Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Report Finds Nearly 75 Percent of Lawyers Increased Their Fees During the Downturn

/PRNewswire/ -- Corporate Executive Board (CEB) (NYSE:EXBD) , a leading research and advisory services company, today announced the release of the Real Rate Report(TM), an analysis of over $4.1 billion in legal billing fees. The report is produced jointly by CEB's Legal and Compliance Practice and CT TyMetrix and helps general counsel make better-informed business decisions by providing an objective look at invoice data to understand and quantify what is driving the billable hour.

"The Real Rate Report(TM) responds to companies' need for actual legal cost information to assist in planning, budgeting, and negotiating with their outside law firms," said Steven Williams, managing director, Corporate Executive Board. "The report is a great addition to the broader set of services we provide to CEB's more than 1,000 member legal departments to help them reduce legal costs and drive corporate performance."

Key findings of the Real Rate Report(TM) include:

The five most important factors driving law firm rates
-- Lawyer location, law firm size, experience level, partner status, and
key practice area are the top factors impacting hourly rates today.
-- Hourly rates are influenced significantly more by a lawyer's
geographic locale and law firm size than by that lawyer's experience
or practice area.

Geographic rate disparities
-- Large, tier one markets have seen smaller percentage rate increases
than some other markets--specifically in Southern cities.
-- Smaller metropolitan areas, such as Denver, St. Louis, and Raleigh,
remain relatively inexpensive compared to large markets such as like
New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

Partner vs. associate rate increases
-- Between 2007 and 2009, associates had the largest percentage increase
in hourly rates - 16.6 percent -- compared to 8.6 percent by partners.
-- Associates with fewer than three years of experience had the highest
percentage increase -- 17.9 percent.

"The Real Rate Report(TM) is a ground-breaking resource for all law firms and corporate law departments looking for pricing data to build aligned, mutually beneficial partnering models," said John Weber, general manager, CT TyMetrix. "We are proud of this report, as well as the other CT TyMetrix's innovations that enable law firms and law departments to optimize their legal operations."

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Libertarians call federal worker pay gap 'appalling'

Recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show that federal government workers get compensation, on average, more than twice as high as private-sector workers. That gap has expanded dramatically over the last decade. Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle released the following statement today:

"The numbers are appalling. In 2009, the average private-sector worker received $61,051 in total compensation, but the average federal government worker received $123,049. There is no excuse for this enormous, and growing, compensation gap.

"I guess you just can't beat a federal job. Very high pay, unbelievable benefits, extremely generous retirement plans, and near-perfect job security.

"And those retirement plans are often unfunded pensions, which will have to be paid by taxing our children and grandchildren, who never had the opportunity to vote when they were created.

"Apparently wishing to add insult to injury, government employee union reps have claimed that federal workers are entitled to their sky-high compensation because they are more educated and skilled than the rest of us. I have had many personal experiences with federal employees that indicate the exact opposite.

"The problem is that federal worker compensation is not set by the free market -- it's set by government fiat, which causes it to be artificially generous. Another factor is the monopoly government employee unions, which are able to extort that compensation up to even higher levels.

"One sure sign that federal employees are overpaid is that they never quit. Tad DeHaven of the Cato Institute has noted, '...in 2009, private sector employees quit at a rate that was more than eight times higher than federal employees.... This indicates that federal employees recognize that the generous combination of wages, benefits, and job security is hard to match in the private sector, so they stay put.'

"Libertarians support minimum government and maximum freedom. Unfortunately, federal employees have incentives to make government bigger, which makes us less free. With government employment paying more than the private sector, the rational self-interest of many workers will drive them to seek employment with the federal government.

"That's a formula for disaster.

"Libertarians want productive people working in the private sector to build our economy, not working for the government and hurting our economy.

"I would like to see an across-the-board pay cut for all federal workers. That would reduce federal spending, reduce the deficit, and reduce the insult to American private-sector workers. It also just might encourage some federal government employees to quit their jobs and seek more productive work in the private sector."

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Polar Ice Cap Is Gone, Kids Can’t Go Outside, Nebraska is a Desert? Poll Finds That Still Wouldn’t Convince Many Americans of Global Warming

(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new national poll of green consumers found that belief in global warming is declining, and even the worst nightmare scenarios would not change people’s minds or behaviors.

“That means over half of those who are unconvinced about global warming are either unlikely to change their mind or unlikely to change their ways, no matter what happens”

The poll, one of four annual surveys conducted by Shelton Group, surveyed 1,098 Americans who at least occasionally buy green products and found only about half believe climate change is occurring and caused by human beings.

Asked whether they agreed with the statement, “Global warming or climate change is occurring and it is primarily caused by human activity,” 52% of green consumers agreed, compared to 49% of U.S. consumers overall. That’s down significantly from a year ago when 58% of all U.S. consumers agreed.

Respondents who disagreed, or were undecided, were then asked, "Which of the following scenarios would convince you that climate change is a real and immediate threat and cause you to make dramatic changes in your lifestyle? You wake up one morning and find out that…" followed by a list of nightmare scenarios. These included: The polar ice cap has completely melted, kids can no longer play outside in the summer and Nebraska is turning into a desert.

The top two responses were: "None of these would convince me" at 27%; and "One or more of these would convince me but I would be unlikely to make changes" at 24%.

“That means over half of those who are unconvinced about global warming are either unlikely to change their mind or unlikely to change their ways, no matter what happens,” said Suzanne Shelton, CEO of Shelton Group.

