Thursday, December 30, 2010


New Year’s Resolutions

This is the time of year when many will make those promises to themselves, we call “New Year’s Resolutions.”

Here are a few suggested ones, on both the legal and personal fronts that may prove helpful:

1. Spend more time with a child. Children spell “LOVE” as T-I-M-E.

2. Spend less than you make, or you will always be behind. If you are in debt, rather than pay a little extra on everything, try targeting one at a time with all you can raise.

3. Have your Will, Living Will, and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare drawn up by an attorney of your choice.

4. Forgive those who have wronged you. It may not be healthy or safe to actually restore them back into your life, but forgiving them is a gift you give yourself.

5. Get a physical and listen to what your doctor recommends. If you smoke, please quit. Start walking regularly, preferably with your spouse.

6. Just in case there is a fire, earthquake or flood, take a video tape of the inside of your house, garage and attic, and send the tape off to a friend or relative far away. If you have an insurance claim, the proof of claim forms will be a breeze compared to doing it by memory alone.

7. Give to the church or charity of your choice. “Takers eat well, givers sleep well.”

8. Call up a friend, coach, pastor or teacher you have not seen a in while.

9. Check with your car insurance agent and make absolutely sure that you have plenty of Uninsured Motorist (UM) insurance on every car. Don’t assume that “full coverage”includes that if you are with a discounted insurance company. Also, a car lot that carries insurance on your vehicle does not generally pay for that. Please check it. It pays you if you are hit by a hit and run driver, or an under insured driver.

10. Attend the church of your choice this year. Examine the evidence for God and His Son, for one day, maybe this very year, you will meet Him.

11. Install at least two smoke detectors, and put new batteries in any you have.

12. If you are married, tell your spouse how you feel about them every day.

13. If you are in a parental role, tell the children you are proud of them. All kids need Attention, Affection and Affirmation every day.

14. If you have choice this year between upgrading to a nicer car or getting a nicer house, choose the house.

15. Work hard, but take time off when you can. After all, no one on his death bed, ever rose up to say that he wished he had spent just a little more time at work!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010



Back in the early 1990’s, when I attended law school, most students were pretty confident that they would land jobs upon graduation. The placement rate of over 90% back then, seemed to at least guarantee an income, if not a dream job.
I have been blessed in many ways, and have run my own plaintiff injury firm for over a decade now. However, I was surprised to learn that the National Association for Law Placement reported the 2009 placement rate to remain at an astounding 88.3%. I am surprised it is that high, and I was quite skeptical of that number.
In fact, that number turned out to be misleading. More than 30% of the 88.3% employed are actually working either temporary or part time jobs. There is no telling how many of the others may be considered “under employment.”
There are several trends that make jobs much more scarce for the new lawyer out there today.
First of all, I have watched one insurance company after another take their lawyers “in house.” This term means that they hire attorneys on salary to handle most matters. While larger or more complex litigation may be “jobbed out” to a traditional defense firm, much of that work dries up. These larger firms are the very ones who often hired interns during the summer and even had hiring tables set up in the lobby of the law schools. No more.
There is also the role of mediation. While I am a Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediator by the Tennessee Supreme Court, I also recognize that the reduction it provides in litigation hurts defense lawyers out there.
Thirdly, so-called “tort reform” measures threaten both plaintiff lawyers and defense firms. Caps on judgments and various restrictions lessens risks to wrong doers who use larger firms.
Both political parties in Washington, D.C are constantly tossing around tax policy like the proverbial hot potato. Smaller law firms declare all income as personal, and therefore may find themselves in higher tax brackets. It is these small businesses that provide many jobs for paralegals, receptionists, assistants and lawyers. Without clarity of what the tax burden will be, many smaller firms are unwilling to hire more staff.
The law schools are still churning out 100’s of newly minted J.D.’s each year. Many have costly student loans to repay. Some who will graduate in the next couple years actually only went back to school to “wait out” the recession. Thus, there will be a further surge of hungry souls out here ready to travel to exciting cities, meet interesting people, and sue them.
Finally, the advent of television advertising has greatly increased competition for plaintiffs’ injury cases of all kinds. This can decrease margins for struggling firms and restrict hiring even further.
In general, unless you are called to practice, do not consider law school. Academically, financially and socially, law school is quite a challenge. And, with no assurance that you will even get a job interview, it is even less attractive.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tort Reform: liberal or conservative??

Is tort reform liberal or conservative??

As a conservative tort lawyer I am always accused of being liberal by
conservatives and vice versa. Liberals think I'm conservative due to my
social stances as a christian. They are right. But what about conservatives
who call me liberal? Well they are not right. Why? Because tort reform is
not truly a conservative issue.

Tort reform takes power away from the individual and gives it to the
government. That is clearly not conservative. Empowerment of the
individual and allowing market forces to shape policy argues strongly
against tort reform.

Tort reform hurts people who did nothing wrong. While conservatives might
be criticized for being pro life we also tend to be for capital punishment.
It is the taking of innocent lives that we object to. On what grounds is
that consistent with further punishing a victim??

Not only does tort reform hurt those who already got hurt, it actually
protects the hurter. Assume a doctor who is rushed as cuts off the wrong
That happened not long ago. Who should say what that is worth? Is it
worth more if it is an 8 year old?

jurors who see the evidence, are in a much better position to decide an
individual case than buerocrats in government.

I think that the court system allows the davids of the world to take on the
One reason airlines, cars and hospitals are generally safer is due to your
access to court

More specifically it is the potential unlimited award that protects you.

Never get Fooled into thinking that tort reforms protects
Anyone other than those who hurt you.

David B. Peel

tort reform song

this is a funny song reminding us about the realities of tort reform