Vol. 81, No. 11, November
The Labor and Employment
– A Survival Guide
By Dipanwita Deb Amar (Chicago, IL: ABA General Practice, Solo &
Small Firm Division, 2007). 152 pgs. $59.95. Order, (800) 285-2221.
Reviewed by Nilesh Patel
Most attorneys have the analytical skills and broad educational
foundation to figure out how to tackle a problem for a client. However,
considering so much of legal practice and expertise comes from
experience, how is a new attorney to know if his or her proposed
solution or approach is appropriate?
Having a mentor to turn to can certainly help a new lawyer with this
difficult transition from law school to legal practice, but mentors are
busy and sometimes, as a teaching moment, expect new attorneys to
figure things out themselves. Rather than spin your wheels,
be nice to have someone who spells out what is expected of you as well
as what big picture issues you need to keep in mind?
In the area of labor and employment law, I very much encourage law
students and attorneys to consider reading The Labor and Employment
Lawyer’s Job – A Survival Guide. The book provides an
and roadmap of the major issues in labor and employment law that are so
necessary for success in litigation planning and client counseling.
At approximately 150 pages, the book is a quick read and yet still
provides a good foundation for spotting troublesome issues. Although
written for junior associates, the book is a useful tool for attorneys
in solo practice and for law students. The book’s three major
focus on 1) preliminary employment matters such as investigations and
administrative agencies, 2) employment litigation issues, and 3)
employment counseling issues during stages of the employment
relationship. An introductory section provides important practice tips
applicable to any area of law.
Each section provides an overview of the major questions and problems
an employment attorney will face. For example, what is the proper way
to conduct an employment investigation? Should the matter be handled by
internal staff, by the general counsel, or by outside counsel? Are
these investigations protected by attorney/client privilege? The
largest section is about employment litigation and covers topics such
as case management, pleadings, discovery, motion practice, trials, and
alternative dispute resolution. The section on employment counseling
covers issues in hiring, termination, and employee management such as
leaves of absence, reasonable disability accommodations, wage and hour
matters, and noncompete agreements.
Missing, however, are litigation topics such as issues during
employee discipline, retaliation by employers, privacy concerns, and
managing electronic discovery in employment cases. Also, a discussion
on developing good client counseling skills would have been useful
because employment attorneys should not only put out litigation fires
but also advise clients on how to avoid problems in the first place by
developing good business policies and practices.
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Federal Justice in Indiana: The History of the
United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
By George W. Geib & Donald B. Kite Sr. (Indianapolis, IN: Indiana
Historical Society, 2007). 350 pgs. $29.95. Order, (317)
Reviewed by Thomas Shriner
To survive to a respectable age is thought praiseworthy, although
luck often plays as big a part as anything else. Institutions nowadays
celebrate three-digit anniversaries by commissioning histories of
themselves. Federal Justice in Indiana:
The History of the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana is a cut above the average court history, marked
by a determination to say more about the court than that it has been
around for nearly 200 years. George W. Geib, a history professor at
Butler University, and Donald B. Kite Sr., a private practitioner in
Indianapolis, set out to “describe, explain, and evaluate the
work” of the court in that time, surely an impossible task in 272
pages of text.
Perhaps inevitably, the authors focus on the judges, whose
philosophies and proclivities give a court its particular personality.
Until 1925, when the state was effectively split into two districts,
there was just one district judge in Indiana. Only in 1954 did the
Southern District get a second judge. Until then, with single judges
serving terms measured in decades, the court was essentially “the
These judges often were characters. Walter Gresham was a Civil
War general before he was appointed judge by President Ulysses S. Grant.
Gresham clashed frequently with one lawyer, Benjamin Harrison, even
threatening him with arrest for his trial conduct. Gresham ran against
Harrison for the Republican presidential nomination in 1888 (without
resigning from the bench). Albert Anderson, the judge who sat through
the early Prohibition Era, once fined a bootlegger $500. As the offender
was led away, he told the judge the fine was “all right”; he
had the money in his hip pocket. The judge invited him to look in his
other hip pocket to see if he could find six months. The
“hard-boiled” Depression-era judge, Robert Baltzell,
confessed to his successor in tears that he feared for his salvation
because years earlier he had sentenced a murderer to death.
But focusing on the judges to tell the story of the court has a
downside. By 1966, the court had four judges (now five), and it is no
longer possible to call tales about a disparate group of judges the
history of “the court.” The late Judge Hugh Dillin described
his job under the modern arrangement as “a pretty lonely
business.” “[Y]ou would run your calendar and everybody else
would run his calendar the way he wanted to and you really didn’t
get together all that often.” So, we learn that Judge Holder did
this, while Judge Steckler did that.
The book succeeds as a history of the court through World War II.
