Oregon State Bar Bulletin — AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2002

Briefs

SPOTLIGHT ON OREGON
Oregon's two U.S. senators, Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden, are featured on the cover story of this summer's issue of Equal Justice magazine, published by the Legal Services Corp. The story points out the two senators' unified support for Legal Aid, in contrast to their other political differences.
The article reads in part: 'Yet despite their disparate dossiers, the two men happen to comprise the only bipartisan delegation in the U.S. Senate that actively and consistently sticks its neck out for the rights of low-income Americans being denied access to civil justice.'
While the magazine touts the Smith-Wyden advocacy for federal Legal Aid funding, it goes on to explain that federal dollars make up less than one-third of the $11.5 million budget in Oregon. That's because Oregon lawyers donate generously to help fill the funding gap with the annual Campaign for Equal Justice. Last year the campaign raised $730,000; this year's goal is $750,000.

The magazine can be viewed online at www. ejm.lsc.gov.


HELP FOR DIVORCE CLIENTS
Attorneys whose soon-to-be divorced clients have questions about how to file income taxes while going through a marital breakup have a new information resource. The information is found in a new circular, 'Divorce and Taxes,' produced by the Oregon Department of Revenue.
'Going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience,' says Susan Browning, administrator of the departments personal tax and compliance division. 'Thinking about filing your taxes often is not a priority.' Browning says she has seen many people let their tax-filing slide during a divorce, only to find there are heavy consequences (100 percent penalty in addition to interest if unfiled for three consecutive years.) A common error: Many fail to file separate tax returns, as required.
The circular can be ordered by called the Department of Revenue, (503) 945-8637. Ask for item number 150-101-629.


PREMIUMS SKYROCKET IN GOLDEN STATE
A harder market and the departure of at least nine underwriters in the last nine months are being blamed for skyrocketing legal malpractice insurance rates in California, according to a report in the July 2002 California Bar Journal.
Rate increases have ranged from 20 to 400 percent, according to Brian Ahern, president of Ahern Insurance Brokers of San Diego. 'That's a shocking figure, mainly because when we entered the first part of the year, we anticipated rates would go up 10 to 15 percent, maybe up to 50 percent. So the increases have doubled beyond what our expectations were.'
The bar journal reports that one eight-attorney patent firm halved its limits (from $4 million to $2 million) and doubled its deductible (from $25,000 to $50,000), but experienced an increase from $60,000 last year to $95,000 this year. Another patent and intellectual property lawyer - with no claims against him - saw an increase from $8,000 last year to $30,000 this year.
The article can be found online at www.calbar.ca.gov. Follow the links to California Bar Journal, and then archived issues.


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GOT A MESSY DESK?

Consider for a moment the status of the cluttered desk: A desk in disarray is often the object of ridicule, a source of embarrassment for its owner. But clutter is not without its supporters. 'You can know a person by the kind of desk he keeps,' Harold S. Geneen, the chairman of International Telephone and Telegraph, once remarked. 'If the president of a company has a clean desk, then it must be the executive vice president who is doing all the work.' So the Bulletin hereby issues a call to its readers: Submit a photo of your cluttered desk (or sneak photos of your associates or partners). We'll recognize the greatness of clutter by reproducing the photos on this page. This brainstorm, by the way, comes from OSB member Colin Lamb, an occasional contributor to this page, who thinks the appearance of a cluttered desk is under-appreciated. He writes: 'I must admit I have a cluttered desk, which is simply my way of keeping the files that are waiting for work to be done…. It is my style of practicing law. But, it probably does bother some clients.' Lamb says he was inspired by the desk of Thomas Vaughn, the former director of the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon historian laureate ('the most cluttered desk I ever saw'). But, Lamb added, 'he had an outstanding mind and organizational skill. After seeing this, I realized I would never be in the same league.' Submit those photos to Editor, OSB Bulletin, 5200 S.W. Meadows Road, Lake Oswego, Ore. 97035; or by e-mail at editor@osbar.org