Recently, Robert T. Wetherell was named President of the Idaho State Bar Board of Commissioners. Robert’s first President’s Message appeared in the February 2014 edition of The Advocate, a magazine for lawyers in Idaho.
If the President’s first message is to be a rambling introduction, this should do. I am one of those individuals who always wanted to be a lawyer. I remember in grade school seeing a program about John Adams and his defense of the British soldiers at the Boston Massacre. In addition, “To Kill a Mockingbird” had been recently released with Gregory Peck standing to defend the rule of law in a small town in the South. The law seemed to attract people of integrity and courage. I was born in Mountain Home in 1958. It was a wonderful community while I was growing up and still is today. With approximately 8,000 people in town and 8,000 people at the air base, it was a much larger community than people realized. In addition, it was by far the most diverse community in the state of Idaho. With retired military in the community, it was not uncommon to hear foreign accents from Germany, France and other European countries. In addition, with the Air Force base kids attending school in Mountain Home, you were able to interact with people from all over the United States and students who had traveled the world. The schools in Mountain Home were first rate.
Because of federal impact funds and money the school district received from Idaho Power for Anderson Ranch Dam, teachers in Mountain Home were paid more than teachers in the rest of the Treasure Valley. We had excellent teachers and leadership, and I never recall a bond election that failed. My father was a state senator in the 1950’s-60’s and my mother was a state senator in the 1980’s-90’s. Law and politics were always a topic of conversation. You never knew who was going to be at the house on a particular occasion. I was able to see a true cross section of life.
One thing that impressed me most about living in Mountain Home in my formative years was the way the lawyers in town were treated. In particular, Frank Hicks, Fred Kennedy and Perce Hall were very well respected. You saw them wear suits every day and it seemed as if the town revolved around their counsel and advice. More than just practicing law, Frank Hicks especially, was everything a small town attorney should be. He didn’t simply practice law and go home. He volunteered his time to various organizations and you would often see him on week nights and weekends working to make the city of Mountain Home better for everyone. He offered me advice as I continued to tell him how I wanted to be a lawyer. Frank Hicks gave me one quote from Abraham Lincoln I will never forget. It’s a partial quote, but it says volumes about what lawyers should be, even in this day and age: “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise wherever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser – in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this . . . A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it.”
After I graduated from the University Of Idaho College Of Law in 1982, I was fortunate enough to obtain a clerkship with United States District Judge Taylor and United States District Judge McNichols. I did well enough in law school that I was asked to interview for the position. Interestingly enough, I didn’t get the job but did receive a call stating I had come in second during the interviewing process. As luck would have it, the graduate who was actually offered the job turned it down to be an associate at a bankruptcy firm in Spokane. Apparently it paid more, but I can guarantee with all the money he probably has now, he couldn’t buy the 2½ year experience I had at federal court working for Judge Taylor and Judge McNichols.
I would encourage any new lawyer to clerk for a judge, regardless of pay. In those days, you could only clerk for the United States District Court for two years. The reasoning was that a federal judge is appointed for life and therefore that judge should not turn around and appoint two additional lawyers for life. Those days have changed. My first controversial statement is as follows. I would encourage state and federal judges to rotate their clerkships in order to provide opportunities for new graduates from law school. This would provide a better understanding of the court system by giving young lawyers the experience of seeing how the system operates from the inside. I don’t believe it is a good practice to have longtime law clerks. It only serves to separate the bench from the bar. Change is hard, but change is good. Change gives new energy to you and the people around you. After my clerkship, I entered private practice and have engaged in private practice for approximately 30 years now. It has been very rewarding. Fred Kennedy worked me 50 hours a week my first two years and taught me the importance of preparation in the practice of law. I think the most important experiences have been practicing with and against other lawyers. They have been exceptional professionals and become lifelong friends. I look forward to serving you as President of the Idaho State Bar in 2014. I hope to write articles for The Advocate that will be thought provoking on topics we should be discussing, but at times are reluctant to mention.
