Money troubles can be embarrassing. Some people take it as a sign of weakness, and many people don’t like to admit that they need help. This is the main reason that people avoid contacting their mortgage lenders when they have cash flow problems that affect their ability to remain current on their mortgage payments. This reasoning, however, can have devastating legal consequences. As counterintuitive as it may sound, the onset of a financial hardship is precisely the time that you need to reach out and talk to your lender.
Although discovery is part and parcel of litigation, it is universally regarded as expensive and burdensome, and (sometimes) ripe for sharp practices. One area where the legitimate fact-finding purpose of discovery runs up against the hardship of discovery is where a court orders discovery to proceed while a motion to dismiss that would, if granted, resolve the matter, remains pending.
Lawyer deregulation appears to be the current zeitgeist in the legal reform movement. Great Britain is experimenting with lawyer deregulation, which would make some basic legal services available at supermarkets. The Brookings Institution–somewhat surprisingly, to me–recently published a study recommending the deregulation of the legal industry in the United States as well. (Hat tip Futurelawyer.)
It appears that Google is bringing its fearsome powers of information organization to the legal world:
Traditional lawyers may not like it, but venture capitalists are pouring money into one of the last industries to resist commoditization on the Web. Google Ventures today announced it is part of a group that infused $18.5 million into Rocket Lawyer, which bills itself as the “fastest growing online legal service.”
. . . . Rocket Lawyer provides online legal forms, from wills to Delaware certificates of incorporation, that non-lawyers can fill out and store and share on the Web. For $19.95 a month, consumers can also have their documents reviewed by a real lawyer and even get legal advice at no additional cost.
The St. Croix Division of the District Court of the Virgin Islands recently clarified whether a foreclosed property’s fair market value (as opposed to the price that is brings at a foreclosure sale) can serve as the basis from which a deficiency judgment is calculated. This is an important question, as it addresses an apparent conflict between the local judgment statutes and the American Law Institute’s Third Restatement of Property on Mortgages, which has the force of law in the Virgin Islands. Most important, it emphasizes that, under current law, foreclosed defendants cannot invoke the fair market value of their property to avoid or lessen their post-judgment obligations.
A recent opinion by the Appellate Division of the District Court of the Virgin Islands addresses the constitutionality of the Virgin Islands aggravated assault statute. But far from wading into a scrum of technical constitutional analysis, the Appellate Court takes the Virgin Islands government to task for failing to muster any evidence on the statute’s behalf.
In the life of every litigator, there are days where your pleadings go unchallenged, your motions are granted with the compliments of the court on your fiercely cogent reasoning, and opposing counsel meekly avert their eyes when you enter the room.
Recent news out of New Jersey announces that the state’s appellate court overturned a lower court’s entry of a foreclosure judgment in favor of Deutsche Bank. Apparently, Deustche Bank attempted to foreclose on a borrower without being able to prove that it had possession of the original promissory note at the time that it brought its foreclosure action. As a result of the bank’s oversight, the appellate court ruled that the bank will have to restart the entire foreclosure process from scratch:
The New York Times recently ran a couple of articles that highlight current changes in the practice of law. One article discussed the use of analytical computer tools to simplify discovery in complex litigation. Rather than firms having to dispatch an auditorium full of young associates to wade through mountains of documents, firms can now set specific search parameters and isolate relevant documents and phrases more quickly and more cheaply. The other article noted that law school applications are down more than 12% from last year, with the number of people sitting for the LSAT down more than 16%. The article suggests that a dawning recognition that law school is not a quick path to riches accounts for this decline.
One of the least-appreciated characteristics of legal work is that it is constantly changing. The rock-solid precedent that forms the foundation of an attorney’s finest argument can melt into air with the stroke of an appellate court’s pen. Less dramatically, courts constantly refine their precedent by issuing new opinions that take a new look at well-settled issues. And sometimes, the law simply outgrows the judicial box in which it is placed.