Friday, April 2, 2010

Travel Tips

Good tips in general, not that I've ever worked anywhere that ever took me on a trip!
Think big money firms like Flower White for this folks!

Traveling Tips for Young Lawyers
Kip Mendrygal
April 02, 2010

At some point, new associates will go on their first business trip with the partners for whom they work. I usually have learned travel lessons the hard way. Here is what I wish someone had told me long ago.
1. Immediately sign up for airline, hotel and rental car frequent flyer programs.
I asked around and was disappointed to hear that some young associates I work with hadn't done this. Lawyers who travel even a little will find that these points add up quickly. Most programs let account holders retain points and miles for a long time. Early on, I signed up for every airline, hotel and rental car program I conceivably could use, and I make sure I get my points on every trip.
What a pain, right? Not necessarily. Just trash all of those individual plastic cards for each program, pick one sturdy one and write down all membership numbers on a sticky note taped to the back. Assistants and travel agents should have those numbers and add them at the time of booking. Carry the card with the master list for times when they don't. I've been to Europe twice (gratis) thanks to the points I earned on business trips.
2. Get some practical and respectable luggage.
When I was in college and law school, I was the guy who traveled with that dirty gym bag with a tree- and stump-removal service logo printed on it. Once that first legal job comes through, it's time to get new luggage.
Lawyers' travel plans often are unpredictable. Despite the fact that a new lawyer carefully plans the trip to allow time to check into the hotel and drop off bags, he inevitably will end up delayed, requiring him to go directly from the airport to the courthouse or client's office. He should not embarrass himself by carrying something that suggests he is a well-dressed stump removal representative.
Second, that crummy rolling backpack from law school probably won't keep business attire in reasonable traveling shape. I'm fiscally conservative (read: cheap) and still found nice luggage that was not terribly expensive, holds two suits and lawyerly accompaniments comfortably and pretty wrinkle-free, and fits nicely in the overhead bins. Speaking of overhead bins ...
3. Learn to carry on.
When traveling with senior lawyers, odds are high that they will not be checking bags. It will make for an uncomfortable 25 minutes while the traveling party feigns patience as the junior lawyer retrieves his bag from the baggage claim -- if it made it on the plane. Airlines lose checked-in bags, often at inopportune times. The odds are high that the hapless new lawyer will have packed business attire in that missing luggage. No one will feel sorry for him when he shows up to the big meeting in a powder blue, snug-fitting tuxedo because that was the only thing the Newark airport kiosk had in his size. Another key rule: Never, ever check important documents.
4. Pack heavy.
If the trip is scheduled for one night, pack for two. If the plan is to stay for two nights, pack for three. Although the recent law grad is now a fancy lawyer, she is in the customer service business. Clients, judges and/or Mother Nature might need her to stay another night, and her answer needs to be "No problem." This will happen more often that one might think. Steam cleaning once-worn socks with the hotel iron or washing nylons in the hotel sink is so college.
5. Get organized.
Once the wheels leave the ground, logistics are (or should be) the problem of the most junior person on the trip, who needs to add value not only to the case but also to the trip. Know the address of the hotel, client's office and courthouse, and have directions to get there. Use that fancy GPS on the iPhone or Blackberry to generate point-to-point directions. For bonus points, download a few apps for finding good restaurants within walking distance. Be the person that can pull directions to the nearest sushi joint. To ensure an invitation on the next trip, don't tell the partners how you did it.
6. Plan ahead.
Be careful about working on the plane. Most firms have policies that strongly encourage attorneys to work while in transit. Follow them, but be careful. Plane people can be a nosy lot. I take generic work with me on the plane, such as case law, law review articles, motions that have already been filed and are therefore public, etc. I don't review anything that is not public or that is confidential or privileged. Plan ahead with appropriate work to fill that long flight.
7. Remember that time is money.
Identify travel conveniences that are cost-neutral (or better) for the client. On business trips, a lawyer's time is her client's money. Some things that a new lawyer wouldn't splurge for on her own dime might make sense for the client's bottom line. Take parking: On an overnight trip, some airport valet services are only $5-10 more than short-term parking. Saving 15 minutes on each end of the trip provides a significant cost savings for the client. The same is true with the hotel. If that nice hotel next to the client's office is an extra $25-50 per night over that budget joint on the outskirts of town, the money saved on a taxi (and the lawyer's hourly rate getting there) means everyone wins. Apply the same math to nonstop flights and choosing a rental car or a taxi.
7. Enjoy the city.
Tack a day (or a weekend) on the back end. If that fancy trip is to Detroit in February, come back when business is finished. But if a new lawyer is headed to New York City or Washington D.C., she should tack on an extra day to tour the city. She can spend her own money for an extra night's room and board and scout out a potential future vacation destination.
Kip Mendrygal is a senior associate with Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell in Dallas. The opinions and statements in this column are his own.

