Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Infamous February Bar Exam

Lest we forget, today concludes the 2013 February Bar Exam. Here's your chance to commiserate about the horrors of an exam that has, within the last five years, had a pass rate as low as 48%. Unfortunately, there is not much consolation we can offer to someone taking this exam except to point out that the July exam usually has a pass rate much better than a 50/50 chance.

In somewhat related news, Arizona law schools have petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court to allow law students to take the bar exam during their third year of law school. You can read about it here. That would certainly change the dynamic of the February bar exam if it were adopted in Nevada. What do you think--should 3Ls be able to take the bar before graduation?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Help A Law Student Out - Mandatory Mediation for Business Court Cases?

I received the email below from a Boyd Law student who would like our collective input on a research paper.  I  think its a pretty interesting topic, actually, so maybe we can help 'em out:
. . . I am writing my research paper on mediation in the business courts. My question is whether mediation should be mandatory for all cases filed in the business court. I am aware as part of the expensive filing fee to be in business court, the parties are entitled to a free settlement conference with one of the other business court judges, but my question is do lawyers (in particular those who deal with the business court) feel this should be mandatory rather than an optional? and if so at what point would it be most effective?
My hypothesis is that it would be extremely effective, but really not until sometime into discovery. I theorize that parties are too hot headed to mediate properly until they have seen a couple bills pass their way. And then it may be extremely effective to have them sit down and try to reach a settlement. However, I have to contrast this with the purpose of the business court, which is to get disputes resolved quickly so that business, and people, can go back to work.
My own opinion on this topic (and yes, I do practice in business court), is that I believe mediation is almost always helpful on some level, so I could probably live with the idea of mandatory mediation.  However, as the emailer noted, I also believe that timing is everything. 
I've found that if you mediate too early in the case, the benefits can be limited by the parties still being too emotional to really look at the situation objectively, the parties often haven't yet realized (through some motion practice), that their claims/defenses might not be as strong as they initially thought they were, and/or the parties haven't yet realized how expensive, exhausting and time-consuming litigation can be. 
On the other hand, if you wait too long to mediate, the parties can sometimes feel pot-committed and/or there may not be adequate leverage/risk left in the case for one or both of the parties to justify a settlement.  If I had to pick the perfect time to mediate, I would say the parties (or the Judge, after motion practice), should be able to decide when, as long as it was anytime during or right after discovery closes, but before the dispositive motion deadline. 
What does everyone else think?

Movers & Shakers

So, now that we're nearly two months into the year--how is the job market looking? Did the January interview cycle result in a lot of musical chairs or is everyone still hunkered down? Is anyone hearing any rumors of mergers or major laterals? Any sinking ships to avoid?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Honorable Judge ______, Ret.

Now that we've talked about who you think are the top Clark County judges, let's discuss which of those are retiring or will definitely not be trying to stick around in the next election. (FYI, all of the terms of the current crop of Eighth Judicial District Judges expire in 2014.) To start things off, we'll throw out something we heard recently in the elevator at the RJC:  Judge Bixler will probably not be looking to be retained next year. There are probably a few others as well, but who exactly may depend on where they are in terms of being able to retire on the County's dime.

Who have you heard is going to be adding the Ret. after their name? Who should retire? What factors should they consider? Should there be an age limit or term limits for judges? (Feel free to discuss federal judges as well--we hear Judge Riegle is stepping down as soon as they have someone to fill her spot.) 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

All I Care About Is Love (read: Money)

While some of you lightweights (including POTUS) were out enjoying the nice weather during the three day weekend that resulted from George Washington's Birthday Observed (commonly referred to now as President's Day), the hardworking members of the Nevada legislature were introducing legislation that if passed, is almost certain to affect you. More specifically, according to the RJ, one of our own ranks, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, introduced Senate Bill 161 (that link tracks the bill, while this one is initial proposed language) which proposes to change the language that currently allows for attorney's fees in construction defect cases. To quote the RJ...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

All In The Family (Court)

Now let's take a look at judges in the Eighth Judicial District Court Family Division. Who are the top three judges and why? (Sorry, their names are clickable, but don't have nearly as much useful information.)

