Deposition Tips from attorney, Robin Meadow

Deposition Tips from attorney, Robin Meadow

This blog post comes from repeat speaker, Robin Meadow of the boutique appellate firm Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP.  Robin is a former trial attorney and now a California Certified Specialist in Appellate Law.  Robin first spoke at one of our seminars in 2008 and we keep asking him to come back because of his extensive expertise and of course his popularity among our attendees.  Below you will get his tips on depositions.

There’s no better learning tool for how to take a deposition than seeing one used effectively in trial to impeach a witness.

It’s very important is to try to get a transcript that can be used effectively not just in trial but in motion papers and, by extension, in an appeal.  That means getting good question-and-answer couplets that are self-contained, succinct and to the point.  To do that, you have to be prepared to follow up lengthy answers that contain the right information buried in a lot of verbiage.  With one crucial exception:  Know when to stop, so that you don’t destroy a perfect answer by letting the witness explain it.  “One question too many” is a frequent error.

The exception to the exception:  This isn’t an appellate tip, but something that young lawyers often get wrong:  Don’t be afraid of asking a question because you don’t think you’ll like the answer.  Those are the kinds of questions you have to ask, because you need to know what the other side story is going to be.  And, once in a while, you get a pleasant surprise.  But the reason this is an exception to the exception is that if you really have exactly the right answer, you don’t want to mess with it.

Always make clear what document you’re referring to by exhibit number, Bates stamp or whatever.  Getting a great answer about “this document” isn’t very useful if “this document” was identified several pages before or wasn’t clearly identified at all.  Every piece of paper referred to in any way on the record at a deposition should be identified in some way and attached as exhibit.  That the witness may never have seen it isn’t a good reason not to identify and attach it—that might be the best reason to do so.

 

The State Bar leaves it up to the Supreme Court to decide on reducing the score on bar exam

Bar Score May be Lowered by CA Supreme Court

A few days ago we posted a blog about the possibility of the California State Bar lowering the minimum passing score on the California Bar Exam.  Now it looks like they have shifted the decision to the California Supreme Court to handle.

The California State Bar committee, which includes deans from several law schools in the state, have offered the justices a range of choices on the topic from leaving the score as is – 144 – to lowering it to 139.

A Bar commissioned study came to the conclusion that the score could be lowered to 141 and still ensure that those who have passed will have the minimum standards of competency to practice law. This is still a hotly issued debate and the California Supreme Court has not made any comment on the topic.

Read the full story from The Recorder here.

 

California Bar Committee Endorses Lowering Exam Pass Score

California Bar Committee Endorses Lowering Exam Pass-Score

Currently the score for a “pass” on the California State Bar exam is 144 but a California State Bar committee, which included deans from many California law schools, recommended that it be lowered to 135.  The Law School Counsel, which includes many California law school officials and California State Bar Examiners, also endorsed lowering the score.

135 is the most common cut score in other states.  Many deans feel that the higher pass score in California puts California test takers at a disadvantage compared to students in other states, while others argue that the higher pass score produces top-notch attorneys who are more likely to adhere to ethical guidelines.

You can read more from The Recorder here.

The Best Techniques for Studying

What I Wish I Knew When I Opened My Practice

With the California Bar Specialization Exams coming up on October 24th many attorneys are in the final stretches of studying.  During our 2015 exam prep courses Faith came across this study from American Mind.

This article discusses study techniques that work (and don’t!). You can download that here.

If you are taking a specialization exam this year all of us at Pincus Pro Ed wish you the best luck!

Ten Commandments of Specialization Bar Exam Preparation

Hanging glowing light bulb on blue background

With California certified legal specialist Exams coming this October 24th, test takers can use all the tips they can get!  This list was compiled by Certified Specialists Jack Russo of Computer Law and Athena Roussos, Attorney at Law.  Both were speakers at our recent exam prep seminar on appellate law.

If you are planning on taking one of the Legal Specialist exams, now or in the future, you can find our full offering of recorded exam prep programs here.  Also, be sure to visit that link and download our FREE copy of Exam Prep Study Tips.  This is a 2.5 hour long recording compiled from our 2015 exam prep courses.

To those taking the exam this year, best of luck from all of us at Pincus Pro Ed!

