Volume 128, 2014 • $6.95
Meeting with a Purpose Four Steps to Productive Meetings
Sally J. Schmidt
RISING STAR OF THE MONTH Paid Online Advertising for Your Law Practice
Does Your Firm Need a Consensus Builder or an Autocrat?
Joel A. Rose
McIntyre’s California Alert
Monty A. McIntyre
Lukas I. Pick
MEDIATOR OF THE MONTH
PROFESSIONAL PROFILE OF THE MONTH At Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith LLP, In-House E-Discovery and ESI Only Makes Cents for Clients and Colleagues
Attorney of the Month
DOING WHAT HE LOVES …BUT STILL PLAYING THE BLUES
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TABLE OF CONTENTS features PROFESSIONAL PROFILE OF THE MONTH
6 At Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith LLP, In-House E-Discovery and ESI Only Makes Cents for Clients and Colleagues by Karen Gorden
8 Does Your Firm Need a Consensus Builder or an Autocrat?
Defining a managing partner’s management style by Joel A. Rose
10 McIntyre’s California Alert Organized Succinct Summaries
EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER Brian Topor
by Monty A. McIntyre
EDITOR Jennifer Appel
CREATIVE SERVICES Skidmutro Creative Partners
ATTORNEY OF THE MONTH
16 Marc Schechter
CIRCULATION Angela Watson PHOTOGRAPHY Bronson Pate Vinit Satyavrata STAFF WRITERS Jennifer Hadley Bridget Brookman Karen Gorden CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Joel A. Rose Christopher Walton Monty McIntyre Mike Ramsey Sally J. Schmidt WEBMASTER Mariusz Opalka ADVERTISING INQUIRIES info@AttorneyJournal.us SUBMIT AN ARTICLE Editorial@AttorneyJournal.us
Doing What He Loves … But Still Playing the Blues by Jennifer Hadley
MEDIATOR OF THE MONTH
22 John Edwards by Karen Gorden
RISING STAR OF THE MONTH
24 Lukas I. Pick by Jennifer Hadley
26 Paid Online Advertising for Your Law Practice by Mike Ramsey
30 Meeting with a Purpose
Four Steps to Productive Meetings by Sally J. Schmidt
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Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
TECHNOLOGY IS KING (BUT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE COSTLY) At Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith LLP, In-House E-Discovery and ESI Only Makes Cents for Clients and Colleagues by Karen Gorden For Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith LLP, winning the National 2013 Law Technology News Technology Award for small firms was obviously an honor. The award is given annually to a single firm of less than 100 lawyers for reaching “every firm’s goal: the efficient effective and economical use and management of e-discovery…at far less cost than is customary.” Yet the possibility of winning awards was not what drove the firm Solomon Ward to pioneer the use of technologies to sort through electronic information for relevance to a particular case. Bill Kammer, Partner and head of the firm’s e-discovery and ESI services team added, “We are honored to be singled out as a national leader in the adaptation and integration of technology by our firm. We’re a small, local law firm with about 30 attorneys, but we’ve done some big things in implementing electronic discovery solutions for our clients,” Instead, Solomon Ward was driven by the desire to cut time and expense for clients. Kammer explains, “Our firm’s investment in cutting-edge technology results from our commitment to clients and cost efficiencies.” Additionally, Solomon Ward is hoping to help the San Diego legal community as a whole to better understand and utilize e-discovery options.
Making Cents for Clients Indeed, Solomon Ward’s investment has been substantial, but worth every penny. “More than 90 percent of all information is created digitally and 80 to 90 percent of that information remains digital,” Kammer explains. As such, Electronically Stored Information (ESI) presents incredible challenges for attorneys when the vast amount of data must be collected, preserved and culled for relevance to a lawsuit or legal matter. Moreover, Solomon Ward found that outside vendors could be a more expensive and less efficient alternatives for these services, leading the firm to bring all e-discovery operations in-house. “Five or six years ago, the cost of e-discovery in a case could easily exceed $250K,” says Kammer. This priced too many clients out of the legal system, which Kammer sees as unfair. “We are able to do this work in-house for our clients for less than outside vendors might charge,” he says. “We can efficiently look at our own clients’ documents and whatever
Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
documents the opposing side provides; even if they dump piles on us.” Indeed the firm uses the same technologies to review and analyze documents received from other parties with the same efficiency, and therefore, reduced cost to the client. Utilizing Access Data’s Forensic ToolKit® (FTK), Summation Pro and its Mobile Phone Examiner Plus® (MPE+), Solomon Ward now has “a platform that includes predictive coding and filters so we can easily purge irrelevant data prior to human review,” Kammer says. This cuts time and cost immensely as “roughly 73 percent of the cost of data collection and analysis stems from humans having to read documents. We can eliminate that on the front end using Technology Assisted Review (TAR). This allows us to look only at the data we need, without reading that which we don’t. We are able to respond quickly to discovery requests and to begin building our cases with fewer billable hours, putting our clients in a position to resolve cases in less time and with quality results,” he adds. The firm has a trained and certified e-discovery team to run the software and manage review teams, thus frequently eliminating the need to use the services of outside vendors. However in appropriate circumstances, the firm delegates particular evolutions to well-vetted and respected vendors. The implementation of this technology has been more than a year in the making; Kammer and his team basically served as alpha testers for Summation Pro. “We were one of the first firms in the country to have it up and running,” Kammer says. “We were able to implement it and inform the developers of problems or glitches. They would immediately fix it and then used our feedback to contribute to significant changes and improvements,” he adds. Moreover, Solomon Ward’s team integrated MPE+ in response to a necessary demand. Laney Schatz, Senior Litigation Paralegal and Litigation Support Analyst received in depth training, sat for an examination and became a certified MPE+ examiner. According to recent studies, 76 percent of companies now have policies that allow employees to use their own mobile devices for work, resulting in an increasing need for e-discovery that extends to mobile devices. “80 percent of people now have a smart phone, and 40 percent have an iPad or equivalent tablet. These devices carry a vast amount of information. A typical
Bill Kammer, Partner and head of the firms’ e-discovery and ESI services team; Brooks Pearson, Information Technology Manager; Laney Schatz, Sr. Litigation Paralegal/Litigation Support Analyst and Ray Bernal, Litigation Paralegal/Litigation Support Specialist
smartphone carries enough data that we can produce a 300page report showing GPS locations, texts, phone calls, photos, contacts, etc.,” Kammer explains. This software is vital, he says, “because many times evidence can only be found on a mobile device.” For example if someone was claiming that a coworker was sexually harassing them, the only evidence may be in a text message. You must collect, preserve and review that information.”
Raising Standards in the Legal Community Consequently, Solomon Ward’s capabilities far exceed what many other firms have in place for e-discovery support, and as such they can also offer their services to other firms and sole practitioners at the same cost charged to clients. This can represent big savings for other members of the bar. “We have spent significant assets and time installing and adapting our technologies to provide optimal support to attorneys who want to manage their cases effectively,” Kammer says. Moreover, because local ethics rules require that attorneys who lack technical expertise in e-discovery associate with those who are e-discovery adept, Solomon Ward brings much needed and efficient solutions to fellow attorneys. For example, Solomon Ward’s e-discovery and ESI team may be retained as co-counsel or as a coach for firms looking for efficiency and reduced costs. Each team member at Solomon Ward has extensive and continual training as well as periodic testing for recertification in the implementation and use of the technology. Although technology is not 100 percent failsafe, Kammer knows that it is much more efficient and cost effective for clients than human review. “When we attack data, we put forth a good faith effort that complies with the rules of litigation,” he says. A recent Rand study found that the cost to review a single gigabyte of ESI was about $18,000. Efficiently and effectively sorting out ESI can save significant sums while
complying with the modern standards of discovery. Kammer started using computers in 1982 and has been chasing software and solutions ever since. “It is important to help the profession as a whole to raise the bar when it comes to e-discovery. The legal profession is highly populated with liberal arts majors, and I’m one of them,” he says. With an A.B. in Political Science from Fordham University, an M.A. in Political Science from Duke and his law degree from Tulane, Kammer says, “learning this technology is not only another logical exercise, but also our ethical duty to our clients.” Continuing, he adds, “You’re not alone [if you’re intimidated by the technology], but the profession as a whole needs to know how to use it efficiently and cost-effectively.” To that end, in addition to offering services as a coach or co-counsel, Kammer regularly offers free MCLE courses and has helped established the ESI Forum in San Diego for the benefit of bench and bar. He is also a frequent lecturer to lawyers and other professionals on electronic discovery and expert witness topics. Despite all his knowledge and the recognition that Solomon Ward is receiving under the guidance of Kammer, he insists “I’m really not a technology geek, I promise. I just know that for a long time attorneys have paid too much for e-discovery services. To best serve our clients, we have to serve them efficiently and effectively at a reasonable cost.” n Contact: Bill Kammer email@example.com 619-238-4809 www.swsslaw.com 401 B Street, Suite 1200 San Diego, California 92101 Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
Does Your Firm Need a Consensus Builder or an Autocrat?
