All Columns

Josh J.T. Byrne

A Roadmap on How Not to Be Reinstated as an Attorney

By Josh J.T. Byrne |

The Disciplinary Board is fairly clear about what it expects from attorneys seeking reinstatement. Reinstatement is generally controlled by Pennsylvania Rule of Disciplinary Enforcement 218. A suspended attorney may seek reinstatement nine months before the expiration of the suspension. A disbarred attorney must wait at least five years before seeking reinstatement.

Jeffrey Campolongo

Post-Employment Retaliation Is Actionable Under the ADEA

By Jeffrey Campolongo |

Losing a job is painfully awful. For anyone who has been fired, one of the last things you want to worry about is your former employer fighting your unemployment. Chances are, if that ­happens, you are likely going to need to hire a lawyer. The process will get prolonged. You may not prevail. The list of reasons goes on and on.

'Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools'—High Court and the Wonder Blunder

By David J. Berney |

On Feb. 22, the Supreme Court decided Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, a case that considered the interplay between the exhaustion requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title II of the American with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.

Basic Utility Needs Simply Unaffordable For Some Families

By Patrick M. Cicero |

The ability to connect and maintain utility service is essential for a household's health, safety and wellbeing. Lack of service results in eviction, loss or denial of public housing, chronic health problems, the risk of removal of one's children from the home, and a host of other equally horrific outcomes. Low-income individuals are particularly at risk of termination, and often choose between utility service and other critical needs like food, health care, medicine, transportation and child care.

The Eviction Crisis in Phila. Demands Lawyers

By Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg |

Twenty-four thousand Philadelphians were sued last year in Philadelphia's landlord-tenant court. They were often low-income, of color, mothers, facing the catastrophic consequences of eviction. They faced not only the loss of their home, but a downward spiral of chaos and poverty that losing a home often causes.

Canna Business 101: Underpowered and Oversupplied

By Steven M. Schain |

They're legalized marijuana's "dirty little secrets;" grid-crashing energy demands and glut-producing price drops.

Abraham J. Gafni

Avoiding Delay in Bifurcated Arbitration

By Abraham J. Gafni |

Bifurcation of a trial may be ordered by a court or requested by the ­litigating parties. Often, the first of the two hearings will address liability and the second, damages.

Samuel Stretton

There Are Risks When Hiring Independent Contract Lawyers

By Samuel C. Stretton |

In major litigation, my firm hires document lawyers to review documents and provide summaries. They are paid as independent contractors sometimes, and other times, if they are going to be there for a period of time, they are treated as temporary employees where taxes are taken out. Are there any ethical obligations presented?

Matthew B. Weisberg

Legal Malpractice: Expert Testimony and Causation

By Matthew B. Weisberg |

"A legal malpractice action is distinctly different from any other type of lawsuit brought in the commonwealth. A legal malpractice action is different because ... a plaintiff must prove a case within a case, since he must initially establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he would have recovered a judgment in the underlying action. ... It is only after the plaintiff proves he would have recovered a judgment in the underlying action that the plaintiff can then proceed with proof that the attorney he engaged to prosecute or defend the underlying action was negligent in the handling of the underlying action and that negligence was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's loss since it prevented the plaintiff from being properly compensated for his loss,'" according to J.W. Hall v. Nalli, No. 771 (Pa.Super. 2017) (unpublished) (quoting Kituskie v. Corbman, 714 A.2d 1027, 1030 (Pa. 1998)).

Act 13's Continued Story: Clarifying 'Robinson Township'

By Lucas Liben |

What is commonly known in Pennsylvania as Act 13 became law in February 2012, and generally served to rewrite the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act (58 Pa. C.S. Sections 2301-3504). Since its enactment, Act 13 has been the subject of significant and continuing litigation, most of which stems from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's landmark decision in Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013).

Matthew T. Mangino

US Supreme Court Limits Pennsylvania's 'No-Impeachment' Rule

By Matthew T. Mangino |

An age-old Pennsylvania legal tradition—the inability to upset a jury verdict regardless of the content or subject matter of a jury's internal deliberations—has been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Donald Trump.

America Must Reconsider Its Immigration Policy With Compassion

By Kay Kyungsun Yu |

During his presidential campaign, now-President Donald J. Trump promised to deploy deportation forces to remove all undocumented ­immigrants from this country. Five days after his inauguration, on Jan. 25, Trump issued Executive Order 13768 to deliver on his promise. That same day, Trump issued Executive Order 13767, which purported to fulfill his promise to "build the wall" along the southern border of the United States. Executive Order 13769 followed on Jan. 27, which instituted a travel ban halting all refugee admissions and temporarily stopping travel from seven majority Muslim countries.

