We don’t publish rumors

January 5, 2009
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Today's blog is from IL managing editor Betsy Brockett:

Day after day, we read stories in the National Law Journal and other legal publications about how the tumultuous economy has hit the legal profession again and again. Even close to home, judges and attorneys talk about how hard the Indiana legal community has been hit. Some trial court judges have had to fight budget cuts just to keep their courts running smoothly. Budgets and the bottom lines aren’t on the minds of just law firm management.

Yes, the Indiana legal community has been hit hard … or so we’ve heard, but we’re not in the business of publishing rumors.

In recent months a judge wondered why we haven’t been covering how hard the downturn has impacted our legal professionals. We’ve published stories about the sour economy and various sectors of the legal community for several issues now.

Recently, a lawyer called the office wanting to know the scoop about the layoffs in Indianapolis. Well, we hear the rumors, too. Some even merit investigation.

Associate positions cut. Summer associate programs cut or trimmed. Administrative/support staff reduced. Non-equity partners let go. We’ve heard it all. The problem: the people in positions to address the rumors have chosen to ignore the opportunity to set the record straight.

People wear their rose-colored glasses when they talk with us. No one will name names. Some firms claim any changes are just a result of regular housecleaning or an annual shakeup.

Yes, we understand it’s about public perception and local, state, regional, national reputation … and the bottom line. But IL’s job is to cover our local legal community, which also is our readership. There is a legitimate way and reason to report any such happenings – talk with us about such decisions, about the strength of your commitment to being responsible to your clients and partners.

Sure, times may be tough, but claiming all is rosy can sometimes be counterproductive as rumors grow and exacerbate any bad perceptions. Honest explanations can often stall the rumor mill, garner support … and maybe even help people.

How? Because if people share how they’re combating this economy’s negative effects, someone else may learn something that helps them or someone may be able to help with the problem.

If people – individuals or corporate clients – mistake a shoring up of expenses as something more serious like an impending implosion, the truth is much better than rampant rumors.

You want the news. We’re trying to deliver. And the truth doesn’t always hurt.
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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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