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In the December 11, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Tianna K. Kalogerakis, Associate of KHF authored “Pa. Law Firms Must Learn From the Past to Improve Diversity in the Future.”

A mere four years after The Legal Intelligencer’s founding in 1843, the story of blacks seeking admission to the legal profession in Pennsylvania began. Despite nearly 175 years of black Pennsylvania lawyers overcoming obstacles to entry of the legal profession, institutional barriers persist, leaving blacks and other minorities in the state still in search of meaningful access in the legal profession. In 2018, law firms that are not intentional about cultivating diversity may be unintentionally discriminating against diverse candidates.

To tell the story of diversity in the legal profession—specifically when discussing the black lawyer—one must first acknowledge the role of slavery in America. People of color were held in bondage for decades against their will and the ownership of humans by other humans was sanctioned by the laws of this country. Enslavement and discrimination of individuals based on their skin color was codified into our federal and state systems of government and dictated the daily interactions of individuals. These codifications and the resulting caste system became the foundations of the institutional barriers minorities continue to face today. Continue reading →

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In the November 29, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored “Have the Courts Made Room for Inevitability Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act?

The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), 18 U.S.C. Section 1836, et seq., which was enacted on May 11, 2016, after a Senate vote of 87-0, is the first federal law to protect trade secrets. The rare unanimous vote was unsurprising given the stunning report by the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property that outlined how theft of intellectual property costs U.S. businesses more than $300 billion a year.

The DTSA highlighted Congress’ goal of aligning the federal law closely with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), which has been adopted in some form in almost every state. Just as the Lanham Act, which coexists with state trademark law, the DTSA coexists with state trade secret law. As such, it is important to understand this interplay and what it is likely to look like going forward. Continue reading →

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In the November 8, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward T. Kang, Managing Member of KHF and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored “When Noncompete Agreements Involve Competing Laws.”

In situations where employers also make their employees, or certain employees, agree to restrictive covenants, particularly noncompetes, companies expect the same uniformity and predictability regarding their enforceability as to each employee, regardless of where the employee works or lives. Employees, on the other hand, often expect (as we learned through a recent case) that even with another state’s choice of law provision, they will still be afforded the protection of the laws of their own state. This disconnect is no clearer than where non-California headquartered companies hire California residents as employees and require them to sign noncompetes governed by another state’s law. In California, noncompete agreements are generally unenforceable (with some limited exceptions). This is well-known, particularly by California residents. So, what happens in this situation if the California employee violates their noncompete? Continue reading →

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In the October 18, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored, “Why Lawyers Should Care About Emojis.

Although emojis have been included in smartphone operating systems for more than a decade, they are just starting to make their way into the world of litigation. While Apple’s emoji debut consisted of 54 emojis, made up primarily of different yellow smiley faces, iPhone now offers its users a broad range of hundreds of emojis, representative of different races, genders, cultures and religions. Today, there are close to 3,000 emojis in the Unicode Standard. As such, people can communicate a lot more through emojis, if they choose. And, the data shows this is what people are choosing. Over 10 billion emojis are sent each day throughout the world. Approximately 92 percent of all people who communicate online or through text messages on a smartphone use emojis, with more than one-third of them using emojis daily. Analysts have referred to the uptick in emoji use as “watching the birth of a new language.”

In 2015, emojis were mentioned in 14 federal and state court opinions. This number increased to 25 in 2016 and 33 in 2017. With the rules of the profession (Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules of Evidence) changing—slowly, albeit surely—to address the advent of social media and electronic communications, it is important to understand how emojis fit into the current legal landscape.

 

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In the September 2018 edition of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (“NAMWOLF”) Newsletter, Jacklyn Fetbroyt,  Member of KHF, writes Firm FinCEN’s Customer Due Diligence Rule and Implementation.

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In 2016, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued its final rule on customer due diligence and beneficial ownership requirements (the “CDD Rule,” 31 CFR Parts 1010, 1020, 1023, et al.), promulgated under the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and other legislation, which legislative framework is commonly referred to as the ‘‘Bank Secrecy Act.” Notably, the Bank Secrecy Act lacks a requirement that financial institutions know the identity of the beneficial owners of their accounts – i.e., the individuals who control legal entity customers – which therefore allow a shield of anonymity for the beneficial owners. To address this perceived weakness and the limit the money laundering that it enabled, FinCEN issued the CDD Rule on May 11, 2016, and it became effective on July 11, 2016; however, covered financial institutions—including federally regulated banks, federally insured credit unions, mutual funds, brokers and dealers in securities, futures commission merchants, and introducing brokers in commodities—had until May 11, 2018, to come into full compliance with the CDD Rule. Continue reading →

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In the September 6, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF, and Tianna Kalogerakis, Associate of KHF, co-authored “Borrowing Statute: NY’s Bar to the Unsuspecting, Out-of-State Investor.”

Despite the plaintiff-friendly pleading standards for securities fraud outlined by the Supreme Court in Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, 130 S. Ct. 1784 (2010), out-of-state investors need to be particularly vigilant in pursuing fraud-related common law claims in New York, being careful not to become blocked by the borrowing statute.