March Consumer Bankruptcy Filings Reach Highest Monthly Total Since 2005 Bankruptcy Overhaul

The 149,268 consumer bankruptcies filed in March represented the highest monthly consumer filing total since Congress overhauled the Bankruptcy Code in 2005

Facebook May Face Patent Challenge in Federal Court

Iam not happy! I love my Facebook! See the article below:

Facebook May Face Patent Challenge in Federal Court
Shannon P. Duffy04-02-2010
Facebook, the wildly popular social networking site, may soon be squaring off in federal court in Philadelphia to defend itself against claims that the site's design infringes on a patent that was filed several years before Facebook was launched in 2004.
In the suit, plaintiff Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, also known as XACP, claims that it holds the rights to a patent for an Internet-based "community for users with common interests to interact in" that was invented in 2000.
If XACP's suit is successful, Facebook could be ordered to pay millions in damages and possibly face an injunction that could shut the site down.
Facebook, which was launched at Harvard University by then-student Mark Zuckerberg and several of his dormmates, was initially limited to college students in its first few years, but expanded to the public in 2006 and has grown rapidly, especially in the past two years when users over 35 began to join, swelling its membership from 42 million in 2008 to more than 103 million in 2009.
The company also recently began turning a profit and has been rumored to be gearing up for going public with an initial public offering in which some analysts predict the company could be valued at up to $5 billion. But before an IPO, the patent litigation would likely have to be resolved.
The case, Cross Atlantic Capital Partners Inc. v. Facebook Inc., was filed in 2007 and was nearly ready to go to trial in 2008 when Facebook asked for a stay of the litigation in order to pursue an "inter partes" re-examination of the patent before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
In September 2009, the PTO examiners issued a decision that reaffirmed the validity of XACP's patent. And in late March 2010, the examiners issued a right of appeal notice, effectively finalizing their decision and clearing the way for Facebook to challenge the decision before the Patent Office Board of Patent Appeals.
Now plaintiffs attorneys Frederick A. Tecce of McShea Tecce and Thomas J. Duffy of Duffy & Partners say they are poised to file a motion to have the case reopened.
Anticipating that the litigation will intensify in the lead up to the trial, Tecce and Duffy have now joined forces with powerhouse patent litigator James H. Wallace Jr. of Wiley Rein in Washington, D.C.
Wallace garnered international attention when he led the team that secured a $612.5 million patent infringement settlement with Research in Motion Ltd., the maker of BlackBerry wireless e-mail devices, on behalf of his client NTP Inc.
Canadian-based RIM was looking down the barrel of a federal judge's injunction that threatened to shut down the popular wireless e-mail service for its 3 million Blackberry users when it struck a deal in which NTP granted RIM the right to keep running its BlackBerry business.
In an interview, Duffy said Wallace "brings tremendous expertise" in patent litigation, and that the plaintiffs team will also include two of Wallace's partners, Kevin P. Anderson and Gregory R. Lyons.
Facebook is represented by attorneys Heidi L. Keefe and Mark R. Weinstein of Cooley Godward & Kronish in Palo Alto, Calif., along with Alfred W. Zaher and Dennis P. McCooe of Blank Rome in Philadelphia.
McCooe declined to be interviewed about the litigation.
According to court papers, a patent application was filed in February 2000 by four men -- Jamey Harvey, Andrew Fegley, Matt Hulan and Robert Dekelbaum -- that described an invention of software and hardware that would establish "novel systems and methods for creating a community for users with common interests to interact in."
The suit alleges that initial development of the Facebook Web site began "no earlier than December 2003."
So far, the litigation has proceeded on two tracks, with XACP setting out to prove that Facebook infringes its patents and Facebook focusing most of its efforts on proving that XACP's patents are invalid because of "prior art," a term that essentially means the claimed invention was nothing new and therefore not patentable.
Tecce said that Facebook will now be legally bound by the findings of the Patent Office examiners and cannot lodge any defenses premised on invalidity.
Although Facebook still has a right to pursue an appeal from the examiners decision, Tecce said, the plaintiffs team will be asking U.S. District Judge John R. Padova to lift the stay and allow the case to proceed to trial.