April 27, 2017

Archives for June 2016

The End of Law Firms? Legal Service Delivery in the 21st Century

3e5ee2a2014 marked the 100th anniversary of World War I – the “Tipping Point” wherein the automobile forever replaced the horse as the predominant form of ground transportation in the modern era. In the three decades that followed World War I, livery stables closed and buggy whip manufacturers went out of business.

The Great Recession of 2008 has served as a “Tipping Point” of its own sort for the legal profession, where alternative legal services delivery models – LegalZoom for consumers and Legal Process Outsourcing companies (“LPOs”) for corporations – now challenge the monopoly that traditional law firms once held for legal services delivery. Prices for legal services are plummeting in a free fall. Competition for clients is at an all-time high, even as U.S. law schools churn out 44,000 new lawyers a year into a 100% saturated legal market. Corporate clients in the current buyers’ market are increasingly demanding lower, fixed prices and value-based Alternative Fee Arrangements (“AFAs”) in lieu of hourly billing – making law firms bear the ‘risk of loss’ in uncertain but complex litigation and transaction matters – even as the costs of running law firms continue to climb. To survive, most law firms have already morphed from their 1980s ‘Pyramid’ shaped organizational structures into ‘Diamond’ shaped organizational structures staffed by experienced attorneys – with virtually no associates to ‘fill out’ the base of once ‘Pyramid’ shaped law firm. But some commentators believe that this ‘Diamond’ shaped organizational structure is only a temporary change – like the hull of a great ship that rises out of the water before the whole thing sinks. What if in our lifetime we are watching the end of law firms, just as our great grandfathers watched the end of livery stables? From ‘Pony Express’ to ‘Federal Express’…

In this thought-provoking CLE presentation, attorney Mark Lassiter presents his vision of how the legal profession can ‘rise like the great Phoenix out of the ashes’ of its current malaise – all without traditional law firms. He argues that, if current legal trends continue unabated, the historic law firms as we have known them must become extinct – with the largest dying last. He does NOT argue that lawyers will not practice together with each other in communities or associations. Rather, he argues that such associations will look different from the traditional law firms of the 20th Century, which still prevail (for now…). He predicts a day when future lawyers will collaborate and work together on legal matters in Cloud based, temporary ‘teams’– not based on law firm allegiances or employment, but rather on their own, specific expertise and skill sets. In other words, the ‘mission’ (not the ‘law firm’) will drive and determine the lawyers and staff recruited to a temporary legal team – allowing clients to ‘cherry pick’ the best, most qualified lawyers and legal staff for the clients’ unique legal matters – with all legal work tasks being monitored and controlled from secure, Cloud-based portals. Such arrangements will empower solo and small practice lawyers, ‘Soccer Mom’ and ‘Disabled Dad’ lawyers, and young, new lawyers as never before.

If you are a new, small, solo or part-time lawyer you won’t want to miss hearing how the coming decades may actually be the best yet for attorneys like you. Come and watch this thought-provoking presentation from one of America’s emerging legal thought leaders.

 

CLE Program — The End of Law Firms? Rethinking Legal Services Delivery in the 21st Century

This CLE presentation will occur on July 19, 2016, at the CBA-CLE offices (1900 Grant Street, Third Floor). Register online or call (303) 860-0608.

Can’t make the live program? Register for the live webcast here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 6/30/2016

On Thursday, June 30, 2016, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued eight published opinions and 13 unpublished opinions.

People v. McFee

People v. Reyes

People v. Relaford

In the Matter of Donald C. Taylor and Margaret Ann Taylor Trust

People v. Alaniz

TABOR Foundation v. Regional Transportation Dist.

West Colorado Motors, LLC v. General Motors, LLC

Wibby v. Boulder County Board of County Commissioners

Summaries of these cases are forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/29/2016

On Wednesday, June 29, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and four unpublished opinions.

United States v. Sing

United States v. Rocha-Rodriguez

United States v. Mitchell

United States v. Gastelum-Carrazco

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Colorado Supreme Court: Possibility of Innocent Explanation is Merely a Factor in Totality of Probable Cause Determination

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Zuniga on Monday, June 27, 2016.

Probable Cause to Search—Totality of the Circumstances—Marijuana Odor.

In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court and held  that the odor of marijuana is relevant to the totality of the circumstances test and can contribute to a probable cause determination. Even though possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is allowed under Colorado law, many marijuana-related activities remain unlawful, meaning the odor of marijuana can support an inference that a crime is ongoing. Under the facts of this case, the Court concluded that there was probable cause to search the vehicle for illegal drugs in light of the two occupants’ divergent stories about their time visiting Colorado, their “extreme” nervousness, the strong odor of raw marijuana coming from the vehicle, and a drug-sniffing dog’s alert.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Workers’ Compensation Insurer Not Required to Provide Notice of Cancellation to Certificate Holder

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Pinnacol Assurance v. Hoff on Monday, June 27, 2016.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance—Promissory Estoppel—Certificates of Insurance—Notice of Cancellation.

