Daubert, Frye, or Both: Becoming an Expert on the Standards for Experts

By Gina P. Villar

Up until 2013, the standard for admitting expert testimony in Florida was fairly simple to comprehend: any expert opinion based on scientific technique is “inadmissible unless that technique is generally accepted as reliable in the relevant scientific community.” Thus, according to what many attorneys refer to as the Frye test, the expert testimony must be generally accepted as reliable among his or her peers in order to be admissible in court.

Effective July 1, 2013, Florida changed its expert testimony standard from Frye to Daubert pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 90.702. The Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals rejected the Frye standard and implemented a new standard for allowing experts to testify based on Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which in the simplest way, is comprised of two parts: 1) the testimony must be based on “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge;” and 2) the testimony must “assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence.” The Court also explained that judges can look to other factors in making its determination including if the theory has been tested; peer reviewed; published; contains a small rate of error; and is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. The Supreme Court made clear that the less-stringent Frye test is just a factor under Daubert.

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Best Interests of . . . ? A Look into the Proposed Divorce Bill and Its Potential Impact on Family-Law Attorneys and Their Clients

By Gina Villar

Currently sitting on Governor Rick Scott’s desk is a bill which could drastically change the divorce laws in Florida. Bill 668, authored by Sen. Kelli Stargel and Sen. Tom Lee, primarily seeks to alter the way the courts determine both alimony and timesharing (which ultimately affects child support as well).

First, the bill eliminates the numerous types of alimony, most significant, permanent alimony, and instead replaces it with two formulas designated to determine the amount of alimony and the length of time alimony will be awarded. The proposed “presumptive alimony amount range” gives a low and high end based on the number of years of marriage multiplied by either .015 or .020, representing the low and high ends, respectfully. Those numbers are then multiplied by the difference between the monthly gross incomes of the parties. The proposed “presumptive alimony duration range” gives a low end (.25 x years of marriage) and a high end (.75 x years of marriage) to determine the length of time a spouse is entitled to receive alimony. Math aside, the bill makes clear that permanent alimony, which has long been given to the receiving spouse for the remainder of his or her life, is abolished.

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Standing Desks: A Health Conscious Means of Keeping Attorneys On Their Toes

By James Diamond

An attorney’s work generally requires long hours of deep concentration. Therefore, it is no surprise that we are perpetually sitting at our desks. However, recent studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can be detrimental to both our physical and mental health.

In fact, in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dr. James Levine, the director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and the inventor of the treadmill desk, stated, “sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting.” Other research has shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time leads to a greater risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, muscular issues, and depression. For a detailed description of the health problems associated with constant sitting, watch this enlightening “TED talk” entitled, “Why Sitting is Bad for You.”

Kluger standing desksGiven that many attorneys are often burning the midnight oil at their desks, and are therefore at a high risk of developing health problems associated with frequent sitting, what can law firms do to protect their attorneys against such health risks? Continue reading

The 5 Best Ways To Improve Your Image At The Firm

Law360

 

 

 

 

 

By Y. Peter Lang

Law360, Los Angeles (March 21, 2016, 2:08 PM ET) — In a BigLaw culture in which doing great work and hitting your billables is par for the course, it’s easy for even excellent attorneys to get lost in the crowd. Boosting your image from reliable worker bee to law firm standout is essential to advancing your career, experts say.

The work comes first — there’s no way to get ahead at a firm without first delivering great results to senior partners and clients. But lawyers who keep their noses to the grindstone and never look up risk languishing with all the work and few of the accolades.

There are essentially two routes to burnishing your image at the firm: developing strong relationships with colleagues and making it rain, experts say. Here, they share five tips for focusing on those two areas to improve your image among firm colleagues.

Become a Leader

Find opportunities to lead within the firm, even if that means taking on an undesirable task and turning it into a leadership role, Reed advises. Volunteering to serve on an internal committee, testing new software or devices, or stepping up to investigate a new practice area opportunity are all things that will be noticed by both your peers and firm decision makers. Continue reading

Obstacles faced by young female attorneys

By: Leslie R. Pollack and Christina M. Himmel

This is 2016. It is a year where we could witness Hillary Clinton become the first female President of the United States. It is a time where women have ostensibly shattered whatever glass ceiling may have existed in the past. Yet, despite the perceived progress for women, there are still obstacles to overcome, including work-life balance.

In honor of International Women’s Day, celebrated annually in March, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on issues that impact working women—and in particular, young women attorneys.

For young women lawyers, navigating through the ever-changing legal world can be challenging for a multitude of reasons. Inequality in pay, respect, and advancement are among the issues confronting young women lawyers. According to a recent survey conducted by the Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar, 43% of young women attorneys have experienced gender bias. One of the survey participants said that she left a job because she “was told by the managing partner that [she] did not have to worry about making money and moving ahead because [she] would get married one day and will not have to worry about living expenses.” More than a quarter of those surveyed reported that they resigned from a position due to lack of advancement, employer insensitivity, and lack of work-life balance.

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