April 21, 2010

The Revised US Sentencing Guidelines: What You Need to Do Now

In this podcast, Jeff Kaplan of Kaplan & Walker explains how the US Sentencing Guidelines have recently been modified to add provisions that set forth the attributes of an effective compliance and ethics program (here is Jeff’s recent memo on the topic), including:

– What are the Corporate Sentencing Guidelines and why to they matter to companies?
– How – and how often – are they amended?
– What are the recent amendments and why are they significant?
– Should a board of directors be aware of this new development?
– Have there been any other important legal developments relating to compliance programs since we last spoke?

Seller’s Key Issues in 2010: Still a Tough Seller’s Market

We have posted the transcript from the recent webcast: “Seller’s Key Issues in 2010: Still a Tough Seller’s Market.”

US Supreme Court Bar: I’m a Member!

Often, I am called upon to explain the benefits of blogging. One clear example of a benefit is the ability to network without stepping outside of the office. Simply by blogging about my experiences of visiting the US Supreme Court a few months ago, two readers of this blog emailed me and offered to sponsor my admission to the US Supreme Court Bar.

Although ceremonial in nature for most SCOTUS bar members (as they never plan to argue a case there), it is a limited bar in that two existing members must “sponsor” you, none of whom can be related to you. Obtaining the two sponsors can be hard to accomplish. Being sworn in before all nine Justices is quite a thrill, as I was admitted yesterday morning, right before oral arguments in a case.

Here are a few new take-aways from yesterday’s event (here are ten from my prior visit):

1. Attorneys to be admitted are permitted to bring one guest, so my wife accompanied me – and my dad waited in line to attend like a regular guest. They were as thrilled as me. The lawyers arguing a case are permitted to bring six guests.

2. Etiquette is taken seriously, and customs are observed far more than any other court I have been in (eg. everyone is “Mr.” or “Ms.” – no first names). The Clerk of the Court (a former Judge Advocate General of JAG) and the Court Marshall wore morning coats with tails (ie tailcoat). So did the Assistant Solicitor General who argued the case (although Elena Kagan, the newly appointed Solicitor General has broken from that tradition, as noted in this blog).

3. Even though yesterday was Justice Steven’s 90th birthday, it was not acknowledged in the courtroom. Having seen Justice Steven’s argue twice during the past few months, I can report that he is as sharp as ever.

4. The SCOTUS staff is incredibly competent and courteous. They were very helpful all throughout the process. Most of the Staff appeared to be quite young – although that is perhaps because I am getting old.

5. Those being sworn in are seated right in front of the Justices, just to the left of the counsel arguing the case. It was great to have Chief Justice Roberts look me in the eye and confirm my admission. I think he smiled because my legal first name is “Barak,” similar to the President’s.

6. Yesterday, only one case was argued – a rarity. Typically, two cases are argued. Occasionally, three will be. Arguments for a case last precisely one hour. Chief Justice Roberts ensures a prompt ending (although he is not as strict as Chief Justice Rehnquist who would cut off someone in mid-sentence).

7. The Supreme Court only sits in session 35-38 days per year (as only 90 cases are granted certiorari annually out of 10,000 requests). Given that there is available space for 20-30 lawyers to be admitted during an open session with live argument, most lawyers admitted to the SCOTUS bar are confirmed via postal mail or in a session without argument. To be admitted in an open session, it takes a lot of pre-planning. If you would like to learn more, please contact me.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, the government has filed its brief in opposition to the writ of certiorari in the work product case, U.S. v. Textron. See this blog for the background on this important decision.

Visiting Live SCOTUS Arguments: Get In Line Early

Below is a picture of the line outside SCOTUS yesterday to get in and observe the proceedings, several hours before the court opened. I heard folks were lined up for three days for the chance to hear Monday’s arguments (as it was a popular case):


– Broc Romanek