New York City is home to the world’s largest stock exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, and is host to financial service providers. This concentration of wealth and financial expertise has enticed many out-of-state investors to place their money in securities with New York-based financial institutions in the prospect of riches; however, coupled with the influx of these out-of-state investments is the potential for legal action by each dissatisfied or defrauded investor.  New York developed the “borrowing statute” to protect its residents and deter actions by nonresidents including out-of-state investors in securities and commodities. Despite the plaintiff-friendly pleading standards for securities fraud outlined by the Supreme Court in Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, 130 S. Ct. 1784 (2010), out-of-state investors need to be particularly vigilant in pursuing fraud-related common law claims in New York, being careful not to become blocked by the borrowing statute.

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While arbitration clauses are often a topic of concern in the consumer context, they can also be a major issue in sophisticated party transactions as well—the agreements where the arbitration clause is the least of everyone’s worries. In these transactions, whether they be in the employment context or otherwise, arbitration clauses are often treated as a throwaway for which a simple copy-and-paste will do. At that forward-looking time, arbitration seems like a sensible method of dispute resolution between two like-minded people, and it is given little emphasis. When the relationships break down later, as they often do, arbitration clauses become a major issue. Too often, one side wants to be in court while the other does not. They argue whether their dispute is subject to arbitration.

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In the June 21, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF,  and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored “Self-Authentication of ESI Under Federal Rule of Evidence 902.”

In a recent annual Federal Bench Bar Conference in Philadelphia, a U.S. District Court judge warned of the perils of allowing clients to perform their own data and document collection.

In a recent annual Federal Bench Bar Conference in Philadelphia, a U.S. District Court judge warned of the perils of allowing clients to perform their own data and document collection. As the judge wisely pointed out, this can be problematic as the lawyers owe a duty to the court to represent truthfully and accurately. If, for example, a client performed the data collection without proper supervision, the lawyer could not accurately represent that all responsive documents have been collected and produced. The 2015 amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provide dire consequences for failing to preserve electronically stored information (ESI), including monetary sanctions, dismissal of a claim, judgment in favor of the prejudiced party, suppression of evidence and adverse inference instructions. The recent changes to Federal Rule of Evidence 902, which addresses self-authenticating evidence, and is routinely relied on by civil trial lawyers, raises additional concerns with clients performing their own data collection.

Self-authenticating evidence under Rule 902 is evidence that requires no extrinsic evidence to prove that it is what it purports to be. Common examples of self-authenticating evidence include newspapers, periodicals, signed and sealed public documents, and official publications. While the amendments to Rule 902 were created to address the unnecessary expense and inconvenience associated with having live testimony from multiple witnesses solely to authenticate electronic evidence, they also provide guidance on ESI collection and resolving authentication issues relating to ESI before trial.

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Law Day, as officially recognized by the President of the United States on the first of May each year, is a day to reflect on the importance of law in our society and its role in our country’s foundation. In particular, it is a celebration of the rights and benefits afforded to United States citizens under the Constitution.

June2018_Page_01-750x1024This year, the American Bar Association Law Day Theme was “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom.” The ABA described this year’s theme as follows:

The U.S. Constitution sets out a system of government with distinct and independent branches—Congress, the Presidency, and a Supreme Court. It also defines legislative, executive, and judicial powers and outlines how they interact. These three separate branches share power, and each branch serves as a check on the power of the others. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” James Madison explained in Federalist 51. Why? Madison believed that the Constitution’s principles of separation of powers and checks and balances preserve political liberty. They provide a framework for freedom. Yet, this framework is not self-executing. We the people must continually act to ensure that our constitutional democracy endures, preserving our liberties and advancing our rights. The Law Day 2018 theme enables us to reflect on the separation of powers as fundamental to our constitutional purpose and to consider how our governmental system is working for ourselves and our posterity.

The Philadelphia Bar Association extends the celebration of Law Day to encompass an entire week. The Young Lawyers Division coordinates programs throughout the city with various schools and communities. These programs include Lawyer for a Day, Fairy-tale Mock Trials, Legal Advice Live, and Lawyers in the Classroom. Continue reading →

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In the May 17, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF, writes Key Points in Negotiating and Preparing Settlement Agreements and Releases.

With fewer and fewer cases going to trial, lawyers must be competent in settling claims and preparing settlement documents that accurately capture the terms of the settlement. While settlements often bring a sigh of relief from lawyers and their clients, getting from the point of settlement to execution and payment—this article is written from mostly the plaintiff’s perspective—can take months, and sometimes requires court-intervention. This usually happens, as stated in more detail below, when one side wants to renegotiate the material terms of a settlement agreement; and the main reason for seeking to renegotiate is often the other side was not adequately prepared going into and during settlement negotiations. This is particularly true in complicated cases involving multiple parties and claims.

Most litigators, if not all, have negotiated settlements and prepared many settlement documents. And there are many articles written about the “dos and don’ts” of negotiating a settlement or preparing a settlement document. This article focuses on a few additional points for practitioners to consider when negotiating a settlement or preparing a settlement document. Continue reading →