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04/09/07

Florida apex court streamlines erring lawyers


The Florida Supreme Court decided to whack the gavel on 26 erring lawyers whose conduct did not befit the legal profession. With disciplinary measures ranging from permanent disbarring to maximum three years suspension, the Court ensured that law does not spare even erring lawyers.

The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation, acting on behalf of the Florida Supreme Court, administer statewide disciplinary system on practicing lawyers. The move is an outcome of the need to enforce the Supreme Court rules of professional conduct on its 80,000-plus lawyers practicing law in the State of Florida.

Safeguarding the integrity of the legal profession, the Florida Court had to tighten reins owing to some attorneys' growing misdemeanor. Thus, a few among them were also awarded more than one form of punishment.

Among those disciplined, two belong to Tampa. One, Timothy Allen Patrick was ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution and also publicly reprimanded at the first Board of Governors. Patrick, who began his practice in 1993, allegedly failed to keep his clients updated on case status. He failed to show due diligence and promptness in representing a client, the Court release stated. While John Stanley Morse of Tampa was suspended for 90 days together with public reprimand, Michael Walter Gaines of Palm Harbor was suspended until further order of the Court. The fourth from Lakeland, Charles Daniel Akes, was put on three-year probation, besides public reprimand.

Top U.S. law firms which revolved the government doors most
Leading U.S. law firms reaped rich rewards from lobbying hard with other general lobbyists. This fact was revealed in a study conducted by the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP), a Washington, DC-based non-partisan research group. The study included a survey to find out top lobbying earners among groups that work exclusively in government affairs and lobbying. The report projected a cache of $107.15m which was amassed by these law firms in 2006.

The $2.44bn lobbying industry had a bountiful year in 2006. This is despite the corruption charges faced by Jack Abramoff, a former Greenberg Traurig partner. Among these, mentionable are Patton Boggs, Akin Gump, DLA Piper, Hogan & Hartson, Williams & Jensen , Preston Gates, and Brownstein Hyatt which made it to the top 20 rankings.

Among the top five overall, Patton Boggs, fourth time in a row, earned itself the top position, with its $34.69m earning from lobbying. In 2005, however, with $36.33m, $1.64m more than 2006, it alone could earn 16 percent of the total overall revenue then. This year, confectioner Mars proved to be the biggest money-spinner among its clients with its $2.32m. Next to it was the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) which paid the firm $920,000. Akin Gump was placed third in the list with $25.82m. The firm's highest revenue earner was Mortgage Insurance Companies of America which paid $960,000 in 2006.

Hogan & Hartson was placed seventh in the list, with $17.28m followed by DLA Piper in the ninth position with $16.48m. Williams & Jensen took the 11th spot overall, while Holland & Knight stood the 13th, followed by Preston Gates in the 14th, and Brownstein Hyatt in the 18th position.

Established in 1983, the Center for Responsive Politics tracks money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. It aims to create a more well-informed vote bank, an involved electorate, and a more receptive government.

BIZARRE NEWS

Aren't dentists scary enough?
Alan Hutchinson, a London dentist, was barred from his practice by the General Dental Council, this week. Hutchinson, 51, was found guilty of "unhygienic practices" such as urinating in a surgical sink, using surgical instruments to clean ears and fingernails, not wearing gloves while treating patients, and failing to wash his hands between appointments. Hutchinson denied all charges except that of not regularly wearing gloves, claiming he had a latex allergy. His nurse Claire Pygott caught him pissing in the sink more than once, reports bbc.co.uk. Dentists getting scarier everyday… Poor patients!

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