The district elections for the Board of Governors are now over, says she-who-managed-the-process with a sigh of relief. Rest assured that every ballot was counted, and no chads were hung. Here’s a little information about our three new governors, plus a reminder about WSBA’s next president, and a heads-up about some key leadership decisions that will be made at the May BOG meeting.
1. James Andrus | District 9
James Andrus, our new District 9 governor, is a corporate lawyer with K&L Gates and lives in Newcastle. He graduated from West Point and the University of Texas School of Law. James has been actively involved in KCBA, WSBA, and the Loren Miller Bar Association, serves as a mentor to lawyers and youth, and is a board member of Pioneer Human Services. In his ballot statement, he remarked, “We enjoy a profession that many of us dreamed about as children. How we address the critical issues facing WSBA will have a lasting impact on our ability to live our dreams.” Read more
If you daydream about depositions, it’s probably about that crucial moment where the witness makes that fatal admission that undermines his whole case: “So you ADMIT that this is your signature on the key document?” “YES!” (witness dissolves into sobbing, thoroughly cowed by your impressive lawyering).
But those moments are rare. Real litigation rarely resembles our wildest dreams; it actually takes significant skill to craft a line of questioning that gets you to that fateful admission. How do you do it?
This is where cross-examination and closed-ended, or leading, questions come in. Some lawyers love them, some lawyers hate them. Leading questions can be used to obtain party or expert admissions. They can be used to test your theories of the case. They are also a great way to test lines of questioning for trial. Maybe the witness will not say what you want, but it’s better to know now during discovery than to learn this at trial!
Craft a Case Theory
The process of getting great admissions or testing your theories begins during preparation, or what I call, “Dep Prep” The first step is to craft a case theory. Before you can ask questions designed to elicit a statement that is key to your case, you have to understand your theory of the case. You must also take the time to evaluate, to the extent you can, your opponent’s case theories. What theories does he or she appear to be making in correspondence, in oral argument, or in briefing? Read more
How is “Parent” defined under the law?
This is the question before SCOTUS in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. At issue is a conflict between state adoption law and federal law under the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”). 25 U.S.C. § 1901. ICWA was passed by Congress in 1978 to counteract negative adoption practices that failed to address the unique sociopolitical status of Native American children. See, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 731 S.E.2d 550 (2012) (South Carolina Chief Justice Toal discusses the history and purpose of ICWA.)
Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl — Facts
This case a “hot topic” for Washington attorneys because it could have easily come from Washington, given that we have 29 federally recognized tribes in our state. Baby Veronica was born after her American Indian father and a mixed-race mother broke off their engagement and cut off communications. Her father was deployed to Iraq while the mother began adoption proceedings. Her father was not informed of the birth or of the adoption proceedings, but had essentially given up his parental rights to the mother. See, e.g., here, here, or here . The Court has been asked to determine if the father can invoke ICWA to block the adoption, and if so, does he meet the definition of a parent under ICWA which does not include a putative father that has lapsed on his parental rights.
Ruling? SCOTUS should uphold the rights of the Father
Yes, a non-custodial parent should be allowed to block the adoption under ICWA. Read more
A computer has 2 competing purposes: a mind organizer and a mind eraser. The tool we use to refine our thoughts in precision crafted legalese is married to the ultimate implement of distraction – the internet. There are few things as mindless in life as surfing the internet. It’s a semi-passive act. While we do the clicking, the choices are fairly narrow with highlighted keywords, pictures, or video serving as our options. It’s a dissociative experience where most people report “losing track of time” along the way.
I’ve worked in treatment with lawyers who have frittered away hours following the stock market, reading up on gossip, watching videos, or chatting on Facebook as opposed to doing their work. No one’s talking about how much fun it is.
There are no perfect solutions to this inconvenient pairing. Getting your work done requires being able to write briefs on Microsoft Word or to use Outlook to check your schedule and email. At the same time, the internet has become how we learn about things, buy plane tickets, pay our bills, make plans with friends, get directions, etc.
4 Tips to Avoid Procrastination
- Use an egg timer! This way you are being held accountable for the time spent on online distractions. Read more
When it’s time to hang up your — uh, well, whatever it is lawyers hang up upon retiring — you won’t want to have missed out on any of the opportunities our profession offers. Regardless of what type of practice you craft for yourself, there are a few fundamental lawyerly skills worth exercising, even if it’s just once. Below are 5 career accomplishments every lawyer should consider putting on his or her bucket list. Although new lawyers may have more time and flexibility to achieve these goals, even we older practitioners can weave these into our careers with a little resourcefulness.
1. Try a case
Remember that epic movie scene of the lawyer staring at court opinions on a computer screen? Or the hit TV series about the daily adventures of the world’s greatest patent attorney? Of course not. When non-lawyers think of lawyers they think of one thing: trials. Never mind that in reality only a small percentage of legal work involves going to trial, and even litigators settle the vast majority of their cases long before they’re in sight of the courthouse. Read more