Friday, May 27, 2016

Have a Wonderful Holiday Weekend

It's the Friday before a long weekend and the bulk of the week's drama has long since resolved itself, so please enjoy your weekend whatever your plans hold for you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

... and We're Down to One Jurisdiction

After more than three months, the various courts on my multi-state litigation have finally narrowed down the jurisdictional issue and decided that New York will no longer be joining us in the case. The state never really had a connection to the case, other than the barrage of petitions that were filed in the hopes that the case would somehow get moved out of New Jersey and across the river.

With that particular jurisdictional battle nailed down, I found another waiting on my doorstep this morning, this time throwing in a third state to a curveball. This time, there is an original state that issued an order (Pennsylvania), and now one party is in New Jersey and the other party is in North Carolina. So it's on to sort out a three-state trifecta.

Is there a four-state a litigation awaiting me in the fall? Outside of a class action, I wonder what is the limit on the amount of states to get involved in a litigation...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Great Office Spaces and Your Own Office Design

Although I don’t have a lot of input on either space, I’ve seen a bunch of articles this week on the importance of office design and its impact on your productivity. The last one I read this week from the HarvardBusiness Review talked about the seven factors of Great Office Design:
  • Location
  • Enclosure
  • Exposure
  • Technology
  • Temporality
  • Perspective
  • Size

The article also highlights the offices of Adobe and Yodle and how their offices are designed. It seems like the world wanted to discuss office spaces this week as I also had conversations about office spaces and their designs with some friends and clients as well.

Some of my friends lamented the amount of rent they pay for a traditional “lawyer” office that seems to be stuck in the 1980’s. While many of their clients work in innovative and advanced work spaces, their walls are covered with old books filled with statutes that have long since been changed. If you are filming an old lawyer show, it would be a great set, but for today’s legal world, they seem out of place.

The other end of the spectrum was a meeting at a client’s office, which has many of the amenities that demonstrate that the company is really on the cusp of greatness. You arrive at the building, your security pass is waiting for you, there is a “Welcome” message in the lobby directing you to the floor and room for your meeting, the receptionist greets you when you get off the elevator and directs you to the meeting while offering you a snack and a beverage.

Seeing both ends of the spectrum within hours of each other was a real eye opener…

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Criminal Defense Attorney for a Day

It’s always interesting to step into someone else’s case, if even for a morning, and see how different things can be. This morning I hopped in and helped a friend who needed coverage on a couple of criminal cases. While I’ve sat through arraignments of my clients before for minor offenses, these were more serious matters and I had to spend some time last night making sure I remembered some of my training.

In general, the atmosphere seemed even more relaxed than many of the civil appearances I make and the judge really plowed through the calendar in an efficient manner. While the cases I covered went by quickly and without incident, it was interesting to watch some of the advocacy by other attorneys on behalf of their allegedly wrongfully arrested clients.

As with civil cases, each attorney had a different demeanor and approach, from the calm and confident to the wild and passionate who seem to be putting on a show for some unidentified media reporter.

So it was a far more interesting morning than I originally had planned, but with all of their specialized rules and procedures, I think I’ll leave the more substantive legal work to the criminal defense attorneys.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Google to Ban Payday Loan Ads

Wednesday, Google announced what I think is a great step forward in the battle against predatory loan companies: it will ban ads by payday loan companies. In a statement, their global policy director, David Graff said

We'll continue to review the effectiveness of this policy, but our hope is that fewer people will be exposed to misleading or harmful products

Google's move follows a similar decision by Facebook to not display ads for payday loans (although, apparently Yahoo still allows the ads on their sites and services).

Interestingly, it has been a while since I have had to fight a payday loan company on behalf of a client. The optimist in me is hopeful that their business is down and less people are being taken advantage of by these companies. But realistically, I'm sure there are still plenty of payday loan companies thriving on the backs of hard working people who find themselves in dire financial straits and will sign on to these ridiculously high interest short term loans.

It's a good step forward that these ads are being banned by Google and these companies are being denied access to an unwitting market.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Starbucks Iced Coffee Lawsuit

Although it's the first week of May, the weather has been chilly in the Northeast and the demand for iced coffee at the local coffee shops hasn't really taken hold yet. In the news, however, the story spread quickly that a woman in Chicago is suing Starbucks because they put too much ice in her iced coffee. At a weekly meetup with other local business owners, our discussion quickly turned to the lawsuit and what the woman must be thinking. One of the other owners even printed out a copy of the Complaint, with notes and highlighting, and wanted to sit down with me and dissect certain things in the document.

What struck me from the discussions was that these business owners didn't approach the lawsuit the same way I had in my mind. Most of the media stories seem to focus on the absurdity of the claims or the unnecessary resort to the court system when the woman could have simply asked them to put more coffee in her drink.

Instead, these business owners were (probably correctly) focused on the perception that is built up with their customers and the importance of delivering their product as advertised. To a person, they all would have preferred that the woman inform them and then provide a new iced coffee with less ice rather than being sued (of course, who wants to be sued?). But the discussion turned to the importance of perception of their product and business and the trust that they build with their customers, both loyal ones and first timers.

There are always multiple sides to a story, especially with a public litigation aimed at a large corporation, but it helps to really look into the entire story to see what other angles are at play.