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675 Massachusetts Avenue

The new year brings new opportunities and new staff to our office at 675 Massachusetts Avenue.

We’ve been beta-testing a deposition transcription software that will improve quality control and work-load management.

Late last year we welcomed Aliyah Gary to our staff.

With a decade of experience as a paralegal and legal secretary in greater Boston, Aliyah is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts where she majored in pre-law studies with a minor in journalism.

Aliyah is very much engaged in her Cambridge community. She’s volunteered as a first-time home buyer instructor for the City of Cambridge and served as chairperson of the Cambridge Arts Council Advisory Board.

Two weeks ago we also welcomed Jiayi Xu as our first-ever integrated marketing communications intern.

Jiayi is a native of the People’s Republic of China, and received her undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Iowa. Currently enrolled in graduate school at Emerson College, Jiayi is responsible for crafting our social media message.

This third issue of Amicus Advocati is our contrarian contribution to Valentine’s Day.

Love, marriage, family, custody battles, and errant family court judges are just some of the things we are covering in this issue because as you know, while February 14 is dedicated to love, on February 15 it’s back to work.

Again (as I mentioned in earlier issues of Amicus Advocati), if you are a member of an affinity bar association or engaged in any volunteer community service work and could benefit from the use of our conference room, then get in touch.

Buck Ewing

In TechNews we share stories that pique our interest.

Here is where we share the stuff and stories that interest us as providers of audio and video digital court reporting and transcription services. We’re always keeping an eye out for innovations that benefit us all.

Whether networking, partnering, or communicating, our primary interest is bringing the very best of technology to the practice of law.

As we continue to grow our business, TechNews is where we share the latest trends, ideas and cultural game changers with you, our customers.

Think of TechNews as news-you-can-use.

Are you a blogger with a tech focus, either writing about new products or about the impact of technology on the practice of law? Then send us a link to your site.

We also welcome your recommendations for technology news to share with our readers.

Prest-O Change-O!

Acrolaw blogger Rick Borstein offers-up a nifty how-to on removing detritus like staple marks, fax headers, and punch-hole marks in a scanned document.

Seek and ye shall find.

Law marketing blogger Larry Bodine stresses the importance of your online presence in “today’s digital age”.

Make some time for time management.

Jim Calloway’s expertise on legal technology is familiar to anyone who reads Law Practice Management and Legal Technology News (and if you don’t read them, you should). In a recent Digital Edge podcast, Calloway, his colleague Sharon Nelson, and consultant Meg Spencer Dixon discuss time management for lawyers.

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Not all blogs are created equal. The number of active blogs on law grows every day.

By one estimate, there are over 5,300 active blogs, podcasts, and newsfeeds on lawyers and the practice of law. 

In BlogSay, we cull content from the blogosphere on legal culture, recent legal decisions, the practice of law, and the life of the lawyer. In BlogSay we share news-that-can-amuse, as well as educate, irritate, outrage, and maybe even inspire. 

Have you read a noteworthy blog and want to share it with your colleagues? Send us an email.

Shred Carpet.

Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society blogger Philip Greenspun’s review of the documentary film, Divorce Corp. shows that while Greenspun might not want to give up his day job as a computer scientist and internet entrepreneur, his account of the post-screening conversation among Massachusetts divorce litigators, mediators, and battle-scarred petitioners and respondents is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall response to the film’s criticism of the $50 billion dollar-a-year “divorce industry”.

That said, in this isssue of Amicus Advocati our Lawyer’s on the Silver Screen reviews a screwball comedy about divorce, Intolerable Cruelty (See Below).

Beauty is a beast.

Online dating is a 2 billion dollar-plus industry with room to grow. This Freakonomics Radio podcast covers such topics as “I wanted to see if there was a lower limit to how awful a person could be before men would stop messaging her”, and what can a Stanford labor economist recommend to improve your profile.

As for the first topic, a stunningly good-looking 25-year-old woman who is a money-grubbing racist can count on about 1,000 replies to her profile, and in case you’re wondering about topic number two, the Stanford economist points out that all things considered, being a lawyer, a doctor, or a firefighter improves your response rate. 

For the dark(er) side of online dating, GigaLaw blogger Doug Isenberg links us to a Wall Street Journal article detailing some online dating stories about bank accounts drained in the name of love.

Sturm und Drang and Love and Taxes.

The blog of the American Constitution Society reported on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s call “to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages.”

