Law blog roundup

bank of americaWelcome to the first Monday of 2013, the day college football will crown a national champion. But before Alabama v. Notre Dame, here are a few news items to get your week started.

– Bank of America reaches $10 billion settlement over troubled mortgages.

– A former gang member now helps San Francisco prosecutors decide whom to lock up.

– Is this Minnesotan blowing the whistle or violating patients’ rights?

– Will China close its labor camps?

In-House Interrogatory

Not surprisingly, this week’s question is all about the Supreme Court’s healthcare decision last week. We know everyone else is talking about it, but, hey, that just means all you general counsels are talking about it, too.

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

General counsels are taking center stage this week in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s healthcare decision. The Supreme Court voted to uphold President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, including a requirement that individuals buy insurance.

General counsels both at healthcare companies and companies across the board that offer health insurance will be talking about the effects of the decision this week. Corporate Counsel talked to a general counsel who recommended a course of action in light of the decision.

According to the article, counsels should prepare for the decision in advance, mostly by letting potentially affected divisions of the company know how this could affect them. A general counsel should keep management in the loop for both scenarios and be ready to take action when the decision is made.

So, here’s our question for you:

How are you and your company dealing internally with the Supreme Court’s decision on healthcare?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • The biggest general counsel news this week is that Yahoo announced longtime general counsel Michael J. Callahan resigned. He leaves amid the legal department’s ongoing investigation into former CEO Scott Thompson’s academic record.
  • PetSmart Inc. has a new general counsel.
  • Our intern, @MattOwings (follow him!), takes a look at how local general counsels handle social media policies.
  • Ever wonder what it’s like to be the in-house counsel for The Walt Disney Company India?
  • Above The Law has advice on finding an in-house job.
  • Corporate Counsel looks at the challenges of hiring an international outside counsel.
  • Female general counsels say networking is the key to success.
  • More lawyers are going in-house in Western Australia, mate.
  • To get more in-house counsel news, sign up for our FREE monthly email newsletter, In-House Counsel. The newsletter is a compilation of The Daily Record’s coverage of in-house counsel news as well as job listings, movements within the industry and other resources. Click here to sign up today.
  • Follow us on Twitter for the In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse
  • Want the latest on who’s been hired, fired or moving and shaking in between? Head to our Movers and Shakers page to find out.
  • For networking events and other happenings this week in Maryland, check out our calendar of events.
  • Get the very latest updates from our law reporters on Twitter: @TDRKristi, @BenMook@Steve_Lash
  • Check out The Daily Record on Facebook.

SCOTUSblog 1, CNN and Fox 0

In the beginning, I hated SCOTUSblog.

About 10 years ago, the then-fledgling online service providing near-instantaneous links and analysis of Supreme Court decisions was a direct competitor to my own nascent email service in which I promised subscribers same-day news articles on every case granted, argued and decided by the justices.

More than one subscriber (and many more would-be subscribers) asked why they should sign up for my service — Cert.ainty Publishing — when they could get SCOTUSblog for free.

My startup company quickly folded.

But I have since learned to love SCOTUSblog — and at 10:08 Thursday morning my affection was requited.

While CNN and Fox were breathlessly — and erroneously — reporting that the Supreme Court had struck down the individual mandate (the essential funding provision of the federal Affordable Care Act), SCOTUSblog correctly noted that “the individual mandate survives as a tax.”

So here’s a tip of the hat to Tom Goldstein, Amy Howe, Lyle Denniston and everyone else at SCOTUSblog who got it right.

UPDATE 1:36 – CNN emailed me a link to their correction.

How Scalia thinks you should interpret the law

When Supreme Court justices aren’t interpreting our nation’s laws or deciding on the fate of health-care reform, they aren’t just kicking back and watching marathons of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” after work.

Well, maybe they are, but they are also writing books. And in Justice Antonin Scalia’s newest book (which he co-authored), he is throwing a few punches, The National Law Journal reports.

Scalia, along with co-author, legal writing expert Bryan Garner, writes that he thinks the law is too loosely interpreted by many judges, including some of his fellow Supreme Court colleagues.

The book titled, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,” lays out how Scalia and Garner think attorneys and judges should interpret the law. It advocates purely ruling according to texts and the Constitution and ignoring other reasoning like previous court decisions.

The 567-page book will be out June 19 and is the second collaboration between Scalia and Garner, who co-wrote “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges” in 2008.

Scalia, however, does recognize in the book that he himself has not always adhered to his own rules. He writes in the book that he “knows there are some, and fears that there may be many opinions, that he has joined or written over the past 30 years that contradict what is written here – whether because of the demands of stare decisis or because wisdom has come late.”

In-House Interrogatory

This week it is all about CEOs and general counsels.

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

Clarissa Cerda, general counsel at LifeLock, Inc., took on her job around three years ago. The corporate counsel takes on a “partner role” with her CEO, Corporate Counsel reports. Cerda takes the company’s CEO to court proceedings and meetings with regulators.

“I took my CEO along,” she told Corporate Counsel. “A lot of people thought I was crazy when I decided to do that.”