by Joel A. Rose
Defining a managing partner’s management style 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; Telephone: (856) 427-0050 or (800) 381-1645, Fax: (856) 429-0073.
Countless law firms, large and small, are questioning longstanding views about firm management and structure. Yet, the sources of their concern are not new. After years of analyzing the personal and professional styles of lawyer managers in successful (and not so successful) law firms, three inescapable conclusions are readily apparent: 1. The authority of lawyer management is derived from the willingness of partners to be managed; 2.
Partners in most law firms perceive themselves as being owners of the firm, having certain prerogatives and independence, not as employees to be “managed”; and
Law firms have their own personalities and cultures; management techniques that may be effective in one firm may be only marginally effective, or even unsuccessful, in another.
Why a Management Philosophy is Needed One of the most basic tenets of law firm practice is that joining together will achieve benefits for each partner, which would be less possible if he or she were to practice individually, i.e., income, work-load, coverage, ultimate withdrawal benefits and similar considerations. To obtain the benefits of an organized practice, law firm leaders need to know that individual lawyers will subordinate their individual judgment to a select few, however chosen, in order to allow for a comprehensive and more holistic oversight approach to firm management. Absent that mindset, management will have a difficult if not impossible struggle to succeed. Since philosophical cohesion is a prerequisite to effectuating a structure by which partners will agree to be bound, great care must be taken to: (1) determine what the partners want lawyer management to be/not to be, i.e., strong leadership, consensus builders, visionaries, functional managers, etc.; and (2) engage in extensive discussion about the partners’ respective expectations for individual involvement in decision-making in defined areas, paying particular attention to those areas likely to challenge the natural independence of lawyers who have already successfully achieved partnership. Given partners’ natural predilection for debate, the areas of firm decision-making in which partners expect to be involved must be defined and fairly identified. Some common areas of collective input and decision-making are: admission to and termination from 8
Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
partnership; establishment and implementation of firm policies, which, as to partners, must include compensation; strategic initiatives; and professional liability issues affecting partners and/ or the firm. When defining the partners’ expectations about their involvement in decision-making, firm leaders need to discourage partners’ desire to expand the number of items requiring partner approval before action is taken, because this has a tendency to render impotent the firm’s management. Partners should make every effort to achieve unanimity or at least consensus on issues that affect the firm’s ability to make management decisions quickly and efficiently. Although certain issues deserve to be carefully deliberated, not every management decision needs to be considered by all partners before implementation. A majority, or a defined super-majority, of the partners will undoubtedly be sufficient to implement most management objectives. Yet, the firm’s philosophy is key in establishing a firm’s culture, and all hands should be on the table. Partners must clearly feel that decision-making will be in firm but fair hands, and that each partner will be treated with courtesy and respect. During the formative process, if one or more partners strongly resist or refuse the call for individual subordination, the other partners must give serious thought to how the dissenting partners should be treated before a structure is finally determined. For example, they may require participation in management in order to ensure their “buy-in” or, failing acceptance after significant effort, they may best be subject to separation. Isolation is an unacceptable alternative, since it leads to noncooperation, exclusion and simply delays dealing with a problem partner.
Selecting the Management Structure Once a management philosophy has been identified and agreed upon, it is incumbent upon the firm to determine the form that management will take. Good practice and experience dictate that it will not work to allow partners (or members/shareholders) to exercise autonomy on all matters affecting the firm. Traditionally, many firms name a single managing partner/ shareholder and a management committee, i.e., an executive committee. Decisions of consequence relating to structure, which must be made, include: (1) What exactly are the role and responsibilities of the partners, managing partner, executive committee and department chairs? (2) How do they interact, and what is the
reporting responsibility of each to the other(s)? In some firms, one partner assumes the leadership role naturally, either because the individual is a founding partner or controls a significant client base. In firms where the partners are relatively young and inexperienced, however this process of natural selection may be more difficult (if not impossible). In firms’ where no partner surfaces as a natural leader or no one wants the job, the firm must take aggressive action if it wishes to grow and satisfy its members’ professional, economic and personal objectives. The firm must make some hard-andfast decisions about the kind of leadership required and what the members are willing to accept. Should a managing partner be elected by the general partnership? Or should this individual be appointed by the management committee? Sometimes the firm’s size will preclude this particular dilemma. The smaller firm is in a position to establish a democratic form of governance that includes all the partners in a leadership role. But, when this is not practical, the partners face a difficult choice and risk setting up two power centers—and consequent divisiveness—if the general partnership elects both the management committee and the managing partner. To avoid this debacle, in some firms, the management committee selects the managing partner.
• He or she must possess a sense of humor, be reasonably “thick-skinned” and be a “people person.”
Qualities of an Effective Leader
• Be a risk taker… but be accountable.
What kind of person makes a good managing partner? Generally, lawyers are not recruited to a law firm on the basis of their interest or skills in management. They are rarely trained by the firm in management skills. Consequently, lawyers’ skills and levels of interest in management frequently leave something to be desired. Regardless of training or experience, however, some important characteristics of successful managing partners include the following: • The leader must inspire respect and support from others, and have the clout and the willingness to wield authority when necessary.
• Listen to all points of view… but make the call.
• The leader’s skills must combine judgment, commitment and vision.
• He or she should have a vision about what the firm should be, and a good sense of timing for when and how to discuss and implement initiatives.
The most successful managing partner is not necessarily: • The best lawyer; • The biggest rainmaker; • The “workaholic” partner; • The senior partner; • The “idea” partner; or • The “willing” partner.
What partners expect of managing partners: • Leadership… but not dictatorship. • Financial knowledge. • Address the problem…but pick your battles. • Be a visionary… but a realist. • Be decisive… but build consensus. • Be an example… but admit your mistakes. • Delegate… but be in the know. • Treat everyone fairly… but know the “buttons.” • Know key clients/be visible in the community.
• Expect the best… but tolerate mistakes. • Be accessible… but you must get away. • Communicate. • Communicate. • Did we mention communicate? In the final analysis, individual needs of attorneys have to be balanced with individual partner independence to be responsive to the firm’s organizational patterns and policies. Applying management techniques to practice areas may introduce to the firm a new take on methods for enhancing profitability. n Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
U.S. SUPREME COURT Employment Lawson v. FMR LLC _ U.S. _ : Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the whistleblower protections in 18 U.S.C. section 1514A protect not only employees of public companies but also the employees of privately held contractors and subcontractors. (March 4, 2014.)
9th CIRCRUIT COURT OF APPEAL Class Action Baumann v. Chase Investment Services Corp. _ F.3d _ (9th Cir. 2014), 2014 WL 983587: The Court of Appeal reversed the district court’s order denying a motion to remand back to state court. The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 does not provide a basis for federal jurisdiction for an action brought under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. (March 13, 2014.)
McIntyre’s California Civil Law Update Organized Succinct Summaries By Monty A. McIntyre, Esq.
