“Disaster Proof Your Practice” – A Free State Bar CLE seminar

In the course of preparing and updating the cybersecurity paper for law firms that I present periodically, I have run across a lot of good information about how law firms should “disaster-proof” their practices, since a cybersecurity breach and a natural disaster (fire, ice storm, etc.) can have many of the same effects on a law firm, and require the same safeguards.

So I wanted to flag that the State Bar of Texas will host a free 4.25 hour CLE event for solo and small firm practitioners on March 27th, 2019 from 12:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Texas A&M – Texarkana. The program will prepare you for the many types of disasters that could affect your law practice and how best to handle them. I highly, highly recommend a course like this, because disaster-proofing is not hard to do – you just need to understand why it is important, and how to do it.

Topics include:

  • State Bar of Texas Update
  • Developing a Disaster Plan
  • Law Practice Management
  • Technology Short Cuts for Solos
  • How to Handle Your Disaster Insurance Claim
  • Ethically Closing or Selling a Law Practice

For more information or to register, go to http://www.texasbarcle.com/CLE/AABuy0.asp?lID=17459&sProductType=EV

A moment of personal privilege about the location of the event at A&M – Texarkana.

When I was an undergraduate at East Texas State University in Commerce in the early ’80s, ETSU had a satellite campus at Texarkana – which become A&M – Texarkana when ETSU joined the A&M System in 1996.

In the spring of 1984, the university was giving Forbes publisher Malcolm Forbes an honorary doctorate in Texarkana. I was the student government representative on the university’s honorary doctorate committee, so I borrowed my history professor’s car to make the trek to Texarkana for the ceremony in order to meet Mr. Forbes. The reason I was interested in him was that at the time Mr. Forbes was doing some articles in magazines about what he believed constituted good writing. They’re still worth a read today but this is the only one I’ve been able find. People generally were interested in Mr. Forbes for other reasons in those days, but those were the Years of Unfortunate Choices for the kid, so that was why I was. (No, I had not yet grown the mustache – I was working up to that Worst Of All Personal Decisions which would occur the next year).

But back to the subject of writing, in one of them that I cannot now find anywhere, Mr. Forbes said something about writing that I’ve never forgotten.

He recommended that writers treat words like they were dollar bills – don’t use a word unless you had to. Okay, when you stop rolling on the floor laughing that I of all people am quoting that as good advice, stop and think about what a useful mental exercise it is during the editing process. It’s not unlike Marie Kondo’s tidying mantra that any object that doesn’t “spark joy” should be discarded (after being thanked, of course). For someone that makes their living in a venue that has page limits, and in which the wise practitioner always strives to make briefing shorter, that’s always stuck with me. Don’t use a word unless you must.

But do consider the seminar, or look for something similar in your jurisdiction. It’s well worth your time.

New EDTX District Judge Nominee

President Trump’s first EDTX judicial nominee for the new Congress is Sean D. Jordan of Austin. Mr. Jordan is currently in private practice in Austin, and was formerly the principal deputy solicitor general in the Office of the Solicitor General of Texas. At one point prior to that he jumped out of airplanes for a living with the 82nd Airborne.

My task list’s “year in review” report

For those of you that are like me and enjoy having a task list to prod you along, today’s email from my task list program ToDoist was an interesting analysis of how I work. According to it:

  • I completed 5,180 tasks in 2018 – but that’s 276 less tasks than 2017. That averages about 14 tasks a day – except that my weekday daily acceptable minimum is 15 and my daily target is 20. (As I did determine that this includes weekends that indicates that I am either more productive than I though or I have less of a life than even I had feared)

  • My most productive months were January-March and October, which makes sense since they preceded or followed trials – when I was able to check off a lot of tasks. (October followed three months of trial or heavy pretrial, and some tasks backed up. I was informed I have kids, for example).

  • It appears I get the most done on Mondays, and Fridays are nearly as unproductive as Saturdays. Sundays I usually get a lot done around the house. See “kids” supra.

Finally, it appears I have an interesting two hour cycle of getting things done during the morning, then I am at peak efficiency at 5pm (this shows graphically just how crazy a lawyer’s life gets around COB every day), with a curtain call at around 10. (Yes, I spend quality time with my to do list before bedtime. Is that so wrong?)

Anyway, I thought this provided some interesting insights into how I work. You might see if your task list program provides some similar form of tracking to see if you can improve your productivity.

Source Code Review

Protective orders are often entered in civil cases to protect confidential information from public disclosure. The more complex the case, the more complex the orders become, with varying levels of protection depending on the type of information, often culminating with near clean-room procedures for source code.

Such procedures usually begin with the provisions in a court’s standing protective order, but are often modified by the parties to reflect particular needs or concerns in a particular case. Only occasionally, as here, do the parties need to refer a dispute over a particular provision for resolution by the court, but when it occurs it’s informative to see what the dispute was and how the Court resolved it.

EDTX Court Status During Shutdown

Chief Judge Gilstrap has previously issued a general order staying all civil actions pending in the Eastern District of Texas in which the United States or an agency, corporation, officer or employee of the United States is a party and that party is represented of record by the United States Attorney (or an Assistant United States Attorney in light of the DOJ’s temporary lack of staff and funding. Effective close of business today a second general order will go into effect deeming all employees within the EDTX including the District and Magistrate Courts and their personnel, the Bankruptcy Court and its personnel, the District Clerk’s office, staff attorneys, court interpreters and coordinator, court reporters and the United States Probation Office, as essential to carry out and support the constitutionally required judicial functions of the Court. Accordingly, all employees will be required to report to work for regular duties and hours unless otherwise instructed. Employees who are off work for any reason will be placed on furlough status for whatever period of time they are not working. The General Services Administration, United States Marshals Service and all courthouse protective services and maintenance contractors are also required to maintain all functions necessary for the continued operation and safety of the courthouses and personnel within the District.

Deposition Location/Motions for Reconsideration

Fair warning – my January 2019 celebrity crushes are Jaylon Smith and Marie Kondo, so you may be seeing somewhat strained metaphorical references to both. I think that Marie Kondo would be terribly frustrated by civil litigation because orders often spark joy only in part. In cases like this one, it may be because the court is addressing both a substantive issue – do I get what I’m asking for – and a procedural one – did I ask for it correctly? So let’s see if the request for overseas depositions sparked joy for the Court.

Indefiniteness – the NASCAR of court holdings

Maybe it’s just me, but reading Markman rulings is sometimes a little like watching NASCAR. I’m only interested in the crashes. There are no doubt significant things happening when the Court adopts one party’s construction over the other, but without familiarity with the case it’s not immediately obvious how damaging the holding is. But as this case shows, to paraphrase Rob Lowe’s observation in a somewhat different context in About Last Night… with indefiniteness … you know. You know?