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Mr. O’Donnell successfully represented Alaska Bar Association Counsel who were sued for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of a former Alaska District Court Judge in the course of seeking to have the plaintiff placed on interim disability inactive status. The plaintiff’s damage claims were dismissed with prejudice by the United States District Court. That decision was subsequently affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.

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Mr. O’Donnell recently received the honor of being one of the few Alaska attorneys inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

“The American College of Trial Lawyers, founded in 1950, recognizes the very best trial lawyers from the United States and Canada. The College’s Fellows are chosen strictly by invitation and only after a rigorous and lengthy investigation. The candidate must be identified as a highly skilled trial lawyer in the opinion of judges and practitioners, and as a person whose ethics, moral standards and collegiality are above reproach. Fellowship is limited to one percent of the lawyers in any individual State or Province, and the candidate must have practiced for at least 15 years.” http://www.actl.com

“The names included on the roster of the College are indicative of the College’s make-up. Every current Justice of the United States and Canadian Supreme Courts save one is an honorary member, having accepted Fellowship at a national meeting of the College. That one is Justice Suzanne Côté, a Judicial Fellow from Montreal, Canada, who was inducted as a Fellow prior to leaving private practice for the Court. Past Presidents of the College include such outstanding lawyers as former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell and former United States Attorney General Griffin Bell.” http://www.actl.com

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Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that Peter Scully has joined the firm as an associate attorney.

Mr. Scully received his B.S., magna cum laude, in mathematics from Bucknell University in 2004. Mr. Scully received his law degree, magna cum laude, from Vermont Law School in 2010. Mr. Scully served on the Vermont Law Review and received multiple Academic Excellence Awards for Highest Grade in Class for multiple classes.

IMG_2707%20copy.jpg Before joining Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, Mr. Scully clerked for Anchorage Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner, and he was an Assistant County Attorney for Suffolk County, New York, in the Municipal Law and General Litigation Bureaus.

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On September 27, 2012, Christopher Slottee, a partner with Atkinson Conway & Gagnon, will be participating in a seminar on Commercial & Residential Landlord-Tenant Law. Mr. Slottee will be presenting information and materials on Alaska law regarding residential leases and the obligations of landlords and tenants. Other topics that will be addressed at the seminar include commercial lease issues, the eviction process, and when a tenant or landlord file for bankruptcy.

The seminar is being organized by Sterling Education Services. You can register for the seminar at this link.

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Atkinson Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that Bruce E. Gagnon and Christopher J. Slottee have contributed to a new publication, Law of Lawyers Liability was produced by the Professional Liability Committee of the American Bar Association, and edited by Merri A. Baldwin, Scott F. Bertschi, and Dylan C. Black. Mr. Gagnon and Mr. Slottee authored the section of the book addressing legal malpractice law in Alaska, including the unique considerations that arise as a result of Alaska’s attorney’s fee law, Alaska Civil Rule 82.

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Most people know that it is a good idea to hire an attorney when entering contracts, creating a will or trust, or engaging in litigation. What you may not know is that you can, and often should, hire an attorney for arbitrations. With increasing frequency contracts contain arbitration provisions that require you to resolve any dispute through arbitration rather than through litigation. For example, when you retain the services of a broker or sign a contract with your financial advisor, that contract likely contains a FINRA arbitration clause.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is an independent regulator of security advisors and securities firms doing business in the United States. When an investor seeks securities sales advice or purchases a security, such as stock, equity, or corporate bonds, the investor and his advisor and/or the securities firm enter into a contract. Typically the contract will include a provision stipulating that any dispute arising under the contract will be subject to the rules of FINRA.

When a conflict arises under the contract, such as if an advisor recommends an unsuitable investment, FINRA has three dispute resolution options: (1) the investor can file a complaint with FINRA against the advisor or the broker company, this is not litigation but allows FINRA to look into your complaint; (2) the investor can proceed to mediation; or (3) the investor can decide to arbitrate the conflict.