Monty A. McIntyre follows his passions for the law and serving others by serving as a mediator, arbitrator and motion referee to help individuals, businesses and lawyers obtain rapid, reasonable resolution of disputes. He is also the Publisher of McIntyre’s California Civil Law Update and can be reached at 619-9904312 or email@example.com.
Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 123, 2014 2013
CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL Arbitration Lane v. Francis Capital Management LLC (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 935292: The Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court’s order denying a motion to compel arbitration. Labor Code section 229 applied and plaintiff could pursue one of his causes of action in court. The remaining causes of action were ordered to arbitration because the arbitration agreement was not unconscionable. (C.A. 2nd, March 11, 2014.) McArthur v. McArthur (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 930789: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration. The motion was properly denied because plaintiff was not a signatory to the trust amendment containing the arbitration agreement. (C.A. 1st, March 11, 2014.) Sanchez v. Carmax Auto Superstores California, LLC (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 842200: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order denying a motion to compel arbitration. In a de novo review of the agreement, contrary to the findings of the trial court the Court of Appeal ruled that the arbitration agreement was not substantively unconscionable. (The reviewed provisions included: discovery, the arbitration request form, the standard of proof, a requirement that the arbitrator’s decisions be given full force and effect in litigation of non-arbitrable claims, precluding the arbitrator from requiring just cause for discharge, not requiring findings of fact, and requiring that the arbitration be confidential and
not open to the public.) (C.A. 2nd, filed February 6, 2013, published March 3, 2013.)
Civil Procedure Brown v. American Bicycle Group, LLC (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 945565: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment for defendant. The trial judge was not required to disclose his ownership interests in various insurance related companies, since none of those companies was a party to the case or insured the defendant. There was no violation of plaintiff’s due process right to an impartial judge. (C.A. 4th, March 11, 20014.) Mark Tanner Construction, Inc. v. Hub International Insurance Services, Inc. (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 906283: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment for defendants. Plaintiffs failed to adequately challenge either the legal bases or the factual findings of the trial court’s rulings. Because plaintiffs failed to carry their burden to demonstrate error the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. (C.A. 3rd, March 10, 2014.) Saffie v. Schmeling (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 987862. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment for defendants. The claim against the seller’s broker failed for the fundamental reason that plaintiff did not identify anything about the seller’s broker’s statement itself that was false or inaccurate, as required for liability under section Civil Code section 1088. (C.A. 4th, March 7, 2014.)
Class Action Carter v. City of Los Angeles (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 984155: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s approval of a settlement of a non opt-out class where the settlement was for injunctive relief only and all statutory damages claims were released. The class action alleged that the City of Los Angeles violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and other statutes. The Court of Appeal ruled that non opt-out class certification should have been denied under Rule 23(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (C.A. 2nd, filed February 26, 2013, published March 13, 2014.)
Employment/Labor Esparza v. County of Los Angeles (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 855042: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining demurrers without leave to amend in an action by former public safety officers who were not hired as deputy sheriffs with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Several causes of action were barred by the legislative immunity afforded to the County pursuant to Government Code section 818.2. The remaining causes of action were barred by collateral estoppel based upon final rulings in a related federal action. (C.A. 2nd, filed February 6, 2014, published March 5, 2014.) Sanchez v. Carmax Auto Superstores California, LLC (2014) _ Cal. App.4th _ , 2014 WL 842200: See summary above under Arbitration.
Evidence Seahaus La Jolla Owners Association v. Superior Court (La Jolla View LTD., LLC) (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 948494: The Court of Appeal granted a petition for writ of mandate directing the superior court to vacate its order denying assertion of the attorney-client privilege and compelling discovery, and to enter a new order issuing a protective order and denying the motion to compel. Meetings between homeowners association counsel and homeowners were held to accomplish the purpose for which the association’s lawyers were consulted. The common interest doctrine applied and protected the confidentiality of these communications. (C.A. 4th, March 12, 2014.)
Insurance North Counties Engineering, Inc. v. State Farm General Insurance Company (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 970063: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s directed verdict finding that State Farm had no duty to defend. The trial court erred in not looking for evidence to support plaintiff’s claim that there was a duty to defend. The Court of Appeal ordered that on remand judgment be entered determining that State Farm had a duty to defend. (C.A. 1st, March 13, 2014.)
Real Property Property Reserve, Inc. v. Superior Court (Department of Water Resources) (2014) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2014 WL 978309: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order permitting the state to enter onto private property to conduct environmental studies related to a proposed tunnel to transport water from the north to the south in California, and affirmed the order denying access to conduct geological activities. Eminent domain authority must be exercised in strict conformity to the constitutional protections and procedures that limit its operation. If a condemnor intends to take private property or intends to perform actions that will result in the acquisition of a property interest, permanent or temporary, large or small, it must directly condemn those interests, and pay for them, in a condemnation suit that provides the affected landowner with all of his constitutional protections against the state’s authority. (C.A. 3rd, March 13, 2014.)
Torts Mata v. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (2014) _ Cal. App.4th _ , 2014 WL 794338: The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court judgment for defendants. The trial court erred in finding it had no subject matter jurisdiction, under Public Utilities Code section 1759, to determine whether PG&E and a contractor were negligent in failing to keep adequate clearances between PG&E’s power lines and surrounding vegetation. The trial court was not precluded by section 1759 from determining the negligence claims. (C.A. 1st, February 28, 2013.) n
Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
COMMUNITY news nGomez Trial Attorneys is proud to announce the hiring of Bibianne “Bibi” Fell as a Senior Trial Attorney. Ms. Fell is a first-chair trial lawyer who has tried cases to verdict before judges and juries and argued before both the California Court of Appeals and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Fell brings with her to Gomez Trial Attorneys years BIBIANNE “BIBI” FELL of experience in many areas of civil litigation. Ms. Fell’s recent victories include an $11.5 million settlement in a wage and hour class action case, a 7-figure settlement in a reimbursement class action case, and a 7-figure recovery in a wrongful death case. In 2014, Ms. Fell was selected by her peers for inclusion as a Southern California Super Lawyer. In 2013, she received the USD Rising Star Recent Alumni Award. Ms. Fell was twice selected by the San Diego Daily Transcript as a Top Young Attorney. In 2012, she received the PhilAmBID Top Hat Rising Star Award which recognizes significant achievement and potential in members of the Philippine-American business community. In 2008, Ms. Fell received the pro bono award from Baker & McKenzie LLP for her volunteer legal work. nKilpatrick Townsend & Stockton has announced that Partner Ken Jenkins was selected as a 2014 Southern California Super Lawyer in the Intellectual Property category. The Super Lawyers distinction honors attorneys who attain a high degree of peer recognition and KEN JENKINS professional achievement as some of the region’s pre-eminent lawyers. Super Lawyers is a rating service of lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations, all of which result in a comprehensive and diverse listing of the top five percent of attorneys in each state. Jenkins is the Managing Partner of the firm’s San Diego office. His practice focuses on patent counseling and patent litigation, primarily in the health and life sciences and the oil and gas-petrochemicals industries. Dr. Jenkins counsels life sciences companies and research institutions in developing patent claiming and filing strategies, procuring patents on cornerstone technologies, and strategically managing patent portfolios to maximize investments.
Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
HOGE, KIRBY, NOONAN, LANCE
n2014 Super Lawyers Selects Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge Partners SAN DIEGO (February 13, 2014) —Attorneys Michael L. Kirby, David J. Noonan, James R. Lance and Charles T. Hoge from Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge, LLP were recently selected to the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyers list. Super Lawyers only selects attorneys who have achieved a high degree of recognition from their peers based on personal observation of their professional performance and accomplishments. Honors included: “Southern California Super Lawyers, Business Litigation”: Michael L. Kirby, David J. Noonan, James R. Lance and Charles T. Hoge; “2014 Top 50: San Diego Super Lawyers”: David J. Noonan nHecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley LLP (HechtSolberg) has once again been recognized as one of the top law firms specializing in real estate with a Tier I San Diego ranking in the annual U.S. News – Best Lawyers® ranking of Best Lawyers (2014). “We are a relationship-based firm where the success of our clients is MICKEY MAHER our paramount focus,” said Mickey Maher, managing partner with HechtSolberg. “This drives our business philosophy of providing high value, practical business and real estate advice with excellent service to every client, every time. We are very pleased to be honored among the industry’s best in this prestigious ranking.” To be eligible to participate in the U.S. News - Best Lawyers® review process, each law firm must have at least one attorney who has received high enough peer-review to be listed in the current edition of Best Lawyers. HechtSolberg has four attorneys who achieved this recognition: Paul Robinson, David Bagley, Darryl Solberg and Susan Daly. In addition to HechtSolberg’s recognition as a Tier 1 firm in the real estate practice area, it was also cited for its expertise in the subcategory of land use and zoning law.
COMMUNITY news nJason Evans, an associate attorney with San Diego-based CaseyGerry, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the New Lawyer Division of the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA). He will serve a two-year term, focusing on various projects and activities related to the Bar Association’s service to the legal JASON EVANS community. The New Lawyer Division, a part of San Diego’s oldest and largest law-related organization, consists of attorneys who have been in the profession for seven years or less, and supports the interests and activities of members through legal outreach, educational programs and community events.
nFish & Richardson has named Dr. Frank Albert, Geoffrey Biegler, Craig Countryman, and Olga May as principals in the firm’s IP Litigation Group and Erin Hickey as a principal in its Trademark and Copyright Group in Southern California, based in San Diego. Dr. Frank Albert will continue to focus his practice on patent DR. FRANK ALBERT litigation in the areas of electrical/computer technology, optics, semiconductors, telecommunications, software and nanotechnology. Geoffrey Biegler will continue to focus his practice on patent litigation in a wide variety of technology areas including life sciences, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and software. Craig Countryman handles patent OLGA MAY cases in the trial court and at the Federal Circuit in all areas of technology, including chemistry, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, medical devices and electrical/ computer technology. Erin Hickey will continue to provide strategic counsel to clients in trademark law, advertising law (including false advertising and comparative advertising), right-of-publicity law, unfair-competition law and copyright law. She also represents clients in administrative trademark and advertising proceedings and litigates trademark claims in federal district courts. Olga May will continue to focus her practice on intellectual property and patent litigation.
nWilson Turner Kosmo LLP, is pleased to announce that the firm’s partner Vickie Turner has been chosen as a recipient of the KPBS and Union Bank 2014 Local Heroes Award in honor of Women’s History Month in March. This award recognizes the VICKIE TURNER accomplishments and community service of distinguished citizens in San Diego who are making a difference in our local neighborhoods, the region and the world. The selection committee was composed of members of KPBS and senior officers of Union Bank, as well as a dedicated group of San Diegans representing various diverse communities.
Month-to-Month Office Space Symphony Towers, 33rd floor -
Unobstructed panoramic views Receptionist onsite Free gym Free downtown shuttle Kitchen amenities included Print, copy & scan onsite and ready to use Internet included 5 conference rooms included
Form more information, contact Cindy Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.961.4150 Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
IS YOUR LAW FIRM MAKING THE BEST IMPRESSION? It might be time to freshen things up if… • You can’t remember the last time you updated your website • Your website is hard to use on mobile devices • Your business cards and brochures are outdated • You don’t have a real logo or brand established • You’re not doing any email marketing • Facebook and Twitter? Oh, I should be on there?
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DTIGlobal.com Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
Doing What He Loves …
But Still Playing The Blues Marc Schechter’s Love of Business, Tax and ERISA Law Is Matched Only by His Love of Playing Music by Jennifer Hadley
arc Schechter is a bit of a dichotomy. By day, he’s one of the most respected and admired business & tax attorneys in San Diego. Nationally, his expertise in ERISA law has led him to speak in front of countless organizations on a range of employee benefits law topics, and he’s built a nationwide practice in the specialized field of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPS). He’s been named a Super Lawyer in both San Diego and California as a whole. He’s earned an AV Preeminent 5.0/5.0 rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He has also taught the ERISA/Employee Benefits course as adjunct professor at California Western School of Law. Yet he spends almost all of his spare time playing the blues…literally. But for Schechter, whose day to day legal work requires impeccable attention to detail and exquisite analysis of extraordinarily complex issues, playing the blues is the perfect way to unwind and relax for a few hours a day.
Practice Makes Perfect Born and raised in New Jersey, Schechter says “I really always had ambition to be a professional musician, but the economic realities made me look at other areas in which I had interest. My parents encouraged me to attend college, even if it was initially for a music degree, because not only are they both musicians, but they were able to see the benefit of a college degree at a time I did not appreciate its importance.” Schechter’s undergraduate degree and studies were in music, specifically classical guitar, though he took plenty of nonmusic courses. On weekends he played rock and blues music on the New Jersey club scene with a band comprised of fellow college students. Fortunately, in addition to his love of music, Schechter also “always had an interest in history and a knack for analytical reasoning, which made the study of law an easy choice because I was able to put these interests to use in a career,” he says. However, he admits that the study of law as opposed to music took some getting used to. Yet, Schechter’s parents again supported his goal. “At that time my older brother was attending The Medical College of Pennsylvania 16
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and my younger brother was in undergraduate school, all funded by my parents. “They sacrificed to see me through law school,” he says. So in 1981, Schechter made the move across the country to attend law school at California Western School of Law. Schechter may have put his original plans to become a professional musician on hold, but that didn’t mean that he abandoned his love of guitar. Nor did it mean that his undergraduate work was irrelevant. “The amount of time devoted to music studies and instrumental practice well prepared me for the volume of daily material law school study required,” he says. His school record serves as testament. Schechter won the Scriba Regis Award for authoring the best student submitted Law Review article and received the Miller Tax Award for earning the highest grade point average in the subjects of federal income tax and estate and gift tax. Before graduating Magna Cum Laude, he also met his future law partner, Rob Butterfield in 1982 and married his college girlfriend in 1984. “I was my partner Rob Butterfield’s law clerk from 19821984, working exclusively in the ERISA area. We were both employed by one of San Diego’s finest tax and estate planning lawyers, Ralph Gano Miller. Law clerking for Rob made me learn the ERISA field which was still relatively new in 1982. It is a complex area and most federal judges will tell you that. In fact, Justice Ginsburg mentioned in a recent ruling that ERISA is one of the most complex areas in which to practice. To this day, I spend a few hours each week just keeping up with regulatory and case law announcements, as well as keeping an eye on changing legislation,” Schechter says. “In 1986, Rob left the firm and Thomas Monson and Ralph Gano Miller decided to offer me a partnership position,” Schechter says. Schechter worked with Monson and Miller until 1994, and says “we still have a great relationship with the lawyers at the Miller Monson firm and I consider Tom Monson to be one of the best litigators around.” From there Schechter headed up the burgeoning ERISA department at Hinchy, Witte, Wood, Anderson & Hodges. “Ken Wood and I worked on some very interesting ERISA litigation matters,
OF THE MONTH
Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
and I learned a lot from that relationship,” Schechter recalls. But an out of the blue phone call in 1998 would change everything. “Rob Butterfield called and asked if I had an interest in partnering up to establish San Diego’s premier ERISA/employee benefits law firm. I liked the idea and we formed Butterfield Schechter LLP,” he recalls.
