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Phoning it in

The use of remote conferences to save time and money - and reduce clients' legal fees for routine court actions - appears to be gaining favor despite some limitations. The issue, lawyers agree, is simple: Why commute to court and wait for a brief conference that could be conducted by conference call or video conference between the attorneys and judge?

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Chief justice seeks public defender aid

Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith used the annual State of the Judiciary Address to call for "creative solutions" to assist the state's public defender system. She also called for using "resources more efficiently" in a difficult budget environment. Her comments came a day after Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed budget called for a roughly $1 million increase to the Office of the State Public Defender, including money to hire 12 additional staff members. Public defender officials said it would be the first staff increase to the system in years.

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No song or dance, but sweep feels as lucky as can be

Amazing what a timely magazine article can do. In the mid-1970s, a story about the lack of proficient chimney sweeps appeared in Mother Earth News, a periodical read by every self-respecting hippie of the day. Victor Imgarten was no exception and soon after reading that article he ordered some instruction manuals and purchased sundry chimney cleaning equipment. Clean Sweep Chimney Service had begun. By 1979 it was a Missouri corporation with an office near Highway 94 and Jungermann Road. Thirty years later, Imgarten feels that he made the right decision in picking a "dying career" that gets him out in the community, performing a service that is both profitable and helps in preventing house fires.

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Court delivers blow to arbitration agreements

In a pair of decisions that caught the attention of lawyers across the state, the Missouri Supreme Court for the first time weighed in on the enforceability of arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts. The early outlook for business interests is not good, according to lawyers who defend businesses in injury cases. The court ruled that the surviving children of nursing home residents are not bound by the fine print legal clauses in their parents' contracts, and a concurring opinion found them to be unconscionable adhesion contracts.

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Fighting the bug

Mary Coffey isn’t convinced that new legislation – or even lawsuits – can reverse what some have called an epidemic of hospital-acquired infections. But Coffey, an attorney who represented a St. Louis man who lost a leg, kidney, foot and ...

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Lobbying for a little change

Corporate clients that have been sitting on the sidelines are starting to get involved in lobbying efforts as President-elect Barack Obama takes office as president and the Democratic Party tightens its grip on Congress, according to attorneys and lobbyists. Now the Missouri firms who have beefed up or started Washington, D.C., government affairs practices the past three years may find out whether their investment will pay off.

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Too many yeses

In 2008, Thompson Coburn's St. Louis office had a goal of recruiting 15 second-year summer associates. Instead, the firm ended up with 23 because of a "huge" acceptance rate, said Ruthanne Hammett, chairwoman of Thompson Coburn's employment committee. For 2009, the firm downsized its second-year summer associate goal to 12 and lowered the number of summer job offers. Client demand is decreasing for some corporate work because of the recession, so large national law firms are hiring less than they have in previous years.

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Prospects dim for raising judges’ salaries

The Missouri Citizens' Commission on Compensation met in late November in Jefferson City and approved a proposal stipulating a raise for judges and elected officials if state employees receive a salary increase. One person undecided on the measure is Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia. The newly elected state senator said he would need to study the proposal more before making a decision on it.

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Mature taste

When St. Louis attorney William Meyers was nearing his college graduation, a friend gave him a bottle of Chivas Regal and said, “All lawyers drink scotch, so you’d better get started.” That bottle, which Meyers said was likely swiped from ...

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