Emails Sent from Workplace Computers Are Neither Private nor Privileged

Lawyers who don’t want to see their client communications end up as numbered exhibits at trial should give their clients a key bit of advice early on — don’t email me from work. That’s the upshot of a recent case involving an employee who used her workplace email account to email her lawyer about a potential discrimination claim and later saw those emails come out in discovery. Continue reading

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Is on Landlords

In the US, hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in their own homes every year. These deaths can be prevented by taking simple measures. California has now firmly placed the responsibility for taking such measures on landlords. Continue reading

Profile of Timothy R. Sullivan

As part of CEB’s commitment to bringing together California’s legal community, our blog will post a short interview with one of your fellow attorneys.

This week, we profile attorney and Consulting Editor of CEB’s new Property Insurance book Timothy R. Sullivan:

CEB: What are your practice areas and how/why did you choose or start in your practice area?
Tim: I started in insurance defense because I wanted to be in court.When I got out of law school, I had never even heard of insurance coverage. My firm asked me to work in coverage, and I really enjoy it. Now my practice is dedicated to insurance coverage and bad faith litigation. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be able to represent both policyholders and insurers. Our practice has grown to include both first party and third party claims under a wide range of policy types, so in that respect, my practice area is still evolving.

CEB: What do you like best and least about practicing law?
Tim: I don’t want to sound like Charlie Sheen, but I like winning. I also think coverage attorneys get to see the most interesting cases and characters, with fact patterns that sound like law school exams. Some of the most creative arguments are made to try to trigger coverage. I like the fact that I have to learn something new every day. What I like least is having to account for my day in 6-minute increments. Continue reading

13 Tips for Creating a Clear Train of Thought

One of the essential qualities of all legal writing, clarity, is created by a clear train of thought. No matter how clear your sentences are, readers will not feel that they add up to a clear message unless they can see how the sentences hang together. It is your job as a writer to bring the reader along with you on your train of thought. Continue reading

Contributory Infringement in the Electronic World

In addition to direct copyright infringement and inducement of infringement, there is a third type of copyright infringement, “contributory infringement,” which is becoming more of an issue in the electronic world.  As one Web-hosting company recently learned the hard way, Internet service providers are more frequently being found liable for contributory infringement based on the infringing activities of their users — think Napster. Continue reading

Using Credit History in Employment Decisions Can Be Risky

It may be tempting, as a gauge of responsibility, but employers who make employment decisions based on employees’ and applicants’ credit histories risk running afoul of state and federal statutes. Continue reading

Make It Clear to the Judge

Too many lawyers write in a style not persuasive to a busy judge. We learned this unpersuasive style in college and law school — ­ it’s called the academic style. Academic style is marked by mind-numbing details, bloated sentences, and meandering paragraphs. Exactly what you don’t want when writing for a judge. Continue reading

How to Seal a Record

Once upon a time, parties could agree on their own to keep court records away from public view. But a concern grew that information that should arguably have been publicly available was sealed from view and, in some cases, deleted from court files. Enter Cal Rules of Ct 2.550 and 2.551, which apply to both civil and criminal cases and set the presumption that court records are open to the public. So, how do you go about getting records sealed now? Continue reading

Know Your Limits

When a court rule limits brief length to 14,000 words, it means it. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently summarily affirmed the district court opinion (.pdf) after the appellant submitted an 18,000 word opening brief and falsely certified that the brief met the 14,000-word limit required under the federal rules. The moral of the story: Know the word limits and stick to them. Continue reading

Fraud Has No Place in Negotiations

The “legal ethics of negotiation” can be a difficult topic. Certain issues are plain enough: An attorney cannot knowingly commit, counsel, or assist fraudulent conduct. The tougher issue is defining what counts as fraud. Continue reading