Family Division Judges
AWilliam O. VoyKCynthia N. Giuliani
BGloria O'MalleyLJennifer Elliott
CSteven E. JonesMBill Potter
DRobert W. Teuton NMathew Harter
ECharles J. HoskinOFrank P. Sullivan
FWilliam E. Gonzalez PSandra L. Pomrenze
GCynthia Dianne SteelQBryce C. Duckworth
HT. Arthur Ritchie, Jr.RBill Henderson
ICheryl B. MossSVincent Ochoa
JKenneth E. PollockTGayle Nathan

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Here's Looking At You, Judge.

The topic is simple: who would you rank as the top 3 current judges in the 8th Judicial District Civil/Criminal Division and why? You can learn more information about the each of the judges at the Clark County Courts website or by clicking on their name below (including their policies on telephonic appearances; unopposed motions; default judgment prove-ups; submission of orders; and jury selection  ed. This is a great resource if you haven't seen it yet). Your choices are:

Monday, February 11, 2013

South Entrance To RJC Now Open IF YOU HAVE YOUR BAR CARD

We are pleased to report that the South Entrance of the Regional Justice Center is now officially re-opened to lawyers who show their bar card. What does this mean for you? According to one of the marshals, it means an extra 46 seconds of exercise as you walk from the valet parking on Lewis Street around the RJC to the entrance on Clark Street. It also means, perhaps, a little less frustration when you are trying to get to court (at least between the hours of 7:30 a.m and 1:30 p.m.)

The Las Vegas Review Journal has an article with more of the details and commentary about the long lines. You'll want to read the article for a fine example from a local lawyer of what not to do in security and, also, the kind of attitude that makes people dislike lawyers. Seriously, is it that hard to plan ahead to show up a little early and take out your bar card?

edited to fix the cardinal direction of the entrance that is now open to attorneys.  Thanks, commenter.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Public Reprimand for Judge Valorie Vega?

The Review Journal reported yesterday that Judge Valorie Vega has agreed to a public reprimand. This news comes ahead of the public hearing scheduled by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline which is set to start on Monday, February 11. For those of you who don't remember, Judge Vega was accused of misconduct relative to the trial of Victor Fakoya (you can find some of stories about her having the jury deliberate at 3 a.m and recessing to attend her daughter's soccer practice from the I-team at 8NewsNow).

The RJ reports that Judge Vega signed a six-page stipulation acknowledging that she "was not courteous to the individuals involved at trial" and will face a public reprimand. We do not have any further details beyond what the RJ reported, but what do you think? The commenters to the RJ article have already asked the most obvious question--hasn't she already been publicly reprimanded by the I-Team and shouldn't the discipline be more severe? Is this an example of the Commission on Judicial Discipline protecting their own? Is this evidence of a larger problem? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This Time We'll Definitely Get An Intermediate Appellate Court, Maybe!

The RJ is reporting the first breaking news of this year's Nevada legislative session--the Senate Judiciary Committe approved Senate Bill 14, a proposed constitutional amendment that would result in the implementation of an intermediate appellate court in Nevada. Naturally, being a constitutional amendment, if passed by the full legislature, the matter would go on the ballot in November 2014 where voters would overwhelmingly reject it as they have in previous years. Hence, this is not really breaking news as much as it is "heart-breaking" news. Sigh.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Legislature Is Back! #NVLeg

For 60 120 days every two years, a group of Las Vegans boards a Southwest flight to Reno (with one checked bag and one ski bag) and then make the arduous 30 minute trip over Nevada's own bridge-to-nowhere to meet up with the best and brightest elected representatives the rest of Nevada has to offer. Yes, we're talking about the return of Nevada's crown jewel--the Nevada state legislature. At no other time of the year does such a small group of people have such an opportunity to impose on the lives of Nevadans everywhere. Although there are lots of rumors about what laws will be considered this session, there is no way of knowing which lobbyists have the deepest wallet this time that will directly affect you in your practice of law. Will it be more tort reform? Will it be a revision of Chapter 40? Will it be new taxes?

We know there are more than a few lawyers among the ranks of the legislature. We hope you'll keep tabs on them and encourage them to make wise decisions. For those of you without the personal connections, the Las Vegas Sun did an article on how to keep abreast of the action using Twitter--also a good way to quickly comment to your elected representatives.

So, any laws you are expecting to be passed this session? Anything you would like to see, or absolutely dread seeing, become the law of the land?