Tips for the Young Lawyer

first_imgHow to interview a witness September 1, 2003 Francisco Ramos Regular News Tips for the Young Lawyercenter_img Whether your case involves a car accident, a supervisor’s sexual advances, or a slip-and-fall, witnesses can make or break your case. It’s your job to find out which witnesses will sway a jury in your client’s favor and which ones will sway a jury in your opponent’s favor.To accomplish this, you need a game plan to find out what witnesses will say to a jury and how they will say it. In putting together this game plan, consider the following tips in preparing for and conducting interviews: Preparing for the Interview 1. Identify the relevant witnesses. Before you run out and start interviewing witnesses, you need to know who you want to interview. Learn everything you can about the case, and identify everyone who may be a witness. 2. Interview them sooner rather than later. Once you have identified the relevant witnesses, track them down and interview them. Memories fade. Don’t wait weeks or months before interviewing people. By waiting, you’re giving opposing counsel the opportunity to be the first to contact the witnesses, and potentially influence their testimony, either inadvertently or on purpose. 3. But don’t rush into interviews. Just as you shouldn’t wait too long to conduct interviews, you shouldn’t rush into them either. Prepare wisely. Learn as much as you can about the case and determine what role a witness plays in the case. Is she a liability witness or a damages witness? Favorable or unfavorable? Understand the importance of the witness and prepare a detailed questionnaire which you’ll use during the interview. 4. Go to the source. Phone calls are fine for the initial contacts, but you should interview the witness in person, and preferably at that person’s home or place of business. 5. Bring documents to the interview. Determine what the relevant documents are and bring those documents to the interview. In a breach of contract case, bring a copy of the contract. In an auto accident case, bring photos of the accident scene. 6. Decide how you are going to document the interview. Other than taking notes, will you record the interview? Videotape it? You may want to have a court reporter accompany you to take a sworn statement. Whatever you intend to do, clear it with the witness first. How to Conduct the Interview 1. Tell the witness who you are. When interviewing witnesses, tell them who you are and who you represent. When dealing with a witness, a lawyer cannot state or imply that he is disinterested. 2. Is the witness represented by counsel? The first question you ask the witness is, “Are you represented by an attorney in this matter?” If the answer is yes, the interview is over. You cannot interview that witness without the consent of his or her attorney. 3. Does the witness work for the opposing party? Find out if the witness works for the opposing party’s corporation or business. Florida Bar Ethics Advisory Opinion 78-4 prohibits direct communications with a corporation’s officers, directors, managing agents or any employee “directly involved in the incident or matter giving rise to the investigation or litigation.”By contrast, Ethics Advisory Opinion 88-14 allows an attorney to communicate with ex-employees if: (1) the ex-employee is not represented by his former employer’s counsel; and (2) the lawyer does not inquire into matters that are within the corporation’s attorney-client privilege. See also H.B.A. Management, Inc. v. Estate of Schwartz, 693 So. 2d 541 (Fla. 1997). 4. Is this the witness’ first interview? Find out who else has interviewed the witness. Also, find out if he has given a recorded or sworn statement. If so, ask him for a copy. If he doesn’t have one, let him know he’s entitled to one. Once he receives it, ask him to forward you a copy. 5. Put the witness at ease. Being interviewed by a lawyer can be fairly stressful. Try to put the witness at ease. If the witness isn’t nervous, he’ll be more expressive and reveal more information. 6. Ask open-ended questions. To keep the discussion going, and to gather as much information as possible, ask open-ended questions. You want to learn everything this witness knows about your case. 7. Repeat the witness’ own words to avoid misunderstandings. Repeat back to the witness any significant statement he makes, to make sure you understood it properly. You don’t want to advise the client to settle a case based on something a witness said, only to find out later that the witness didn’t say that at all. 8. Find out about other witnesses. Find out what other witnesses may exist, and ask for their names, numbers and addresses. 9. Uncover any bias. Try to uncover any biases that may exist. Is this witness related to anyone in the case? Are they friends at all? Co-workers?Cases are more than documents, facts, and dates. They are ultimately about people. You need to learn what these people, these witnesses, have to say to properly advise your client about the merits of his case. Being prepared will help you learn as much as possible about what witnesses saw, what they heard, and how they will affect your client’s bottom line. Francisco Ramos, Jr. is a senior associate with Clarke Silverglate Campbell Williams & Montgomery in Miami, practicing in the areas of commercial and personal injury litigation. He can be reached at (305) 377-0700 or read more

