BISNOW ON BUSINESS – Legal predictions for 08


We have no connection to Jack Olender, the former President of the D.C. Bar Association and the high profile local king of malpractice suits. But he boasts over 150 verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million, so when his ’08 forecast came across our desk, we took notice. Also, he claims a 90% success rate for his predictions in years past, and is virtually willing to guarantee his final prediction below.  However, that was before last nights caucuses. 
1.  Home-run King Barry Bonds will not go to prison.   
He most likely will receive an acceptable plea deal that will not include prison time.  There are plenty of talking points pro and con on the felony charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.  Barry Bonds has assembled a dream team of lawyers who have a good track record.  The only logical conclusion for both sides is a plea bargain that will uphold the law, satisfy most Americans, and not denigrate a great ball player.
2.  Major League Baseballs report on steroids, authored by former Senator George Mitchell could result in some libel and slander lawsuits.   
To be successful, any player filing a defamation suit would have to make a strong showing that he was not involved in any way in the use or distribution of steroids.
3.  More successful class action lawsuits against big companies for overtime pay.    
Employees are being improperly classified as white collar executives to deny them overtime pay.  An example: Starbucks paid $18 million in 2003 to their store managers in California to settle an overtime suit.  The number of such cases in Federal Courts doubled from 2001 to 2006.  A hot area.  
4.  MRSA-infected athletes will successfully sue their schools and professional teams.    
A suit has already been filed by a former student athlete at Iona College where ten student athletes were infected with the drug-resistant staph infection.  Sharing equipment and towels and lax team trainers are blamed. 
5.  More employment discrimination suits by obese people.    
Hiring and firing cases by obese persons have been filed.  Federal law and state laws are not consistent, but the District of Columbias Human Rights Law does protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of personal appearance.  Stay tuned for more lawsuits and court decisions, eventually by the Supremes. 
6.  More age discrimination suits by 65 year old lawyers.   
Law firm mandatory retirement age rules have resulted in at least two law suits in 2007 against a major D.C. law firm.  Our number one prediction last year was Old lawyers never die – they just lose their job. The New York State Bar Association, in a strongly worded report this year, called on law firms to end the practice of mandatory retirement for partners. 
7.  More federal judges will leave the bench to earn way more in private practice.    
They are retiring early and good candidates often decline because judicial salaries are less than $200,000, except the Supreme Court which pays slightly more.  Not shabby, but partnerships in large powerful firms pay several times what judges earn.  No solution in sight.  
8.  More law students will be trained to actually represent real life clients.   
The UDC David A. Clarke Law School has long had a nationally known clinical law program that provides needed free legal services by law students supervised by professors.  Now the Harvards and Stanfords of the world are catching on.  No more Professor Kingsfield.  They are not abandoning the Socratic method but they are beefing up their clinical programs.  The result may be fewer graduates ready to go on the Supreme Court, but many more who will be better prepared to practice law and represent people.  
9.  Email medical prescriptions will reduce malpractice and lawsuits.  
Scribbled, illegible prescriptions have produced many malpractice lawsuits.  A federal bill introduced by Senator Kerry would encourage email prescriptions and penalize doctors who dont use the technology by 2011.  It is estimated that only two percent of the nations roughly 1.5 billion prescriptions are electronic.  
10.  The next President of the United States will be a lawyer.  
If I were a gambler, I would place money on this prediction.  The leading Democrats at this writing are all lawyers: Clinton, Edwards, Obama.  Two of the leading Republicans are lawyers: Guiliani, Romney.  Huckabee isnt, but a Republican will not win in November.  Safe bet, but dont sue me if Im wrong.