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Linking firms in a shrinking world (access required)

When Greenville lawyer Henry Parr got an assignment to draft a distribution agreement between his American client and a South Korean company, he knew his work was cut out for him. Parr, a partner in the Greenville-based Wyche law firm, had to come up with a document that would comply with every South Korean law relevant to the parties' agreement. He had a tight deadline. And he had a problem. "I needed to know whether South Korea had any special provisions dealing with distribution arrangements," he said. So he sent out an email.

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Tripped up (access required)

Working as an attorney means time logged on the road, a reality that is tough to bear as gas prices have climbed higher. South Carolina lawyers are dealing with the rising costs by consolidating appointments into one trip and, in some cases, picking up clients when they don't have the money to make the drive. And much of the time, attorneys just grin and bear the higher bills.

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Innovate, but don’t be late (access required)

If changes are made to a longtime piece of American law, a race to the patent office could be on, and South Carolina attorneys may be swept up in the pursuit. For several years, attempts at national patent reform have failed, but this year, it appears the votes in Congress are sufficient to significantly change the way Americans secure patents. Under the current "first to invent" patent law, when inventors have an idea, they have the opportunity to work on it in depth, reduce it to practice, then file it with the patent office, as they know their idea is safe if they're able to prove they discovered it first.

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Pressured by Chief Justice Toal, courts slim down DUI dockets (access required)

The DUI caseload statewide has dropped significantly in the two months since the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered county magistrates and municipal courts to give top priority to clearing such cases from their dockets. Responding to a March 21 order from the state's chief justice, the state's court system has accelerated the process of resolving cases of driving under the influence as well as cases of driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, known as DUACs.

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Although gaining in diversity, law firms say the task is not easy (access required)

Everyday law practice can be a trial, and balancing work and family can become even more laborious for women and minority attorneys. But firms are making an effort to be more diverse and retain attorneys of varying backgrounds across the Palmetto State. At the Columbia offices of Haynsworth, Sinkler and Boyd, Ben Alexander, chairman of the firm's diversity board, said the profession has a long way to go. "This diversity task is not easy for us or others," Alexander said. "You've got to ramp up your recruiting and hiring of qualified applicants, and once you hire those well-qualified lawyers, you've got to retain them."

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Doctor misses cancer report; patient dies (access required)

When Franklin Scott Jr. and his wife, Lesie Ann Scott, walked into the doctor's office in August 2009 to review Franklin's second chest X-ray in a year, neither knew that his first chest X-ray had detected cancer 12 months before. Nor did the Williamsburg County couple expect the doctor, after looking at the latest scan, to walk out on them without warning or explanation, leaving them sitting in his office without a clue as to where he had gone or why he had left. Nor did they know that Franklin Scott that would die of cancer before the year was out. Summerville lawyer Steven Goldberg, David Yarborough (pictured) and William Applegate, both of Mount Pleasant, represented the plaintiff in the case.

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Sacked (access required)

Shortly after being hired as the new football coach for Hilton Head Preparatory School, Alex Marx found himself out of a job and suing for breach of contract and defamation. Marx, a New Jersey resident, filed a lawsuit against Hilton Head Prep and its headmaster, Anthony Kandel, in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on May 27. Marx is seeking $125,000 in actual damages in addition to any potential punitive damages. Charles "Ted" Speth II (pictured), an employment law expert and managing shareholder of Ogletree Deakins' Columbia office, said the case will likely focus on whether the job offer amounted to a contract and how that will be viewed under the state's at-will doctrine.

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‘Objection’ objection rejected (access required)

Robert Muckenfuss, a defense attorney, was sure he had said all the words he needed to register his objection, but for a while it appeared he left out one. So Muckenfuss's client, Najjar De'Breece Byers, was found guilty of armed robbery and criminal conspiracy in York County, even though Muckenfuss protested that the only incriminating testimony was hearsay. And when the Court of Appeals ruled that Muckenfuss erred by not proclaiming "Objection" before he moved to strike what he called hearsay, he took the case to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

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Coastal lawyer fined for website ‘puffery’ (access required)

When the South Carolina Supreme Court caught wind of possible false advertising on Michael Hensley Wells' website, the Conway attorney sprang into action. He scrubbed the offending lines from the site and pulled a bevy of firm brochures and business cards available at a mall kiosk. But for Wells, the founder of the Coastal Law firm, the damage had been done.

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Firm: SC lags in insurance for legal malpractice (access required)

The scenario sounds improbably bleak, but legal malpractice lawyers Ronnie Richter and Eric Bland swear it can happen to anyone whose attorney practices without the protection of malpractice insurance. They say it has happened in South Carolina, and will continue unless the state's lawyers accept full responsibility for protecting their clients:

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