Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Illinois MCLE Deadline is June 30

I have noticed an increase in the number of Illinois attorneys singing up the last few days. That’s because the Illinois MCLE deadline is right around the corner – June 30 to be exact.

That means if your last names begins with N-Z you have about three months left to complete the 24 credits to fulfill your CLE compliance for the 2009-2011 period. This includes at least four hours of approved for professional responsibility credit. If you take two classes a week from here on out, you will have the 24 units completed by the June 30 deadline.

For more information please visit the Illinois MCLE Board‘s website for more information:

Many of these Illinois attorneys have signed up for our one-click state bundles. With these bundles, we have packaged all 24 units together (including 4 professional responsibility units) in one easy-to-purchase package. If you can’t sit in front of a computer once you get out of the office we also offer CD and DVD compliance packages as well. These have been well received by our Attorney Credit’s clients.

Good luck with all your CLE!

Law in a Web 2.0 World

Twitter turned 5 last week and there was a great article on the Legal Technology News about how lawyers are – or are not – using social media in their practice. Indeed, blogs and tweets are revolutionizing the practice of law just as Web 2.0 is reshaping our society. Here are just some of the numbers from Twitter:

  • 3 years, 2 months and 1 day. The time it took from the first Tweet to the billionth Tweet.
  • 1 week. The time it now takes for users to send a billion Tweets.
  • 50 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, one year ago.
  • 140 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, in the last month.
  • 177 million. Tweets sent on March 11, 2011.
  • 456. Tweets per second (TPS) when Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 (a record at that time).
  • 6,939. Current TPS record, set 4 seconds after midnight in Japan on New Year’s Day.
  • 572,000. Number of new accounts created on March 12, 2011.

That’s right, over half million accounts opened in one day! With numbers like these, common sense only dictates that Social Media will have an effect on your practice – whether you like it or not.

How does social media affect your practice? I have written on numerous occasions how Facebook, Twitter and Google have greatly affected our American jury system. From Voir Google’ and prosecutors offering free WiFi to potential jurors that ‘friend’ their office to jurors that tweet key details of a trial – from the jury box – it’s safe to say the our jury system and the constitutional right to an impartial jury’ may never be the same.

Aside from the courtroom, attorneys have also utilized social media to connect with existing clients & potential clients, in addition to other professionals in their fields. I even read last week where Latham & Watkins were in the market for a ‘social media specialist.

However, many attorneys from both big and small law have still failed to grasp the potential of this burgeoning new media (there are over 500 million Facebook users) and the ABA just decided to can its tepid dive into social media ‘LegallyMinded.’ I’m not quite sure what message this sends to the legal profession and no reason was given for its LegallyMinded’s abrupt halt.

There was a great article that I read earlier in the week on ATL from Jay Shepard about why firms and attorneys have been hesitant to dive into Web 2.0. Jay lists 7 of the top ‘excuses’ that Jay gives on why firms have not begun to reach out to clients through social media. Mainly, many attorneys don’t truly know how to market their practices and when you throw Web 2.0 into the mix things just get more complicated. A few of the top reasons:

1.  I don’t know how to use Twitter. I don’t know what it is

2.  I can’t bill for the hours on Facebook or a blog

3.  We might get sued

4.  We might offend someone

5.  Connecting online is less personal than in person or on the phone

What I really love about the article is that it compares attorney’s attitudes Web 2.0 to emails and websites and emails in the 90’s:

“Social media takes some commitment and education and time. But it’s not a passing fad; it’s here to stay. Just as lawyers in the nineties were nervous about email and websites, they finally came to realize that these were valuable tools. Now we can’t live without them. It’s the same thing with social media. If you want to grow your practice or further your career, put aside your excuses and start learning how to use social media.”

Whatever your take on social media – whether you think it can be a valuable tool for your practice or a tool more reserved for your 16 year-old daughter – it is a force that simply cannot be ignored. The ‘ostrich’ approach that many attorneys take (bury your head in the sand and hope it all goes away) did not stop email from ‘invading’ the practice of law, and it certainly won’t stop Facebook and Twitter from taking over the world.

Even if you swear you’ll never tweet and you loathe those who do, you and your law practice will be affected by social media very soon if it hasn’t already. If you have very little experience with social media, the key is to find an online mentor.

How are you using social media in your practice?

March Madness is Upon Us

Got your bracket done yet?

Yes, it is that time of year again. Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson thought that the Mint 400 Racing Event in Las Vegas was the greatest sporting event on Earth (and maybe it was 40 years ago?). Well, Dr. Gonzo I would have to respectfully disagree.

March Madness. Two words mean billions in lost revenue for employers and hours of basketball delight for the rest of us.  In pure Mad Max ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ style 68 teams enter, one team leaves. Even the Chief Executive, President Barrack Obama, has come under file for filing out his bracket in these incredibly turbulent times.

Will it be Duke? Pitt? Kansas? Or how about the ultimate Cinderella – the #2 seed in the West bracket – my San Diego State Aztecs? They probably have about as much chance of winning the NCAA tournament as I do becoming the President.  But the beauty of sports is that right now 64 teams all have an equal shot, and on any given day any small school can become the Butler Bulldogs … or the Milan High School Indians.