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In a case handled by Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon attorney Pat Gilmore, the Alaska Supreme Court recently affirmed the award of a disputed Alaska North Slope oil field “overriding royalty interest” (ORRI) to Rutter and Wilbanks Corporation, a client of the firm. Both the Alaska Supreme Court and the Superior Court agreed that Rutter and Wilbanks retained its interest in the ORRI despite surrendering its interest in the underlying operating entity. The extensive contract documentation drafted by a different law firm did not address the status of the ORRI upon surrender of a party’s interest in the operating entity. The Superior Court and Alaska Supreme Court rejected arguments that the court could imply forfeiture of the ORRI based on the “reasonable expectations of the parties” and other legal theories. Renaissance Alaska, LLC v. Rutter and Wilbanks Corporation, Alaska Supreme Court Opinion No. 6613 (October 28, 2011) http://www.courts.alaska.gov/ops/sp-6613.pdf

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Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is featured in the current edition of the The Alaska Contractor magazine. The magazine is a publication of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska (“AGC”).

shovel.pngAtkinson, Conway & Gagnon has been a member of AGC for decades. The firm’s longstanding contruction law practice is discussed at length in the magazine article. “Founded in 1962, Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon boasts extensive experience in all phases of construction law. Its attorneys have represented contractors, architects, engineers, lenders, title insurance companies and property owners in both small residential and large commercial disputes.”

The firm’s lead constuction law attorney is Robert J. Dickson. As Mr. Dickson explains, “there are no simple cases” in construction disputes. “All involve big money.” The firm’s lawyers nevertheless endeavor to meet the client’s needs in a business-like and effective manner. As attorney Bruce Gagnon states, “Clients come in, and we help them achieve their goals as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. It’s that simple.”

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Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that Office Manager Jodi L. Walton has achieved the certification of CLM.

Lest the uninformed mistakenly believe that “CLM” is being used in the Urban Dictionary sense of “Career Limiting Move”e.g., chuckling at the Managing Partner’s bad comb over — we assure that this is not the case. Rather, “CLM” as we use it here is a career improving move. The acronym actually stands for “Certified Legal Manager.”

Walton.jpgThe CLM certification is issued by the Association of Legal Administrators (“ALA”). To earn this distinction, a person must be employed full-time in managing a legal organization, must have at least three years experience in the management position, must complete a course of study in areas key to legal organization management, must pass an examination on those areas, must adhere to a code of ethics, and must commit to fulfilling continuing education requirements.

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Atkinson Conway & Gagnon is proud of Alaska for many reasons, including the State’s willingness to innovate and be on the cutting edge of important issues. From the use of duct tape in aircraft repairs to proactively banning the use of tasers on bears, Alaska is always pushing boundaries forward. Alaska’s Court of Appeals is no different, as demonstrated by its recent decision in Bates v. State of Alaska, where the Court of Appeals eschewed the dictionary definition of “dating” in favor of the crowd-sourced definition of the term in Wikipedia and the eponymous Bonny’s Dating Blog, by Bonny Albo.

The specific legal issue in Bates was whether the defendant’s prior acts of domestic violence towards his ex-girlfriend were admissible when he was tried for attempting to murder that same ex-girlfriend. Resolving that issue required the Court to determine if the term “dating” as used in Alaska’s domestic violence statute had a “meaningful definition.”

The Court of Appeals began by recognizing that Webster’s New World College Dictionary’s definition could not be used to define the term “dating,” as its definition of “dating” included meeting a business associate or relative if the associate or relative were a member of the opposite sex. Accordingly, the Court turned to a more modern source: Wikipedia, which defined “dating” as “a form of human courtship consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse.” The Court also relied on the definition of dating contained in Bonny’s Dating Blog, which defined “dating” as “an activity two people share together with the intention of getting to know each other better on a potentially romantic level.”