Oregon State Bar Bulletin — MAY 2003

Briefs

MEETINGS AMONG THE TOP TIME WASTERS

Face time isn’t always time well spent, a new nationwide survey suggests.

More than a quarter (27 percent) of workers polled said meetings are the biggest culprit when it comes to hours wasted on the job. Unnecessary interruptions ranked a close second, with 26 percent of the response. The results were published by the Portland Business Journal.

'Lean staffing levels within many of today’s companies have placed increased pressure on employees to manage their time effectively,' said Liz Hughes, executive director of OfficeTeam, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing service that developed the survey. 'Unproductive meetings and needless interruptions can cause workers to get behind or log more hours unnecessarily.'

She said 'red flags' that can indicate a mismanaged meeting include:

No meeting leader. If no one is in charge of keeping the meeting on track, it could easily go into overtime.

Lack of objective. The meeting should have a distinct purpose, whether it’s to get everyone up to speed on a project or identify a solution to a problem.

Lengthy invite list. Are you being invited to the meeting because your input is needed or as a courtesy? When the list of attendees is extensive, it’s often because the person holding the meeting doesn’t want to exclude anyone, not because each employee’s participation is necessary.

It’s part of the routine. Regularly scheduled meetings can lose their value over time. Determine if any agenda items pertain to you before agreeing to attend.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 613 men and women, all 18 years of age or older and employed.

SHARPEN YOUR QUILLS

The second annual national competition’s purpose is 'to encourage lawyers to become more interested in and adept at writing legal fiction.' The contest deadline is Sept. 15, 2003 to submit a short story or novel excerpt in the legal fiction genre. Typed submission must not exceed 2,500 words. As luck would have it, the 2002 competition winner will have her manuscript published by William Morrow/Harper Collins. Could you be next? For more details, visit www.seak.com. The competition is being run by SEAK, a legal and medical publisher which sponsors the National Legal Fiction Writing Workshop for Lawyers, to be held this year Oct. 17-19 on Cape Cod (in Falmouth, Mass.). For additional information, contact Steven Babitsky at 508-548-9443, or e-mail him at sbabitsky@aol.com.

NEW RADIO PROGRAM

Justice Talking is a one-hour weekly radio program produced by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Hosted by veteran NPR correspondent Morgot Adler, the show takes an in-depth look at the cases and controversies that come before our nation’s courts. The show is taped before a live audience and is aired on KOPB throughout the Oregon listening area at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more information, visit the show’s website at www.justicetalking.org.

A SAD NOTE

William F. White, a frequent contributor and author who was featured on this page last month, died just after the issue had been prepared. A complete obituary may be found on page 64.


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SUPREME COURT NARROWLY UPHOLDS IOLTA

On March 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court rescued IOLTA programs from a vigorous constitutional attack, ruling 5-4 that states may pool clients’ escrow funds in bank accounts and give the interest to legal aid programs. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the Court assumed the IOLTA programs amount to a taking, albeit a minimal one, but that they are used for a valid public purpose. And, the Court found that the just compensation required by the Fifth Amendment amounts to zero, because just compensation must be measured by the owner’s pecuniary loss – and here there is none. In IOLTA accounts, client funds that are too small in amount or held for too short of a time to earn interest for the client, net of bank charges or administrative fees, are placed in a pooled interest-bearing trust account. The interest earned in so doing is used to fund legal aid in all 50 states for low-income people. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia complained that the Court h ad endorsed a 'Robin Hood taking' from the rich to give to indigents. The case is Brown v. Legal Foundation of Washington, No. 01-1325 (originally Washington Legal Foundation v. Legal Foundation of Washington). IOLTA accounts generate some $160 million a year nationwide, about 15 percent of all money from public and private sources spent on legal services for the poor.