As many fairy tale endings as the NCAA tournament has had, one of the greatest basketball movies isn’t about the glitz of college basketball. Hoosiers is about a small town basketball team’s impossible run to the Indiana high school championship game. In the most memorable scene, the coach (played by Gene Hackman) takes his star-struck small-town squad to the enormous Hinkle Field House where they will be playing for the state title the next day. He hands his players a tape measure and he makes them measure the height from the floor to the rim – it measures 10 feet, the exact same size as their small town gym back home. He did this to illustrate to his players that despite the grand stage they were to play on for the State Championship, the game of basketball that they played was exactly the same as the one they played in their own small town gym.

To the San Diego State Aztecs, the message is the same. Despite the larger stage and the added pressure, the hoops are still 10 feet high.  Five people playing together as one team can achieve great heights and overcome outstanding individual effort (see Jimmer and Kemba). Can the Aztecs become this year’s Cinderella? The story is waiting to be written, Chapter One begins tomorrow.

Go Aztecs!!! We game time ready!!!

Japanese Earthquake & Attorneys

Fridays have become my blogging days.  Heading into the weekend, I guess Friday seems like a good day for journalism.

However, after the events of last Thursday in Japan, it seemed kind of trivial to blog, tweet and Facebook about the legal profession.  Today being Monday, I find myself back in the office after a weekend of horrifying devastation after the earthquake and tsunami — and now impending nuclear crisis.  It seems like it will take some time before the people of Japan can fully recover from this tragedy, and many wounds may never heal.

After doing some reading online today, I read a few stories about attorneys in Japan that witnessed the quake firsthand.  I immediately tried to put myself in their shoes. What it be like to have your head buried in a legal brief one moment, only to be jolted to reality by an 8.9 earthquake?  Being a native San Diego, I am no stranger to earth rumbling — but an 8.9 is unfathomable.

Here is the story:

Tokyo Lawyers Stranded at Offices in Aftermath of 8.9 Magnitude Quake

The pictures and video of the damages is incomprehensible — especially sitting in my living room watching it unfold.  But when you start reading about accounts from people that were in Japan when the earthquake happened, the story starts to take on a more human element.  I would like to hear feedback from anybody who has been affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

That’s Why It’s the FIRST Amendment …

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The last few months have seen a number of revolutions and governments topple in the Middle East. These Pro-Jasmine’ movements started in Tunisia and quickly spread like wildfire to other North African countries, including Iran, Algeria, and Egypt.  Even Chinese citizens have tried to organize, although the government has had more success at stomping out any dissent.

The number one weapon employed by these dictators and governments was to try to stifle their citizen’s voices to suppress information to the greatest extent possible. It’s a pretty simple formula – if you limit information, you limit the ability of people to organize and mobilize against the government. In a move that still baffles technical experts, the Egyptian government even went as far as shutting the Internet down!

At a time when many governments around the world are trampling on free speech rights, our own Supreme Court was working hard to protect them last week. Last Wednesday, by an 8-1 vote, the Supreme Court correctly upheld the rights of Westboro Baptist Church members to picket military funerals. Having a Grandfather that fought in the Korean War, I was initially repulsed and shocked that this conduct was found Constitutional and that future military families will be forced to endure this ‘Church’s’ demonstrations at their loved ones funerals.

I thought to myself that there has to be some way around this decision. How can we let these people spread their vicious message of hate when we are laying soldiers to rest? Surely, there must be some way for nine Supreme Court justices to find an alternative to calling this conduct Constitutional?

But after having a great conversation with my Dad and reflecting on the Westboro decision for the past week, this case is the exact reason why our Founding Fathers set to protect the right to free speech in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights – this obviously must have been one of the most important rights that they wanted to protect in our fledgling country.  In a government that is truly ‘for the people, made by the people’ this is the only result.   The government cannot censor your message simply because they do not agree with it. As Chief Justice Roberts aptly puts it:[1]

“Such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt.”

In essence, the Bill of Rights represents a series of limitations on the power of the United States federal government, and establishes certain fundamental rights by protecting the rights of liberty and property – this includes the freedom of speech, a free press, free assembly, and freedom of association.

The Founding Fathers felt that in a truly free society, the citizens should be free to speak their minds and should not worry about retribution from the government. Thomas Jefferson once claimed, “A democracy cannot be both ignorant and free.” The framers of the Constitution believed that if our citizens were unable to fully share and discuss information completely, our country would be worse off than the British monarchy they revolted from. In a free society the marketplace of ideas determines what is good and bad policy – not the government.[2]

The First Amendment is distinctly American. As repulsive as it sounds, the Westboro Baptist case only vindicates our country as a bastion of liberty at a time while many people across the world are still fighting and dying for fundamental rights.


[2] The “marketplace of ideas” belief holds that the truth or the best policy arises out of the competition of widely various ideas in free, transparent public discourse, an important part of liberal democracy.