From the Interwebs: NFL Contracts, Lawyers Ordering Pizza, and Oil

From the Interwebs

Here are a few recent articles from the Interwebs I found interesting. You might want to take a peek, also.

Ecuador Oil Contamination. Venkat Balasubramani tweeted a link to Reversal of Fortune, a detailed story in the New Yorker about a lawsuit against Texaco for environmental damage in Ecuador. The case dragged on for a couple of decades and resulted in an $18 billion verdict against Chevron (the successor in interest to Texaco). It’s clear that environmental damage was done, but a Chevron lawyer once said, “This is not about dirt in Ecuador. It is about a contract and how to interpret it.”

NFL Contract Typo. An amount with fewer zeroes is in dispute, but an apparent mistake in the employment contracts of seven fired Jacksonville Jaguars assistant coaches has the parties arguing over about $3 million. A clause in the contracts says that the contracts “shall terminate on the later of January 31, 2012 or the day after the Jaguars’ last football game of the 2012 season and playoffs.” Apparently, the lawyers reviewing the contracts didn’t catch the fact that the playoffs in one year’s season bleed into the following calendar year. Patrick Lamb notes in The Importance of Proofreading that the dispute highlights the importance of proofreading contracts. But the controversy also demonstrates that it’s important for lawyers to know their client’s business.

Inside the Lawyer’s Mind. In Dialing for Pizza: Practical Perspectives on Scoping Legal Projects, Pam Woldow discusses differences in how in-house and outside counsel approach projects. She writes, “Over and again we observe that while in-house counsel tend to view legal matters in terms of broad business issues and the pressures of ‘commerciality,’ law firm lawyers tend to focus on identifying narrow legal issues upon which they can focus their formidable expertise.” A pizza ordering project in a workshop illustrates her point.

Disruptive Technologies. The Globe and Mail published a guest column last month entitled Make Yourself Obsolete, Or Someone Else Will about new bladeless fans and other innovative technologies that are displacing old ones. The fan’s success “is a lesson to all business leaders: Don’t be afraid to make yourself obsolete, or someone else will do it for you.” A word of caution for a legal profession undergoing profound stress and change?

Personalized Google Search. Google announced this week that it has a new feature called “Search plus Your World” that allows people to search links posted by people in their Google+ circles as well as the larger “anonymous web.” There were a lot of posts to the Interwebs about the new feature (including Twitter’s comments about it). Mashable explained the new feature in Google Merges Search and Google+ Into Social Media Juggernaut.

2 comments… add one
  • Nelson E. Jan 13, 2012 Link Reply

    Loved the pizza example. Communication between in-house and external groups is always a big issue. Sometimes, the issue isn’t that the external group failed to grasp a big picture, but that they grasped the wrong big picture.

    Precision in language is critical. I imagine attorneys understand this better than many other groups, but the two groups interpreted a simple project in very different way.

    • Brian Rogers Jan 13, 2012 Link Reply

      Nelson: Something that makes this even more interesting is that most of the in-house lawyers undoubtedly started out in private practice.

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