But the challenge of writing a real institutional history of the
last half century’s multijudge court proves to be too much even
for this superbly written and edited effort. There may be a cautionary
lesson here, although we have some time to ponder it: The 200th
anniversary of Wisconsin’s first federal court isn’t until
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The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the
Internet, 3rd Edition
By Gregory H. Siskind, Deborah McMurray, & Richard P. Klau
(Chicago, IL: ABA, 2007). 192 pgs. $84.95. Order, (800)
Reviewed by John J. Schulze Jr.
Lawyers are terrible marketers and do not rush to embrace new
technology, but mid-size firm partner Gregory Siskind (with Deborah
McMurray and Richard Klau) is trying to change that situation for those
attorneys who read the The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the
Internet, 3rd Edition.
The book does touch on using the Internet as a general workplace
tool, for instance to recruit attorneys and communicate with employees.
However, the book’s aim here is to help attorneys become as
familiar with Internet marketing as they are with using an ATM machine,
and it succeeds. It is a business development resource guide that offers
specific tools to increase business traffic and establish lawyers as
subject matter experts. The book is chockablock with examples of
successful law firm Internet marketing efforts, including cost-effective
Web page designs, podcasts, and email newsletters. A few Wisconsin firms
are featured. The authors even provide methods for attorneys to measure
the results of their efforts and the return on their investments.
Some of the authors’ advice took me back to my previous
career in public relations and message development. The authors concede
this point, by writing “success comes back to good old fashion
marketing.” However, the vast majority of their ideas make this
book the authoritative guide for marketing legal services via the World
Wide Web, for example, using the firm’s Web address to convey
branding and message, not just as a locating device. As this is the
third edition, the authors spend some time closing the door on old
Internet ideas like guestbooks and previewing leading edge Internet
tools like RSS feeds and case bidding. The book also includes practical
information on “netiquette” and Internet marketing in
relation to the rules of professional conduct.
My criticisms of the book are extremely minor, but I would be
remiss not to note them. First, the book is written for firms of all
sizes, but I believe it would be improved if it focused on midsize,
small, and solo firms because 100-plus attorney firms presumably have
the means to hire someone to implement their Internet marketing
strategy. Second, unless the reader already knows what “vertical
sites,” “breadcrumb navigation,” and “portal
style” are, he or she will need to occasionally consult the tech
dictionary, like I did.
In total, this book is informative and well organized, and the
authors provide a wide range of practical advice. At only 192 pages of
well-spaced text, it is a much better investment in your firm’s
bottom line than another client dinner at Flemings.
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Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms,
By Anthony E. Davis & Peter R. Jarvis (Chicago, IL: ABA Law
Practice Management Section & Center for Professional
Responsibility, 2007). 176 pgs. w/CD-ROM. $89.95. Order, (800)
Reviewed by Andrea L. Murdock
Attorneys spend a great deal of time advising their clients how to
manage and minimize risk but often pay very little attention to the
risks inherent in their own practices. Establishing, evaluating, and
improving risk management procedures seem always to fall to the bottom
of the to-do list, giving way to other, more pressing, tasks. With the
growing prevalence of professional discipline and malpractice claims,
however, risk management must be given the attention it deserves.
Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms, 2nd
Edition, is a practical, hands-on book that guides attorneys through
the maze of risk management within their own firms through the use of
self-audits. The book is divided into three sections. First, the authors
explain the importance of risk management, the role of self-audits, and
how to conduct a self-audit. Second, the authors provide eight survey
questionnaires focusing on different areas of risk management evaluation
and designed to give a sense of which areas need attention in any
particular firm. Third, the authors help attorneys analyze the survey
questionnaire responses and determine remedial steps to take in areas in
which risk management is lacking.
The book’s first section got me thinking about how
important risk management is and where my own firm could improve its
practices. The authors emphasize that every firm is unique, and the ills
that plague one firm may be adequately treated in another. For that
reason, the self-audit process is designed to be flexible and adaptable
to any firm of any size with any degree of policies and procedures
already in place.
The authors give detailed instructions and guidelines for
administering a self-audit, along with suggestions for encouraging
participation and support by all firm members. The self-audit begins
with completion of survey questionnaires on the following topics:
management structure, risk management oversight, new client/matter
intake, client relations, docket and calendar systems, practice and
human resource management, trust accounts, and disaster recovery
planning. The attorney or firm can answer the questionnaires in one
session or more than one, depending on the level of motivation and the
availability of time and resources.
As with any good textbook, the answers are in the back of the
book. The completed questionnaires are intended to be reviewed against
the answer and analysis sheets in the book’s third section, so
that attorneys can understand what practices and procedures are already
in place and recognize where gaps exist. Once the gaps are identified,
appropriate steps can be taken to minimize risk.
As an avid list-maker myself, I found the survey questionnaires
to be both practical and helpful. The book comes with a CD-ROM that
contains the eight survey questionnaires in Word format. The
questionnaires can be easily printed and distributed for use in the
self-audit process. This truly is a book that can be used by any
attorney for any firm. My only criticism of the book is that it contains
more than a few typographical errors. The authors are great with risk
management but could use some help with proofreading.
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