Striking the Right Chord “Practicing in the ERISA area takes a special mindset and attention to detail. ERISA work takes not only a complete understanding of ERISA, but you also have to be an excellent business lawyer. You must be able to see the client’s whole picture,” Schechter says. As far as clients go, Schechter explains that the firm doesn’t necessarily have a specific “type” of client. “Our client base runs from professional athletes and musicians to medical groups and law firms and companies of all sizes and industries, including publicly traded entities. We do work for some governmental agencies as well. What our clients -regardless of size and industry- have in common is a need for attorneys well skilled in ERISA/employee benefit matters and/or business and tax related matters,” he says. Schechter and Butterfield didn’t waste any time earning a favorable reputation for their firm. Within just a few years of partnering, Schechter worked on what would become the firm’s first reported case, Wayne v. Pacific Bell, 189 F.3d 982, opinion
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Attorneys Schechter- Corey and Marc
amended and superseded, 238 F.3d 1048 (9th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 122 S.Ct. 40 (2001). “I had the pleasure to work on Wayne v. Pacific Bell which permitted the Ninth Circuit to establish some standards for accurate disclosure to questions asked by employees about potential upcoming benefit plan changes. We went from our case being dismissed on summary judgment at the district court to a complete reversal and essentially a directed verdict in our favor by the Ninth Circuit. Pacific Bell filed a motion for certiorari in that case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which was denied to our great surprise, despite a conflict in federal statutory law and a split in decisions among the circuits. That case put us through the paces from loss on MSJ in the district court to victory on appeal, and has established some important authority on disclosure of benefit plan changes within the Ninth Circuit,” Schechter explains. For Schechter personally, the formation of the new firm also allowed him to focus on an additional niche, which has allowed the firm’s practice to have a nationwide reach. “My favorite niche within the ERISA/benefits field is the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) area. I find this to be a fascinating tool to not only create business succession options for privately owned companies, but perhaps even more importantly, allows the average worker to become motivated by becoming an owner of the business, thereby sharing in its fortunes. It is really an amazing way to transfer ownership and motivate employees,” he says.
Through Schechter’s ESOP practice, “I have helped over 100 businesses transition ownership and permit the founders to comfortably retire while allowing a new generation of employees to become owners in a tax efficient manner. It really is rewarding to see employees retiring with million dollar plus distribution checks because they shared ownership in a successful business,” he adds.
Fine Tuning the Firm
These days, more than 15 years after forming the firm, Butterfield Schechter & Van Clief is clearly the leading provider in San Diego County of ERISA/employee benefits legal services. Since its foundation the firm has been driven by a belief that “success is measured when clients, referral sources and competitors regard us as the community leader,” Schechter says. “Success is achieved as a result of our knowledge of ERISA/employee benefits through continued training, keeping up to date with current laws, regulations, and news reports and striving to always be ahead of the curve,” he adds. Continuing Schechter says “operating with integrity, contributing to our legal community and helping our employees realize their full potential,” are additional keys to the firm’s success. When it comes to operating with integrity, Schechter says that “some of the best advice I received early in my career was to be responsive to clients and make sure they feel appreciated. Obtaining quality clients is not a simple matter, so if you are retained, you must make sure you do what is necessary to retain the trust the clients bestowed on you.” In order to retain that trust, the attorneys at Butterfield Schechter & Van Clief work tirelessly. “A lot of attorneys can identify problems, but it takes some extra talent to not only identify the problem, but find a solution acceptable to the client, and of course legally compliant. Our ability to creatively plan for clients sets us apart,” he says.
The ability to find solutions extends to the firm’s own operations. In fact, the firm operates so smoothly that they don’t even employ an office administrator. “We have 19 employees and everyone knows what is expected of them,” Schechter says. “At present we have three partners and three associate attorneys.” Incidentally, Schechter is thrilled to count his son Corey as one of the firm’s associates. “He is a 2011 California Western School of Law graduate, who is in the office right next to mine,” Schechter says proudly. Moreover, the firm “grows our staff from law clerks to associates whenever possible. Presently all of our attorneys clerked for us while attending law school. This has allowed us to retain excellent staff that are ready to hit the ground running when they pass the bar. We also well compensate our staff for a firm of our size, which allows us to retain the excellent attorneys and support staff we have hired,” Schechter says. “We have two law clerks, three paralegals and eight support staff, most of which are delegated to certain aspects of the overall practice, such as business organizational matters, tax (IRS or FTB) audits and Department of Labor audits, plan drafting and IRS filings, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and lastly our growing ERISA litigation department. We are very lucky to have Kristine Custodio on board who has been recognized as a top paralegal for years in San Diego and nationally. We are also fortunate to have Rebecca Carter who handles our technology and some administrative matters, and is the best word processor I have ever had the pleasure to work with…for 20 years this year,” he adds. As a whole the firm is also involved in charitable enterprises. “All partners have participated in charitable or public service organizations over the years such as Promises2Kids, Kiwanis, the American Cancer Society, and Transverse Myelitis Association. We are all also active speakers in benefit law matters, and I’ve been speaking at national ESOP conferences for 25 years,” he says.
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Contact: Marc Schechter Butterfield Schechter & Van Clief LLP www.bsllp.com firstname.lastname@example.org (858) 444-2300 10021 Willow Creek Road Suite 200 San Diego, California 92131 20
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As far as the future of the firm is concerned, Schechter says that the team will continue to strive to provide clients and referring attorneys with its knowledge of employee benefits law, business law and tax law to both design unique benefit programs for employers and to ensure the plans remain legally compliant with changing tax and ERISA requirements. “One of the best sources of referrals we have are other attorneys who we have had the opportunity to work with over the years, or who have been referred to us because of a recommendation they received from another attorney. I would estimate that half of our work involves coordinating with other attorneys or law firms to permit us to complete work we are engaged to do. We are very respectful of other’s attorney-client relationships, and if we are brought in to assist on a benefit plan issue, we do not overstep the purpose of our referral. Nothing makes a referral source unhappier,” he says candidly. However, other aspects of the firm’s future remain up in the air. “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) overlaps with ERISA and is going to be an upcoming area needing legal counsel skilled in keeping clients compliant. It may wind up being a compliance landmine for clients, which would create a huge practice area for us, so we are planning to be in business for a while,” he laughs. For Marc personally, the future obviously also holds lots of hours playing music. “This area of law can be tedious,” he says honestly. “So playing the guitar is great way to blow off steam. I suspect this is not necessarily a typical hobby for most attorneys, but it is a true passion of mine. I still play several hours a day, and there are always ways to improve. My 20-year-old daughter Molly (a USD psychology major) has been a guitar player since around seven and will occasionally play along. I love doing something I know is completely impossible to master in a lifetime. But I’m presently working on a list of material to go into the studio and record,” he says with a smile. And Marc has even found a way to intermingle law with music. “We are now going into our 16th year as a partnership and have built the largest ERISA-specific firm in San Diego, and one of the largest in the state of California. In 2013 we celebrated our 15 year anniversary with a party for clients, colleagues and friends. We were lucky enough to have firm client and good friend Jorma Kaukonen, founding member of The Jefferson Airplane and current member of Hot Tuna, perform a private acoustic performance for our guests. It is not often you can get a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to perform at a private event and it was a real honor to have him. Even more, I get the opportunity to utilize skills from my undergraduate degree and law degree when handling his matters,” he says. n
Future Plans: Playing It By Ear
» EDUCATION • Rowan University, BA • California Western School of Law, JD, Magna Cum Laude
» AFFILIATIONS • State Bar of California (Employee Benefits-Tax Section) • San Diego County Bar Association (Taxation Section) • State Bar of New Jersey • Admitted to U.S. Supreme Court Bar • Western Pension and Benefits Conference • The National Center for Employee Ownership • ESOP Association of America (former member of the Legislative and Regulatory Advisory Committee) • Former adjunct faculty, California Western School of Law, courses in ERISA and Employee Benefits
» AWARDS • Scriba Regis Award for authoring the best student submitted Law Review article • Miller Tax Award for earning the highest grade point average in tax courses • Highest Academic Achievement Award in the subjects of federal income tax and estate and gift tax • Super Lawyers, San Diego and California State Edition • Martindale Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5
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
Past President: San Diego County Bar Association 2014 President of the San Diego Chapter of the American Board of Trial Avocates (ABOTA) Listed in The Best Lawyers In America, Super Lawyers and Top Attorneys 26 Years of Experience as a Mediator and Arbitrator 34 Years of Extensive Civil Litigation Experience Representing Plaintiffs and Defendants
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Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
OF THE MONTH
The Human Factor West Coast Resolution’s John Edwards Knows That When It Comes To Settling Cases, Good Lawyering Isn’t Always Enough by Karen Gorden
any years of litigation left me feeling that there must be a better way to resolve most of our conflicts. Even victories were achieved at such a high cost that both sides often came away feeling as if they had lost. After attending my first mediation with Ed Kolker, I realized that this was a process that I could learn and that I could believe in,” says John Edwards, founding member of the NCRC’s West Coast Resolution Group (WCRG). A litigator since 1977, Edwards worked in both plaintiffs and defense work for years, with a particular emphasis in plaintiffs’ personal injury. However, the Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated attorney also handled countless cases involving employment disputes, complex business litigation, probate and trust and other civil litigation matters. I wanted to be a mediator so badly, that I did my mediation training at Harvard. I knew it would be good training, and I knew it would look good on my resume,” he says. Still, Edwards admits that the cases didn’t just pour in following his education. “Even though I hadn’t specialized in real estate litigation, I went to the San Diego Association of REALTORS® who told me if I got my broker’s license, I could mediate their cases, so I did,” he says with a chuckle. Edwards’ mediation practice grew commensurate with his 22
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experience and ongoing training. By 2010, he was honored have helped found the West Coast Resolution Group, which Edwards counts as one of the best decisions he’s made. “I am surrounded by great mediators. We discuss issues, brainstorm ideas and collaborate with one another to improve our skills. The experience at WCRG has been incredible,” he says.