The Supreme Court considered whether an insurer had a contractual or statutory obligation to notify a non-insured holder of a certificate of insurance when the insurance policy evidenced by the certificate was cancelled. Because the certificate said notice of cancellation “will be delivered in accordance with the policy provisions” and the insurance policy did not promise notice to certificate holders, the Court concluded that the insurer had no contractual obligation to provide notice of cancellation to the certificate holder. The Court further concluded that no provision or public policy contained in the Workers’ Compensation Act required the insurer to provide such notice. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/28/2016

On Tuesday, June 28, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one  published opinion and five unpublished opinions.

O’Connor v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

United States v. Ceballos-Lepe

United States v. Moudy

Clark v. Fallin

United States v. Jack

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Application Period Open for Bankruptcy Judgeship in District of Colorado

BankruptcyCourtThe U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced that it is accepting applications for a bankruptcy judge in the District of Colorado. The position is located in Denver and will be available January 4, 2017, pending successful completion of a background investigation. Bankruptcy judges are appointed for 14-year terms pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 152.

Qualified applicants must be members in good standing of the highest bar of at least one state, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and must be in good standing in every bar in which the applicant is a member. Applicants must possess, and have a reputation for, integrity and good character; possess, and have demonstrated, a commitment to equal justice under the law; possess, and have demonstrated, outstanding legal ability and competence; indicate by demeanor, character, and personality that the applicant would exhibit judicial temperament if appointed; and be of sound physical and mental health sufficient to perform the essential duties of the office. Applicants must have been engaged in the practice of law or other suitable law-related occupation for the last five years, must not be related by blood or marriage to any judge of the Tenth Circuit or District of Colorado or a member of the Tenth Circuit Judicial Council, must comply with financial disclosure requirements, and must be willing to serve.

Application forms are available on the Tenth Circuit website and will be accepted through August 15, 2016. For more information, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: “Plausible on its Face” Standard Applies to Motions to Dismiss

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Warne v. Hall on Monday, June 27, 2016.

Civil Procedure—Pleading.

Warne petitioned for review of the Colorado Court of Appeals’ judgment reversing the dismissal of Hall’s complaint, which asserted a claim of intentional interference with contract. Although invited to apply the standard for dismissal articulated in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the district court dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted without addressing either Twombly or Iqbal in its written order. By contrast, the court of appeals expressly declined to apply the more recent U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence governing F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6), finding itself instead bound by the Colorado Supreme Court’s existing precedent, which had heavily relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s earlier opinion in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), and particularly its language to the effect that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove “no set of facts” in support of his claim. Declining, therefore, to be influenced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s more recent admonition to the federal courts that “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face,’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570), the court of appeals found the complaint sufficient to state a claim.

The supreme court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals. Because the court’s case law interpreting the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure in general, and C.R.C.P. 8 and 12(b)(5) in particular, reflected first and foremost a preference to maintain uniformity in the interpretation of the federal and state rules of civil procedure and a willingness to be guided by the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of corresponding federal rules whenever possible, rather than an intent to adhere to a particular federal interpretation prevalent at some fixed point in the past, the Colorado Supreme Court found that its precedent was interpreted too narrowly by the court of appeals. Because it also found that plaintiff’s complaint, when evaluated in light of the more recent and nuanced analysis of Twombly and Iqbal, failed to state a plausible claim for relief, the court found the complaint insufficient under the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Economic Loss Rule Does Not Bar Tort Claims Arising Before Execution of Contract

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Van Rees v. Unleaded Software, Inc. on Monday, June 27, 2016.

Economic Loss Doctrine—Conversion and Civil Theft—Public Impact or Interest—Private or Internal Transactions.

After Unleaded Software, Inc. failed to deliver contracted-for websites and services, Van Rees brought suit, alleging various tort theories, civil theft, three breach of contract claims, and a violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). The trial court dismissed all but the contract claims, and the court of appeals affirmed, holding that the economic loss rule barred the tort and civil theft claims and that Van Rees failed to allege a significant public impact under the CCPA.

The supreme court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The economic loss rule applies only if there is no independent tort duty. Here, where Van Rees alleged Unleaded induced him into entering a contractual relationship when it knew it would not be able to perform the promised services, there is an independent tort duty, and the court therefore reversed as to Van Rees’s tort claims. The court did not reach the question of the economic loss rule as it relates to civil theft and instead affirmed the dismissal of that claim because Van Rees failed to adequately allege the knowing deprivation of a thing of value. Finally, the court affirmed the dismissal of the CCPA claim for failure to allege a significant public impact.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/27/2016

On Monday, June 27, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and four unpublished opinions.

United States v. Mercer

Pelletier v. United States

United States v. Marquez

United States v. Brown

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 6/27/2016

On Monday, June 27, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court issued four published opinions.

Warne v. Hall

Van Rees v. Unleaded Software, Inc.

People v. Zuniga

Pinnacol Assurance v. Hoff

Summaries of these cases are forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/24/2016

On Friday, June 24, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and four unpublished opinions.

Solazzo v. Bynes

Estate of Vera Cummings v. United States

Methvin v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

Jones v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.