About the Authors: Robert T. Wetherell is a 1982 graduate of the University of Idaho Law School and clerked for the United States District Court for the District of Idaho immediately upon his graduation. Since that time he has been in private practice in the city of Boise and is currently a principal and partner at Capitol Law Group. Mr. Wetherell began serving as Bar President in January of 2014. He has been married to his wife, Deborah, for 29 years and they have two adult children; Marie Ellen, a third-year law student at the University of Idaho College of Law and R. John, a senior at the University of Idaho.
Did you get Target’s email about free credit reports? If so, what should you do next?
In a push to regain the trust of its customers after a massive data breach, Target is offering impacted customers daily credit monitoring, identity theft insurance and access to a Fraud Resolution Agent.
Millions of Americans received Target’s free credit monitoring offer email recently, but considering all the risks associated with scam emails, they may be unsure about how to react, Credit.com reports.
If you received Target’s free credit report email, here are a few steps you may want to consider:
- Make sure it’s real. In a tragic twist of irony, email scams of Target’s free credit report offer are making the rounds. Keep an eye out for telltale signs of Target email scams, CNNMoney advises. Watch out for email addresses that don’t match (or addresses that just don’t look quite right) and emails that ask for personal information or money. A red flag should also go up if the email contains spelling errors or stresses a sense of urgency.
- Sign up. Out of an abundance of caution, you may not want to click on the links in Target’s email message. Instead, go to the address bar of your browser and manually type CreditMonitoring.Target.com. Fill out your name and email address there. Next, obtain and save the redemption code Target sends you (if you can’t find it, check your spam folder). Manually type ProtectMyID.com/target into your browser’s address bar. That will bring you to Experian’s website for Target victims. Paste the redemption code into the box. Fill out the other identifying information. Keep in mind you’ll have to enter some sensitive financial information and your Social Security number to verify your identity, cautions Credit.com.
- Check your report and repeat periodically. Once you make it through the authentication process, carefully review your credit report and check for errors. You should do this once every month, on Target’s dime. Also, don’t forget to set up text alerts — again, on Target’s dime — so you’ll be contacted if someone tries to open credit in your name.
Signing up for Target’s free credit monitoring is an excellent way to help protect yourself from fraud stemming from the hacking incident. Keep in mind that guests have until April 23, 2014, to sign up to receive an activation code. Activation codes must be redeemed by April 30, 2014.
- Did you get an email from Target? What you need to know (CNNMoney)
- Cleaning Up Mistakes on Your Credit Report (FindLaw’s Common Law)
- The 5 Most Common Credit Report Mistakes (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
- Browse Consumer Protection Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
Source: Common Law Articles
A nationwide court email scam could leave a nasty virus on your computer if you’re not too careful.
Several federal and state courts are warning the public about an email scam that tells recipients that they have an upcoming court hearing, missed a jury summons, or have a warrant out for their arrest. The fraudulent emails will either contain an attachment that contains a virus, or the email will tell the reader to pay money to avoid arrest.
So what can recipients do to spot a scam email?
What Do the Fake Emails Look Like?
The court email scam is targeting people all across the United States, so everyone should be on high alert. The scam emails will appear to be addressed from either a court clerk or a law firm (i.e., from someone @jonesday.com or @hoganlovells.com).
While the emails appear to be coming from real courthouses and legitimate law firms, the fraudsters have apparently hijacked the email addresses.
The body of the email will likely be similar to this:
Notice to Appear,
Hereby you are notified that you have been scheduled to appear for your hearing that will take place in the court of [court name] on [some date] at [some time].
Please bring all documents and witnesses relating to this case with you to court on your hearing date.
The copy of the court notice is attached to this letter. Please read it thoroughly.
Note: If you do not attend the hearing, the judge may hear the case in your absence and [some type of threat of action (jail, fines, etc.)].
Clerk of the Court
What Should You Do If You Receive a Scam Email?
If you think you received one of these scam email messages, delete it immediately. Some of the emails will allege that you’re scheduled to appear in court and give you a phony case number; if you’re concerned, you can call the court or check the court’s online case database to see if you’ve actually been summoned, as the District of Columbia Courts suggest. Typically, you can look up a case using your last name.
If you’ve made the mistake of opening the email, try not to download any attachments. By downloading the attachments, you could potentially subject yourself to a computer virus or give the fraudsters access to your personal information.