Cases with High Conflict People Concurrent with helping to found WCRG, Edwards had what he calls an “eye-opening moment.” “I had the opportunity to work with Bill Eddy, founder of the High Conflict Institute,” Edwards says. “The methods that Bill has developed for working with High Conflict People in family law cases have proven to be effective in general civil litigation cases. I began to understand the basis behind the behavior that is often an impediment to cases settling,” he says. Moreover, studying the psychology of conflict and particularly the psychology of High Conflict People (HCP) has enabled Edwards to revisit his passion for psychology, which he once intended to make his career. Edwards says, “Many, if not most of the cases that do not resolve early and end up in mediation are not there because of complicated factual or legal issues. Rather, difficult personalities drive these cases,” Edwards says. In fact, as many as 80% of
“What I’ve learned in the last five years through this study has made me a better lawyer, a better mediator, and a better human.” Edwards’ cases “have reached mediation because at least one party involved in the dispute is a High Conflict Person, or is so emotionally charged that they are behaving like they are an HCP“ he says. According to the High Conflict Institute, the earmarks of an HCP include all-or-nothing thinking, unmanaged emotions, extreme behavior and blaming others. Unfortunately, for people who are prone to blaming others for every problem in their life, even the most logical or fact based, research supported, lawyering will ultimately fail, according to Edwards. “The standard of practice of law in San Diego is extremely high. Personally, I was mentored by Pete Savitz who took a chance on me and showed me by example, what it took to be a good lawyer when I was first getting started. Good lawyers settle extraordinarily complex cases in San Diego all of the time. Lawyers are well trained to persuade by research, reason analysis and argument. But when you’re dealing with these types of personalities, no amount of lawyering will help,” he says. “My approach is to get these people out of the fight-or-flight zone and back into some semblance of rational problem solving,” he says.
The Psychology of Conflict For Edwards, the best way to get highly emotionally charged parties back into a state where they can be reasoned with, requires respect, attention and empathy. “In everyday life, we tend to avoid High Conflict People and so do others. But lawyers are in the business of conflict resolution, so if we’re not willing to deal with these people, we’re in the wrong field,” he says with a laugh. Still Edwards explains that what happens to High Conflict People throughout life is that they are unable to see that they may be causing their own problems, and as such others don’t treat them with respect. To put it simply, they are difficult people to be around. Edwards therefore, makes it a point to clearly show respect. “When they come into my mediation, it is very important to me that all parties feel respected,” he explains. Additionally, High Conflict People (including those who typically aren’t but are behaving as such) require empathy and attention. “As a litigator I have seen cases where the person wants their day in court so badly, that even if the monetary reward is the same in a trial as it would be in settling, they still insist on trial,” he says. To that end, Edwards is determined to be empathetic and attentive to all parties in a mediation. “Although mediation is not therapy, there are ways of communicating and techniques that can be used to help resolve conflicts,” he says. For Edwards that begins with studying and understanding the psychology of conflict and the dynamics of the personalities of the parties that haven’t been able to resolve their conflicts. Then it is a matter of applying those specialized techniques. (Incidentally, Edwards acknowledges, that the High Conflict Person in any dispute may very well be one of the attorneys, rather than their client).
The Resolution of Conflict “Of course, understanding the psychology of conflict and the personalities that may prevent them from being resolved alone is not enough to be an effective mediator,” Edwards says. “The skills to be a good mediator are good lawyering skills, and then some,” he says. But make no mistake the good lawyering is critical. “20% of my cases are about numbers.” In these cases, the reason that they are not being resolved is due to misinterpreted or a lack of communication. “Say you have a case where the plaintiff is demanding $1 Million. The opposing party interprets that this demand means that they are unwilling to settle because it is unreasonable. So they refuse to give them their best offer, and offer $25K. The party who is demanding payment is offended, and begins to view the other party as being unwilling to settle because of the low offer. Both sides shut down,” he says. “I believe that movement begets movement, so in these types of cases I have to determine what the real gap is, and I have to prevent one of the parties from walking away. Numbers communicate so much even when very little is said. When one party believes that settlement is impossible, they stop trying. But when they believe that settlement is possible, they are willing to work hard to resolve the case,” Edwards explains. Edwards’ enthusiasm for his work is palpable, and evidenced by his dedication to educating others about all that he has learned through his work with Bill Eddy, and through his 10 years of experience in mediation. “Once I started, I developed a passion for it that has thankfully stayed with me. I am now on the faculty at the High Conflict Institute, and I am an adjunct faculty member at the Strauss Institute at Pepperdine Law School teaching the Psychology of Conflict with Bill [Eddy]. I teach classes for free at Cal Western and Thomas Jefferson,” Edwards says. “What I’ve learned in the last five years through this study has made me a better lawyer, a better mediator, and a better human.” All of that contributes to an even happier life which includes hiking, surfing, biking and spending time with his wife Susie, their three adult children, and their young grandson Cole. n Contact: John Edwards West Coast Resolution Group www.westcoastresolution.com firstname.lastname@example.org 619.238.7282 625 Broadway, Suite 1221 San Diego, CA 92101
Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
FEATURED RISING STAR
OF THE MONTH
For Rising Star Lukas Pick, Fighting to End Elder Abuse is a Firm and Family Focus “There’s not much to do with an English degree,” Lukas Pick says with a chuckle when reflecting on how he first became interested in pursuing a law degree. “I decided I’d give law school a try,” he adds. To his pleasant surprise while attending the University Of San Diego School Of Law, his love of reading and writing made law a natural fit. “I loved the legal reading and writing and I fell in love with torts. The idea of representing individuals against big companies really appealed to me,” he says. He decided to forge a career as a plaintiff’s attorney. However, when Pick graduated from law school in 2007, suffice to say it wasn’t a particularly robust hiring market. “Although I always wanted to pursue plaintiff’s work, I was only able to find work with a defense firm out of school, handling medical malpractice lawsuits. I worked with some great attorneys and gained valuable experience, but I quickly became tired of dealing with what I perceived to be insurance companies who only wanted to save money as opposed to adequately compensate victims for their injuries,” he says candidly. 24
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by Jennifer Hadley
As such, when the opportunity arose for Pick to join Berman & Riedel, LLP, as a plaintiff’s attorney representing victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and victims of catastrophic injuries, he breathed a huge sigh of relief. “I know how insurance companies think, so I now get to use that experience, knowledge and insight I gained as a defense attorney in helping individuals who have been harmed.” Indeed, these days, a full 75% of Pick’s work entails fighting for the rights of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect cases, while the remainder of his work involves fighting for the rights of those who have been victims of catastrophic injuries.
