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SC panel advances bills on open records law

COLUMBIA— A Senate panel has advanced two open records bills following state Supreme Court rulings last year that dealt blows to traditional practices under the state’s Freedom of Information law. One bill sent Thursday to the Judiciary Committee would require ...

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We should see our clients in their native habitat (access required)

I recently read a newspaper story in which a doctor talked about her reaction when she happened to meet a patient at an airport, where the patient worked. The patient was out of the context of the examining room and the doctor was taken aback, at first not recognizing the patient. The experience of seeing the patient as an individual in a work environment gave the doctor an entirely new perspective on this person, to the point of considering changes in treatment.

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Authenticity: An elusive key to successful marketing (access required)

Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner once wrote: “A person is really three things: who you think you are; who I think you are; and who you think I think you are.” Since none of us have control over how others see us, we believe the quality that makes us the person we are perceived to be is the level of authenticity with which we conduct ourselves in the world.

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If you’re not objecting, you may not be protecting the client (access required)

A New Yorker cartoon has a young lawyer saying to an upset client, "Oh, I don't object much. As lawyers go, I'm pretty laid back." Conventional courtroom advice is that juries don't like objections; it makes you look like you are trying to hide something. Like most things conventional, this advice isn't worth much. Besides, if you are really trying to hide something at trial, an objection isn't going to help you any more than the fig leaf helped Adam.

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Future Tech: Looking ahead at the technology changing law practice (access required)

Twenty-five years ago, law practice looked very different from today. Consider the accoutrements that a lawyer in 1986 did not have: • A laptop computer • A tablet computer such as an iPad • A cell phone • The Internet • Online research (although the firm might have a new Westlaw or Lexis terminal in the firm library) . • Email. What the 1986 lawyer did to work with clients and solve legal problems wasn't too different from what the 2011 lawyer does today. It just requires different tools.

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New ASTM energy standard to impact commercial real estate transactions (access required)

The growth of renewable energy in the U.S. has been subject to inconsistent public policy at both the federal and state levels. This lack of predictability creates difficulty for investors looking for long-term stability, which is needed to justify the often significant capital investments associated with most renewable energy systems. Despite this uncertainty, one renewable energy that continues to show steady progress is an area often not even seen as a renewable energy resource: energy efficiency.

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Dicta From Desa: Flat wrong on flat fees

The incredible generosity of members of the South Carolina Bar continues to amaze me. I am a member of the South Carolina Association of Ethics Counsel (SCAEC), the brainchild of my friend Steedley Bogan, who suggested about 10 years ago that those of us who defend lawyers in disciplinary proceedings should form an alliance to work together to improve the lawyer disciplinary system. Steedley created the legal framework to let us exist, and we were fairly active for a number of years.

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Coach’s Corner: Your lease is a strategic planning tool

I received a call from a lawyer wanting to know what percentage of his gross revenue should be allocated to rent and whether his percentage was in line with other law firms. I cited one study that put the average at 9 percent, but his comeback was that another consultant said the average was 12 percent. Such generic numbers totally miss the point on two levels. First, they allow lawyers to think that they need not try to do better than the average. And second, they obscure the point that the cost of office space is a statement about the law firm itself, raising issues that should be addressed in a strategic plan.

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Guest Commentary: The greatest practice management tool ever … possibly

I am generally an early adopter of technology, and, admittedly, a bit of a gadget snob. I can't believe this little gem escaped my radar for almost two years. I've just purchased my first Livescribe Pulse Digital Smartpen. As a compulsive note-taker, this pen changed my life (sounds ridiculous, I know) and it will change the way you practice law. Professional note-takers like lawyers and paralegals know that organizing notes can be an insurmountable task. Not anymore.

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