April 2008

Until the recent passage of a new state law (effective July 13, 2008), the Massachusetts Wage Statute contained a provision that provided for trebled damages at the discretion of the judge. An “innocent” violator had a chance of avoiding treble damages; a repeat offender was likely to get whacked.

No more. As of July 13th, treble damages are mandatory. My partner Joe Laferrera has written a Client Advisory explaining in more detail this change in the law. Click here to read the Advisory.… Read the full article

Evan Schaeffer's "17 Types of Lawyers"

by Lee Gesmer on April 16, 2008

Humor is just another defense against the universe.
Mel Brooks

Legal humor is almost always an oxymoron, but Evan Schaeffer, author of The Legal Underground blog, had me in silent hysterics (I was in the office) with his list of 17 types of lawyers. The descriptions are so cleverly written, and so on point, that … well, enough, here they are, with links :

Types of Lawyers #1: The Big Firm Summer Associate
Types of Lawyers #2: The Partner Who Talks Too Fast
Types of Lawyers #3: The Lawyer Who Advertises on TV
Types of Lawyers #4: The Lawyer Who Carries Another Lawyer’s Briefcase
Types of Lawyers #5: The Lawyer Who Brings Her Breast Pump to the Office
Types of Lawyers #6: The Mafia Lawyer
Types of Lawyers #7: The Modest Lawyer
Types of Lawyers #8: The Partner Who Golfs
Types of Lawyers #9: The Lawyer on the Run
Types of Lawyers #10: The Lawyer Who’s in the Wrong Profession
Types of Lawyers #11: The Lawyer from the Planet Og
Types of Lawyers #12: The Lawyer Who’s Writing a Legal Thriller
Types of Lawyers #13: The Stereotypical Lawyer
Types of Lawyers #14: The Lawyer Who’s on The Apprentice
Types of Lawyers #15: The Associate Who Knew Where the Bodies Were Buried
Types of Lawyers #16: The Lawyer with the Shiny New Gadget
Types of Lawyers #17: The Associate Who Finally Gets a Chance to Meet the Senior Partner

I think there are probably a few more kinds — the “ultra-high testosterone” lawyer, the “how did he pass the bar exam?” lawyer, the “lawyer who seeks to intimidate,” the “name dropping lawyer (judges, of course),” the “lawyer with absolutely no sense of humor,” the “lawyer who doesn’t own a TV and is inordinately proud of it” — and so forth, but to go much further is tiresome.… Read the full article

Judge Gertner Foils RIAA, At Least For Now

by Lee Gesmer on April 7, 2008

Nancy Gertner is no shrinking violet. Her reputation as a lawyer and then as a judge who is willing to make hard decisions and challenge the status quo is well known.

Last week she did just this when she quashed the RIAA‘s subpoena against Boston University, which was targeted at learning the identities of some Boston University students who had posted copyrighted songs. Her rationale was that there was no clear evidence the students had violated the Copyright Act, and therefore their identies should be protected. Specifically, she found that “publication” (that is, posting the tunes online) was not the same as “distribution” (that is, the tune was downloaded). No evidence of download, no violation. However, whether this ruling will become the prevalent rule under copyright law remains to be seen.

The 52 page decision in Sire Records, Inv. v. Does 1-21 is available here.

The estimable and erudite copyright scholar William Paltry discusses this case, and two others that raise similar issues, in more detail on his blog here.… Read the full article

Here is Judge Gorton’s decision in Bear Stearns v. Sharon, which I discussed last week. Bear Stearns’ motion for a preliminary injunction was denied. Thanks to Michael Boudett (who represented Sharon) at Foley Hoag for providing me with this decision.… Read the full article