Holder’s announcement comes about six months after the Internal Revenue Service announced new rules on the filing status of same-sex couples.

And for those contemplating untying the tie that binds, Forbes blogger Cameron Keng adds: “divorce causes tax audits”.

With friend requests like that, who needs frenemies?

Wall Street Journal law blogger Jacob Gersham brought this case to our attention. It seems that hell hath no fury like an ex parte social-media communication from a circuit-judge-in-a-divorce-proceeding scorned. 

And not to be outdone in the “What-God-has-brought-together-let-not-Facebook-put-asunder” category of how social media is changing our lives, GigaLaw blogger Doug Isenberg linked us to this story from ABC News reporting that “a third of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word ‘Facebook’”.

You don’t get what you might have to pay for. 

From Kirk C. Jenkins and the Appellate Strategist blog, a recent case before the Illinois Supreme Court asks, “Does voluntarily dismissing a custody petition mean you get hit with the psychologist’s fees?” Here is a link to the Illinois Appellate Court judgement filed in 2013 in re Marriage of Robert N. Tiballi, Petitioner-Appellant, and Sheila J.Ilagan Tiballi, Respondent-Appellee.

Can’t we all just get along (and agree on banning the chicken dance from wedding receptions)? 

Concurring Opinions guest blogger and law professor Aníbal Rosario Lebrón writes about his own research and advocacy on the topic of “marriage deregulation” in light of Oklahoma legislator Mike Turner’s introduction of legislation to abolish marriage in the Sooner State. Turner’s proposal comes in response to a federal judge’s ruling that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Telling Tales 1.

From Josh Hoch at the MWI Divorce Mediation blog, a list of 10 helpful books about divorce for parents and children that any family lawyer might want to share with their client. 

Telling Tales 2.

From Attorney Jonathan Fields a link to a Huffington Post blurb on weird divorce stories from around the world.

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Lawyers on the Silver Screen is our review and recommendation of a movie on lawyers and the practice  of law.

While the documentary film Divorce Corp. is making the rounds as of late (see BlogSay in this issue), our recommendation in this issue is a screwball comedy about a lawyer who falls in love.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003) is the story of divorce lawyer Miles Massey (George Clooney).

Miles is rich, and he got that way because his “Massey pre-nup” is the iron-clad, sine qua non of pre-nup agreements.

In fact, the Massey pre-nup is so good  that “They spend an entire semester on it at Harvard Law.”

“Only love is on the mind, if a Massey is signed” is how Miles Massey’s junior associate sums up the cultural significance of  Massey’s contribution to family law.

As a leader in the National Organization of Matrimonial Attorneys, Nationally (N.O.M.A.N.), Miles is the good-looking poster-boy of an organization that proudly proclaims, “Let N.O.M.A.N. put asunder!”

Miles Massey has it all – two Mercedes-Benz’s, a cabin in Aspen and a “guy who waxes my jet.” But what he doesn’t have is faith in love, and his experience as a divorce lawyer leads to his conclusion that marriage  is “struggle and challenge and ultimate destruction of your opponents – that’s life.”

For Massey, the more time he spends whitening his teeth, the more the stark reality and horrific image of  his unmarried, yellowed, crooked, snarly, and long-in-the-tooth managing partner comes to the fore – a man who gleefully itemizes the  billable hours and summary judgments garnered by Miles that make the firm of Massey, Myerson, Sloan and Gurofnick the only game in town.

That is until Marilyn Hamilton Rexroth (Katherine Zeta-Jones) enters the courtroom and Massey falls hard and fast for a woman who sees Massey’s client (her soon-to-be ex-husband) as her “passport to wealth, independence, and freedom.”

Directed by Joel Coen and written by a team of writers including Coen and his brother Ethan, Intolerable Cruelty has so much clever dialogue, it’s hard to resist spoiling the movie for anyone who’s yet to see it.

In one scene, courtroom etiquette is reduced to a comic absurdity in a trialogue that puts Abbott and Costello’s dialogue “Who’s on First” to shame.

The testimony of Heinz the Baron Kraus von Espy, concierge at Les Pantaloons Rouge in the Swiss Canton of Uri is made all the more comical when Massey requests a  read-back from the court reporter.

And Massey’s  junior associate’s attempt to order a healthy salad at a greasy spoon is another gem of comedic writing.