Cracking Confidence—What It Is and How to Have It

By Dena Lefkowitz |

In "The Confidence Code," authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman attempt to glean the mysteries of self-confidence. The subtitle, "The Science and Art of ­Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know" nails more specifically the ­mission of the book to apply studies, research and data to assessing whether or not a ­confidence gap exists between women and men and what to do about it.

High Court to Hear Potential Landmark Case About Patent Venue

By Lawrence E. Ashery |

In a patent litigation suit, is venue ­established where the corporation was incorporated or where the corporation does business? This question, which currently raises one of the thorniest issues in patent law, will capture the spotlight this month in oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The team at McGuireWoods. (Photo by Laura Mares)

The Top Lateral Hires of 2016

By Lizzy Mclellan |

Law firms in 2016 looked to scoop up practice groups or industry-specific brain power in making their lateral moves.

Keep Things Short and To the Point: Marketing in Minutes

By Stacy West Clark |

"I don't have time to market." That sentence is said by lawyers every day. I have been counseling lawyers on how to effectively market for over 30 years and I am here to tell you the contrary is true.

James W. Cushing

Considering Retirement While Paying Child Support

By James W. Cushing |

It is becoming increasingly common for people who are approaching traditional retirement age—or are already retired—to have children who are minors. As a result, the prospect of a having to consider an ongoing child support obligation when considering retirement is becoming more common.

Fiduciary Duties of Nonprofit Directors

By June Swanson |

Many experienced lawyers and successful business persons often second guess their roles as directors of nonprofit organizations. Although most nonprofit directors serve without compensation, with respect to operational matters, they are increasingly held to the same standard as directors of for-profit entities. However, directors of charitable organizations must also address unique questions.

The team at McGuireWoods. (Photo by Laura Mares)

Top Laterals/New Partners

Read about legal field growth, a millenial's perspective on lateral moves and who made it on The Legal's top laterals list for 2016.

New Partners

More Notable Laterals: The Runners-Up

By Zack Needles |

Aside from the list of top lateral hires, a number of attorneys made moves worth noting in 2016.

Timothy Lynch of Offit Kurman

Legal Field Growth Is Rooted in Lateral Recruitment

By Timothy Lynch |

Will Rogers once said, "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." He was not talking about the legal industry, but his humorous quip is something that law firm leaders should be mindful of when they are developing their strategic plans because most industry analysts agree that the demand for legal services as a whole, which has been flat for several years, does not appear to be improving anytime soon.

Jillian Vukson of Goldberg, Miller & Rubin

Swipe Right! Lateral Moves: A Millennial Perspective

By Jillian Vukson |

The recent decline in law school enrollment has created an increased demand for lateral hiring, potentially giving millennials more bargaining power. Millennials considering a lateral transfer bring a whole new perspective to job changes. Law firms looking to boost their millennial ranks through lateral recruiting should be mindful of this perspective when approaching the bargaining table.

Post-ACA, Employer Obligation May Stand for Pregnant, Nursing Women

By Megan B. Center 
and Mary M. McCudden |

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a source of contention for many Americans since former President Barack Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010, see Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: The Public's Views on the ACA. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, (Jan. 6). Specifically, one of the most controversial requirements of the legislation for employers and employees alike has been the requirement that employer-sponsored health insurance plans provide certain women's health services including contraceptive, prenatal, and ­postpartum coverage at no cost to the insured.

Penny Conly Ellison

Why Is Pennsylvania in the Bottom Tier for Animal Protection?

By Penny Conly Ellison |

We are 44! We are 44! There's a reason a cheer like that never caught on. Besides the size of the foam fingers you would need, it's nothing to brag about. The Animal Legal Defense Fund releases an annual report ranking states and territories by the strength of their animal protection laws. In 2014, I wrote an article in this space noting that Pennsylvania was ranked 41st and discussing all of the bills then pending in Harrisburg that might change that. Those bills included prohibiting tethering dogs outside in extreme weather, a bill raising offense levels and penalties for abuse of dogs and cats, a bill providing for the adoption of an animal abuser registry and the ubiquitous ban on live pigeon shoots. None of those bills saw the light of day and Pennsylvania is again at the bottom of the heap and dropping, ranking 44th, in the ALDF rankings for 2016.

