COMMERCIAL FRAUD MANUAL
Ann D. Zeigler
Edited by Bruce Harwood
American Bankruptcy Institute
149 pp., paperback, $35 (ABI members) / $55 (non-members).
By Ralph Adam Fine
JurisNet, LLC; 310 pages, $85.00
Of course you already knew this: Section 1702 of the Texas Occupations Code requires anyone conducting evidence collections, digital forensics, evidence analysis, and related activities for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee to be licensed. This does not mean a law license. It means a forensic investigator's license. Your nearby document copy service probably does not meet this requirement, regardless of what their sales rep tells you. There are both misdemeanor and felony penalties for the unlicensed collection service, and for the person who hires it. So, what are you going to do about those hard drives you know are full of good evidence showing that your client's employee committed fraud?
This compact guide to fraud investigation is written for lawyers and other professionals to assist their clients in discovering and controlling fraud within a business—and doing it in a way that results in admissible evidence.
The manual's first chapter is a grand tour of fraud schemes and how to spot them. Chapter 2 is the how-to of forensic investigation, including how to avoid making great evidence inadmissible by violating Section 1702 and other similar laws. Chapter 3 is a detailed discussion of computer forensics, including how to approach many different sources of electronic data, and what "metadata" should mean to you even if you never get near a commercial fraud in your entire career. Chapter 4 is a detailed discussion of organizing the various interested parties in response to indications of fraud, including use of bankruptcy trustees and receiverships. Chapter 5 discusses cross-border fraud schemes and how to approach recovery of transferred assets from various favored off-shore jurisdictions. This is where you learn what you need to know about international evidence gathering, Mareva injunctions, and other actions. Chapter 6 is a summary of four of 2009's great frauds—Madoff, Stanford, Dreier and Petters—and the actions that have been taken to deal with each of them.
This small volume is your quick resource when you get the call from your corporate client, the one that starts, "I think something screwy is going on here." Don't be without it.
Ann D. Zeigler is a senior consultant with Third Coast Consultants. She is the editor in chief of The Houston Lawyer.
THE LAWYER'S GUIDE TO FINDING SUCCESS
IN ANY JOB MARKET
By Richard L. Hermann
Kaplan Publishing, 2009
The Lawyer's Guide to Finding Success in Any Job Market is an aptly named guide book. It is straightforward in its approach, logically laid out, and full of information as well as directions for finding additional information. Hermann focuses on areas of law that he believes are either up and coming or ripe with opportunity for growth due to the recent economic turmoil experienced in the United States. He takes into account social, political, and economic factors in his suggested areas of exploration. His suggestions make both logical and intuitive sense, and for an attorney who is not absolutely wedded to his or her current practice, they seem to be worth investigating.
The advice also seems valuable for an attorney who has a wide practice range and is looking to expand, or an attorney just out of law school. The book, however, does not well address the problems that an experienced practitioner might face if he or she has recently lost a job due to the economy or similar reason because such a person may not be in a position to learn a new area of law in order to take advantage of the opportunities that Hermann sees and sets out in this book.
While the book is not specifically geared toward them, beginning lawyers, who have fewer socioeconomic constraints impeding exploration and change, may have an easier time taking advantage of Hermann's advice. Nonetheless, the book is helpful for anyone wanting to expand into a new area of law.
Nicole Sain is a partner at OSTROM/Sain, LLP, a boutique focusing on probate litigation and estate planning. She is a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
N. Jill Yaziji
FAME 101: POWERFUL PERSONAL BRANDING & PUBLICITY FOR AMAZING SUCCESS
By Jay Jessup & Maggie Jessup
Sutton Hart Press, 2010
“Remember... that every fame seeker needs a story because to the public and in the media it's the story that sells; not the person." Does this mantra by Jay Jessup and Maggie Jessup, authors of Fame 101, sound familiar to lawyers? The answer is most likely a "yes." Indeed, it is remarkably similar to Jim Perdue's message in his bestseller on effective advocacy: Winning with Stories: Using the Narrative to Persuade in Trials. Perdue states that "a trial is not a debate; it's a contest of stories. The strongest … most persuasive, most inspiring story will win. Juries pick the story they want to win; they don't pick the stack of facts they want to win…." Perdue's mention is apropos in this context: as a lawyer with not just astounding professional and financial success, but also bestselling books, media presence, a professional following, and Texas Super Lawyers accolades to spare, he is the definition of a famed professional with a powerful personal brand the authors advocate.
