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Guest Articles

Coach’s Corner: What makes a law firm a good place to work?

Every law firm is, or should be, a team, with lawyers, staff and support personnel committed to a team effort for providing the best possible service and work product for the benefit of clients. Involving everyone in the office so that they feel a sense of inclusiveness, understanding their roles and looking forward to exercising them, creates a better and more successful firm. At too many law firms, unfortunately, this does not exist.

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Peitho: ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ – Lessons in jury selection

You don't have to be a South Carolinian or a musical theater fan to appreciate George and Ira Gershwin's famous song from "Porgy and Bess," "It Ain't Necessarily So." I mention South Carolina, not only because the musical is set in the Holy City of Charleston, but also because the true lyricist was not Ira Gershwin, but one of South Carolina's best writers, DuBose Heyward.

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Coach’s Corner: Dissolution should not be a firm’s only contingency

Clients clamor for alternatives to hourly rate billing because they want lawyers to have an incentive stake in the outcome of a matter. This is the case with contingency fees, where lawyers get a flat percentage of the value earned for the client. Contingency fees are often used in litigation, from personal injury cases to high-stakes corporate disputes.

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A drug by any other name? Supreme Court considers if generic drug suits are federally preempted (access required)

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Wyeth v. Levine that state law failure-to-warn claims against brand-name drug makers are not automatically preempted by federal law, the justices are considering whether that same rule applies to generic drug makers. The plaintiffs in PLIVA. v. Mensing and consolidated cases allege that the makers of the drug metoclopramide, the generic version of the diabetes drug Reglan, should have amended its label to include stronger warnings of the risk of tardive dyskinesia, a severe neurological movement disorder.

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‘They can’t replace ME with a computer’

We have frequently written about how computer technology is a two-edged sword that can offer cost-efficient advantages to the law firm that leverages it, or can be the death knell to the law firm that does not keep pace. Nowhere was this duality been better illustrated than in a recent story in The New York Times. Its headline alone should give any member of the profession pause: "Armies of Expensive Lawyers Replaced by Cheaper Software."

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Savoring the good times can breed more success

I just hung up the phone with a client who couldn't thank me enough for possibly saving him his job. Instead of taking the time to appreciate his compliment, within minutes I was already stressing about my next call to an attorney with whom I knew I would have a difficult conversation. Maybe it was the sun outside my window, the beautiful weekend ahead or the third Diet Coke of the day, but something cued me to stop and savor the compliments my client had just extended me.

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Border in the court! The battle for immigrant protection in criminal cases (access required)

Immigration cases are often won in criminal court, or conversely, lost forever. Attorneys engaged in the defense of aliens cannot underestimate this fact. Sports fans might liken the criminal proceeding to a late touchdown to tie the game. The immigration court proceeding is the extra point for the win. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Padilla v. Kentucky makes clear that defense attorneys can no longer ignore the issue. We are required to give affirmative advice, and anything less constitutes ineffective assistance.

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‘Southern Fate’ – A novel by Richland County’s Brian Boger

If you think America is obsessed with trial lawyers, viz "Law and Order" (or for the old timers - "Perry Mason" or "L.A. Law"), well you'd be right. Most of us probably hope that one day we can put aside the mundane practice of law, write a novel and follow John Grisham onto "Good Morning America" to field questions like, "Many of our listeners across the nation are just dying to know how you learned to write so well. Is it God-given talent or just natural brilliance?"

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Coach’s Corner: If you’re pitching, who’s catching?

Couplings, like metaphors, create mental pictures that help us to better understand concepts. How about "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage?" Well, that was in an earlier era. Oops, showing my age again. Perhaps that's appropriate for having turned another year older and wiser. Then we have billing and collecting. They go together. Can't have one without the other.

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