Here’s our question for you:

What is your working relationship like with your company’s CEO? Do you let him/her have as much access to the in-house department as Cerda and why or why not?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • An in-house legal chief for a Houston company created a fake law firm and funneled almost $9 million of company money into the paying the “firm” for its “legal services.”
  • Texas Lawyer has the 2012 summer reading list for corporate counsels.
  • Pinterest hired Google’s deputy general counsel, Michael Yang, as its general counsel. Pinterest has faced copyright issues since its website has users post pictures and content from other sites.
  • A former Warner Bros. executive, Mark DeVitre, will join Entertainment Studios as executive vice president and general counsel. The company produces and distributes over 31 syndicated TV shows.
  • Remember how we reported this month that more law students are interested in corporate counsel jobs immediately after graduation? Well, it’s happening in India, too, except between 50 to 75 percent of graduating law school students went to corporations this year, The Times of India reports.
  • One in-house counsel in California is backtracking and going back to private practice after about 13 years. The general counsel for Callaway Golf, Steven McCracken, made the move in May.
  • Knome, Inc., the human genome interpretation company, appointed Gary A. Cohen as general counsel, senior vice president and secretary of the company.
  • If you are interested in intellectual property law in the gaming industry, check out this Q&A by the Las Vegas Review-Journal with the deputy general counsel of Cantor Gaming.
  • The Allstate Corporation named Susie Lees general counsel this month.
  • To get more in-house counsel news, sign up for our FREE monthly email newsletter, In-House Counsel. The newsletter is a compilation of The Daily Record’s coverage of in-house counsel news as well as job listings, movements within the industry and other resources. Click here to sign up today.
  • Follow us on Twitter for the In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse
  • Want the latest on who’s been hired, fired or moving and shaking in between? Head to our Movers and Shakers page to find out.
  • For networking events and other happenings this week in Maryland, check out our calendar of events.
  • Get the very latest updates from our law reporters on Twitter: @TDRKristi, @BenMook@Steve_Lash
  • Check out The Daily Record on Facebook.

Starting my day the feminist way

What did you do during breakfast this morning? If you’re like most people, you skimmed the local paper, grumbled at the weather report, checked your e-mail or tried to keep your kids from ripping each others’ hair out.

Well, my Thursday started much differently than it usually does. Over coffee and a bagel, I discussed abortion, homosexuality, HIV and religion with some of the world’s foremost feminist thinkers.

I had the pleasure and the privilege to start my day at University of Baltimore School of Law’s Feminist Legal Theory Conference. Before the program had even begun, lively chatter broke out among a number of presenters sitting at my table. Though the discourse changed as I slowly drained my cup, the underlying concern on everyone’s mind was apparent: How can we improve the lives of women around the world through legal practice and policy?

The event, in its fourth year, featured guest speaker Toni Morrison (above) – whom, I’m sorry to say, I missed because tickets went like hotcakes — as well as panels on reproductive health, socio-economics, women in combat and feminist activism.

Though I won’t bore you with my own opinions on these pressing global issues,  I will implore you — when this conference comes around again next year, sign up.

I only wish I could start my day the feminist way every morning.

Is there a ribbon for lawsuit awareness?

The Huffington Post reported last month that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure has filed trademark infringement lawsuits against other charities that use “for the cure” in their names. The story alleges Komen spends a $1 million a year in donor funds on such litigation.

The foundation has more than 200 registered trademarks, and I didn’t even know you could protect a phrase like “for the cure,” hon.

Even though the HuffPost story was published in December, I first heard about it Monday night from Stephen Colbert. Enjoy his take here.


Stollof: The perp who must stay north with the cold

Baltimore County businessman Jack W. Stollof was sentenced to a year and a day of home detention in May for his role in a years-long, multimillion-dollar tax sale bid-rigging scheme.

Perhaps the only reason Stollof, who reportedly drove around in his Jaguar to check up on the properties he’d bought, didn’t receive a prison term like co-defendant and fellow septuagenarian Harvey M. Nusbaum, a lawyer, is because he has a heart condition, as well as a history of bladder cancer and meningitis, and the presiding federal judge decided he was too fragile to survive a year in the clink.

Apparently encouraged by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz’s clemency, Stollof, through his attorneys, has made several attempts to modify the terms of his home confinement. Hey, why not?

Continue reading

Nice guys can finish first

Jay Perman, the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s new president, has no problem being known as a nice guy. His annual commencement speech while dean at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine was even about the importance of doctors being nice to patients.

But Perman told reporters and editors at The Daily Record last week that what surprises him are people who view nice as a liability. He recalled early in his career a colleague at the University of California, San Francisco, said Perman “would never make it” because of his niceness.

“So ha-ha,” Perman said dryly. “I’m here to say that’s not true.”

Perman describes himself as nice by nature but also in a pragmatic way.

“When you’re nice, it becomes that much easier to demand of those who are not nice that they shape up or get out,” he said. “That’s why it’s been so effective for me.”

That Perman is a pediatrician has also helped him as an administrator. (You can insert your own joke here about what caring for children and overseeing a faculty have in common.)

“I think if there’s a case for a leader being nice, that sort of self-selection goes into choosing pediatrics,” he said. ‘There are no harsher critics of nasty adults than children. They will not have it.”

Sowing the seeds of tragedy

Tania Arrya has no direct knowledge of the relationship between George Huguely and Yeardley Love, which irrevocably ended with Love’s death at her University of Virginia apartment and Huguely charged with killing her.

But the story and its emerging details sound familiar to Arrya, manager of the Teen Dating Violence Prevention Initiative at the House of Ruth.

“Everyone is at risk to end up in an abusive relationship,” she said Tuesday. “It doesn’t matter what your background is.”

The House of Ruth initiative teaches teens to identify qualities in healthy and unhealthy relationships, and how to be supportive of a victim or deal with a perpetrator of abuse. Teens can’t recognize warning signs unless they know what to look for, Arrya said.

What might start as verbal abuse or physical intimidation can escalate when those tactics stop working, Arrya said Tuesday. For example, Huguely might have removed Love’s computer because it contained evidence of previous threats he made against her, she said.

Arrya also suspects Love’s friends knew about the abuse but maybe not its extent, which might have been partly due to Love’s hiding it.

“You’re far away from home on a college campus and determined to be independent,” Arrya said. “Help might be available, but reaching out for help might be difficult in this age group.”

The sad irony, she pointed out, is that asking for help is the mature thing to do.