By Popular Demand: A Little Help For The Legislative Drafter

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I recently received an email from a reader who asked if I knew of any good resources on drafting legislation. At the time, nothing specific came to mind, and I made a note to myself to do some investigating when time permitted. This week, time finally permitted.

I always start these investigations by looking through the hundreds of books on my office shelves.1 I receive exam copies of legal writing books on a weekly basis, and often, if I look patiently, I can find one that meets a particular need. So yesterday, I began skimming titles, looking for something pertaining to legislative drafting. And lo and behold, right there it was: Plain English for Drafting Statutes and Rules.2

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Encrypt It, Restrict It, Firewall It: The Panama Papers’ Security Lessons for Lawyers

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The leak of the Panama Papers has done more than reveal the underbelly of the international tax-dodger trade. This massive security breach, the biggest document leak in history, also serves as a wake-up call for lawyers and law firms about our responsibility to keep client information confidential.

The files, leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, came from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama. Their contents are incredibly incriminating for several multinational organizations and many world leaders as they describe the ways powerful and knowledgeable people have gamed the financial system to create tax havens in off-shore accounts. It’s important that you understand the contents and repercussions of the documents, certainly, but even more important is that you understand what this leak means for law firm security in the future.

Here’s the takeaway:

  1. If you keep it, it can be stolen. Encrypt.
  2. If you send it, it can be misdirected. Encrypt.
  3. If you give access to it, it can be retained. Restrict Downloads.
  4. If your data is stored on your network, it can be accessed by anyone who has network permissions. Firewall it.

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On the Ides Of March, a Soothsayer’s Tips On Making Law Partnerships Last

“All happy law firms are alike; each unhappy law firm is unhappy in its own way.” Tolstoy wrote that. Or maybe it was Tolstoy’s lawyer. I forget.

Whoever wrote it, it’s wrong.

Unhappy law firms – and by unhappy, I mean the law firms where the partnership is fracturing – are often unhappy in similar ways and for similar reasons. I regularly do consultations with a couple of lawyers who are planning to open a firm together. It makes sense; starting a law firm is scary, and doing it with someone you like and trust feels like it helps mitigate the risk.

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