Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

MSNBC's Chris Matthews is Speaker
for YLD Annual Meeting Feb. 23 at Westin

The Young Lawyers Division invites the membership of the Bar Association to its annual meeting on Monday, Feb. 23 at the Westin Philadelphia. Political commentator Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" will give the keynote remarks at the Young Lawyers Division Annual meeting on Monday, Feb. 23, which will include remarks by YLD Chair Brian Chacker with his plans for 2009. Click here to order tickets for the event...READ MORE
Click here for more information. Mention Philadelphia Bar Reporter for special ticket deals.

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MSNBC's Matthews is Speaker for YLD Annual Meeting Feb. 23 at Westin

The Young Lawyers Division invites the membership of the Bar Association to its annual meeting on Monday, Feb. 23 at the Westin Philadelphia. Political commentator Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" will give the keynote remarks at the Young Lawyers Division Annual meeting on Monday, Feb. 23, which will include remarks by YLD Chair Brian Chacker with his plans for 2009. Click here to order tickets for the event.

The YLD will also present its annual awards at the event. The Craig M. Perry Award will be presented to Nikki Johnson-Huston, an assistant city solicitor with the City of Philadelphia Law Department. The award is presented annually to a young lawyer, 37 years old or younger or within the first three years of practice, who has devoted substantial time and energy to community-oriented activities, including, but not limited to, pro bono and charity work.

The Sean Peretta Award will be presented to co-recipients, Stella Tsai, a partner with Archer & Greiner, P.C. and Robert S. Tintner, a partner with Fox Rothschild LLP. The Peretta Award is given annually to a member of the legal community who exhibits exceptional community service.

The YLD Vision Award will be presented to Kroll. The award is presented annually to an organization – whether law firm, business corporation, non profit, or other group – that has provided outstanding support to the YLD in the fulfillment of its mission: to promote and preserve the interests of young lawyers, improve the quality of the legal system, provide a forum for the exchange of views among young lawyers, encourage the professional development of young lawyers through educational and service programs, participate in the growth and advancement of the legal profession, and encourage young lawyers to represent deserving clients on a pro bono basis.

Matthews hosts "Hardball with Chris Matthews," seen weekdays on MSNBC as well as the syndicated weekly news program "The Chris Matthews Show." He is a regular commentator on NBC's "Today" show.

Matthews has worked as a broadcast journalist, newspaper bureau chief, presidential speechwriter and best-selling author. Matthews covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa and the Good Friday Peace Talks in Northern Ireland. In 1997 and 1998, his digging in the National Archives produced a series of San Francisco Examiner scoops on the Nixon presidential tapes. Matthews has covered American presidential election campaigns since 1988, including the five-week recount of 2000. In 2005 Matthews covered the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

In March 2004, he received the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. He has also been awarded The Abraham Lincoln Award from the Union League of Philadelphia and in 2005 he received the Gold Medal Award from the Pennsylvania Society.

The YLD Annual meeting begins at 12 p.m. at the Westin Philadelphia, 99 S. 17th St. Tickets are $35 for YLD members and $50 for members of the Association. Tickets are available only to Philadelphia Bar Association members. Click here to purchase tickets for this event.

Self Defense CLE Feb. 27

The Young Lawyers Division, Criminal Justice Section, LGBT Rights Committee and Women in the Profession Committee will present the lunchtime CLE program “Self Defense: Defending Your Person and Your Property Under the Law” on Friday, Feb. 27.

This Self Defense CLE will teach attendees the legal and real aspects of protecting yourself, including what Pennsylvania law allows, what self-defense is designed to accomplish, and what is “too far” when defending yourself. Immediately following the CLE program, please stay for an actual self-defense demonstration and learn valuable self-defense techniques to defend yourself in common situations.

The program begins at 12 p.m. at The CLE Conference Center on the 10th floor of the Wanamaker Building, 13th and Market streets. Lunch and registration begin at 11:30 a.m. Click here to register for this program.

Coaches, Judges Needed for Mock Trial Competition

Volunteer coaches and judges are needed for the 2009 John S. Bradway Philadelphia High School Mock Trial Competition, which is run by Temple University Beasley School of Law and the Young Lawyers Division.

The rounds of competition will take place through Feb. 28. If you have volunteered in the past, we thank you and hope that you will do so this year. If you have not yet volunteered for the Mock Trial Competition, we encourage you to do so.

As a coach, you would meet and communicate with the students to prepare for the competition. As a judge, you can choose to fill as many time slots as your schedule will allow and you do not need trial experience to participate. Contact Roberta West at (215) 204-8948 if you have interest in coaching. Click here for more information.



The Wacky World of Real Estate

by Harper Dimmerman

Weird news abounds these days. There's so much of it in fact, that news services, like the MSNBCs and Reuters of the world have carved out sections just to handle those peculiar stories. I recently wrote an article about one, which I thought ranked right up there in terms of nuttiness. Just last week a federal trial kicked off in Texas, with the key defendant being a brainy law student. After his wealthy family defaulted on a multi-million dollar commercial mortgage, he decided to create a web site, devoted entirely to exposing the illicit business practices of a behemoth loan servicer. Needless to say, the blasphemous allegations caught the attention of the company, which in turn commenced a libel action against the embittered vigilante.

On the defamation/real estate front, there's another one that caught my eye, more for its outlandishness than anything else. Manhattan, home to the million-dollar corner office and thousand dollar billable hour, offers some of the world’s priciest residential living. Take the Plaza Hotel for instance, which according to its web site is "New York’s most prestigious address . . . [an] iconic Beaux-Arts masterpiece, at the crossroads between the fabled Central Park and the legacy of Fifth Avenue . . . considered to be a cornerstone of New York." It is "where the park begins and the possibilities are endless . . . [w]here luxury living and world-class service are the standard for those of discerning taste." One of those people with a penchant for the finer things in life happens to be a Russian financier by the name of Andrei Vavilov, who decided that the residences at the Plaza were the only place he wanted to hang his mink Ushanka hat. And so he did what all billionaires do – invest in a $50 million penthouse apartment. What's that in rubles?

Apparently though, this "one-of-a-kind" property wasn't everything it was cracked up to be. Vavilov "complained the apartment was 'attic-like' with small windows, low ceilings, obstructed views and ugly drainage grates," not to mention "a terrible view of Central Park." He wanted out of the deal, not to mention his $10 million deposit. And of course that meant litigation, American-style, indubitably a far cry from the justice system back in the Motherland. Never mind perestroika. He commenced a breach of contract for the deposit plus $30 million in damages, with averments such as 50-foot ceilings are unduly oppressive, the hotel lounge singer has sideburns equally as offensive as those sported by Neil Diamond in his prime and the restaurant's Versailles antique collection is tacky to the point of being embarrassing. After the developer defendant counterclaimed for libel and $36 million, the parties' differences were eventually resolved in the form of an out-of-court settlement.

Finally, in a South Jersey hotel room, rivaling those at the Plaza Hotel (at least in the eyes of Vavilov) a Massachusetts family of five recently survived a devastating experience during a road-trip stopover. Apparently, their 22-month-old toddler, supposed to be watching Handy Mandy on the sofa, ingested a used condom belonging to a former conscientious guest. Fortunately, the resilient tyke was fine. Yet his parents, who are making a federal case over the vile incident, have suffered "loss of enjoyment of life" and will likely have "psychiatric scars" for years to come. I'm sure right now the hotel's legal team is considering their defense. Might I suggest a countersuit for defamation against the child plaintiff?

Harper Dimmerman, principal in the Law Office of Harper J. Dimmerman, can be contacted at harper@hjdlaw.net.

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