Ten Commandments of Specialization Bar Exam Preparation

1. Read and re-read the best treatises (with commitment and curiosity)

2. Use “gamification” approach to make review more fun (52 card analogy)

3. Take past exams (early and often; find a study partner to cross-critique)

4. Dialog with others about organizational approaches for different questions

5. Write and re-write essay exam answers with a view for improvement

6. Apply Occam’s Razor (as needed) to demonstrate efficiency/effectiveness

7. Add time constraints to your practice (with a view for improving further)

8. Watch as you become “well-versed” in outlining/organizing/outputting

9. Treat the 50 to 100 hours of pre-exam “work” as worth the investment

10. Reduce distraction; potentially reduce pre-exam “work” to 25 to 50 hours!

Philip Talmadge is our latest Featured Speaker!

Featured Speaker, Phil Talmadge

Philip Talmadge is our latest Featured Speaker!

Phil first spoke for us at our Advanced Appellate Roundtable in Seattle back in 2013 and then again in 2016.  As a former Washington State Supreme Court justice, Phil offers attendees great insight, which was very much appreciated by them.

Coming up, Phil will be at our 2nd Annual Appellate Conference to share his unique perspective.  Thanks, Phil for coming back to speak again and again – we all appreciate it!

Philip Talmadge, Esq.
Talmadge/Fitzpatrick/Tribe

Phil Talmadge is a former Washington Supreme Court Justice.

He is a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and the Washington State Appellate Lawyers Association.  Phil has been named Super Lawyer in Washington Law & Politics and was a Washington State Senator.

He practices exclusively in the areas of Appellate Law and Attorney Ethics.  Phil received his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from the University of Washington and has been an attorney since 1976.

Efrat Cogan is our latest Featured Speaker!

Efrat Cogan is our latest Featured Speaker!

Efrat Cogan is our latest Featured Speaker!

Effie first spoke for us at our first Appellate Law Specialist Exam Prep Course in 2013 and again in 2015.  Effie is highly experienced in appellate law and provides valuable insight for our attendees.

Recently Effie spoke at our Advanced Appellate Program in Los Angeles.  Coming up, Effie will be speaking at our Appellate Law Specialist Exam Prep program coming up in Los Angeles.

Efrat Cogan
Buchalter Nemer

Ms. Cogan is a California State Bar Certified Appellate Specialist.

Efrat M. Cogan is Senior Counsel in the firm’s Litigation and Appellate Practice Groups in Los Angeles. Ms. Cogan is certified as an Appellate Specialist by the California State Bar of Legal Specialization. Her practice areas encompass appellate, real estate and construction, copyright and unfair competition, class actions, professional liability, governmental and constitutional law.

Ms. Cogan has written “Executive Nonacquiescence: Problems of Statutory Interpretation and Separation of Powers,” 60 Southern California Law Review 1143, 1987. She has contributed to the California Municipal Law Handbook, published by the California League of Cities, and has co-authored “The ‘Empire’ Strikes Back: Effective Use of the False Claims Act” (2005).

Ms. Cogan has been selected as one of Southern California’s Super Lawyers nine times (2004-2006 and 2008-2013) and was also selected as a Southern California Super Lawyer, Corporate Counsel Edition from 2009 to 2010. She currently serves on the California State Bar’s Advisory Commission.

Ms. Cogan earned her J.D. at the University of Southern California, where she was a staff member and articles editor for the Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Practice

What I Wish I Knew When I Opened My Practice

Ever wish someone had told you this when you were starting out?  Speakers Lisa Clay and Patrick Walsh did a segment on this exact topic during our seminar last week in Chicago: Opening and Managing Your Practice: The Do’s, Don’ts and Everything In-Between.

As you know we occasionally post snippets from our seminar handout materials and wanted to share this today.

  • The importance of, and guidelines for, doing client intakes.
    • Just because a client wants me to represent them doesn’t mean I should.
    • What do I need to know in terms of their background?
    • Their history with other lawyers?
    • Are they frequent flyers/filers?
    • How are they going to pay me?
  • Conflicts Checks!
    • How do I do it?
    • What level of conflicts checks do I need conduct as a solo?
  • Overhead is EXPENSIVE!
    • Rent, insurance, lexis, phone Internet, etc.
    • It all adds up, and most of it can’t be passed on to a client
  • How important it would be to have other attorneys as back-up and resources for things like:
    • Covering me if I’m down and out
    • Subject matter consultations
    • Referrals on cases I don’t want
  • That I would have to be my own bill collector. I still suck at this.
  • About all the unpaid time I would lose being my own office, and dealing with computer issues, addressing phone problems, taking calls I don’t want, etc., etc., etc.
  • That I would have to fire clients (and they might have to fire me).
    • This requires that I have a good retainer, a standard disengagement letter and that I address liens.
  • How to keep track of expenses.
    • I use a credit card for everything I can, but I’m still terrible about making sure billable expenses get on bills, and that I don’t lose cabs, meals, etc.
  • I can’t take every case. Boundaries are so important for solos.
  • How much my opponents would try to use my status as a solo against me.
    • What it’s like to be threatened with “teams” of attorneys and be drowned in discovery by firms with 4 and 5 attorneys on a case
  • How important it is to cultivate relationships with other lawyers
  • That half of my job would be in the role of therapist/social worker… and that part of my job would be largely unpaid.