A small number of current doubters would respond if:

* The polar ice cap had completely melted - 15%
* Kids should no longer go outside to play during the spring and summer due to consistently dangerous ozone/pollution levels - 15%
* Shifting weather patterns/lack of rain was turning Nebraska into a desert -- 3%
* There were only 20 polar bears estimated to be left living in the wild -- 2%
* Residents of American Samoa were having to be relocated due to rising tides -- 0.6%

“The good news is, Americans are still going green, whether they believe in global warming or not,” Shelton said.

Last year, the annual survey found 77% of respondents were seeking green products and participating in at least some environmentally sustainable activities. This year, the survey found 84% of Americans are doing so.

“For consumers, green isn’t about climate change – that’s too esoteric and impersonal – it’s about matters closer to home,” Shelton said. “Many Americans aren’t trying to save the Earth when they buy a green cleaning product, they’re trying to save their children from dangerous chemicals.”

Among the survey’s other findings:

* When asked if the recent West Virginia coal mine explosion and the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have made them think more about the human and environmental costs of their energy consumption, 55% of green consumers agreed.
* Yet despite the disasters, interest in owning or renting green or energy efficient homes has dampened. Last year, almost three-quarters of green consumers (72%) were interested in owning/renting an energy-efficient home. That number is down to 64%.
* Interest in green homes also declined. Only 43% of green consumers said they were interested in owning/renting a green home, compared to 47% last year.
* Asked what is the hardest thing to do to help save the environment, "Drive less" was chosen most often (16.1%), followed by "grow your own food" (15.5%) and “use public transportation if available in your area” (10.3%).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Judicial Watch Statement on Federal Court Decision to Dismiss Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed by 'Joe the Plumber'

/PRNewswire/ -- Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued the following statement today regarding a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to dismiss Judicial Watch's civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of Joe Wurzelbacher, who is otherwise known as "Joe the Plumber:"

The implications of this court decision are frightening. Essentially the court has said that government officials can feel free to rifle through the private files of citizens without fear of being held accountable in court. How can the American people feel comfortable exercising their First Amendment rights when they may be subject to secret searches by politicized bureaucrats in return? It is unconscionable that high-ranking state officials pried into confidential government files to punish Joe Wurzelbacher for asking a simple question. Justice was not served with this decision. Judicial Watch will most certainly file an appeal on behalf of Mr. Wurzelbacher.

Judicial Watch's lawsuit alleges that officials of the State of Ohio violated Mr. Wurzelbacher's constitutional rights by illegally accessing confidential information from its official databases. The defendants are Helen Jones-Kelley, Fred Williams and Doug Thompson, the three highest ranking employees of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at the time of the alleged transgression. (The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, in conjunction with Ohio attorney David R. Langdon.)

On Sunday, October 12, 2008, Mr. Wurzelbacher was throwing a football with his son in the front yard of his home when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and his campaign entourage appeared on his street. Mr. Wurzelbacher, an employee of a small plumbing business, subsequently had the opportunity to ask Obama about the impact of his tax proposals on small businesses. Obama responded by saying, "It's not that I want to punish your success; I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you that they've got a chance at success, too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." The exchange between Obama and Mr. Wurzelbacher resulted in widespread media attention and references to "Joe the Plumber" in the third presidential debate held on October 15, 2008.

According to a subsequent investigation by the Ohio Inspector General, on October 16, 2008, just four days after Mr. Wurzelbacher questioned Obama, Jones-Kelley, Williams and Thompson held a meeting and specifically discussed "Joe the Plumber." Following the meeting the defendants authorized and instructed agency personnel to search confidential office databases to retrieve information about Mr. Wurzelbacher. All three defendants are believed to have been supporters of Obama's presidential campaign.

The Inspector General found "no legitimate agency function or purpose for checking on [Mr. Wurzelbacher's] name through the [confidential databases] or for authorizing these searches," which he labeled a "wrongful act." The Inspector General also determined that one of the defendants, Helen Jones-Kelley, misused state resources to conduct political activities on behalf of Obama.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

40 billionaires pledge to give away half of wealth

Gates, Buffett lead campaign to persuade America's wealthiest to donate their fortunes

More than three dozen of America's wealthiest individuals and families have joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in agreeing to give away at least half their fortunes to charity.

The announcement was made Wednesday by The Giving Pledge, an effort officially launched by Gates and Buffett earlier this year to persuade the richest people in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice, either during their lifetime or after their death. 

Well, it sounds nice, but wouldn't it be better to give people jobs so they didn't need charity? Just a thought... these guys could start up businesses, industries that would help people to be independent, earn a living, maybe even compete with Buffet, Turner, Pickens, Lucas, and the others at some point. 

I'm a big believer in charity, I give, I volunteer and truly believe in helping those who can't help themselves. But if you took half the fortunes of the folks who've committed to giving away half their wealth and channeled it  properly what a change this world would see! 

Oh well, it is a good gesture and I commend them for wanting to help others. I just hope it ultimately results in more people being able to take care of themselves without depending on hand-outs.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blago says a sentence without cursing...

"Patti and I have great confidence and faith in their judgment common sense and decency. And ultimately in the final analysis Patti and I always have a deep and abiding faith in God... and ultimately it's in God's hands." - Blagojevich regarding the jurors deliberating his fate at the corruption trial, quoted by NBC Chicago

Guess it's not a bad thing to remember God and your faith when in trouble, but listening to some of the tapes its hard to see where this display of trust and faith is coming from anywhere but current desperation. But hey, who am I to judge, that's not in my job description.

Then again, if he's found guilty, the sentences Blago uttered still apply.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rasmussen: Republicans Still Trusted More on Most Key Issues

Republicans Still Trusted More on Most Key Issues
Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on nine out of 10 key issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports. But the latest national survey finds that the two major political parties are much closer this month on the top issue of the economy. Forty-six percent (46%) of voters trust the GOP more on economic issues, while 42% trust Democrats more. Another 12% are undecided.