ICSC RECon Day One - Thoughts and Impressions

Lawyer Blog Post 2010/09/06 17:40   Bookmark and Share
Just got back to our house (rather than stay on the Strip, we decided to rent a private home) from the first day of the ICSC RECon in Las Vegas.  Keeping in mind that I am a first timer, here are some initial impressions.

Thank goodness for the cool weather.  That made walking miles and miles easier.

The morning breakout sessions were even better than I thought they would be.  The panel on workouts gave good, practical advice for dealing with lenders in a variety of distressed situations. I learned some things I will use and I will also probably study up more and blog about what additional things I learn.

The legal special interest group session was also good with practical advice from in-house folks.  Some of the advice was fairly obvious -- keep in touch, let us know about changes, bill regularly and with sufficient detail.  The best advice I think was this: don't buy me lunch - make me want to use your firm.  I was somewhat miffed -- perhaps wrongly so -- by a large firm lawyer saying something like, "You can't compete with the guy working out of his house on price, so you have to develop expertise or make yourself stand out in other ways."  It made me feel cheap, until I learned my billing rates were higher than large companies want to pay for commodity work (not that I really do a lot of that).  It seems like law firms are racing each other to the bottom on hourly rates.  I will not do that. I charge a fair fee, be it hourly or an alternative fee arrangement; I work quickly and efficiently and make the client look good, thus adding value.  So I am comfortable with what I do, and I cannot remember the last time a client complained about my bill.  Like I say: try me once and you will not be disappointed.


Jurisdiction to Enforce a Settlement

Lawyer Blog Post 2010/09/03 17:38   Bookmark and Share
When parties settle a case, there are good feelings all around and relief that the dispute is over. However, parties who have been disagreeable prior to settlement often remain that way after they have compromised their dispute. A recent Fifth Circuit case makes the point that it is important to think about how the settlement will be enforced should the parties go back to feuding.

In SmallBiz Pros, the parties settled a dispute which required turnover of documents among other things. They entered a Stipulation of Dismissal pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). This was a non-bankruptcy case. However, the same provision would apply under Bankruptcy Rule 7041. The Stipulation referenced a "Stipulated Settlement Order." The Court signed the Stipulated Settlement Order. However, the order did not contain "so ordered" language and did not provide for the Court to retain jurisdiction to enforce the order.

Disagreements arose and SmallBiz Pros returned to court to have MacDonald held in contempt. The District Court obliged and MacDonald appealed. The Fifth Circuit reversed, finding that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.


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