A Massachusetts jury recently awarded a $14 million wrongful death verdict against a nursing home. Dollar amount aside, this verdict is staggering because it includes a $12.5 million punitive damages award, meaning the jury was trying to punish the facility for its alleged poor care. The facility admitted it failed to administer proper care to the decedent resident, but it rejected claims that the neglect led to the resident’s death.

Was there a way for the facility to avoid this trial, or at least avoid being slammed with a judgement that included punitive damages? Were documents available that may have substantiated the facility’s assertion that its negligence did not lead to the resident’s death? Perhaps early case resolution techniques could have been used to resolve this matter at the outset? This year’s DRI Nursing Home/ALF Litigation Seminar offers sessions that address these questions and more. Timothy Cesar, Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., and attorney Bradley Kelly will lead “Putting the ‘Ending’ in Defending Litigation and discuss how both sides to a dispute can best utilize early case resolution to their advantage. Similarly, during “Ancillary Evidence May Be the Key to a Successful Defense,” Tracey Maw, RN, MSN, will discuss how information collected by a facility beyond a resident’s formal chart may be harnessed to benefit a facility in litigation.

The 2014 Nursing Home/ALF Litigation Seminar will be held September 18–19, 2014, at the Swissôtel Chicago. Register today.

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The Art of Negotiation

Posted on October 8, 2013 03:33 by Sarah E. Lovequist

There have been a number of attempts in the past 15 to 20 years to significantly increase the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), particularly mediation, by parties to civil and commercial disputes. Several law schools now offer comprehensive ADR courses, and courts regularly certify mediators to help facilitate expedited case resolution. Likewise, judges presiding over class action or mass tort/MDL litigations regularly schedule mediation proceedings at or before the initial case management conference.

According to BTI's "Litigation Outlook 2014" survey, 60.7 percent of clients expect to see a jump in litigation matters, yet resolution rates are expected to reach nearly 40 percent. These statistics, coupled with findings from AlixPartners' "Litigation and Corporate Compliance Survey," that 84 percent of corporate legal departments are trying several ways to lower legal costs, including resorting to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), indicate that counsel should quickly hone mediation and negotiation skills.
Short of enrolling in a class at one's local law school or signing up for a one hour CLE on the topic, a practicing attorney has several avenues to take to improve her ADR skills. One such avenue is attending the 2014 DRI Women in the Law Seminar to take advantage of the Seminar's Mediation/Negotiation Workshop. This interactive Workshop includes sessions on both ADR and the art of negotiating, and is designed for both in-house and outside counsel. In addition to this groundbreaking Workshop, the Seminar as a whole promises to offer both practical and networking sessions aimed at enhancing the practicing attorney's total being. 

The 2014 Women in the Law Seminar will be held February 5-7, 2014, at the FireSky resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Register today by visiting here

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Categories: DRI Committees | Seminar | Women in Law

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The Future of Long-Term Care

Posted on June 20, 2013 03:35 by Sarah E. Lovequist

There is a common shorthand for the general public’s perception about long-term care, frequently referred to as the "70-70-70" problem:

70 percent of the people over age 65 will need some form of long-term care during their remaining lives.
70 percent of the public does not believe they will ever need such care.
70 percent of the public thinks that if they did need such care, it is already covered by their Medicare insurance. Medicare covers only acute short-term care needs, not long-term care.

Despite this demand, many health care facilities across the nation are financially strapped, leading to a size gap between what facilities have and what is needed to ensure adequate nurse staffing in long-term care facilities; ensuring a labor shortage does not negatively affect a facility’s standard of care is a complex and daily balancing act. This gap and how it affects a facility’s standard of care may be the crux of a family’s and/or resident’s lawsuit against a nursing home or assisted living facility. As a result, understanding both the public perception and how to strategize against it is one of the keys to successfully defending long-term care cases.

In order to glean the most up-to-date perspective on avoiding and defending long-term care claims and litigation, consider heading to Scottsdale, Arizona this September to attend DRI’s Nursing Home/ALF Seminar. Presentations from industry leaders will focus on, among other topics, MDS 3.0 and staffing measures, standard of care in long-term care cases, and the top 10 drivers of aging services claims. Registration is now open, click here for more information.

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Categories: Medicare | Seminar

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Amid discussions on how the Sequester will impact the country and reports of law firm downsizing, two recent surveys indicate that economic conditions in the legal industry are on an upswing.

First, on March 18, 2013, Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group released results from its Law Watch Managing Partner Index survey. The survey covers the fourth quarter of 2012 and is based on responses from 77 law firm leaders to questions about his or her overall confidence in business conditions in the legal industry. The leaders’ responses were plotted on a 200-point index, with 99 points or less representing a lack of confidence, 100 points representing a neutral response and 101-200 points representing complete confidence. Overall confidence in the industry rose 13 points from the third quarter of 2012, with 34% of respondents indicating his or her overall confidence is now “somewhat better.” Other topics in which leaders are increasingly confident are the economy at large, business conditions of the legal profession, profits and revenues, and demand. As one may expect, leaders also reported a continued increase in demand for discounts, cumulating in 73 points, which places this category in the “lack of confidence” portion of the scale; this index value represents a 4-point drop from Q3 2012 to Q4 2012, indicating that leaders still experience push-back from clients on fees.