Gov. Wolf: PAsmart is Creating the Skilled Workforce that Businesses Need

first_img PAsmart,  Press Release,  Workforce Development Harrisburg, PA – After delivering on his bold budget plan to invest in education and job training for Pennsylvania workers, Governor Tom Wolf today visited Phoenix Contact USA near Harrisburg to highlight how his PAsmart initiative is expanding apprenticeships and other job training opportunities.“PAsmart is investing in training people to have the skills and experience that growing businesses need to thrive,” said Governor Wolf. “By closing the training gap, we can ensure workers can compete for good, well-paying jobs and every employer can find the talented people it needs to succeed and grow our economy.”The governor launched the innovative PAsmart initiative last year and secured a $10 million increase to $40 million for the program this year. PAsmart provides $20 million for science and technology education, $10 million for apprenticeships and job training, and new this year, an additional $10 million for career and technical education.“Pennsylvania businesses are hiring, but they can’t find enough skilled workers for all of the open jobs,” said Governor Wolf. “PAsmart recognizes that a four-year college isn’t for everyone, but people need the job training that apprenticeships and career and technical education provide.”In the first year of PAsmart, the Department of Labor & Industry awarded grants to more than 100 pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs serving over 2,600 workers. Apprenticeships give workers the opportunity to earn a paycheck while learning and gaining on-the-job training with an employer.Apprenticeship opportunities are available in traditional industries such as welding, machining, carpentry and plumbing, as well as non-traditional industries, including mental health services, human services, early childhood education, scientific research, and information technology.“Data is showing that the path to prosperity for the next generation of students no longer runs exclusively through a four-year college,” said Eric D. Palmer, executive director of the Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center. “Graduates earning industry certifications, who have combined their technical skills with rigorous and challenging academic accomplishments, will form the foundation of our state’s rapidly evolving economy. “PAsmart also invests in Pennsylvania’s nationally leading Next Generation Industry Partnerships, which create collaboration among businesses to improve the training for their workforce.Other workforce development accomplishments under Governor Wolf include:• Increasing the number of apprentices in Pennsylvania to 16,682;• Increasing the number of career and technical education (CTE) students earning industry-recognized credentials by 34.2 percent;• Increasing the number of credentials earned by students enrolled in CTE programs by 27.2 percent;• Advancing Pennsylvania to third in the nation in the number of nationally recognized STEM ecosystems and making the commonwealth the fifth largest producer of STEM graduates;• Approving more than $4 million in funding through the new Manufacturing PA initiative for nine new training programs across Pennsylvania to give more than 340 job seekers the skills they need to secure a stable, high-paying job in manufacturing.Governor Wolf has set a goal of increasing the number of workers with training after high school from 47 percent to 60 percent by 2025.At Phoenix Contact USA, the governor met several apprentices while touring the manufacturing and logistics sections of the company’s Dauphin County facility. July 09, 2019 Gov. Wolf: PAsmart is Creating the Skilled Workforce that Businesses Needcenter_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

USC Football will likely land impressive transfer class

first_img“After a lot of thinking and talking with my family, I’ve decided to leave UT and return home,” McCoy wrote on May 31.  The NCAA requires transfers to sit for a year before they can become eligible. Though both McCoy and Steele have appealed this, their eligibility in 2019 remains up in the air.  After standing out in Longhorns’ spring camp, McCoy returned home for his high school graduation and tweeted about his intention to leave Texas. Although McCoy and Steele’s decisions have garnered the most attention, redshirt junior wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.’s decision not to leave the program may prove to be the most impactful for the Trojans heading into the upcoming season.  The likely additions of both McCoy and Steele represent major boosts for the Trojans heading into summer camp. McCoy is viewed by many as a generational talent. He was the No. 1 athlete and No. 9 overall prospect, per 247Sports’ 2019 composite rankings. The pass-catcher boasts an imposing 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pound frame and wowed during practices in Austin with his speed and physicality.   Days later, a source close to McCoy’s family told the Los Angeles Times that McCoy intended to transfer back to USC because of a case of homesickness during his spring semester at Texas.  After a disappointing football season in which USC missed a bowl game, contemplated firing head coach Clay Helton, and retained new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury for all of a month, Trojan football finally appears to be getting back on track.  On June 5, McCoy retweeted an image posted by incoming freshman wide receiver Kyle Ford of the two wearing USC football uniforms, further proving his recruitment to the Trojan roster. “It’s looking like that’s going to happen,” Norman Steele told the Times last week. “I don’t see anything else happening.” News of McCoy’s decision to transfer arrived in late May. A product of Mater Dei High School, McCoy first committed to the Trojans in January but left to play for the Texas Longhorns after short-lived USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury was hired by the Arizona Cardinals.  On the heels of McCoy’s announcement, the Los Angeles Times reported that Chris Steele intended to back out of his commitment to the Oregon Ducks and that Steele’s father had indicated that his son would be enrolling at USC. Photo from Florida Gators / TFB Texascenter_img Steele’s combination of ball skills and speed could provide the Trojans with welcomed support and fill some of the void left by the departure of former USC starting cornerbacks Iman Marshall and Isaiah Langley.  As the Trojans transition to new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s “air raid” offense, Jones’ return coupled with McCoy’s arrival may underpin what may be one of college football’s deepest position groups heading into the 2019 season. USC already appears to be set at the wide receiver position with returning starters Michael Pittman Jr., Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Last season the trio racked up 159 receptions for 2,182 yards and 15 touchdowns. Jones can be utilized in the slot, given what appears to be an embarrassment of riches at the receiver position for USC. Steele’s father has indicated that Steele’s commitment to Oregon was largely due to USC’s lack of scholarship spots at the time. Now that space has become available, it appears Steele, who attended high school only 30 minutes away from USC, will be returning home to wear cardinal and gold. Multiple sources are confirming that USC will welcome former 5-star recruit wide receiver Bru McCoy and 4-star cornerback Chris Steele this coming fall. The team hopes to right the ship for a Trojan recruiting class that finished outside the top ten for only the fourth time in 20 years.  Jones entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal in March and reportedly considered following former USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin to Tennessee. On June 3, however, Jones announced his intention to remain a Trojan. Steele participated in spring practice and took classes in Gainesville before announcing that he would enter the NCAA transfer portal on May 9. Days later, he signed with the  Oregon Ducks.  Jones, however, is a sure bet to contribute to the Trojans’ 2019 campaign. He saw significant time as both a receiver and a kick returner in 2018 and appeared in all 12 games. Over the season, Jones had 24 receptions for 266 yards and one touchdown over 21 kickoff returns. This announcement comes after a long recruiting saga for Steele, who first committed to the Trojans in July 2018. He backed out months later and then signed a letter of intent with the Florida Gators.  On the other side of the ball, Steele could reinforce a defensive backfield in need of depth following the departure of three defensive backs to the NFL. last_img read more