Risks and Best Practices When Recording Classroom Lectures

By Dina Leytes and Christine E. Weller |

Schoolwide policies that address digital recording of classroom lectures are getting a closer look at some higher education institutions after a recent incident at Orange Coast College (OCC) in Costa Mesa, California, where a student was initially suspended for secretly recording a video of his professor's strongly worded criticism of then President-elect Donald J. Trump during class. After the video was posted online by the OCC College Republicans, the professor received a flood of critical emails and social media posts from individuals who disagreed with her political views. Some of these were violent and threatening, causing the professor to hand over the class to a substitute and temporarily flee her home. OCC found that the student violated a broadly worded campus policy against unauthorized recording and use of an electronic device in the classroom and suspended him. The student then appealed and the suspension was lifted. With free speech a highly charged issue on campuses, colleges and universities may find this a fitting time to revisit internal policies that address the recording of classroom lectures. This article discusses some issues that a higher education institution may consider with respect to its classroom recording policy, taking into account copyright law, privacy laws and regulations that protect various forms of sensitive information, reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities, and the broader context in which such a policy will be implemented. It will also consider specific classroom recording policies at a public and a private institution of higher education.

Divorce decree, gavel and folder shot on warm wooden surface

The Date of Separation Is Key in Divorce Proceedings

By Melissa Iacobucci |

The Pennsylvania Divorce Code, in late 2016, was modified to reduce the waiting period for a unilateral no-fault divorce from two years to one. As such, the parties must be separated for one year before one of the parties can proceed with obtaining a no-fault divorce. When does the clock start for purposes of determining the date of separation?

Daniel E. Cummins

The 'Mudano' Rule: Conflicting Expert Opinions Often Prove Fatal

By Daniel E. Cummins |

A plaintiff's personal injury case can go off the rails when the plaintiff's medical experts offer opinions that conflict with one another. This may typically arise where one expert for the plaintiff opines that a particular injury was caused by the subject accident and yet another expert questions whether the injury is indeed related.

Industrial plant at night

Cooperative Federalism and the Shifting State of Regulation

By Kathleen M. Kline |

Among the numerous goals announced thus far by President Donald Trump and his advisers is the significant reduction of administrative regulations that negatively impact states' rights and make some innovation and corporate business practices more costly and time consuming.

Francis J. Lawall

Tribal Sovereign Immunity Defeats Bankruptcy Jurisdiction

By Francis J. Lawall 
and Veronica A. Torrejón |

Jurisdictional issues under the Bankruptcy Code can often ­create a procedural morass for even the most seasoned practitioner. When tribal ­sovereign immunity is thrown into the mix, the analysis gets even harder.

Giving False Information on Important Documents Could Lead to Discipline

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am an older attorney and I had a problem with an application I filed for a mortgage. Something was incorrect in the application. I believe they are going to file a complaint with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Since this has nothing to do with the practice of law, but was my personal home mortgage, is there any misconduct here by me that would violate the Rules of Professional Conduct?

Peter F. Vaira

Why State Prosecutors Lag Behind Feds in Corruption Cases

By Peter F. Vaira |

In November of 2017, a new district ­attorney will be elected in Philadelphia. In January of this year, a new Attorney General of Pennsylvania took office. Will these new public officials, elected to two of the most important law enforcement offices in the commonwealth, bring a fresh effort to investigating and prosecuting political corruption cases? Or will the major cases be filed once again by the federal prosecutors? Despite the good faith efforts by the newly elected prosecutors, many jaundiced observers of the state and local government of Pennsylvania would say they will not produce substantial results in political ­corruption or white collar cases utilizing current laws and procedures. Crucial changes must be made in state procedures for there to be any noticeable progress.

Benjamin H. McCoy of FoxRothschild

FCPA Issues in Forefront for Small- to Medium-Sized Businesses

By Benjamin H. McCoy |

In 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) aggressively enforced the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to the tune of over $2 billion in fines. Going forward, it is widely predicted that the new administration's DOJ will build on its 2016 success and continue the trend of aggressive FCPA prosecution. In addition, ­resolutions are expected in many ­pre-existing ­enforcement actions against many corporate heavyweights.

William A. Stock

Is 2017 the Last Year of the H-1B Lottery for Professional Visas?

By William A. Stock |

The continued growth of the economy, coupled with a lack of any meaningful business immigration reform, suggests that the perpetually oversubscribed H-1B quota will be exhausted for the next federal fiscal year (FY 2018) within the first days of the filing period, which begins April 3. At the same time, the current ­administration signaled during the campaign that it would be seeking reforms of the H-1B visa program, and since the election, several bills have been introduced to increase wage levels, give preference for H-1B visas to certain professionals, and to impose recruiting requirements on prospective H-1B employers. These changes are meant to lower demand for the H-1B visas, particularly among technology outsourcing companies that file significant numbers of H-1B petitions each year.