To prevent further court email scams, you can also report the fraudulent email to the court and to law enforcement.
- Judicial Agency Warns of False ‘Court Case’ Email Scam (Administrative Office of the Courts – Judicial Council of Georgia)
- Police Warn About Red-Light Ticket Phone Scams (FindLaw’s Common Law)
- Security Alert: Bogus Court Emails Carrying Nasty Viruses (FindLaw’s Strategist)
- Online Scams (FindLaw)
Source: Common Law Articles
With more businesses being hit by cyberattacks, small business owners will want to take precautions. One simple thing you can do is to avoid using the 25 most common (and most terrible) passwords that are floating around the Internet.
Password-management firm SplashData has released its annual list of the 25 most popular online passwords. These passwords make it very easy for other people to log in to your personal accounts, which puts your personal information at risk, according to the company.
So without further ado, here are the 25 worst passwords by rank, according to SplashData:
Strong Password Tips
Choosing a good, secure password may be as valuable as purchasing expensive software to prevent hackers and cyberattacks. To create a unique password, make sure that your passwords:
- Are more than eight characters;
- Contain numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and special characters like !, @, and ?;
- Are changed frequently; and
- Are different for every account.
Another tip is to create “passphrases” — short words with characters or spaces separating them. It’s best to use words that aren’t associated with each other to keep cyber criminals at bay, according to SplashData. For example, “star_computer_door” or “phone@glass!purple.”
Remember: You want to create a password that you can easily recall, but is unique enough to ward off hackers. So use the 25 terrible passwords list as inspiration for what not to do when setting up your company’s accounts.
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- Make Sure You Aren’t Using One Of The ‘Worst Passwords Of 2013′ (Business Insider)
- Cyberattacks Now Targeting Small Business (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise)
- Asking for Passwords? You May Be Asking for Trouble (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise)
- Cyber Attacks: Small Business Guide (FindLaw)
Source: Free Enterprise Law Feed
Here’s a question business owners may be wondering on National Handwriting Day: Will handwritten agreements and promises hold up in court?
Legally binding contracts for business purposes are typically envisioned as volumes of printed paper with wax seals and signed with a quill pen. But in reality, many handwritten agreements are just as valid.
So even if your business contracts are written in crayon, here’s a breakdown of the legal effect of handwritten agreements:
Written Contracts and the Statute of Frauds
As you probably know, there is a legal difference between a heartfelt promise and an enforceable contract. A type of law known as the Statute of Frauds requires that certain promises (to exchange property or perform tasks, for example) be in writing in order to be legally enforceable.
Every state has its own version of the Statute of Frauds, but typically the following kinds of contracts need to be in writing:
- Agreements extending longer than 1 year,
- Leases longer than 1 year,
- Sale or transfer of real property,
- Payment of another’s debts,
- Agreements that go on past the promisor’s death, and
- Contracts for goods over a certain amount (e.g., $500).
There is generally no requirement that written agreements in these circumstances need to be typed or handwritten. So an agreement for the sale of $600 in loose diamonds may be perfectly enforceable — even if it was written with a ballpoint pen on Looney Tunes stationary.
Wills are a more complicated form of contract, but even handwritten (or holographic) wills may be legally enforceable.
Handwritten Agreements and Small Businesses
Of course for small business owners, printed (typed) contracts are the norm when it comes to dealing with sales, employees, and clients. After all, it’s impractical to write all those employment contracts by hand, especially if you remember to include all the important clauses.
But there are a few instances in which entrepreneurs may find themselves signing off on a handwritten promise — for example, a simple IOU for repayment or a promise to give an employee a raise. If that’s the case, look first to the Statute of Frauds to see if that handwritten promise is legally binding.
If you’re still wondering whether what your business put to paper is legal, contact an experienced contracts attorney today.
Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Google+.
- Happy National Handwriting Day (GalleyCat)
- 3 Things to Know About Employee Contracts (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise)
- 5 Ways to Authenticate Handwriting in Court (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
- Ask a Question About Running a Business in Our Community Forum (FindLaw Answers)
Source: Free Enterprise Law Feed