Monday Roundup: December 12, 2016

So this week we have Forbes courting the ire of attorneys by attacking the venerable billing institutions, Pennsylvania telling a wannabe lawyer who’s just trying to combat injustice and free his pill-selling paramour from prison that he did indeed engage in the unauthorized practice of law, another law school gained the blessing of our lords and masters at the ABA, and a firm is being sued because their system may be accessed by hackers at some point.

These are the four brief stories in this week’s Roundup.

1.  Forbes attacks the billable hour

Mark Cohen wrote an opinion/editorial piece for on Sunday that extolled the virtues of corporations using in-house counsel while blasting partner profits based on the billable hour.  The gist of the piece is that more corporations are turning to in-house counsel rather than outside firms to handle legal matters, and as a result the market share of corporate clients is decreasing.  To make up for this, Cohen says, law firms are charging their billables under the guise of thoroughness to make up for the lost profits experienced by the partners.

I would kindly remind Mr. Cohen that coming after the billable hour is a way to make a lot of very well-dressed attorneys bill out “Research – 2.5 hrs” for places to hide the body.

2.  Pennsylvania Rules No Intent Necessary for UPL Charges to Stand

As a group, lawyers are fiercely protective of the profession.  This was made clear last week as Joseph Pilchesky of Scranton, Pennsylvania found himself subject to a new trial for the unauthorized practice of law.  In an unpublished decision, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the state’s intermediate appellate court (well, one of them) has determined that there is no “intent” element behind deceiving people into thinking you’re an attorney.  In short, despite Pilchesky’s argument to that the state must prove he intended for people to believe he is a lawyer, the Superior Court has said “LOL SRY” and determined that the act of practicing law without a license is sufficient, regardless of whether or not Pilchesky intended for folks to believe he was a lawyer.

Pilchesky himself is a bit of a strange character who as recently as October was filing appeals with the Supreme Court.  This all seems to stem first from his paramour being convicted of running a drug mill that resulted in the death of one of her patients.  However, if anyone is looking to help him fight the good fight, he’s currently looking for an attorney to take a federal civil rights case to trial on contingency.  I’m sure everyone will get rich off of that deal.

This guy could be a post all on his own, really, but I don’t feel like getting sued this year by an angry pro se litigant.

3.  Oh Boy! Another Law School!

On December 6, 2016 the ABA announced that UMass was now a fully accredited law school.  This brings the total number of law schools in Massachusetts up to nine.  While California, New York, and Florida still have more law schools than Massachusetts, it’s now tied for fourth place with Virginia, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois.  Meanwhile, states that have only as many law schools as are needed, or less than enough law schools, meaning one, are:  Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Alaska, which could probably benefit from having a law school because, let’s face it, who in their right mind would return to the America’s forgotten brother once they leave, somehow has remained law school free.  Remember that when planning your next vacation.

4.  Secure Data? Like, We Have A Guard…

On Friday a Federal Judge disclosed the existence of a class-action complaint against Johnson & Bell, a Chicago law firm, for failing to properly secure their data.  Among the alleged failures is the usage of internet-accessible computers to access email and timekeeping software without updating with the appropriate patches.  If you have a minute to read the Complaint, which, like Pilchesky, could be the subject of a post later this week all on its own, do so now.  However, the important take-away is that it doesn’t really allege that any damages have happened, just that they may happen if hackers become aware that Johnson & Bell have systems that potentially face the internet and could be made publicly accessible.

Of course, the likelihood of this information getting out there is now greatly increased, thanks to the clients filing a lawsuit that exposes the vulnerability to the public.  By the way, this is being brought as a legal malpractice action, so this whole thing should probably be something tech-savvy firms run by Luddites should be aware of.  If the cause is founded…well…guess who’s going to have to start re-assessing their internet security?

Alright, that’s all for today.  Have a great week, I’ll talk to you rapscallions more tomorrow.