Mass Tort v. Individual Injury Cases: A Learning Experience

By Emily B. Ashe |

Having started my career working primarily on mass torts, dipping my toes into the world of individual injury cases (a one-off case as I like to call it) has been quite the learning experience. Ironically, a couple of years ago, in 2015, I wrote an article regarding the special attention needed to effectively represent mass tort clients. Little did I know that I would soon learn the intricacies of an individual case and the different, yet equally demanding, attention required for this new (to me) type of case.

Why Consumers May Take a Bit More Comfort in Writing That Yelp Review

By Alexander Ziccardi |

On Dec. 14, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA). Dubbed by some as the "Right to Yelp Bill," the CRFA protects consumers who would like to post online reviews of goods and services by preventing businesses from silencing consumer critics through nondisparagement agreements.

Financial Experts: Finding the Right Fit

By Colleen Vallen |

The financial aspects of legal matters are often considerably important to lawyers and their clients. As such, lawyers frequently find themselves working with financial experts. Selecting a suitable expert and effectively working with that expert is an important skill for lawyers.

Alan Nochumson

Superior Court Strikes Improperly Obtained Lis Pendens

By Alan Nochumson |

If you practice real estate law in Pennsylvania, it is not too uncommon for you to receive a frantic call from a client indicating a deal to purchase real estate is falling apart through no fault of its own. During that call, you would then ­discuss whether the client wishes to either seek a refund of any monies being held in escrow at the time on account of the agreement of sale and possibly monetary ­damages as a result of the alleged breach of the agreement of sale or specifically enforce that agreement of sale by ­compelling the seller to sell the property to it. If the client elects to force a sale of the property, it is typically not sufficient for the client to simply sue the seller for such ­specific ­performance of the agreement of sale.

Are False Public Statements by (Inactive) Lawyers Misconduct?

By Ellen C. Brotman |

Less than two weeks before this ­column was scheduled to be published, I fulfilled a career-long dream of mine and opened my own firm: Brotman Law. I planned to write this, my very first column as a solo practitioner, on the practical and ethical issues that I had encountered on the path to solo practice. But then, as has been happening quite often lately, I got distracted by current events.

Policy of Not Commenting on Pending Litigation Is Misguided

By Wayne Pollock |

I am willing to bet that within the past day or two, you've read a news article about a lawsuit involving some type of organization, be it a corporation, LLC, nonprofit or government entity. I am further willing to bet that within the past week's worth of those articles, you've come across a statement by the author of the article or a representative of one of the parties to a lawsuit that said something about one of the parties declining comment, "citing the pending litigation."

New Rules Pose Hurdles for Disability Claimants

By Joseph B. Silver |

Over the course of the past few months (and prior to the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump) the Social Security Administration (SSA) proposed and finalized several new agency rules and regulations that directly affect Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) practices.

Sam Stretton

Rule 1.7 Prohibits Concurrent Conflicts of Interest

By Samuel C. Stretton |

Can a lawyer represent someone in litigation when the other side is represented by a relative or a spouse?

Young Hispanic businesswoman sitting in a meeting room with some of her colleagues

Effective Client Counseling as a Younger Attorney

By Charlene A. Barker |

In fact, counseling is part and parcel of effective legal representation. This is particularly true in the area of ­employment law where the relationship between employer and employee is fraught with varied legal and interpersonal challenges.

U.S. Supreme Court building

Supreme Court Considers Cross-Border Jurisdictional Issues

By Stephen A. Miller 
and William A. Lesser |

At a recent oral argument, Justice Elena Kagan described the ­U.S.-Mexico border as a jurisdictional "no-man's land." The Supreme Court confronted those jurisdictional limits in Hernández v. Mesa, a case arising from the fatal shooting of a Mexican teenager (Sergio Hernández) by a U.S. border patrol agent; the American officer shot from a position in the United States and wounded Hernández at a location across the border in Mexico.

Frank Kosir

Updates in Pennsylvania Real Estate Law

By Frank Kosir Jr. |

In recent months, Pennsylvania courts have decided several important cases that reaffirm property ownership rights, further clarify how real estate transfer taxes are to be paid and confirm that a spouse who is not the property owner is not affected by a mechanics' lien claim.