Intolerable Cruelty succeeds because a brilliant script is put in the hands of some very talented actors including Edward Hermann, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer, and Geoffrey Rush (who’s initial appearance in the film is nothing less than a clever parody of the popular late 1960s television show Love American Style). 

In the end, what makes Intolerable Cruelty a good movie is  that for better or worse, love does conquer all.

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Leo Cullum, The New Yorker, 1999

Amicus Advocati is read by over 1,000 lawyers and paralegals in Massachusetts.

In our commitment to deliver state-of-the-art digital court reporting technology to lawyers, one thing remains constant: the importance of the expert witness in pre-trial discovery.

The expert witness can make or break a case. Their expertise is a key component in litigation.

If you know an expert witness we can profile in Amicus Advocati, or if you have something useful or compelling to share about your experience in working with (or against) an expert witness, drop us a line.

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A roadside oxymoron

Know ifs, ands, or buts?

According to the Massachusetts Bar Association, “Among the most challenging skills for a new lawyer is the art of contract drafting and persuasive writing.” Are you a grammarian bar none? Are you a master of the contract language universe? Contact us with your own tried and true rules on legal writing and we’ll give you a forum to reach hundreds of young lawyers who’ll benefit from your help!

For now, two essays by Lowering the Bar blogger Kevin Underhill: “If Great Literary Works Had Been Written by Lawyers (Part 1 and Part 2)”. While not exactly “brand new” (they were first published in 1999 and 2000), age doesn’t matter when you’re a classic.

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Photo Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 1958

The Los Angeles County Courthouse was completed in 1958. For a quarter-century Los Angeles County had no dedicated courthouse structure after the previous courthouse was substantially damaged in the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake.

Conceived as part of the 1947 Civic Center Master Plan, the mid-century design of the courthouse is devoid of exterior architectural detail but noteworthy for its terra cotta relief sculptures representing Truth, Law, and Justice by sculptor Donal Hord, and a terra cotta sculptural grouping by sculptor Albert Stewart representing the Judeo-Christian heritage, the Magna Carta, and the Declaration of Independence.

The dearth of adornment continues into the entrance lobbies with interior columns clad in blue-green mosaic tile.

Designed to last 250 years (according to its architects), the courthouse was part of the urban renewal transformation of Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill.

In 2002, the courthouse was named in honor of Judge Stanley Mosk, a justice on the California Supreme Court and previous Attorney General of California.

From exterior shots of the courthouse on television’s Perry Mason, to the site of the double-murder trial of O.J. Simspon, the courthouse is an iconic cultural representation of law and justice.

In 1979 the courthouse was the scene of Marvin v. Marvin, commonly referred to as the “palimony” case.

In 1972 Michelle Triola Marvin sued her ex-companion, Academy Award winning actor Lee Marvin after the actor stopped making $800 per month voluntary payments to her after he ended their live-in relationship in 1970.

Because California did not recognize common-law marriage, the trial court granted Lee Marvin’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and denied Michelle Marvin’s motion to amend her complaint.

The California Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision reasoning that Michelle Marvin’s relationship with the actor had no standing in any California court because the relationship was based on sex.

A subsequent appeal to the California Supreme Court in 1976 set a precedent in the state (and the nation) when the court upheld the right of unmarried persons (in a state that did not recognize common law marriage) to sue for property division when the relationship ended.

The California Supreme Court ruled that the lower courts were in error when it denied Michelle Triola Marvin’s motion to amend her complaint.

In an 11-week trial in 1979, Superior Court Judge Arthur Marshall heard testimony from both Marvins and from friends and acquaintances including actors, gossip columnists, agents, studio executives, and stuntmen.

In his ruling, Marshall rejected Michelle Martin’s claim, but awarded her an “equitable remedy” of $104,000, reasoning that Lee Marvin should rightly pay “so that she may have the economic means to re-educate herself and to learn new employable skills.”

Marshall’s award was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 1981. The court ruled that there was no basis in law for the award.

The significance of the Marvin case is that the California Supreme Court acknowledged that unmarried couples were no longer stigmatized regarding their relationship and had a right to sue regarding any expressed or implicit contract between lovers.

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A Pre-Nuptial Signing Video is a video recording of the prenuptial agreement reading and its subsequent signing by both the bride-to-be and the groom, so there are no questions as to the agreement’s terms.

Video recording of a pre-nuptial agreement signing demonstrates the fact that the signing is not under duress and no fraud is involved.

Want more information on how a Pre-Nuptial Signing Video can empower your practice of law? Give us a call.

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