First Hand Family Experience Pick’s interest in working on behalf of elders and their families was further fortified by his own family. “I have a unique perspective on our cases against nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Having grown up living with my grandparents at times, I value our elderly and the contributions they have made to society.
Left: Lukas Pick with his grandparents Faye and Bob DeRenzy.
Focus on Reform
I believe we all owe them a duty to protect them and ensure they are properly cared for as they age,” Pick says. Continuing he adds, “My grandparents now both reside in assisted living facilities. I understand the trust that residents and families must put in these facilities. I also understand that no matter how diligent family members are, ultimately we are relying on the facilities to be responsible and care for our loved ones. I understand the struggles people face in wanting to care for their family members at home, but often are unable to, and have to trust a facility to care for them instead. I think this allows me to identify with our clients who have had family members in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” Pick says. “Each nursing home case I deal with truly affects me as a person,” he adds. In addition to his own experience in helping his grandparents to transition in assisted living, another close family member of Pick’s is also actively involved in fighting for nursing home reform, and dedicated to preventing elder abuse. “My wife Paige is involved in a local organization named Stand Up For Rosie which is part of a coalition of organizations attempting to improve laws governing residential care facilities for the elderly to ensure our older population is protected from abuse and neglect. We both support local elder advocacy organizations including Hazel’s Army, Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform (CARR), and Elder Law & Advocacy,” Pick says. “In addition to holding nursing homes and residential care facilities responsible for the mistreatment of residents through civil litigation, I am committed to ensuring that new laws are also implemented to protect the elderly. Litigation is not just about pursuing money. It is about holding facilities and corporations accountable and protecting individuals from future harm,” Pick says. Indeed when it comes to holding nursing homes, corporations or insurance companies accountable, Pick is always up for a fight. “I love trials. I think you can be very aggressive, but still professional during litigation. I believe in pushing cases as hard as possible,” he says. For example, in two recent cases where Pick served as second-chair with founding partner Bill Berman, the verdicts obtained made the defense’s top offers look like pennies. In the first, which resulted in a $1.7 million jury verdict, the defense counsel had maxed out their offer at $100K. Similarly, in December of 2013, Pick and Berman obtained a jury verdict of over $1 million after refusing defense counsel’s offer of $200K.
“My firm’s focus and my family’s focus on changing the laws are incredibly important to me. I think it is important that all people understand that they can help ensure our elderly are protected by supporting local organizations and proposed laws. For example the Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) Reform Act of 2014 includes more than 14 new bills that are designed to protect elders, and provide greater disciplinary actions for facilities who break the laws,” Pick says. “The good news is that the RCFE Reform Act has bipartisan support. It seems like everyone is pretty much on board,” he adds. And with good reason. Amongst other things the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 “would require the state to increase inspections from once every five years, to closer to once per year,” Pick says. Moreover, as opposed to the “existing slap on the wrist fines residential care facilities receive, the Act proposes to increase fines substantially, which will make it a real deterrent for those facilities not to comply with laws and regulation.” Picks says. Additionally, “the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 will require all residential care facilities to carry liability insurance, which they are currently not required to do,” he adds. Clearly for Pick, protecting the elderly is not just part of his life, it is his way of life, and he sees a long future ahead of him in the field. “I hope to continue to fight against nursing home abuse and neglect and promote changes in laws to ensure that our elderly are protected. I also hope to try more cases against skilled nursing and assisted living facilities to hold them accountable for wrong doing,” he says. As far as Pick’s grandparents are concerned? “They are great. It has been safe for them. But everyone who works there certainly knows what I do for a living,” he says with a smile. “I want to help make sure everyone’s grandparents will be safe at these facilities.” n Contact: Lukas Pick Berman & Riedel, LLP (858) 350-8855 email@example.com www.bermanlawyers.com 12264 El Camino Real, Suite 300 San Diego, California 92130 Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
Paid Online Advertising for Your Law Practice by Mike Ramsey
Paying for website traffic is a great way to get into the world of online marketing because it can instantly bring prospective clients to your website. That can help get the phone ringing now, while you take time to develop other online marketing strategies, like search engine optimization, that will keep the phone ringing for the long haul.
ere’s a great timeline from 51blocks.com illustrating how paid advertising (in this case Pay Per Click, or PPC) can help you maintain a constant flow of traffic from day one, compared to SEO efforts — which usually don’t bring immediate traffic or show return on investment for months or years: QUALITY TRAFFIC
FOUR OPTIONS FOR PAID ADVERTISING Here’s a rundown of the different forms of paid advertising that will give you an idea of what you’d be getting yourself into.
1. Pay Per Click (PPC) Difficulty: Extreme. Budget: $500 to $50,000 per month. Hard to work with less than $500 a month. Time: Daily and weekly management.
PPC ads are the highlighted links you see at the top and sides of online search results pages. A majority of Google’s and Bing’s revenue comes from people clicking on ads like the ones highlighted in red in the figure below.
The challenge with paid online advertising for your website, however, is sorting out — and managing — an unlimited number of opportunities, ranging from “set and forget” options to extremely detailed bid management systems that take daily oversight. Not every option is a good choice for every attorney. You need to figure out what will work best with your budget and time. 26
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Google has done a good job of documenting the process of setting up an account, so I won’t go into that here. Generally, most law firms set up their Google AdWords and Bing Ads accounts to pay a certain amount of money every time someone clicks on one of their ads. If you pay more than someone else is willing to, then your ad will show up higher in results. Ads can literally cost anywhere from $1 to well over
An Internet user
Visits your site
Leaves your site
!! YOUR RETARGETING AD HERE
The Internet user then converts into a loyal customer.
Your retargeting ad captures their interest.
$100 per click, depending on the level of competition. The figure below shows some estimated costs per click on keywords. Keyword (by relevance)
Avg. Monthly Searches
New York divorce lawyers
divorce lawyer New York
divorce lawyer in New York
divorce lawyers in New York
New York state divorce
New York divorce
immigration lawyer New York
The quality of the ad you write and the website page it leads to determine a quality score that, combined with your cost for the keyword, will determine your ranking position on a search engine. Confusing, right? Also, part of Google’s PPC platform is remarketing — or giving a “cookie” to people who visit your site and then feeding them display and search ads on the different sites they visit over a certain time period. The diagram above from Econsultancy. com shows the process. Generally, when I talk to law firms who have had bad experiences with PPC, it is because they tried to run the campaigns themselves without understanding the options or learning best management practices. They tend to do things like this: • Create a single, low-performing ad instead of testing different ad copy. • Send all traffic to their home page compared to a web page that is set up to capture leads. • Fail to know the difference between broad, phrase and exact match keywords.
Later, as they browse the Internet, your ad will display on other sites.
• Don’t separate the display and search network. • Don’t use long-tail search terms and only focus on head terms. The result is they waste a ton of money and come to the conclusion that PPC advertising doesn’t work. If you decide on PPC advertising, be sure you take the time to educate yourself so that you get the best ROI possible. Google has many resources, which are linked to throughout this section. Read them. If you don’t want to take the time to learn, then take time to investigate and work with a qualified professional to achieve the best results.
