August 2012

Here’s a contracts quiz for you. Two parties, Southwest and Winterer, are attempting to work out an agreement about ownership of a couple of adjacent parcels of property and Southwest files a petition for partition. After mediation and other discussions, the attorney for Winterer sends the following email to the mediator:

Here is Winterer’s offer:

  • Purchase Southwest’s interest in both parcels for $325,000.00;
  • Southwest deliver clear marketable fee simple title to both parcels via warranty deed;
  • Closing to take place at a title company of our choice within 30 days of signed Agreement;
  • Both parties split the past due tax obligations and Southwest pays for ½ of the 2010 taxes, up to date of closing;
  • Both parties dismiss their claims in the Partition suit with prejudice;
  • Southwest and Winterer execute a document containing mutual releases, non-disclosures and nondisparagement agreements.

And, of course, both parties split your fee.

[click to continue…]

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Is Axiom a game-changer? I thoroughly enjoyed reading the recent piece on Adam Smith, Esq. about an interview with Mark Harris, Axiom’s CEO and founder. The law firm places its lawyers on temporary assignment inside corporate law offices. With a focus on working better and smarter, it’s grown rapidly in recent years. Here’s an excerpt of Harris talking about the firm’s strategy:

Phase 1 was the client’s problem and the client’s solution, but using Axiom resources. Phase 2 is the client’s problem but with Axiom’s solution and Axiom’s resources. When Axiom owns the solution, then we lead the solutions design, working with our clients to apply process innovation, technology, and tools to improve both risk mitigation and cost. Throughout, the intent is for Axiom to assume the burden of creating efficiencies, because we have the benefit of scale and the ability to apply best practices codified across experience with multiple client engagements.

Phase 2 sounds really exciting. Makes me wonder about Phase 3.

[click to continue…]

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Lauren Stiller Rikleen published an interesting piece on hbr.org last month, Law Firms Need to Take Care of Their Talent. Here’s the money quote:

A business dependent on the intellect of its workforce ought to invest heavily in talent management and leadership development. This includes understanding employee needs and putting in place policies and operating principles that maximize engagement.

Interesting. How many law firms embrace this?

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Ken Adams posted recent email correspondence with a young in-house lawyer who wrote asking for practice tips. Fresh out of law school and assigned to a one-man legal office in a foreign country, he’s about as isolated and self-sufficient as the Curiosity on Mars.

Several seasoned commercial attorneys who are regular contributors to the discussions on Ken’s The Koncise Drafter blog, including Chris Lemens and Mark Anderson (the proprietor of IP Draughts), responded with excellent advice. I’d recommend clicking over to the post and taking a few minutes to read the comments.

I don’t feel that I can add much to the exceptional answers on Ken’s blog to the young lawyer’s specific questions, but here are a few tips I’d offer to any young corporate lawyer:

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Holmes v. Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners

Former police officer Danny Holmes sued the Kansas City police department under the Missouri Human Rights Act and on breach of contract and whistleblower claims for the termination of his employment by the police department. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District reversed the trial court’s judgment for Mr. Holmes on the breach of contract claim. The appellate court held that, while R.S.Mo. § 84.600 gives police officers a property right in continued employment, it does not give them a contractual right to sue for damages for wrongful termination. The court stated, “The general rule is that there is no private right of action to enforce a statute or regulation through an action for damages … and [w]here administrative review of a denied property right is adequate, parties may not” sue for damages instead. Further, R.S.Mo. § 84.600 doesn’t create a contractual term binding the board of police commissioners and a police officer.

[click to continue…]

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Prof. Meredith Miller very kindly posted an interview piece on the ContractsProf Blog this evening featuring yours truly. To those of you who found my little piece of the Interwebs via her post, welcome.

Everyone wants to tidy things up a bit when they’re expecting company — trouble is, I’ve been pretty busy and I haven’t had much time to post lately. So allow me to give you a quick tour of a few posts from the archives.

Battle of the forms primer. By far the most widely-read piece on the blog is Battle of the Forms Explained (Using a Few Short Words). [click to continue…]

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