Supporting the idea that economic conditions are improving, Robert Half Legal released its 2013 Salary Guide, stating that “an upturn in business activity has sparked renewed hiring at both law firms and corporate legal departments.” Law firms are focusing on hiring experienced lawyers; “hybrid paralegal/legal secretary positions” are also in demand as firms continue to streamline operations. Also, based on a survey of 200 lawyers in the largest firms and corporations in the United States, three key areas of law should experience the most growth in the next two years: healthcare, general business/commercial law, and litigation. Salaries for all legal positions in both law firms (all sizes) and corporations are expected to increase. The Salary Guide further indicates that the employment outlook for Canada also remains positive, with general business/corporate law expected to experience the most growth over the next two years. The Guide concludes with eight signs it’s time to start hiring additional staff (beyond the obvious “new work is coming in”), whether or not counteroffers should be made to departing employees, and eight low-cost employee perks that are inexpensive for employers to offer yet are highly appealing to employees.

Perhaps 2013 will be a banner year after all . . .

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Let It Rain - Women in the Law 2013

Posted on February 13, 2013 07:20 by Sarah E. Lovequist

As revealed by the National Association of Women Lawyers’ 2012 Survey, women are not credited as rainmakers at the same rates as men: “Almost half (46%) of all large firms report no women rainmakers among their top 10 business generators . . . women partners are less likely than men to receive credit for even a relatively modest book of business . . .” While business development can be a relatively straight-forward process, it is also arguably one of the trickiest areas for women to navigate. 

So how does one join this traditionally male-dominated conversation and hold one’s own? Fortunately, the first step is as easy as attending DRI’s Women in the Law Seminar, March 13-15, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida. Marianne Trost is kicking off the seminar by leading a hands-on workshop that promises to help any female attorney hone her rainmaking skills so that she may stand toe-to-toe with male rainmakers. Additionally, DRI’s seminar offers sessions on practical skills from time management to selecting a favorable jury to delivering a killer cross-exam. And, of course, there will be plenty of time to network with and learn from fellow seminar attendees’ real life experiences. March is right around the corner, register today!

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Last month the National Bureau of Economic Research released results of its recent research that indicates more women receive raises than their male counter parts, largely because women are more likely than men to haggle and negotiate salary when there is an opportunity to do so. This fact in and of itself is great news – women are taking charge of their careers and sitting down with employers to have “difficult” conversations.  TribeHR decided to delve deeper and create the TribeHR Pay Raise Index – TribeHR concurs with the NBER’s data and found that women receive more pay raises than men - 7.4 percent compared to 6.2 percent. 

What these recent figures do not explain, though, is that, despite these efforts, women as a whole are still earning less money than their male counterparts. Although women seem to receive more raises, men who receive raises are rewarded with higher pay. According to TribeHR’s research, when reviewing pay raises of 5 percent or greater, 60 percent of these raises went to men while only 38 percent went to women; men were three times more likely than women to receive a raise over 25 percent. This data, coupled with findings from the National Association of Women Lawyers’ 2012 Survey that women attorneys typically earn only 89 percent of what their male counterparts earn and account for 70 percent of staff attorneys in the nation’s 200 largest firms, undoubtedly contributes to women unnecessarily fleeing the legal profession altogether.

Wondering how to take control of your salary and career? Consider attending the 2013 Women in the Law Seminar – in addition to practice-related topics, The Careerist Vivia J. Chen will present a session entitled “The Careerist’s Top Ten Tips to Advance Your Career” and offer practical advice on what drives success in the legal field based on her own experience as a practicing lawyer. Caroline Turner from DifferenceWORKS LLC will further empower attendees with a session on enacting gender initiatives within firms and corporations. And nothing compares to networking with fellow women practitioners facing the same professional challenges, brainstorming how to navigate around these statistical detours while continuing on the path to success. Hope to see you in Miami, Florida, March 13-15, 2013! 
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Since 2009, Altman Weil, Inc. has conducted its Law Firms in Transition Survey that measures the impact of the economy on the legal profession, tracks trends, and summarizes what profession leaders believe will impact the profession in the future. Issues initially brought to light as emerging trends in 2009 are now considered permanent changes in 2012: almost all law firm leaders who participated in the survey believe that the profession will continuously face price competition from present into the future; the majority of survey participants also believe commoditized legal work and non-hourly billing are permanent fixtures in the profession. What a difference a few years make!

Efficiency is also now regarded as a permanent trend, with 96% of respondents recognizing that efficiency in legal services delivery must improve – clients will continue to demand greater transparency and greater value. As mentioned in the survey, “Trends that showed clear momentum in interim years have become deeply entrenched in 2012.”

This year’s survey polled Managing Partners and Chairs at 792 US law firms with 50 or more lawyers. Completed surveys were received from 238 firms, including 40% of the 250 largest US law firms. The full survey includes sections on economic performance and billing rates, alternative fee arrangements, law firm demographics, hiring trends, outsourcing trends, client relationships and the future of the profession.

Access the full survey here.

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