2. Paid Links and Posts Difficulty: Medium. Budget: $20 to $1,000+ per link. Time: Set and forget.
A paid link or post is where you would pay a website to link to your site or pay for an opportunity to write a blog post on a site. I know what you’re thinking. Paid links are bad. But that’s only if you are paying for the link or post exclusively to gain search engine rankings. People buy links all the time and stay within search engine guidelines. If you go this route, just be sure to ask the site that you are paying to add (rel=”nofollow”) so that search engines know what you’ve done is a paid ad. Search engines do a fairly good job of identifying paid links themselves, but it’s a good idea to simply ask up front, “Can you nofollow this paid link?” Here are some places where paying for links might make sense: • Sponsorships. • Popular sites in your community that accept guest writings. • Online local newspapers. • Related local business websites. • Any site that your audience follows regularly. Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
These options can be fairly inexpensive and, depending on the website or publisher, the price may be negotiable. Sometimes it might only take a one-time payment; sometimes it might be a monthly fee. The sky’s the limit. Just make sure you check your Analytics Account or get a report on how many people are clicking the paid link to your website to ensure the cost is worth it.
men only. I can create an ad on Facebook that targets the demographic I want.
3. Paid Directory Listings Difficulty: Easy. Budget: $50 to $1,000 per year per listing. Time: Set and forget.
Sites like Avvo, Yahoo and Yelp offer enhanced profiles and better placement within their listings rankings for a fee. Some sites are strictly legal directories, like Avvo, while some are simply local directories with legal categories. I can’t honestly say that paying for directory listings works for everyone, but some businesses are doing well with paid listings in some markets. The benefit is that, generally, the pricing is fairly reasonable compared to phonebook ads. Plus, you can get data showing how many times people went to your profile page and, in some cases, how many leads or calls came from the paid listing. They are also very low maintenance and usually easy to set up.
In Denver there are currently 7,600 men on Facebook over the age of 21 who are engaged to be married. You could target them with an ad, a story or a post that teaches them about prenups and why they might want to call you. That is powerful. In the future, when this type of data gets tied to a search engine by Google or Facebook, we are going to see some seriously hyperlocal advertising possibilities. Costs range from a few cents per click to a few dollars per click — substantially lower than search engine costs per click.
4. Social Advertising
BEST ADVICE FOR ONLINE ADVERTISING?
Difficulty: Medium to Hard. Budget: $20 to $1,000+. Time: Daily and weekly management.
If you are not testing different paid advertising opportunities, you are missing out on constant traffic that, if managed correctly, could have a positive return for your law practice. There are plenty of paid advertising opportunities to choose from. And, though it’s a new frontier for many law firms, there are great resources to help you learn the ins and outs — and many professional companies to assist if you’d rather someone else manage the process for you. My best advice is to not put all your eggs in one basket. The more diversified your SEO and paid advertising campaigns, the better chance you will have at riding the waves of constant change in this crazy world of online marketing. n
Social advertising is simply paying for ads on social networks. Identifying where your clients and prospects do their online social networking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) is the first step before diving in and paying for traffic from these sites. They all have very unique opportunities for advertising, though generally I think Facebook offers the best options thus far. Facebook allows you to promote posts that can point to your website, or your fan page, and will reach a larger audience based on how much you pay. I use this often when we publish something exceptional. For example, last Monday on my personal blog, I wrote a political post and paid for Facebook ads and posts to target people in my hometown area. So far, I’ve had 4,500 page views from $300 of advertising. The benefit of social advertising is that if your content is sharable, then ads will get the initial crowd to your website. From there, they can share your stuff on their profiles and it doesn’t cost you anything more. But my favorite thing to do on Facebook is demographic ad targeting. Let’s say I have a family law practice and want to get engaged people who live in Denver thinking about my firm for prenuptial agreements. On top of that, I want to target
Attorney Journal | Volume 128, 2014
Mike Ramsey is President of Nifty Marketing, a local search marketing company in Burley, Idaho. Mike is passionate about helping good people and good businesses grow, and recently launched NiftyLaw as a place to learn how to handle online marketing. He takes part in the local search ranking factors study and speaks on the GetListed.org Local University tour. Outside of search, Mike moonlights as the publisher of The Voice, a weekly newspaper in Southern Idaho. He has a wonderful wife, a rascal of a little boy and a beautiful baby girl. You can follow him on Twitter @mikeramsey or at +Mike Ramsey. First published at www.attorneyatwork.com.
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Meeting with a Purpose Reprinted with the permission of the author. First published at www.attorneyatwork.com Sally J. Schmidt is President of Schmidt Marketing, Inc. in Edina, MN. The company’s clients have included over 400 law firms throughout the United States and internationally, ranging in size from two to over three thousand attorneys. Sally received her MBA. and BS from the University of Minnesota, and was the first President of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA). She was inducted into the College of Law Practice Management in 1994 and into LMA’s Hall of Fame in 2007. Sally has made presentations at more than 200 national and international seminars and conferences, including many for ALA, and her articles have been published in every major legal trade publication.
I will never forget the time an executive with a large international company told of his meeting with a law firm. He and a member of the in-house legal department had agreed to get together with three firm partners, at their request. After the meeting, when asked what happened, the executive replied, “Nothing, really. We talked about a number of different things but we don’t really know why they were here.”
Squandered Business Development Opportunities Obviously, face-to-face meetings are an important part of business development. They provide a chance to make connections, identify opportunities and present solutions. Most lawyers I know frequently set up lunches, dinners, social activities and meetings to court referral sources and prospective clients. Yet I find an astonishing number show up to these events with scant preparation. They talk about families or football but not about business. If you ask what they accomplished, they’ll say, “We had a nice lunch.” Now don’t get me wrong—personal connections are important. But if you intended for it to be a business development meeting, those conversations are usually not enough. It’s not just about making contact, it’s about advancing the relationship.
Four Steps to Productive Meetings Would you go to trial without devising a strategy, prepping your witnesses, researching your opponents and preparing your arguments? So why would you leave your business development meetings to chance? Here are steps to make your meetings more productive. 1. First, gather background information. The goal is to identify common
interests and potential issues. • Check your contact’s LinkedIn profile. Look at education, postings, activities, memberships in groups and profile changes. • Look at the organization’s website. Read about products or services, industries served, clientele and recent news. Review the bio of the person with whom you’ll be meeting. • Google the company and the person. Look for other news or activities that might not show up on the website or LinkedIn. • Conduct other research. For example, if it’s a public company, scan the annual report for company risks and plans. If it’s a potential client, run a conflicts check.
2. Identify common contacts. This information can be helpful for
conversation or intelligence purposes. • Go back to LinkedIn and look (1) in your contacts for people who are connected to the person and (2) in the person’s contacts for people you know. 30
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• Look in the firm’s CRM system, or send a message internally asking if anyone has a relationship with the person or the company. • Ask the people you identified to fill in the blanks about your contact, if appropriate. 3. Establish your objectives. If you are going to spend an hour or two with
someone, make sure you know what you want to have accomplished when your time is up. • Based on what you learned, what do you hope to accomplish next? You might want to learn more about the company, find out how the in-house legal department is structured, learn more about the person or propose a solution to a problem. • Advise your contact about your objective when you extend the invitation. For example, “I would love to learn a little more about your firm’s sports and entertainment practice when we meet.” That way, the other person is prepared for the conversation as well. 4. Prepare your lines of questioning. Remember, the goal of the research
is to equip you to ask informed questions. Never ask a question when the answer is readily available (e.g., “So what does your company do?” or “Where did you go to school?”). My suggestions: • Based on your objectives, prepare three to five questions you want to be sure to get answered, and write them down. • Rehearse your questions—how you will pose them. Believe it or not, they will sound more spontaneous when you ask them if you are prepared. • If appropriate, indicate you did your homework: “I was reading on your company’s website that you have a strong presence in the healthcare industry. What is your market share in that space?” • If you are afraid of looking like a stalker or knowing too much, use the research to frame your questions. For example, if you read that privacy is a concern for the company, you could ask, “What are your company’s plans for dealing with privacy issues?” If you learned the person went to Duke, you could ask, “Are you a basketball fan?” (And make sure to look up how the Blue Devils are doing prior to your meeting.)
Make a Real Connection Business development meetings are about making connections—both personal and professional. Whether you are involved in group gettogethers (e.g., trust officers from a bank with your estate planners) or one-on-one activities, do your research and prepare your strategy so you don’t squander the opportunity. Anything less is a waste of time—for both you and your contacts. n
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