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Today is my favorite workday of the year.

Obviously, I love being home with my wife and family during the holidays, but I can’t shake my affinity for working the days between Christmas and New Year’s. December 26th is the best day of the year to be in the office.

Like many offices, ours is half-empty because a lot of folks have decided to stretch the holidays into a week of family time. My phone will barely ring today because clients, opposing counsel, and insurance adjusters are busy vacationing or just enjoying family time. Other than new case intake (unfortunately, serious injuries don’t take the holidays off) I don’t expect to get many calls today.

I just ran across an article in the ABA Journal that points out that only one state, Oregon, requires attorneys to be covered by malpractice insurance. There, lawyers must purchase at least $300,000 of coverage through a state fund.

My state, Maryland, does not require it and never has. I know there are many, many lawyers “running bare”. I think this is colossally stupid. If the economics of your practice do not allow for the purchase of malpractice insurance, you might be in the wrong game. It is easy to think that because you are a dedicated, competent lawyer, you will avoid committing malpractice. But what if someone brings a claim that turns out to be unfounded? If you have insurance, it is defended at low or no cost by an attorney who is an expert in legal malpractice defense. You will have access to well-qualified experts to testify in your defense. You will have counsel with experience in assisting you with any bar complaint that may be made. With no coverage, you don’t get any of that, and if you do, you pay as you go.

Whether or not the state requires lawyers to purchase malpractice insurance, its a good idea to have it. I just can’t belive there are lawyers who go without. Why do I suspect that these are probably also the lawyers most likely to need it?

As the Internet Age progresses, I expect personal injury litigation to change in keeping with the times. Naturally, this extends to the “tool kit” that lawyers use to prove liability in car accident injury cases.

Overhead views of highways and intersections can be invaluable in proving liability for collisions. They can be useful for showing the general layout of accident scenes, establishing the location of traffic signals, illustrating sightlines, showing the movement of vehicles between lanes or through intersections, or establishing the location of witnesses. Not long ago, it was commonplace to see questions on bar association listserves looking for sources of aerial photographs of roads and highways for use in car accident cases.

No longer. Google Earth has become the go-to resource for many for overhead photos. They are in color, searchable, and can be zoomed in or out depnding on what view the situation calls for.

Our lawyers are reviewing Topamax birth defect lawsuits in Baltimore.

Topamax or Topiramate has been used to treat everything except the bubonic plague. It is supposed to treat some types of seizures in patients who have epilepsy.

Topamax lawsuits involve birth defects from the children of women who were taking Topamax/Topiramate. The birth defects have most typically been either cleft lips and cleft palates.

As most of you know, my primary practice area is representing people injured in car and truck accidents. As one of my “extracurricular activities,” I co-chair the Maryland Association for Justice’s Auto Negligence Section.

We just completed our sold-out fall seminar on “Maximizing Auto Negligence Claims.” The seminar included a judicial panel featuring five Maryland Circuit Court judges talking about their experiences presiding over car and truck accident cases. I served as the moderator of the panel discussion.

This was a discussion that offered something for everyone, whether a new practitioner or an experienced lawyer. It would be impossible to reproduce all of the excellent advice given, but I want to pass along some choice pieces of wisdom from a few members of our panel.

The Maryland Judiciary has announced that there is an opening on the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland due to the retirement of the Hon. James P. Salmon. This seat corresponds to the Fourth Appellate Circuit, consisting of Prince George’s County.

The Court of Special Appeals is the state’s intermediate appellate court. Per the state judiciary’s website, there are not yet any applicants for the seat. I will keep an eye on this vacancy. Because I practice in Prince George’s County frequently, there is a good chance I will know something about any prospective applicants.

I usually write this blog solely about topics of interest to personal injury lawyers, such as trial strategy, legal news, and “from the trenches” trial reports. This is for two reasons. First, I want my readers to get the most value from each post, and that is the content people come here for. Second, nobody really cares what I think about anything else.

Today I depart from that because the holiday season is a great time to reflect on the year that has been, and to prepare for the year that will be. Accordingly, here are some thoughts for the past and upcoming twelve months:

1. One of the things that has always struck me about being a personal injury lawyer is the way my relationships with clients begin. I have often observed that nobody calls me because everything is fine. They say that about fire and police- every day when they go to work they step into the middle of someone else’s worst day ever. Now, what I do is a far cry from that kind of work, but it is helpful for me to remember that I am rarely dealing with clients or potential clients at their best.

This is a bit of a departure for this blog. Normally, this space is dedicated to topics of interest to personal injury lawyers and victims. However, I saw something Sunday that I feel like I need to let out.

I went to the Maryland State Fair on Sunday at the Timonium Fairgrounds. I love the fair, because it reminds me of being a little kid. One of my favorite fair activities is the “penny candy” shop. This reminds me of being a little kid at St. Anthony’s May Festival.

The candy shop at the fair is located at one end of the exhibit hall. Customers enter at one end, and file through the shop. The candy is displayed in waist-high bins, in a way that the line formed by customers snakes through the bins to the checkout, like a big maze.

I just read an article in The Daily Record discussing the flood of incoming law students at Baltimore City’s two law schools. There are only two law schools in Maryland, The University of Maryland School of Law (“UMD”) and the University of Baltimore School of Law (“UB”), both located in Baltimore City.

The article reports that UB plans to admit 340 first-year students this fall out of 2700 applications. UMB plans to admit 317 students from 4000 applications. Combined, that is 6700 applicants competing for 657 seats. Even a liberal arts grad like me can tell that those are not good odds. These statistics show that a law degree is still in great demand.

This is curious, because the same publication also reports today on the lack of employment opportunities for recent law graduates. The article confirms what we all know- the top 10% of each graduating class generally has no trouble finding employment, whether in a prestigious law firm of through a judicial clerkship. But for the other 90% of law grads, the legal job market is tough, with many new attorneys getting by on temporary contract work (usually consisting of document review projects that are mind-numbingly boring and could be done by a reasonably intelligent high school student). They have quickly realized that the 100K in student loans may not have been the best idea. This is something law schools do poorly. They don’t do a good job of preparing the overwhelming majority of students who are not in the golden 10%.

It was announced today that Governor O’Malley has appointed a new judge to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Marcus Z. Shar, a Baltimore City medical malpractice lawyer, will be the newest member of that court. I think this is a great appointment. I have met Judge Shar a few times through professional associations and his involvement with the University of Baltimore School of Law’s trial advocacy program.

He strikes me as a very intelligent, open-minded person who has the right demeanor for a trial court judge. I think this is a good choice all around.

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