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Technology allows national firm to field offices in smaller markets (access required)

They call it the depo room. It's a small cube of space on the freshly revamped 12th floor of a downtown Columbia office building where the products liability defense firm of Bowman and Brooke opened its southernmost office a year ago. The room has one desk with a chair. Atop the desk are a keypad, a mouse and a scanner. Dominating the wall opposite the desk is a massive video screen, a camera perched unobtrusively atop it. When Joel Smith, the firm's managing partner in Columbia, settles into the chair and hits a few buttons, the screen goes live with a view of a similar room at the firm's headquarters in Minneapolis.

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Supremes ponder service provider’s securities liability (access required)

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court grappled with the question of whether a claim may be stated against a service management company for alleged securities violations of the mutual funds it sponsors. Appealed from the 4th Circuit, the case, Janus Capital Group v. First Derivative Traders, is a class action brought by shareholders who claim they received misleading information in prospectuses regarding a group of mutual funds - Janus Funds, sponsored by the Janus Capital Group, which is managed by its subsidiary Janus Capital Management (JCM).

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Support crucial for women lawyers to serve in politics (access required)

"You live through it." Newly elected state Rep. Elizabeth Munnerlyn (D-Chesterfield, Marlboro) uses that phrase to explain how she managed to run a full-time law practice, keep up with her two young children and successfully campaign for political office over the past year. Where some politicians might be able to "put everything on hold and just campaign, I did not have that luxury," said Munnerlyn, who is a solo practitioner in Bennettsville. "You just take it one day at a time, and I found there were a lot of people who wanted to help."

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Protected pleadings: Attorneys could copyright their documents, but should they? (access required)

Of course lawyers don't need anyone's blessing to copyright their own work. The question is, when they do, are their claimed rights enforceable? The short answer is yes, maybe. Intellectual property attorney John C. Nipp of Charlotte, N.C.-based Summa, Additon & Ashe told Lawyers Weekly that the requirements for obtaining a copyright are not strict. "It has to be a literary work in a tangible form of expression that involves some degree of creativity," he said. "Plenty of documents in the legal world meet that definition."

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Commentary: Patents and collectivism – Snowballs in Hades (access required)

"Nearly two years ago, I exhorted business owners and inventors to protect their intellectual property due to - not in spite of - the depressed economy. My suggestion still stands. However, the passage of time begs this question: is intellectual property - patents in particular - incompatible with policies that trend toward such things as 'redistribution of wealth' and 'universal health care?'," Greenville attorney Bernard Klosowski writes in a guest commentary.

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Homebuyers who profited and sued anyway get second chance (access required)

Robert and Susan Coake sold their Anderson property in January 2006, about a year before the housing market began its long tumble. They sold the property for $440,000 after purchasing it in 2004 from Kathleen Burt for $296,900. They enjoyed a nice profit, but in order to get it, they spent $38,390 on repairs and improvements - $10,090 of which they attributed to Burt's alleged failure to disclose certain defects in the property. The Coakes sued Burt alleging that she violated the Disclosure Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 27-50-80, by filling out a disclosure form but failing to alert them to the defects. Greenville attorney Kirsten E. Small (pictured) of Nexsen Pruet, who represented the Coakes, said the suit wasn't as much about the $10,090 as "the principle of not knowing what they were getting when they bought the house because of the disclosures."

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Better IOLTA rates boost Bar Foundation revenue (access required)

Buoyed by a midyear change in a state rule governing IOLTA interest rates, the S.C. Bar Foundation is enjoying the first uptick it's seen in IOLTA revenue since 2008. "We're seeing more revenues than we had last year, but in this low-interest-rate environment, it's certainly not the amount of revenues that we saw several years ago," said Shannon W. Scruggs (pictured), executive director of the foundation.

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With market still in the tank, real estate lawyers diversify (access required)

For many of South Carolina's real estate attorneys, the most recent housing and foreclosure reports probably won't boost their holiday spirits. Home sales plummeted nearly 26 percent statewide in October compared to a year ago, according to a report by S.C. Realtors. "I've been doing this for 17 years, and this is the worst I've seen this," attorney Trey Harrell (pictured), founding member of the Chapin firm of Harrell and Martin, told Lawyers Weekly in a recent interview. Harrell said that as recently as 2006, about 80 percent of the firm's business was connected to real estate. Now, that percentage has dropped to about 60 percent, he said. "If you're relying solely on real estate, you're asking for some sad times," he said.

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