By Neil Kalin
The Real Property Law Section’s Spring Conference proved once again that it is unsurpassed in the area of quality education.
Friday morning began with a plenary session titled, “Unintended Consequences of Scorched Earth, Attack Dog Tactics” presided over by two members of the bench. Maybe I am just a little bit naive, or maybe it is just because I am not a trial lawyer, but I never would have expected so many appellate cases discussing bad behavior by lawyers. A real lesson for those who don’t believe in civility in the courtroom. And given the discourse in America these days, I would not be surprised to find more cases like these discussed in the future.
Speaking of civility, a late Friday morning session titled, “When Adversaries are Friends” pointed out how one can be a strong advocate without being rude or disrespectful to opposing counsel. Indeed, a number of the speakers became friends after battling it out in the courtroom, and their respect for one another has led to referrals and increased business. It was also pointed out that there are ethical considerations to consider such as whether mutual respect may, in theory, lead on to take less demanding action on a legal opponent. But then again, forcing every issue is not always in the best interest of the client either. Fascinating discussion.
The Friday luncheon, titled “Women in the Profession” packed the house. Nice distinction made between seeking a mentor and a sponsor and how each fulfills a different role. Also, good tips on how to succeed as a woman, apply to all lawyers. And, lessons in how creative work environments can be helpful to the lawyer and law firm alike.
A Friday afternoon session titled, “Who Really Signed the Document? Liability Arising from Common E-Signature Practices” definitely hit the spot in identifying problems of proving e-signatures, bad practices surrounding e-signatures and the legal effect of contracts signed electronically.
Saturday morning’s opening session on “PG&E Chapter 11 – Burning Topics for Real Estate Lawyers” did a nice job of presenting different points of view stemming from PG&E’s financial problems arising from recent wildfires in California that could be attributed to PG&E. Having just got over one bankruptcy filing, PG&E planned for this one. What everyone could agree on was that the customer will probably wind up paying.
(Pictured: Janice Brown, “You are More Than A Lawyer”)
The Saturday luncheon session, “You Are More Than a Lawyer” was totally engaging. The speaker was out and about in the audience, drawing members in and getting them involved through a variety of techniques, such as using a conversation with her tablemate, me, to emphasize a point and having two others from another table sing a duet. All in all, the lesson that you have to be true to yourself and need something in your life outside of the practice of law will make you a better lawyer and a happier person rings true.
A Saturday afternoon program about ”New Mandatory Disclosures Before Mediation and All the Key Confidentiality Issues” made a nice distinction between something said at a mediation or documentation prepared during or in preparation of a mediation and conduct taking place in or in advance of the mediation. Could such a distinction undermine the new rule to make admissible the failure to argue certain positions at the mediation? More than just restating the rule, the panelists brought up issues to make the audience think about them.
(Pictured: Ana Sambold)