Fame 101 is not about the professionally famous having extraordinary talents and striking it big with serendipity. Quite the opposite: The authors, both publicists and marketing strategists with A-list clients, argue that fame is a formula anchored in the know-how of personal branding, fueled by publicity, disseminated by a platform of synergy, and enhanced by personal evolution. Since fame is a formula, we all are equally able to learn it and reap the benefits. Most importantly for a young, driven lawyer, this formula can yield tangible results within a year and with "little or no money."
A skeptical reader, as lawyers mostly are, is tempted to quickly set aside such claims to fame and bury herself in an imminent discovery battle or approaching trial date. But the authors convincingly chronicle how famous professionals have built financial empires on the power of their brand by following these steps. From Mother Teresa to Joel Osteen, and from Martha Stewart to the gardener with bestselling books and a TV show, this formula works every time.
To achieve fame, one must reach a wide audience and do so with a well-thought out message about what makes one's brand special, authentic, stand out. Publicity is the catalyst for fame and it's "what makes everything else work to its maximum effect." The good news is that to achieve it one does not have to spend six figures monthly on advertising. Widely available social media is the vehicle. One must also participate in social media, over an extended period of time, to understand its power and build a following in it. Hence, a brief bio and contact info on LinkedIn by itself won't do for lawyers. Likewise, while professional websites are omnipresent, understanding Internet geography and search engines can make the difference between prominence and mediocrity by simply enhancing the footprint of one's website, and hence one's brand.
How to accomplish all this and still meet the discovery deadline? By synergizing your brand efforts: A well-written speech for a Texas Bar seminar can turn into a publication and, with a link on your website, also develop into a blog. Moreover, a powerful personal brand translates into material gains for the lawyer's clients as well, since powerful branding lends immediate credibility to one's message.
At a time when economic realities have made it hard for young, talented lawyers to find employment and for seasoned ones to keep it, Fame 101 both inspires readers and offers practical tips for the driven, persistent professional.
N. Jill Yaziji is the principal of Yaziji Law Firm, specializing in business litigation and personal injury. She is a member of the The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
Judy L. Ney
BLACK WATER RISING
By Attica Locke
Suspense, legal action, civil rights, and Houston, Texas – this thriller combines all the elements that appeal to all readers of fiction. Author Locke balances the struggles and ambitions of a young African-American attorney, Jay Porter, a solo practitioner trying to provide a home and financial security to his wife and baby, against the reality he faces upon becoming intertwined in the legal system after his Good Samaritan act of coming to the aid of a drowning woman develops into a high-profile murder case. The resulting interplay between all of those factors will cause readers to question their everyday decisions.
Author Attica Locke, a native of Houston, brings the city to life during the 1980's. Places Houstonians recognize, such as Buffalo Bayou, the Fifth Ward, the University of Houston, Gilley's, the Ship Channel, Market Street, Clinton Boulevard, and Memorial Drive, all come to life through her descriptions of Houston at a time of growth when oil was king and urban plight was only a neighborhood away. All Houstonians will enjoy the colorful images of the city as the setting of this novel.
Even more challenging than being an attorney are the obstacles of racial discrimination that have to be overcome when Porter tries to practice his profession in a growing Texas metropolis with a deep societal divide based on community standing, religion, color, and work status. The plight of racial divide is exemplified with a distinctively modern twist through an account of one of Porter's cases showing the struggles of the working longshoreman versus the ultra rich petrochemical and oil industries. Strikes, scabs, and beatings are all described as part of the hero's circle of family acquaintances, and challenges.
Author Locke takes us on a rollercoaster ride of life, showing how the dreams of freedom can easily become confused with the quest for money, power, and politics. Ms. Locke is an entertainer in that each page is filled with illusions and pageantry so that the reader does not want the story to stop. Bravo to this new author on her blend of Houston heritage with the ordinary goals of a man who happens to be a lawyer.
Judy L. Ney is a judge for the TDI-Division of Workers Compensation. She is a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
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