This seminar took place last Friday; however, you can still hear the full discussion on the audio version available here.

Jennifer Post named one of the 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in Los Angeles

Jennifer Post named one of the 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in Los Angeles

Congratulations to our friend Jennifer Post of Thompson Coburn, LLP, for her recognition as one of the 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in Los Angeles!

Jennifer is a long-time friend of Faith Pincus’ and a top-notch attorney.  We’re excited to see her recognized in the Los Angeles Business Journal.  You can learn more about Jennifer here.

As a Partner in the firm’s Corporate and Securities practice, Jennifer Post serves as primary outside counsel to a variety of individuals, institutions and companies, including entrepreneurs, startups and investors, as well as domestic and international public companies.

Jennifer represents companies and investors in a wide range of corporate transactions, among them mergers and acquisitions, capital raising transactions, secured lending, debt and equity restructuring and intellectual property protection.

A prolific speaker and media commentator, Jennifer was recently profiled in the California Lawyer’s M&A Roundtable. Additionally, Jennifer has presented at the Metropole Global Crowdfunding Conference, NextGen’s Entrepreneurship & Global Crowdfunding Forum, Digital Hollywood events, the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the American Bar Association, among others.

Prior to joining Thompson Coburn, Jennifer was a partner with Raines Feldman, a partner at Edwards & Angell (now Locke Lord), an international law firm, and began her career with Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault, a leading high tech and venture capital firm in Boston. She also previously founded Post Law Group, PC, a boutique corporate and securities law firm.

Goodbye Beranton Whisenant Jr. You were one of a kind.

Beranton-J.-Whisenant-Jr.-300x170

I am heartbroken to write this post.

Last Wednesday, May 23rd, Federal Prosecutor Beranton Whisenant Jr. passed away in Hollywood Beach in Florida. Beranton had just recently left Foley & Mansfield to become a federal prosecutor.

Beranton was only 37.

He spoke at every one of our litigation programs since 2013, no matter how many we had each year. When someone speaks at your programs that often, you get to know them a little and you get to respect them a lot. Beranton was one of those attorneys that was completely dedicated to creating a great presentation and handouts to go along with it. He probably didn’t have the time to do it, as a partner at a major law firm, but he did it anyway.

And just as important, he was incredibly nice, super smart, and always happy when you saw him, no matter how busy.

The attorneys who attendee our programs loved him – always writing wonderful things about him when they let us know what they thought of our course. The other speakers with whom he would share the dias also spoke very highly of him and in fact it was one of those speakers who let me know last Thursday about Beranton’s death.

I very much enjoyed working with Beranton and having him speak at our seminars.

Any time I would shoot an email around to past speakers inviting them to speak at planned, or potential, seminars, Beranton was one of the first to reply with a “sign me up… for all of them” email. And any time I asked speakers for their recommendations for other speakers I should invite – Beranton would send over a list of four to ten possible attorneys or judges for me to invite – in South Florida, Orlando, even Jacksonville – or he’d just invite them himself and introduce us.  Many of the attorneys and most of the judges who have spoken at our programs over the past few years were recommended by Beranton.

In fact, he sent over so many recommendations, and introduced me to so many people, I finally just created a special folder for the names Beranton shared with me.

Beranton even co-wrote a chapter on Opening Statements in my public speaking for attorneys book.

And he was so involved in various legal committees and groups it seemed like he knew everyone. I was looking forward to him becoming a judge one day and speaking in that capacity as well. He would have made an amazing judge.

We’ve had more than 1500 attorneys and judges speak at our programs over the past 13 years, and some of them make such a positive impression that everyone they meet has great things to say about them – – my audio recording guy, my on-site East Coast representative, the person who puts together my speaker lists and emails, and all of the speakers who interact with them, not to mention those who attended our programs as I mentioned above.

All of my staff, and most of the outside folks I use to make a seminar happen, know of and remember Beranton and all were shocked and saddened to hear about his death. Our hearts go out to his family.

An obituary can be found at this link. He is survived by his wife, Ebony, and three young children.

I don’t even know how to end this post, only to say goodbye Beranton.

You were too young to die and you were well loved by everyone in my office. I will miss you.