A daily look at legal news and the business of law:

The Case Against Limbaugh

With America's Free Speech rights, libel and defamation cases are hard to win, particularly when the comments' target is a public figure. That's why celebrities always bring libel cases in the U.K.'s more accommodating courts. Nonetheless, it seems Rush Limbaugh may have gone far enough in his attacks on President Obama to meet the tough American standards. Limbaugh claimed, among other inflammatory things suggesting that Obama is a failure whom other people always covered for, that Obama didn't write his own law review article while at Harvard Law.To win a libel suit asserting that Obama did in fact write his own article, Obama would have to show the accusation was false, and that Limbaugh said it with actual malice. Proving the statement false is pretty easy, according to a former Harvard law classmate. But what about actual malice? While many might think Limbaugh's actual malice toward Obama to be self-evident, the standard is "reckless disregard" for whether the statement was false. Rush reckless with the truth? What would Obama's odds be of proving that? I can't imagine we'll find out, as it's hard to see the President filing suit over this.

How Easily Can the Cops Track Your Cell Phone?

Whenever your cellphone is turned on, your carrier records where you are every seven seconds or so. That information is used anonymously for commercial purposes, such as analyzing real-time traffic, and you can't do anything about that. But how easy should it be for the cops to get your whereabouts? The 3rd Circuit is going to decide whether it's extremely easy, or fairly easy. That is, does law enforcement need to show only "reasonable grounds" to believe the information "relevant and material to an ongoing investigation" or do they have to meet the "probable cause" standard required for making an arrest or performing a search?

Partners in Boston Make Bank, Legal Job Losses Drop, New York Workaholics Even More So

Law partners in the Boston area are seeing record profits, thanks in part to large associate and staff layoffs.

Nationally, the legal services industry lost "only" 1,100 jobs in January, which is a big improvement; December's total was nearly double that, and the industry has lost over 44,000 jobs since January 2009. Of course, a job loss decrease, as everyone in this economy viscerally understands, is not good news. Hiring, now, that would be good news.

Attorneys know that New York lawyers are the workaholics of the industry; attorneys who want lives relocate to Washington, D.C. or San Francisco. Well, New York attorneys -- those still with jobs -- are working harder than ever. A new report says demand for legal services increasing, and notes that billable hours were up most in New York, among major markets, despite a 3% decrease in "headcount." That is, even more billable hours being done by less people -- no wonder New York is the city that never sleeps.

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