and why it is necessary,” she says. Teague says “I also strive to keep my prices as affordable as is humanly possible. I know there are so many San Diegans who are in desperate need of a quality estate plan, but do not necessarily have the disposable income to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for one. My clients know the price from day one, and I am flexible with payment plans if my clients want to pay the flat fee in installments. I keep my overhead low so that I am able to provide high-quality work at an affordable price.” With five years of success under her belt, Teague has plans to eventually become licensed and expand her practice into Texas, to help her friends, family and connections with estate planning as well. In the meantime though, she’s thrilled to be able to offer estate planning services to all who need it in San Diego. “It is so important and necessary for many who can’t afford the big firm prices. I walk away from each and every client feeling like I have helped that client in a very specific, measurable way, and that feels great.” n


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Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

29


LEGAL DRAMAS Survey: ‘L.A. Law’ Nostalgic Favorite for Lawyers; Most Say Legal TV Shows Glamorize Profession or Are Too Far-Fetched Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing division of Robert Half. The company provides law firms and corporate legal departments with highly skilled professionals, including lawyers, paralegals and legal support personnel, on a project and full-time basis. With North American and global locations, Robert Half Legal also offers managed review and e-discovery services. More information, including online job search services, can be found at roberthalflegal.com. For career and management advice, follow our Legal Blog at blog.roberthalflegal.com.

MENLO PARK, Calif. —“L.A. Law” was credited for driving up law school enrollment more than 20 years ago, and the television program remains a sentimental favorite within the legal community, a new Robert Half Legal survey finds. When lawyers were asked to name their all-time favorite legal TV show, nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of respondents cited “L.A. Law,” the award-winning legal drama that aired from 19861994. The runners-up were “Law & Order,” with 16 percent of the survey response, and “Boston Legal” (13 percent). Twenty percent of lawyers interviewed said they have no favorite legal show. When asked to describe how they feel the entertainment industry portrays the legal profession, 31 percent of lawyers said Hollywood glamorizes it, while 28 percent said the depictions are too far-fetched. Just 2 percent of lawyers felt that the small screen accurately depicts the legal world. Lawyers were asked, “Which of the following, if any, would you say is your favorite legal TV show of all time?” Their responses:

L.A. Law

24%

Law & Order

16%

Boston Legal

13%

The Good Wife

11%

Perry Mason

6%

Ally McBeal

3%

Other

6%

None/don’t have a favorite legal TV show Don’t know/no answer

30

Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

20% 1% 100%                          

Lawyers were also asked, “Which best describes your feelings about how these TV shows depict the legal profession?” Their responses: Glamorizes the profession

31%

Too far-fetched

28%

Misrepresents the law

14%

Accurate/fairly accurate

2%

Hits too close to home

1%

None/no feeling about TV shows’ depiction

13%

of the legal profession Other/don’t know/can’t choose just one

11% 100%

                         

“There’s no denying that pop culture influences people’s perceptions of lawyers,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “While some legal shows have glamorized the lives of attorneys, the TV industry also has helped to demystify the legal profession and make it more accessible. And beyond providing entertainment, these shows also have motivated many individuals to pursue legal careers.” The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a premier legal staffing firm specializing in the placement of lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 350 telephone interviews with lawyers at law firms and companies in the United States and Canada. n


Attorney Journal | Volume 130, 2014

31


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Attorney Journal, San Diego, Volume 130  

Attorney Journal, San Diego, Volume 130

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